"You are gently requested to shit like a swan!" opens Valina's third full-length, A Tempo! A Tempo! Throughout the Austria-based trio's 11 year history the band has developed a name for themselves with stellar releases and relentless touring throughout the globe (by some counts, 75854 shows). The new album offers a meaty, booming dose of technical rock which is easily their finest work to date. With A Tempo! A Tempo! Valina combine passages of sheer beauty with intense outbursts of abstract guitar noise into pure (math? post?) rock fury. Jaw-dropping musicianship informs a uniquely rhythmic, harmonious, and ultimately unclassifiable blend of riff-heavy rock.
A distinctly "un-American" sound helps distinguish Valina from their [enter prefix here]-rock contemporaries. Their music does not contain endless Don Caballero-esque guitar tapping, nor does it completely loose it's appeal after the initially other-worldly instrumentation becomes understandable. Yet they obviously relish in unusual time signatures - and they are willing to showcase their instrumental expertise within the boundaries of actual "songwriting." Without much of an interest in pop culture, and (so describes the band) "bubblegum expression", Valina seems to treat each moment as an adventure in music, a chance to explore the conventions of loud rock and turn them all upside-down.
A Tempo! A Tempo! was released throughout Europe in spring 2008; and in April 2009 we will finally see the US release through Joyful Noise. Recorded at Electrical Audio in Chicago with the world-class Steve Albini, A Tempo! A Tempo! is a career-defining moment for the band; a sturdy, brisk, edgy album that is at once honest, nostalgic, and brave. The vocals stay surprisingly calm and melodic - never moving toward the too-often-ill-advised hardcore growl, allowing them to cleverly contrast with the swirling thunder of the rhythm section. Fans of Fugazi, Shellac, Battles, or even the Pixies will appreciate the unique blend of time-bending instrumental breakdowns, angular guitars, and savage, pulverizing beats. Valina is heavy rock at its best: creative, genuine, contemplative, and at times, stunningly fierce.