Valdrin – Effigy of Nightmares

Rating: 4/5
Released: 2020
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Band line-up:

Carter Hicks: Guitar/Synth Guitar/Vocals
James Lewis: Bass
Colton Deem: Lead Guitar
Ryan Maurmeier: Drums


1. Gates of Hospice
2. Exsanguination Tunnels
3. Red Burning Candles of Hatred
4. Serpentine Bloodhalls
5. Basilisk of Light
6. Down The Oubliette Of Maelstrom


Valdrin are a black metal band, currently on Blood Harvest Records. Their 2013 debut album ‘Beyond the Forest’ gained the band a good amount of momentum, but their 2018 sophomore album ‘Two Carrion Talismans’ is considered a mini classic and it’s still highly appreciated today. They will be releasing their third album ‘Effigy of Nightmares’ on 12 June, 2020 on CD, vinyl LP and cassette tape formats. Their epic, shapeshifting extreme music is fresh, masterfully written and played with passion. With metal hooks and seamlessly blended synths, Valdrin create mysterious and fantastical atmospheres that are extremely powerful. 

It’s not every day you hear a black metal band or indeed any extreme metal band who place such importance on melody. (The melodies come from the instrumentalists here, NOT the vocalist. Don’t be ridiculous – he shouts his head off). The themes are pretty good, too. Sure they may be a little on the predictable side, but even so, they could fit into action films for example; if they were transcribed to orchestral instruments, of course. The composers in the group are no John Williams, but they do excite with style. The despairing harmony is equally strong and the bass lines often are too, and when you put all the elements together, you get something pretty cool. Bands such as Cradle of Filth spring to mind. 

There are some moments on the album where the blast beat and tremolo picked cliches add little to the experience. Fine, use the ideas every now and then, but you really should do something more with them if you’re going to use them that much. Unfortunately, the drums never really impress at all, but that’s not to say they aren’t skilled. How about playing with taste just a little more? Would that be too awful? What is slightly unusual is the flashy yet melodic guitar solo in ‘Basilisk of Light’. It’s nice the break is something to look forward to, rather than mere filler.

In conclusion, this stuff is very well written but there are arguably some parts that need cutting or building upon. The singer has nothing distinctive about him whatsoever. Sure he sounds angry, but can’t he be angry in a different way? Again, the melodies are strong, but rather than them being like the ones in Star Wars, for example, think the kind of stuff that goes up and down the scale with embellishments. The kind of suff you hear in trailers for films that isn’t supposed to stand out too much, but DOES electrify. All in all, highly recommended. 

Review by Simon Wiedemann