Úzkost – Blood Debt (2020)

ÚzkostBlood 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!

 

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Maelstrom – Of Gods and Men (2020)

MaelstromOf Gods and Men (self-released, 22 May 2020)

 

Hey, folks. Better make sure you’ve got yourselves strapped in, because we’re taking a trip in the “Way Back Machine.” Although Of Gods and Men, the debut full-length album of Long Beach (Nassau County NY)’s Maelstrom, was released mere days ago, this is a story that starts off much, much earlier than that.

Here at Valley of Steel I first became aware of this trio back in October 2012, when I checked out ThrashHead Magazine‘s second A Gallery of Rogues compilation. (As an aside, the magazine doesn’t appear to exist anymore but that 45-song collection is still free to download.)

At that time, one of the tracks that I pointed out as a highlight was “Arise” — which also appeared on the band’s EP It was Predestined, which was being re-released that same month by IME.

I hadn’t been aware of it at the time, but the mini-album had initially been released independently several years earlier (in 2008), by a newly-reformed Maelstrom. The group had called it quits fifteen years prior to that, after having produced a pair of demo tapes (in 1989 and 1991) that collectively featured the original recordings of the three songs that would later become It was Predestined.

The EP, out of print by now, had grabbed my attention back in 2012 just as much as that first song had done — and so when I recently learned that there would finally be a full-length record (32 years after the band was founded), well, that was certainly some exciting news I just had to share with you lucky readers.

 

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Close the Hatch – Modern Witchcraft; Mountaineer – Bloodletting (2020)

Close the HatchModern Witchcraft (Red Moth Records, 22 May 2020)

 

MountaineerBloodletting (Lifeforce Records, 22 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon and happy Friday to all you wonderful people out there!

Day job insanity has really caught up with me this week; my apologies, but that’s why I missed out on writing anything here yesterday. Today isn’t much better — so I’ll have to make this quick — but I didn’t want another day to pass without sharing new music with you folks.

For your Memorial Day weekend perusal, here are a pair of albums that just came out today, from two bands residing on opposite ends of the country, but which are both at least somewhat doom-metal-adjacent. Hope you enjoy them!

 

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Barren Womb – Nique Everything (2015), Lizard Lounge (2020)

Barren WombNique Everything (Spartan Records, 27 November 2015)

 

Barren WombLizard Lounge (Loyal Blood Records, 22 May 2020)

 

Hello, friends and casual acquaintences! Nice to see you all once again. And at this point we’ve successfully navigated our way through half of another week, which almost feels like cause for celebration, doesn’t it? These days, we kind of have to take what we can get.

Anyway. Obviously the reason you are here is because you are looking for more new music, and the reason I’m here is to share some with you. Several years ago in a larger article about several other albums, we had taken a quick glance at a split record between Grizzlor (from Connecticut) and Barren Womb (from Norway).

Right after that article was published, I became aware of a full-length album by the latter of those two, which had been released several months after the split. I enjoyed that record quite a bit, but as seems to happen far too often, somehow I never got around to writing about it and sort of lost track of the band.

But now — they’ve got another new record due out just two days from now, so it seems like a great opportunity to kill two birds off my to-do list with one stone, so to speak. Here we go!

 

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Talking Book – Talking Book II (2020)

Talking BookTalking Book II (Koolarrow Records, 24 April 2020)

 

Good day, loyal readers. Hope you all are still doing well, trying your best to stay safe and sane.

Today I’ll be sharing something that very much falls outside the standard delineation of purpose for this website: not “metal,” nor “other heavy music,” and debatable whether this would even exactly qualify (under some of the more conservative definitions) as “music.”

Talking Book began nearly ten years ago when the owners of two record labels known for their diverse and eclectic international line-ups (Koolarrow RecordsBilly Gould and Gigante Sound‘s Jared Blum) came together to collaborate on the album The Talking Book.

Somehow, that one must have escaped my attention when it was released back in 2011 — which is somewhat surprising, considering the fact that I literally signed up for Twitter in order to follow Mr. Gould back in like 2009 when rumors were running rampant about another of his musical projects possibly reuniting, and it was said that a certain bassist and founding member’s Twitter feed would be a reliable source of information about that.

Anyway, since at time the duo were joined by Gigante Sound co-conspirator Dominic Cramp, and many years later they finally got around to recording a follow-up — which Koolarrow released nearly three weeks ago.

 

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Wailin Storms – One Foot in the Flesh Grave (2015), Rattle (2020)

Wailin StormsOne Foot in the Flesh Grave (Magic Bullet Records, 20 November 2015)

 

Wailin StormsRattle (Gilead Media, 15 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon! In case you were wondering, I don’t ALWAYS write about stuff months (or even years) later; it just usually seems to work out that way. But sometimes I actually do get the chance to share something with you while it’s still brand new!

Today let’s check out one of each: a fantastic album by North Carolina’s Wailin Storms that I really dug quite a bit when it came to my attention half a decade ago (and has been sadly gathering dust in my gargantuan to-do list ever since) plus one that the band will be putting out later this week!

 

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Raphael Weinroth-Browne – Worlds Within (2020)

Raphael Weinroth-BrowneWorlds Within (self-released, 24 January 2020)

 

Good afternoon! Hope everyone out there is doing their best to maintain a positive outlook on this gloomy mid-May Monday.

If not, perhaps it would help if you took a moment to listen to this album from earlier this year: you may remember Raphael Weinroth-Browne as the cello player who comprises one-third of Musk Ox and half of The Visit, both of whom we really enjoyed listening to when we had written about these groups’ previous output.

Well, Worlds Within is Mr. Weinroth-Browne‘s first solo full-length, and it nicely showcases the wide-ranging versatility his instrument (occasionally augmented by effects pedals) is capable of.

 

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Forlesen – Hierophant Violent (2020)

ForlesenHierophant Violent (Hypnotic Dirge Records, 18 April 2020)

 

Well, seems like it’s about time to check in on what’s happening with our northern neighbors at Hypnotic Dirge. Here’s a new record they came out with within the past month — and if their history of quality releases wasn’t enough to recommend checking it out, surely that gorgeous artwork (produced by Benjamin A. Vierling) will draw you right in.

It turns out Hierophant Violent is the debut offering from a new ensemble from the San Francisco Bay area, consisting of members who’ve worked in various other local groups — such as Botanist, Lotus Thief, and Kayo Dot.

 

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Body Count – Carnivore (2020)

Body CountCarnivore (Century Media, 06 March 2020)

 

In these strange days of isolation and distancing, we’ve all had to make varying degrees of adjustments to our normal routines and how we do things in our daily lives. While it might not be as significant or essential as some other aspects, entertainment and keeping ourselves mentally occupied is still an important part of everyone’s hierarchy of needs, and how we manage to entertain ourselves has been drastically altered as well. No more movie theaters, no more live events, everything is either premiering on televisions or streaming online nowadays.

And then of course there’s still social media, which is pretty much the only way anyone can be social right now, and between the anxiety and the frustration of being cooped up inside, you can tell things are getting a little nutty out there. One place where this is plenty evident is on Twitter, which lately has been featuring that guy from Tr**t desperately shouting from the void of irrelevance at anyone who will give him or his one-hit-blunder band any amount of attention. As much as I hate playing into this charade by giving it any press, I have to admit it has been pretty amusing to watch. Especially about two weeks ago when it blossomed into a pseudo-feud with the Original Gangster himself, Ice-T:

 
Anyway, while we’re on the subject of media and entertainment and such, that seems like an ideal segue into a look at what Body Count, Ice‘s hardcore/crossover/thrash band of the past three decades, has been up to lately. Specifically, why don’t we go listen to brand-new album Carnivore, their seventh overall and the first since 2017’s Bloodlust

 

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Wrekmeister Harmonies – We Love to Look at the Carnage (2020)

Wrekmeister HarmoniesWe Love to Look at the Carnage (Thrill Jockey Records, 21 February 2020)

 

Hello there, readers. It’s been a little while since we’ve been in touch, I know. That sucks — and it makes very little logical sense. We’re coming up on the conclusion of a second full month of work-from-home quarantine, and with nearly two extra hours per day that formerly would have been spent driving to and from work (and with nowhere else to go, aside from the rare shopping trip for pandemic essentials such as bird food and wine) it seems like I should have plenty of time to spend listening to music and subsequently writing about it for all you fine folks out there. But as bizarre as it sounds, even when there’s nothing else to do, it sometimes feels like there’s less spare time than there used to be. Even though I can literally roll out of bed and throw on a random t-shirt en route to my desk chair a mere three feet away — well, to be honest, it’s probably more of a mental and emotional thing than an actual shortage of available time. Because things are so stressful now, and uncertain and confusing and scary and depressing.

However, a lack of engagement with hobbies or things that bring you enjoyment, due to a lack of motivation due to a general feeling of malaise, often has a tendency to continue spiraling further into deeper levels of depression. I know this very well from plenty of experience. And I am determined not to let this turn into another months-long mental health hiatus. So here is an album I’d like to share with you all today. I hope you enjoy it and I hope however dismal your day might be currently, that this may bring some amount of light into it. Please feel free to react in the comments section below or via any of the various Valley of Steel social media outlets linked either on the far right or the bottom of this page. Thanks, and stay safe out there!

 

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