VALHALLA LIGHTS – MY GRACIOUS HIGHWAY – INDEPENDENT
By Kev Rowland
The very first time I played this I asked myself why on earth had this album been self-released? This is crying out for major label support as it is just so damn good! Possibly I need to take a step back a bit. Valhalla Lights … are Ange Saul (vocals), George Christie (guitar), Brent “Badger” Crysell (bass) Deon Driver (drums). George, Brent, and Deon have been playing together for 17 years and were the backbone of legendary Australian stoner rock band Fort who undertook national tours with Clutch (two tours), Kyuss Lives, Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork, Grinspoon, Nebula and shows with Monster Magnet, Helmet, the Black Keys, COG, Shihad (NZ), Tumbleweed, and The Hard-Ons. Joining the powerhouse trio is Ange Saul who has played Canadian Music Week and was invited to play the world’s biggest music conference & festival: SXSW in Austin, TX with her previous band The Black Lullaby.
What we have now is a band that belongs in the early Seventies, with a singer who idolizes Janis Joplin, producing music that contains slabs of sound, always striving to hit that overdrive with a singer who can more than hold her own at the front. These guys need to play as if their lives depend on it as it is the only way they can keep up with Ange. I was really enjoying the album, with one crunching song following on from another solid riff as the band pursued by two of my favorite Blacks (Sabbath and Widow – although the mighty All Blacks are the ones who really own the color) when I came to “The One”. I was stunned to come across this, as here Ange is accompanied by a much gentler and orchestral support, and she also sings in a different style, allowing her vocals to be way more delicate, with just some reverb. This song is so very different from the rest of the album, capturing a totally different side to the band, yet also displaying the depth of their versatility. The last time I was thrown so much by a single song on an album was with “Bother” on Stone Sour’s debut, which my long-suffering wife loved immensely and wondered why I said she wouldn’t enjoy the rest.
Valhalla Lights is all about quality vintage instruments and tube driven amps played at high volume, catchy riffs that stick in the mind, thumping drums and crashing cymbals, all put together to create a wall of sound… and powerful and melodic vocals cutting through to sit over the top. And I love it