Vale- “Condemned to Parish”


A minute and a half into the opening title track of Vale‘s Condemned to Parish, everything drops just long enough for vocalist Kate to issue forth a howl leading the band right back into the fury. This brief moment concisely sums up the energy of the entire EP. Energetic, punchy, and with a furious crusty dynamic in pacing, this fusion of black and death metal is so urgent and violent that the whole thing seems incapable of being held back by anything other than its own will. Even in lurching moments, such as the dramatic, funereal build into “Vile Curse” or the mid-section of closer “Cull,” the music packs energy and force that feels like something huge and horrific just waiting to burst through. This tension and release is the bread and butter of Vale’s music and they know exactly how to make it work for their purposes instead of becoming victims of gimmick or a predictable dynamic.

What separates Condemned to Parish from other crusty black metal is hard to explain in words and musical terms, as it’s more felt than experienced outright. Buzzsaw guitars and punky drumming are standard fare within this community, yet there’s so much more to this than the sum of its parts. Dissonant and entrancing leads often pop in just long enough to make themselves known before caving beneath the momentum of any given composition. Kate’s vocals are absolutely harrowing and shrill, almost calling to mind a more demonic version of Burning Witch’s legendary Edgy59 without the traditional doom leanings.  The entire mish-mash of so many welcome and seemingly unrelated elements is something that feels unique to bands of the bay area, although as a native of that region, your author here may carry a slight bias. This only came out yesterday, yet yours truly can’t stop playing it.

While Vale is a young band, its sense of identity is fully formed and this strikes me as something that will please all fans of heavy music. From fans of old school death metal brutality to the tremolo-picked stylings of modern black metal with a healthy dose of doom and crust for that perfect live sound and stage-ready performance, everybody should find this worthy. Sometimes great metal isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it’s just about making something that people can connect with and enjoy. Vale’s offered up exactly that with Condemned to Parish. It’s equally nuanced and worthy of a proper mosh, which is essentially all one could ask of any new metal album. Check it out now and if you’re on the west coast, gear up for their tour starting later this week. Dates listed below.

Friday, April 7th in Berkeley, CA at 924 Gilman with Ghoul, Zombie Holocaust, & Disvein
Saturday, April 8th in Eugene, OR at The Boreal with Doomstress, Disenchanter, Red Cloud, & XRAY VSNS
Sunday, April 9th in Spokane, WA at Mootsy’s with Askevault & Bruja
Monday, April 10th in Olympia, WA at The Crypt with Nidstang & Spektral Hatchery
Tuesday, April 11th in Vancouver, BC at Astoria Hastings with Nostrum & Deathwinds
Wednesday, April 12th in Seattle, WA at Highline with A God or an Other
Thursday, April 13th in Portland, OR at High Water Mark with Satanarchist & War Machine
Friday, April 14th in Arcata, CA at Outer Space with Hemorage, Dullahan, Muppet Hunter, & Imperial Destructo