Vallenfyre – Fear Those Who Fear Him

You ever hear that old adage about experience? The one that smug superiors like to toss around to mask their insecurities. There’s no substitute for experience, I believe it goes. Yeah, well Vallenfyre totally proved that right on their third full-length effort, Fear Those Who Fear Him (Century Media).

If you must know, Vallenfyre is the extreme metal supergroup (emphasis on super) and brainchild of Paradise Lost’s Gregor Mackintosh. Mackintosh also happens to have brought over current Paradise Lost drummer Waltteri Väyrynen and former My Dying Bride guitarist Hamish Glencross along with him. With that golden triangle in place, Vallenfyre uses the choicest parts of Death Metal, Crust Punk, Thrash, and Doom and assembles some of the meanest extreme music that was never released via Earache Records.

All of that metallic experience translates to the foundation of Fear Those Who Fear Him: vice tight songwriting, mammoth riffs, and ever-shifting dynamics. ‘Born to Decay’ and ‘Messiah’ immediately establish one of the most menacing/distinct guitar tones this side of vintage Entombed and that Väyrynen is in the driver’s seat. That’s followed by ‘Degeneration’ which is decidedly more in the vein of Wolverine Blues than it is Clandestine but its chugging riff still destroys all. But if you’re looking for Autobahn speed, then look no further than the appropriately titled ‘Nihilist’ and ‘Dead World Breathes’ which balance a killing pace with tunefulness and technique.

But if you ask me, while the speed and dexterity shown on those songs is downright amazing, what you really want to check out is when Vallenfyre decides to show off their Doom pedigree. ‘An Apathetic Grave’ opens with the most sinister of licks and after a couple of minutes gets heavier than Catholic guilt. Sporadic guitar solos are the only reprieve from the death grip of doom. Then you have the strongest cut ‘The Merciless Tide’ which lets us know what vintage Black Sabbath would sound like if they decided to dabble in a bit of the prog rock.

So kids, now you know that experience does indeed pay off. Like possibly album of the year kind of payoff.