There are two sides to every story and sometimes it’s not entirely clear which side is the true version of events. Whether it is about a group of beings hailing from Burlatia, Venus, set on destroying the world through the medium of ‘badass rawk’n’roll’ after they invaded Earth in 2000, or whether this same set of beings were simply formed in North Carolina and play dirty sounding rock n roll out of an old, smelly garage. It’s hard to decide on this occasion given how both seem compelling (Though the extra terrestrials claim the NC story is bullshit!), but one thing is for certain, they do play dirty rock and roll! On their seventh full length “Old Salt”, these rockers who have some real out of this world tour and gig credentials look set to keep the invasion of Earth going for the 16th year running.
With a sound described as a fusion of Thin Lizzy and The MC5 with more attitude than Iggy Pop could shake a stick at, Valient Thorr certainly don’t do half measures. Hitting hard and fast with a sucker punch of an opening track, “Mirakuru”, the Venusian quintet lay down the classic rock and roll vibes. With their energetic riffs, punk like attitude and super charged space age approach, they storm on through with a frantic opening track. From here, it just gets… Strange?
“Lil Knife” has a strange blues kick to it with the whole eccentricity of The Doors, which runs for the duration of the track. The short, punchy guitar fills with the strange vocal delivery has a very infectious feel to it and the aptly named follow up track, “Cut And Run” has a very similar infectious nature. This time it comes across more Clutch like (Think the Robot Hive/Exodus sound) but with the strange vocals again which seem to sit well with the more groovy rock and blues edge.
“No Count Blues” is almost like a page out of the Frank Zappa playbook. Appearing completely out of sync and atonal, it’s actually got a great riff and groove underneath it, but when you combine that with the madman like vocals and jerky guitars, it just sounds like a musical clusterfuck, again living up to its name rather well! “The Trudge” has more weight behind its musical delivery. More raw sounding but still in the insane spectrum of sense and nonsense, it dives between hard rock and blues with minimal fuss, blending some real gritty riffs with bitchin’ blues lead licks. “Worm Up” keeps this heavier approach up, but adds a touch of frantic feel to the delivery. Chaotic vocal trade offs over pounding riffs give way to calm and clean melodic progressions which are possibly the most serene moments on the album so far, but the peace doesn’t last long as it explodes to life once again.
“Spellbroke” kicks the album up a gear with a real gritty and raw, biting rock track. Like a heavier and more unhinged MC5, this classic rock approach has that heavier modern edge to it. Racing riffs, cutting melodic lead licks and sharp vocal deliveries lay down the real driving feel of the track. “Linen Maker” on the other hand is a short, acoustic instrumental filler track which acts as a stopgap but builds up in pace and feel as it approaches the end and explodes. “The Shroud” brings back the chaotic and disjointed feel. Cutting riffs, harsh vocals jumping in and out of cleaner ones and a tight overall delivery, this hard rock spiralling storm of entropy brings back the craziness of the earlier tracks with some real spot on lead-work in the form of intricate and fluid, fast moving blues licks!
“Looking Glass” has that sleazy rock feel, much like that of the mighty Turbonegro. Punchy, infectiously catchy and as expected, a little on the peculiar side, the multi-vocal styled approach with the burning rock riffs which drive the track on really work well, giving it good standing for the penultimate track. Finally, we reach the end and “Jealous Gods” has that classic rock meets dirty blues feel to it. Biting riffs give way to the bouncy feel Clutch approach and you can guess what it’s like. The variety in the vocal delivery along with the tight rhythm section and odd but infectious riffs all work well once again, keeping the solid sound which has ran for the entire album up to the last second.
In all, the rockers from Venus have got an interesting release here. Disjointed enough to maintain interest but not too far apart between tracks to completely disrupt the flow, Valient Thorr have created a solid album which is listenable to, but not exactly stand out. It’s got its quirks and selling points like the fantastic genre mashing they seem to do whilst making it sound normal, it has the infectious hooks, the bitchin’ blues licks and sneering rock attitude but it doesn’t have that spark to really set things alight.