School’s out for horror as ghastly punks Death Valley High treat us to their fourth full-length. Unironically titled CVLT [AS FVK] the Californian quartet wear goth like a costume while simultaneously appropriating a range of influences into which can best be described as Frankenpunk. Let’s not beat about the meta, radio playlist, pandering here as there’s only one genre to rule them all, right?
With cult metal itself now being applied as an egregious attempt at controlling the perspective of the masses this counter-counter culture measure fortunately doesn’t mend itself to the rip roaring sound of Death Valley High. CVLT is instead a horrific mix up of nu-metal, industrial and punk with some prevalent influences reminiscent of acts such as Rob Zombie, Avatar and Marilyn Manson but with the album being produced by industry heavy weight Ulrich Wild, whose work with White Zombie almost won him a Grammy, it’s almost to be expected.
Finding distinction with CVLT is like searching for a black sheep in a lamb curry. The flavour of the overall piece has a lot of spice added in to mix the so that the riffs, which sound vaguely familiar, hit off with an explosive trajectory. There are only so many chord progressions, and like it suggests on the tin, many similar hooks can be found on what are classed as kvlt albums. Which is great if you’re a musical pedant and like trying to recognise the original cadence.
However, and it’s a big rebuttal, the album is definitely fun and sometimes that’s the whole point. The licks get lost in daring rhythms that are themselves complimented through the sexy hooks that make movement a sensual necessity. Through qualities that liken the tracks to anthems the album holds the properties of good times ingrained in its white noise. It’s not a classic, it doesn’t have a larger than life message, but it has got a great taste in conspirator quotations.
Death Valley High tries so hard to be both individual and to respect what’s worked in the past and with musical phrasing that will make you ‘member the good old days CVLT [AS FVCK] is a hybrid beast with noticeable seams. Although the album doesn’t offer any class developments it takes the shiniest parts of dark, aggressive music and polishes them into a prize doubloon.