A Fragile King

There has been a fair bit of buzz about the debut from England’s Vallenfyre, and rightfully so. It’s a super group of sorts featuring Gregor Mackintosh of Paradise Lost, Hamish Glencross of My Dying Bride as well as mercenary drummer Adrian Erlandsson (Cradle of Filth, At the Gates, The Haunted to name a few) , playing a form of old school doom death metal that fans of early Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride have been clamoring for since Lost Paradise and As the Flower Withers. And A Fragile King mostly succeeds, at least when band are falling back to tangible Lost Paradise moods and crawls as opposed to some slightly forced Stockholm death metal galloping.

Apparently a HM-2 Boss heavy metal pedal was smuggled out of Scandinavia and made its way to England as Vallenfyre has chosen to render their sound with a killer, earthy, buzzsaw tone on par with the current Retro Swedish death metal scene (Entrails, Cryptborn, Blood Mortized,  Morbider, etc) and while I love the guitar tone and Mackintosh’s gruff vocals ( a cross between Nick Holmes’ early days and Paul Kuhr of Novembers Doom) it seems a little forced and trying to elbow their way into the current revival, rather than simply lean on their heaviest and most obvious influence.

At their best, Vallenfyre rely on crawling, heaving riffs layered with melancholy solo work  that bring to mind the likes of “Rotting Misery” or the occasional trot like “Deadly Inner Sense”. Tracks like the opening duo of “All Will Suffer” and “Desecration”,  “Seeds” , “My Black Siberia” and closer “The Grim Irony” hint at something pretty special with loping, crawling doomy riffs, which when mixed with the production are awfully impressive, sounding like cutting room floor left overs from Lost Paradise (just check out the re-occurring strains of “Cathedral of Dread” ). But Mackintosh and co insist on trying to indulge a more savage and blasting mood that’s just not on par with the doomier material. The likes of “Ravenous Whore”, “As the World Collapses”,  “A Thousand Martyrs” and “Humanity Wept” while a little more energetic and certainly enjoyable , seem a little more like second tier Stockholm worship (ala Chaosbreed). They just don’t quite nail the faster riffs and make them great.

And not being great is the only real thing holding Vallenfyre back. Even with the awesome Paradise Lost throwback tone,  there’s never any real ‘wow’ moments as it still never truly enters something special or classic that commands your attention and will be revered in years to come. It is however a solid release giving English death metal a nice nostalgic shot in the arm, even if the shot comes from 20 year old source material.



[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 15th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    See? I don’t agree with you here, but it’s still well-written. :P
    I think the juxtaposition of miserable, early Paradise Lost doom with Stockholm death metal is quite unique. I’m loving this. BTW I also like Chaosbreed very much. To me they sound utterly Finnish. Don’t hear Sweden in there at all.

    Who’d have thought an excellent guitar player like Greg would possess such a cool voice? He should do the early PL stuff live since Nick seems to have a hard time doing the growly thing now.

  2. Commented by: stiffy

    I just think it would have made a better straight up doom album.

  3. Commented by: Cal

    I agree that this would probably be a great doom album should the lads wish to go that way, but the release as a whole is excellent, and I don’t think it sounds forced at all.

  4. Commented by: E. Thomas

    New one sounds promising.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Tzompantli   - Beating the Drums of Ancestral Force
  • Ad Patres - Unbreathable
  • WyndRider - Revival
  • Unleashed - Before the Creation of Time
  • Ulcerate - Cutting the Throat of God
  • Assassin - The Upcoming Terror/ Interstellar Experience (Reissues)
  • Nyrak - Devourer of All
  • Summoner’s Circle - Cult
  • Kratti - Matka Kohti Kosmista
  • Suffering Souls - An Iconic Taste of Demise
  • Vale of Pnath - Between the Worlds of Life and Death
  • Pathology - Unholy Descent
  • Ischemic - Condemned to the Breaking Wheel
  • Terminal Nation  - Echoes of the Devil’s Den
  • (Un)Worthy - This Present Darkness