Valley of the Sun return with a new album after three years, and after a couple of tracks I was already reaching to turn the volume up. I’d almost forgotten how much I enjoyed their last album until this one turned up. Now, I’m a sucker for a decent fuzzed-out guitar sound, particularly when it’s heavy as hell and coupled with a great vocalist. But this album? This one made me actually go and put an order in for a fuzz pedal of my very own.
For those who’ve not heard of the band before, they’re a four piece from Cincinnatti, Ohio, and this is their third album. I reviewed their previous one back in 2016 and loved it. This time around, they’ve dialled down the overarching fizziness of the guitar sound just a touch, but cranked everything else up way past 11 to give an utterly thunderous, thick, delightful wall of noise. I’m presuming the name Old Gods was a reference to trying to wake them up from their eternal slumber.
So, what’s new? Well, the production took a step up, and the result is a smoother, slicker album than last time out. It’s a seemingly effortless blend of heavy blues and psychedelia-tinged stoner rock with the kind of dynamic sensibility any band would kill for. Equally at home spitting out sub-two-minute hellbeast ‘Firewalker’ as much as on the more meandering six minute plus ‘Into the Abyss’, the band don’t know the meaning of the word ‘filler’ either. Tracks that on someone else’s album would be used to link songs together or act as buffer turn into interludes that both showcase the range and ability that the band possess and also act as bridges between songs that lead you in and out in a way that makes the songs around them even better. On its own, for example, ‘Dim Vision’ is a great track – but when sandwiched between the soft, almost folky ‘Gaia Creates’ and the utterly thunderous ‘Shiva Destroys’ before that in turn leads us into ‘Firewalker’ it becomes part of a much bigger whole, and that gives it more impetus.
Having these little interludes feels a bit like the band is holding your hand before smacking you over the head with the guitar. Sure, it’s possible to dip in and out of the tracks, and skip all of the interludes if that’s what you want to do, but in doing so you’ll miss out on the ebb and flow that the band have created that unifies the album and lets you drift through it. Personally, I think you’d be missing out – but then again, sometimes you do just want the thunderous smack in the head that tracks like ‘Faith is for Suckers’ provides, so it’s nice to have the option.
It’s clever, it’s heavy, and it’s easily the best album Valley of the Sun have released to date. Valley of the Sun have once again pushed themselves and created something distinctive and unique. I just hope it’s not another three year wait for the next album!
- Old Gods
- All We are
- Gaia Creates
- Dim Vision
- Shiva Destroys
- Into the Abyss
- Faith is for Suckers
- Buddha Transcends
- Means the Same
- Dreams of Sands