Until very recently Valous were always one of those bands whose name I’d seen about quite a lot and heard good things about but never actually seen live or heard anything from. Alas it seemed our paths were destined to never cross until one windswept Wolverhampton April evening I finally found them.
On that particular night the band opened for Musical Outcast regulars Evyltyde and man alive they were awesome. What followed was a quick conversation and me offering all manner of bribes and without saying too much the result is that I’m sat here with the band’s brand new album The Devil’s Seven. I’ll let you decide which part of that last sentence wasn’t strictly true.
Hailing from the home of heavy metal (That’s Birmingham for the uninitiated) Valous are Mat Shutt (Vocals) Rig (Guitar) Paul Anthony Sippits (Guitar) Andy O’Brien (Bass) and Ron Ogeer – Ali. (Drums) Based around the concept of the seven deadly sins The Devil’s Seven serves as the follow up to their 2013 debut Things You Once Knew and boys and girls it is a proper old school banger.
I’m old fashioned when it comes to metal records; I need them to feel epic. (No Money Supermarket) No metal record should start with a whimper so a one minute tension builder complete with the sound of a bell chiming in almost a homage to Black Sabbath does just the trick. Then the crunching sound of opening track Vengeance Be My guide arrives… Oh it’s on now. The rapid fire verses are thrown against marching style choruses and with a cracking guitar solo also thrown in for good measure you’ve got an absolutely stellar tune on your hands. There is a lot to like about this album but this delightfully crushing opening salvo may just be the best track on entire record.
A growling, menacing vocal from Shutt signals the arrival of Crucifixation which pretty much picks up where Vengeance Be My Guide left off; and as you’ve probably guessed in my little world that is by no means a bad thing. The hook will get your head nodding as it ominously punctuates the storming verses. These pace changes between the chorus and verses work really well, the slowing of the tempo giving the chorus more impact. The LC Decoy (Left For Red) assisted Unoriginal Sin is big, bold and brilliantly heavy straight from the off. The addition of the deeper, rougher vocal from LC adds another dimension to the track and gives it something a bit extra. Again the changes of tempo break the song up really well, although this track isn’t as instant as what went before it. That being said it improves with every listen and while it’s still not my favourite track I now ‘get it.’
The Dark One is an absolute epic. Clocking in at 9 minutes it’s a journey not a metal tune. The slower Metallica-esque introduction is far more brooding than anything up to this point and it means that when the guitars and drums kick in they knock you over. Everything drops away at halfway leaving just a guitar melody to gently worm its way into your head before the song builds towards another lofty crescendo. The band cite Avenged Sevenfold as an influence and I think that you can really hear that on this track especially in the guitar solo which I absolutely love. Every metal band has that one huge grandiose track in their locker and with this one I think that Valous have definitely just written theirs.
The more streamline My Anger Personified is another grower. Much like Unoriginal Sin earlier while I liked the song from the off it didn’t grab me in the same way that most of the rest of the record did but it really has grown on me. With flashes of a piston like drum beat and a second half and guitar solo which again echo Avenged Sevenfold there’s a lot to like about this track. It might not click straight away but I reckon by the 3rd or 4th listen you’ll be all over it.
Anything which includes a riff as gritty and dirty as i-Rot will always be a winner with me so this track gets another thumbs up. I like how the band craft their tracks, they are not thrown together you can almost feel the work that has gone into them; it means that there’s no wasted motion and everything flows together beautifully.
By the time album closer My Demise rolls around you know what you’re going to get as the band deliver one more round of crunching riffs, mega drums and rhythms along with a vocal which is once again completely on point. There’s just enough time for one more soaring guitar solo before a great grandstand finish which puts an exclamation point on what is a great album.
Part of my job is to try and find any faults in what I review and break them down but in all honesty I’m struggling here. This brand of melodic yet hard hitting metal is one of my favourite styles of music full stop and this album delivers everything I want. The vocal dexterity is there, the rhythm section doesn’t put a foot wrong holding the whole thing together and the guitar work is just killer.
The Devil’s Seven is a majestically flowing, beautifully crafted beast of a record. If you’re a metal fan you need this record in your collection as simple as that.