March 14, 2014 | , | 4.25

Valkyrja, The Antagonist’s Fire

Valkyrja: The Antagonist’s Fire

It’s not often that a band can incorporate a variety of outside styles while still remaining absolutely true to their core sound. With Valkyrja’s third full-length, The Antagonist’s Fire, that’s exactly what we have. This Swedish group of blasphemers are fully entrenched in black metal, but they also bring in dark, morbid melodies effortlessly along with the destructive aggression of death metal — all while retaining a blackened intensity.

The Antagonist’s Fire isn’t just some amalgam of styles, however. Each song on this album is fully and completely structured to maximize the band’s bleak melodies and delivered with the utmost aggression as swirling riffs, desolate atmosphere and vicious vocals swarm your very soul tirelessly. Album opener, “Betrayal Incarnate,” is a prime example of what the band is more than capable of accomplishing with their sound. The track starts off with a menacing and brooding bit of melodic guitar as the drums build and swell to a steady pace and the guitars bring about a frigid chill in the air. Once the song fully engages, we’re treated with rapidly shifting, blackened riffage and pile-driving drums that not only pummel, but come across cleanly and shift tempos at just the right moment.

The energy found within each song is infectious. These guys aren’t just going through the motions so to speak, but reflect the effort that went into crafting each note with their own vicious performance. “The Cremating Fire” is a standout track that starts off with a stellar bit of guitar and massive drums before unleashing unholy hell on your ears. The song spews acidic hate in every direction while still incorporating a weaving, malicious melody amongst the powerful riffage and excellent vocal work.

“Madness Redeemer” is a solid outing with a steady gallop of cloven hooves. “Yearn to Burn” delivers some massive bass and drum work as it rockets across a desolate landscape of frozen earth. The song is as bleak and as cold as any on the album, but incorporates some of the smoothest melodic elements heard on The Antagonist’s Fire. Essentially it’s a hell of a song that prepares you nicely for the absolutely frenzied “Eulogy” — this song is balls-to-the-wall blackened death metal.

The ten-minute epic “Treading the Path of the Predator” wraps up The Antagonist’s Fire soundly. It’s a monster of a song that doesn’t even feel five minutes long let alone ten. It also showcases the band’s abilities to fully encompass all of their influences and deliver them in single, monumentus effort. Valkyrja have themselves a memorable album with this latest full-length and have only set the bar that much higher for anything they release in years to come. I can’t wait to see them face the challenge — and surpass it.