( Post-Metal - Sludge - Doom )
Turpentine Valley's latest release Alder is like a monumental steel structure that has been galvanised and strengthened, but at the same time its naturally weathered beauty remains, demonstrating its imposing power and ruggedness. Alder hits hard, with its heavy leaden riffs and bleak harsh atmospheres. It’s an album that excites, as much as it unsettles.
When Turpentine Valley emerged from the Dunk Records foundry with their debut album Etch back in November 2019, it was a like a turbulent, scalding river of molten post-metal liquid, that had been carefully forged into this imposing and towering steel structure. The music was both dense and impenetrable, leaning heavily on its relentless delivery of layered guitars, scowling bass and ground-breaking percussions.
Just over three years on, and from the depths of a worldwide pandemic, Turpentine Valley have re-emerged with an absolute colossus of an album in the shape of Alder. That monumental steel structure has now been galvanised and strengthened, but at the same time its naturally weathered beauty remains, demonstrating its imposing power and ruggedness. Alder hits hard, with its heavy leaden riffs and bleak harsh atmospheres. It’s an album that excites, as much as it unsettles.
The opening passage Veeleer I is a short, calmly picked stringed piece that still manages to create a mood that is a little unnerving, thanks to the sparce use of synths that carefully roll over the guitar. This opens the door for the first onslaught of hard-hitting chords and crashing drums in the shape of Sereen. Right from the off, those dual layered guitars fill the room, while the bass earths the music to the floor with its deep, dark tone. The melody is catchy, the pace is fevered and for some reason, reminds me of the track Empire Falls from Primordial, such is the brilliance of the two guitars playing in unison. The pace drops to a crawl with some deep shredded guitars that roll into the background, allowing that lead swell to rise once more, closing out a real juggernaut of a track.
Parabel is the first track that was pre-released and opens in an almost dreamy shoegaze mist with a deep-set bass line driving the track forward, both carefully and methodically. As the track opens up, it becomes awash with atmosphere and lush melodic swells, before breaking down to a canter momentarily until it catapults itself once more into a sea of melody, force and might.
Teloor and Tremor are two tracks cut from the same cloth with their slow-paced meditative influences. Even though one breeds doom inspired lows, crawling through murky and sludge-drenched soil and the other breeds a more positive outlook, with its uplifting harmonies, offering an air of hope and respite, both these tracks are used very cleverly in bringing side A of the vinyl offering to a close, and introducing us to side B.
Everybody will find something to love in this album, there’s no fear there, but it will be interesting to see what tracks move people and what emotion and atmosphere they lean on when engrossing themselves in this record. Alder is awash with forlorn undercurrents and heavy-hearted riffs but there are moments of light and hope scattered throughout. None more so than the next two offerings. Neuron is delicately decorated in sparce violin atmospherics that complement the meandering pace of the track. Huge open chords bring the track into a vast open chamber of optimism, with tremolo guitars layering the walls before releasing one of the highlight grooves on the album. Respijt’s synth waves at the beginning breathe an air of positivity and bring a sense of calm to the album, and even though the track does break into thick, thundering riffs, the lead guitar’s tremolo chords sing and soar like a mighty lark levitating overhead.
The Closing track Veleer II embraces the voice of Pieter Jan De Paepe. It’s emotive, it’s impassioned and even though I don’t speak the language, it’s delivery hits hard and strikes a nerve. It closes another chapter in Turpentine Valley’s development as a post-metal powerhouse. Alder is an imposing album, that stands tall and proud amongst all the other great post metal albums that I have heard in the last few years. Turpentine Valley will only get bigger and stronger as time goes on, I’m sure of that. Just like that steel structure, they will build on it and expand on it to create something that will ultimately set them aside from all the rest. These guys are ones to watch out for in the future.
With the amazing Dunk Records creating a stunning press for Alder, and with A thousand Arms distributing the US market, you can now add Ripcord Records to the list with their exclusive issue on cassette. There is no excuse for anyone not to own a physical copy of this album. Enjoy!