Review: Palace Of The King – Valles Marineris
Listenable Records (July 2016)
Reviewer: Dan Mann
After the more than pleasant surprise of last year’s debut ‘White Bird / Burn The Sky‘ I’ve been more than a little impatient for the follow up.
Well at last it’s playing loud and proud through my headphones, ‘Valles Marineris‘ follows in the same vein as the band’s debut, which is more than fine in my book.
Kicking off with ‘Let The Blood Run Free‘, Tim Henwood’s vocals scream into your ears in what to my mind is a mash up of blues, rock and psychedelia. With lashings of organ, underpinned by a thumping yet tight bassline, this is more than asking you to crank it up. ‘Beyond The Valley‘ follows on with more than a catchy chorus and some great guitar work by Messrs Maden & Harrison.
‘Black Cloud‘ starts with some funkadelic guitar, think 70’s with a twist, before sliding into a rock / soul fusion. I defy anyone not to tap their feet. To add to the pure enjoyment, the band are joined on the track by none other than Mahalia Barnes, a singer whose work I absolutely love, and who adds that final element of proper R & B.
‘The Bridge Of The God’s‘ once again soaks us in that heady 70’s sound. I found myself imagining I was sitting on the floor, back to the sofa reading sleeve notes. Nostalgia yes, but old fashioned? Not a chance. Next up we have the first single ‘ We Are The Vampires‘. Now I’m not sure if this is self biographical lol, but who cares with music this good.
Next we have ‘Empire Of The Sun‘, although there’s the same underlying sound, there’s a slight change in style to my ears, nothing widely different, just subtle changes to the vocal sound methinks. This is certainly airing towards being one of my favourites on the album. ‘Sick As A Dog‘ once again loads up the funk cannon and blasts you right in the old lug holes! This really is a fine example of a foot stomper.
The intro to ‘River Of Fire‘ has more than a hint of the Beatles ‘Come Together’, giving us a superb guitar riff throughout and once again such a catchy chorus. Another of my favourites without a doubt. I just love the production on this album, ‘Throw Me To The Wolves‘ is such a fine example of what a mix should sound like. No one instrument overpowering another, a punchy bassline that isn’t boomy and a warmth to the sound.
Now we unfortunately have almost run out of time as we reach the final track. ‘Into The Black‘ firmly nails itself to the blues rock sound, but also full of atmosphere, the keyboards moving away from the Hammond sound to reinforce that atmosphere. I admit it , I’ve come back to this track again and again. Just superb.
So there we have it. I’ve made it more than a little obvious that I love the band and that I’m absolutely delighted with ‘Valles Marineris‘. Don’t take my word for it, order yourself a copy forthwith. As for me, I’ll be getting this this on vinyl.