All Music Guide
Valis have never known the sort of stability that comes with releasing two albums in two years, and for the same record label -- that is, until 2005 -- and Champions of Magic, their fourth overall and second for Detroit's Small Stone. That's not to say that they're dialing it in, either. A generous serving of 15 songs comprising a full hour of new music is on hand here, and, stylistically, the group is also still breaking new ground. Well, in a retrograde fashion, anyway, since Champions of Magic finds these Seattle veterans reconnecting with many of their alt rock roots following a surprisingly straight-faced flirtation with hard rock styles a year earlier. Not so straight-faced that they came off sounding like Boston, mind you (more like Monster Magnet), but enough to make new songs like "Indian Giver" and "Mealworm" -- with their distinctive, psychedelic guitar licks ? la Screaming Trees, and thrumming rhythm looseness ? la Mudhoney -- sound like a return to norm and form. Admittedly, leader Van Conner's frequently weak, at times off-key vocals remain a hit-and-miss proposition (see him struggle through "Pass Me By" and "Paper Doll," among others); but his dark sense of humor similarly boosts album highlight "Kill the Ones You Love" well over the top. Thanks to the likes of "Transmuter" and the two-part "Universe," space rock sound effects continue to be a part of the overall equation (after all, this is a band that lists "Lemmy from Hawkwind" among their thank-you's!), but discreetly so, making them a nice change-up, not a dominant gimmick. In short, as long as the listener has no problem with Valis' seemingly intentional lack of performing discipline ("feel" being the operative word), and nurtures a healthy interest in the previous decade's Seattle scene, Champions of Magic is well worth the tasting.
released 30 August 2005
Van Conner: Vocals, Lead Guitar
Patrick Conner: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Adrian Makins: Bass, Vocals
Sean Hollister: Drums
Wes Weresch: Trip
Produced by Van and Wes.
Mixed and Engineered by Wes,
2nd Engineer Dawn Pfund.
Mastered by Chis Goosman @ Baseline Audio Labs - Ann Arbor, MI.
Cover Design and Layout: James Bender of Thrill Industries .
Peddling the finest in rock n' roll, psychedelic, stoner, doom, blues, hard rock, fuzz, metal, sludge, vintage 70's style rawk, etc, since 1995!!! True, honest music, made by real, honest people. Available on CD, vinyl, and digital.