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Album Review: Valkyrie’s Shadows

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Maybe doom/stoner bands hail from places like Virginia and Arizona because they need to fill up space. Explains why the guys in Valkyrie, residents of Rockbridge County, VA (home to Pat Robertson!), have riffs tailor made for the big wide open: mountainous, thunderous, booming, earth-shaking. Pick your adjective. They’re geographical movers and shakers.

For background: Valkyrie today gets the “Pete from Baroness with his brother” tag, like this is a side project. Which totally distorts the time frame — these guys have been around since 2002, and while less experimental, they’re certainly meatier than Baroness. This is Sabbath/Trouble territory, weightier and more living and dying by the riff.

On Shadows, they live well. Their first album in seven years, it’s sometimes a slow groove: “Golden Age” and “Echoes” bide their time before going full throttle. “Shadow of Reality” adds psychedelica without the hippie aftertaste. But subtlety is not the norm: a track like “Mountain Stomp,” befits its title, gloriously heavy start to end.

Both Pete and Jake Adams share the vocals and guitar duties here. Brothers in arms, it’s the vocals that take a backseat. Melodic, sure. Not as whiny as an Ozzy, but not as distinctive, either. They are singers built for a heavy guitar band.

Not a new sound, for sure, but Shadows is a timeless exercise in desolation, alienation and groove. Here’s to thinking big. And/or heavy.

Valkyrie’s Shadows is out May 19 on Relapse. Stream the entire album here and pre-order it here.

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