Friday, March 11, 2016

Mastery - Valis (2015)

Coming out of California, this experimental black metal act fronted by one dude with a rather esoteric moniker, (yet a real name of Steve Peacock) has released it's debut recording which at first received an 80% and then an 85% on Metal Archives. But then some idiot decided to troll and give it a 35% which took the cumulative score of 80% down to 65% and therefore presents an inaccurate score for the disc. As right now, it is recognized by a 2:1 majority that the record is pretty solid, and from what I've heard, it is. Now I'm not quite sure as to whether or not the drumming here is programmed, because it's hard to tell in some sections with the sheer quality of a performance that we can capture with technology. Some sections definitely sound inorganic, while others sound pretty close to the real thing. But for the most part, Valis of which I'm not sure has to do with the Valis series or not (a truly great series of games until they shit all over it with an H-Game) is a rather oblong performance that might to some sound like a huge mass of noise. “Valis Vessel” for instance comes in with some very fast blasts, malformed tremolo riffs, unexpected acoustic stylings and seething scowls, which might fill a little too much of the musical matter here. I'm trying to learn the same lesson myself, by learning how to “shut the fuck up” and allow the music to breathe a little during certain sections. “Lore Seeker” comes off very much the same, with the old Deathspell Omega flair that's been a bit overused I feel, and that's the same way that closer “Star Seeker” sounds. As a matter of fact, “Valis Vessel” is the only track that actually allows for a well needed break, with the rest of them coming off like bouts of sheer hysteria with lots of little tinkerings, but no real substance. It just kind of feels like a whirlwind of sound that has no rhyme or reason, yet is raw and heavy as hell. I really like the short atmosphere in “Ash Vessel” though and wish he'd work on that style a little more as he's really accomplished all he's going to with this erratic explosion of energy. It's not something for the faint of heart, but it's not complete garbage worthy of a 30% out of 100% ranking either. It needs some work, but at least he's trying. The guy also plays bass and performs the vocals in another band called Pale Chalice which you might like a bit better. They released their debut Negate the Infinite and Miraculous last year, so give that one a try if this one isn't quite up to stature for you.

Addendum: Read that review on Metal Archives and that guy was definitely not trolling. Some people don't get heavy experimentalism and do not consider it to be music period. He's certainly entitled to his opinion nevertheless and I do agree with what he said in some areas. Mastery is good in small doses, but can be too overbearing when taken in all at once. 

(5 Tracks, 40:00)


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