Rating:
7.0
Valtari - Fragments Of A Nightmare
24 February 2012


01. Sweet Tragedy
02. Black Sun Rising
03. Judas Lie
04. Mistress Of Madness
05. Always Remember
06. Traitors Smile
07. Inside My Darkness
08. The Awakening
09. Dying Light
10. The Final Call


Rating supplement: If you have, at any point, uttered the phrase "melodeath bores me nowadays", this isn't for you; but avid fans of the genre should take a look.

Early to mid-2000s saw the birth of dozens of bands (here dubbed "the second generation") inspired by the original Gothenburg scene, and soon a myriad of others followed. The scene is already over-saturated. What will happen when the third generation - which will take the "modern" or the melancholic melodeath* sound even further, probably into uniformity - arrives? For some, it will be the end of their interest for the genre, but I can tell you that, when it happens, Valtari are going to be one of the better bands in the bunch.

Or, more precisely, one of the better musicians in the bunch: Valtari is a one man project, and Fragments Of A Nightmare is fully performed and produced by the Aussie multi-instrumentalist Marty Warren. Some of the influences he lists are Dark Tranquillity, Insomnium, Be'lakor and Dissection (see, some second generation here!) and he's done a pretty good job describing the band's sound by doing so. What can be heard here is a relatively inoffensive blend of melodeath, not bastardized by core-y angst or over-saturated with keyboards (big cheers!), high-paced and with an occasional meloblack element thrown into the mix.

It is universally assumed that multi-instrumentalists aren't on equal levels of skill on all of their instruments, and that self-produced and self-released albums don't sound as good as the ones supported by a label - Valtari is an exception to both of those rules. Marty's harsh vocals are up to par, and his drumming solutions and guitar/keyboard skills are on the same, very satisfactory, level; the production is quite pleasing to my ears as well. As for the actual songwriting: the riffs and the passages manage to invoke some interest and offer solutions more creative than a lot of those dime-a-dozen bands in the scene.

Despite the high pace, the album lacks some releases of energy, and more variety could be brought here either by throwing more meloblack elements into the picture or by cramming more of those interesting arrangements into the fairly standard verses. But those are minor flaws in comparison to its biggest problem: to use that often repeated sentence, it is nothing we haven't heard before. Valtari arrived ten years late to the party.

So why the (high) seven mark? The fact that this album is entirely self-made and very well realized adds a lot to its value, but I have a more important point to make. If this were a fifth or sixth album by one of those "second generation" melodeath bands, it would have been rated a point higher by the community. Even the most skillful of those bands have, at best, only offered us a fairly slow progression. So if you really loved those albums, there's no point in not liking this even a little bit, unless you're into hypocrisy (not the band!) - which is not cool.

* I got tired of repeatedly typing melodeath/Gothenburg. I have a soul too.


Band profile: Valtari
Album: Fragments Of A Nightmare


 



Written on 10.03.2012 by
Milena
A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.
More reviews by Milena ››



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K†ulu - 10.03.2012 at 10:06  
Well, at least he is not from Finland... and I agree on the big cheers for no keyboards overuse, so maybe I will give this a spin some time.
Milena - 10.03.2012 at 10:10  
Written by K†ulu on 10.03.2012 at 10:06

Well, at least he is not from Finland...

just try to look at it outside of the genre context and you'll be fine.
Risto - 10.03.2012 at 13:02  
The bands he mentions as his influences are surely intriguing (and the fact he's from Australia), will probably check it out. On another note, that capital L in there ruins the linking for Be'lakor. I guess there's a reason the band is picky about it
Milena - 10.03.2012 at 15:08  
Written by Risto on 10.03.2012 at 13:02

The bands he mentions as his influences are surely intriguing (and the fact he's from Australia), will probably check it out. On another note, that capital L in there ruins the linking for Be'lakor. I guess there's a reason the band is picky about it

I know, I only saw my mistake until after the review was published, I'm waiting for someone with proper perms to edit it for me.
What I found interesting in those influences - and what inspired a big part of the first paragraph - is that he is equally influenced by both the older and the newer acts... everyone used to say "oh, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity definitely", but now, it is also Insomnium, and I find that interesting.
Risto - 10.03.2012 at 17:10  
Written by Milena on 10.03.2012 at 15:08

What I found interesting in those influences - and what inspired a big part of the first paragraph - is that he is equally influenced by both the older and the newer acts... everyone used to say "oh, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity definitely", but now, it is also Insomnium, and I find that interesting.

About time that someone's influenced by Insomnium really, they're getting pretty massive for a melodeath band.

This guy indeed seems to be the Tuomas Saukkonen of Australia, pretty much agree with the rating
Milena - 10.03.2012 at 18:32  
Written by Risto on 10.03.2012 at 17:10

About time that someone's influenced by Insomnium really, they're getting pretty massive for a melodeath band.

This guy indeed seems to be the Tuomas Saukkonen of Australia, pretty much agree with the rating

Agreed! And I'm glad you like it, though I think Marty will get better than Tuomas with time.
Merchant of Doom - 11.03.2012 at 11:18  
I listened to this on Facebook and I must say that, although it's well played, the compositions are pretty mediocre and forgettable - can't remember one single song! The vocals are too uniform and boring throughout - some clean vocals would have broken up the monotony. I really wouldn't see the point in adding another below-par clone to the pile...
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 11:28  
Written by Merchant of Doom on 11.03.2012 at 11:18

I listened to this on Facebook and I must say that, although it's well played, the compositions are pretty mediocre and forgettable - can't remember one single song! The vocals are too uniform and boring throughout - some clean vocals would have broken up the monotony. I really wouldn't see the point in adding another below-par clone to the pile...

I DID say that this is for the passionate fans, someone like yourself wouldn't see any redeemable qualities in the 999999th melodeath band they've heard as for adding one more band to the pile, with the arrival of this third generation, the genre is really in the danger of dying out, but I believe, and you can hold my word for it, that this will be one of the better bands in that wave, if you still have the nerves for melodeath. What the genre needs is some 10-15 years of no one playing it, so we can grow nostalgic I guess.

That's a good point about the clean vocs, but as much as I adore bands that mix clean and harsh vocs in this type of music, a lot of them just add clean vocals because that's the thing everyone does... when you have some awesome voice to add to the picture, like Lars used to be in Before The Dawn, then do it; if not, I don't see the point really.
Merchant of Doom - 11.03.2012 at 11:39  
I have nothing against melodeath per se (I quite like the genre) and I don't even mind the saturation of the scene IF the new bands were any good (some of them are, don't get me wrong). What I find pointless is the proliferation of bands who are just mediocre, boring clones. Personally, I would listen to a clone, but it must be a good one...
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 11:42  
Written by Merchant of Doom on 11.03.2012 at 11:39

I have nothing against melodeath per se (I quite like the genre) and I don't even mind the saturation of the scene IF the new bands were any good (some of them are, don't get me wrong). What I find pointless is the proliferation of bands who are just mediocre, boring clones. Personally, I would listen to a clone, but it must be a good one...

That sounds somewhat similar to my stance, but, of course, since we never completely agree, we disagree about this particular band... tell you what, we'll wait a couple of years and if I'm wrong about Valtari, I owe you a beer
Merchant of Doom - 11.03.2012 at 12:16  
I would be more than happy for Valtari to become better... they (he) are almost good, but I couldn't really find anything exciting about this release to project them to a different level, to make them stand out from the crowd. Look forward to the beer, though...
Windrider - 11.03.2012 at 12:55  
Sounds worth for giving it a listen... Two comments on the review though:
Quote:
It is universally assumed that multi-instrumentalists aren't on equal levels of skill on all of their instruments, and that self-produced and self-released albums don't sound as good as the ones supported by a label

I actually enjoy a bunch of one-man bands and I can say that the instrumental skills (maybe exclude the drums) are on an equal level with those who concentrate on one instrument, e.g. Taake, Alcest, Wintersun, various underground bands...
And that label-supported bands get a better production is a prejudice we actually got rid of for at least five years now.
Valtari - 11.03.2012 at 12:59  
Hey Mora, thanks for the great comparison - Tuomas? He's bloody awesome! and even the suggestion I can stand in his shadow is a great compliment

Merchant, mate I know well when a release just 'doesn't do it' for you, and I regret my first album seems fit that for you. I write my music in no delusion of re-inventing the wheel, but because I just love the style and have a lot of fun doing it I think I have something good (in a modest way I think I have something very good! lol). I do not want to conquer the world, I just hope others will like this album as much as I do, and if so, its a winner! And in a couple of years you can buy me a beer when you get Mora's! haha
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 13:47  
Written by Windrider on 11.03.2012 at 12:55

I actually enjoy a bunch of one-man bands and I can say that the instrumental skills (maybe exclude the drums) are on an equal level with those who concentrate on one instrument, e.g. Taake, Alcest, Wintersun, various underground bands...
And that label-supported bands get a better production is a prejudice we actually got rid of for at least five years now.

Ah, but here we do not exclude the drums the drums here are programmed though, but that is because the recorded sounds weren't of the same sound quality as the rest, the budget for the recording process only extended up to some basic mics and pre-amps.
Windrider - 11.03.2012 at 13:54  
Written by Milena on 11.03.2012 at 13:47

the budget for the recording process only extended up to some basic mics and pre-amps.

And this is why I enjoy bm where I don't give a fuck if it's recorded in a studio or a garage
Merchant of Doom - 11.03.2012 at 14:02  
Written by Valtari on 11.03.2012 at 12:59

Hey Mora, thanks for the great comparison - Tuomas? He's bloody awesome! and even the suggestion I can stand in his shadow is a great compliment

Merchant, mate I know well when a release just 'doesn't do it' for you, and I regret my first album seems fit that for you. I write my music in no delusion of re-inventing the wheel, but because I just love the style and have a lot of fun doing it I think I have something good (in a modest way I think I have something very good! lol). I do not want to conquer the world, I just hope others will like this album as much as I do, and if so, its a winner! And in a couple of years you can buy me a beer when you get Mora's! haha



I know it's difficult to be "original" these days... actually, impossible! I didn't dislike the album, I just found it didn't add anything new and the songs were kind of average (apart from a couple). It definitely shows promise and I'm in awe of your technical abilities... Having said that, I wish you'd tried to differentiate yourself and your music a tad more... For example, I love Be'lakor and, although they pretty much stay in the groove as far as the genre is concerned, their last album showed a slightly different approach, more varied and fresh. So, very encouraging, but "can do better"... I don't know where Moira lives, but you are down under, aren't you? The beer will have to be strictly virtual, then, unless you pay for the plane ticket... lol
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 14:03  
Written by Windrider on 11.03.2012 at 13:54

And this is why I enjoy bm where I don't give a fuck if it's recorded in a studio or a garage

I'm more for the "cleaner" production (I had this conversation with Rod and Troy before... obviously, messy production can add to mysticism and atmosphere, but I don't listen to a lot of bands in the genres that benefit from it, such as black metal), so if this production was clean enough for me, it's clean enough for everyone
Mr. Doctor - 11.03.2012 at 14:11  
Written by Milena on 11.03.2012 at 14:03
If this production was clean enough for me, it's sterile for everyone

Fixed that for you.

Becuase I'm an asshole.
Windrider - 11.03.2012 at 14:14  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.03.2012 at 14:11

Written by Milena on 11.03.2012 at 14:03
If this production was clean enough for me, it's sterile for everyone

Fixed that for you.

Becuase I'm an asshole.

"You took the words right out of my mouth..."
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 14:18  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.03.2012 at 14:11

Becuase I'm an asshole.

Yes indeed, you are
The conversation I had with Troy and you on that Before The Dawn news piece got me thinking about the scene in general and it reflected in this review, so without you two, it would be a lot more dry... so thanks, I guess
Mr. Doctor - 11.03.2012 at 14:19  
Written by Milena on 11.03.2012 at 14:18

Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.03.2012 at 14:11

Becuase I'm an asshole.

Yes indeed, you are
The conversation I had with Troy and you on that Before The Dawn news piece got me thinking about the scene in general and it reflected in this review, so without you two, it would be a lot more dry... so thanks, I guess


Heh no problem. I suppose you are aware I'm just half joking anyway. I do enjoy my fair amount of bands that have clean production.
Milena - 11.03.2012 at 14:21  
Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.03.2012 at 14:19

I suppose you are aware I'm just half joking anyway. I do enjoy my fair amount of bands that have clean production.

Dude, I know
Ag Fox - 15.03.2012 at 15:31  
Written by Milena on 11.03.2012 at 14:18

Written by Mr. Doctor on 11.03.2012 at 14:11

Becuase I'm an asshole.

Yes indeed, you are
The conversation I had with Troy and you on that Before The Dawn news piece got me thinking about the scene in general and it reflected in this review, so without you two, it would be a lot more dry... so thanks, I guess
so those two made things wet... ? o.o
Milena - 15.03.2012 at 15:53  
Written by Ag Fox on 15.03.2012 at 15:31

so those two made things wet... ? o.o

Aaaaand we have a thread winner
Troy Killjoy - 15.03.2012 at 15:54  
Written by Ag Fox on 15.03.2012 at 15:31
so those two made things wet... ? o.o

I can make things wet on my own, thank you very much.
Ag Fox - 15.03.2012 at 15:54  
Just catching up on all the reviews that I have missed during my absence =P
Milena - 15.03.2012 at 15:59  
Written by Ag Fox on 15.03.2012 at 15:54

Just catching up on all the reviews that I have missed during my absence =P

You'll notice that, in my reviews, no matter how I try to simply describe the album in question, say whether or not I've liked it, and pitch it for its target audience (whether the target audience is "people who would enjoy 66 minutes of femme metal-lite" or "people who play Magic:The Gathering wearing Rhapsody Of Fire t-shirts" or whatever, doesn't matter), most of the people who comment and/or check it out are miles away from that target audience I had in mind.
Ag Fox - 15.03.2012 at 16:04  
Well... I read everything whether it is targeted at me, and that is perhaps how I got into most sub-genres of metal gradually =P

but for the record, I am probably the one that contributed most towards the melodeath/gothenburg category in the 2011 MSAs, so I'm definitely your target audience :3
Milena - 15.03.2012 at 16:08  
Written by Ag Fox on 15.03.2012 at 16:04

Well... I read everything whether it is targeted at me, and that is perhaps how I got into most sub-genres of metal gradually =P

but for the record, I am probably the one that contributed most towards the melodeath/gothenburg category in the 2011 MSAs, so I'm definitely your target audience :3

If you don't feel like you're bored of all that melodeath, then definitely. You could also make an estimate how objective I was, since I haven't heard a LOT of melodeath clones while digging for the good stuff, like I imagine you probably have, since that's the way it goes, so I'm not sure whether Valtari is better than a lot of them, or just better than the ones I've heard.
Ag Fox - 15.03.2012 at 16:14  
I remember checking out a couple of songs on bandcamp before your review came out courtesy of the new MS ads, and I would say that are a bit more than 7.0 for a melodic death album. Haven't listened to the whole thing to form a solid opinion yet, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do (=

I do get bored of Melodic Death / Gothenburg though as with almost every sub-genre of music. Then again, all sub-genres have good and bad stuff. It just so happens that the melodeath gothenburg scene have a lot less good stuff percentage wise and it's hard to wade through the sea of sub-par releases, hence it's usually boring. imo anyway. That's why my on-the-go pmp always have many different sub-genres to keep things fresh.
AngelofDeth - 03.04.2012 at 08:50  
This album screams MEDIOCRE. I am pretty big into Melodeath and know enough to seperate the cream from the crop and this sure aint no cream.
It is extremely similar to Kalmah yet slightly more boring (which is already a problem with Kalmah)

I give props to the guy for doing this all himself and the album is respectable and notable, but it aint a gamechanger and only worth checking out for the most Die Hard Melodeath fans.

As for the Future of Melodeath, I have faith in Whispered who made a smashing debut in 2010? and are working on a new album right now.

(I wrote a review for their debut but it wont show until a staff writes a review first b/c the stupid new rules... anyway check em out!)
Milena - 03.04.2012 at 09:26  
Written by AngelofDeth on 03.04.2012 at 08:50

I give props to the guy for doing this all himself and the album is respectable and notable, but it aint a gamechanger and only worth checking out for the most Die Hard Melodeath fans.

Which is what I wrote really
Troy Killjoy - 03.04.2012 at 22:32  
Written by AngelofDeth on 03.04.2012 at 08:50
(I wrote a review for their debut but it wont show until a staff writes a review first b/c the stupid new rules... anyway check em out!)

If their debut was released in 2010... you don't have to wait for anything. :/
AngelofDeth - 04.04.2012 at 06:11  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 03.04.2012 at 22:32

If their debut was released in 2010... you don't have to wait for anything. :/

Oh shit i must of read the rules wrong then :/

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