North Carolina’s U.S. Christmas (USX) return hot on the heels of their recent “Run Thick In The Night” Full-Length LP with one of the strongest releases of the year, “The Valley Path”. This masterful work of heavy psychedelic dirge is a stunning meditation on life and death, one of those records you could really zone out to at 3 a.m. (right up there with an insomniac’s late night brooder like Godflesh’s “Songs Of Love and Hate”).
Featuring amazing artwork by Adam Pernell Deal, this truly hypnotic one track EP will reel you in like the grim energy of a Robert B. Parker western. The music echoes in your skull long after you’ve listened and is a major next step for the seasoned group.
“There is a time for wicked illusion, on your knees”.
To read the full review click here.
All of my favorite releases of 2011 show bands unafraid to forge ahead regardless of trends. The Haunted’s “Unseen” is by far my favorite full length of recent memory, with the “thrash” band fully capturing the alternative influence they’ve long flirted with to create anthem after undiluted anthem. Neurosis’ “Sovereign” EP (Ok, it’s a re-release but still makes the 2011 list) captured a pivotal crest in that band’s evolution towards even headier waters of experimentation and dynamics. USX’s “The Valley Path” is similarly fearless and full of ebb and flow, poetic lyrics and a lingering sense of melancholy. Still, you are left after the experience (and this IS an experience more than just an MP3 to shuffle past) with a sense of unity even amidst the terrors of the cosmos.
There is a warm, overpowering thrum to this record. If it was a kid’s cartoon movie (Ok, I live with a 2 year old, don’t dis me!) it would be something like “The Land Before Time”, seemingly basic on the surface but unveiling layers of morality alongside lessons on the fragility of ecology and the fragile nature of life (though no sickeningly cute dinosaurs here, sorry).
Fans of enthralling, atmospheric music that is palatable but also can require much more of the average listener should really check this out. It really is almost like a piece of literature set to strings, twangy drone guitar and progressive post-whatever the heck you wanna call it rock movements. It translates to pure ambition with the song broken into segments akin to chapters. The journey down “The Valley Path” is well worth is with rewards around every corner, the hard work of USX coming across in each note, weary yet determined to reach the hard won morning.