VALENCE: Cognitive Dissidents

What I REALLY Like About Progressive Metal

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Verve, Flair, Sophistication, Effervescence

Well, I could go on and on. Those are some of the terms I noted down as I listened to this new release from Westchester County, New York-based quartet “VALENCE“.

They’ve been a going concern since 2010, and were entirely new to me.

Biased

Yes, I have a major soft spot for actual humans playing actual instruments in real-life bands. From what I can gather, with one personnel change at bass guitar, VALENCE has been a working unit, polishing their act, and honing their skills.

And they have serious skills, while alongside, what appears to be some serious fun using them in making great music.

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Pulverizing, Fizzing, Complexity, Intensity

See? I said I could go on and on.

I normally review albums with my trusty audio-technica headphones jammed over my ears, and it got kind of messy since my head kept exploding- but in a good way, he hastened to say.

How So?

Well, it’s like this: VALENCE is all instrumental, and try, just try to write and perform all instrumental progressive music. Keep it interesting. Lively. Gutsy. Exciting.

Make it worth listening to with chops, variety, shades of mood, intensity.

Yeah, I thought so.

Yet, VALENCE manages these tasks with gusto.

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Not Bored. Just Wrung Out

(But in a good way).

There was this Jean-Luc Ponty concert back in the day- almost nonstop intensity, sophistication, and drive. After, all I wanted to do was drape myself over the curb and watch the traffic pass by.

Sort of how it felt when ‘Red Sky at Morning’ closed things off on this album.

Some Musical Musing

Just darn impressive twin guitar work with bass guitar sometimes in unison, sometimes in counterpoint, sometimes guitars using wah or tremolo, and some way-cool drumming.

Each guy obviously a whiz-kid at their chosen instruments. Superfast scales and arpeggios, switching to liquid soaring lines, and then quieting to chiming picked clean chords.

The occasional keyboard that to my taste could have been utilized more.

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Highlights

Humor: ‘Damnit, Lana!’ and the tongue in cheek titles.

Several tracks were stand outs: The aforementioned hapless Lana (a mischievous kitten? Pet walrus?)     Damnit, Lana!Walrus,   and  III. Preferred Nomenclature.

The use of choral work in the closing epic track.

In closing

More, VALENCE, more! Polished. Disciplined. Bounce…

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VALENCE  links:  Bandcamp  Band website  Facebook

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Steve Conrad Music Page link:  Facebook

My reviews, musings, and some of my music.

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