Nothing – GEORGE (2020)

NothingGEORGE (A Live Part Time Punks Session, Los Angeles 12.07.2019), self-released 01 June 2020

 

Good day!

In light of, and in solidarity with, the wholly justified anger (and the equally justified demonstrations and protests currently taking place) against the completely broken system we are all stuck in — and particularly in light of the undeniable truth that the system is SO MUCH more broken for SO MANY demographic groups other than my own — it has felt appropriate to take some time away from putting out any new content of my own, for the past week or so.

To the extent that anybody ever cares what I have to say about anything, it feels like especially right now, who wants to hear the thoughts and opinions of some random straight white dude? So I’ve been pretty quiet, no writing about music, no news or reviews; and instead trying to use whatever minuscule social influence I have to help spread the words of other people, who are far more relevant to the very serious discussions taking place right now.

But today, the fifth of June, is Bandcamp Friday once again — where the Bandcamp is taking zero fees from anything purchased through their platform — and artists and labels all over the world are taking advantage of the day to pledge donations to a very wide range of social causes. In fact, Bandcamp themselves have put together this lengthy (but certainly not comprehensive) list of folks donating their profits and/or making special limited-edition material or merchandise available for the occasion. They also shared this gigantic list of over 1000 black artists and producers and black-owned labels you may wish to check out today. (A big thank you to those who have put a ton of effort into compiling and continuing to maintain this spreadsheet!)

 

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Horseburner – The Thief; Howling Giant – The Space Between Worlds (2019)

HorseburnerThe Thief (Ripple Music, 09 August 2019)

 

Howling GiantThe Space Between Worlds (Blues Funeral Recordings, 27 September 2019)

 

Good afternoon! Another week almost over, are you excited? Probably not so much, huh? It hardly makes a difference, since the days all just run together anymore. Hard to believe we’re coming up on three whole months of this quarantine, shelter-in-place, work-from-home, whatever you want to call it.

But on the other hand, it’s starting to feel like this is the way life has been forever — it’s getting hard to remember a time when things used to be different. Remember going out to restaurants, bars, wineries? Remember live entertainment? Sometimes there would even be entire events dedicated to bands performing music for large crowds of people, entire festivals. Remember those? Remember crowds of people?

It was exactly two months ago today that Ripplefest was supposed to happen in Germany, what would have been an all-day raging affair hosted by Ripple Music. I wrote up a thing announcing the event just a few weeks before the entire world flipped completely upside-down.

That event is tentatively being rescheduled for August, with a line-up yet to be announced. I hope, for the sake of everyone involved, that it works out this time. I hope, for ALL our sakes, that things are back to normal by then.

Originally scheduled to play at the festival in March were two American bands, Horseburner and Howling Giant. I’ve written about each of them before (here and here), but in February’s Ripplefest post I also mentioned that both bands had released excellent albums last year, and that reviews of both would be coming up soon.

The festival might not have taken place as planned, but at least I can fulfill that one small promise. And at least you can treat your ears to these bands in pre-recorded form…

 

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Adzes – Climate // Capital, A Forest // Digging in the Dirt (2019); No One Wants to Speak About It (2020)

AdzesClimate // Capital (self-released, 27 February 2019)

 

AdzesA Forest // Digging in the Dirt (self-released, 02 August 2019)

 

AdzesNo One Wants to Speak About It (digital: self-released, 29 May 2020; cassette: Tridroid Records, 02 July 2020)

 

Good afternoon! I’ve got a surprise in store for you today. Usually single-person recording artists leave a lot to desire as far as the quality of material AND sound quality are concerned. The same can often be said for musical entities with strong political leanings: no matter how valid their point may be, if all they are bringing to the table is a clone of raw punk or lo-fi black metal that’s already been done to death a million times, it’s unlikely to really grab my attention.

With Adzes (named for the primitive wood-hewing implement), self-described by its lone member as “anti-capitalist sludge,” what we find is lacking in quality in neither of those areas. Below we’ll take a trip through a pair of EPs he put together last year, followed by the project’s debut album which is set to be unfurled at the end of this week. Enjoy!

 

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Maelstrom – Of Gods and Men (2020)

MaelstromOf Gods and Men (self-released, 22 May 2020)

 

Hey, folks. Better make sure you’ve got yourselves strapped in, because we’re taking a trip in the “Way Back Machine.” Although Of Gods and Men, the debut full-length album of Long Beach (Nassau County NY)’s Maelstrom, was released mere days ago, this is a story that starts off much, much earlier than that.

Here at Valley of Steel I first became aware of this trio back in October 2012, when I checked out ThrashHead Magazine‘s second A Gallery of Rogues compilation. (As an aside, the magazine doesn’t appear to exist anymore but that 45-song collection is still free to download.)

At that time, one of the tracks that I pointed out as a highlight was “Arise” — which also appeared on the band’s EP It was Predestined, which was being re-released that same month by IME.

I hadn’t been aware of it at the time, but the mini-album had initially been released independently several years earlier (in 2008), by a newly-reformed Maelstrom. The group had called it quits fifteen years prior to that, after having produced a pair of demo tapes (in 1989 and 1991) that collectively featured the original recordings of the three songs that would later become It was Predestined.

The EP, out of print by now, had grabbed my attention back in 2012 just as much as that first song had done — and so when I recently learned that there would finally be a full-length record (32 years after the band was founded), well, that was certainly some exciting news I just had to share with you lucky readers.

 

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Close the Hatch – Modern Witchcraft; Mountaineer – Bloodletting (2020)

Close the HatchModern Witchcraft (Red Moth Records, 22 May 2020)

 

MountaineerBloodletting (Lifeforce Records, 22 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon and happy Friday to all you wonderful people out there!

Day job insanity has really caught up with me this week; my apologies, but that’s why I missed out on writing anything here yesterday. Today isn’t much better — so I’ll have to make this quick — but I didn’t want another day to pass without sharing new music with you folks.

For your Memorial Day weekend perusal, here are a pair of albums that just came out today, from two bands residing on opposite ends of the country, but which are both at least somewhat doom-metal-adjacent. Hope you enjoy them!

 

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Barren Womb – Nique Everything (2015), Lizard Lounge (2020)

Barren WombNique Everything (Spartan Records, 27 November 2015)

 

Barren WombLizard Lounge (Loyal Blood Records, 22 May 2020)

 

Hello, friends and casual acquaintences! Nice to see you all once again. And at this point we’ve successfully navigated our way through half of another week, which almost feels like cause for celebration, doesn’t it? These days, we kind of have to take what we can get.

Anyway. Obviously the reason you are here is because you are looking for more new music, and the reason I’m here is to share some with you. Several years ago in a larger article about several other albums, we had taken a quick glance at a split record between Grizzlor (from Connecticut) and Barren Womb (from Norway).

Right after that article was published, I became aware of a full-length album by the latter of those two, which had been released several months after the split. I enjoyed that record quite a bit, but as seems to happen far too often, somehow I never got around to writing about it and sort of lost track of the band.

But now — they’ve got another new record due out just two days from now, so it seems like a great opportunity to kill two birds off my to-do list with one stone, so to speak. Here we go!

 

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Former Worlds – Photos of Eve IX-XVI (2017), Iterations of Time (2020)

Former WorldsPhotos of Eve IX-XVI (self-released, 18 March 2017)

 

Former WorldsIterations of Time (Init Records, 31 January 2020)

 

Hello, all you shiny happy socially-distant people! It’s Tuesday! Not that days or any unit of time or any anything has any real meaning anymore.

Today we’re going to talk about a band I’ve been meaning to share with you folks for the past three-plus years, since they released their debut EP. And then I’ve REALLY been meaning to get around to writing this for the past three-plus months, since they released their debut LP. But here we are.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I don’t have a to-do list with well over 900 items piled up, or act as if I will ever be able to “catch up” in this lifetime, but let’s just keep plugging away at this a little bit at a time, right? For now, please enjoy the Midwestern sludgey juggernaut that is Former Worlds.

 

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River Cult – Chilling Effect (2020)

River CultChilling Effect (Tee Pee Records (digital) / Nasoni Records (vinyl), 01 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon, everyone! Do you still get a sinking feeling of dread every time a Monday rolls around — even though every day feels exactly the same and they all seem to suck equally now? Or is it just me?

Anyway, it’s time for another discussion about new music. Those with really acute memories might recall talking about River Cult, rock trio (with bits of stoner and psychedelic influence) from Brooklyn, about two years ago when they had released their debut LP.

Well they’re back with another five tracks of fuzzy goodness, pushing even further into both the stoner and the psychedelic territories. Let’s check out Chilling Effect!

 

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In the Company of Serpents – Merging in Light (2014), Ain-Soph Aur (2017), Lux (2020)

In the Company of SerpentsMerging in Light (self-released, 21 December 2014)

 

In the Company of SerpentsAin-Soph Aur (self-released, 10 March 2017)

 

In the Company of SerpentsLux (self-released, 15 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon and HAPPY FRIDAY to everyone out there. Nice to finally reach the end of what, for some reason, has turned out to be quite an exhausting week. Hope you all are doing okay.

Personally, I just had to whip up a very uncustomary afternoon batch of coffee, due to feeling exceptionally sluggish all day — particularly after lunch. It was very tempting to just curl up on the couch and go back to sleep for the rest of the day. But not before I get this article published, because I have music to share with you people! This is actually covering three separate releases, spanning numerous years, by Mile-High band In the Company of Serpents, the last of which is just being released today! Enjoy!

 

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Talking Book – Talking Book II (2020)

Talking BookTalking Book II (Koolarrow Records, 24 April 2020)

 

Good day, loyal readers. Hope you all are still doing well, trying your best to stay safe and sane.

Today I’ll be sharing something that very much falls outside the standard delineation of purpose for this website: not “metal,” nor “other heavy music,” and debatable whether this would even exactly qualify (under some of the more conservative definitions) as “music.”

Talking Book began nearly ten years ago when the owners of two record labels known for their diverse and eclectic international line-ups (Koolarrow RecordsBilly Gould and Gigante Sound‘s Jared Blum) came together to collaborate on the album The Talking Book.

Somehow, that one must have escaped my attention when it was released back in 2011 — which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I literally signed up for Twitter in order to follow Mr. Gould back in like 2009 when rumors were running rampant about another of his musical projects possibly reuniting, and it was said that a certain bassist and founding member’s Twitter feed would be a reliable source of information about that.

Anyway, since at time the duo were joined by Gigante Sound co-conspirator Dominic Cramp, and many years later they finally got around to recording a follow-up — which Koolarrow released nearly three weeks ago.

 

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