Valleys New Album "Fearless" Shows Just What These Guys Can Do!
On October 11, 2019 the North Carolina Metalcore band, Valleys released their latest full-length album entitled Fearless. This is their first album to be released since joining Tragic Hero Records, a label that played a hand in bringing notoriety to bands such as A Skylit Drive, Motionless in White, Iwrestledabearonce, Alesana and countless others. I thought it would be best if I started out with a basic knowledge of their sound, so I had something to compare the latest album to and I took to Spotify to consume all it had to offer in the way of Valleys. It was as I was listening to Experiment One: Asylum that I noticed a firm departure from the rest of the album. In fact, it was so different it was hard to see how it was the same band. I had become so engrossed that I didn’t notice the album had ended and Spotify had gone on to play something else entirely. After that I decided it was time to stop tiptoeing around the past and jumped in to the new album. While looking through the bands history I discovered that Fearless is the first album Valleys has released with Jayson Mitchell at the helm, taking on lead vocals after the sudden passing of frontman Mikey Clement. When disaster hits, it’s common for bands to fall apart or to put out emotionally charged music that isn’t always as well composed as it could be. With emotions running high and a band in mourning, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I queued up the album.
The transition from Reborn to Experiment One: Asylum was pretty stark and showed a great deal of growth in just two short years so I was looking forward to seeing what changes I could expect to hear on Fearless. Despite all they had been through, these gentlemen managed to pull off their cleanest and most complex release yet. The recording quality was far better than on earlier releases which helped them really shine here. The finished product is incredibly well balanced with a good blend of heavy screams and growls, crystal clear cleans, drum patterns that perfectly complement the guitarists pace and presence, and a baseline that ties it all together.
The album opens with “Tower of Babel” and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Right out of the gate, the sound is gnarly. I attribute this to Mitchell’s vocals and Robert Meikle’s blasting drum pattern. This explosive energy is carried throughout the remainder of the track and pulls you in to hear what the album has to offer. As it continues, you get a taste of the remaining elements that define this album. I was particularly taken with Nick Raimondi’s work on the track “Bunkatsu”. Far too often the bass line fades in to background making it difficult to pick up and that was not the case here. In “Reflections” they take everything down a notch giving us a soulful track and some fantastic guitar riffs from RJ Riggle and Will Shoe. I expect to hear complicated rifts and rapid chord progression with metalcore bands, so when they slow things down and deliver something beautiful and emotional I always take notice. The album as a whole is well organized and delivers a cohesive sound with enough variety that it never feels stale.
Valleys managed to pull themselves up after something that would have sunk a less dedicated band and created something wonderful. With lyrics that advocate for those on the outskirts, the people who forge their own path, and those who cannot speak for themselves, they show themselves to be allies of unique and the unheard in a time of political and social disarray. This is something that really resonates with me. You see it frequently in the counterculture and its more prominent members, but not enough. We belong to such an incredible culture but are often overlooked or too anxious to stand up for what we believe in, so when a band goes out of their way to face this fact head on and take a stand with us, it’s always going to pull at my heart a little. I look forward to seeing where they go as they continue to grow and evolve, and if you have slept on Fearless, it’s time to wake up. Check out the titular track below and follow the links to check them out on FaceBook, Spotify, and more!
Tragic Hero Records Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBJJDv_XQha4wwaudZUuxKA