*This is part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured State*
This month’s State is Virginia!
After starting our State of the Art: Virginia series off with a bang last week, I would like to introduce or reintroduce a band that has been turning Traditional Doom fans on their heads since 2002. Started by vocalist/guitarist Jake Adams, bassist Eric Seaman and drummer Luke Shafer in Rockbridge County, VA, Valkyrie quickly released a five song EP in 2003 which included the track “Wintry Plains” that was later used in their most recent release, some twelve years in the future. By 2004, Jake’s brother Peter (also of Baroness) was added to the band, sharing guitar and vocal responsibilities. A second demo was recorded at a local radio station shortly before Shafer split with the band and was replaced with Mike Hoke on drums. Sunlight Shines followed along with a 7” split with VOG. By the end of 2004, the young band lost Seaman and Hoke and were replaced by Nick Crabill on bass and Nic McIntrurff on drums. Once being picked up by Twin Earth Records, their debut, self-titled, full length album was released with the assistance and engineering talents of Chris Kozlowski (Pentagram, Trouble, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Melvins, Blue Cheer). Changing the lineup once again, bass player Will Barry–Rec and drummer Gary Isom (Spirit Caravan, Pentagram) were recruited into the band, allowing Valkyrie to play many festivals including the final Emissions from the Monolith Fest in Austin, TX and the Stoner Hands of Doom festival in Phoenix, AZ. Isom left the band in 2007 and was replaced by Warren Hawkins. The next year, Man of Two Visions was released on their own label, Noble Origin. Valkyrie’s debut and Visions were later re-released on 12” vinyl in 2007 and 2008, the year that Pete joined Relapse Records recording artist Baroness which called him away for full time touring. In 2010, Meteorcity Records (The Obsessed, Nebula, Atonic Bitchwax) re-released the first two albums on CD. Joining Valkyrie on bass while still playing with Earthling, Alan Fary released a new split with both bands in 2013. 2014 proved to be a huge year for Valkyrie and its members. With production from Sanford Parker (Nachmystium, Pelican, Voivod), Shadows was released shortly before Pete was asked to play with Glen Danzig’s Samhain where he toured their reunion shows throughout the United States (information from Valkyrie’s online resources).
Valkyrie is so much more than the run of the mill, often elitist Doom band. With roots undeniably in the Traditional side of the genre, Valkyrie pulls influences from across the musical spectrum to include Blues (during solos, this really shines!), old school Rock ‘n Roll from the late 60’s and early 70’s, mild Psychedelia and even subtle doses of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, particularly from the duel-harmonized guitar mastery of the brothers Adams. Driven off of very heavily distorted riffing over, often clean played melodies, could hardly be matched by any other band, Valkyrie carves out a very unique and memorable place for themselves among Metal/Rock greats; allowing them to pull their fan-based from Contemporary Metal fans as well as long standing fans of Classic, Blue-based Rock and open minded Doom folks. Not a fan of the modern affinity for harsh vocals and Hardcore/Death Metal screaming? Valkyrie has you 100% covered, because Jake and Pete have equally soulful and emotive vocals that allow every syllable of their well thought out and mature lyrics to be understood and felt from deep within the chest. Add to all this heavy guitar work and perfect vocals a rhythm section of stellar drumming and some of the coolest baselines, reminiscent of the of rumblings of Lee, Butler, Entwhistle and Squire and you get a trademark sound that can only be identified with Valkyrie. What is even more incredible is that the band carries with it no sanctimonious or ego driven baggage to spoil their raw, Earthy and organic tone. Everything is so well done that this may be one of the best chill out outfits ever to press their music into vinyl. Heavy? Yes. Oppressive? Never. Raw? Absolutely. Rough? Not even a little. They just don’t have that sludgy drag that modern Doom seems to revolve around. These guys just have way too much energy and too little time for shallow nods to any genre categorization in an effort to fit into anyone’s definition of what they are doing or the direction that they have chosen to embark on. What they have come up with is a truly remarkable synergy of all that is good across all of the genres and earned themselves spots on the stage with Clutch, Crobot, Doomfest and even Psycho Las Vegas 2016, along with many others. Inspirational, different and an immediately identifiable sound that pushes the limits of of songwriting and playing prowess. Valkyrie deserves to hit the top of all of the accumulated charts.