Barren Heir – Tired Turns, Stone Machine Electric – Sollicitus es Veritatem (2016)

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Barren HeirTired Turns (self-released, 03 May 2016)

 

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Stone Machine ElectricSollicitus es Veritatem (self-released, 17 May 2016)

 

Hey people! Happy Cuatro de Mayo! I’ve got another pair of albums to share with you today, and I won’t waste any of your time getting to the part where we talk about them. Both are brand new (the first one came out yesterday, the second can be pre-ordered now and will be released in two weeks), both are self-released and self-promoted, and both are absolutely deserving of your attention. Oh, and each of them happens to be just five tracks long, but by serving up songs that average between nine and twelve minutes, both of these bands have quite considerately ensured that you get your money’s worth!

 

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Lord Mantis – Death Mask (2014), NTW (2016)

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Lord MantisDeath Mask (Profound Lore Records, 29 April 2014)

 

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Lord MantisNTW (New Density Records, 29 April 2016)

 

In early 2015, the whole world was shocked and saddened to learn that Chicagoan misanthropic miscreants Indian were calling it quits. Maybe “the whole world” is a sight exaggeration, but for myself and everyone I know, it was difficult news — especially since it came just a year after the band had released what was unquestionably their best album to date.

But then that blow was softened a bit almost immediately after, when another huge announcement shook the metal world: that closely-related Chicago band Lord Mantis had parted ways with some of its members, leaving only founding drummer Bill Bumgardner and Andrew Markuszewski who had been the lead guitarist for nearly all of that band’s releases. Augmenting this newly depleted line-up would be most of the folks who had just left Indian — in addition to Bumgardner who had also been playing drums in that band for years, ex-Indian guitarist Will Lindsay (also a member of Anatomy of Habit) would be joining on bass, and former Indian guitarist/vocalist Dylan O’Toole (who has also appeared as part of the Wrekmeister Harmonies ensemble) would now be handling Lord Mantis vocal duties. And finally, rounding out the line-up by joining Markuszewski on guitar, Scott Shellhamer of yet another great Chicago band, American Heritage.

This shakeup didn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention to the goings-on surrounding Mantis; even in the press release for their last album, 2014’s Death Mask, it mentioned rumblings of turbulence among the band’s members at that time. And the new additions seemed like a perfectly logical choice, as not only had these guys all known each other and been friends for years, but Lindsay and O’Toole had each made contributions to the band previously, including guest appearances on Death Mask.

But now, finally, the result of all of these moving pieces has come to fruition, as the first recording by the new Lord Mantis is being released tomorrow — exactly two years (to the day) after Death Mask, the band’s own New Density will unleash the EP NTW. In this article we’ll take a look at the new EP as well as the album that preceded it. And for those who would like to learn more about how all these changes have affected the band from the perspective of its members, don’t miss this interview where they’ve answered some questions provided by members of Slaves BC!

 

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Lord Mantis Interviewed By Slaves BC!!

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Lord Mantis interviewed by Slaves BC

 

So tomorrow — Friday the 29th — the new Lord Mantis EP NTW will be released, the band’s first recorded material since their big line-up shakeup (and merger with Indian) last year. You can read all about those changes, and take a look at that new EP as well as their previous album, 2014’s Death Mask, all right here. But beyond just reading about my thoughts and reactions to this new and old material, perhaps you might be interested in learning more about what’s been going on with the band — in their own words?

 

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The Mound Builders / Pale Horseman – Split (RSD 2016) +3 Pale Horseman Albums (2013, 2014, 2015)

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The Mound Builders / Pale Horseman – Split (Failure Records & Tapes, 16 April 2016)

 

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Pale HorsemanPale Horseman (self-released, 17 April 2013)

 

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Pale HorsemanMourn the Black Lotus (self-released, 07 July 2014)

 

Pale Horseman - Bless The Destroyer (2015) cover

Pale HorsemanBless the Destroyer (Bullet City Records, 30 November 2015)

 

Here at Valley of Steel headquarters, we’ve been trying very hard to bring you quality reviews almost every day (sometimes two at a time!) as a public service, so that you, the reader, get the opportunity to check out as much new music as possible. Hopefully some of you folks out there appreciate that, and you’ve managed to discover at least one thing you’ve really enjoyed after reading about it here.

Well yesterday there was no new review (but as a side note, for those who live near Pittsburgh, have you entered yesterday’s contest for Chelsea Wolfe tickets yet? — And as a side side note, have you also entered our other current giveaways, for Baroness or Thy Art Is Murder yet??), so to make up for that, today we’re presenting an unprecedented quadruple review!!

…Ok, ok, that’s not exactly how this came about — the truth is, just a couple of days ago, we received word that Failure Records had a special release lined up for this year’s Record Store Day (which is this Saturday, the 16th!), a split record featuring a pair of songs each from Lafayette, Indiana’s The Mound Builders and Pale Horseman from Chicago. And the second of those names really rang a bell, because over the past few years Valley of Steel has received a total of three albums from that band — all good ones, too — but somehow we just never have gotten around to writing about any of them.

Until today. Sit down and buckle up, because we’re about to cover all of it.

 

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Immortal Bird – Akrasia (2013), Empress/Abscess (2015)

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Immortal BirdAkrasia (Closed Casket Recordings, 03 December 2013)

 

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Immortal BirdEmpress/Abscess (Broken Limbs Recordings [analog formats] / Manatee Rampage Recordings [digital formats], 14 July 2015)

 

Hey people. If you remember, in this Thursday’s post I was talking about how lots of music gets released this time of year — usually on Friday — and that there were a few things coming out this week in particular that I really wanted to talk to you about. Well I’m still planning to do that, but not quite yet. First I need to cover a band, Immortal Bird, that just blew me away when I first heard them over two years ago and continued to do so with their last release last summer and during all this time they’ve been traveling back and forth across the country like crazy, but for one reason or another, I just never got around to writing about them.

Even though we almost never do Saturday posts around here, because nobody reads anything on the weekends, I wanted to make sure to get this out there by today. I’m going to share with you some thoughts about the band in question, their debut EP and follow-up LP, and then (if you head on down to the comments section) I’ll let you know about all the details of their current tour all over the eastern U.S. with Pyrrhon, which kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh!! and runs for the next few weeks.

 

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Wrekmeister Harmonies – Night of Your Ascension (2015)

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Wrekmeister HarmoniesNight of Your Ascension (Thrill Jockey, 13 November 2015)

 

Well… here we are at the end of a dull, dreary Monday — looks like we’ve survived another one. And it’s a good thing, too, because I’ve got something pretty extraordinary to share with you this afternoon. It’s not often that you come across something that seems immediately transcendent — so otherworldly that it fully envelops the listener and transports you away from the surface level of consciousness — but that’s the case with Night of Your Ascension, the third album released by the American “pastoral doom” conglomerate known as Wrekmeister Harmonies. A late-year discovery for me (it just came out at the end of November), this LP nevertheless had such an instantaneous impact that I just had to include it among my list of 2015’s top releases.

This isn’t necessarily the type of material that really benefits from being written about, being described in words, so I’ll keep that part as brief as possible. Further down, you’ll have the opportunity to listen for yourself and get the full experience, and then you’ll understand. And even further down (in the comments section), I’ll be including the details of the group’s current North American tour with Bell Witch, so stay tuned for that!

 

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Two Reviews: The American Edition

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Two Reviews: The American Edition

 

Hey folks! Happy Thursday to you. (Does it seem strange to be excited that it’s the second-to-last day of the week? Like, the week isn’t almost over yet, but it’s almost almost over? I don’t know. But I’m definitely feeling that way this week.) Anyway.

So you might have noticed, a few days ago I wrote a thing about some Canadian bands I listened to last week on Canada Day. Well, a few days after that holiday is Independence Day for the United States of America, so it only seems natural that I should follow that post about Canadian music with one that is American-themed.

In digging through my massive archive of Stuff To Eventually Write About And Share With You, I selected two things that feature the word “American” — one in the band name and the other in the album title — although beyond this (and the fact that both actually live in America), there is very little in common between the two. I’m not saying that they’re quite polar opposites — not quite — but I’d imagine that a Venn diagram showing fans of these two albums wouldn’t have a huge amount of overlap. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe lots of you will absolutely love both of them. That would be cool. But there’s only one way to find out…

 

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