However, when the surprise announcement came in July that vocalist Adam Leonard was leaving the band, some form of change was inevitable. Adam’s larger-than-life stage persona was both a defining feature of the band and not easily replicated. Tricky.
But as we have said all along, although watching Valis Ablaze perform was often, thanks to Adam’s antics, a very amusing affair, they were never ‘just’ a comedy band, and there was real promise in the riffs they had written to that point.
In a hugely exciting development, Phil Owen, whose considerable talents had previously seen in action with Orion and Unto The Lion (whose single “The Eye of the Storm” we premiered last year), joined the band in September and it was all systems go.
For a bit.
Then, in October, guitarist Hugo Azevedo also stood down, unable to balance the band with the responsibilities providing for his expanding family, which is completely understandable. Bassist Tom Moore then moved over to fill Hugo’s slot on guitar, ultimately to be replaced on bass by Kieran Hogarty. Phew.
What’s more, as the new line-up was putting the finishing touches on material that the band had been working on over the previous twelve months, they became increasingly dissatisfied with it. The direction in which they wanted to take Valis was rapidly changing – so in a commendably bold move, they scrapped the lot and started again.
And the first fruits of Valis 2.0 come in the form of “Inertia”, which we present to you now. Taking a large, but sure-footed, step out of tech-metal territory towards a more melodic, progressive approach, Valis Ablaze have already vindicated that decision to go back to the drawing board. With hints of Tesseract, Circles and Skyharbor evident as Phil’s voice soars over more melodic, grooving riffs that have retained the meaty crunch of their previous material. “Inertia” will soon be followed by an EP, and – on the strength of this lead single – we can’t wait to hear it.
As something of an introduction to the new members, Phil and Kieran have this to say about Valis Ablaze, “Inertia” and the future;
“So Valis are back, and with new members and a refined sound. We’re super excited to get our first new single “Inertia” released so everyone can see and hear what we’ve all been up to lately. Since I joined the band, we ultimately decided to scrap an entire albums-worth of material in favour of a new melodic direction.
Not to say the old sound was bad, but it was more djenty than the current material and we wanted to explore more prog-rocky elements and ideas without ashering to a particular niche, removing barriers of typical genre-specific expectations and opening up new possibilities and ideas to the valis sound. When I joined, it was the perfect time to wipe the slate and start afresh. We looked at our individual influences and put together the EP which has a diverse feel to it, almost every song sounds a little different from each other – utilising influences such as Tesseract, The Contortionist and Vola. There are still some belter riffs and ambient sections but tied in now with more hooky, melodic vocals.
The idea behind Inertia itself is about setting your own goals, your own direction, and being aware of people and other factors trying to assert you somewhere else – to where they ideally want you. The song explores the realisation that this is happening constantly, and using the opposing forces from all sides to keep you on your own track. It was a nice idea I wanted to try out lyrically.
So we have a new EP due out soon and Inertia, our first single, will give everyone a good sense of things to come. We have some amazing opportunities for shows already in the pipeline and we can’t wait to get playing the new material to larger audiences further afield than we’ve played before.”
“I joined the band when all the previous material was set and ready to take further into production, so it was a case of learning the material and off we go. When Valis has the discussion to scrap it and completely change direction, it was quite exciting a refreshing as I could now put my personal stamp on the EP rather than acting like a session musician till the next album came about.
The new direction was quite a challenge, with my previous experience in tech death styled music I had to follow the guitar for the majority of the time. This new sound Valis was aiming for gave me as a bassist a lot of freedom to write my own solo bass lines, as I find this area of music can be quite bass driven such as the likes of TesseracT and Karnivool. It allowed me to spread my wings a bit and explore new techniques and sounds I would never have even thought of.
I really am pleased with the way this EP has turned out, especially knowing the fact we all had very little idea of what the outcome was going to be.”