Valis
Head Full Of Pills


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
March 10th, 2012 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reality is the enemy.

On their debut album Vast Active Living Intelligence System, the ex-Screaming Trees bassist, Van Conner-led stoner act, Valis, showed some great skills and potential, even if they sometimes sounded unfocused.

However, on their second album Head Full Of Pills, the band have improved greatly. Each song here has a groove of its own and everything ranges from spaced out stoner like the title track and "Across The Sky" to the fast and heavy burners that pretty much shape the rest of the album. The whole production is murky as expected, but the bass isn't pushed out in front to a deafening volume, so that here you can actually hear the guitars and other soundscapes that make this record this good.

The entire album is heavily influenced by early stoner masters, Black Sabbath and all kinds of traces of modern stoner acts like Fatso Jetson, only a bit heavier. Since Van Conner has a lot of experience earned from the Screaming Trees era, everything here is high standard. This way Conner & Co. bring what's best to the listener.

It's hard to pick one or two highlights as each track has its own atmosphere. "Motorbike" might be the standout right away. Being as catchy as it is a lot of fun, this song makes for a great soundtrack for a drive out, with all the aggressive riffs and the high pitched vocals that resemble Ozzy Osbourne's. In contrast with it, there is the title track, "Head Full Of Pills," that at a slower tempo with a deep bass and wailing guitars in the background, create a stoned yet stressed out vibe over which Van Conner repeats "reality is the enemy". The song might be one of the best stoner rock can give.

"Voyager" is another masterpiece here. While it may be a grower, the song is one of the most accomplished Valis tracks, if not the most. At a 6-minute length, the band throws everything in with a surprisingly great result. Launching off with a really groovy hard riff drowned in soundscapes and reverbed vocals, the song progresses to a breakdown, only to restart to a thunderous finale."Across The Sky" is another nice addition to the album. The downright infectious dreamy chorus, the sparse, lush piano and again the guitar solos make this song really beautiful. It might be Valis' closest attempt at a power ballad, but without the cheesiness it usually comes with it.

Head Full Of Pills has only 8 tracks and 3 interludes clocking in at about 41 minutes. While this is a sufficient length, since more of it can become tiresome to the listener, the interludes only blur the album, giving the Head-Full-Of-Pills vibe but neither of them being necessary. Also, the closer, "Perpetual Motion Machine", could've been trimmed by a minute or two, having the same structure as "Voyager".

However, the album is a great accomplishment for Valis and aside from a few small unnecessary features, this is a really good example of how great stoner rock can be.



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user ratings (2)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Voyager - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkH8l2CtQkU
Head Full Of Pills - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfk4CNq-fI4
Across The Sky - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hUP8FfQ3cU
I haven't found Motorbike on Youtube only as a live version with a bad audio.

Digging: Mark Lanegan - Phantom Radio

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool review. The album's great. Their debut is just as good imo.

In the 2nd paragraph it should've been: on their second album... also put the albums titles in italics.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh yeah thanks. I don't know how to put this in italics, I've tried a html script I found but it didn't worked..
I find this better than the debut, it's more concise. But this doesn't mean Vast Living... isn't good.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Use [i][/i] to put titles in italics.

Reality is the enemy indeed... One of the best stoner rock bands around.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh.. I was using it with < and >,thanks! I wrote this today because I was just listening to them over and over again. You need to make a review for Dark Matter.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will some day. Now I'm focusing more on albums that just come out. I'll definitely review their new one which is going to slay.

Jruined
March 10th 2012


1300 Comments


This is cool just for the band name referencing P.K. Dick.


Good reveiew.

Digging: Scott Walker and Sunn O))) - Soused

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks Jruined. I need to read the book one day.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2012


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bump. This is what kids should listen to instead of Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats. Space rock rarely gets better.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hi Greg! Yep, this is definitely better. Have you listened to Siena Root ?

greg84
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2012


7417 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No, I haven't. The song I've just youtubed sounds fine. I'm tracing a retro psychedelic vibe.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, they are 70s type hard rock/eastern influenced psychedelic and a lot of mellotron. They have some amazing songs like Roots, The Summer Is Old, We Are Them, Two Step Backwards or Waiting For The Sun. If you want an album to start with, Far From The Sun is the best.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2012


3441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh and they're Swedish. For the Swedish weekend



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