Vesperith – Vesperith (Svart Records, 22 November 2019)
Well, here we are yet again: another year all wrapped up, another stressful holiday season all wrapped up, and all that’s left to do is to suffer the disheartening and depressing effects of the sun rising well after arriving at work and setting almost immediately after leaving for home.
Feels like an appropriate time to talk about some music that is also dark and chilling — as well as being based in (or at least, near) the land of the midnight sun: Finland’s Vesperith. Although not an actual word in English or Finnish (as far as I can tell), it would appear that this name (which is also the title used for this debut full-length album) bears a relation to the words for vespers, the evening star, or simply eveningtime itself.
Even more difficult to accurately put into words is a description of the music itself: distilled to its purest essence, this could be considered a single-member atmospheric black metal band (the only person credited on the album is Sariina Tani, identified as the primus motor), while often sounding far more atmospheric than metal.
The Night Watch – An Embarrassment of Riches (self-released, 15 November 2019)
Hey, everybody. It’s time to check in on instrumental quartet The Night Watch, whose members include violinist Evan Runge and guitarist Nathanael Larochette (both of whom are also part of the neo-folk trio Musk Ox, featured here), plus Matthew Cowan on bass and Daniel Mollema on drums/percussion.
As you may recall, we wrote about Boundaries, the thirty-plus-minute piece of music that was their second album (here), when it was released back in 2016.
Anyway, that same cast of characters is back (with the drummer sometimes hitting the ebonies and ivories as well, this time around) with a third full-length, just released last month: An Embarrassment of Riches. Still essentially an instrumental venture, although this one does occasionally feature some choral vocals — credited to all four instrumentalists plus a host of guests, this record is sequenced a little more traditionally than its predecessor, in that it’s broken into several individual tracks rather than a single album-length composition.
Forest of Tygers – I Will Die of Violence (Acteon Records, 08 November 2019)
Here at Valley of Steel HQ, we’ve been big fans of the husband and wife duo Forest of Tygers ever since they released their first EP Bruises over five years ago. We’ve written about these Nashvillians each time we’ve heard something new of theirs, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting the full-length record they’ve been talking about for a couple years — and (as of about a month ago) it’s finally here!
Guitarist/vocalist Jim and drummer Rachel Valosik have established themselves quite a reputation for creating superlatively black- and ugly-sounding conglomorations of hardcore/sludge/doom/metal, and newly-released I Will Die of Violence will only increase that…
Lapsarian – Ruminant (self-released, 22 November 2019)
Last time we took a look at the latest release from a multiple-platinum artist whose discography dates back many decades. Naturally, today our focus turns to an album that just came out last week, from a band who just formed last year.
With just over 100 Facebook likes so far (does that still even count as a metric in 2019?), and without a huge marketing campaign backing them, it’s probably a safe bet that Washington, DC’s Lapsarian is a new name to most of you reading this. So go check out Ruminant, and then once the word gets out, you can brag to everyone else about how you’ve already been on that bandwagon way longer than they have …
Earth and Pillars – Earth II (Avantgarde Music, 25 October 2019 [digital]; 15 November 2019 [CD]; 22 November 2019 [LP])
Good afternoon! Looking back a few years, I remember being quite taken with the atmospheric qualities of Earth I, the debut album by Italian blackened entity Earth and Pillars — which had originally been released in 2014, but we wrote a little something about it upon its vinyl reissue in 2016.
Well, just last month its sequel Earth II has emerged out of the æther, with the first physical manifestations (on compact disc) popping up last week, to be followed by a vinyl record edition tomorrow. Whichever format suits your fancy, would be worth seeking out.
Mevrimna – INHIBIT\\EXHIBIT (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 01 November 2019)
While they may take the stage silently, completely shrouded in the anonymity of long black cowls, I don’t think either member of Pittsburgh-based blackened noise duo Mevrimna is making any real attempt to conceal their real-life alter egos: the guitarist (and occasionally bassist) and the drummer/vocalist serve in those same capacities as members of the much-acclaimed Slaves BC.
In fact, their live debut (almost exactly one year ago in Turtle Creek, PA) was slotted immediately before a performance by their “other” group. While I don’t know whether they found themselves to be a hard act to follow that evening, I can confirm that the peculiarly-named twosome did succeed in utterly scaring the hell out of everyone in attendance.
And now, following a few one-off tracks, this month these guys have released a brand-new full-length recording, which assuredly will serve up the exact same result. Consider yourself warned.
Fister – Decade of Depression (Listenable Records, 27 September 2019)
Hey, have you heard? St. Louisan grimy doomlords Fister are celebrating their first decade of existence!
Well, maybe “celebrating” is not the correct word — taking a cue from the Slayer live album Decade of Aggression, the band has assembled an LP filled with covers paying tribute to some of their main influences, entitled Decade of Depression.
Here at VOS we’ve been huge fans of this trio for the better part of that decade — ever since a joint tour with The Lion’s Daughter led to a stop here in Pittsburgh back in the summer of 2013, which was completely mind-blowing to those few of us in attendance. From then on, we’ve tried to make it a point to spread the good word anytime there is new Fister material with which to desecrate one’s ears.
It’s been a little over a month since Decade of Depression hit the streets, but for those who may have been sleeping on this, kindly do yourselves a favor and direct your attention this way…!