Aerial Run: Valleys of the Earth

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Aerial Run: Valleys of the Earth
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Aerial Ruin: Valleys of the Earth
Acoustic
Vendlus Records
April 26th, 2011
Release length: 45:41
Myspace
Aerial Ruin is new to the scene, but it’s essentially a one man acoustic project headed by Erik Moggridge, a man who was in the Thrash act Epidemic, as well as Old Grandad and DrIFT OF a Curse. After a rather rousing success with their 133 306 668 demo release, the acoustic act finds a home with Vendlus Records to issue the full-length debut, Valleys of the Earth. But, is there a home for this rather depressive acoustic rock solo project?

Essentially, Valleys of the Earth is like listening to one of today’s Depressive Rock acts, such as Katatonia, but in acoustic form. You could also take some of the more depressive Black Metal acts into the equation, such as the underground band Lantlos and their more acoustic, melancholic driven passages. The music itself is very dark and often sounds a little melancholic with a grey-like atmosphere to those who can pick up on the atmosphere a little stronger then others. Much of the album is performed with a slower pace, and the vocals try to reach lower pitches to suit the overall dismal vibe the release gives off, and depending the situation, it’ll work with the music or not, as well as can find the vocals reaching higher pitches. “Lonely of Need”, for example, stays the single slower, softer route until the end when the vocals become louder and seem altered slightly, and at that point the music even picks up as well, and it’s a welcome breath of fresh air given how long the song is, and how little it offers in variety to keep the listener attentive.

The production of the release sounds really good, and captures a dark, candlelit performance, but outside of that kind of setting, the album doesn’t do much else to set the tone, and seems to focus more on the melancholic atmosphere, which doesn’t exist on all the tracks. “The Twist in the Chain” is just a traditional acoustic piece with nothing too special going on with it. The vocals for this release also become a bit of an annoyance at times. Some songs have vocals that feel like there’s a little more enunciation going on, like the aforementioned “Lonely of Need”, as well as “The twist in the Chain”. However, when the vocals try to become really low and soft to match the music, they inevitably become drained out by the guitar, and, like with “Amends” among other tracks, they can even come off more as simple mumblings then a cleanly sung performance.

Aside the mumbling vocals that pop up throughout the album, but prodominantly at the start of it, some of the material starts to just sound similar. There’s no other type of song here but slower, depressive, and something melancholic acoustic songs. It’s very rare that you will get a passage that features anything different then soft singing and slower music with chords that feel a little more technical at times. Some songs, like “Saint Yesterday”, will feature vocals that are layered after each line, with one layer coming out of one side of the speakers, and the next layer on the other side for each time the line is performed, as in it’s sung once through the left speaker, then again after it on the right, and the vocals are actually quite louder compared to the more echoed and distant sounding vocals that adorn a number of other songs. Once in a while you’ll also get a brief faster section of music, but it’s very rare, and those moments are very short when they do hit. Had there been some more faster passages, or even energetic performances in the first place instead of taking the concept of “Amends” and running with it throughout the entire album, then Valleys of the Earth would stand a little stronger instead of being a little on the monotonous repetition end of things. Of course, “Stnemarcas” kind of breaks things up a bit, but that’s mostly in part of the insanely annoying effects in the background for the first half of the song that eventually fade and give way to acoustic taking command, but that annoying screaching effect from high pitched electric guitar chords is simply migraine enducing throughout the entire recording outside the few moments later on where the chords go down in pitch to a tolerable sound.

Valleys of the Earth accomplishes what it sets out to do, and for that it’s a good album with some solid acoustic tracks. But, between the more repetitive nature of the music and lack of energy, as well as some of the mumbling vocals that happen on plenty of the songs here, the album doesn’t really have as much of an impact as one would hope it to have. If you’re a fan of soft, yet depressive or melancholic music, Valleys of the Earth is worth giving a spin, and if not, it’s worth at least checking out for the setting and atmosphere it gives off most of the time. Outside of that, it becomes a casual album you can kick back and unwind to periodically, as it’s not unlistenable, just not all that engaging.

01. Amends – 2:39
02. Genesis – 3:24
03. Earthen – 5:14
04. Lonely of Need – 6:31
05. The Twist in the Chain – 4:32
06. Sacraments – 4:51
07. Hammer – 3:57
08. Saint Yesterday – 3:31
09. Psalm – 4:17
10. Stnemarcas – 4:54
11. This Place – 1:52
Overall Score: 6.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Vendlus Records.