Valdur - Raven God Amongst Us
Bloody Mountain Records
Black Metal
9 songs (34'28")
Release year: 2010
Reviewed by Alex

I made no secret that the split between Lightning Swords of Death and Valdur a couple of years ago was one of my Surprises of the Year. My colleague Zad provided good coverage for LSOD moving on to the greener pastures of Metal Blade, and it is my turn now to update you on Valdur. Today, however, I decided to be more thorough learning about the band, and knowing more about the makeup of Valdur’s players provides a better backdrop to understanding their music.

In my earlier review I did mention briefly that Valdur, as a band, comes to us from remote Northern California, and the colder rugged atmosphere of the locale permeates Valdur’s music. I also recall saying that the Valdur part of the aforementioned split was quite a bit more along the lines of traditional Scandinavian black metal. Not much changes with Raven God Amongst Us. Borrowing its title from one of the split’s songs, the album sees Valdur still hugging the cold edges of Sierra Mountains, except more mournful Norse atmosphere is replaced with extra thundering and definitely more merciless riffing, right from the get-go with Wound Fires in the Afterlife.

A couple of songs titles are in Norwegian (or is it Swedish?), and upon further examination the band’s guitarist/vocalist Thor hails from Kristiansand, Norway, which may explain why Valdur sounds like it does, having crossed both Norwegian and harsh Northern California climates DNA. There is no mistake that the Bloody Mountains label, of which Valdur’s drummer Lord Sxuperion is the owner, is positioned somewhere not far from the plain of Gorgoroth.

The Norse gods pantheon is urging on the winning, rebellious and recalcitrant spirit of Great Abyss Unfold, and comes rolling down from the sky in its melodic fury after the towering monumental beginning of Gravlagt I Morkets Natt! Raven God Amongst Us songs are your recognizable prideful Northern warrior metal, but if you can find familiarity, you can’t fault them for the lack of progression and development within every single song. It is true that Berserrker can be played from the same mountaintop where Immortal shot their latest video, and the steady distorted guitar matched first against march slowly evolving into gallop in Vicious Existence could also remind of Immortal or Tsjuder, but there is some definitive riffs in these sounds, showing an undeniable amount of passion and faith in the cause. Add on the band’s ability to channel longing, hardship and pent up grief in Med Fjell I Horisonten, and there is a more familiar tragic sensitive face I remember Valdur for in addition to their new-found stoicism.

Raven God Amongst Us shows Valdur’s unwavering belief in their opinion of how they imagine their black metal should sound. Whatever the geographical location or the bandmembers’ origin, they continue to represent some of the best American black metal true to the genre origins. Unlike many other artists here in the US who prefer to be individualistic, exploring the travails and horrors of their own existence, Valdur is rather be caught out in the cold area of their own Blashyrkh than in the confines of somebody’s bedroom.

Killing Songs :
Great Abyss Unfold, Gravlagt I Morkets Natt!, Med Fjell I Horisonten, Vicious Existence
Alex quoted 83 / 100
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