By: Victor Van Ommen
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 29/04/2016
Label: Fuzzorama Records
Now left to their own devices, Ryan and Aaron have managed to sail their ship to areas previously unexplored, refining their sound in the process. They are no longer a band that just plugs in and blasts; there’s a sense consciousness here like they took their time. And though they still blast speakers open, they do so not only with purpose but also tact.
“Volume Rock” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1). Eternal Forever
2). Wants and Needs
3). The Hunt
4). Land of Fools
5). I Breathe the Earth
6). Speaketh the Shaman
7). Beneath the Veil
9). Empty Vision
The power, riffs, and melodies that came flying at us on 2014’s “Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk” were insatiable. Valley of the Sun has supported the hell out of this album, touring The United States and Europe, both with and without Truckfighters. Every time the band took to the stage and played songs like “Centaur Rodeo” or “Maya,” they left crowds sweaty, exhausted, and exhilarated. This spring we get to do it all over again because Valley of the Sun will do more tours in celebration of the release of their newest ass-kicker “Volume Rock.”
With the bass drum right out in front of the crunchy, shiny guitars and an elaborate vocal show running on their heels, the album’s name does nothing more than state the obvious. In all honesty, Valley of the Sun’s dusty debut EP or kick-in-the-teeth follow up could have gone by the same name, so the title doesn’t really let us in on anything we didn’t already know. If we let the songs speak for themselves, however, then it’s clear that Valley of the Sun continue to keep up their loud reputation while they develop into a full-fledged rock band with depth; both in song and soul.
The two opening cuts couple hard verses and even harder choruses together. It’s a tip of the hat to “Electric Talons…” making it clear that Valley of the Sun still spit blood and leave marks everywhere they go. A simple formula at face value, but with the right guys laying down the tracks, the results can be massive. Luckily Aaron and Ryan – on drums and guitar/bass/vocals respectively – are the right guys.
The next few tracks take the speed down a touch which makes room for the riffs to breathe and the songs have more of shape because of it. “Speaketh the Shaman” marches on steadily with a stop and go riff while the lyrics tell a story of shamans, which may have some sort of connection with the teachings of Don Juan. Then comes the chorus, a firm knock to the jaw filled with “woo-ooo!” greatness. “Land of Fools” and “Breathe the Earth” kind of follow suit, filling out Valley of the Sun’s sound with a bluesy aesthetic – there’s sadness in these songs – before returning to something more in line with the band’s previous work.
The ferociousness of the band comes back in “The Hunt,” a high speed chase with plenty of layers of vocals and more “oo-ooo”’s that race against the beat of the song. In “Wants and Needs” Ryan sings “you’re all that I know, all I want to be, all I need” to Aaron’s raucous drum beat, and even though the lyrics are probably referring to some lady somewhere in the world, I can’t help but feel that Ryan is also singing about his ambitions to be in a band that tumbles down a path of aggressive, upbeat rock n’ roll. And if there’s any doubt in my mind about this double meaning was an accident, it’s debunked immediately by the classic guitar solo that bridges the two halves of the song.
It’s not only the difference between fast and slow that gets explored during the ten tracks on “Volume Rock.” The vocal performance includes a few more layers, a role that Aaron might have to fill in during the live setting. The band lost their bassist, too, who not only was a founding member but also an integral part of the songwriting process. Now left to their own devices, Ryan and Aaron have managed to sail their ship to areas previously unexplored, refining their sound in the process. They are no longer a band that just plugs in and blasts; there’s a sense consciousness here like they took their time. And though they still blast speakers open, they do so not only with purpose but also tact. Whether this is to be chocked up to a new band chemistry is unclear, but the fact remains that Valley of the Sun have done some self-reflection; they’ve learned how to work and read a crowd and have put this to use by making an album that not only satisfies them but also all those folks who are going to head out and work up neck injuries during the band’s next European tour.
“Volume Rock” is available here
Band info: facebook || bandcamp