Album Title: 
The Journey To Eight Peaks
Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Review Type: 

A very active and productive musician from Hungarian soil, and this for quite some time, is Thomas Khrul. He’s active, both solo as in duo (mostly with same-minded vocalists) or in bands, in acts like Siculicidium, Gorthor, Shadowthrone, Funebre, the young Eonian Tenebris or mighty Nocrul, amongst several others. This guy also has a Dungeon Synth project, called Vallahir. That moniker refers to the Dwarfish language and it means something like, if I am not mistaken, ‘meadow in the mountain range’ (cf. Warhammer).

The Journey To Eight Peaks was recorded and released in 2022, but there is no reason not to write down my thoughts on this interesting material. Besides, a new Vallahir release has been finished in the meantime, called Doom Over Karag Haraz (also released via the very same label, by the way, i.e. Hungary’s Kajdum’s Tower, part of the New General Catalogue, aka the NGC Prod family). Besides the digital edition, there are two different versions on tape: a ‘traditional’ one, and a very limited (almost sold-out) wooden relic-box edition (each copy is different from any other). The EP consists of six hymns, each clocking in between four and five minutes, having a total running time of about twenty-seven minutes. And FYI: the bio mentions that the album is ‘composed in major in the A side and minor in the B side’.

This album has something really adventurous, which fits well to the concept. It is about a quest into the unknown, brought with a huge dose of fantasy and drama. That gets translated through the Music too, evidently. The tracks are generally based on theatrical orchestrations by keyboards; these synths come with multiple lines and layers: prominent melodies with a phantasy-element, bombastic symphonies, melancholic fragments, and floating, mesmerizing waves of sound at the background. It gets joined by a wide range of percussion-work, with everything from ritualistic soft-beating to martial drum-patterns. Besides, also some choirlike chants are part of the whole concertation.

It is an enlightening, almost optimistic experience, rather than an ominous, doomed hunt through abandoned ruins or hidden realms of unearthly beings. Yet then again, all six compositions do have their own story to tell. The Journey To Eight Peaks starts with The Eve Of Secrets Night, showing a fine equilibrium in between energy and drama. For sure it has a flair of Classical Music or even a Glass-like dramaturgical uttering. A piece like the title track, for example, comes with a more orchestral finesse, hymnic with Wagnerian persuasion, valiant like a dreadnought war-march. Here too the epic choirs have an undeniable value on top of the grotesque atmosphere. With The Mighty Forest Of The Empire, Vallahir trespass the sonic orbit of martial epicism and militant gallantry, including moments of introspection and dreaminess, while The Tunnel Of The Cavern Town sort of fades back into territories of gloom and expectation at the very same time. The drum-patterns as from half of this piece increase in power, while the synth orchestrations transcend and intoxicate, while expanding, then again fading away. Hints of felicity and mystique, somehow drenched in an Oriental-like nebula, appear in The Tavern Of The Imperial City, like a distant yet sanguine sunrise on a misty dawn. The Dark Beneath The World, on the whole, returns towards a bleaker, more secretive orchestra of gloomy synth-majesty, covering Vallahir’s enigmatic soundtrack within spheres of both tragedy and opportunity.

In short: recommended, like about all material on this upcoming label…