Monday, 25 May 2015
Valentine Wolfe - The Nightingale- A Gothic Fairytale (CD Review)
03.The Place Where Evil Grows
04.Inside My Nightmare
10.Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade
11.You Could Never Have My Heart
12.Ghost Of Her Self
Sarah Black (Vocals/Piano/Harpsichord/keyboards)
Braxton Ballew (Bass/Programming/Electronics)
Hailing from South Carolina, Braxton Ballew and Sarah Black have been composing and performing music together as Valentine Wolfe since 2006.
Both coming from a classical background, with qualifications to back it up and hold graduate degrees from the University of Georgia, where they studied electronic composition, Ballew is also the Education Director of the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Perhaps it is no surprise that their scores have been heard in theatre productions of The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale and Twelfth Night.What may be a surprise is their love of Metal, Goth and Industrial music and the very clever way that they put all their influences and styles together.
What surprised me after the first listen was how they put their music together to sound like a full band complete with drums and guitar, when in fact neither are on the album!
As they said when i aksed them; "Just us, Sarah and Braxton, no guitars all the distortion parts are double bass and we program the drum loops ourselves."
Time now i think to hit play and listen to some of this self styled 'Victorian Chamber Metal'.
'Black Feathers' has a moody and atmospheric
opening before turning into a solid commercial sounding symphonic rock song, really love the live sounding drum sound that drives this piece, great distortion riffs and harmonic keyboards, now over this is a
beautiful operatic soprano vocal and as the song progresses we are treated to some amazing double bass playing, sounds more like a cello to me (but what do i know?).
Now 'Dark Desire' is a hybrid of gothic rock and classical, but this one has a rock opera feel as well, reminiscent of Sarah Brightman's songs in the film Repo! The Genetic Opera, again driving drum patterns and that double bass make for a perfect mix to both move you emotionally and in a bang your head kinda way.
Moving into slightly different territory with 'The Place Where Evil Grows' as this uses more electronic samples and effects on the vocals, this time the double bass sounds like a violin as well.
Somehow on the song 'Inside My Nightmare' Braxton manages to get that double bass to sound like Simon House circa 1974, dont know how he can create so many amazing sounds from guitar to violin on it, but he does!
'Devils Bane' may have a solid rock sound but the vocal style whilst still operatic has a neo-folk feel to it, this helps create an intresting blend, the same can be said of 'Darkling, Listen' though this track has some more of that awesome drum and double bass playing set into some timing changes.
By far the heaviest song so far is 'Twisted Melody' for underneath that harmonic vocal lurks some evil heavy metal riffs.
After more of the same with 'Precious Moments' complete with some frantic drumming towards the end (yes i know its not real, but they have nailed the sound to perfection).
Heavy Metal meets Industrial on 'Moonlight Prayer' and once again it is that double bass playing that continues to astound me, so many different sounds!
This song has a lot going on it, different timing changes and lots of backing vocals and for some reason parts of this remind me of Rocket From The Crypt's 'On A Rope'.
So can Industrial influenced metal, operatic singing and Harpsicord go together?
'Belladonna, Deadly Nightshade' proves that the answer is "yes" and clearly anything is possible with these two talented and inventive musicians.
More drum driven power with 'You Could Never Have My Heart' and more outstanding double bass playing.
Finally 'Ghost Of Her Self', a slow and dark goth/opera piece, great vocal double tracking, solid as ever musical backing, more great distorted riffs and (yes i'm gonna say this again) the drum and double bass playing is just perfect.
For Fans Of: Epica, Emilie Autumn, Rasputina, Angtoria, Mr Doctor's Devil Doll , Apocalyptica
Facebook: Valentine Wolfe