If you enjoy earth-shattering rhythms, dark and soulful melodies and heavy blues-metal with a bit of Seattle grunge tossed in for flavor, then I strongly recommend that you check out Cincinnati's Valley of the Sun and their album Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, from Fuzzorama Records.
Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk is the first full-length release from the band and follows on the heels of two very successful EPs, 2010 and The Sayings of the Seers. Talons picks up right where Sayings of the Seers left off with epic-length pieces rife with driving riffs and adroit changes in both tone and rhythm that display great talent and attention to composition and dynamics.
Ryan Ferrier leads Valley of the Sun in the dual role of lead guitar and vocals. On guitar, Ferrier is scintillating and adept at both resonating blues tones and rock-hard crunch. Vocally, though he does not have quite the range of Chris Cornell -- and who does? -- he gets my vote for most dynamic front man in a home-grown metal band.
Aaron Boyer applies his percussive skills to Talons perfectly. From the relentless pounding of "Nomads" to the classic-metal rhythms of "Maya" and "As Earth and Moon," Boyer is the engine that powers the hulking juggernaut that is Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk. His playing ability is most evident in "Within the Glare," a five-and-a-half minute saga that is a bit funky but still heavy - and the 7/4 time signature of the bridge is just enough to keep you dangling on the precipice.
The role of Ryan McAllister on bass can simply not be overstated. When he is not moonlighting as the bottom-end for Moonbow, McAllister is playing the role of the glue that holds VoS together. As a three-piece, other bands can sometimes show evidence of a sonic gap between guitar and bass -- especially in live performances where band-aids like overdubs and post-production are not to be found. But McAllister and Ferrier work hand-in-glove on tracks like "The Message is Get Down" by utilizing a bit of fuzz-tone and wah-pedal to get just the right feel.
We are introduced to the album by the song "Worn Teeth" which begins life as a sparse and lo-fi Southern-blues number - but it explodes halfway through with bone-jarring energy.
"Gunslinger" is the first single to be released from the album and is probably the most "balanced" of all the tracks on Talons. It is also the one that best shows off the group's range and vocal harmonies.
The track that makes me want to turn it all the way to 11 is "Sleeping Sand." The soul of this song is stuck somewhere in a whisky and diesel-fueled world flooded by classic Judas Priest and Motörhead. It has the distinction of being a bit of a throwback without sounding derivative.
Now that the weather is getting warmer and you'll be doing a lot more driving with the windows down, get yourself a copy of Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk and play it as loud as you can wherever you go. Trust me, the guy in the lane next to you will thank you for it.