Fear is a flop, but your dad would love it
Virginia doom-metal Valkyrie have been in the game for almost two decades now and present their latest effort in five years with Fear, released through Relapse records. Driven by brothers Jake and Pete Adams (formerly of sludge metal heroes Baroness), Valkyrie have been embracing the highly influential 1970’s heavy-rock and stoner sound pioneered by bands such as Pentagram (whose former drummer actually played in Valkyrie in 2006), Blue Cheer and, of course, Black Sabbath, since their initial inception in 2002. This sound is certainly not lost on Fear, however, the execution leaves so much to be desired.
The record opens up with the single, “Feeling So Low” and right away, the entire intention of the record is obvious. Jake Adam’s projecting, yet whiny vocals sit on top of a classic-rock guitar riff and drum beat, more or less trading off between solo sections and a forgetful chorus. Likewise, the tame and lame lyricism leave not much for interpretation or artistic analysis: “Love is not hard to make/ Feelings so hard to shake/ Love will be mine again/ Love will be mine.” Yeesh.
Of course, the band build off of their seemingly trademarked hard-rock influenced sound a la Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy through guitar and vocal harmonies, as well as just the bombastic and powerful energy associated with those bands. This is very much obvious throughout Fear, as well as their earlier work, such as their debut self-titled album, Valkyrie (2006). Nonetheless, even with the many years that have passed, the sentiment remains, highlighted by “Loveblind” and the single “Evil Eye.”
As the record flows, one thing becomes very, very obvious: the stagnant flow should not be confused with being cohesive, since Fear quite honestly only runs through a handful of sounds and influences before recycling them again and again. With the exception being the more toned-down third single “The Choice,” which transitions into the closing track, the instrumental “Exasperator.”
Valkyrie have never been the most adventurous of bands, at least in terms of experimenting with new sounds, but they don’t really need to be. By finding their own niche within the universe of the recent ‘proto-metal revival,’ spearheaded by bands such as Greta Van Fleet, Elder and Graveyard, Valkyrie reject the excesses of contemporary metal and heavy music. Switching out breakdowns, overdrive and moshing in favor of grooves, fuzz and head banging, Valkyrie bring the sound of the 1970’s back again on their latest effort, Fear, despite its inept lack of depth.