Standing impressively tall with an album and sound which plays like a mix of Rammstein, Poets Of the Fall, and Type O Negative yet emerges as something richly flavoursome in its originality; French metallers Radium Valley provide a seriously compelling and fascinating proposition. Debut album Tales From The Apocalypse is a full immersion for ears and imagination into an apocalyptic lyrical and emotional landscape coloured by a tempestuous yet fluid blend of industrial, gothic, and melodic metal. It is a masterful darkwave fuelled incitement which just grows and flourishes the more time and attention it is given.
Formed in 2012, the Limoges hailing band takes inspirations from the likes of Rammstein, Paradise Lost, Ghost Brigade, and Katatonia into their sound, as well as lyrically for certainly their first full-length an eighties background embracing its current events and culture. The combination paints a wasted world stopped by the Chernobyl disaster and littered with radiation embraced survivors. It makes for a vivid and intriguing canvas to which Radium Valley casts similarly dark and turbulent sounds. Produced by Alexandre Granvaud and Romain Janvier, with its mastering done by Logan Mader (Machine Head, Soulfly, Fear Factory, Gojira), the Pavement Entertainment released Tales From The Apocalypse is a riveting and often haunting proposition.
The nine-strong band instantly awakens the imagination with Song of rain, a vintage sample discussing the first nuclear bomb luring in attention against a sonic croon and distortion kissed ambience. It is not long before the musical weight and prowess of the band is seizing ears, melodies from guitars and keys laying down thick enticing smog which is littered with jabbing beats and dark throated bass temptation. A slight relaxation then brings in the impressive vocals and further expressive hues from the keys, their electro seeding a dulled yet mesmeric radiance in the imposing heart of the song. It is a seamless and impressive mix of textures, dark and light extremes as enthralling as the dramatic narrative presented by the increasingly impressing clean vocal delivery.
As the album proves itself to be, the opener seems to get bigger and better with time, something emulated by the following Sweet infection. The second song emerges from a cyber-sculpted darkness with melancholic keys which equally have a bold statement to their presence, before flowing into an electronic glaze and synth rock infectiousness. Finding a presence which is somewhere between Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and Poets Of The Fall, the song soars over the senses with a sultry caress and fiery temperament. It is a bewitching song which seduces more than grips but to the same successful end before the Numan-esque start of For all of us takes over. Raw abrasing riffs stand perfectly against the electronic sizzle of the synths whilst vocals once more gently but powerfully spark thoughts with their theme. There is rich drama to the song which comes in waves without ever departing, the strikes of guitar and inventive bass designs alongside them creating much of that gripping lure.
Both Darkest hours and Behind me create their own slice of intimidating but welcoming persuasion, the first an almost brawling proposition which switches between urgent rampages and slower crawls of predation without losing any of its fluency, despite the turbulence of sound and passions explored. It is an intrusive treat of a track allowing no rest to take in the sights yet leaves no sense of dissatisfaction, just hunger to go back to explore more. Its successor merges electro elegance with a voracious metal appetite to produce a captivating adventure calling on sparks of Rammstein, Fear Factory, and Paradise Lost. There is also a seeming intimacy to the touch and heart of the song which only fires up the vocals and rhythmic punch of its striking exploration.
Next comes Le terrain vague à l’âme, the first of two interludes with the second, Une charogne coming before the final track. With each being predominantly a French spoken vocal piece they do not really add much for us language handicapped souls so it is hard to evaluate their presence, something much easier to do with the excellent instrumental Radium Valley. It is a rigorously descriptive piece of composing which takes the imagination through its provocative soundscape into a rugged and violently hued terrain, the skills of the band providing a threatening and contagious journey.
Through the melodic tempest of Into the undergrounds and the hostile yet theatrical Last resort, the album ventures into new aspects of its starkly bred and adventurously expressive character. Each provides a memorable creative emprise, darkly poetic proposals which leave a lingering and inviting mark on emotions. Their unique offerings lead, after the other interlude, into album closer Wings of disease. It is possibly the least gripping track on the album but still a thoroughly engaging and unpredictable pleasure with the band no less impressive in sculpting its structure and temptation.
It completes an outstanding release in Tales From The Apocalypse, an album needing time to truly show its depths but rewarding with a blistering and exciting encounter. Radium Valley is a band destined to grab your attention at some point and their debut album definitely makes a potent suggestion that the time is now.
Tales From The Apocalypse is available now on CD via Pavement Entertainment and in a slimmer digital version via http://radiumvalley.bandcamp.com/album/tales-from-the-apocalypse
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