With its second EP, six-piece Color Me Valiant has delivered one of the most honest, well-rounded metalcore releases of the past several years. The Richmond, Va.-based outfit is a rarity among their its peers in that they it excels equally at metallic brutality and anthemic, melodic hooks.
“Commissioned” sets both the sonic and thematic tone for the five-track record, opening with a heartfelt spoken word introduction: “This is a message of love, for those who have never felt the embrace of a father.” Then, Jeff Carr’s gut-wrenching screams come crashing in, accompanied by uplifting, stratospheric guitars, propelling the song into vivid motion.
Dustin Harris and Josh Rowland’s dueling guitars drive the record, and the two axemen deploy an astonishing array of tones. The down-tuned breakdown on “Simon Peter” is as pummeling as anything on The Devil Wears Prada’s latest album, while the high-register leads on “Sleepwalkers” are haunting. Unlike many metalcore records, the clean vocals are an asset rather than a liability. Kyle Bowers’s passionate coda on “Sleepwalkers” – “I may be weak, but your spirit’s strong in me / My flesh may fail, but my God, you never will” – is sure to inspire mass audience singalongs.
But Color Me Valiant saves the best for last. The final song, “Orphan,” featuring Gideon’s Dan McWhorter, is the heaviest and rawest post-hardcore workout on the album. The track finds McWhorter making an aching plea for God’s guidance, before Carr drops in, representing the voice of a broken world (“You are worthless / Just a boy masquerading as a man”). Then, McWhorter, as the voice of Christ, brings the song full circle, delivering a message of hope (“My grace is enough / To erase everything, that has kept you from me”). It’s a fitting end to a powerful album.