Valient Thorr - OId Salt (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Valient Thorr

OId Salt (2016)

napalm


In the 2000s, Volcom Entertainment employed some of the wildest, craziest guitar-based punk bands including Valient Thorr, a group of loud bearded men who were as insane as they were talented. In the decade since the amazing Legends of the World, Valient Thorr continued on, releasing albums to various success. But the quick heavy riffs stayed a consistent force.

Old Salt, their first for Napalm Records, begins with a bang. “Mirakuru” sees the whole band starting at 100MPH. “Lil Knife” chugs forward with the humorous image of Valient Himself wielding a tiny weapon. “Cut and Run” boasts the best chorus on the album. Then the band settles into a groove.

The riffs remain, but the vibe changes drastically. Compromising between new territory and the same old tricks, Valient Thorr leans too heavily on their talented axe men attempting to define what the guitars mean. They are standouts in some otherwise underwhelming songs (“The Shroud”). However, the back-to-back-to-back “The Trudge,” “Worm Up,” and “Spellbroke” combination throws the album into a long-winded spiral. Each song devolves into a slowed down jam session not even killer guitar solos can save. “The Trudge” is actually quite entertaining, with its Devo-esque verses and giant Valient Himself hook. But even the title suggests we’re about to go on a lengthy journey. By the time the album arrives at the two-minute instrumental acoustic “Linen Maker,” it’s refreshing to hear a change of pace only solidifying the guitars as the stars.

Then we’re thrust back into the party. “Looking Glass” is easily the best song on the record. The re-found confidence emanates from the whole band as they sing, “Mirror, mirror do you see? Who’s that looking back at me?” With that and “Jealous Gods,” the band ends the album on a high note, one hinted at early on yet lost somewhere in between.

At forty-five minutes (not uncommon for the band), Old Salt feels long. One less song could really have kept the pace moving better. But most of all, this feels like a transitional album for Valient Thorr. One where they’re trying to figure out if they can keep up such a rapid pace or if slowing down and focusing on the technical fretwork is the more logical step. Here’s to hoping they keep the party alive.