Valleys debut full-length album “Experiment One: Asylum” will be released on Feb. 12th, and it is more than worthy of a listen, as it is a gestaltist album where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. The concept album explores multiple personality disorder through the main character, who is called Asylum, and aims to show listeners that it is possible to overcome the psychological disorder. While the concept is more interesting than most concept albums, it’s the musicality of the album that will grasp you by the throat and command your attention.
Sucking you in with melody and audio concepts, there is a softness that lures in listeners, then slams them up against the wall in hard hitting riffs. Just when you want to slap a label on the band, the whole sound of the album changes. There’s digital sounding concepts that relax you into a comfortable state, making you wonder if a different album had been put on, but then the rock returns with a force of a storm rolling in on a sunny day.
Each track stands alone differently, but as a whole, the album does feel like multiple personalities. The vocals even change, some sounding as if it’s going to launch into a hair ballad, or borderline emo, followed by distinct growling of hardcore, then softening to rock singing, before growing more angry like punk rock. In that sense, this album borders on many genres, both vocally and musically, showing an impressive range.
This is an album that hard core metal heads would appreciate, but it has a softer side that would appeal to many audience members outside of the metal scene. The fact that there is a concept behind the album, one that can literally and figuratively be heard when taking in the album as a whole, speaks volumes in and of itself. This is not one of those cryptic albums where you kind of get what they’re trying to do, but an album that really does take in the many facets of sounds and musical techniques for a well rounded sound that envelops a concept that touches the lives of many people, echoing musically the struggle in life.
Multiple personalities are shown, as each song seems to take on a different personality. Whether it’s relaxing back, tranquil, with an almost Spanish finger picking technique on the guitar, or being slammed full force with machine gun drumming, you can hear and feel the changes within the album. Guitars take on meandering playful riffs, but then the drums speed up, and the vocals begin to growl.
The Valleys have an almost Cathedral-like storytelling quality, where the story concept can be felt within the song by the instruments and the vocals. This is a very cleverly done album, and does not play like a debut full-length album. “Experiment One: Asylum” sounds more like a crowning achievement from a band that has been around for years, so if this is the beginning, one can only wait to see what’s next from Valleys.
Valleys were formed in 2013, and though they released the “Reborn” EP in 2014, “Experiment One: Asylum” is their first full length album. Valleys were the official winners of the 2015 Headbang for the Highway Battle of the Bands for the Summer Slaughter Tour, endorsed by Coldcock Whiskey. Jayson Mitchell and Mikey Clement share vocals duties, R.J. Riggle and Brandon Scurlark double team the guitars, while Brandon Clement plays bass, and Robert Meikle pounds the drums.
This is an album you will want to pick up. For lovers of hardcore and general music lovers, this is worth adding to the collection. This is a band to keep your eye on their career.
Marisa Williams earned her Master’s in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and is the publisher of Thorisaz Views.