Album Review: Valhalore – Voyage Into Eternity
Valhalore is an upcoming band from Brisbane, Australia. Running a strong team of 6. With Matthew Grimley on Bass, Anthony Willis on Guitars, Lachlan Neate on vocals, cello, and mandolin, Sophie Christensen on wind instruments, Morgan Cox on drums, and Lucas Fisher on Guitars and Vocals. Voyage Into Eternity is their debut album released March 14 2017. They have released a couple of singles over the last 2 years and been teasing just how great the new album is going to be. They are Viking/folk/melodic metal. The entire album is as if Ensiferum, Gloryhammer, Wintersun and Winterstorm had a baby.
The album starts out with a very calm intro with a calming start of what is to be this beautiful, well put together journey of time. By Moon and Stars gives you this intense rush of marching into battle with fierce warriors preparing you for the battle of ages (album) to come. It has a very mystical, video game type feel to it. Almost akin to the preparation of fighting a final boss. It leads in very smoothly into Malice of Illusion. Malice of Illusion is an absolutely fantastic song, the vocals are strong, the guitars/drums fit very well with the feeling of this album. The flute isn’t too prominent in this song, but it will be later. The vocals play a heavy part of this song almost as if they are running the show. The breakdown of this song has this speedy/melodic/folk part. The transition from to the other is perfect with another transition to a slow vocal piece which leads back to the melodic fold section. The ending of this song is the best part by far where all the musical instruments in play come together in this beautiful symphony and really plays each part justice to each. With a beautiful complex solo that leaves you wanting more. The vocals give you these chills that make you want to just gear up and head into battle.
The Winterstone starts off with a very mystical keyboard which plunges straight into heavy drum/guitar piece. The vocals seem a little off place in the beginning (???) of this song, but being their debut album it is understandable. The chanting sections of this song absolutely blow me away with how well they are done. The entire song pays tribute to Ensiferum/Wintersun’s more speed metal pieces in my opinion. The flute is very prominent part of this song and is one of the best parts, wraps up the rest of the instruments in this nicely presented gift. As with all the songs in this album, there are vocal parts backed with small instrumentals which give a break from the heavy in tune parts of the rest of the songs.
The next song, Guardians of time is one that hasn’t been heard before on their EP or singles. The intro feels like it could be from Zelda running across a calming field. That is until the song kicks into overdrive and just pumps you the hell up. The vocals in this song are very Wintersun inspired, which, isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t overdone in the slightest just similar. As with the past few songs it goes, heavy, calm, heavy, calm, heavy. At this point of the album I personally don’t mind it but I know a couple people are going to mind it being like that. The melodic section that comes with this song is very well done again, but very similar to The Winterstone. I can imagine seeing them live these songs would be perfect for a quick break from the fast-paced energy they put out. Than jump right back into the pit with so much energy that you don’t even know you are tired anymore. Morgan Cox does a fantastic job of keeping up with the pace of the rest of the song. His rhythm and timing are perfect.
Across the Frozen Ocean starts strong and is my second favorite track on the entire album. If you are going to feel energized by this album, this would be a great song to do it with. This is where the flute comes into play the best. The drums are second and the energy that comes from the members just flows so well. You can tell they are extremely in synch with each other with this one. I almost feel like this is their favorite song to do, with a smile on the faces of each and every one of them. Again, the chanting in this song is done so well I get chills every time I hear it. But at this point in the album not everyone wants to continue to hear it. It is a common theme of each of their songs. Near the middle/end of the song the flute begins to pick up again defining the rest of the song. It really makes you feel like you are on a majestic quest. The ending of the song is absolutely crazy with everything coming together to strengthen the guitar and has so much energy put behind it.
Upon the Shores starts off with this beautiful melody with the flute under toning everything else wrapping it all up nicely. Then, out of nowhere, this explosion of sound just blows you out of the water. The song turns into this craziness that can only be described as one of the most interesting tracks of the album. This, is one of the reasons that this is my favorite songs of the album. It is such a beautiful track, it reminds me of Wintersuns track: Sons of Winter and Stars. Again, with this one, it goes from heavy, speedy, to slow, calming singing/chanting sections. You can really feel the Wintersun inspiration here. The guitar solo is nice, really well done and not too overbearing. The flute does a fantastic job of putting the song together with this one as well. I have to say at this point, if I were to see them live, this would be the song I would lose my mind too. The entire crowd would be as well. The buildup from the chanting to the song mid-way through is absolutely epic. Unfortunately, in my opinion this song ends way to soon.
Next up we have Augury of Death. This song reminds me of a renaissance fair gone mad in a wonderful way. This is one of their EP’s so it is much different than the other song. Much more heavy, faster, and the vocals are deeper. The whole song is much darker compared to the rest of their songs. This one also Transitions from heavy to slow differently than the rest of the songs. It doesn’t take as long as the other ones to get to the speed metal. I wouldn’t call this song folk metal as much as the other ones either. It has the comparison of Amon Amarth’s older albums compared to the newer albums. Gritty and ferocious it plays well as the second half of the album.
Forth the Red Sun Rises is a filler song. Not TOOL filler song, but something to bridge one epic song to the other. This one is a break from being Viking metal, to more of a soundtrack to a movie. It really captures this epic feel to it, that I can see actually being in a movie. Not much more to be said about this one.
The last song that isn’t a filler, Voyage into Eternity picks up exactly where Forth the Red Sun Rises ends. This one has more of a medieval feel to it than the rest of the album. It expresses itself well enough that you know this is the end of the album. The end of the journey so to speak. With more calmness in it, more light vocals and more melody than the rest of the songs. The rhythm in this song is profound but is sadly cut short to the calming sections. It left me constantly wanting more to the sections of melody and rhythm and less of the relaxed portions. While I get Valhalore is all about being epic, there are some very phenomenal parts to this song that aren’t drawn out enough to really taste the full meal. The ending is the only part of it that gives you the full course. This is one of the songs that has a very distinct sound than the rest of the album. With an impressive collection of sounds and feelings that really wrap it all up nicely.
By the Light of the Funeral Pyres is the last piece on this album. It puts me in a scene of the Vikings picking up the wounded, looking around, noticing all the dead brothers, and getting themselves together, and preparing for the next fight. Never letting anything get in their way. It almost is like a good TV show or a Movie as you know this isn’t the end of the album. There is more to come. Much more to come, and with that I await patiently for their next album. Excited to see how this band grows and continues to impress me. Waiting for their first album for as long as I have, I must say I am deeply impressed with this. The album put me in this deep emotional state of the journey from beginning to end.
All in all, I should say, I believe this band has some amazing potential. I mean that, with all the metal bands I have listened to over the years, this one is easily one of my favorites, and as far as folk metal goes, top of my list by far. Valhalore has left me wanting more and I will be following these guys as closely as I can. If they ever come stateside I will be there. Losing my mind to the beautiful sound of these guys.
- Absolutely fantastic sound.
- The band members are completely in synch with each other, there is this energy they share that a lot of bands can’t seem to hold onto.
- The different use of instruments in this just brings it all together in a nice, well packaged present only fit for a king.
- The vocals and flute stand out the most to me in this, with the flute bringing something new to the table that is rare in most metal bands. (Or at least to me, only very rarely have I heard flute in metal.)
- Makes you feel like you are part of this epic journey ready to fight to the death and come out on top.
- Leaves me wanting more, and desperately waiting on a new album.
- The transitions from one section of a song to the other are fantastically done and smoothly intertwine into each other.
- While it draws a lot of inspiration from a lot of other bands, with time it is easy to tell they will form their own sound, as they already stand out from the others in their own unique way.
- Long lasting songs that keep the theme of the song going so you aren’t always left wanting more. (For the most part.)
- While I don’t mind it, some people are going to get sick of the chanting as it is a very common theme in this album.
- The drums and bass, while they are good, aren’t as prominent as the other sounds in the album and I would love to have them bring them forward as well.
- Sometimes the growling gets in the way of the rest of the song. Some of it fits well, but there are parts of it that take away from the song. (For example, Across the Frozen Ocean.)
- Some of the songs transition from one theme to the other too much, as I said earlier I feel like I am wanting more sometimes. In the next album, I would love to see some of those sections drawn out a tad bit more.
- There are a lot of parts of songs that are background noises you will miss If you aren’t listening to it in a high quality.
- The guitar solos are cut way too short sometimes (As with my other note).
Out of a 1 to 10 scale, I am going to have to give this a solid 9. My opinion may be biased as I have been wanting and waiting on this for a while now. While they do have their cons, (There are very, very, very few “perfect albums”. They are as rare as perfect games. As I said before, there is some amazing potential here to grow and continue to make some beautifully fantastic Folk/Viking metal. Valhalore, you guys have blown me away, and every time I sit down and listen to this album I love it more and more. Thank you for this amazing experience.