VALOTON, Beastificate  (2010, Hammer Of Hate)

The skull:
With an, uh, octagram behind him, this skull looks kingly/goofy in all that accoutrement:
majestic and humongous ram horns, stuff that looks like black broom hairs growing off his
chin, and a vague spongy mass atop his head that’s either a hairnet or brains. He’s really
beastificating here, that’s for sure. There are enough metal skull covers featuring ram
horns fused to a human skull that the Council have considered opening up an entirely
separate branch of Big Dumb Skulls to handle all of them. This one would rank right at the

The music:
I looked at the cover, the genre, the label, and looked at Finland as the country
of origin and figured it all pointed to Horna worship, ie. black metal in its strictest,
most violent, and purest form. But no — Valoton operate in an area that’s much more
technical, melodic and well-recorded, reminding of that early ’90s Swedish melodic death
metal sound mixed with the kind of modernized approach Gorgoroth took on the Incipit Satan album, but less varied and totally Nuclear Blast-y, if you get what I mean. Far more refined than their Finnish black metal peers, don’t be surprised if someday you see Valoton rubbing shoulders at the summer festivals next to bands like Hypocrisy and Behemoth. As for individual highlights throughout the album, there aren’t any — Valoton are good at what they do, but practically every song sounds the same. This interchangability is accepted these days by a lot of people, so hey, good luck to ’em. I’m at least glad I didn’t have to sit here and listen to the umpteenth Horna wanna-be.
— Friar Wagner