A Fragile King (Century Media)
By Mike Delano
Good things can happen when a death metal band grows up. Nothing can replace the fire of youth, but once a death metal crew has some albums under its belt, it becomes less concerned with things like unyielding blastbeats, who can shred the sickest solo, and whose vocalist’s throat-tearing sound vomit is the most profane. It becomes more about songcraft, about coming up with a vision for a record and then having the experience to be able to deliver on it. Vallenfyre isn’t a grown-up band – this is their first album – but among its members are veterans of the scene: Gregor Mackintosh of Paradise Lost, Hamish Glencross of My Dying Bride, Andrian Erlandsson of At The Gates. When guys this talented get together, it’s pretty safe to bet that they’re gonna create something good, even if they’re just fucking around.
‘Cept there’s no fucking around on A Fragile King, just 11 solid death metal cuts borne from a dark place. Mackintosh started banging out what would become the album after his father died in 2009 and he was looking for a release. He returned to his death/crust/doom roots and decided to pay his respects musically to the guy who drove Paradise Lost to its first gigs and, as he puts it, to “the only Dad I knew that listened to Bolt Thrower’s Peel Sessions on the radio.” And it’s quite a return. “As The World Collapses” is pure, primal catharsis, while the lurching, Sabbath-rooted “Seeds” is in no hurry to wander out of the cold comfort of its “eternal winter.”