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ValSans - "Sword" (CD)

ValSans - "Sword" CD cover image

"Sword" track listing:

1. Mjolnir
2. On The Battlefield
3. ValSans
4. The Allegiance
5. Hall Of Fame
6. Eyes Of A Viper
7. Lady Of The Lake
8. Metal Crusade
9. Golden Treasure
10. Eppur Si Muove

Reviewed by on May 31, 2011

"Instrumentally, there's plenty to love on ValSans' 'Sword.' Vocally and lyrically, not so much. "

As a writer, I'm a bit of a "word guy" when it comes to music — more given to analysis and criticism of the lyrics than most. That's what makes ValSans' "Sword" such a maddening experience for me. On one hand, there's the spectacular playing by the rest of the band — particularly lead guitarist Thomas Stubics. On the other, there are the clumsy lyrics and overblown delivery — even by power metal standards — of singer Andy Barna.

The riffs and energy on "Sword" are quite excellent, with tracks like the speedy "Golden Treasure" and "On The Battlefield" having a driving feel that works quite well despite lyrical missteps like a discussion of an enemy whose "self-confidence is too low." "ValSans" takes a Maiden-meets Motorhead approach, with Stubics playing an Adrian Smith-style high lead over a speedy riff.

It's also worth noting that this album, which was originally self-released has excellent production, with Thomas Kleinander's bass and Wolfgang Koppel's drums given ample space in the mix. Cranking it up only accentuates the warmth of sound.

Granted, power metal has never been known for its subtlety on the vocal front, but the excessively operatic stylings on tracks like "Eppur Si Muove" and the acoustic section of "On The Battlefield" are the stuff Tenacious D songs are made of. When an album begins with a shout of "The Hammer! The Hammer! The Hammer of THOR!!!" you probably should realize that that hammer's going to be hitting you over the head quite a few times before the disc is through.

Tracks like "The Allegiance" and "Metal Crusade" aim toward the anthemic territory of Judas Priest's "United," but fail to get there due to some painfully cliched lyrics about how "when the times are tough and the road is long, heavy metal rules my life."

Instrumentally, there's plenty to love on ValSans' "Sword." Vocally and lyrically, not so much.

Highs: Superb guitar work throughout, with "ValSans" especially standing out

Lows: Weak lyrics and sometimes overblown vocals.

Bottom line: A decent power metal disc with great playing, but some vocal and lyrical flaws.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)