Tombs – The Grand Annihilation (Metal Blade Records, 16 June 2017)
Hey! Remember almost a year ago when we let you know that Brooklynite post-black metal ensemble Tombs would be releasing a new record — the fourth full-length in their decade-plus of existence, which would be the first thing coming out via the band’s new relationship with Metal Blade? And furthermore, that it would be the first LP featuring [the bulk of] the new line-up that had debuted a year earlier on the All Empires Fall EP?
Well anyway, that happened, and with Tombs hitting the road tonight for a handful of shows across the northeast over the course of the next week, it seemed like an appropriate time to finally get around to sharing that new album with all you swell people. Those dates are listed down at the bottom of the page.
I can still vividly remember the first time I heard Graveyard: it was “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” the opening song from their 2011 album Hisingen Blues. High-energy electric country-blues with great wailing vocals, that could have fit seamlessly on side A of Led Zeppelin III (an album which, front to back, was unquestionably and irrefutably the finest output of Zeppelin‘s repertoire — please feel free to comment below if you disagree and I’ll gladly tell you how wrong you are), the song instantly hooked me and still hasn’t let go to this day.
After buying that CD shortly afterwards, the rest of the songs (like the title track and Uncomfortably Numb) pushed the Swedish retro-rock troupe onto my list of my favorite 2011 releases. And the following year, the promise of a Graveyard material was so appealing that we had pre-ordered Lights Out as soon as it was released.
Now, that one (the band’s third overall) came out to somewhat mixed reviews, and although the basic style and quality of performance were very similar to what had come before, I have to admit that there really didn’t seem to be the same “wow” factor, standout tracks that would stick in your head for days or weeks after hearing them. While it wasn’t a bad album by any measure, it didn’t quite pull me in for repeated listens nearly as many times as its predecessor had done. And the next thing I knew, the band had split up or gone on indefinite hiatus or something — which I remember feeling disappointment after learning, because it seemed like they had so much unrealized potential.
As an aside, I never even realized until just recently when this new record was announced, that they had actually put out a fourth one prior to disbanding. Somehow that news had completely escaped my attention and I’ll want to be sure to go check that out soon — but first, their big comeback album will be out tomorrow, so let’s talk about Peace!
Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot Recordings, 31 March 2015)
Ufomammut – 8 (Neurot Recordings, 22 September 2017)
The name Ufomammut seems to be one that we Americans tend to struggle with. But fortunately the band has been kind enough to explain its origin: “ufo” (OOH-foe) is the Italian word for “UFO,” while “mammut” (MAMM-utt) means “mammoth.” Therefore the correct pronunciation of the name would be “OOH-foe-MAMM-utt.” Got it?
The etymological origin of their name is also one of the most accurate descriptions a band has ever given itself, as this trio combine the mysterious spaced-out vibe of a flying saucer with the earth-shaking immensity of a prehistoric pachydermic behemoth.
And now, for the first time in two years, they are bringing this spectacle to North American soil: hitting Maryland Death Fest this weekend, as well as Northwest Terror Fest in early June, and then surrounding these dates with a month-long loop around the whole country that kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday the 23rd) in Providence. Of course we’ll supply you with details about all these shows later. But first, an introduction to the band’s music for the uninitiated …
New Ghost LP Takes Inspiration from Mötorhead‘s Lemmy
a guest article contributed by Oliver Hughes
As we recently announced right here on Valley of Steel, Ghost did come back to Pittsburgh. And as they did 5 years ago, the band again put on a show to remember. For those who didn’t see the show, and for those who saw the show but were left wanting more, the Swedish heavy metal band will be offering something very special soon: a new studio album.
“There were a few things that I wanted to get in Prequelle that I don’t think had been fleshed out yet, and had very little to do with what came before,” he told the iconic magazine. He then revealed that the album was inspired by the deaths of the band members’ idols, including Ronnie James Dio, David Bowie, and Prince. The band, according to Forge, was particularly affected by the death of former Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died in 2015 after battling prostate cancer. Continue reading →
Body Void – Ruins (Crown and Throne Ltd/Dry Cough Records, 31 January 2017)
Body Void – I Live Inside a Burning House (Crown and Throne Ltd/Dry Cough Records/Seeing Red Records, 11 May 2018)
At some point throughout all these years of running this website, it has become apparent that it’s very difficult for someone to go back and remember everything they heard at the end of the year, pick out all the best things, and rank them in some kind of order. And as we’ve grown and attracted more attention, with the hundreds and hundreds of things submitted here each year, to do so nowadays would be downright impossible. So here’s a quick pro-tip: the start of each new year brings with it the start of a new list. For example, the first seventeen releases from 2017 would have made that year’s list by default. Once the eighteenth release rolls around, was it better than anything already listed? Then it gets slotted in there somewhere, and everything else gets bumped down a slot. And so on through the end of December.
Naturally there will be a need to revisit the listed items at year-end, to see how well they’ve held up to repeated listens and to solidify the order. Also, anything that just narrowly missed making the cut will be kept track of throughout the year, in case it feels like there need to be any substitutions made by that time. But for the most part, it’s been a pretty decent system.
Arriving at the actual point of all this nonsense — with a January release date, San Franciscan trio Body Void‘s debut LP Ruins would have been one of the earlier records to get ranked in the 2017 list, and whatever else came in throughout the following eleven months, it ended up hanging around in that top 10 the entire time. And now, their follow-up I Live Inside a Burning House has just been released this month, boldly demanding a spot in the current year’s list (and not looking likely to be unseated any time soon).
In this article we’ll give both albums a listen, and then at the bottom don’t miss the list of their June/July tour dates, all the way across the country and back again!
Conan / Slomatics – Split (original release 2011 / to be RE-re-released by Black Bow Records, 01 June 2018)
Almost two years ago, the 2011 split record between these two bands, each of whom has been discussed multiple times on this website (Conan | Slomatics), got the re-release treatment on a really cool picture disc by Black Bow Records. We discussed that right here.
But in case you missed it (or if you DID manage to snag one of those copies, but you wish you had a second one to listen to!), Black Bow is doing it again! This time on 180g heavyweight vinyl (for the first time ever) in a peculiar shade of “ogre green” (also for the first time ever). Keep reading to revisit our review of these songs from the 2016 release, and then find where you can buy a copy of the new edition.
That’s right, these two titans of (the music) industry will be making an appearance in Pittsburgh: Ghost (who were here exactly five years ago today and gave one of the more memorable performances I’ve ever witnessed) TONIGHT, Friday the 18th; and (the) Melvins (who also came through town five years ago this month, with what was quite possibly THE best show I’ve seen) TOMORROW night, Saturday the 19th!
Stick around for more details on this weekend’s shows, as well as a bit of a walk down memory lane…
Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)
As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).
Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (mentally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”
The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.
Opera IX – Back to Sepulcro (Dusktone, 01 November 2015)
This year marks three full decades since guitarist Ossian started Opera IX in Biella (Piedmont region, in the foothills of the Italian Alps). The band has put out an extensive discography in thirty years, and undergone numerous line-up changes, as they gradually morphed into the titans of occult black metal they would become known as.
One major shake-up occurred back in 2014 with a wholesale replacement of the entire band (other than its founder), including the departure of bassist Vlad who had been around since very early on, and vocalist of the previous decade-plus M. the Bard (who sadly departed permanently late last year).
With a brand-new ensemble — including M:A Fog (drums), Alessandro Muscio (keyboard), Scùrs (bass) and Abigail Dianaria (vocals) — in tow, Ossian proceeded to put together an album (in late 2015) that featured brand-new recordings of several songs from Opera IX albums past.
In today’s post we’ll check out Back to Sepulcro — as well as discussing what the band has been up to since that time. (Spoiler alert: a new album anticipated later this year, plus an appearance at MDF later this month!)
King Goat – Debt of Aeons (Aural Music, 20 April 2018)
Wolf King – Loyal to the Soil (Prosthetic Records, 27 April 2018)
Today we have two albums to present to you, by two different bands. Two VERY different bands in fact; pretty much the only thing they have in common is the word “King” along with some kind of animal in their names. Also the fact that they each released a new album last month. Plus the fact that we deemed each of these albums good enough to write about and share with you.
But besides that, very dissimilar. Having said that, though — if you came here as a fan of one of these bands, why not step out of your comfort zone a bit and give the other a quick spin? You may be pleasantly surprised!