It’s been 7 years since the Harrisonburg/RVA based band Valkyrie has blessed fans with a new album, but 2015’s upcoming Shadows is well worth th
It’s been 7 years since the Harrisonburg/RVA based band Valkyrie has blessed fans with a new album, but 2015’s upcoming Shadows is well worth the wait.
Tracing the roots of the new record is not easy, its the brain child of some powerful Virginia musicians who share roots in a wide variety of metal and rock sounds.
Front man Jake Adams said Shadows has been exciting to produce, with a lot of factors falling into place at just the right time.
First off, there was simple scheduling. Jake’s brother, Pete Adams, also plays guitar in Valkyrie, but only when he’s not on tour or recording with Savannah’s metal sons Baroness.
Turns out The Adams boys grew up with Baroness’s John Baizley.
“Both of our bands came from this small little town,” said Jake in a phone interview last week.
They all hail from in/around Rockbridge County near Lexington, VA. The three of them were actually in a band together before Baizley left for the Savannah and formed Baroness. From there, Pete Adams got asked to help them tour and Jake has been keeping the Valkyrie torch lit ever since.
“We’ve always had to wait till their breaks to do much,” said Jake. “So right now is our time.”
The Adams brothers reunited with Alan Fary and Warren Hawkins and headed to a studio space in Illinois where the band hunkered down for a marathon recording session. Working from 9AM to midnight every day, sleeping in the studio, the band hammered our the 7 tracks which combined to make Shadows.
The space was actually R.E.O. Speedwagon’s recording studio at some point. “It had that kind of vibe – a 70’s kind of design,” Jake joked.
But the recording session gave birth to a number of tracks the band had been working on for some time. Though they hadn’t put out full releases since 2008’s Man Of Two Visions, the band continued to tour when they could – often to packed crowds.
It was those sold out shows that kept the band on track.
Expect a more “dynamic” sound from Shadows, a quality Jake was really aiming for.
“The songs are just better, more developed, better written, than what we’ve done before,” he said. Jake was also pumped at the increased production quality on the new record.
“Our stuff is traditionally simplistic, and I think it’s still there, but the songs are more thought out, and the production value is there.”
A number of tracks stood out to Jake – ‘Temple,’ the third track on the album, pops for what he called a “mellow intro.” But don’t be fooled, there are epic dueling shredd solos before the song ends.
“It explores a little more of our softer side than we typically do,” he said about ‘Temple.’ “Usually our stuff is full distortion all the way through, and this has some cleaner parts, yea know, but it still shreds.”
He wasn’t lying. As I listened to the new album I found myself banging my head at my office desk, and humming riffs on the bike ride home.
Growing up in the county seems to have helped form their sound too.
“We grew up listening and playing a lot of hard rock, but lots of southern rock too – so there’s a southern feel to it,” Jake said. You can hear that best channeled in a number of the riffs and some of the breakdowns.
The album art channels their Virginia roots too; the red tail hawk is a native creature to their neck of the woods, and the album cover features such a hawk fighting off a band of crows.
Sure enough, shortly after they decided to go with the hawk artwork, the band saw a red tail hawk getting heckled by some crows in an field.
“It really confirmed our choice of art,” he said, jokingly adding “it’s cool, I said ‘make sure it doesn’t look like the Hawk is gonna lose.’”
The folks at Relapse Records also made the process easy according to Jake. They’ve got a mess of neat vinyl printed options, with mixed gold-white discs as an option, but it was the finer points of production, pressing, and distro that were really streamlined by Relapse.
“We feel good about it, its like Spinal Tap where all the early albums always had things plaguing us,” Jake said about past printing or audio issues, really any number of small details which weighed heavy on their heads as musicians.
But this time around the whole processes went much smoother, something he thinks the band has earned after years on tour.
“We feel like we’re kind of getting our due a little bit,” he said.