Thursday 17 August through Sunday 20 September 2017
at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 4455 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas NV 89169
This weekend-long party in Sin City will feature some folks that you’ll recognize from previous mentions right here at Valley of Steel (Neurosis, Conan, Fister, Melvins, Hollow Leg, North, Ruby the Hatchet, Slomatics — just to name a few). Some other highlights will include Inter Arma, Black Anvil, Minsk, Goya, Manilla Road, Mouth of the Architect, Pelican, Vhöl, Year of the Cobra… YOB, Pentagram, Corrosion of Conformity, Sleep, Psychic TV… oh yeah, and King Diamond performing the whole Abigail album!
Pigs – Wronger (Solar Flare Records, 02 October 2015)
Sofy Major – Waste (Solar Flare Rcords, 29 October 2015)
Hey folks, how are you? Today has seemed like the longest day — like since I left home this morning, it seems like at least two whole days should have passed, so we should be reaching the end of Friday and heading out for a nice holiday weekend by now. (For those readers who live abroad, this coming Monday will be Memorial Day here in the U.S., a day of rememberance and — for most people — a day of not going to work.) But no, incredibly it’s still Thursday and the day still isn’t quite over yet. Not cool.
Anyway, I’ve got a couple albums I’d like to share with you today — both of them released by Solar Flare Records back in October. The first one is the second full-length by Pigs, the Brooklyn trio whose highly enjoyable debut You Ruin Everything was discussed right here, when it was released about four years ago.
The second album we’ll be listening to is by Sofy Major, whose bassist/vocalist just happens to be the head guy in charge of Solar Flare. Furthermore, starting tomorrow night (Friday the 27th) and running through the end of next month, this band will be touring across Europe alongside Pigs guitarist/vocalist Dave Curran‘s “other band” Unsane. After you’re finished reading here, head down to the comments section where I’ll have that list of dates for you all.
Moloken – All is Left to See (Temple of Torturous, 23 October 2015 [EU] / 13 November 2015 [NA] / 04 April 2016 [vinyl])
Recently — like within the past few months — I stumbled across this new album by Swedish progressive-post-sludge metal band Moloken (which translates to “dejected”), which came out this past November here in North America. It was their third album (fourth release overall) since forming in 2007, but it was my first introduction to the band. In any case, the material sounded really good, so I added it to my “to do” list, which currently contains hundreds (no exaggeration) of albums I intend to write about eventually. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get caught up with that list, because it feels like stuff keeps getting added to it at a slightly higher rate than it gets crossed off.
But today I’ll get to cross this one off, because I saw an announcement that this week Moloken are embarking on a tour across Europe (including their first-ever performances in France and the UK, plus an appearance at Roadburn) alongside Cult of Luna, who happen to come from the same city, Umeå — in the northern part of the country, situated on the Gulf of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland, and just slightly below the Arctic Circle. In light of this news, I’ve decided to write about the album All is Left to See to let you folks know you should check it out!
In the press announcement for the joint European tour, Cult of Luna frontman Johannes Persson said, “It is not easy to be in a band that comes from a small town in the north of Sweden. The physical distance forces you to do the 8+ hour drive to Stockholm (a drive we’ve done more times than I can count) before you can do anything. The distance to everything relevant is a disadvantage for a band with the ambition to grow. Moloken is one of these bands that needs to get more recognition. They are hailing from our hometown of Umeå and it feels great to be able to present them to our audience in Europe. So for the love of Odin, don’t miss them.”
Sounds like good advice to me. The full list of scheduled dates (most with both bands, but there are a few extras with just Moloken) will be in the comments section after you’re finished reading here …
Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (Instilling Words with Tones) (Century Media Records, 19 March 2013)
Hello there! “TFIF” and all that stuff. I wanted to get one more thing written and shared with you before the weekend, and in deciding what to talk to you about, I was feeling kind of reflective: looking both forward and back. Forward, because (as I mentioned yesterday) this year seems to be slipping by at an alarming rate. Before we know it, it’ll be time for year-end summaries and lists already! There are a few new records that’ve either just come out (or will be soon) that I’m sure will rank pretty high, as well as some from earlier this year I’ve listened to a whole bunch but maybe just haven’t had the chance to review yet. I’m going to want to get moving on posting something about all of those, lest I find myself in a situation like I did at the end of 2013 (where I put together a list of my favorite 26 releases of the year, 25 of which I hadn’t yet written about!) … which, of course, is what also has me thinking backwards. Almost nine months later, I’m still not quite halfway through reviewing last year’s list yet!
So I decided, there’s no time like the present; let’s discuss another of last year’s best albums. This is one of the more high-profile items on that list, or at least one that was put out via the biggest label. So a lot of you are probably already familiar with this band. But there may be some out there who haven’t heard Intronaut before, or may have missed out on this album — which would be a shame, because it’s really good stuff!
Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!
But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…
The last time we heard anything out of this group of Queenslandians was two years ago, when their debut Descent Into the Maelstrom dropped out of nowhere (which I originally learned about thanks to the terrific folks over at Heavy Blog is Heavy). That disc’s combination of raw emotion — ranging from soul-crushingly heavy ugliness to soul-wrenchingly mournful beauty, and all points in between — really grabbed me and still hasn’t let go. Later that same year, when I started writing about music myself, it was the natural choice for my first review. (Note that this was a brand new experience for me at that time, and I had no idea what I was doing — unlike now, over eighteen months later, where I still have no idea what I’m doing!)
Anyway, that particular release was pretty monumental — not because I chose to write about it when my journalistic career was in its infancy, but totally on its own merits. If I hadn’t arbitrarily chosen to exclude the small handful of albums I wrote about from my year-end list, I can assure you Descent would have found its way to the very top of my Top 11 of 2011. So after numerous reports of line-up changes and rumors about writing and recording, it’s with great excitement that I’ve received official news about the band’s follow-up, which I will now pass along to you…