A Fragile King
Century Media Records/E.M.I. Music Australia
For Paradise Lost guitarist/founder Gregor Mackintosh, 2009 was anything but a good year.
While on tour with Paradise Lost (Who had just started touring off the back of 2009’s ‘Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us’), Mackintosh received the news that his father (John) was diagnosed with terminal cancer with only weeks to live, and decided to take a leave of absence from the band to spend time with his father.
As expected, Mackintosh’s father passed away soon after, leaving Mackintosh mourning the loss. In a way to help with the grieving process, Mackintosh turned to music, and starting writing and recording some of his ideas purely as a way to express his loss and a way to cope with his emotions.
Over time, Mackintosh started to hear something in the music he had written, and decided to take the project beyond a personal venture.
Assembling some well known friends in My Dying Bride lead/rhythm guitarist Hamish Hamilton Glencross, rhythm guitarist Mully, Doom/Extinction Of Mankind bassist Scoot and ex-At The Gates/Paradise Lost drummer Adrian Erlandsson, and taking on the vocals and lead guitarist himself, Vallenfyre officially came into being midway through 2010.
After releasing a limited edition seven inch single in late 2010 (Through Imperium Productions), the band signed a deal with Century Media Records, with ‘A Fragile King’ the band’s highly anticipated debut full-length release.
So why is there so much excitement for this release? Well apart from the names attached to the line-up, Mackintosh stated that musically Vallenfyre would be a throwback to his early doom/death metal days. And he wasn’t fooling, because ‘A Fragile King’ is as old-school as it gets.
The opening track ‘All Will Suffer’ is an absolutely crushing track that is equal parts doom and death metal, but with a strong groove throughout. Mackintosh’s riffs are suffocating, oppressive and heavy, while his vocals bear a striking resemblance to a deeper Nick Holmes (Paradise Lost) from around the ‘Gothic’ (1991)/‘Icon’ (1993) era.
‘Desecration’ (Which previously appeared on the band’s debut single) is a fast paced effort that boasts some seriously sinister riffs and strong backing from the rhythm section, while tracks such as ‘Ravenous Whore’, ‘Cathedrals Of Dread’ (Which was chosen as the first promotional video clip from the album) and ‘As The World Collapses’ move more into the realm of Dismember and Grave with their fast riffs and Swedish d-beat drumming grooves.
Elsewhere, shades of Paradise Lost mixed with Entombed can be heard in the impressive ‘A Thousand Martyrs’ and ‘The Divine Have Fled’, while the slower and doom based ‘Seeds’ and the dual paced ‘The Grim Irony’ are benefitted by Glencross’ expertise alongside Mackintosh’s own efforts on the guitar.
As mentioned earlier, the story behind the formation of Vallenfyre was anything but under the most pleasant of circumstances. But, despite that, Mackintosh will no doubt be pleased with the band’s debut effort, just as I’m sure fans of old school doom/death metal will be upon listening to ‘A Fragile King’.
For more information on Vallenfyre, check out – http://www.facebook.com/vallenfyre
© Justin Donnelly