Valerinne - Desire review

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Band: Valerinne
Album: Desire
Release date: March 2019

01. Young Demon
02. Star From Below
03. Earth From Above
04. Deceiver
05. Hegemon
06. Sorrows

In spite of the initial intention of post-rock to be an abandonment of rock conventions and formulas, the saturation and similarity within the scene can make it difficult for new bands to stand out, particularly heavy instrumental post-rock groups. However, by demonstrating a clear vision and clear mastery of their sound, Valerinne are able to distinguish themselves through the sheer quality of their work.

Desire, the fourth album from Valerinne and my introduction to the group, certainly possesses the heaviness of post-metal, particularly in its crunchier moments, but the sound leans more towards post-rock, particularly due to the purely instrumental approach. Compared with Isis or Cult of Luna, there is far less emphasis on riffs or really anything much in the way of obvious hooks; instead, the band very much goes for the 'sonic maelstrom' style of heavy post-rock, with a lot of tremolo guitar playing throughout and elaborate instrumental layering. The songs can be quite deceptive; substantial stretches in each track involve maintaining the same core drum rhythm and instrumental base, but with gradual, subtle alterations to existing guitar tracks and layering of additional parts to slowly morph the soundscape into something new, frequently phasing from a more uplifting, celestial sound to a darker, more intense vibe. The transitions, when they do occur, are usually seamless, maintaining the impression of a single, cohesive, extended entity.

And extended it is; this album is not for those looking to sample. Six tracks, each of which comfortably breaches the 10-minute mark, revel in the patient and gradual approach of Valerinne. The sound is, for the most part, quite consistent throughout, with something of a 'wall of sound' style, whereby identifiable riffs are eschewed in favour for an overwhelming, majestic swarm of sound conjured by the various interweaving tremolo guitar parts. The production really serves this approach well; whilst the instrumental tracks by themselves often sound rather gentle and euphoric, the combination of substantial layering and a spacious production that really enables them to 'fill' the sound results in what can be quite a overwhelming and suffocating end product, reminding me somewhat of Year Of No Light in terms of how overbearing it can be in its more intense and noisier moments.

In terms of individual tracks, the two that stood out to me were "Deceiver", a notably up-tempo track that slowly evolves from a jangly and dainty opening to a more sinister, crushing, heavier sound prior to a quite noisy and chaotic climax, and the meditative closer, "Sorrows". This latter song is an achingly patient and subdued effort, almost drone-esque in how long it sustains the same shimmering, noisy sounds until a very belated change in pace. On that note, given how indistinct the instrumental lines can be at times, I feel like there's a bit of a noise music/rock influence throughout Desire.

Desire isn't something to dip in and out of; this is an album to dive into and swim within its huge, dense soundscapes. 73 minutes is an intimidating ask for something as relatively invariant as this album, but for those with the patience to commit to the journey, the payoff can be quite enchanting.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 8


Written on 28.04.2019 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 26 users
04.05.2019 - 17:31
Au Pays Natal
Thanks for this my friend. I love this band. Their albums are super long but I am never bored. One of the best guitar tones in the genre. Excellent review and thanks.

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