ValkyrieHeavy/stoner/doom could mean a lot of things in terms of musical references, but America’s (Virginia) Valkyrie are just that… Soaked in retro and vibe, based on the works of their previous outings, ‘Shadows’ can only be an improvement right? Damn right. This album seems to be less groove and more down turned in terms of pace, heavy references to the late 90’s early noughties stoner scene and fans thereof wouldn’t go wrong with this effort that feels more consistent than some earlier efforts.

‘Shadow if Reality’ starts with a lazy but haunting vocal tone that’s quite similar to my memories of listening to Count Raven some years ago, mixed with Sheavy. It’s pretty coincidental that I am listening and writing to this release in the rare day of sunshine that we get here, it’s definitely got that summer vibe. That big power trio sound, although a four piece. Influence is surprisingly sparse in terms of other bands that this line-up features in, such as Baroness, but then when you can get references to Orchid and Argus without blinking an eye, then you are more than comfortable with present company.

A song like ‘Temple’ may start out quite dreamy and inclusive for the listener, but there’s some brash guitar work appearing later in the track, it’s definitely rocking man! ‘Wintry Plains’ is doomy, trippy and one of those tracks that just makes you sit back, close your eyes and rock out in your own little world. It has life and atmosphere. That combination of the vocal style and the guitar sound, with a few guitar trills and string bending moments of indulgence really make for a good all round album, although I don’t really see the relevance of the artwork, maybe that’s something missed on me.

If you are looking to compare to earlier albums, especially ‘Man of Two Visions’ then you will find a band moving forward. There is less riffing, but more groove and overall ‘Shadows’ sounds like a band tripping via some exhaustive and compelling vibes whilst experimenting with the human psyche and consciousness. Thus resulting in a more epic song structure, presented with a vision of almost hedonism, I find this album really cool, much more than other releases, a change is better than none, this really works on so many levels summarized by ‘Echoes (of the way we lived)’.

(8.5/10 Paul Maddison)