Hand Drawn Dracula
Dimmed In My Display
If you’ve already seen Vallens live, you know just how captivating their music can be, but their latest record takes that up a notch, and then some. Blending amazing instrumental prowess with intoxicating vocals, this EP offers a dense and emotional listen. With better control of dynamics than bands many years their senior, Vallens show they’re one to be reckoned with.
“Et Al” cuts in with a vicious energy, starting the album on a demented instrumental crawl to set the town for the remaining tracks of the EP. The song’ sublime little synth hooks fill out the sound beautifully, while unnerving distortion sets a heavy energy for the rest of the track. The weirdly syncopated bridges also let drums play around with exceptional tenacity, as Vallens showcase a truly unruly energy for an instrumental. The clashing tones of the guitars quickly open up into full on fury in the song’s finale where the drums open up into shrieking noise before even the bass gains more sinister notes in voice.
The demonic spirit of “Dimmed In My Display” is palpable from the outset, as every guitar line runs into each other to create an overwhelming unease. Quickly however, the song descends into torrents of wind and an almost slow-mo chug where every bit of the band seems swept up in a tornado and is trying desperately to make sense of it. With each few bars the sound grows more and more chaotic, until it finally releases into a dreamy B-section. With the entrancing vocals now steering the ship, pianos set their own kind of majesty in the track, although it’s never certain whether they’re warm or malevolent. As every tone of the song comes to a head, the vocals seem to dive head-first into the song’s evil and embrace it wholeheartedly.
Two chords drive the off-kilter energy of “Occurred” as Vallens find shady emotions with and without distortion. The band’s sense of tone control from their deeply addictive instrumentals is only enhanced as they set words to them in these tracks, as they become fiery call-to-arms. With drums firing off ferociously, the track soon becomes a low and bass-heavy monster in its final moments, and one that feels immensely satisfying to behold.
As pianos set an almost too dramatic mood at the start of “If I Don’t Know You,” Vallens focus their rock around the feeling of old standards like Muse did once upon a time. Unsettling noises flare and feedback overtakes the song again and again while the lyrics tell of an uncertainty that’s truly haunting. Once the beats kick in, the fury cuts through, as the whole band cuts loose and shakes off the sorrow of the rest of the track. Even through their final descending piano lines, the track is a brooding beast that never lets listeners off the hook until the last note.
Words by Owen Maxwell