Born out of frustration and tragedy, Vallenfyre’s A Fragile King debut saw Gregor Macintosh stepping up to the mic to vent his anger and sorrow he experienced following his father’s death from cancer two years prior. The result was an album of full on brutal death metal with touches of crust and the air of desperation which made day job Paradise Lost’s early work so vital. Following several triumphant appearances it would appear that perhaps the members commitments to their other acts would mean shelving this gnarled beast but clearly Vallenfyre has taken on a life all its own!
Simply put Splinters (Century Media) is a banger. The grime and raw aggression of the debut is all present and correct but greater inspection of their influences reveals the band are as adept at deathly doom as they are at vicious crusty proto-metal. Complete with a production job from Converge axeman and über-producer Kurt Ballou whose subtle contributions help capture a suitably sombre mood allowing the Yorkshire mob to exercise their considerable muscle.
Quite why Macintosh has chosen to conceal his corrosive roar until their 2011 debut is unclear but his savage vocal emissions are matched perfectly by the dense riffs and soaring melodic sections championed by My Dying Bride guitarist Hamish Glencross who brings with him, his considerable talent for twisted minor harmonies.
Pulverising slabs of bitterness such as ‘Thirst For Extinction’ and lead number ‘Scabs’ are equally matched in the misery stakes by ‘Bereft’ and ‘Aghast’ which should appeal greatly to fans of their creators other projects. The two-minute assault of ‘Instinct Slaughter’ is pure hatred distilled into music giving fans of acts like Doom and Extreme Noise Terror a soundtrack to crack skulls to. The deliciously filthy guitar tones and aberrant nastiness never lets up throughout the eleven tracks which hold ‘Splinters’ together. Forget over indulgent tech-death posturing, this is music played from the gut, pure and desensitized filthy and with utter contempt for anything other than being genuine and authentic.
Sadistic and aggressive with endless moments of bleak reflection Splinters is a leviathan unleashed upon unsuspecting listeners and a release surely destined to grace many year end lists.