Ah, the joys of fuzzed out, heavy-ass guitar…
Allan Jones has a fuzzy head courtesy of Fuzzorama Records releasing this beauty on 29 April 29 2016
Ah, the joys of fuzzed out, heavy-ass guitar. The visceral, crunchy tones that drill into your skull, grab hold of your brain stem and tell it that this is rock, and now you must headbang. Calling this album Volume Rock was definitely the right choice: everything about it has me cranking up the volume more with every play. Even better, the production on the album is top-notch, which means you can crank it up loud without losing any of the quality or impact.
As a four-piece outfit from Cincinnati, Ohio, it seems a little strange to see Valley Of The Sun on Swedish label Fuzzorama Records – but it’s the perfect fit for them. What’s more, they easily hold their own against their label-mates, too – and with the likes of We Hunt Buffalo, Truckfighters, and Deville on there with them that’s high praise in itself.
Musically, they’re firmly in the heavy stoner-fuzz end of things, but there are elements that lift them out of the myriad bands who fall into that category. Firstly, there’s a grunge sensibility that reminds you of the likes of Soundgarden – particularly with Ryan Ferrier’s thundering vocal having power and control to spare. On top of that, there some QOTSA-style rhythm section work and musicality giving a subtle but clever flow and some great dynamics, too. Layered over that, there’s some very bluesy guitar work, and the rhythm section is capable of some proper old-school classic rock drive and rattle to go along with it. It’s an amalgam that provides something that’s both heavy but musical – definitely a cut above the usual entrants into the genre.
As to the songs, it’s really hard to pull out favourites, but opener ‘Eternal Forever’ is a brilliant track – opening with some staccato rimshot drumming, bringing in the fuzzy guitar riff, and letting the vocal power its way over the top to bring things into full flow. There’s pace, power, and it just doesn’t let up. ‘Land of Fools’ backs off the vocal a little, and lets the rest of the band breathe a little and that produces something that’s both clean and heavy in the same song, and keeps building and building to a gorgeous fuzzy guitar solo.
To be fair, it’s really difficult to pick tracks out of this – it’s a brilliantly crafted album that really does get better with every listen. Its big, bombastic, and compared to their debut, it’s showing a little more control, a lot more craft, and it knows when to back off a little so it’s not quite so full-on all the time. It’s a welcome improvement, and bodes very well for the future. I can’t help but think that they’re going to be a fantastic band to watch live, but in the meanwhile I’ll just enjoy listening to this album one more time…
8 out of 10
- Eternal Forever
- Wants and Needs
- The Hunt
- Land of Fools
- I Breathe the Earth
- Speaketh the Shaman
- Beneath the Veil
- Empty Visions