Album Review – Valgrind / Seal Of Phobos EP (2017)

Behold the brand new blood-claiming opus by this long-established Italian act, highly recommended for fans of the crushing sounds of old school Death Metal.

Valgrind is not only the main entrance to Valhalla in Norse mythology, but also the name of a four-piece Italian Death Metal brigade (born from the ashes of the ultra-underground act Necrospell in 1993, in the city of Modena) who, one year after the release of their widely acclaimed full-length album Speech Of The Flame, are back with a new blood-claiming EP titled Seal Of Phobos, a great option for fans of the crushing music by Morbid Angel, Monstrosity and Cruciamentum, and a sound message to the world of heavy music by a band that has been on a very positive roll since being reborn from the ashes back in 2008.

Featuring a stylish artwork by the band’s own vocalist and bassist Daniele Lupidi, who’s not only a talented musician but an accomplished artist as well, Seal Of Phobos sounds simply pulverizing from start to finish, with each song of the EP presenting a high level of dexterity, aggression and feeling in the form of Technical Death Metal. “This is probably our most aggressive material to date. All of the four tracks are extremely intense and we decided to go with a different vocal approach for every tune to give each one its own strong identity. We’re also extremely happy to have Jonny Petterson (Wombbath, Ashcloud, Henry Kane) doing some guest vocals on ‘Ekphora’s Day’. Last but not least, this is the first studio appearance for our new guitarist Umberto Poncina, who also engineered and mixed the EP”, said Daniele about how Seal Of Phobos was created and his expectations with it.

The truly bestial drumming by Gianmarco Agosti arises from the pits of hell to hit us in the face before the other band members begin their demolishing feast of Death Metal in the opening track, the amazing The Endless Circle, where Daniele delivers traditional growls à la Cannibal Corpse while the guitar duo Massimiliano Elia and Umberto Poncina are spot-on with their shredding and solos. And their sonic carnage goes on with an even more violent and blackened composition, New Born Deceit, where Daniele and Gianmarco are on their most infernal mode delivering enraged growls and insanely aggressive beats and fills respectively. Moreover, fans of old school Death Metal will crack their skulls into the circle pit to this hostile tune during their live performances without a shadow of a doubt.

Epic sounds in Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) warm up our ears for another Death Metal attack by Valgrind, this time titled Traitors Will Bleed, with Massimiliano and Umberto incinerating our skins with their metallic riffs. The whole song sounds very technical and rhythmic, with the intricate beats by Gianmarco building the perfect ambience for Daniele and his guttural vocals, ending with a nice Slayer-inspired guitar solo. And lastly, featuring guest vocalist Jonny Pettersson, we have Ekphora’s Day, a devastating chant showcasing a vile drumming, a neck-breaking main riff and beyond aggressive growls, not to mention its lyrics which can be considered the epitome of Death Metal (“Sacrifices, spill the blood / Those who died need final offers / Walking nightmares gathered around the flock / Ekphora’s day / Everything in this rotten earth is terminal / Lamentations guide mankind to the final resting place”), with all those elements being thoroughly connected until the sonic madness generated by the band fades away into a cryptic conclusion.

In case you want to take an initial full-listen at Seal Of Phobos before buying the album, you can find it in its entirety on YouTube, but I’m sure after the first song you’ll already run to the band’s own Big Cartel to grab either the regular version of the album or the special CD + T-shirt bundle, which you can also find at the Everlasting Spew Record’s webshop by clicking HERE or HERE, as well as at the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp or at Discogs. I’m sure that after listening to Seal Of Phobos you’ll also go after the previous releases by Valgrind, a band that knows how to deliver to us avid metalheads high-quality old school Technical Death Metal with tons of aggressiveness and rawness added to the mix.

Best moments of the album: The Endless Circle and New Born Deceit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. The Endless Circle 4:07
2. New Born Deceit 4:09
3. Prelude to Downfall (Interlude) 0:47
4. Traitors Will Bleed 3:24
5. Ekphora’s Day 5:03

Band members
Daniele Lupidi – Vocals, bass
Massimiliano Elia – lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards
Umberto Poncina – rhythm and lead guitars, keyboards
Gianmarco Agosti – drums

Guest musician
Jonny Pettersson – additional vocals on “Ekphora’s Day”

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