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!
Slaves BC – Third Temple (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 18 March 2020)
Hello from the Valley of Steel Quarantine Command Headquarters. Hoping that everyone is staying safe out there, wherever you are.
Personally, my coworkers and I had barely begun adapting to an entirely new accounting and ERP software system, which we had been preparing to implement for about the past year and a half, and which finally launched company-wide, a mere three days before the mandatory work-from-home proclamation went out. But as stressful and difficult as this has been for me, I know how fortunate I really am to have a job flexible enough to allow me to perform my duties from the safety of home — unlike so many folks who have to continue venturing out into the world, or so many others who simply aren’t able to work at all under these circumstances.
That’s always very important: to recognize the relative triviality of our own struggles when compared with those of other people; but especially in times of widespread crisis like this, we should all be asking ourselves what more we could be doing to lend a hand to those who might need it. This philosophy is perfectly embodied by local Pittsburgh band (and longtime friends of this website) Slaves BC, who released a brand-new song a few days ago accompanied by the following announcement:
With the global pandemic we are now facing, a lot of people are losing their jobs and are really struggling financially.
We were going to use this track for something else, but we decided to release it early to raise money to help people we love.
For the foreseeable future, any money paid for this track and all other releases by Slaves BC will go to friends in need.
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.
Ufomammut – Ecate (Neurot Recordings, 31 March 2015)
Ufomammut – 8 (Neurot Recordings, 22 September 2017)
The name Ufomammut seems to be one that we Americans tend to struggle with. But fortunately the band has been kind enough to explain its origin: “ufo” (OOH-foe) is the Italian word for “UFO,” while “mammut” (MAMM-utt) means “mammoth.” Therefore the correct pronunciation of the name would be “OOH-foe-MAMM-utt.” Got it?
The etymological origin of their name is also one of the most accurate descriptions a band has ever given itself, as this trio combine the mysterious spaced-out vibe of a flying saucer with the earth-shaking immensity of a prehistoric pachydermic behemoth.
And now, for the first time in two years, they are bringing this spectacle to North American soil: hitting Maryland Death Fest this weekend, as well as Northwest Terror Fest in early June, and then surrounding these dates with a month-long loop around the whole country that kicks off TONIGHT (Wednesday the 23rd) in Providence. Of course we’ll supply you with details about all these shows later. But first, an introduction to the band’s music for the uninitiated …
That’s right, these two titans of (the music) industry will be making an appearance in Pittsburgh: Ghost (who were here exactly five years ago today and gave one of the more memorable performances I’ve ever witnessed) TONIGHT, Friday the 18th; and (the) Melvins (who also came through town five years ago this month, with what was quite possibly THE best show I’ve seen) TOMORROW night, Saturday the 19th!
Stick around for more details on this weekend’s shows, as well as a bit of a walk down memory lane…
Holy Rivals – Holy Rivals (self-released, 25 May 2016)
Hey folks, remember all the way back to yesterday, when we talked about a pair of Howling Giant releases from 2016 and 2017? If not, make sure to go check it out! Anyway, way down at the end of that post you might notice that the Tennesseans are heading out on a tour of the eastern United States tomorrow night (Thursday, the 10th of May) and swinging through Pittsburgh soon after (Saturday, the 12th).
Well as it turns out, one of the local bands performing at that show also happens to be someone whose music we’ve been meaning to share with you for a while — in fact, their self-titled debut EP came out two years ago this month. So before any more time passes, today let’s listen to the self-described “three sludge/grunge dudes from Pittsburgh” known as Holy Rivals!
Howling Giant – Black Hole Space Wizard: Part 1 (self-released, 12 August 2016)
Howling Giant – Black 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!