I had such great luck with my review choices in May that I decided for June I need to bring myself back down to earth, so this month I’m choosing predominantly power metal. Okay, that’s not why, it’s because all the good stuff was already gone by the time I remembered to look for June promos. Anyhow, for better or worse June is Power Metal Month in the Huckster’s household, and we kick things off with the powerfully-named Greek band Valor, blessing us with their third album, Arrogance: The Fall. These guys have been around since 2002, so theoretically are seasoned vets of the power metal scene, and while I haven’t heard any of their earlier work, the pitch for this album (melodic, epic power metal) and the fairly decent cover art was enough for me to roll the dice and grab this sucker.
Throwing Arrogance: The Fall on launches us straight into driving, epic power metal – I think. Why do I only think this, rather than knowing? The production is straight out of 1987, that’s why. There’s no clarity or definition to any of the instruments, just a bland mush. I’ll dig more deeply into this fatal flaw later on, but suffice it to say it feels like listening to an album in a mudbath. The first song, “Uprising,” is an instrumental, but a weird one. Constantly throughout the song I kept expecting vocals to kick in, because that’s how the arrangement goes. It’s more like a song Valor couldn’t be bothered to write lyrics for than an actual opening instrumental. And it fades out halfway through before coming back in, making it very perplexing.
That being said, it’s one of the better songs on Arrogance: The Fall. “Arrogant Fall” comes next, complete with lyrics – and boy, are there a LOT of lyrics on this album once you get past the first song. The promo shipped with a PDF copy of the CD booklet (note to record companies: if you always did this I would love you forever), and there are seven pages of lyrics. From this point out, the feeling is that Vaggelis Krouskas never stops singing. That would be fine if he was a good singer, but he’s not. His vocal melodies are so amateurish that he comes off as the happiest singer out there rather than the frontman for an epic metal band. That would be fine if this was Krouskas singing in character for one or two songs, but he’s the same on all nine songs. It’s as if the dude from Blue’s Clue’s was singing. Tiresome!
The music follows suit, with every song following the same fast-paced upbeat style, making the album seem like a 43-minute pep talk. Combined with muddy production and you’ve got a record that doesn’t stand out in any respect. Well, that’s not completely true: I will say that there are a decent number of solid, well-performed guitar solos. Vassilis Kourkoutas and Spyros Soldatos can hold their own with any other power metal guitar players out there, I suspect. And the entire thing isn’t a complete write off: “Dark are the Eyes of the Night” is a solid 80s-style power metal number, with an arrangement that makes it stand out from the rest of the cuts, and album closer “No Angel’s Face” comes closest to the epic, melodic power metal the promos talked about, lacking only more modern production and less jovial vocal melodies. If only Valor had written more songs like these two.
This is no Unleash the Archers, or Dragonforce, or even Stormhammer. The songwriting is too bleh, the singing too meh, and the production too stale to really grab the listener in any fashion. I can’t tell you if this is Valor’s best work, or typical work, because nothing on Arrogance: The Fall made me want to delve into their back catalog. Power Metal Month is off to a limp start.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pitch Black Records
Websites: pitchblackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/arrogance-the-fall | valor.gr | facebook.com/valorgr/
Releases Worldwide: June 9th, 2017