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Vallenfyre: Splinters

Doom masterminds get dirty once more

Masterminded by Paradise Lost guitarist Greg Mackintosh and featuring My Dying Bride axeman Hamish Glencross and PL sticksman Adrian Erlandsson, among others, Vallenfyre’s 2011 debut album A Fragile King drew a predictably high level of interest, and a damn good record it was too.

Its masterful melding of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Nihilist/Entombed, Autopsy, Discharge and various other influences delivered a rare treat for lovers of old-school death metal and crustpunk. As expected, the follow-up doesn’t deviate one inch from this formula, and as a Kurt Ballou (High On Fire, Black Breath, Beastmilk) co-production, it sounds every bit a match for its predecessor. It’s dense, it’s dirty and it’s savage.

From the despondent doom of Bereft, Aghast and the title track, to the mid-paced punch of The Wolves Of Sin, Dragged To Gehenna and Odious Bliss, and the pacier likes of Cattle and Thirst For Extinction, it’s a smorgasbord of downtuned delights. There are moments that recall early Paradise Lost – particularly when Greg pulls one of his mournful guitar solos – but this is hardly a bad thing, given that PL themselves have long since shifted into more melodic territory.