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Valence - Sleepwalker CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.25 | 5 ratings

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Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars Maiden-oriented progressive metal!

"Sleepwalker" is the debut album of VALENCE, a new band in the progressive metal books, and consists of eight sections (rather than tracks, although individually named) as described by the band, clocking to almost 35 minutes of playing time.

The sections are instrumental on their entirety, building on the guitar work of Michael Buonanno and Geoffrey Schaefer. The duo experiments with both clean and distorted guitars, trying to create a balance between the heavy rock riffs and the mellower passages. Although their main influence comes from Iron Maiden (several twin-guitar moments but also a lot of theme riffs in the album remind me of them), they manage to introduce spirit and dynamism beyond re-producing already known song patterns. Perfect examples of this is are the middle sections of the album "Tempest Tides..." "...Burned to Desert", which are possibly the highlights, sounding like they have been recorded "live" in the studio.

Reference to jazz/fusion can also be found, especially in the first heavy-oriented section "the Depths". The band does not depend on odd-time signatures to create their intricate sound, rather on a combination of riffs and tempos, and the adventurous playing of the rhythm section. The mellower sections ("Sleepwalker", "To Dust, Across Dimensions", "From Ashes, Reborn") are somewhat simplistic and rather indifferent compared to the heavier ones, while from "Winds of Zephyr" onwards, some of the riffs are repeated (I assume to link with the previous parts of the album) and seems as if the band has run out of ideas, although the album ends on a high note with "Lucid Dream".

"Sleepwalker" does sound at times as a straight heavy-rock/instrumental metal album but has a good amount of experimentation and a progressive approach in executing the classic rock-oriented riffs of Buonanno and Schaefer. A worthy first effort by the band, although there is room for improvement in creating a much more interesting and attractive result.

PS. Almost forgot to refer to the great artwork!

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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