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Review: Valhalla - Northman

Label: Independent
Year released: 2001
Duration: 51:15
Tracks: 15
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: June 24, 2001
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4/5 (80%) (3 Votes)
Hailing from Austria, Valhalla plays aggressive thrash metal. This demo (15 songs!) was recorded on a eight-track, so obviously it doesn't have the best sound out there, but it's quite acceptable, although the drums would benefit in being brought more forward, as they are almost drowned by the other instruments. I got a bit uneasy when the first song started since at first I thought the vocalist was rapping - he's actually "speaking" some parts pretty much following the music, so it's not as bad as I first thought and actually quite fitting for the song. I'm breathing better now. The vocal work is quite remarkable here - relatively clean vocals but the singer also has a somewhat raw voice resulting in vocals very fitting to the genre.

Keyboards are used but are discreet enough that they don't get in the way - in other words this is still guitar-driven, unlike some bands who let the keyboards take the lead. I wish some bands would take Valhalla's example as to how to use keyboards effectively. Anyway, Valhalla's sound is interesting by the fact that they don't really sound like other thrash bands that I know, there's a catchiness to their songs that is normally not found in most thrash compositions. There's a little "twist" in the guitar sound in almost every song that just sticks to the mind. I'd say get the CD just to hear this somewhat unique sound!

There's a ballad, "The Legacy" that sounds like acoustic guitars are used, and the singer's raw voice certainly makes it interesting, overpowering the instruments on this one. The ballad is also quite melancholic and like most of the album, pretty catchy. Two of the 15 tracks are instrumental and two are sung in German.

With this release, Valhalla certainly gives the thrash genre an interesting breathe of fresh air by enhancing the sound while at the same time keeping the the roots of the genre at the core of the sound. This demo does of course suffer a little from the limitations of the recording method used, and it would be interesting to see what those guys can do with more professional means. Overall, a CD I really enjoy listening to. The songs are available in mp3 format on their web site.

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