Whenever a particular genre or subgenre comes into prominence, it’s always worth looking at how the newcomers looking for inroads into them market themselves. Largely, that boils down to a number of very specific details – a near-exhaustive list of acts they’ve shared a stage with (either toured or briefly crossed paths on a festival bill); any number of press quotes overflowing with all the necessary superlatives; and an extended list of influences and genres that have somehow wormed their way into their sound, no matter how difficult it may be to tell. There was definitely a fair bit of snark in that description, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that; at the end of the day, music is just like any other product, in that it wants to come across as attractive as possible to ultimately sell. But it also begs the question of how much is too much, and whether the claims of originality that nine out of ten bands make are actually true.
Of course the answer to that is they’re obviously not, but that can also be broken down to the extent of how overblown such claims may be. Just take Germany’s Time, The Valuator, with their claims of fusing alt-rock, metal, pop, jazz and ambient music implying some genre-bending opus with their new album How Fleeting, How Fragile, when really, that all winds up as a tech-metal album without much to differentiate it from the scores of others in the exact same position. And while that’s not exactly a total shock given the context of the situation (this is a tech-metal band, after all), it doesn’t make it any less disappointing that, for all of the grandeur that orbits them, How Fleeting, How Fragile doesn’t offer much more than you’d get from a Periphery or TesseracT album, only slightly scaled back. What that essentially means is yet another album comprised of crashing progressive riffs and moments of glassy ambience, as technically proficient and solid as you’d expect but remaining unable to fashion them into a gripping whole.
At least with Phil Bayer on vocals, there’s a clearer, more strident presence, almost akin to a lot of modern post-hardcore’s poppier frontmen, and in tracks like In Control, there’s a few extra drops of melodic flair eked out that could benefit Time, The Valuator with just a bit more focus on them. They don’t do that though, and instead the majority of How Fleeting, How Fragile merges into an amorphous, unappealing mass, one whose crystal-clear production and ambition can’t rectify how little progress is actually made.
In reality, for as much as Time, The Valuator could do, How Fragile, How Fleeting doesn’t provide a whole lot to say, at least within the tech-metal scene that’s already seen so much of this before. There will be an audience for this, and to some degree it’s easy to see why, but there are far tighter and more interesting bands that easy surpass this in almost every field. And for as good as Time, The Valuator could be, the question of when they’ll reach that is a different one altogether.
For fans of: Periphery, TesseracT, Novelists
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘How Fleeting, How Fragile’ by Time, The Valuator is released on 3rd August on Longbranch Records.