Valis Ablaze – ‘Boundless’ (Album Review)
On last year’s EP Insularity, Valis Ablaze made no secret of the fact that they’re massive Tesseract fans. Since I share the same opinion of the British djent overlords, the only fault I could have levelled at Insularity was its relative lack of other influences.
With Boundless, Valis Ablaze now show signs of progression. Given their home genre, that move feels appropriate – and so Boundless spends much of its time feeling out the spaces between Periphery and Tesseract while delivering plenty of epic, intense, and atmospheric sections.
“Valis Ablaze are going to attract plenty of djentlefolk to their corner”
Moving from one core influence to two might not seem like a big stretch – but given how well-established djent as a formula is, Valis Ablaze deserve respect for making a genuine effort to chart out some undiscovered territory. There’s also the matter of vocal performances that occasionally bring Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan to mind. Since he’s one of my favourite vocalists, I was naturally inclined to approve – but from a more objective point of view, it just works.
Valis Ablaze are pretty well-connected within the progressive metal world; Boundless was mixed and mastered by former SikTh vocalist Justin Hill, and also features some awesome guest spots. Drewsif Stalin provides additional vocals on Frequency, while guitarist Reece Fullwood throws some sick harmonics into closing track Reflections – but overall, Sithu Aye really steals the show during Faster Than Light with some Steve Vai-evoking lines. Had there been more lead work of that calibre scattered around Boundless, it would have really pushed this album over the top for me.
In any case, Boundless remains one of the most exciting debut albums I’ve heard in some time. Valis Ablaze have an insane amount of potential not just to make serious names for themselves in the djent world, but also to craft a full-scale masterpiece. To do that, they will need to push the boat out a bit further – after all, when you listen to Tesseract, Periphery, SikTh, Dillinger, Steve Vai, and so on, you immediately know it’s them.
Right now, that’s an issue for the future. With Boundless under their belts, Valis Ablaze are going to attract plenty of djentlefolk to their corner – and they deserve it.
LTK RATING: 90%
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Boundless drops April 6 – pre-order it on iTunes here.