Valient Thorr - Immortalizer
Record Label: Volcom Entertainment
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Valient Thorr, the self-proclaimed space-time travelers from Venus, return with their fourth full-length and third under the Volcom label, Immortalizer. Although it would be super-cool if this were some weird form of extra-terrestrial music, it actually sounds very much like it was made by Earthlings. Apparently, those signals we've been sending into space are being received by someone out there. They also must contain heavy doses of classic arena-rock.
For those already familiar with the band's music, you probably know what to expect by now. If you've missed out on their music thus far, Valient Thorr (who actually hail from North Carolina) play a high-energy, progressive-leaning metal with a little punk and Southern rock thrown in the mix. New producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hot Hot Heat) doesn't toy much with the band's signature sound. Vocalist Valient Himself still displays a high register that evokes AC/DC's Brian Johnson, while his singing and speaking/shouting is reminiscent of Keith Buckley. They employ the occasional gang vocal, as heard on "No Holds Barred" and "Red Flag." At times, the band do sound slightly heavier and less Southern than in the past, like on "Birdhead Looking @ Goldenhands," the chorus of which sounds more influenced by British heavy-metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Thankfully, they avoid modern-metalcore cliches, like misplaced guttural screams and breakdowns. This is good old-fashioned, unpretentious hard rock.
For supposed aliens from another world, Valient Thorr are remarkably preoccupied with Earthbound issues. Their downhome Southern-rock vibe belies the liberal political messages found in the band's lyrics. Music that sounds fit for a Saturday night at a smoky bar-room with pickups parked out front is an unusual backdrop for protest songs, but it's what Valient Thorr have always done, and Immortalizer brings more of the same. The odd-ball in the bunch is "No Holds Barred," which sounds like little more than an ode to wrestling, featuring the band shouting out squared-circle maneuvers in gang vocal style ("Power bomb, cobra clutch, flying dropkick, piledriver, DDT, figure four, hammerlock..."). It certainly is fun, but it seems out of place amid the band's other politically-charged material.
Fans of Valient Thorr will likely be satisfied by this release, which finds the band remaining true to their signature sound and message, while throwing in a few surprises here and there. For those already hating on the band or their style of music, this release won’t change your mind. Either way, Valient Thorr have served up another disc of accessible and thoughtful rock, ready made for shouting along or playing air guitar. It is a worthy addition to Valient Thorr’s consistent body of work.