'Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk'


MARK: 88/100


Named after a 1942 action/comedy movie, Valley Of The Sun is a 3-piece Stoner Rock/Metal band hailing from Cinncinnati, Ohio, which has already released a couple of EPs before this debut album in a digipack (sadly without booklet). The record shows a certain dose of approach assurance, and very few are the details that could have been rendered more palatable, while the production is almost perfect, in that you won't see a remastered or reamped version of these ten tracks in at least twenty years for sure.

"Worn Teeth" has a Blues/Western beginning and after two minutes, just when you expect no surprises, the track takes an abrupt turn exploding into a Stoner riff faded out at the end in a Noise Rock manner, whereas "As Earth and Moon" turns out to be unbridled and rapid; its fuzzy, overdriven riffs and the overwhelming drumwork displays sharp kickdrums that will characterize the rest of the album and additional cowbell interventions; to this adrenalinic dirty vocals and Soundgardenesque vocals ("Bad Motorfinger"-era) during the refrain were added. This highlight later delivers an instrumental break alà Earth Crisis (!) with a few didgeridoo notes in the backdrop, crushing guitarwork and then it reoffers the same initial riffing burning like the perpendicular sun in the desert at high noon. Sweet stuff indeed!
The dynamic and hypnotic riff at the beginning of "Maya" crescendoes in intensity with the help of the rhythmic section, and when the killer axe solo and the vital meandering bass lines entwine the arousal level is elevated; the clean vocals reach top-notch levels both as to performance and quality and represent the icy on the cake, and I do guess I'll never get tired of listening to this tune. Ever.
More controlled, the sinuous-moving "Nomads" sounds like the bastard son of an womb impregnated during an orgy between Velvet Revolver, Black Stone Cherry and Kyuss, with the Funky bass spicing up the mix when the torrid guitar doesn't appear centrestage.
An arpeggio and soft hand percussions constitute the backbone of "Laser Vision Intermission", until a second guitar appears played with a slide together with a dreamy voice so as to conclude this brief composition.
"Within the Glare" is Hard Rock and Stoner Metal at their best, thanks to a vast array of vocals: epic ones, Chris Cornell-like screams and other euphoric ones after the central variation, where high frequencies have been rolled off at the whole drumkit leaves room to a bass solo and a guitar solo at the same time before the heavy guitar returns. Pure strokes of genius! And when you thought that would be the end a final tribal part with chunky riffs louder and louder are in spotlight.
A toy box-effected guitar opens "The Message Is Get Down", a song with big penetrating drum sounds, powerful guitars, White Stripes-influenced rhythms, vocals that fly high, others as raw as crows' cries; there's also time for a guitar solo that is contemporarily suffering and joyful in this song rich in impetuses of collision.
Making way in territories cherished by Foo Fighters, the tight and devastating "The Sleeping Sand" contains awesome teamwork between metallic bass lines and howling vocals, hefty structures, and guitars that prove the band's maturity. If I had to mount a base-jumping video I'd choose this track for the audio part in order to stress out the danger-ignoring spree it evokes.
The drum strokes dominate"Gunslinger", probably the one with the finest vocals and axe solo of this ten-track collection; please note that the vocals are to-your-face second only to the drums, whilst the solo is a bit foggy, intentionally slightly far away in the mix.
The closer "Centaur Rodeo" is very 70's and the organ gives a psychedelic touch to the song, that places itself halfway between Deep Purple, Monster Magnet and any traditional Stoner Metal act; the drum patterns require more effort than in the previous tracks being a tad more elaborate and our ears decidedly appreciate the result, while the slow Hendrixian solo after the heavy frames is the very last surprise that Valley Of The Sun kept for us in a song that deceives with a series of stops 'n' go; as a matter of fact these interruptions of the meght of less than a second illude us about the musical content by making us believe it is over until the initial versus is repeated and the end really arrives.

"Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk" doesn't achieve the maximum mark just becasue it's not original in a few episodes, still the fresh ideas, the right attitude, the interpretation without compromises, the vast array of singing styles, and a stunning frontal production (and I'm not overemphasizing it) largely compensate this tiny fault.
The album resonates so deeply because its sonic continuity is matched with shifting, unified composition. It viscerally depicts the spectrum of submersion while the musicians' versatility and cohesion. The combo has never written more intriguing music and VALLEY OF THE SUN has never been a more apt name.


Line-up on this record:
Aaron Boyer - d., percussion
Ryan Ferrier - v., electric and acoustic g., organ (ex-Blacklight Barbarian)
Ryan Mcallister - b. electric and acoustic g.

Cincinnati, OH - USA


Official site:

-Two Thousand Ten (EP - 2010)
-The Sayings of the Seers (EP - 2011)
-Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (CD - 2014)
-Volume Rock (CD - 2016)