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.