Pittsburgh’s Vale unleash vast black metal that mourns, aches on bold ‘A Senseless Procession’

The pressure surrounding our lives have so many different elements involved, some of them social, others financial, still others existential. We all struggle, we all feel pain coursing through us from time to time, and the battles we face in those periods can help define us. Do we wallow in negativity and anger, or do we use this as self-reflection to increase our levels of compassion toward others?

Pittsburgh-based musician V started his project Vale in 2015, and over the course of his first two records (2018’s “The Folklore of Man” and 2020’s “Our Denouement”), atmospheric, folk-led black metal flowed forth, calling out to nature and aligning with certain seasons. On the latest Vale record “A Senseless Procession,” the waters and winds rush generously, taking on elements of the spring, breathing new life into this band’s power. Along the way, the eroding earth is mourned, searches are made for one’s place in existence, and making sense of one’s emotions blast to the forefront. Musically, these five songs are packed with humanity and chaos, darkness and beauty, and it’s an incredibly rich journey.

“Parturition” enters amid chirping and waters rushing, feeling calm and spacious before the guitars begin flooding. V’s howls tear into your chest, the playing storming hard, adding even more atmospheric pressure. “Mother is in pain, earth whimpers softly, a child cries to leave this world,” V howls, filling your heart with vivid emotion. Percussive strikes get your blood flowing, and the howls stretch, mystical harshness poisoning the waters before dipping into acoustics, a moody gaze returning to nature’s heart. “Monadic” is the longest track, running 13:35 and starting with lush acoustics and drizzling piano. The swirling melodies ease you into the picture before the playing ignites, the vocals crushing and heading into tornadic insanity. The emotions build as shrieks cut under your nails, splattering and rampaging, the playing blasting with life. Echoed calm and trickling guitars emerge, but it can’t calm the black chaos that explodes anew, burning deep into the earth to rest finally.

“Sprigs” is a quick interlude with acoustics, immersive whispering, and a haunting essence, getting into your bones and moving toward “Carnation” that continues the same aura. Acoustics move as piano creates a glaze before animalistic intensity strikes and rains down carnage. The shrieks devastate as doomy mangling lurches, twisting and digging into long-healed wounds. Wild cries ring out as the playing flows and searches, melting away in calm notes. Closer “Mother” begins with reflective clean guitars and elegance unfolding, feeling like a tribute and a dirge all in one. The playing also feels moves through the seasons, beginning with wintry haze, enveloping you before the ice begins to thaw. “I’ve been thinking too much again, I’ve been dreaming too much again, how can I love if I don’t love myself?” V wails, and then the pace intensifies. The transition rips with molten cries and the playing leaves ash behind, churning before things calm, the path comes to a rest, and chirps rise and float off into the distance.

“A Senseless Procession” leaves a lot for one to contemplate from the state of our planet to one’s own position within the human race, to the devastation of simply being. Vale deliver black metal that levels deep gusts of atmosphere, primal rage within the heart, and a titanic display that isn’t afraid to feel and invites you to do the same. This is intense and personal, a record that feels like it leaves you deeply impacted, realizing you have a lot to think about.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vale.pgh/

To buy the album, go here: https://valeband.bandcamp.com/album/a-senseless-procession

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