Slaves BC – Lo and I am Burning (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 16 March 2018)
The new record from Pittsburgh’s blackened hardcore doom juggernaut Slaves BC officially hit the streets about a week and a half ago. Considering this writer’s lengthy history of covering the band, it’s pretty shameful that I haven’t gotten around to writing about this one much sooner. Especially in light of their last album All is Dust and I am Nothing landing so high on my list of 2016’s top releases. And yet, “The world is an ugly, ugly place. Virtually everything and everyone in it is awful.” I used that line in a different review just a few days ago, but that axiom is a terrific way to succinctly summarize why I haven’t managed to write more often over the past few months.
Coincidentally, it also describes Lo and I am Burning to a “T” (as well as the general underlying themes upon which the album is based). Two quick spoilers: first, Lo marks a huge step forward for a band that has essentially dropped all the other descriptors that used to follow “blackened”; and also, this is going to be a strong contender once again when year-end rolls around. Here, we’ll take a look at the album in slightly more detail, and that’ll be followed by the info about the band’s record release show — which will be coming up in just a couple weeks here in Pittsburgh, featuring Vile Creature (whom we’ve also discussed quite recently) and Imperial Triumphant (who you can expect to hear much more about on this site in the near future)!
Huntsmen – American Scrap (Prosthetic Records, 23 February 2018)
“Storytelling is the great, albeit fading, American pastime. It predated writing and in many instances, was told in song. In modern times, many musicians have approached their music from a storytelling point of view: Dylan, Springsteen and Waits to name a few. Chicago’s Americana metal outfit, Huntsmen, are carrying the torch for heavy bands to be added to that list.”
So begins the press release for this band’s debut LP, which came out about a week ago. Bold words? Sure. A little presumptuous? Maybe. But the self-described Heavy Americana band caught my attention, and the fact that they were kicking off the Prosthetic Records release of American Scrap with a short excursion across the mid-west and mid-Atlantic with label-mates Livid (with whom our readers ought to already be familiar) especially got me to check out this album.
That tour actually wraps up tonight (Sunday, 4th March) — see the details listed way down below — but first let’s talk a little about the band and their songs …
Back in December we told you that this year Gilead Media + 20 Buck Spin‘s extravaganza Migration Fest would be coming to Pittsburgh in July. At that time the majority of the line-up had been announced. Well, within the past week, the remaining holes in the schedule have been filled in, and tickets have gone on sale! There are some names here we’ve written about before, and several more that we plan to sometime in the near future. Stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, check out the complete updated list down below, and then grab your tickets before they all sell out!
Following the success of Wisconsin’s Gilead Fest in 2012 and 2014, the organizers (Gilead Media) hooked up with west-coast label 20 Buck Spin to continue the biennial tradition, kicking off the new Migration Fest in Washington state in 2016. Naturally, the next edition of this festival would be slated for 2018, and the labels have jointly announced that it will be held at the highly-esteemed Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale, PA — immediately adjacent to Pittsburgh.
This is, of course, huge news for us at Valley of Steel, and anyone else who lives in the general vicinity. And the first wave of bands has recently been released, which can be found listed below; we’ll continue to bring you more news about this festival as information becomes available. There are many more announcements forthcoming, including the headliners (although just the part of the line-up we know about so far is more than enough to get pretty excited about!)
Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Alive (self-released, 15 December 2016)
It happens every year without fail: news announcements pop up about the Mayhem tour coming to town, and my ears will invariably perk up, until I realize they don’t mean THATMayhem, but the perpetually mediocre packaged tour with the energy drink sponsor. But every single time there’s that split-second of hopefulness, because let’s be honest, it would be a huge deal if the Oslovian band who was one of the main originators of black metal as we know it (hugely influential not only for the musical style but the overall aesthetic as well, and as famous for releasing some of the genre’s most highly-regarded landmark records as for the various controversies surrounding its members’ extra-curricular activities) was coming to town, right? Well guess what, Mayhem are coming to town.
It all started as a celebration of their debut LP (still universally regarded as the pinnacle of black metal), 1994’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which the current iteration of the group (which now consists of bassist Necrobutcher, the sole remaining founding member, though he had been separated from the band and replaced by — someone else — at the time the album was recorded and initially released; drummer Hellhammer and vocalist Attila Csihar, who have each been members for large portions of the band’s history, including taking part in that first full-length; and more recent additions Teloch and Ghul on guitar) began playing live in its entirety for the first time ever, during a European tour. That tour has continued adding additional trips to various parts of the world over the past couple of years, and at this moment Mayhem are recreating De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas on stages across North America.
This current expedition on this side of the ocean will actually be wrapping up in the very near future, but I’ll be including the remaining scheduled dates down in the comments section (along with a one-off visit set to take place next spring). But before we get there, I’d also like to share with you this recording that the band put out nearly a year ago, which originated way back at the beginning of this long series of commemorative tour dates.
Demon Eye – Prophecies and Lies (Soulseller Records, 11 August 2017 EU / 08 September 2017 NA)
Hey there, folks. Good afternoon/evening/whatever. Hope things are going well in your neck of the woods wherever that happens to be — sort of enjoying a lazy, quiet day here. Trying to get caught up on listening to stuff people have sent here, which is always an uphill battle. But then I noticed on my calendar that tonight, right here in Pittsburgh (specifically, at Howlers) local label Blackseed Records is putting on their Doom Over November show — with featured headliner Demon Eye, occult/traditional metal band from Raleigh, North Carolina. Recently I heard Prophecies and Lies, the group’s third album, which just came out in September via the Netherlands’ Soulseller Records (following an August release in Europe). Seemed like an ideal time to share some thoughts on the record with you folks …
Steel Bridge Promotions — who have been responsible for putting together all sorts of really solid shows in the Pittsburgh area over the past few years, as well as being among the most genuinely nice people you will EVER meet — recently announced that their final shows will be taking place this October. While that’s terrible news for this city, SBP will definitely be going out with a bang! Today, we’ll be sharing some information about another of those final shows.