THE VAL – Heading For The Surface (2014)
As happened with many new acts emerged during the recent resurgence in the Melodic Rock world, THE VAL was one of the bands exclusively presented on this blog two years ago on occasion of their debut CD.
The Spanish band now returns with their second effort “Heading For The Surface“, still retaining the delicate AOR / Melodic Rock melodies but with various steps forward in terms of songwriting, arrangements and production.
The Val’s first CD already was a wonderful pack of carefully crafted melodic songs, but now the band has grown on all aspects.
On “Heading For The Surface” the overall sound is more compact, thanks to the toughen of Alfonso Samos’ guitars (he is also producer), the rhythm section is tight and Gabrielle de Val’s vocals are still angelic, crystal clear, but deeper than never before.
On this new record, The Val sounds more ‘European’ I’d say, with a British feel. Due the female lead vocals, this brings to mind Romeo’s Daughter or Robin Beck but The Val owns a personal, distinctive charm.
There’s some real little gems on this records such as the incredibly melodic “Wish You All The Best” or the superlative mid-tempo “She’s Dumb And Blind” where the spirit of the ’80s emerges in all its splendor. It’s a song with an implicit catchines which grabs you at first listen.
The dreamy “Crusaders” adds many keyboards (including piano) to the mix, groovy bass lines and a sparkling guitar work, while “Roses and Chains” is driven by a lovely rhythm adorned with synths.
On the other hand, cuts like “I Saw Him First” offers an updated sound and a song structure that somehow reminds me Harem Scarem, yet strictly Melodic Rock soundwise. “Wreckage of My Heart” follows this path, organic, with a very effective chorus and a modern guitar solo.
Another highlight for me is the ballad “Breathe Me In”, not your typical slow tune in this musical genre, much more elaborated, elegantly arranged and showcasing The Val’s trademark style. Gabrielle de Val’s singing evokes a young Ann Wilson (Heart) here, his vocal progression through the song – from intimate whispers at the beginning to full melodic soul at the end – is first class.
The Val’s has delivered a wonderful Melodic Rock record in “Heading For The Surface”.
It’s rich in terrific melodies, mature compositions, excellent musicianship and a very good production. Guitarist Alfonso Samos is an experienced man with more than twenty years in the business, and his work as ‘orchestrator’ in the band (he also plays some keyboards) is remarkable.
But the star in The Val is without a doubt Gabrielle. The effect of her vocals on you are like a velvet scarf slipping around your neck… she’s great with a tuneful, passionate performance all over the record.
01 – Heading for the Surface
02 – Wish You All the Best
03 – Crusaders
04 – Roses and Chains
05 – Up to Where U Are
06 – She’s Dumb and Blind
07 – Stardust
08 – My Heart Is Beating
09 – I Saw Him First
10 – Breathe Me in
11 – Wreckage of My Heart
12 – Borderline
Gabrielle de Val (Lead Vocals)
Alfonso Samos (Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals)
Alex Morell (Bass)
Tony Ortega (Keyboards)
Rubén Berengena (Drums)
BUY IT !