Blending the claustrophobic swirl of Neurosis with the exploratory mindset of Tool and a touch of the Avant-Garde, Wells Valley have created an album that plays by its own rules and lives by its own aesthetics. I think the closest comparison would kind of be a cross between Rabies Caste and Scarlet.
This is not a normal album, and I mean that in an entirely good way. The band have chosen to take a sub-genre that has pretty lax rules at the best of times and experiment with it to create something that may not be entirely new but it’s as close as we can reasonably expect these days.
The band play around with the Post-Metal formula just enough so that Matter as Regent sounds innovative and fresh, but not so much that it strays to far from what makes Post-Metal such a compelling and interesting listen.
The music is involving and engages the brain as it twists and turns through its various incarnations. The band write songs that seem to be mutations of the standard template; it’s as if the music has been stripped back to the bare bones of the style and then rebuilt in Wells Valley’s vision of what this kind of music should sound like.
The emphasis on the diversity, dynamics and pacing of the songs on Matter as Regent is noticeable, both in the music and the vocals. They don’t seem to like to repeat themselves too often.
The guitars are set to a level where they’re intense and emotive without being overly heavy. Expansive riffs and atypical rhythms run the gamut from expressive to functional to esoteric; there’s enough instant appeal to be endearing but enough depth of composition to keep you returning for more.
Wells Valley have released an intriguing and ambitious album that not only largely succeeds in being greater than the sum of its parts, but also achieves the even greater accolade of sounding mainly like itself.