Band – Valkyria
Album – Tierra Hostil
Country of Origin – Spain
Genre – Heavy Metal
Release Date – October 10th, 2018
Label – Fighter Records
Author – Johnny The Fox
The veritable slew of Spanish heavy-metal hits just keep on coming. Anchored by Madrid-based Fighter Records, 2018 has seen a plethora of strong new traditional-metal releases from the likes of Iron Hunter, Witchfyre, and Wild. These bands may not be breaking much new stylistic ground, but the proverbial boxes they fit themselves into sure sound satisfying. They play classic metal, they do it well, and they’re damn proud of it.
Go ahead and add Valkyria to this swelling list. This young quartet focuses on the more melodic side of traditional metal, playing an extremely polished brand of power metal along the lines of Angra, Symphony X, and Gamma Ray. Like labelmates Wild, Valkyria attempt to set their music apart by singing all lyrics in their native Español. While this indeed is a refreshing touch, it doesn’t quite compensate for the predictable writing and over-polished production values — common sins of this sub-genre.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tierra Hostil showcases phenomenal displays of musicianship throughout. The stellar guitar tandem of Yeray Hernández and Borja Aguirre flawlessly meld their intricate and melodic riffs into strikingly mellifluous leads and harmonies. Rhythmically, the team of bassist Gorka Pérez and drummer Jon Romero provide the requisite no-frills and propulsive foundation. Additionally, the silky-smooth, tenor vocals of Hernández make the words flow like butter to the listener, with or without knowledge of Spanish.
Valkyria are, thankfully, an aggressive and guitar-driven power metal band; they are at their best when they’re pounding out the crunchy, groove-oriented riffs, as on “Abatido,” “Rencor,” and the harmonious maximus, “Selenelion.” There’s a lush, blatantly-poppy element to the choruses as well, especially on the title track. This influence may seem off kilter in the context of most metal bands, but here it actually lends a welcome sense of freshness and unpredictability.
Hence we arrive at the main issue with Tierra Hostil, and European power metal in general: predictability. From the familiar chord progressions and tempos, to the upward key changes at every final chorus, to the tired and formulaic songwriting, many of these songs induce yawns rather than excitement. Couple this with the oil-slick production and overly-chipper, bombastic vocal melodies, and one has a by-the-numbers intro to Power Metal 101.
Of course, if one enjoys the aforementioned musical elements, then be my guest. Valkyria at their best do show promise for better things to come. Salud.
Highlights: “Rencor,” “Tierra Hostil,” “Abatido,” “Selenelion.”
Rating – 3.25/5