Happy Groundhog Day!

XXX F CADDYSHACK 04 S GLF

 

Hey! I know I promised recently that we’d be getting back to reviews soon. That was before I spent the majority of January just getting caught up on listening to stuff from 2016 so that I could belatedly finalize my list of the year’s best releases! But that’s finally online now, and our first review of 2017 is scheduled to be published tomorrow. First, though, it’s time for another quick news update.

In this edition: charity donations at Bandcamp; tour news from Katatonia, Conan, and North; album release news from Ever Circling Wolves; plus more news about new videos and shows!

Continue reading

Happy 2017(?)

2017

 

Well folks, here we are, starting another new year. 2016 was quite an eventful one, both on a personal level (Valley of Steel headquarters has relocated within the past few months! — which is why we’ve been so quiet for a little while; we’ve been hella busy between finding a place to move to, moving there, getting settled in, etc. — although for those who may be worried: we’re still in a valley in a former industrial area outside Pittsburgh, so the website title is still accurate, it just happens to be the valley of a different river than our former location), as well as on a sociocultural level (politics, both domestic and foreign, has really been a mess lately, hasn’t it??).

Of course, like every year, tons of great music got released in 2016 as well — and like every year, I’ve failed to write about everything I’ve wanted to share with you folks (or even half of it). We’ll be diving back into the reviewing and sharing of new (and some fairly not-so-new) music very soon. But today, I’d like to hit a few other items as we briefly glance over the year that was…

Continue reading

Katatonia – Dethroned & Uncrowned (2013), Sanctitude (2015), The Fall of Hearts (2016)

KSCOPE243

KatatoniaDethroned & Uncrowned (Kscope, 10 Sepember 2013)

 

Sanctitude cover

KatatoniaSanctitude (Kscope, 30 March 2015)

 

Katatonia - Fall Of Hearts - Medium Res Cover

KatatoniaThe Fall of Hearts (Peaceville Records, 20 May 2016)

 

Commonly referred to as “The Peaceville Three,” British bands Paradise Lost, Anathema, and My Dying Bride each formed in the late 1980s or early ’90s, each signed with Peaceville Records soon after (even though the actual amount of time during which all three of them were on the label’s roster together was actually pretty brief), and each went on to release some major landmark albums that ended up defining the development of the gothic metal genre from its roots in melodic death and doom metal. And, just like when people talk about other bands who just as easily could have been included in lists like “The Big Four” of thrash, there’s an unofficial fourth member of “The Peaceville Three,” who have been in existence about as long as the others, who have been with the Peaceville label for nearly the past twenty years, and who have been just as instrumental in the realm of gothic metal (including the symphonic, progressive, and dark melodic elements that have been interwoven together during its decades-long evolution): their neighbors across the North Sea, Katatonia.

Four years ago, Katatonia released their ninth full-length Dead End Kings, which was subsequently described in press as the band’s “most successful to date,” having “cemented [their] position as masters of sorrowful metal [… and] marked another step in the journey towards a more progressive sound.” Following that acclaim, naturally there would be a high degree of anticipation to see what would come next — and eventually a tenth album of all-new material emerged, just a few short months ago. But before we discuss The Fall of Hearts, the journey to this release has included a look backwards and a good bit of twisting previous entries from this substantial discography into new and interesting shapes, so let’s take a quick tour of what these Swedes have been up to over the past three years, shall we?

 

Continue reading

Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (2013)

intronauthabituallevitationscover

IntronautHabitual 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!

 

Continue reading

Cover Me: Shining Does Katatonia, Meatshank Does Metallica (With a Little Help from Overkill Drummer and Friends)

We all love a good cover, right? Of course, nobody can quite agree on the definition of a “good” cover — but most often, these are usually the ones that honor the spirit of the original while taking them in a new direction, or those that are totally unexpected choices for the band doing the covering. Anyway, I’ve got two brand new ones for you in this post, and you can be the judge!

 
—————————-
 

 
First, Swedish atmospheric/depressive blackened death metal band Shining has released the first song from its upcoming covers EP Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt. Scheduled to come out 16 May 2012 from Spinefarm Records, this will feature versions of songs by Katatonia, Kent, Imperiet, and Poets of the Fall. Apparently, the renditions here are different enough from the typical Shining material, that frontman Niklas Kvarforth issued a statement (the quote here is taken from a paraphrasing of that statement, which was published in a press release by the band’s management), saying that this EP

…is definitely not a change of direction for the band. It was recorded at the same time as the band’s as yet untitled eighth album, and represents some of the artists and music that Shining’s members like and listen to. The fact that some Shining followers will be ill at ease with the material is, according to the band, irrelevant.

Continue reading