|Review: Valkyrja - Contamination|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2010
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: April 17, 2010
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Rated 3.88/5 (77.5%) (8 Votes)
Second album for this Swedish horde, and first for Metal Blade Records. Raw, fast Black Metal is the predominant style here, but there are some more atmospheric, sometimes ambient and melodic parts that pop up all over the place, sometimes when least expected.
The vocals are of one of two things I notice the most when I listen to this album. Raucous screeches that are partly clean (often clean enough to make out the lyrics without too much effort) and very emotional, pretty much leading the mood of the music which goes from anywhere to "chaotic and destructive" to sorrowful and melancholic. I found the vocal lines more memorable than just about any guitar riff on here (save for a couple of cool passages on "Laments of the Destroyed"), which – at least for me – is unusual with the extreme forms of metal. The second thing I notice the most are the unrelenting drums. They're like a perpetual, impenetrable wall of sound. They're played at high speed for nearly the whole duration of the album except for some more quiet passages (the beginning of "Ambience of the Dead" is a good example), and while this usually means "boring", here I found that they are quite fitting, when not downright addictive. I haven't seen that many bands that can pull this off and not become boring before you get half way through the album.
The guitars are raw and fast as well, and are kind of unremarkable (not bad, just not standing out) until things slow down in the more melodic and atmospheric passages, and that's where you'll catch some cool memorable parts, because in the faster passages, the mix of speedy riffs and drums is so sonically busy that it feels like a high-speed train is passing right by you.
Contamination is probably a bit too long by about 10 minutes, as toward the end it begins to overstay its welcome, but at least not to the point of giving the urge to hit the stop button. A good mix of raw and darkly melodic Black Metal with some really good vocal work that's I've been spinning for a few weeks now, and still uncovering things I hadn't heard in prior listens. Good stuff.
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