Embrace Fantasycore with The Wise Man’s Fear’s Sharptone debut, “Valley of Kings” (review)

The Wise Man’s Fear, 2020

As a fan of Sharptone Records, I’m always keen to see what they have to offer with their diverse, talented roster. One they’ve been marketing quite a lot is The Wise Man’s Fear, with the headline of their genre as “Fantasycore.” I was confident this band would be far more than a gimmick, so I’m giving their newest LP, Valley of Kings, a listen early!

Kicking off with “The Relics of Nihlux,” there’s an immediate sense that the blend of fantasy influences will take precedence in both the presentation and the lyricism. The instrumental and vocal prowess shows that there’s depth to this unique approach. Zelda fans rejoice, for the next track is entitled “Breath of the Wild.” The clean vocals in the bridge/outro are an auditory treat, with a powerful backing from the band.

“Tree of Life” (another nice Zelda reference) made me double-take in its breakdown with flute fittingly added. “Forest of Illusions” opens with a euphoric riff and is instrumentally my favorite on the record. There’s some quality incorporation of both the left and right headphones in this one’s bridge, showing the production was anything but a rush job.

“The Cave” is particularly heavy, and makes great use of synth. The twin clean vocals get their chance to shine again in the chorus, truly a highlight from The Wise Man’s Fear. Single “What Went Wrong” has some very meaningful lyrics in the outro: “We all just wanna fill this hole Find comfort in the broken things We use when we’re lost inside of our souls And we feel like nothing at all.”

“The River and the Rock” serves as an interlude of sorts, bringing back the flute/glockenspiel and a eased-back vocal delivery. Next up, “Sands of Time” flexes Joseph Sammuel’s vicious lows just as much as Tyler Eads’ stellar cleans amongst the chugging riffs. The breakdown in “The Door to Nowhere,” got my head nodding pretty hard, as well.

“Firefall” comes out swinging with blast beats and lows that would make Phil Bozeman proud. The best breakdown on Valley of Kings goes to this song. Going out with a bang, title track “Valley of Kings” encapsulates the best The Wise Man’s Fear has to offer, firing on all cylinders to wrap up the record.

I’m glad to see Sharptone continue the trend of having nothing but quality acts, The Wise Man’s Fear absolutely included. Fantasycore is a genre I can get behind, but one thing I have to say about Valley of Kings is I need to re-listen once I get wind of all the lyrics. I can really appreciate a band that puts this amount of time and effort into crafting a lore and ongoing story, and I’ll be spending my time checking out the rest of this band’s discography in the meantime before Valley of Kings releases May 29th!

A press copy of Valley of Kings was provided courtesy of Sharptone Records.

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