Valtari - Fragments Of A Nightmare review
|Album:||Fragments Of A Nightmare|
|Release date:||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.
||Written on 10.03.2012 by A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.|
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