VALGRIND "Condemnation" CD (Memento Mori 2020)
The terrific 4th full-length by this Italian band. Valgrind was born from the ashes of the ultra-underground act Necrospell in 1993, as a Death/Black Metal project with both extreme and melodic influences. Over the following years, the band released four demos and developed its own style, combining the main influences (Morbid Angel, Pestilence, Death, Nocturnus, Possessed, Monstrosity, Immolation) with a passion for the epically dark atmospheres of bands like Candlemass and early Paradise Lost. Disbanded in 2003, the strong will to return on stage of both founding member/main songwriter Massimiliano Elia and vocalist Daniele Lupidi (also frontman of Hateful) made Valgrind's return possible in 2008. With the addition of new motivated members, the band released their debut full-length, "Morning Will Come No More", in 2012. The album contained almost one hour of classic Death Metal filled with killer solos, memorable riffs and obscure vocals. Following the release, a series of shows were held in Italy, Germany, Holland, and Sweden. In 2016, the band delivered their sophomore full-length, "Speech of the Flame". The music strayed away from some of the early influences to become more personal, while the lyrical concept dealt with the darkest sides of the ancient Mediterranean civilizations. An EP called "Seal of Phobos" followed in 2017, and only one year later, Valgrind delivered their 3rd full-length, their most ambitious work to date. "Blackest Horizon" saw an increasing level of technicality in the guitar department, while retaining the old school vibe of the previous works. Vocals became less guttural and more aggressive, while a more organic production gave the listener a wider musical spectrum to dive into. Again, the public was introduced to the new songs in some memorable shows, including Helsinki Deathfest in 2018. Entering the studio again in mid 2019, Valgrind have now arguably delivered their masterwork: "Condemnation". Undeniably and 1000% Death Metal to the core, there´s an intangible "something", a never-belabored uniqueness, that now sets these Italians apart from so much stock-standard Death Metal. For sure, their roots lay in the genre's old school still, but the bits and pieces they pull and recombine are unexpected but most definitely welcome; no particular scene or substyle or specific year is selected, just the focus on strong songwriting and impassioned performance. Likewise, the lyricism doesn't betray Death Metal's rigorous boundaries -here, it's the myths of legendary creatures and beasts in various ancient cultures- but Valgrind bring an artful touch to fantastical horror, all of it rolling out of bassist Lupidi's lugubrious throat with commanding clarity. To that, the power trio's clarity of execution is also a thing of (ugly) beauty, firing off one flowing, furious part after another with seamless construction and solos that are the absolute definition of class. In fact, calling "Condemnation" classy Death Metal would not be much of a stretch: the songwriting itself is that poignant and powerful, and the production -mixed by Cristiano Copat at KK Recording Studio, and mastered by Damian Herring at Subterranean Watchtower Studios- is perfectly matched, skillfully balancing that clarity with crush. Giving this special album an ever-more-distinctive touch is the cover art courtesy of Lupidi himself, hereby making "Condemnation" truly Valgrind´s triumph of death!