Anyone who is familiar with the work of Denver, Colorado tech-death outfit Vale of Pnath knows that they are a band capable of producing mind-blowing compositions with superb melodic and technical application. They’ve built up a reputation for their razor sharp riffs and complex songwriting, which houses a lot of various transitions and noteworthy sections. I’ve been able to observe a good amount of progression from their first release The Prodigal Empire, which took on the more straightforward and heavy side of the technical death metal genre. Their second release II saw the band enhancing the entire atmosphere of their sound utilising embellishing touches, such as acoustic guitar, piano, an organ, etc… However, with their latest EP Accursed, Vale of Pnath integrate spine-chilling details in with their technical foundation to transform into something far darker, more grim and heavier than ever before.
Released via Willowtip Records,the latest offering overall is inherently much more blackened than their prior two releases. The band have constructed 7 new tracks that build on the more melodic death metal vision of their release prior and continue to develop their layers of sound around a more central symphonic black metal influence. Darkly euphonic from start to finish, I found the nightmarish energy that radiates from this release to be highly engrossing. Finding their place as more of a consistent staple in this release are the symphonic keys, which aid in bringing that nightmarish overtone to life and add a whole new dynamic to this bands sound. When you pair that with the grimly layered, fast picking string work, the final product is extremely cohesive. Mixing these sort of newer elements in with the bands already technical foundation allows some contrast for the supreme tech-riffs to really shine. With that said, Vale of Pnath still serve up a fully loaded riff salad on Accursed.
The short introduction “Shadow and Agony” lays the unsettling groundwork for the distinctly evil “The Darkest Gate.” The hellish nature of this tracks opening blazes a trail full of static vocal shrieks, an explosive breakdown and an all around diabolical aura. Vocalist Reece Deeter offers a slightly different version of himself then we’ve heard on prior album II. For this release, he utilized more high pitched shrilling that works flawlessly with the newer direction of sound. Once again, this adds another ingredient towards that cohesive sound I mentioned earlier. The non-stop, mechanical riffing comes pummeling in on track “Skin Turned Soil” and “Obsidian Realm” takes things a step further by adding neat technical nuances to the ending breakdown. The dynamic and radical speed of self titled track “Accursed” truly represents some of the finer elements of this bands newfound direction of sound. Bassist Andy Torres is a highlight when it comes to adding meat to this production. His playing is very distinguishable and he does a fantastic job staying in the pocket with the non-stop riffing.
Accursed is a brilliant change in direction for the type of band that Vale of Pnath is. They chose to progress by thoughtfully taking their sound into newer territory, but still execute some of their greatest techniques as a band yet. They brought forth a completely refreshed and inspired atmosphere that elevated their already outstanding musicianship. As mind boggling as it is, the technical death metal sub-genre has been thriving through many different talented acts and we have already seen some top notch releases for the year of 2019. As for Vale of Pnath, they are a band within the tech-death realm that I believe operates on a whole other level of songwriting power and have crafted a whole entire hair-raising selection of songs on Accursed.