I received the debut album Experiment One: Asylum by Valleys about two weeks ago. I put it on my list of albums to check out and review, especially since it’s a debut from a newer band. Of course I had albums in front of it to check out so I didn’t get to it as soon as I’d liked. The plan was to check it out the beginning of this past week but with Valleys announcing the untimely death of one of their singers, Mikey Clement, I decided best to wait a bit so that my thoughts on the album weren’t marred by emotion for an up and coming band getting hit so hard so soon by tragedy. So today I finally gave Experiment One: Asylum it’s fair due.
I find myself amazed by the duo of guitarists in Valleys, Rj Riggle and Brandon Scurlark, who have talent beyond their years. “Compassion” has a very bluesy yet slightly Caribbean vibe to it. Something you might expect from a seasoned veteran of the music industry with years of albums, touring, and jam sessions to build on. But they also show chops on “Desperate Me” with how they can harmonize together without competing.
But the problem here is its not consistent throughout the album or even songs. “Unraveling” is one of those songs and it drives me nuts. Valleys shows they can totally compose amazing melodies and have each musician do their thing and work but the majority of this song sounds like a battle royal for who should stand out. The last 45 seconds to minute of this song is possibly the best part of the song.
Then there’s the dirty vocals. I hate saying this because Mikey Clement did them, just don’t belong majority of the time. “Desperate Me” is an amazing song musically. But there isn’t enough clean vocals from Jayson Mitchell. When he’s there it’s amazing. But the moment the dirty and screaming vocals come it you lose me. Don’t get me wrong, they can work but the placement and timing of them is just wrong on the majority of the album. It doesn’t matter how great a melody or riff is behind it, if you’re screaming is inaudible you’ve killed it.
Valleys debut album was definitely named properly. It sounds like they’re still experiment with whether they want to be a pure hardcore band or if they want to be more progressive with hints of aggression here and there. There’s a solid 50-50 split on Experiment One: Asylum but they still need to figure out what their definitive sound is going to be.