Soothsayer – At This Great Depth (Transcending Obscurity Records, 30 December 2016)
Soothsayer – Echoes of the Earth (Transcending Obscurity Records, 09 April 2021)
Good afternoon, friends! I’m going to start today with a brief bit of explanation/clarification: the band we’ll be discussing and listening to is one who’ve never been featured on this website before. Long-time readers with unnaturally exceptional memories may note that approximately five years ago I wrote about a split record, half of which was attributed to a band called Soothsayer, who were primarily of the neocrust persuasion (with some blackened and ambient-doom influences thrown in). That band was from Pittsburgh — roughly 30 miles from where I lived.
Well later that same year, I happened to hear about an upcoming release from a band called Soothsayer, essentially an ambient-doom group (with some blackened and crusty influences thrown in). This “other” Soothsayer resides approximately 3300 miles further away in Cork, but their material was equally successful at catching my attention and interest. Unfortunately, I never managed to find a chance to write about it — until now, on the eve of “Irish Soothsayer” releasing their debut full-length.
Sarin – You Can’t Go Back (Prosthetic Records, 05 February 2021)
Sort of like a response to this article from earlier in the week where we covered an album entitled A Way Back, today we’re featuring You Can’t Go Back — the latest from Canadian post-metal group Sarin, named for the chemical compound that has historically been used (and sometimes rumored to have been used) as a nerve gas weapon due to its extreme toxicity.
Comatose – A Way Back (Transcending Records, 22 January 2021)
Good afternoon! Presented for your listening enjoyment is this album, released earlier this year, which is the first official output of Comatose. This is an assemblage of musicians who have all worked together in some capacity in various other Minnesotan bands such as Chrome Waves and Fail to Decay, among others; a little over a year ago they decided to come together in this new project. They soon found themselves writing and recording a bunch of material representative of how empty they’ve felt over the past year without the ability to tour or perform anywhere — and by extension, how empty we’ve all felt over the past year about everything.
Coldun – Grand Sun Ritual (self-released, 15 January 2021)
For its first ten years (during which it released two albums were released), Saxony (Germany)’s Coldun existed as a solo project for its founding member, also named Coldun. But then, about five years ago, Coldun (the band) expanded with the addition of a drummer and two guitarists, while Coldun (the musician) maintained responsibility for vocals as well as the bass and organ parts. In January the project’s third album overall, and the first with this new full-band lineup, finally emerged — and here it is for your enjoyment!
Sepulcros – Vazio (Transcending Obscurity Records, 12 March 2021)
Happy Friday! For your enjoyment: this monster of a debut from Portugal’s Sepulcros, released today by Transcending Obscurity.
Just look at that gorgeous Mariusz Lewandowski cover art. And then search for the band’s name on Google Translate (“sepulcros” is the plural form of “sepulcro” which means “tomb or sepulchre”). Feel free to look up the album’s title while you’re there (“vazio” means “empty or devoid,” from the same Latin root as “vacant” or “vacuous”).
You probably already have a fairly good idea of what to expect now, don’t you? And you’re probably right!
Future Faces – Euphoria (Throatruiner Records, 17 February 2021)
Palecoal – Fake Fates (Throatruiner Records, 17 February 2021)
Good afternoon! Got two to pass along to you today, so how about we don’t waste too much time with introductory nonsense. Ok?
As soon as you find out something is being released by Throatruiner Records you probably already have a pretty good idea what to expect: harsh hardcore or vicious post-hardcore, either way living up to the label’s name with shrieks or screams likely to tear someone’s vocal cords to shreds.
Well surprise! Here we have a pair of albums that came from Throatruiner just last month, which each have far more in common with Depeche Mode than with Converge. So that’s different and unexpected. But in a GOOD way. Let’s check them out…
A Stick and a Stone – Versatile (Anima Recordings, 15 January 2021)
Good afternoon! Time for another installment of Valley of Steel Presents: Noises for You to Shove in Your Ears. Gonna try to keep this short and sweet: still working on that whole brevity thing. After all, if I really wanted people to care about the words I’m saying, I could just go write a book or something, right? The whole point here is for you to discover new stuff to listen to. So I’ll tell you a little bit about it, then you work your way down the page and hit that PLAY button. Fair enough?
Cyttorak / Revered and Reviled Above All Others – Split (Sleeping Village Records, 22 January 2021)
So okay, here we are. Exactly fifty-one weeks into mandated quarantine working from home, and truly starting to lose my mind from cabin fever. Looking forward to my wife coming home from work each day with stories of interaction with other human beings, since I’ve all but forgotten what that feels like.
2020 was — well, probably better to not even bring that up at all. You get it. So as a result, I found myself taking nearly two full months into 2021 just catching up on stuff I hadn’t gotten around to listening to, just to get my Top 20 list finalized. Managed to get that online about a week ago. So naturally, now I’ve begun the daunting task of working my way through 2021 releases that I’ve missed so far.
Which brings us back to the original purpose of me writing these words and you reading them: letting you know about something you may wish to cram into your ear-holes. In particular, today I’ve got a split release for you, fresh off the presses of Sleeping Village Records, the relatively new label run by the fine folks who brought you Sleeping Village Reviews.
Don’t forget that this is supposed to be a two-way street: I write words about music that I’ve enjoyed listening to, you folks read those words and listen to that music, and then you can leave a comment about how much you also enjoyed listening to it! For the sake of my sanity! Thanks for stopping by!
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!)