Putting the Pieces Together
Even before exposing yourself to Valhalla Smith, you get the impression that this rock outfit could be one deserving of your attention. With their members having previously toured Ozzfest in the United States and appeared at Britain's largest independent metal festival Bloodstock, you sense that their rock genetics could become godly.
Their five track EP All The Pieces Of The Desert is an exciting barrage of dirty riffs, elevating vocals and hammering rhythms. Singer Rich Watkins' vocals have a entrancing quality about them, with sincere tenderness transforming into outbursts of melodic roars in the blink of an eye. Whilst these cries of force are mostly flawless, there are moments where it seems he is pushing slightly too hard. This is evident as opener Portion of Blame comes to a close and although Watkins' bellow of "I've had more" soars with heavenly power, his following leap sorely cracks at its climax and leaves him sounding like a pubescent teen.
The Leamington Spa quartet pound from track to track with relentless vigour, with guitarist Josh Stanton's contributions never failing to impress; the six-string-star frequently leads the dynamic of the group with bassist Louis Macan working off Stanton very well, especially in tracks such as Put To Sleep. Although the EP displays an impressive degree of consistency and a style that is compositionally sound, there are sadly moments of slight rhythmic sloppiness where the tightness of the recording begins to feel a little rough around the edges. This is evident in tracks like Knuone and Desert, where Matt Thompsett's drums often fail to gel with the rest of the instrumentation and it's a strange feeling because Thompsett is clearly a great drummer, but the band has just not been able to cement everything together in the recording with the necessary tidiness. It's shame because it's the type of music that really needs to punch with prizefighter precision.
Approach All The Pieces Of The Desert with the intention of discovering a rising hard rock act with passion and potential, rather than a fully established ensemble with thousands of pounds available to throw at the polishing of their records. Valhalla Smith is certainly well on the way to putting all the pieces in the right places and despite All The Pieces Of The Desert not being a faultless release, not all bands are capable of releasing material with such a burning sense of musical passion. Valhalla may be the destination for fallen soldiers, but one can hope that these warriors of rock are to battle on for a good long time.