Valkiria
Here the Day Comes

I remember the first time I heard Katatonia and their doom masterpiece, Brave Murder Day. It was off the Century Black Firestarter compilation in 1997, and “Murder,” which was sandwiched between Borknagar and Arcturus, struck me as just completely miserable. It had a dry, dessicated sound, like something left to rot in a dim, airless room. (Come to think of it, I just described BMD‘s album cover.) That song in particular, and the rest of the album (which is more lush and tear-stained than that one track) has cast quite the long shadow since then, to the point where it’s become my first reference point whenever I hear sodden, atmospheric and melodic doom.

Then again, the comparison has been all too obvious in several cases – Rapture’s debut Futile, for instance, or Russia’s The Morningrise, which mixes the sound of Brave Murder Day with Agalloch-ian prog and folk. And now here’s another obvious descendant in Italy’s Valkiria, a two-man outfit which apparently started as black metal, but now, five albums later, oozes a similar kind of heart-rending, melodic and Katatonic doom.

They’ve got the palette nailed – droning guitar melodies, with keening tones over simple, thrumming bass. A dual approach in the vocals as well, with rasp and roar layered together to create something strained and bestial. There’s also a muttered clean vocal that drifts in occasionally – shades of Turn Loose the Swans. I also have to applaud the restrained and tasteful use of piano and synth strings – just enough to lend an air of grandeur, but not so much as to overwhelm the proceedings with capital-A Atmosphere. All of that adds up to a sound that’s majestic, stately and somber, like a funeral procession pressing resolutely on through the rain.

However, while playing this album it started to dawn on me that the procession wasn’t really leading anywhere. The seven tracks here – each named after a time of day, e.g. “Dawn,” “Sunrise,” Morning,” etc – don’t flow so much as they just bleed out. Both “Morning” and “Afternoon” grow a little more insistent and aggressive at times, but just when they get going, they wither and wander away just as quickly. By the time “Night” has run its course, it all adds up to one long and fairly monotonous day.

That may be exactly what some of you want and expect from an atmospheric/melodic doom experience, and once again, Valkiria have nailed a great continuation of that early Brave Murder Day sound and palette. However, the writing  just couldn’t keep my attention long enough to make as indelible an impact.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
April 3rd, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: gordeth

    You had me at “Brave Murder Day.” I’ll probably buy this even if it is as monotonous as you say because I can’t get enough of this style. By the way, this is exactly what I would call dark metal, but I know a lot of people don’t consider that a genre.


  2. Commented by: Jodi

    That comp was also my introduction to Katatonia…just sayin’


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    hard to believe that was 15 years ago already


  4. Commented by: peridot

    That Firestarter comp introduced me to half of my favourite metal bands.


  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I thought this was gonna be about the Swedish black metal band Valkyrja.


  6. Commented by: Jesse Wolf

    I still have that compilation. Arcturus – Wintry Grey was muh jam. Great review dude.


  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I still have it too, with the match in the CD spine. Whoever at Century Media put that together deserves beer for life.


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