VALKYRIE of Virginia has never been one to put out albums just willy-nilly, or “because we had enough songs written”. The brothers Adams and their cohorts aren’t averse to “sleeping” on songs, letting them bake a bit longer, marinate in their own seasonings until what comes out of the oven is exactly what they want to put before us.

Which is part of what makes the 5-year wait between 2015’s Shadows and Fear worth it for the listener. I’ll admit to being foremost a fan of doom in all its forms when it comes to metal, without excluding the occasional binge of black, death and power, which – instead of making me more accepting of sub-par work – makes my ears even more attuned to half-assery in that realm.

‘Feeling So Low’ leads off with a ZZ TOP / ALLMAN BROTHERS-influenced blues, not the mountain-pulverizing expected at first on a VALKYRIE album, and bearing the sort of tandem leadwork that can usually only be achieved by guitarists who’ve played together for an extended time. In this case, both of their lives, so you see what’s at work here.

‘The Choice’ lopes along, fluid and syrupy, and I wish the low end was more pronounced in the mix. Warren Hawkins’ drums snap at the front, the guitars weave in and out, and I can tell that Alan Fary is right there in the pocket, but the treble-heaviness kind of washes him out, at least in this one. Solid tune, though, because VALKYRIE can’t seem to do anything else.

Closing with the subdued instrumental ‘Exasperator’, Fear is the strangest bird in the Valkyrie aviary so far, and that’s not a bad thing at all. Just don’t come here looking for KHEMMIS’ floor-leveling riff or ACID KING Easy Rider rock. What we have here is the album VALKYRIE would have put out if it were around in ’75-’77. And it’s unexpectedly refreshing.
Review By: Lord Randall

4.5 / 6