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Valis Ablaze - Render CD (album) cover


Valis Ablaze


Progressive Metal

3.78 | 4 ratings

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4 stars Valis Ablaze is a progressive metal band founded in Bristol, UK in 2013. Here is a band that has been mostly testing the water, releasing an occasional EP or single and then listening to what critics and the public had to say about it, and growing and learning from that. It wasn't until 2018 that they released their first album called "Boundless".

Then in July of 2019, the band released their 2nd album "Render". For this album, the band line-up consists of Phil Owen on vocals, Ash Cook and Tom Moore on guitars, George Demner on bass and Dayle Williams on drums. The album consists of 10 tracks with a total duration of almost 50 minutes, all of the tracks within the 4 ? 6 minute range. The band has made a non- concept album in order to give each track its own identity.

A low drone brings in the heavy guitars and a moderately fast album opener "Neon Dreaming". The vocals are very good and seem to fit the style quite well. The track has got a solid progressive metal sound, but refrains from total aggressiveness, keeping things in a accessible sound that leans on the heavy side with a level of complexity a notch or two above the typical metal style. The music is anthem oriented making it an appropriate opener and uses dynamics to create small sections of less heavy music, but always returning to the heavy, solid style. "Hollow Heart" continues in this style, melodic and heavy, but just above the typical metal sound in complexity, yet still quite accessible. Again, the vocals are excellent, suiting the music well, dynamic and emotional.

By the time "The Convincer" starts, you have a good idea what the album is going to sound like, heavy with some great progressive sound. This track is a bit more complex, but still carries the same basic sound. The processed harmonies do give a distitive sound to the vocals on this track, however. "Keyframes" shows a nice level of variation with a softer track, yet it still carries a lot of power and progressive sound and it all becomes quite intense and emotional by the end. Definitely a highlight. "Ascent" returns to the heavier sound again, still remaining complex and solid. Sam Bell is a guest vocalist on this track and his style is mixed into the track as a more spoken word sound that quickly increases to shouting, but this doesn't last very long as the regular vocalist returns. This track is more of an onslaught of sound and heaviness, but the progressiveness still remains.

"Saturation" provides another break in the heaviness with some interesting vocal effects and some meandering keyboards. There is a heavier use of electronics on this track, but it provides some needed variety. As the track continues, a solid bass provides the heaviness bringing in more guitars again. "Proxy" also goes for a softer sound, but works up to a heavier chorus. The overall feel to this track is a more standard song format. "States of Decay" begins surprisingly soft and mellow with echoing keyboards and soft guitar. Remaining at a slow tempo, the intensity increases during the bridge, then calms and builds again. The melody is lovely and emotional, and the progressive level goes up again as it continues. It's a nice track that still holds a lot of power.

"Infinite World" starts with a complex bass line which continues through the track as it moves from short pensive sections to longer and heavier, complex sections. The music becomes increasing chaotic as it goes on almost turning into a wall of heaviness that increases to include some growling towards the middle. This soon calms and then builds again. The thick sound returns for the last verse with layers of guitar and vocal harmonics. The last track "Elevation" starts right off with fast churning heaviness and the vocals coming in right away. However, the music still takes time to be dynamic, moving easily between heavy and soft, progressively moving along, not staying in one spot too long. More growling comes in later as the track approaches extreme metal boundaries, but overall mostly staying away from totally crossing that line. Things pull back a bit and the guest vocalize White Dove lends her vocals to the sound, creating another layer to the harmonies later, giving the track a nice unique sound. This track definitely stands out. It does all seem to end rather quickly however.

Overall, this is a great album from this band, it sounds quite professional, yet still retains a rough edge so as to not sound overly polished. The vocalist is great, the guitar work is excellent, and there is a lot of progressive edge to the music to keep fans of the genre happy. I would have liked to have seen a little more variety, but this is still a great album that I would revisit several times. The music does venture to some standard format songs, but mostly sticks with a progressive style. Lovers of the genre should definitely check this band out and it surprises me that we haven't heard more about this band. Easily, this is a 4 star album which will grow on you with repeated listenings.

TCat | 4/5 |


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