Another week, another E.P., this time ‘Valley of Silence III: The Age of Starlight’ by Sam Barber and the Outcasts, the concluding part in a trilogy of releases from the band under the ‘Valley of Silence’ banner.

After being impressed with both a live performance and the initial ‘Valley of Silence’ E.P., I’m slightly shamefaced to admit that, when the second E.P. didn’t manage to make a quick impression at the start of last year, Sam and the Outcasts slipped off my radar.

But their incendiary 3 song performance at the Fritz van Helsing Memorial gig revived my interest in the release of the final ‘Valley of Silence’ E.P.

But was that brief show tailored for the occasion or did it give an indication of the direction of the new E.P.?

From the urgent opening riffs of ‘Travellers In Space and Time’ it’s clear that ‘Age of Starlight’ is the most raucous instalment in the trilogy. There’s more loud guitars on ‘Sedna’, perhaps my favourite track on the record at the moment, whilst ‘I Want To Believe’ is another rocker featuring not just guitars and piano but also a magnificent coda.

I certainly welcome the heavier approach but perhaps it’s the run of the poppier tunes from ‘The Great Attractor’ through single ‘Neptune’ to ‘Hypergiant’ that shows this mini-LP at its best. Nagging, insistent melodies and sprightly violins, combine on a euphoric run of songs which all soar as high as the stars.

Seemingly slightly out of the inter-galactic context of the rest of the record, penultimate track ‘Rhea’ is a haunting, piano ballad which is grounded in the wet streets rather than the heavens but which nevertheless summons up a black hole of despair.

Tapping into some classic elements of seventies songwriting ‘Age of Starlight’ iprovides more than enough melody to fill a barren universe. Joyous.

You can get ‘Valley of Silence III: The Age of Starlight’ from the Sam Barber and the Outcasts Bandcamp. The first two EPs are also available there.

Listen to the new E.P. here:

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