Argus – Beyond the Martyrs (2013), From Fields of Fire (2017); Arduini/Balich – Dawn of Ages (2017)

ArgusBeyond the Martyrs (Cruz del Sur Music, 01 October 2013)

 

Arduini / BalichDawn of Ages (Cruz del Sur Music, 24 February 2017)

 

ArgusFrom Fields of Fire (Cruz del Sur Music, 08 September 2017)

 

I can still remember the first time I heard Argus — in the burgeoning days of the early 2010s, the song was “The Damnation of John Faustus” from their self-titled album. I can’t say for certain, but it was probably on Foundry of Doom radio, since that’s what I spent most of my time listening to back then. And here, among epic tracks by the likes of Solstice, Atlantean Kodex, Solitude Aeturnus, etc., this song’s dark themes and powerful vocals really caught my ear.

This was still months, maybe even up to a year, before the genesis of my career as a writer, but I’ve always been inquisitive and wanted to research and learn more about everything I heard. In this instance, I was struck by how new the band was (their first demo dates back ten years, now, but at the time of this story the debut full-length was about a year or two old), but even more surprised to see that these guys were local (originating in Franklin, PA, just about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh)!

I also discovered that the vocalist, Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance), is also a member of Molasses Barge, another local doom band that would greatly impress me when I saw them for the first time just months later. Eventually I’d manage to catch Argus live, as well, and they definitely managed to live up to the high expectations set by their incredible recorded output. I believe this was just before the 2013 release of their third album Beyond the Martyrs — one that immediately made its way onto my writing “to do list” but inexplicably has stayed there for these past years.

But now there’s a ferment of activity surrounding the band once more: they recently announced that their fourth album will be coming later this year — and I’ll be discussing both of those today, with an added bonus that was released a few months back by a side project involving Balich. And to top it all off, Argus will also be performing in Pittsburgh THIS FRIDAY (14 July) at an event that doubles as a preview of September’s Brewtal Beer Fest as well as featuring the world premiere of the new beer produced through a collaborative effort between the band and Big Rail Brewing! So after you’re done reading about the music, pop on down to the comments section for more information about that.

 

Continue reading

Brimstone Coven – Self-titled (2014); Castle – Welcome to the Graveyard (2016)

Cover-e1403563589264

Brimstone CovenBrimstone Coven (Metal Blade Records, 05 August 2014)

 

CastlecoverDigipack300res

CastleWelcome to the Graveyard (Ván Records, 15 July 2016)

 

Good afternoon, all you fine people visiting the Valley. Things have gotten a little bit hectic around here recently — I’ll never understand what it is that makes people want to go on vacation in the summertime when it’s so gross and hot and humid outside. Given the choice, I’d rather sit in an air-conditioned office all day, and save days off for later when I really don’t feel like going. Not that much writing happens while I’m at work anyhow, I’m plenty busy enough doing my actual job, but I usually at least can spend the day listening to stuff, and jotting down some little notes that I can turn into a full article or review later. But sometimes lately I haven’t had much chance to even think, let alone formulate coherent sentences.

But as always, there’s tons of stuff happening in the music world, new releases to tell you about, older stuff that you may have missed but really deserves your attention, tours kicking off that just might be coming through your city. And this will be a blend of all of those things: one band whose new album comes out next month, and who started a tour (that will last pretty much all summer long!) just last week; another band who released an excellent album two years ago but somehow we never got around to sharing it with you, and who will be joining the first band for a handful of those shows in a few weeks. So keep on reading, you’ll hear some great music, and the full set of dates for each band will be listed down below in the comments …

 

Continue reading

Boss Keloid – Herb Your Enthusiasm (2016)

herb-your-enthusiasm

Boss KeloidHerb Your Enthusiasm (Black Bow Records, 08 April 2016)

 

Well it’s Thursday now, which means it’s almost Friday, which means the weekend is almost here, so I guess that’s a good thing, right? I dunno. I’ve been so tired all week, it’s tough to feel excited about anything. Although — again, tomorrow is Friday, and we’re now finding ourselves coming into what’s traditionally one of the biggest times of the year in terms of new music getting released. Which means a bunch of stuff will be coming out tomorrow (just as it has for the past couple of weeks and will over the next several). So at least there’s that.

I totally missed out on getting anything published here yesterday, due to some super lame crap that kept me busy all day, which means we’re already behind schedule in terms of what I wanted to be able to share with you people this week. So probably it’s about time to quit rambling and get straight to the music, right?

 

Continue reading

Cormorant – Earth Diver (2014)

unnamed-2

CormorantEarth Diver (self-released, 08 April 2014)

 

Well, sleep-walking my way to the bus this morning really felt like a reality check. Tuesday mornings are generally pretty tough anyway, but following a week and a half of vacation, it just makes it that much harder. To be clear, I’ve been back to work and back to “the real world” for several days now, but today I’m really feeling like “Oh yeah, I forgot how much going to work sucks, I could really use a vacation.”

Speaking of which, how was my vacation? It was nice, thanks for asking. I’ve learned that they don’t call Florida “The Sunshine State” for nothing, everything is way too bright there, and it was some god-awful temperature (well above 80° every single day — in the middle of March!!) and the humidity was nearly unbearable. But on the plus side, I did see all sorts of fascinating nature and wildlife — especially birds. There were birds everywhere, fancy exotic kinds I’d never seen outside of a zoo or even some I’d never seen anywhere. For example, the little guy pictured below, who I encountered in a mangrove swamp while hiking through a place called Bailey Tract on Sanibel Island.

 

Continue reading

King Buzzo – This Machine Kills Artists (2014)

ipc-159

King BuzzoThis Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac Recordings, 02 June 2014)

 

The bulk of my formative years were spent in the 1990s, from age eleven (when I was being introduced to Faith No More and Overkill) through twenty (when I was discovering Pentagram and Emperor). I experienced lot of music both new and old during that decade, all of which had a strong influence over my tastes and preferences, and frankly, made a huge impression on my life in general. And looking back, I think it could be argued that (taking into account both direct and indirect effects) singer/guitarist Roger “Buzz” Osborne and his band The Melvins had made at least as much of an impact as any other person or band, if not more.

After all, not only did I discover their own music somewhere in my teens (and found myself blown away by it), but that band can be said to have been almost singlehandedly responsible for entire genres of music — some of which rank among my absolute favorite. Where would sludge or grunge metal be, if it weren’t for their groundbreaking work? What would Crowbar or Eyehategod have sounded like; TAD or Harvey Milk; or dozens of other bands who’ve served such an important role in my life?

So clearly, I don’t think I could overemphasize how big of a deal they — and by extension, their one constant member over their thirty year history — really are. And so when Ipecac Recordings issues an album full of Osbourne solo acoustic material, needless to say I am very intrigued…

 

Continue reading

Devil to Pay – Fate is Your Muse (2013)

a1686570417_10

Devil to PayFate is Your Muse (09 April 2013, Ripple Music)

 

I’M GETTING TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.

Anyone that read my reviews yesterday will be able to deduce what I’m talking about. My head is killing me, my entire body is aching, and overall I pretty much feel like a zombie. Accordingly, I feel like listening to something very pleasant this morning. Here’s what I came up with: an album (another one that ranked on my best-of-2013-list!) with a central theme (at least, as far as my tired mind can ascertain) about how you’re going to die someday and there’s nothing you can do about it. Furthermore, a recurring concept is that of being a born loser, unlucky at everything, and not being able to do anything about that either because it’s all pretty much dictated by fate. Just warms the heart right up, doesn’t it? Here’s Fate is Your Muse, the fourth full-length by midwestern heavy psych/blues/stoner/sludge metal band Devil to Pay, which came out just over a year ago, about a decade or so into that band’s career.

 

Continue reading

The Good Earth

If you’ve come here expecting a discussion of classic literature or descriptions of Chinese peasant life, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. But that’s somewhat appropriate because disappointment is one of the major themes of the story I’m about to tell you.
 
However, the title of this article (which I’ve stolen from the book pictured here) is intended to illustrate a comparative concept: that to the extent that there is a “Good Earth,” it logically follows that there would exist a “Not-So-Good Earth.” Bear with me, it’ll all make sense soon enough. Probably.

 

Continue reading