Review: Vales – Wilt & Rise

A few years ago, four teenagers from Cornwall’s rugged coastline set out into the UK hardcore scene in a veritable flurry of fraught screamo and a commendable work ethic that defiantly belied the group’s collective youth. Through a prolific touring schedule and consistently impassioned performances, Vales garnered a respectable following in the blogosphere. Surprisingly, the band decamped to heady climes of LA to record an eagerly awaited full-length with the same producer who previously put to tape the screamo darlings Touché Amore. The hype steadily grew, the band poised to reach greater prospects, but then … silence. Vales dropped off the map for the better part of a year, the completed album lying dormant and the buzz they had sweated and bled so hard to garner seemed on the verge of dissipation.

But sure enough, Wilt & Rise, their debut full-length, has finally emerged from hibernation and by all accounts the extended wait is well worth the reward. Through its ten song repertoire, Vales demonstrate a tantalizing ferocity that hones much of chaos and wild furore of earlier releases into a different level of anger-fuelled song-craft. It remains a fervently bleak aural accompaniment to a fractured and decimated world, devoid of hope and future, a collective howl of anguish at a bewildering and alienating modern landscape. Uncompromising and unflinching, Wilt & Rise is positively bursting at the seams with almost unfathomable levels of emotional vitriol, embodied first and foremost in the larynx-shredding screams of vocalist Chlo, whose capacity for producing such consistently terrifying vocals is rather astounding. Around her, a savage storm of semi-melodic guitar and blistering drums are repeatedly whipped into a frenzy that’s breathtakingly intense, relenting only for a brief period of introspection on ‘Katrina’, the track acting like the eye of the very storm which bears the now infamous moniker. It’s a brief moment of reflective splendour but one that is crucial to the record’s brilliance, juxtaposing the savagery with measured beauty; it’s a much required breathing space to take stock before being plunged headfirst back into the cacophony.

Benefitting from a considerably higher production value than their previous releases, Vales are afforded new levels of depth and space to explore which they take full advantage of throughout Wilt & Rise. Closer ‘Waterfalls’ is an expansive demonstration of dynamic ability, the intensity fluctuating into a climactic close that bears resemblance to former touring partners Suis La Lune and their rather grandeur version of screamo. ‘White Horse’ and ‘Wildfire’ demonstrate similar levels of epic inclination, the former acting as the records high point of which almost every track is a genuine contender, it’s outro a passage of head-banging hardcore stomp.

Wilt & Rise is a record of true uncompromising brilliance. It doesn’t quite reinvent the screamo canon, instead it injects it with a dose of intensely aggressive hardcore that’s emphatically British in its bleak outlook. Aside from its tenacious ferocity, Wilt & Rise momentarily exudes a startling beauty, demonstrating that Vales are far from a one-dimensional band of pure unbridled anger. With a full-length finally tucked under their belts, Vales can only move onto greater prospects and rise through the hardcore ranks to reach levels of devotion that they so unequivocally deserve.

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