If you think you know surf music, the monster-movie themes of Black Valley Moon will surprise and thrill you. Using Reverend planks, guitarist Sam Williams delivers garage-rock goods on “Proxima Centauri Calling,” which is part Dick Dale, part “The Munsters.” The mid-tempo “Don’t Lie, My Succubi” has amp-tremolo and clean chordal vamps that invariably bring to mind Mark Knopfler. In fact, you’ll detect echoes of Dire Straits more than once.
The campy “Sons of Dracula” is a single-coil fest, with Williams using his axe to double the vocals with above-average skill. “Bikeage” dials up throaty overdrive, but also Strat chime and more uncanny chord wrangling. “Blackest Night” is heavy, haunting, and moody, though the drums are busy – many cuts here would benefit from a more-simplified rhythm section. “I’m Ok” offers a tasty, but brief guitar solo, Williams showing admirable restraint. “Christmas Time In the Castle of Blood” takes “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and reanimates it as a monster-mash rave up.
While Sam Williams may be a new name, his scary tone and Franken-licks are the real deal. If you love surf – but are tired of the endless clichés – bathe in Black Valley Moon’s glorious horror-twang.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.