Wells Valley – ‘The Orphic’ EP.
Portugal has a long history of traditional music steeped in sad and morbid feelings. Hardly surprising then, that Wells Valley, who originate from Lisbon, specialise in the sort of doomy-Post-Metal that despite being heavy and focused, leaves you feeling like you’ve been hit with a wall of sludge as soon as the first notes leave the speakers. On ‘The Orphic‘, the trio follow up to their 2015 album Matter As Regent with three tracks (two originals and one cover) that are atmospheric, varied and crushing when it counts.
‘Annunciation‘ kicks off with ambient, dissonant drones and Pedro Lopes’ mammoth sounding fuzz bass before dropping into a riff that wouldn’t feel out of place on a King Crimson or early Pink Floyd album, if it weren’t for the modern and brutal presentation – jaggedly ascending and off kilter, it sounds as if it’s being played by people on the verge of a breakdown. Quieter, ambient and Psychedelia tinged moments akin to Soundgarden‘s experimental side provide balance to offset the dark and heavy assault the band lay down the rest of the time.
‘Ophanim‘ opens with double kick pounding full steam ahead and guitars veering about as if they’re drunk (or maybe midway through a bad trip) before the main riff arrives and assuredly kicks the door in. Vocalist and guitarist Filipe Correia’s vocals are acerbic and on point throughout – his voice carries a lot of character and cuts through the dense guitars really well, which is no small feat as the guitars are monstrous.
At the midpoint things shift into a half time groove with some Bonham style fills from drummer Pedro Mau, who notably not only lays down tight and heavy drumming on The Orphic but also produced it. The guitars aren’t shy of straying into dissonance throughout the EP which is something I really love – it adds a real sense of foreboding to the bands sound.
We finish with a Pink Floyd cover – ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun‘. There’s nothing worse than a cover that doesn’t do the original band justice or at least do something fresh with the material, but thankfully this is a great effort – opening with a gradual build of feedback and droning like a swarm of metal bees, it’s a dynamic rendition with powerful Iommi like guitar work in the choruses offsetting the brooding, subdued verses. The band have succeeded here in making the song their own by bringing a heavy, modern and very dark edge to it.
As a first introduction to Wells Valley, I have to say I’m impressed – The Orphic packs a lot into it’s three tracks and it ticks a lot of metal boxes without sounding stale. Not only that, but despite the band not pigeonholing themselves into any particular metal subset, the EP carries a feeling of dread that wouldn’t be out of place on a black metal album, which I think is just te-diddly-riffic.
The Orphic is out now on Bleak Recordings.
Find out more about Wells Valley here:
- Social Media/Updates: Facebook.
- Music: bandcamp, Spotify, Youtube Channel.
- Bleak Recordings: Facebook, Twitter, Official Website.