The Valiant: Empress Heights

Southampton’s metalcore newcomers boost the formula

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One of the hardest tasks for any band arriving late to a scene is to forge their own unique identity – not easy in a genre as regimented as metalcore. One option is to forget about originality, stick to the well-worn formula and just write better songs than anyone else.

South coast newbies The Valiant may not have much that you won’t have heard in their sound but, much like Bury Tomorrow, they have distilled the ideology of this music down to its purest form to create 100% proof metallic hardcore. This means that the riffs are brutally heavy yet sublimely catchy, the vocals switch from glass-gargling roars to pop-savvy, soaring melody in the blink of an eye and everything feels more than just another collection of beatdowns and growling.

In the same way that it did when you first heard Killswitch Engage, this feels like an album of songs rather than moments. Empress Heights is nothing new, but it’s executed in fine style.

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.