Album Reviews

Valley of the Sun- Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk

Sometimes when you have been listening to a lot of metal, there comes a time when everything in your brain that’s required to listen to metal reaches a hiatus, and then naturally your head wants something different and something new. The metal genre is quite wide and versatile and one can easily stumble upon something that is not within the norms of this genre, but you really have to dig in to find this type of music. Certain branches of metal have yet to be discovered and some bands still have to give themselves a genre. Also the versatility element is one thing that most new bands are adopting because it shows how talented a bunch is. When I was looking I heard a band that for me was different from what I have been listening to in a while.

The band “Valley of the Sun” for me is somewhat an extension of Stoner Rock that touches the boundaries of some power elements along with some metal of the text book type. At times they just strictly follow the more basic standards of the genre and at other times they experiment and stretch themselves and try to see what they can achieve.

Cincinnati, Ohio based natives Valley of the Sun are a power trio in the truest sense. Originally formed in June of 2010, the band started with the intention of pushing the boundaries of Stoner Rock in a new direction. At a time when lo-fi recordings were en vogue, Valley of the Sun decided to buck the system and go the opposite direction, focusing on a more sleek sound and presentation. Recording their first EP “twothousandten” only 3 short months after their birth, the group quickly found themselves on the radar of the hard rock/stoner rock underground and playing with bands such as The Sword, Priestess, Karma to Burn, The Atomic Bitchwax and many more. Word of the band spread quickly, and by the Spring of 2011 the group had built a supportive fan base and was able to successfully crowd fund the money needed to record and release their follow up EP, “The Sayings of the Seers”. Recorded in May of2011, the band decided to work with producer John Naclerio at Nada Studios in New Windsor, NY. Known for his work with bands such as My Chemical Romance, Brand New, and Midtown among others, his ear for clean production and pop sensibility is what drew the band to him. The release of “The Sayings of the Seers” was released in time to find itself on the road with the band as they joined Sweden’s Truckfighters on their first US tour, further raising their visibility in the genre.

In 2013, Nada Studio was the place for the band to record the 10 track album under consideration named “Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk”. This is the band’s first full length album and also the first with Fuzzorama records. So I introduce to you “Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk”.

Worn Teeth is the first track of the album and I tell you, it’s the first time in a long time I was impressed by the intro track of an album. It will make you feel as if you are stranded in a desert walking with your horse wearing that cowboy outfit and just sweating and looking for population. A very good strum pattern on the guitar with a very catchy riff and some background thumping drums that’ll instantly get you hooked. The intro riff has that ability to keep on reverberating in your head after your first listen. The vocals for me were impressive and melodic with range extensions that’ll keep you thinking if the vocalist has some grunge influences. As Earth and Moon is the next track and band quickly gets into business. Some good classical rock based riff start it off, and then the vocals backed by “Cow Bell” come in. This effect is so good that it completely suits the band and the tracks they are playing. The vocals by Ryan Ferrier are screaming at parts where he is proudly boasting his ability. The guitar work is remarkable and accompanying drums lift up the environment. A very good interlude with the bass guitars following the drums impressed me in the track and is a highlight. The next few tracks follow a random pattern for me with Maya being a rock influenced number that reminded me of Pearl Jam or some bands of that era. The prominent bass lines in the track are just gorgeous piece of art. Nomads is a laid back track that will give you a feel of the band paying in a bar, live, and just kicking it old school rock style. At times it will kick into that head banging mode where you compulsively need to bang your head to the riff that you hear. Lazer Vision Intermission is a very good track of the mellow type in the start and will follow that regime throughout this track, jingles in the background and beautiful strumming without verses. Within the Glare will return the band to the rock influenced playing that has been dominating the album. The guitar playing will once again take you to the grunge era and Ferrier once again letting you appreciate his vocal ability. The track ends on a very metal note, the bass, guitars and drums collaborating to create magic, something like Tool maybe.

The Message is Get Down is the next track of the album, with a very classic rock feel to it. Some clean distortion on guitars following the verses, with bass guitar continuing its magic throughout, and the “Cow Bell” accompanying as well. The solo on guitar with the “Wah pedal” is a very good example of how some bands, when they do follow their roots, can shine. The last three tracks The Sleeping Sand, Gunslinger and Centuar Rodeo are a combination of some power rock playing on the guitars, bass and drums, along with vocals that, for me, are very well done. Most listeners of the metal genre will have trouble trying to adapt what the band is doing in their tracks, but if they open up their mind and musically listen to the album, the technical aspects of their music are very refined and polished.

The band Valley of the Sun did a very good job on their first album and nothing in this album makes you think that this is the band’s first album. Professional approach to musical playing especially when the album is produced in a way where each and every musician is given a chance to highlight his/her abilities is what makes an album successful. I was looking for something different and that is what I got when I found the album. At times the album will have a Wild West feel but whilst saying that, the band also tried to touch some metal elements in their playing. But all in all, I would recommend this album to only those who have an appreciation of music in general and want to stretch themselves outside their normal genres. People, who can grade music by listening to what the musicians have done rather than saying that this is not my genre are the ones who will like this album. Have a listen for yourself and prove me wrong. And when Chritopher Walken said “More Cowbell”, the band obeyed him, and used it with perfection.

Valley of the Sun is:

Ryan Ferrier/Vocals and Guitar

Aaron Boyer/Drums

Ryan McAllister/Bass

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