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Champions of Magic (reissue)


Van Conner: Vocals, Lead Guitar
Patrick Conner: Lead Guitar, Vocals
Adrian Makins: Bass, Vocals
Sean Hollister: Drums
Wes Weresch: Trip

Reviews for Champions of Magic (reissue)...

All Music Guide

Valis have never known the sort of stability that comes with releasing two albums in two years, and for the same record label -- that is, until 2005 -- and Champions of Magic, their fourth overall and second for Detroit's Small Stone. That's not to say that they're dialing it in, either. A generous serving of 15 songs comprising a full hour of new music is on hand here, and, stylistically, the group is also still breaking new ground. Well, in a retrograde fashion, anyway, since Champions of Magic finds these Seattle veterans reconnecting with many of their alt rock roots following a surprisingly straight-faced flirtation with hard rock styles a year earlier. Not so straight-faced that they came off sounding like Boston, mind you (more like Monster Magnet), but enough to make new songs like "Indian Giver" and "Mealworm" -- with their distinctive, psychedelic guitar licks ? la Screaming Trees, and thrumming rhythm looseness ? la Mudhoney -- sound like a return to norm and form. Admittedly, leader Van Conner's frequently weak, at times off-key vocals remain a hit-and-miss proposition (see him struggle through "Pass Me By" and "Paper Doll," among others); but his dark sense of humor similarly boosts album highlight "Kill the Ones You Love" well over the top. Thanks to the likes of "Transmuter" and the two-part "Universe," space rock sound effects continue to be a part of the overall equation (after all, this is a band that lists "Lemmy from Hawkwind" among their thank-you's!), but discreetly so, making them a nice change-up, not a dominant gimmick. In short, as long as the listener has no problem with Valis' seemingly intentional lack of performing discipline ("feel" being the operative word), and nurtures a healthy interest in the previous decade's Seattle scene, Champions of Magic is well worth the tasting.

Eduardo Rivadavia
October, 2005

High Bias

Once again into the cosmic maelstrom we go, with Valis as our guide. The Seattle band doesn't alter its approach on its third album, playing its spaced-out heavy rock like it's the day before the aliens come to spirit it away. The Connor brothers unleash the beast on guitar with passion and sunfire, while Wesley Weresch underpins everything with his electronic ephemera. "Love Loader," "Indian Giver" and "Universe" roar like comets on a collision course with Earth, while "Pilots House" flies straight into the acid-laced sun. Amazingly, the band finds time in its starborn agenda for the unusually earthbound, delightfully catchy "Pass Me By," which is close to a pop song as Valis is ever likely to come. Champions of Magic is the space metal necromancy Monster Magnet was never quite able to achieve.

Michael Toland
December 18th, 2005

Album Tracks

  1. Indian Giver
  2. Transmuter
  3. Universe
  4. Pass Me By
  5. Mealworm
  6. Kill the Ones You Love
  7. Universe 2
  8. All Phase
  9. Paper Doll
  10. Love Loader
  11. Pilot's House
  12. Venus is Red
  13. Skylight Myrical
  14. Going Down High

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