"Fear" (Relapse Records; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've listened to Valkyrie's "Fear" a few times in a row now, and I like it more each and every time. It's Black Sabbath buzz meets Blue Oyster Cult bounce with a modern edge. The tracks are rich and complex, heavy with heavy guitar and tasty solos, thrumming bass and pounding steady drums. I know this may be a little obscure (but less obscure here than on other websites) but most any track from this album would've fit perfectly in the 1981 movie Heavy Metal. The music has that unique storytelling style that brings up visuals much like those featured in the film (especially under Black Sabbath's "Mob Rules.")

The album begins with "Feeling So Low," an instantly addictive track that might as well be injected directly into your veins. It plays with your head, too, generating images and telling its story in your mind no matter how hard you try to resist. The following tracks maintain the same pace and the same heaviness, with the possible exception of "Brings You Down," which starts out more slowly than the other tunes but kicks in anyways at the 2:40 mark and the final track, "Exasperator," a gentle instrumental track that serves well as the final fadeout . My personal favorites were the aforementioned (and undeniable earworm) "Feeling So Low," "Evil Eye," with its killer lead, and the bright epic "Fear and Sacrifice."

I guess this music would come up under the doom rock label with all its warm fuzziness but you know how we feel about labels here. Too goddamn many of them. On their Facebook page, the band describes their music as "American classic hard rock from the mountains since 2002." I like that way better. Suffice to say that fans of Sabbath, BOC and other bands of that ilk (Thin Lizzy also comes to mind) will find something to like on "Fear." Fans of Baroness will recognize Pete Adams of Valkyrie from his days with that band.

Valkyrie: Jake Adams - guitar, vocals; Pete Adams - guitar, vocals; Alan Fary - bass; Warren Hawkins - drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.