Although the UK’s Damnation Angels were formed in 2006 (by brothers Will and John Graney), it wasn’t until 2012’s Bringer of Light that the band started getting recognition worldwide for its blend of progressive power metal and bombastic orchestration. The band signed a multi-album deal with Massacre Records The album garnered many positive reviews and topped the year-end “best of the year” lists for many in the metal press (it topped Amazon charts worldwide even breaking into the top 100 download for all music in Germany.). This led to the band getting an invitation to perform at the world-renowned ProgPower USA festival in 2013.
The band has finally returned with their highly anticipated follow up The Valiant Fire. When asked about the album, band-leader Will Graney stated:
Although not a concept album, The Valiant Fire is generally about the human/warrior spirit, indomitable will and that fire inside us that pushes us to go on no matter what. It features stories of people overcoming struggles and their resilience but also stories of pain and loss too.
That’s what The Valiant Fire is, it’s that fire inside us that drives us to go on and to come back from anything. But Churchill put it best, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.
Aside from the music, great care was taken in the creation of the album. The band wanted the imagery of The Valiant Fire to be just as epic as Bringer of Light. So they set out to find a unique artist and style. Deciding on the art style of hand drawn Chinese Ink the band stumbled upon artist JungShan for Taiwan. The whole album would be hand drawn in Chinese Ink and every song on the album features it’s own piece of art that helps tell the story of that song and the trending concept/theme throughout the album.
The album kicks of with the symphonic metal bombast of Finding Requiem, with heavy riffs, thunderous drums, powerful vocals, and huge orchestration to tie the song together. The orchestration on the album not only surpasses that of Bringer of Light, it is on a par with the legendary Nightwish in its grandiose lavish beauty.
Icarus Syndrome is a mid-tempo rocker with lots of melody and a tremendously catchy chorus. Fans of PelleK are fully aware of the power in the man’s voice and he shows off his range and emotion to great effect here.
This Is Who We Are is reminiscent of symphonic metal peers Kamelot, with emotional vocals, a driving fist-pumping beat and symphonic melodies. The band shows its softer side on The Frontiersman, an epic ballad with powerfully heartfelt vocals and soaring symphonic orchestration that is worthy of a Hollywood movie score.
Closure is a song that begins slowly and builds to a powerfully melodic chorus that showcases Pellek’s vocal work and what he adds to the band.
Things get a little melancholy on The Passing, a song brimming with emotion and passion and fantastic vocal work. The orchestrations here really bring out the songs melodies into a glorious crescendo.
The guitar riffs and rhythms take precedence over the orchestration on Everlasting, but don’t fear, the symphonic elements appear during the chorus, which takes full advantage of PelleK’s warm vocals and melodic sensibilities.
The Fire Inside is an instrumental track that combines the cinematic orchestrations with heavy metal bombast and power. The track loses none of its power with the absence of vocals. The albums final “official” track Under An Ancient Sun brings back memories of the bands previous effort Bringer of light with Middle-Eastern melodies and a transcendent spirit flowing throughout the song. PelleK shows his vocal range and control here to end the song with a massive climactic conclusion.
For fans who purchased The Valiant fire from the bands PledgeMusic campaign, the band provided an exclusive bonus track not included on the album titled Legendary, a song that would have fit quite well with the rest of the album with heavy guitars and symphonic arrangements, but a nice perk for those contributors nonetheless.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “white elephant” in the room, and that would be the status of PelleK on lead vocals. Normally, PelleK is a one-man promotion machine on his Facebook/YouTube official pages, yet he has been strangely silent regarding any promotion or mentioning of The Valiant Fire album. I can only hope that this does not mean he is leaving the band, as his vocals are a huge part of what makes Damnation Angels music so compelling, I suppose only time will tell as the band is set to perform at Ridgefest in the UK May 2nd-3rd.
The Valiant Fire fits nicely in-between the recently released Endless forms Most Beautiful from Nightwish and the soon to be released Haven, the latest opus from Kamelot.