|Review: Valhom - Desolation|
Year released: 2005
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: July 7, 2005
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4/5 (80%) (1 Vote)
I'm glad I gave this album time, as I like it much better than I did the first spin I gave it. Valhom are a pretty underground band from the US metal Mecca: Chicago, and this is actually their second full-length album. As far as I know they are not signed to a real label, so a second release so soon is an impressive enough accomplishment.
Valhom play Black Metal, with a stylistic thrust somewhere between early Emperor and maybe Dissection. The vocals especially remind me of Jon Notveidt with that almost sharp raspy tone. At first, I thought this was a rather featureless album of generic Black Metal, but I kept listening, because something about it tugged at me. You have to give "Desolation" some time to sink in, as this is really very cool melodic BM, but it is not accessible, and it will take some time before you start to really get the good stuff: the churning assault of "Damnation Seed", the shaded harmonies of "Thy Blood Paints The Sky", and the epic closer "Infernal Legions". The only complaints I have are a certain mushiness to the guitar recording, so that you hear the notes, but you don't hear the strings actually being hit – you know the kind of sound I mean? I like to hear those frigging strings being shredded, and when it sounds like the strings are just humming while the frets get throttled – it's just not as cool to me. Also, despite the hidden joys of this album, there are places where Valhom just go on too long, and pad out the songs by repeating riffs too many times.
Overall, this is a really enjoyable Black Metal slab that just takes a few more listens to really appreciate. Valhom are certainly a band to keep an eye on, as with a slightly meaner, more upfront guitar sound and some minor tightening of their songwriting, they could produce a real underground classic next time around, but that doesn't mean fans of true Black Metal should miss this one.
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