Úzkost – Blood Debt (self-released, 21 August 2020)
Hello out there, friends and faithful readers who have been bearing with us as we have been going through a bit of a slow period in terms of writing output! For those who don’t watch television or read newspapers or spend all day doomscrolling Twitter (that last one has been my personal sickness lately), sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but the entire world is crumbling to shit.
In entirely unrelated news, earlier this week I got a notification that this website’s domain registration was renewing (marking the eighth anniversary as an official “dot net” site, and putting us a few mere weeks away from our ninth anniversary operating under the Valley of Steel name), which reminded me that I have a self-assigned duty to share my musical discoveries with the good people of the internet.
Frankly, it’s been pretty difficult lately to get excited about anything or to focus attention on anything that isn’t the constant stream of negativity and hatred that surrounds us all. But I’ve managed to drag myself away from the harsh misery of 2020 America just long enough to write up some words about this new single and video that was released two weeks ago by local (Pittsburgh) band Úzkost. And as a bonus, both song and video happen to be a strikingly apt reaction to all that negativity and hatred!
Nothing – GEORGE (A Live Part Time Punks Session, Los Angeles 12.07.2019), self-released 01 June 2020
In light of, and in solidarity with, the wholly justified anger (and the equally justified demonstrations and protests currently taking place) against the completely broken system we are all stuck in — and particularly in light of the undeniable truth that the system is SO MUCH more broken for SO MANY demographic groups other than my own — it has felt appropriate to take some time away from putting out any new content of my own, for the past week or so.
To the extent that anybody ever cares what I have to say about anything, it feels like especially right now, who wants to hear the thoughts and opinions of some random straight white dude? So I’ve been pretty quiet, no writing about music, no news or reviews; and instead trying to use whatever minuscule social influence I have to help spread the words of other people, who are far more relevant to the very serious discussions taking place right now.
But today, the fifth of June, is Bandcamp Friday once again — where the Bandcamp is taking zero fees from anything purchased through their platform — and artists and labels all over the world are taking advantage of the day to pledge donations to a very wide range of social causes. In fact, Bandcamp themselves have put together this lengthy (but certainly not comprehensive) list of folks donating their profits and/or making special limited-edition material or merchandise available for the occasion. They also shared this gigantic list of over 1000 black artists and producers and black-owned labels you may wish to check out today. (A big thank you to those who have put a ton of effort into compiling and continuing to maintain this spreadsheet!)
Adzes – Climate // Capital (self-released, 27 February 2019)
Adzes – A Forest // Digging in the Dirt (self-released, 02 August 2019)
Adzes – No 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!
Maelstrom – Of 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 outThrashHead 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.
Close the Hatch – Modern Witchcraft (Red Moth Records, 22 May 2020)
Mountaineer – Bloodletting (Lifeforce Records, 22 May 2020)
Good afternoon and happy Friday to all you wonderful people out there!
Day job insanity has really caught up with me this week; my apologies, but that’s why I missed out on writing anything here yesterday. Today isn’t much better — so I’ll have to make this quick — but I didn’t want another day to pass without sharing new music with you folks.
For your Memorial Day weekend perusal, here are a pair of albums that just came out today, from two bands residing on opposite ends of the country, but which are both at least somewhat doom-metal-adjacent. Hope you enjoy them!
Hello, friends and casual acquaintences! Nice to see you all once again. And at this point we’ve successfully navigated our way through half of another week, which almost feels like cause for celebration, doesn’t it? These days, we kind of have to take what we can get.
Anyway. Obviously the reason you are here is because you are looking for more new music, and the reason I’m here is to share some with you. Several years ago in a larger article about several other albums, we had taken a quick glance at a split record between Grizzlor (from Connecticut) and Barren Womb (from Norway).
Right after that article was published, I became aware of a full-length album by the latter of those two, which had been released several months after the split. I enjoyed that record quite a bit, but as seems to happen far too often, somehow I never got around to writing about it and sort of lost track of the band.
But now — they’ve got another new record due out just two days from now, so it seems like a great opportunity to kill two birds off my to-do list with one stone, so to speak. Here we go!
River Cult – Chilling Effect (Tee Pee Records (digital) / Nasoni Records (vinyl), 01 May 2020)
Good afternoon, everyone! Do you still get a sinking feeling of dread every time a Monday rolls around — even though every day feels exactly the same and they all seem to suck equally now? Or is it just me?
In the Company of Serpents – Merging in Light (self-released, 21 December 2014)
In the Company of Serpents – Ain-Soph Aur (self-released, 10 March 2017)
In the Company of Serpents – Lux (self-released, 15 May 2020)
Good afternoon and HAPPY FRIDAY to everyone out there. Nice to finally reach the end of what, for some reason, has turned out to be quite an exhausting week. Hope you all are doing okay.
Personally, I just had to whip up a very uncustomary afternoon batch of coffee, due to feeling exceptionally sluggish all day — particularly after lunch. It was very tempting to just curl up on the couch and go back to sleep for the rest of the day. But not before I get this article published, because I have music to share with you people! This is actually covering three separate releases, spanning numerous years, by Mile-High band In the Company of Serpents, the last of which is just being released today! Enjoy!
Talking Book – Talking Book II (Koolarrow Records, 24 April 2020)
Good day, loyal readers. Hope you all are still doing well, trying your best to stay safe and sane.
Today I’ll be sharing something that very much falls outside the standard delineation of purpose for this website: not “metal,” nor “other heavy music,” and debatable whether this would even exactly qualify (under some of the more conservative definitions) as “music.”
Talking Book began nearly ten years ago when the owners of two record labels known for their diverse and eclectic international line-ups (Koolarrow Records‘ Billy Gould and Gigante Sound‘s Jared Blum) came together to collaborate on the album The Talking Book.
Somehow, that one must have escaped my attention when it was released back in 2011 — which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I literally signed up for Twitter in order to follow Mr. Gould back in like 2009 when rumors were running rampant about another of his musical projects possibly reuniting, and it was said that a certain bassist and founding member’s Twitter feed would be a reliable source of information about that.
Anyway, since at time the duo were joined by Gigante Sound co-conspirator Dominic Cramp, and many years later they finally got around to recording a follow-up — which Koolarrow released nearly three weeks ago.
Wailin Storms – One Foot in the Flesh Grave (Magic Bullet Records, 20 November 2015)
Wailin Storms – Rattle (Gilead Media, 15 May 2020)
Good afternoon! In case you were wondering, I don’t ALWAYS write about stuff months (or even years) later; it just usually seems to work out that way. But sometimes I actually do get the chance to share something with you while it’s still brand new!
Today let’s check out one of each: a fantastic album by North Carolina’s Wailin Storms that I really dug quite a bit when it came to my attention half a decade ago (and has been sadly gathering dust in my gargantuan to-do list ever since) plus one that the band will be putting out later this week!