VALLENFYRE - A Fragile King (CENTURY MEDIA - LP 2011)
I don’t care for most of these so called “all-star bands”, they are mostly useless and uninteresting to me. But there are exceptions. I love Bloodbath for instance. And is another such fantastic side project, in my opinion. Created by Paradise Lost guitarist Gregor Mackintosh, this band simply fuckin rules. Technically speaking this album ("A Fragile King" from 2011) doesn't bring anything new or exceptional. But , what a fine dose of death / doom metal it is! It sounds perfect to me and gives goose skin every time I hear some riffs from it.
What Mackintosh did here was bringing back everything what made Paradise Lost so good back in the early 90's. And what this band stopped to play already after their second record. Unfortunately. And damn, when I listen to some of the gloomy, heavy doom riffs or melancholic, mesmerizing melodies I can really think only of Paradise Lost's first two albums. I can almost feel tears coming from my eyes, when I play songs like "Seeds" or "Desecration" - these melodies really remind me "Gothic" and take me back 25 years in time, when as a kid I was shredding all my Paradise Lost cassettes. It makes me feel young again !
But "A Fragile King" is not only that. Along with the classic British doom / death Paradise Lost, Gregor spiced with a bit of Swedish death metal influence (the production is quite Swedish-like, especially the guitar tone), a lot of Autopsy- rotten death metal, crust... Just everything to make these songs ultimately exciting and old school. All riffs, which are on this album are just killer, Mackintosh really got into this old school death metal style easily, like it was natural to him. Every song is a crusher, from start to finish "A Fragile King" keeps my attention and overwhelms with that cryptic, rotten, dark death metal atmosphere. I prefer, when plays the slower stuff, it's insanely good, also because these guys have excellent touch to compose brilliant melodies. Damn, just listen to "Cathedrals of Dread" - what an amazing song, with great melodies, D-beat, aggression, vicious feel... 10/10 for me.
Another important fact is that Greg handled vocals in , which is very surprising. And I think he did very well, I did not expect him to sound so fuckin great. He has way better growls that Nick Holmes (especially Holmes on Bloodbath's "Grand Morbid Funeral" album), he sounds like beast and his raspy, cavernous voice fits this style of death metal just perfectly.
Standout tracks: "All Will Suffer", "Cathedrals of Dread", "Seeds", "The Grim Irony"