Released: 2016, Willowtip Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
My first introduction to Denver’s Vale of Pnath was watching them open for Vital Remains a while back. Despite an explosive set from the headliner, I was equally impressed by the young bucks tasked with warming up an unruly crowd who was really only interested in hearing some old guys play songs about Satan. But through a mixture of Lovecraftian inspired death metal and a stage presence usually reserved for artists well past their tenure, Vale of Pnath held their own and left an impression across many in the crowd.
Stymied by lineup shuffles and the usual roadblocks, it’s been five years since their THE PRODIGAL EMPIRE debut. But recalibrated, re-energized, and ready to decimate, their just released sophomore album II is a bold statement of intent. With the technical proficiency of Obscura and the modern metal appeal of The Faceless, the eight tracks on II are calculus level complicated, but never risking the well- being of the song for the sake of forcing another arpeggio. Across tracks like “Blacker Than” and “Heart of Darkness” you’ll find classical, Vivaldi-esque underpinnings while bass runs spill fluidly up and down the arrangements. “Klendathu”, stuns with its piano foundation amidst layers of guitar harmonies and octopus fingered note configurations, while the closing “Unburied” is the most straightforward of the lot, getting down to business with some old school tech death. Instrumental proficiency on its own is like a three legged chair if the songs aren't up to snuff, but start to finish, II is a melodic, catchy, and thoroughly engaging piece body of work.
Easily the best recorded representation of who/what Vale of Pnath are, II is a fantastic slab of sci-fi infused, progressive slathered, technically masterful 39-minutes of death metal.