Valis Ablaze - Render - (9/10)
Published on July 23, 2019
The prog scene is very rich and really gaining momentum and diversity lately, which already makes it hard for new bands to do something that really stands out. With that said Valis Ablaze may not be the most innovative band in the field, but they stand out through the sheer elegance and top notch delivery of their music. The band’s second record “Render” was released on the 19th of July through Long Branch Records and is also available on Bandcamp.
The music has a solid backbone of guitar riffs, grooves, chunky bass lines and even some breakdown patterns. The songwriting is very inventive and right up the alley of djent & prog listeners. The technical groovy aspect is delivered by math metal rhythm patterns and some parts of the songs have the potential to be real neck strainers, but Valis Ablaze take the probably less popular approach of coating their potentially heavy music in atmosphere. The guitar tones don’t roar away and are just moderately distorted, always letting the lead melody take precedent. There are only clean vocals and the songs are mostly mid-tempo.
So by no means will this record send the bouncy energies that bands like Monuments or Periphery deliver, despite still falling in a similar niche. This is not the kind of djent that allows anybody to stage dive into a furious crowd, thus also feeling more mature and intellectual. Therefore the real catch with Render is its elegance, its rich atmosphere and emotion and the captivating melodies. I found the music to be strongly reminiscent of Tesseract’s Altered State & Polaris albums, from the constant blend of math metal songwriting and echoing melodic elements. It creates a very high tech aesthetic feel and the atmosphere card is played strong all the way through the record. The vocals further build up on the soothing atmosphere with a good sustain and really expressive and devastatingly emotional delivery. Phil reminds me of singers like Ashe O’Hara and Mike Semesky, through his vocal tone as well as different layers, and alongside the soothing instrumental melodies, he really builds on the album’s strong immersive feel. And while we’re discussing vocals, Danish singer White Dove’s guest vocals on the closing track “Elevation” are totally worth a shout out.
The focus on atmosphere and melody gives the album its unique tone and personality, but it is not in any way short on progressive aspects. If a thick groove is what you’re after you can still find that here. The articulate rumbling bass and the drum patterns give a backbone to hold together all the melodic aspects, while also adding a darker more menacing character. The bass reminds me of Periphery and Nolly’s trademark Dingwall tones and the drums elegantly alternate clever polyrhythms with straightforward grooves, at times breaking through the dense atmosphere and inducing a proper heavy beat. To hear the yang to the yin, throw an ear at the end of the album, mainly the last 2 tracks. The band really kicks it up a notch on these songs, growing really heavy, and wrapping up on faster, darker, and more energetic peaks. And with this dimension complementing the rich atmospheric soundscapes, you get an album that truly feels complete. Valis Ablaze is the young band that prog & djent enthusiasts should not miss in 2019, and I can confidently recommend you check out “Render”, available now on Bandcamp and through Long Branch Records.