[11 February 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
At first glance, Valkyrja seems an appealing enough dilution of extreme metal. After all, you’ve got the melodic sensibility of Dissection; the more physical, riff-oriented approach of Satyricon; the classic tremolo-picking style of Darkthrone; the lavish production of Dimmu Borgir; and even a touch of the blackened death metal brutality of Behemoth, all wrapped up in one slick package. For all the influences the Swedish band clearly references, though, it’s remarkable just how hit-and-miss its second album turns out to be. We do get some real moments of inspiration, as standouts like the excellent “Oceans to Dust”, the mutifaceted “Welcoming Worms”, and the taut “Laments of the Destroyed” show enormous potential, but too often the music slips into too comfortable a rut, melodies often go through the motions, and the constant din of the overcompressed production sounds more monotonous than ferocious. It’s not a bad effort, certainly a step up from its 2007 debut The Invocation of Demise, but Valkyrja still has some work to do if it wants to bring the songwriting to the same level as the musicianship and the production.