Faithless Rituals is the debut album from Lancashire rockers, Sky Valley Mistress. It feels like it’s been a long time coming but by God it’s worth it.
Released: 20th March 2020
Format: CD / LP / Digital
Sky Valley Mistress have been busting their Lancashire backsides for years on the live circuit in the North West and beyond. Recording for their debut album took place out in the California desert with Dave Catching (QOTSA, Iggy Pop) at his Rancho de la Luna studio. The desert is special to this band as they take their name from desert rock legends, Kyuss‘ debut album…Welcome To Sky Valley.
Through EP’s and singles, Sky Valley Mistress laid waste to many people’s ears with their raw, desert inspired rock and roll. Their live shows are bombastic events that invariably see singer, Kayley “Hell Kitten” Davies, prowling the stage like a master ringleader as the band pour every ounce of blood, sweat and emotion into the aural assault.
With their name already made in local circles, how does Faithless Rituals do in taking their name global? Well…in short, Faithless Rituals is a devastatingly bombastic statement of rock and roll delivered with heart and soul in abundance. This band believe in their sound wholeheartedly.
The opening gambit of the album is a spoken word piece that sets the scene for the ritual to follow. You Got Nothin’ crashes in in bludgeoning fashion, all rolling riffs and smashing drums. It’s clear that this band are in good hands with Dave Catching behind the recording desk; it sounds immense. The way in which the sounds both big and small are delivered makes for an intense experience.
Lost In Shock feels more sprightly in its opening which shows an early variation in musical style. This variation continues in arguably the album’s highlight, Punk Song. As a live favourite, Punk Song is a blistering six minutes of music that sees every member of the band throw down in glorious fashion. Kayley’s vocals are imperious as she uses her entire vocal canon, Russell ‘Russell’ Russell weaves hypnotic magic on his bass with Maxwell Harvey William Newsome III smashing his drums exultantly to show this bands rhythm section off perfectly. Sean “Starsky” Berry adds the colour to the song with his wicked guitar work and some wailing solos! At around two and a half minutes into this song, I challenge you not to be moved in some way; banging your head, tapping your foot, getting a few chills up your spine…it will move you.
It’s almost like the band know that Punk Song is a trip as they follow with It Won’t Stop which is a bluesier piece that allows a little respite from the heavier musical bombast; this is not to say that all goes quiet though. There are still the piercing sounds of Sky Valley Mistress.
The lead single for Faithless Rituals was Skull & Pistons. It announced the bands collaboration with the excellent New Heavy Sounds record label and showed that this band mean business and they’re ready to seize their opportunity.
She Is So is the only one of the bands songs from their previous EP’s to make it to the album. This is a song that has been with the band for many years and really links the bands past to the present. It has all the motifs that, if you know Sky Valley Mistress, have helped get the band into people’s conscious. The driving bass of this song is wondrous. It’s so heavy at times it could make you wince…but in the best possible way.
If you’re out in the desert, and paying homage to your stoner rock heroes, you need a song that is an ‘epic.’ All of Faithless Rituals is epic, but Blue Desert is a nearly eleven minute treat for those that like to exit reality. There is a subtle use of strings to create the grandeur and Kayley’s vocals sound dreamlike at times. The guitar work of Berry is reflective and subtle as expected crescendos are given curveball treatment in place of soulful vocals and a rising sense of musical joy.
For several years, the band curated a club night called Electric Church (named after a club in the bands native Blackburn if i’m not mistaken). To use this is a title for the album closer brings that bands journey full circle. From the bars and clubs they plied their trade in, to the desert to record, and back to the glorious North West. Electric Church ends with a riotous closing section that you’d see at the end of a gig where a band are doused in white light and the crowd are emphatically showing adulation.
On top of the music, there is the cover to the album. I’m sure anyone that gets a physical copy of the album will enjoy scoping out the paraphernalia contained there to match up with the songs. The album also comes with a board game…which in my mind is a first!
Faithless Rituals is a trip. It’s one that you’re going to want to let perforate your eardrums and your soul. Be sure to accept your penance and exult at the altar of Sky Valley Mistress. As the mighty George Clinton continues to proclaim, free your mind and your ass will follow.
You can order Faithless Rituals from the bands Bandcamp page. This is the best way to support the band if you like what you hear.