UK tech proggers blossom and shine on album two.

- DL

Despite its debts to technologi­cal progress and musical complexity, post-djent prog metal doesn’t need to be a complicate­d business. Valis Ablaze showed a ton of promise on their Boundless debut last year, but with precious few worthy contempora­ries and only a handful of bands daring to tinker with djent’s formula, the genre’s prospects have looked iffy for a while. To keep it simple, Valis Ablaze have focused on what really matters: songs. Render is a joy from start to finish, not just because it throws up a few new ways to generate excitement from a bendy post

Meshuggah riff, but also because these songs are so memorable and elegantly crafted. Only occasional­ly redolent of TesseracT’s more streamline­d moments, the wildly dynamic opener neon Dreaming and the succinct, surging Hollow Heart never quite do the expected. Instead, you will hear the band’s identity growing stronger in real time, as frontman Phil Owen’s gritty tenor soars across some of the sharpest tech metal tunes in recent memory. Tellingly, only the closing elevation strides into more brutish territory, but Valis Ablaze still manage to make it sound fresh and forward-thinking.

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