Returning with their third album, ‘Valley Of Kings’, self-proclaimed fantasycore sextet The Wise Man’s Fear bring their debut with SharpTone Records along with the conclusion of their trilogy of records.
Focusing on underground and earth compared to the elements of sky and water found in ‘Castle Of Clouds’ and ‘Lost City’ respectively, the group tighten up on their niche sound to create a bold opening statement that solidifies their footing in the incredibly niche subgenre they’ve tucked themselves into.
Picking up from the threads left from ‘Lost City’, lead single ‘The Relics Of Nihlux’ opens the record in furious fashion. Brimming with brutality and melody in equal measure, the song leans on the duality of Joseph Sammuel and Tyler Eads. Trading soaring cleans and guttural growls, both vocalists help navigate the track’s progressively leaning blend of metalcore.
Continuing upon the progressive structures laid out from the get go, ‘Breath Of The Wild’ and ‘Tree Of Life’ both deliver winding and deviating cuts that are rooted in melody. With the former resting on Eads‘ clean vocals to dominate the track and the latter showcasing the melodic riffing of guitarists Codi Chambers and Nathan Kane, as well as the inclusion of a woodwind based melody, both songs highlight the sextet’s multi-layered take on deathcore, alternative metal, and post-hardcore.
Dipping in tech metal, ambient soundscapes and various scatterings of synth laden counter melodies, the record gives a variety of interpretations on metalcore, with tracks such as ‘The Cave’ playing with synthetic strings, tapping guitars, and percussive screams to deliver a memorable chorus. Adding deviation to the expected sonic routes, ‘What Went Wrong’ rests on snaking palm-muted guitars and lush beds of pads, and in turn it brings different shades that highlight the various vocal performances throughout.
With a streamlined approach to composition, nuanced moments tend to go unappreciated upon first listen, such as the glitched guitars peppered across the stuttering ‘Sands Of Time’ along with the jittering strings that hide in the jazzcore leanings of ‘The Door To Nowhere’.
Tightly composed, varied in its stylistic choices, and boasting a well-written set of breakdowns, ‘Valley Of Kings’ doesn’t just satisfy audiences that have been invested in the trilogy, but also newcomers to The Wise Man’s Fear. Concluding their trilogy on a strong note, it’s exciting to see where the sextet will opt to go next.