Secret Cutter – Self Titled (self-released, 10 February 2014)
Secret Cutter – Quantum Eraser (self-released, 06 July 2018; dist. by Deathwish Inc. [N.A.] / Holy Roar Records [EU])
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — in the heart of the Lehigh Valley — was named for the canonical birthplace of Jesus, while today it’s better known as the birthplace of Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Well, that, plus the fact that (like our own hometown on the opposite end of the state) it served a pretty significant role in this country’s steel industry.
While the city is not exactly known as a hotbed of musical activity (losing out to neighboring Allentown in terms of songs commemorating the working class), it has given us a trio who produces an utterly brutal blend of sludge and grind: Secret Cutter. In this article, we’re going to check out that band’s first two full-length records, the second of which sees the light of day today!
Chrch – Light Will Consume Us All (Neurot Recordings, 11 May 2018)
Fister – No Spirit Within (Listenable Records, 18 May 2018)
Hey! Remember that incredible split of DOOOOOOM between California’s Chrch and Missouri’s Fister, that came out last November? We just wrote about it at the beginning of this year. Well, both of those bands recently wrapped up a joint European tour, and coincidentally they are both beginning a series of U.S. tour dates TONIGHT (although those will all be separate shows). Also, they both signed to new labels in the recent past (Neurot and Listenable respectively), and both bands have just released their first album on those labels within the past month.
In this article we’re going to talk about both of those albums, and then at the end will be a list of upcoming performances for each band. Prepare yourselves.
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)
Yob – Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)
Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.
But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.
The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.
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!
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.