Vale of Pnath
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Vale of Pnath

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Band Metal


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Album Review"

Holy Hell! This is an absolutely scorching debut self-financed EP from Denver’s Vale of Pnath. The band formed in 2005 and apparently spent a lot of time perfecting the four songs herein eventually getting sick of waiting on a label to catch on and doing the independent release thing. The EP came out nearly five months ago and I’ve heard next to nothing about it, so it's about time a legit metal resource sings its praises.

Vale of Pnath is something like the unholy marriage of Arsis and Anata taking on techdeath and melodeath with equal ferocity and ambition, and ultimately with equal success. This is a marvelous technical showcase that never loses sight of melody and structure making the songs remarkably easy to follow despite displaying dizzying dexterity. There is plenty of variety in tempos with lots of (but not too many) shifts and surprisingly sparing use of solos. The vocals are nearly split 50/50 between lower-midrange growls and higher shrieky-but-not-black screams. The drumming particularly reminds me of Anata in the way there are numerous blasting patterns utilized, making for some diverse and groovy rhythms. The bassist is a beast as he nimbly follows the frenetic drumming and riffing with relative ease and occasionally takes lead with some interesting fill work.

The aptly titled “Disoriented Blur” gets things started at a fever pitch as it's probably the overall speediest song present with memorable melodic leads. “A Witness to…” is next and contrasts the opener nicely with its focus on lumbering, groovy riffing and some truly scathing vocal layering. “Carcosa” is the best of the four tracks arguably with the EP’s heaviest and most memorable moments, not to mention the only true (and quite impressive) guitar solo herein. Wrapping things up is “Dens of Inequity” which has a plethora of nifty bass fills and is maybe the most diverse song overall.

As far as negatives go, the guitars have good tone and clarity but could maybe use a bit more thickness and crunch. I’d also like to see the band drop a few more solos in the mix. A little more vocal variety wouldn’t hurt but there is enough variation to keep this EP interesting. Frankly, their bassist could be shown off a bit more and mixed a bit higher, but that’s only if you really want to pick apart the details.

At just under 18 minutes, this self-titled EP is criminally short in length but incredibly promising. I’m anxious to see how this young band handles a proper full-length. They’ve certainly impressed the hell out of me so far and I think they have what it takes to make a big impact. Vale of Pnath is unfortunately looking for a new drummer so hopefully they can land one that can match the groove and technical ability of the one on this EP.
- Tyler Wagnon

"Ugly and Dirty: A Few Words with Sourvein"

This release came out of nowhere for me, and damn, am I glad it came my way. Out of all the would-be albums getting promoted to hell and back in the metal world, the awesomely named Vale of Pnath (inspired by the pit in H.P. Lovecraft’s underworld) came to me with little background. There is a brilliant combination of brutal death metal, melodic, tech and other nuances on this album that make Vale of Pnath sound fresh yet rooted and familiar in a way that makes listeners feel they can instantly connect. Performances from every player are pristine: There are crazy guitar leads and soloing, maddening bass-picking, intense death growls and snarls and fast, demonic, human-but-somehow-inhuman drumming coming from Eric W. Brown of Swashbuckle and Destroy Destroy Destroy (these projects never revealed the talent he exhibits here) The Prodigal Empire is perfect, and I mean perfect—production, songs that don’t get old, only better, and an overall fresh and darkly enticing atmosphere. If there is any justice in the world, this album and band will be propelled to death metal fame. - Bryer WhartonLess

"Diamond Plate, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Vale of Pnath say, ‘Hello, consumer’"

Speaking of Willowtip, you always can expect the Pittsburgh-based (Zelienople, to be more accurate) label to scrape the underground for new bands you may not be aware of yet but who ultimately have insane chops and ferocious hunger. I’d go out on a limb and say Willowtip’s roster may be the most talented in metal from a musician standpoint. When you hear their bands, you never think they have all bark and no bite, and their latest signing Vale of Pnath is no exception. Their debut record “The Prodigal Empire” arrives today, and if gory, grindy, excellently played death is your style, you might want to give this Denver-based band a shot.

Grabbing their name from Lovecraft lore and leveling their audience with interesting, creative hammering, the band follows up its 2008 self-titled, self-released first EP with a nine-song effort that wastes no time making an impact. Their soupy, loopy guitar tricks, brain-bashing drumming, fluid lead play and growly vocals all prove how capable and dexterous this band is, and people who like to geek out to technique probably will have a ball picking this apart. I really got into black metal-flavored “Borne Extinction,” bludgeoning “Brain Butchers” and “Sightless” (reminded me a lot of really early Darkest Hour) above everything else on this effort. One complaint I have about the record is the songwriting isn’t the most unique, and they could use some time self-reflecting and self-analyzing to find ways to stand out from what’s become a pretty loaded sub-genre. They sure sound like they have the ability to do so, and this debut is a noteworthy piece of work that sounds like a solid first step toward greater things. This band is one I’ll follow into the future with great curiosity to see how they shape-shift on future albums.
- Brian Krasman

"Vale of Pnath - The Prodigal Empire Review"

The Prodigal Empire is the first full-length effort from Colorado technical death metal outfit Vale of Pnath. Newly signed to Willowtip Records, the band have a back catalog of one self-titled EP, released via Tribunal records. This album doesn’t ease you in, doesn’t gentle you to its presence gradually.
It begins with a blast of intensity and stays there, battering the listener with a consistently dizzying display of tech-death dexterity. Despite its density, however, the record isn’t an undifferentiated wall of sound. Even during the most punishing sections, Vale of Pnath never lose sight of the melody of their songs. It’s this structure and clarity that set them apart.

The band take their name from a location in H.P. Lovecraft’s novella The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. The literary Vale of Pnath is a mountain-high pile of bones created from the creatures of the underworld discarding their leftovers — Hell's compost heap. Vale of Pnath are far from the first band to draw inspiration from Lovecraft's infernal oeuvre — something about this author has encouraged many acts to set about exploring the deepest rifts and caves of their psychic landscape.

Vale of Pnath successfully embody the atmosphere Lovecraft creates, employing close, claustrophobic, stalking rhythms to produce a pervasive sense of evil and discomfort (even as they’re enjoyable to listen to). This lurking, creeping horror is particularly palpable in “Borne Extinction” and “Poisoned by Prosperity.”

The density and nimbleness of the guitars also mimic these same qualities that exist in Lovecraft’s prose. Lovecraft’s style is defined by challenging, difficult, precise language, and Vale of Pnath’s sound is defined by challenging, difficult, precise instrumentation. They’ve lifted their aesthetic from the books with intelligence and respect, allowing the material to permeate their style as well as their content, something I definitely appreciate.

I love technical death metal that doesn’t come all at the same speed and tone, and Vale of Pnath have developed a strong formula of intensity that retains a great deal of variation and interest. The blast patterns drummer Jeremy Portz employs create varied, downright groovy rhythms that the guitars and wicked-fast bass dance along to. Ken Sarafin’s vocals range from deep death growls to harsh, gargling shrieks, often layered together.

For all its complexity, The Prodigal Empire is never unpleasant to listen to, never losing the audience, and that makes it succeed.
- Natalie Zed

"REVIEW: Vale of Pnath - The Prodigal Empire"

Vale of Pnath long ago found the niche between melodic and technical death metal as easily as Spawn of Possession did inside 2006's Noctambulant; this is where the riff reigns supreme, and brutality is a matter of composition and careful writing. I stress that, from its opening seconds, “Legacy of Loss” has that real heft of savagery, strictly due to its methodical notation. Pnath grasp that this form of hyper-clean, compositional death metal (which is now unfortunately so familiar when Onset of Putrefaction was once such a revelation) desperately relies on solid and exploratory writing. In the bloating world of tech death, production cleanliness tends to eschew emotion, and thoughtless devotion to the genre can render an otherwise musically blistering record as tedious. It is obvious that The Prodigal Empire has absolutely no hints of going-through-the-motions, though it does resemble a lot of other bands. Anata, Augury, Martyr, and of course, Necrophagist and Spawn of Possession really fit together well as a brickwork for Vale of Pnath, and they use the richness of such influence to infuse their technique with vitality and virtuoso charisma.

The melodic inclinations of The Prodigal Empire are reliably Lovecraftian – “Mental Crucifixion” feels like such a review of the stagnant, arpeggiated, and kvlty deathcore that has been clogging the drains since early last decade, presenting itself as a remarkably stripped-down, memorable and addictingly evil track. Really, every track is whispering “let’s show them all how its done and how easily we can do it better” – This assured hand that guides each track is the highest mark given to Empire, and can really turn a moment from the title track’s two minute mark, Anata-esque harmony sequence into the most inspired bit of arrangement this year – Same goes for “Cerulean Eclipse”‘s introduction, complete with a wonky nod to the harmless days of metalcore’s past. Even safer bets like “Brain Butchers” and interlude “Poisoned by Prosperity” own all-out power and packets of tightly bound riffs.

The surprise here is that Vale of Pnath have focused their creations in places where their impressive EP tended to get chock-a-block with parts. Solos are less obligatory than they are well played points, and the vocal department keeps with a respectable and enjoyable menace. “Legacy of Loss”‘s opening moments are worth a slew of re-listens mostly due to Ken Sarafin‘s first malevolent exorcism; “I am the messenger of the ages”… Fuck. Eric Brown’s cymbals are worth a mention here, as he has created immensely layered drum sequences with so many active and alternating accents that the space between my headphones is constantly awash with rhythmic variation. Credit also goes to his unique sense of groove, and for the band’s avoidance of going all Meshuggah with their grooves when crafting them.

So yes, its an unremittingly stylish disc that owes a good deal to the best names in tech death; the facet of Empire I most take issue with is that it seems to work well as a statement on how to craft masterful and tasteful death metal but would then leave the room after making it. The entertainment factor of this release seems to betray a real sense of significance. While Baring Teeth‘s debut this year lacked Vale of Pnath‘s perpetual cool confidence, its risk taking was astounding and often produced moments of true gravity. I suppose that, with The Prodigal Empire‘s multitude of ability and intelligence, I had a wild hope for content with a little more weight. That said, my criticism is obligatory; this really is a standout in the genre and commands a fresh assessment of a style I long thought dead.
- Alec Mckay


Self titled EP (2009) - Tribunal Records
The Prodigal Empire (2011) - Willowtip Records



Denver, Colorado's Vale Of Pnath are one of the up-and-coming bands to watch for in the technical death metal field. In 2009 the band released their self-titled debut EP via Tribunal Records. The album was very well received around the metal community, both critically and by fans.

Vale of Pnath was formed by guitarist Vance Valenzuela, bassist Alan Parades, drummer Jeremy Portz and original vocalist David Lercher in Denver, Colorado in 2006. Shortly after establishing the lineup, they added guitar-guru Mikey Reeves to solidify the melodic and technical beast; afterward heading straight to Dave Otero's (Cephalic Carnage, Cobalt, The Breathing Process) Flatline Audio studios to record their four-track EP. The Tribunal Records release, while only achieving mild popularity, garnered rave reviews from the technical and melodic death-metal community.. After a month-long west coast tour, the band returned to Denver to work on new material. Due to complications, vocalist David Lercher was replaced with newcomer Ken Sarafin, who joined as the band signed with Willowtip records. The band released their first full-length, "The Prodigal Empire" on Willowtip records on August 9th, 2011.