Jul 10, 2011
Valley of the Sun – The Sayings of the Seers ...
Such is the case with the latest (or sophomore) effort from Valley of the Sun, a stoner rock three-piece from Cincinnati who describe their sound as “volume rock.” The only reason I apply the stoner rock label here is due to the main tenets of their sound and the tones they employ: they have grooves down to a science, I mean, there isn’t a single instance where groove isn’t present. They build their foundations on hard rock and at times, desert rock, but they manage to lay down enough thick, fat sound to come to their own. Pounding drums, nice enough bass, and all done with inexhaustible, natural energy. It’s rock to its very bones with just a dash of doom and a tone-range of stoner. Further, if desert rock was not a label outlining certain stylistic cues but rather the feel of the desert, road-trip and a cracked soil vibe, Valley of the Sun would fit the bill. That, with dynamic, energetic and frankly amazing vocals, is the essence of Valley of the Sun. One more thing before we pass on, and it is that the music is so organic, so very all around you and is put to record so naturally, that you feel right at home. You get used to the style and punch of Valley of the Sun right away and you roll with it. Now, let’s go.
The album begins with the incredible and energetic “Hearts Aflame” which is, to put it simply, a grooving, hard-hitting stoner rock ride that kicks off hard and fast, but later slows down (just a bit) and puts a bit of doom into the mix. With the vocals backing up that transition by switching from rock screams to doomier crooning is a testament to how the band doesn’t get stuck in one place. The tones captured are beautiful, and the transition between the rock and the doom is nothing short of genius, it’s barely noticeable. Then comes “Deep Light Burns” which begins as your everyday stoner hard rock stomper, but Valley of the Sun switch it up while maintaining the feel. See, they kick it off with a two-measure riff repeated for eight measures, but then develop that into a full riff, a variation of the first. It’s genius, and man does the song rock, hard. Pounding, energetic drums and vocal harmonies rise this one to the roof and they scratch it hard enough to punch right through with their soaring, charged-up music.
Relentless, they follow it up with the song that stands out from the crowd, but never overshadows it. “Mariner’s Tale” kicks off hard and fast, with technical, trigger-riffs (again, take “trigger” as an onomatopoeic) ascending and descending, and the rise-fall, stop-go guitar work charges on, rapid vocals and crashing drums meet the bass. There are more technical passages here, neither of which fall into that old blunder about technicality overshadowing feel, quite the contrary, it only enhances the flavor – that is, until the band hits a refrain and let up a little with an unbelievable solo and vocal harmonies to calm things down a bit, right before picking it back up, as if to say, “break’s over.” And it is, because up next is “Aquarius”, which begins with hard-hitting drums, signaling what is to come. It’s a track distilled from the mixture of hard rock, retro rock (especially in its vocalizations and general feel) and is a purer strain that keeps the riffs easy, bass harder, drums adequate and vocals that Dio-esque contained-energy. It rolls, rocks, grooves and keeps at it until it suddenly settles into a calm, acoustic passage. The way the band manages to make the transition from the rock to the acoustic and make it sound so natural is nothing short of genius.
The desert ride comes to an end with “Riding the Dunes”, where doom influence makes a more obvious appearance, but it is combined with the band’s own sound and is a part of it rather than a defining feature. It returns to the feel of the first track of the EP, and carries, with it, a “closer track” vibe. If one word could define this track, it’d be “soaring,” because that’s exactly how it is. Soaring grooves, soaring vocals riding on the wings of impeccable drumming and grooving riffs. It’s got a tendency to fly over your head, even at repeated listens, but that’s what it was designed for, to lull you in and move over you and disappear into the horizon.
Short as it is (shorter than my review, I’m sure,) Valley of the Sun delivers, to the fullest extent of that word, on “The Sayings of the Seers.” It’s, in one word, perfect. There is no odd song, or ill-fitting moment, and everything grooves on with such harmony and precision that there is much more to be expected from these guys. I have a feeling they’re just getting started, especially when they are slightly shying from a full-length but demolishing the listener easily with five-track EP’s. Whatever you do, if you’re into rock at all, at all, find and listen to this one. It’ll keep you coming back for more, and, it’s sweet as honey going down, too. A well-deserved, well-earned and well-given 10/10.
Review Written By Sarp Esin
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