Classic rock has established an ironclad foundation that has influenced every band and artist under the sun since the early 60s. There is not a rock band alive today who cannot thank their predecessors for recording albums in barns as the sun rises, pounding legendary beats in countryside mansions, or enchanting tens of thousands with thirty-minute guitar solos.
Law of averages says most will be imitators, not innovators.
Valkyrie, the brothers from Virginia, released album number four, Fear via Relapse Records on July 24. It is their first in five years and has an ominous cover of a wizened hermit among feasting crows. The Norse mythos surrounding it is the best part of the whole album.
The songs of Fear are elementally harmonious. Each song from “Feeling So Low” to “Exasperator” give the sense you are listening to the bottom of a cliffside where jagged rocks threaten your destruction. It has a sense of mysticism and lumbering intensity, yet the obvious is in plain sight. It is a vacuous fjord of assembly-line crafting and unpolished vocal prowess.
Overall, Fear is the guest who brings the same dish to potluck every week. It’s consistent but brings nothing new to the table. The raw production value makes it difficult to endure and Adams’ singing is less narrative and more a style you hear at a wedding or a barbecue. You can hear him straining at points. They are a band you could imagine forming at the office one day. “You know, me and James from HR are thinking of jamming soon.” Walk away from those conversations.
Influence wise, it is like they listened to Blue Oyster Cult for a month straight and then made an album. The songwriting is formulaic. Almost every song has a bridge that is more self-indulgent than a hyena at a Sizzler. There are enough cookie cutter riffs to keep a bakery open.
Lyrics like the one in “Loveblind” do not help the cause either. “Love will blind you.” If you want to be a valiant and mystic band, why sing about cliché issues like that in the first place? “Evil Eye” is an “Achilles Last Stand” rip-off and the only saving grace musically in the album is “Exasperator”, which is a beautiful salute to the end.
Give Fear a blood eagle treatment and move on. They are one of the imitators.