I had been listening to up and coming North Carolina based prog metallers Valleys and to review their ambitious début full-length new album, playing Experiment One: Asylum on a loop and making my notes as I usually do before putting fingers on keys. Then tragedy struck as Valleys co-frontman of Mikey Clements was killed just a week before the release in a tragic accident. Bravely the band is moving forward, treating the release of the album and future gigs as a tribute to their fallen friend.
Genre mashing used to be out of the ordinary in music, and now as a concession to music fans’ fickle tastes and attention spans, it is the norm. Valleys call themselves progressive metal, and they are a modern prog band. But in addition to sounds inspired by bands like Coheed and Cambria, Tesseract, and Protest The Hero; they also blend in electronics, deathcore and other stuff in the mix. It works well, producing solid songs, and not being too all over the place that they lack cohesion. They also display some high-level muscianship, which is needed to pull off these type of songs in the first place.
More impressive, Experiment One: Asylum is a concept album about suffering from schizophrenia/BPD/multi-personality disorder and a personal descent as a result of it. In this time in our world when people are quick to dismiss and stigmatize mental illness, this is very topical. The album opens up with several strong songs in a row with ‘A Tension’, ‘Unraveling’ and ‘Desperate Me’. Energetic riffs, off-time meters, and stop/start tempos abound and the tracks get even better on repeated listens. ‘Take Me Home’ is the high point of the album, and will call to mind Veil of Maya and Linkin Park, mixing up the brutal gutturals with clean lines traded between Clements and Jayson Mitchell. This band can play brutal, but their ability to write the a super catchy chorus is something to make note of, possibly leading them to great heights someday. Closer ‘The Death Of Me’ is also a very impressive tune.
Hopefully Valleys are just getting started on their path and can find a away through this hardship and pain to keep going. It seems like Experiment One: Asylum is exactly the medicine they might need right now.
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