Review Summary: Another potentially good band puts out another potentially good album
Vale of Pnath first caught my attention fairly recently when I discovered their debut, The Prodigal Empire
. It was a technical death metal album for sure, following the same path as other groups that added a melodic spin on Necrophagist’s sound such as Obscura or Beyond Creation. It was a solid album and the band showed so much promise, but it left a lot of room for improvement. Vale still shows they have that same potential with II
though it remains largely untapped.
The sophomore release starts off strong with “Blacker Than,” a song that shows off the band’s creativity but also foreshadows the rest of the album. The song begins with a beautiful acoustic passage that sets up the main chord progression around which the rest of the band builds. Drums come crashing in and guitars create melodies that compliment and flow into each other. The bass holds the foundation with its feet in the original progression and, while prominent, is not overbearing. For a genre that seems to almost pride itself on its synthetic aesthetic, this is a very organic writing process and it works well for Vale of Pnath. It’s also a huge step up from their previous effort, The Prodigal Empire which fell short of its potential.
sees the band begin to grow beyond their debut, however Vale of Pnath still lack a desperately needed sense of individualism. The middle of the album lacks the personality that we glimpse in the first few tracks. Riffs become repetitive and meld into each other, song structure formulaic, what with three other songs that follow the same pattern as the opener. Things only get interesting when the band briefly slows their breakneck pace to experiment with more chordy ideas instead of alternate picking tech riffage.
It isn’t until the end where the album comes back to life with the closer, “Unburied.” It shows off Vale of Pnath at their best. Interesting chord pay, tastefully crafted guitar riffs and an outro that reminds you why you stuck it out this long. It's here we can see the band grasping for greatness but falling just short, held back as they struggle to find a voice of their own.