Reviewed: May 2019
Released: 2019, Willowtip Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Colorado’s Vale Of Pnath are the very anti-thesis of the low-fi “true/necro” black metal philosophy some still hold so dear. Instead, theirs is unabashedly modern and sleek, weaving symphonic black metal with uber-technical death metal into a complex and tangled tapestry that evokes equal parts Anthems-era Emperor or Enthroned-vintage Dimmu Borgir and modern day Beyond Creation or The Black Dahlia Murder.
Despite near constant lineup churn – guitarist Vance Valenzuela is the lone original member and frontman Reece Deeter, who could really use a black metal nom de guerre, is at least their fourth vocalist – the band are at their nimble best on this seven-track EP, Vale’s fourth release overall. Accursed actually boasts five proper songs, with the industrial clang of “Shadow And Agony” and the ambient “Audient Void” providing a short instrumental intro and interlude, respectively.
But Vale packs so much into these five tunes that the EP offers more than enough action and intensity over its 28-minute duration. More would have perhaps been overkill. Drummer Eric Brown sets the tone with his superhuman tempos and fills, and the band follow dutifully along with a Gordian knot of fleet, intricate riffs and Deeter’s breathless, froggy shriek.
“The Darkest Gate,” “Skin Turned Soil” and the title track, which lead up to “Audient Void,” take a more four-on-the-floor black metal approach in their breakneck pace and sawing trem guitars. Yet they still show remarkable dexterity given their velocity, while at the same time boasting symphonic flair in the haunting washes of synths that come and go.
“Void,” though, signals a change as the EP closes on more of a melodic tech death note with “Obsidian Realm” and “Spectre of Bone.” The darting, noodly, yet perfectly synchronized guitar work of Valenzuela and Harrison Patuto and fluid bass lines of Andy Torress are contrasted here by a less frantic but more involved delivery and a modest hint of melody.
The arrangements take on a dramatic hue as the tempos ebb and flow and the presence of actual hooks, especially on “Spectre” give them some real teeth. And that’s not to take anything away from the black metallier tracks that lead things off. If anything, it’s icing on an already pretty awesome cake.