Valhom - Despair
Ars Magna Recordings
Black Metal
9 songs (41:36)
Release year: 2007
Valhom, Ars Magna Recordings
Reviewed by Dylan
While most parts of the U.S. don’t get nearly as cold as the frigid forests of Norway, American black metal bands have been able to give their Scandinavian brothers some stiff competition. Xasthur, Wolves In The Throne Room, and the magnificent Nachtmystium have shown that U.S. bands can produce high quality black metal on par with the likes of Gorgoroth, Darkthrone, and all the other giants overseas. Now while Valhom, the one man project (including drums) of Lord Temptation, may not be able to stand along side of his American predecessors just yet, he has shown that he is hungry and capable enough of rising along side them in the near future.

Right after Eternities Ago kicks in, Lord Temptation’s influences become quite apparent in a short amount of time. Raised on the riffs of Immortal, Emperor, and Dissection this guy can churn out some really venomous themes on his guitar. In fact, that is where his greatest strength lies. While his vocals are suitable, they can get monotonous and have the same pissed, almost-hoarse-but-not-quite tone to them. Think of Kristoffer Olivius from Naglfar, and you’ll have a near-perfect reference point for Temptation’s sound. Come to think of it, it’s not the tone of his vocals per se, but the fact that he seems to be stressing all of his lines the same way. And as any fan of death metal, opera, or rap will tell you, vocal rhythm plays a big part in the memorability of a vocal line.

Anyway, I digress. Despair contains some seriously good riffs backed by the very solid and occasionally interesting drumwork provided by Temptation. When his drum talents meshes well with his usually good riffing, the sound can be deliciously heavy. All Life Has Perished is a great example of this. It contains an unpleasantly chromatic intro, a melodic NWOBHM-ish section, and a really cool outro where the drums branch out in an interesting direction to change things up a bit. It’s also worth noting that this, and most of the other songs, contain atmospheric moments of Enthrone Darkness Triumphant-esque keyboard melody. The choirs don’t sound real at all, but the synthed choir still manages to fit within the context of most songs here.

Atmospherically, Despair maintains an aggressive sound throughout all songs, but contains enough melodic stripes to make you take notice of and remember the scenery surrounding the aural hell coming straight at you. The production has a nice balance that manages to sound clear without sounding polished. Once again, the guitar appears to have gotten the most attention (deservedly), while the drums sound a little buried. Still, it manages to suit the music very well and should please fans of both raw and more polished black metal.

As a whole, the album has little variation, but it suits the music. It also makes a lot of sense, seeing as every aspect of htis record came from just one mind. As mentioned before, All Life Has Perished is a great tune, as is the title track, but they all hover around the same formula. Unsettling moments of dissonant tremolo soon get balanced out by the predictable, yet enjoyable melodicism that gives each song its own sense of identity, however small that sense may be. Know that there are blastbeats aplenty, tremolo riffs all over the place, the occasional cheap sounding keyboard backing, and enough breakdowns to make this release better than lots of up-and-coming black metal acts. Better from the hordes, but still a ways away from the upper echelon of greatness. I’ll be curious to see what Valhom can spew forth next, for sure.
Killing Songs :
Poison Which Flows In My Veins, All Life Has Perished, and Despair.
Dylan quoted 70 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:02 am
View and Post comments