Celebrating 10 Years!


This week, Valley of Steel officially celebrates the milestone of TEN YEARS since first emerging from the ether of cyberspace.

It has been a bumpy ride and the publishing schedule has certainly been irregular and unpredictable much of the time, but inconceivably the site is still puttering along.

A huge THANK YOU to every person reading these words on this page, or who has ever read any of the words that have been published here; I sincerely hope you have found at least one thing you’ve enjoyed, and hope that you continue to do so. To anyone who has ever submitted anything that has been written about (even time has not allowed said writing to take place yet). And most of all to the musicians, thank you — please keep doing what you do, and I’ll keep doing what I do.


The Limit – Caveman Logic (2021)

The LimitCaveman Logic (Svart Records, 09 April 2021)


Here’s a Friday afternoon riddle for you: what do you get when you mix a couple musicians from highly influential proto-punk/punk-rock bands of the 70s, a couple musicians from a 21st-century doom band, and then round out the line-up with with a vocalist widely regarded as one of the main influencers and forefathers of doom metal from the 70s to present?

More specifically, bassist Jimmy Recca (best known for a brief stint with The Stooges in 1971 before the band broke up for the first time, although he later went on to play with guitarist Ron Asheton‘s band The New Order after The Stooges broke up again) and guitarist Sonny Vincent (of the short-lived, late-70s NYC punk band Testors, as well as an extensive solo and collaborative career ever since then), plus Hugo Conim and Joao Pedro (guitar and drums, respectively, from Portuguese doom band Dawnrider), probably the best-known member of this musical collective, especially to readers of this website, would be vocalist Bobby Liebling (the only constant member of Pentagram throughout their long and tumultuous history)…


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David Bowie: R.I.P. (1947-2016)


Just a few hours ago, the Facebook page for David Bowie announced that the iconic performer has succumbed to his long battle with cancer yesterday, just days after his 69th birthday. Waking up to this news — the loss of someone who had had such a profound effect on my life when I was growing up, through both his music and acting — I have decided to delay what I was planning to publish today, to take this moment to say a few words.

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2016: In Which People Apparently Learn How To Math?


I really don’t recall any fuss having been made back in 1998, which would have been a far more interesting (and concise) thing to share. Of course, at that time we didn’t have memes or Facebooks. We barely had started getting the hang of this whole World Wide Web thing. On the other hand, I do remember the big hubbub over the so-called “Slayer Day” on 06/06/06 (which then became an annual tradition for absolutely no reason that made any kind of sense) — hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since then!

Anyway, Happy New Year to everyone out there. As I write these words, I’m on my way back to work from a nice long weekend, and not quite feeling fully recovered yet. But I did want to say hello, and let you all know that my Top 15 of 2015 list is now online. I’ve placed it alongside the lists from 2011-2014, which have all been collected on this shiny new “Year End Lists” page.

You may notice that almost everything on the 2015 list hasn’t been written about on this website (yet). You may also have noticed that things have been kind of quiet around here for a little while. Both of those things will be changing in the near future, as I’ll gradually be publishing reviews for each of these as time allows. But for now, go enjoy the list. I’ll be checking back with you soon.

Metal Memories: The Time I Discovered Faith No More and My Life Was Forever Altered


It had been rumored and speculated about ever since the band first announced that they were reuniting several years ago, but early last month it became 100% official: for the second time in less than a year, one of my favorite bands ever will be releasing a new album for the first time since I was in high school. Of course this is exciting news (that, until about five or six years ago, I would never have guessed would ever be happening again), and — with some amount of trepidation — I’m really trying to be optimistic about it. But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.

By this point, I’m assuming any of you who would care at all about this band’s upcoming seventh album have already seen most of the information currently available — and probably even listened to one of the two pre-released singles that have come out so far. So I’m not really intending (or expecting) to inform anybody here. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to share an anecdotal description of my own discovery of the band, dating back multiple decades; perhaps to offer a little bit of insight into myself as a writer and a fan. I don’t know whether anyone will actually care about any of this, but considering how influential this was in my formative music-listening years, I felt like I ought to take the time to write it.


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The Secret Dethlehem Code, Deciphered!

4 13 13


What the hell is Dethlehem up to??

I’m sure that is the question that’s foremost on everyone’s mind this week. Recently, the above image — some kind of creepy hypnotic eye thing, with a cryptic numeric code imprinted in front of it — mysteriously surfaced on the internet, leading to a huge flurry of speculation from all over the place.

Some people are hazarding guesses about what these symbols mean and have even gone so far as to speculate that they represent a specific date — on which something new and exciting will be revealed to us. Like, “A new video, perhaps? The first single from the upcoming album? An update on Overlord Brom’s beard growth?”

Not bad, GeekDad. But those are all the sort of things the band probably wants us to think about — anything that will keep us off the scent of their TRUE plot! But through painstaking and fastidious research, I have uncovered the real meaning of the numeric code in the mystical JPEG sigil!


Dethlehem at The Foundry (Lakewood, OH) in November 2012.  Photo courtesy The World's Worst Camera Phone Ever.

Dethlehem at The Foundry (Lakewood, OH) in November 2012. Photo courtesy The World’s Worst Camera Phone Ever.

As you surely recall from the last time we spoke with the RPG-metal band, following a couple line-up changes and the occasional dragon-slaying quest, they were soon intending to get to work writing and recording their third full-length album, the as-yet-untitled follow-up to The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 1: Enthroned Upon a Spire and The Ghorusalem Codex Vol. 2: Of Magick & Tyranny.

Well, apparently the writing process has concluded, because over the past month or so the band has started on the actual recording. I know this because their producer/engineer Patrick Lammie began tracking their progress in a studio blog.

BUT SUDDENLY with a blinding flash of TRUTH, it hit me. What is disguised as an innocent commentary on recording gear and microphones and stuff, is actually the solution to the whole mystery! One of the oldest known tricks for encoding information is to write a bunch of nonsense words and hide the REAL message in the middle of it, totally undetected to anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key. OBVIOUSLY the scary green eye holds that answer: the numbers 4, 13, 13 are a key to deciphering the hidden meaning among the (otherwise nonsensical) technical jargon in that studio report!

So without any further ado, I give to you:




It goes on and on like that, but I think you get the general idea. Really earth-shattering stuff, huh? I mean, you still have to read between the lines a bit to get the actual meaning they are trying to get across — it’s pretty deep and metaphoric, and requires a bit of extra thought to make it out. But I’ve already done most of the hard work for you, right? That makes everything an awful lot clearer at least, doesn’t it?


Okay, okay. I hate to admit it, but it looks like I was wrong. It seemed like such a brilliant idea, too, but I guess in truth I’m just as clueless as the rest of you. To be honest, I think I wrote the title of this article a bit prematurely, and once that was set in place, I had to really try and sell the concept, to avoid being totally embarrassed. But it looks like it didn’t work out that way.

Anyway, it seems as though we’ll all just have to sit here and wait til the brave warriors of Dethlehem decide to tell us all what they’ve been dropping hints about!

Dethlehem: website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, webstore

Happy (Belated) New Year!


* Happy National Day (for those who live on the island of Menorca)!


* Happy Feast Day of Saint Achilles the Confessor (for those who follow the Eastern Orthodox Church)!


* Happy Birthday to Benjamin Franklin “The Guy on the Hundred Dollar Bill,” James Earl Jones “The Voice of Darth Vader,” comedian Andy Kaufman, bassist Andy Rourke, boxer Muhammad Ali, actress Betty White, FLOTUS Michelle Obama, and singer Eartha Kitt!


* Let’s also commemorate the passing of music producer Don Kirshner, chess player Bobby Fisher, and former U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes!


If you can’t tell, I’m sort of reaching here, for any sort of a special occasion or commemoration to celebrate today. Since we’re now so long past the beginning of the year, I feel stupid saying “Happy New Year!” to you. But 2013 is still relatively new (and the majority of it is still yet to come), so I guess it really doesn’t hurt to still wish you a happy one.
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The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists!

Well, friends, here we find ourselves in the waning moments of 2012. It’s been an interesting, eventful year that’s had lots of high and low points — a ton of excellent new music has been released and quite a few brand-new bands have emerged that I’d fully expect to be making some serious waves in the near future.

One of the best things about 2012, for me personally, was that I found myself (and my wife) going to lots more shows than in recent years, and as a result I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of new people — as well as starting to take a way more active role in the local music scene.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a suggestion from one of those people I’ve gotten to know in the past year (I won’t say who — he said he preferred not to be given credit for the idea, although I will say that it’s somebody who contributed to this). The idea was to collect top-ten lists from various folks in the Pittsburgh metal community.

So I put out an open invitation for any musicians or other people who are involved in the scene in some way — I was looking for anything, whether it was the traditional “Top Ten Albums” or something totally off-the-wall like someone’s ten favorite sandwiches they ate during the year. Really, the only rules were that it had to be a list, and involve something from 2012.

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Happy Black Friday!

Well, good day to all you fine people out there! It’s the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., traditionally known as Black Friday — and legions of idiots have been lining up outside retailers for hours (or days, in some cases) to get their hands on TVs and junk at discounted prices.

I hate shopping, and I hate crowds of people (or more accurately, I hate most people in general), so would be pretty much the worst possible time for me to go out. Therefore, I won’t be anywhere near any stores today.

However, there are some other good deals out there, if you know where to look — lots of record labels and music stores are offering discounts or bonus gifts or incentives — and this is stuff that interests me way more than anything that people will probably be fist-fighting for at Wal-Mart or Target!

Since many of you readers probably feel the same way (why else would you be reading a music-related blog?) I’ve thrown together an assortment of these special offers right here in this post, for your shopping convenience. Enjoy!


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Well Holy Crap… Cormorant Bassist/Vocalist Arthur von Nagel Exits Band

Once again, let me just say, holy crap…



It is with great deference and gratitude to our fans and supporters that I announce my departure from Cormorant. After the overwhelming reception for Dwellings and national tours with longtime personal heroes, I feel fortunate to end this chapter of my life on a high note. Nick, Brennan, and Matt will continue to write and perform as Cormorant with my full support. The albums we created together were very personal to all of us, and I know the music they are composing now is of the same passion and honesty. I cherish our time working together, and I wish them the best.

I am taking a break from music to pursue my career in video games—another lifelong passion. Since May of this year, I have been at Telltale Games, hard at work on The Walking Dead episodic adventure series. Contributing to the game’s development has afforded me artistic fulfillment I never thought possible professionally. Thanks to the many colleagues I count as friends and projects I care deeply about, I look forward to going to work every morning for the first time in my life.

I have nothing but the most sincere thanks to our fans. You are incredible. From the Lebanese diehard metalhead who smuggled his contraband Metazoa CD in from Saudi Arabia, to the gentleman of indigenous Australian descent who wrote to tell us how profoundly “The First Man” had affected him, knowing that we’ve forged a connection with people through our music is the most gratifying. I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to perform for our fans across the US this year. Meeting you all in person was a true pleasure. I only regret that a worldwide tour wasn’t possible!

I’d like to thank the sound engineers and producers who made us sound our best, the publicists and journalists who wrote so beautifully about us, the visual artists who brought our music to life, the promoters who included us on such wonderful bills, and the bands with whom we shared the stage. While I have always taken great pride in Cormorant’s independence, so much of the band’s success is owed to your support. I look forward to attending future Cormorant shows from the other side of the stage.

Arthur von Nagel, November 2012.

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