Since their 2010 inception, Ohio trio Valley Of The Sun has been lauded in the same breath as Grunge legends Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, while not yet achieving that level of iconic status. New album Old Gods (Fuzzorama Records) sees the band maturing, with a gentle psychedelia gracing those heady grooves.
The introductory chords of the opening title track have a Desert-flavoured twang but when Aaron Boyer‘s drums thunder in from the horizon it’s with a monumental power. The riff buzzes around Ryan Ferrier‘s Cornell-esque holler like a jar of angry flies but a Stoner weight keeps the pace slow and steady. That tempo increases with the ensuing ‘All We Are’, full of the relaxed vocal delivery of The Dandy Warhols but with a ripping, latent urgency seen in early Queens Of The Stone Age material, its lead riff humming in the sky.
In another subtle change of style, ‘Gaia Creates’ is an acoustically-driven gambol through summer fields, an Eastern-tinged riff oscillating gently over the bedrock. This is the whimsical precursor to the Rock ‘n’ Roll fury of ‘Dim Vision’, all the growling power of Corrosion Of Conformity harnessed and fed through a pulverising, irresistible groove. This is followed by the brief tribal percussion of ‘Shiva Destroys’, the rhythm getting louder and heightening the tension suitably for the next Bluesy ripper, ‘Firewalker”: a pulsing ball of energy with galloping riffs and solos piercing the heavens.
The mix of the quick-hitters and slow-burners is an enlivening quality here. The echoing glides of ‘Into The Abyss’ see layered, Low-end chords bewitch the listener while a strange, warbling scratch completes the hypnosis. Its second movement is all burning, profound riffs and Ferrier’s easy harmonies, and perfectly embodies the slow descent to the bottom of the ocean, the growing mass replicating the weight of the water. The snappier ‘Faith Is For Suckers’ follows, still ploughing a lazy furrow but adopting a Jazzy, Cantrell-infused rhythm to move the pace along. This triumvirate ends with the warm, cosmic jangle of ‘Buddha Transcends’, the final beautiful interlude of the album.
The penultimate ‘Means The same’ is a brooding yet pulsating rocker, those lead and rhythm riffs combining again to sparkling effect: while closer ‘Dreams Of Sands’ returns to that slow, melodic trammel, the medium pace, and easy croon kicked into life by a crushing yet versatile riff and monolithic drums. It would be so easy for Old Gods to drop into tedium but it is this versatility, coupled with scarcely-reined energy, that sees Valley Of The Sun stand out from so many contemporaries, and they’ve provided another seriously enjoyable listen here.