Artist: I, Valiance
Album: The Reject of Humanity – EP
Dark and dismal: you aren’t sure where exactly you are, but you know you’re all alone. The air is thick and stale and coats your lungs like tar. Slowly, the loneliness begins to sink in–you’ve been condemned to a fate unlike any other member of mankind. Cast from Eden and rejected from hell, you’re the only one of your kind; much as I, Valiance are truly the only band of their kind. With their latest–and remarkably unique–EP The Reject of Humanity, this malicious Melbourne quintet are out for blood. With a penchant for punishing heaviness that would make Oceano blush, and a surreal skill for symphonic atmosphere that would send shivers down Make Them Suffer’s spine, The Reject of Humanity stands alone and far above a sea of constantly regurgitated heavy music–a true reject in the best sense of the word.
The Reject of Humanity denies traditional conventions–even as an EP, it takes on the immersive feeling of a lengthy journey with ease. I, Valiance are scathingly intense from beginning to finish; the introduction alone is enough to send the listener’s jaw earthward and snap their shoulders with sheer force. However, the second “Part One: The Pillars of Ruin” commences, the listener is assured they aren’t just in for another deathcore chugfest. Percussionist Gabe Houben combines enormous splashy cymbal work with echoing, immense toms to create an enormous aural space–quickly filled with Matias Morales’ marvelous bass guitar. Throughout all of The Reject of Humanity, Morales can be heard slinking and slapping away alongside Houben’s spectacular percussion and the furious fretwork of both Krys Smith and David Freeland. Freeland and Smith together are simply unstoppable–one second, they’re playing off of one another and creating ear-catching grooves that wind inside the listener’s head like a serpent. The next second? Houben’s percussion slows to a stuttering halt as the two commence a prolapse-inducing, slam-laden breakdown bold enough to break mountains. The climactic ending to “Part One: The Pillars of Ruin” showcase this especially well, as does the entirety of the EP’s concluding track, “A Message to Humanity.”
However, to merely highlight the band’s penchant for punishing brutality doesn’t even come close to doing them justice, as there is so much more to The Reject of Humanity than bone-busting breakdowns and slams severe enough to inflict blunt force trauma. Tracks like “Part Two: the Loneliest Soul” or the ending to “Part Three: Thrown to Belial” shine a brilliant light upon the band’s penchant for the progressive and symphonic alike. “Part Two: The Loneliest Soul” is home to stellar synthesizer and harrowing musical harmony–as Houben provides a strong scaffold for the band’s electronic effects, and Smith, Freeland and Morales have no issue in weaving grooves and riffs around them. “Part Three: Thrown to Belial” is likely the band’s magnum opus, as it is a nearly seven minute long journey that features catchy, crushing breakdowns and jazz-influenced sections of respite that do Between the Buried and Me or The Plasmarifle great justice. Even more incredible is Morales’ non-stop furiously fretted onslaught, as “Part Three: Thrown to Belial” has some of the snappiest bass work since The Arusha Accord.
Throughout all of I, Valiance’s considerable diversity and remarkable intensity, there is one magnificent constant: Mark Poida. Poida is a force to be reckoned with, equally proficient in both gasping gutturals and ear-splitting shrieks, he is the cherry on top of the insane ice cream sundae that is The Reject of Humanity. Where Freeland and Smith bombard the listener with skin-shredding riffs and eerie sci-fi effects, Poida perseveres, hitting the listener with harshly screamed syllable after harshly screamed syllable. Where Houben slows the pace and favors symphony over brutality, Poida plays along: dragging out each word such that it feels like daggers being dragged through the listener’s ear. Poida is the perfect vocal fit to fill out I, Valiance’s dynamic–the one thing that could have ruined the release instead making it a piece of deathcore perfection.
Never since Dante’s Inferno has there been a more lethal and lacerating journey through Hell–until The Reject of Humanity, that is. I, Valiance are incredible proof that being alone isn’t so bad–especially if it means you’re alone at the top.
For Fans Of: Make Them Suffer, I, Exalt, Existence Has Failed, Oceano, Ingested
By: Connor Welsh