Vale Of Pnath
The Prodigal Empire
posted on 12/2011 By:
So, you say you're a modern death metal fan? Were you slightly disappointed with All Shall Perish's ultra-safe mea culpa from earlier this year? Are you slightly annoyed that Man Must Die is (inexplicably) stuck in label-less limbo? Fear not. Vale of Pnath will satiate your cravings for the slightly technical, highly melodic, and comfortably formulaic.
It's Vale of Pnath's hypercharged melodeath fetish that gives The Prodigal Empire an injection of fun that many of their new-school compatriots lack. Whereas many of their peers have sapped the life out of themselves through relentless pursuits of numbing sweeps and billionaire BPM, Vale of Pnath's lead guitar technique is reminiscent of an all-too-recent time when dexterity was used to propel catchiness and memorability, not alienation and wankery.
Guitarists Vance Valencia and Mikey Reeves are obviously having a blast. But their attempts to trump Arsis on "Time of Reckoning" and the Black Dahlia Murder on "The Prodigal Empire" only prove that they're a long way from carving out an identity of their own. The album definitely soars on wings of excellent execution, but Vale of Pnath is doing little more than perfecting long-standing sub-subgenre conventions. They could take a few lessons from the aforementioned Man Must Die in terms of creating actual songs, and not linear, cut-and-paste riff progressions.
Granted, they're pretty damn good at smoothing out their seams, and the plug n' play vocals make the album sound more static than it actually is. But if the band builds on the foundation laid by the slower, smarter "Borne Extinction" and the galloping "Sightless," they could create something special.
However, albums are statements, not tools to gauge a band's upside. (That's what demos were for. Remember those?) The unfortunate truth is this: The Prodigal Empire throws itself into the dreaded (and, admittedly, journalistically lazy) "for genre fans only" pile, again proving that it's difficult to trancend boundaries when your main influences are your contemporaries. The Prodigal Empire is yet another interpretation of The Same Old Shit, but The Same Old Shit could sound a hell of a lot worse.
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