Valley of Shadows is the second album from vocalist Al Atkins and guitarist Paul May, but first experience with the Atkins May Project. With a first spin, I can definitely say that Atkins, the Judas Priest founder and former vocalist, is an acquired taste. His raspy, leather, vocals eventually grow on you, perhaps like an itchy rash, after a second spin.
The strength of Valley of Shadows is definitely Paul May's classic hard rock and heavy metal guitar work. The song composition and guitar solos carry Atkins across every single song. Yet, despite my initial reservations, upon listening to songs like No Ordinary Man, Bitter Waters, or Harder They Fall, I can't imagine Atkins not doing the vocals on any AMP song. And he sounds downright soulful, though grizzly, on the title cut, a song with strong allusions to the the 23rd Psalm.
Alternatively, and mostly, I dig the breadth and depth of the guitar driven, classic and melodic, hard rock and heavy metal compositions. May can be blistering as on Welcome to the Nightmare and bluesy as on Bitter Waters. He's certainly a confident and inspired composer and guitarist, showing great versatility and variation in every song. It's what makes Valley of Shadows quite good and easily recommended.