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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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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Forlesen – Hierophant Violent (2020)

ForlesenHierophant Violent (Hypnotic Dirge Records, 18 April 2020)

 

Well, seems like it’s about time to check in on what’s happening with our northern neighbors at Hypnotic Dirge. Here’s a new record they came out with within the past month — and if their history of quality releases wasn’t enough to recommend checking it out, surely that gorgeous artwork (produced by Benjamin A. Vierling) will draw you right in.

It turns out Hierophant Violent is the debut offering from a new ensemble from the San Francisco Bay area, consisting of members who’ve worked in various other local groups — such as Botanist, Lotus Thief, and Kayo Dot.

 

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Rat King – Garbage Island (2016), Vicious Inhumanity (2020)

Rat KingGarbage Island (Within the Mind Records, 24 June 2016)

 

Rat KingVicious Inhumanity (Within the Mind Records, 17 January 2020)

 

As much as I hate to admit it, during the almost eight and a half years I’ve been administrating this website, I have amassed a list of literally hundreds of albums I’ve hoped to find time to write about and share with you folks. Realistically I know I won’t ever get through ALL of them, but at the moment I am striving to keep up with the new ones as well as I can so it doesn’t get any worse; and if I can knock off an older one here and there while I’m at it, wonderful.

So having said that, here’s a record that just came out within the past month, as well as one that’s been sitting on my to-do list far too long. Both are by Seattleite trio Rat King, released on their own label Within the Mind, and both were recorded by the legendary Mr. Tad Doyle — but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. As you will soon discover. Please to enjoy!

 

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Kassad – London Orbital (2020)

KassadLondon Orbital (Hypnotic Dirge Records, 10 January 2020)

 

Hello there, readers. Was it just my imagination or did the first month of this year just totally fly by? Anyway, here we are a few days into February and finally this is the first time I’m getting around to writing about a 2020 release. I don’t feel great that it’s taken so long, but here we are. And, notwithstanding any change in the status of the creek, with regard to it rising or not, this should be the first of many.

This is also the first 2020 release from one of our favorite Canadian labels, Hypnotic Dirge. Those familiar with the record company will recall that many of their releases originate in or around the same frozen northern tundra of their homeland, and often (fittingly) fall within the umbrella of frostbitten atmospheric blackness — but today we’ll be focusing on something that strays ever-so-slightly outside of those stereotypes…

The abode of Kassad, as name-checked in their sophomore album’s title, is the capital of England (rather than the somewhat smaller city located on the Thames River in the province of Ontario); and while the record does still operate within the black metal milieu, the band has described its style as “urban” black metal.

 

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Talsur / Doomcult – Nameless (2019)

Talsur / DoomcultNameless (self-released, 05 April 2019)

 

Good afternoon! Taking a break from our recent excursion into the wide world of sports, to bring you this recommendation of some music for you to check out!

Released back in April of this year — and brought to my attention by one of the bands involved right around that same time — Nameless is a six-track split album. There are two new compositions apiece by Talsur (a single-member doom band from Penza, sort of near the Russian-Kazakh border) and Doomcult (a single-member doom band from southern Netherlands); and then the remaining two tracks feature each band covering a previously-released song by the other. Dig it!

 

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Stone Machine Electric – Darkness Dimensions Disillusion (2019)

Stone Machine ElectricDarkness Dimensions Disillusion (self-released, 26 April 2019)

 

Good afternoon! Here’s some news that recently came across our desk here at VOH headquarters, which we felt obliged to pass along to you: guitar/drums/vocals “doom jazz” duo Stone Machine Electric have decided to make all their past releases “pay what you can” (including free) on their Bandcamp page. Naturally, that includes their 2016 record Sollicitus es Veritatem which we dug into at that time, right here.

Excluded from this offer is the band’s latest release Darkness Dimensions Disillusion which just came out a few months ago. But fear not, the price is still pretty cheap, or — even better — you can snap up a free download of this album when bundled with one of the band’s t-shirts!

BREAKING NEWS: as an added bonus, just as we were about to go to press with this, we just learned that the band also plans to include a free patch with CD/shirt/cassette orders — but hurry because supplies are very limited!

 

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Howling Giant – Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (2016), Part 2 (2017)

Howling GiantBlack Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (self-released, 12 August 2016)

 

Howling GiantBlack Hole Space Wizard: Part 2 (self-released, 25 August 2017)

 

Starting this Thursday (the tenth of May) and then lasting for the next two-plus weeks, Nashvillian trio Howling Giant will be traipsing all over the eastern USA in what they’re calling their “Escape from the Lab” tour. We’ve got details down below, and on your way there we’ll be covering the first two portions of the band’s planned trilogy Black Hole Space Wizard. That way, once you get to the list of dates you’ll either be very excited if you find your city included or very disappointed if you find it omitted. Either way, though, you’ll be treated to some great music — which you’ll have the opportunity to download for as cheap as you’d like. Win-win!

 

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