Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Lycosa Guitarist “Tree”



Six Questions with Lycosa Guitarist “Tree

by Mrs. Valley of Steel


So my next Person or Persons Unknown interview subject is someone I did not know very well before I decided to ask him for an interview, but I suppose that was the point of these: to shed some light on people not very many people knew much about. This one definitely qualifies. I first officially met Tree when his band Lycosa was having their Innervenus dual-release show with Grisly Amputation. Over the course of meeting all these new people, I would say that I am constantly surprised at how warm and friendly they are — which is a vast contrast to the mood and feel of the music that they play. No one surprised me quite as much as Tree — he’s sweet and kind and, just like my husband, you sometimes have a hard time hearing him because he really doesn’t talk all that loud (when he talks at all!). I have since gotten to know him slightly more speaking to him via Facebook messages and seeing him out at shows, and I am happy to now call him a friend. I hope you guys will find him as interesting as I do, and that you’ll check out Lycosa — maybe even venture out to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a mini road trip to check them out. The band is great on CD, but even better live! Take it from me, it would be worth the drive from Pittsburgh.

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The Secret Dethlehem Code, Deciphered (FOR REAL This Time)!

4 13 13



…by which, of course, I mean that my article from a few days ago analyzing Dethlehem‘s mysterious image (above) speculated that the answer had something to do with Dethlehem doing something. That much of it turned out to be absolutely 100% accurate. (The rest of what I wrote, not so much. Although those who are interested in the ins and outs of the recording process still can benefit greatly by visiting producer Patrick Lammie‘s blog as he details the creation of the band’s third full-length album!)

So what I thought was a crazy eye thing actually turned out to be a representation of a magical portal; the fact that the middle part of the “eye” looks like the number zero wasn’t just a coincidence; the other numbers superimposed on the image, surprisingly, had NOTHING to do with an encrypted message, but rather they indicated a significant date. That date, 04.13.13, was this past Saturday — and at some point during that day, the band uncovered a really exciting secret project…..

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The Secret Dethlehem Code, Deciphered!

4 13 13


What the hell is Dethlehem up to??

I’m sure that is the question that’s foremost on everyone’s mind this week. Recently, the above image — some kind of creepy hypnotic eye thing, with a cryptic numeric code imprinted in front of it — mysteriously surfaced on the internet, leading to a huge flurry of speculation from all over the place.

Some people are hazarding guesses about what these symbols mean and have even gone so far as to speculate that they represent a specific date — on which something new and exciting will be revealed to us. Like, “A new video, perhaps? The first single from the upcoming album? An update on Overlord Brom’s beard growth?”

Not bad, GeekDad. But those are all the sort of things the band probably wants us to think about — anything that will keep us off the scent of their TRUE plot! But through painstaking and fastidious research, I have uncovered the real meaning of the numeric code in the mystical JPEG sigil!


Dethlehem at The Foundry (Lakewood, OH) in November 2012.  Photo courtesy The World's Worst Camera Phone Ever.

Dethlehem at The Foundry (Lakewood, OH) in November 2012. Photo courtesy The World’s Worst Camera Phone Ever.

As you surely recall from the last time we spoke with the RPG-metal band, following a couple line-up changes and the occasional dragon-slaying quest, they were soon intending to get to work writing and recording their third full-length album, the as-yet-untitled follow-up to The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 1: Enthroned Upon a Spire and The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 2: Of Magick & Tyranny.

Well, apparently the writing process has concluded, because over the past month or so the band has started on the actual recording. I know this because their producer/engineer Patrick Lammie began tracking their progress in a studio blog.

BUT SUDDENLY with a blinding flash of TRUTH, it hit me. What is disguised as an innocent commentary on recording gear and microphones and stuff, is actually the solution to the whole mystery! One of the oldest known tricks for encoding information is to write a bunch of nonsense words and hide the REAL message in the middle of it, totally undetected to anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key. OBVIOUSLY the scary green eye holds that answer: the numbers 4, 13, 13 are a key to deciphering the hidden meaning among the (otherwise nonsensical) technical jargon in that studio report!

So without any further ado, I give to you:




It goes on and on like that, but I think you get the general idea. Really earth-shattering stuff, huh? I mean, you still have to read between the lines a bit to get the actual meaning they are trying to get across — it’s pretty deep and metaphoric, and requires a bit of extra thought to make it out. But I’ve already done most of the hard work for you, right? That makes everything an awful lot clearer at least, doesn’t it?


Okay, okay. I hate to admit it, but it looks like I was wrong. It seemed like such a brilliant idea, too, but I guess in truth I’m just as clueless as the rest of you. To be honest, I think I wrote the title of this article a bit prematurely, and once that was set in place, I had to really try and sell the concept, to avoid being totally embarrassed. But it looks like it didn’t work out that way.

Anyway, it seems as though we’ll all just have to sit here and wait til the brave warriors of Dethlehem decide to tell us all what they’ve been dropping hints about!

Dethlehem: website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, webstore

Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Annakarina’s Craig Hodgkins

Person or Persons Unknown


Six Questions with Annakarina‘s Craig Hodgkins

by Mrs. Valley of Steel


Have you ever been going to an event somewhere, where you don’t really expect things to be different — you figure it’s totally going to be a fun night, but nothing out of the norm — then suddenly after you’ve walked in the door, something begins and BAM!, you are completely blown away?

Yes? No? Doesn’t matter, that’s basically the exact scenario of how I first heard Annakarina: I was attending a punk show with the husband in Charleroi, PA, last December. This show was about five minutes from our house — quite a change from our normal hour-plus drive, so I was happy to be attending for that reason — but with the inclusion of the word “punk” I didn’t expect to be hearing something that he later described to me as “Post-Mathcore,” but we did. It was seriously gorgeous in its expression of angst and precision side-by-side.

So Annakarina and their music really never left my mind after the show. Soon afterwards, I found out that someone had taped their whole set and put it on Youtube, and I’ve probably watched it like five times since then — needless to say, I was a fan.

Anyway, last month we were attending another punk show at the same venue — where as it turns out, Annakarina was going to be making another appearance — and on this day I happened to decide that I needed to drink A LOT of tequila before the show (and during). Probably because we were so close to home I was feeling a little more rebellious, I don’t know. Drunk or not, I was extremely excited to see Annakarina again, but this time I decided that I needed to talk to those guys. In my drunken stupor, I basically poured my inner fandom out for them, sharing the fact that my husband was a blogger, that we attend shows at least once a week in Pittsburgh, all sorts of stuff.

[Editor’s note: at one point, I recall she had told bassist Kurtis Kelley about the description I made up the first time we’d seen them. He seemed a bit puzzled, but then said, “Well, I know what post-hardcore is, and I know what math rock is, and — yeah I guess I can see that.”]

I’m sure they were like, who’s this crazy lady, but even so they were all very kind. I got introduced to them all one by one, and in particular I felt drawn to [guitarist/vocalist] Craig. In between bands I talked casually to him (or as casually as I could manage — remember I was very drunk) about his music, his friendship with the drummer and other bandmates, and soon I realized this guy was special pretty special.

In a way, I was feeling sort of annoyed that no one else we knew really knew anything about this band — because I’ve never seen them at any shows in Pittsburgh, and (I mean this in the nicest way possible) honestly they’re better then a few bands that we’ve seen playing other shows in the past. So I decided I needed to introduce Craig and his music to more people — so there’s the core reason for this interview. I think you’ll agree he’s quite a special guy — that magical combination of intelligence, wit, weirdness, awkwardness, and sincerity that you couldn’t fake if you tried. So here he is, pouring his heart out to you, via my six questions; I hope you will find him as endearing as I do, and I hope you will venture out to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this Sunday to see his band playing a charity show benefiting PLEA. Trust me, Annakarina is a band you won’t want to miss, and this guy is one of the major reasons for that.

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Slaves BC / Cousin Sleaze – Split 7″


Slaves BC / Cousin SleazeSplit 7″ (self-released, 11 April 2013)

Several months ago, I wrote about a new EP from the Pittsburgh-based dark, caustic hardcore/metal band Slaves BC, which was titled we mean nothing. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you could look it up if you searched for it, but I’m not linking to it here. Because honestly, it was among the worst articles I’ve written, and I wouldn’t advise taking the time to read it. Instead, just listen to the songs and download the EP, which you can do it you follow the Bandcamp link at the end of this page.

About that review — I’ve noticed sometimes when I really like something or really connect with a piece of music on some level, I feel inadequate to convey that in words, and so I end up rambling about some other nonsense that isn’t related to the actual music. In this case, we mean nothing. centers around the concept of someone struggling and perhaps questioning the validity or value of religion — and I sort of ran with that idea, focusing more on people who place too much value on religious principles, at the expense of common sense and moral decency.

Sort of lost in all of that was my opinion of the actual music — dark and caustic, as I just said; abrasive, ultra-heavy. Some music is described as “doom metal” which usually seems to foretell a bleak, dire outcome; some music is “post-apocalyptic,” representing that tragic new reality. What Slaves BC bring is more like DURING the apocalypse: there isn’t doom coming, it’s happening RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

Anyway, one thing I did point out in that review was that the sound had improved dramatically over their first release, the demo album This World Shall Pass Away. With that in mind, the appearance of any new Slaves material should be really exciting. And GUESS WHAT — today we have exactly that! Two new songs, to be exact, coupled with a pair from the band’s comrades from New York, Cousin Sleaze.

The four-song split is available as of today on CD (if you come to the bands’ joint release show TONIGHT at The Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh — see below for details), and the 7″ vinyl version (in three different colors) can be ordered now, and will be out in the very near future!

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