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June 2014
Released: 2014, Century Media Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos

Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) created Vallenfyre incidentally after the death of his father John Robert, who died of lung cancer on 2 December 2009. Vallenfyre is a death metal band that death has caused. It’s simply Mackintosh’s personal death metal wheel to explore the deepest withered ways of death, decay and doom. After a critically acclaimed debut album, A FRAGILE KING, Vallenfyre are ready to deliver their new, sophomore, cutting-edge and sneaky death metal behemoth, SPLINTERS.

I have to say that you don’t need to look for any Paradise Lost elements here. It focuses on pure brutal death metal without hesitating to reveal an element of identity of its creator, who loved the darkness of doom sound (“Bereft”, “Aghast”, “Splinters”). SPLINTERS is a death metal album, influenced by both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the American blastbeats and the guttural vocals in parts and the European death metal style with more groovy and slow parts and less dreggy vocals with low-tuned guitars and a surprising Greg Mackintosh on the roughness of his voice, an element that would be welcomed in an upcoming release of Paradise Lost. Mackintosh mentions several death metal, doom, crust and punk bands that were influential to the sound and musical experiences, I will pick the Nihilist, Autopsy and Celtic Frost among them if I had to give an example of where this record moves.

Of course, the leader doesn’t try to change the course of death metal, since he and his death gang don’t undertake with something new, because that wasn’t their goal in any case in SPLINTERS, not even in A FRAGILE KING a couple of years ago. The externalization of the feelings the death of a family member causes consists in the most violent shape, is the source of all the compositions of the album and the effect is if absolutely satisfactory by death metal community.

Beginning with a swirling guitar effect and lead afterwards like any good Celtic Frost album and “Scabs” is the best way to launch a grandiose contrast between shamanic atmosphere and uncompromising brutality and this goes for the entire album. Listen to the supersonic blastbeats of one-minute-and-some-extra-seconds of “Instinct Slaughter” and you will see why this record included over-the-top compositions elevated to an entirely new level of profundity. If you want to listen to something of different tempo, then you have to try the mid-tempo gem “The Wolves of Sin” which has a black metal aesthetics I think or the catchy mid-tempo “Dragged to Gehenna”. There is a variety of blast speed and slow tracks, feelings and moods in SPLINTERS.

Each movement marvels at its own innovative density as intricate guitar structures coil seamlessly around complex rhythms and infernal vocal tirades all the while maintaining an absorbing magnetism that draws exploratory listeners in with each new measure. SPLINTERS contains grime-encrusted riffs and high-speed double kick drums, great guttural vocals and the absolute evil and cruel atmosphere. These ingredients are combined with devastatingly brutal, intentionally low-rent results that will rear its gnarled head upon the masses

SPLINTERS is an ambitious manifestation of sound that remains true to the band's roots while transcending them in a way that weaves all of their seemingly antagonistic influences into an amalgam of heavy music that's as original as it is consuming.
Track Listing

1. Scabs
2. Bereft
3. Instinct Slaughter
4. Odious Bliss
5. Savages Arise
6. Aghast
7. The Wolves Of Sin
8. Cattle
9. Dragged To Gehenna
10. Thirst For Extinction
11. Splinters


Greg Mackintosh - Vocals and Lead Guitar
Hamish Glencross - Rhythm and Lead Guitar
Scoot - Bass
Adrian Erlandsson – Drums

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