Venom Prison – Animus (2016-18)

Venom PrisonAnimus (Prosthetic Records, 14 October 2016 / deluxe edition 23 February 2018)

 

British death metal horde Venom Prison, who exploded into international consciousness with their Prosthetic-released debut album in late 2016, are currently touring North America with a whole bunch of other heavy hitters in the genre.

In fact, the month-long tour is a little more than halfway over, so we don’t want to waste any more time — here’s our write-up of Animus, and later you can see the full list of dates, plus a handful of European cities the band will be visiting in August with Dying Fetus!

 

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Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014), Our Raw Heart (2018)

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YobClearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)

 

YobOur Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)

 

Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.

But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.

The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.

 

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Graveyard – Peace (2018)

GraveyardPeace (Nuclear Blast, 25 May 2018)

I can still vividly remember the first time I heard Graveyard: it was “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” the opening song from their 2011 album Hisingen Blues. High-energy electric country-blues with great wailing vocals, that could have fit seamlessly on side A of Led Zeppelin III (an album which, front to back, was unquestionably and irrefutably the finest output of Zeppelin‘s repertoire — please feel free to comment below if you disagree and I’ll gladly tell you how wrong you are), the song instantly hooked me and still hasn’t let go to this day.

After buying that CD shortly afterwards, the rest of the songs (like the title track and Uncomfortably Numb) pushed the Swedish retro-rock troupe onto my list of my favorite 2011 releases. And the following year, the promise of a Graveyard material was so appealing that we had pre-ordered Lights Out as soon as it was released.

Now, that one (the band’s third overall) came out to somewhat mixed reviews, and although the basic style and quality of performance were very similar to what had come before, I have to admit that there really didn’t seem to be the same “wow” factor, standout tracks that would stick in your head for days or weeks after hearing them. While it wasn’t a bad album by any measure, it didn’t quite pull me in for repeated listens nearly as many times as its predecessor had done. And the next thing I knew, the band had split up or gone on indefinite hiatus or something — which I remember feeling disappointment after learning, because it seemed like they had so much unrealized potential.

As an aside, I never even realized until just recently when this new record was announced, that they had actually put out a fourth one prior to disbanding. Somehow that news had completely escaped my attention and I’ll want to be sure to go check that out soon — but first, their big comeback album will be out tomorrow, so let’s talk about Peace!

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Ufomammut – Ecate (2015), 8 (2017)

Ecate

UfomammutEcate (Neurot Recordings, 31 March 2015)

Ufomammut8 (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 …

 

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New Ghost LP Takes Inspiration from Mötorhead’s Lemmy

 

New Ghost LP Takes Inspiration from Mötorhead‘s Lemmy

 

a guest article contributed by Oliver Hughes

 
As we recently announced right here on Valley of Steel, Ghost did come back to Pittsburgh. And as they did 5 years ago, the band again put on a show to remember. For those who didn’t see the show, and for those who saw the show but were left wanting more, the Swedish heavy metal band will be offering something very special soon: a new studio album.

Lead singer Tobias Forge confirmed the album to Metal Hammer in an exclusive interview where he unveiled details of Ghost‘s upcoming LP, including its title — Prequelle — and its June 1 release date.

“There were a few things that I wanted to get in Prequelle that I don’t think had been fleshed out yet, and had very little to do with what came before,” he told the iconic magazine. He then revealed that the album was inspired by the deaths of the band members’ idols, including Ronnie James Dio, David Bowie, and Prince. The band, according to Forge, was particularly affected by the death of former Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died in 2015 after battling prostate cancer.
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Live Music Alert! GHOST and MELVINS in Pittsburgh this Weekend


 


 

 

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…
 
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Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (2018)

Wrekmeister HarmoniesThe Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)

As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).

Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (metally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”

The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.

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