Trembling in the Valley of Fear

Maria Sherman

Valley of Fear

Cover art

Valley of Fear, the new project of Justin Broadrick, Matthew Bower, and Samantha Davies, is, in a word, interior. Marrying the brutal anxiety of the Skullflower records of Bower’s past with the distorted echoes of Davies’ Voltigeurs and the industrial fuzz of Broadrick’s Godflesh and Greymachine, Valley of Fear’s debut is an elixir of oil and water that only their universe could hybridize.

In “Serpent’s Trail,” the record’s first track, Davies' and Bower’s guitars play in opposition to one another before meeting in some unnatural, adaptive synthesis. It’s Broadrick’s rhythm machine – so repetitive and simplistic as to feel programmed – that forces the two into a captive Stockholm Syndrome. It's only menacing until it becomes overwhelmingly attractive, which is what gives Valley of Fear an incredible expansiveness, and is largely why the self-titled debut is quickly becoming one of my favorite black metal releases of the year.

Valley of Fear also comes out at an important time for Broadrick, whose first electronic album, entitled “Posthuman”, was released under the moniker JK Flesh (via 3BY3 in the UK) earlier this year. For those skeptical of his electronic chaps need be reminded that Broadrick appeared as Techno Animal in the 1999 spilt release “Symbiotics,” with Porter Ricks and as Pale Sketcher on Ghostly International.

Alongside Valley Of Fear, independent British metal label Legion Blotan has released a handful of delayed material, including a few splits with All Dead Tapes, (Arch Toll, Satanhartait,) an UK black metal/ noise label responsible for releasing most Sump tapes (including a split with Sexdrome, featuring Loke Rahbeck of the recently renamed Sacred Bones act VÅR.)

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