Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (2014), Our Raw Heart (2018)

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YobClearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)

 

YobOur Raw Heart (Relapse Records, 08 June 2018)

 

Oregonian doom trio Yob vocalist/guitarist Mike Scheidt has always had a distinctive voice. Whether it’s as a member of Lumbar or making a guest appearance with Red Fang or a whole plethora of others, there’s just no mistaking who is singing. Piercing and powerful, like Conan‘s Jon Davis, expressive and emotional like Argus/Molasses Barge‘s Butch Balich, and always just a bit grizzled and weathered like Wino or Lemmy.

But since the last time we heard from these guys (Clearing the Path to Ascend, which in a year filled with tough competition, still came out as our clear #1 album of 2014), some serious health complications cast some doubt as to whether we might ever hear that voice again. You can read all about that journey in this Rolling Stone interview, where the band’s sole remaining founding member (over twenty years ago!) describes his harrowing experiences while also discussing the creation of Our Raw Heart.

The album was “largely penned from what he worried would be his deathbed,” said the magazine, quoting Scheidt as saying, “there was no guarantee that I was going to live long enough to record the album.” Fortunately for himself, his family and friends, and also for everyone on planet earth who has ears, he did survive and he did record the album, which undoubtably will be contending for the same spot in this year’s list. In this post we’ll touch upon that record from four years ago, as well as the follow-up which hits stores TODAY. Furthermore, keep on scrolling to see a list of opportunities North American readers will have to experience Yob live: for one month (starting next Thursday, 14th June) with Bell Witch or again during September with Acid King and CHRCH.

 

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New Ghost LP Takes Inspiration from Mötorhead’s Lemmy

 

New Ghost LP Takes Inspiration from Mötorhead‘s Lemmy

 

a guest article contributed by Oliver Hughes

 
As we recently announced right here on Valley of Steel, Ghost did come back to Pittsburgh. And as they did 5 years ago, the band again put on a show to remember. For those who didn’t see the show, and for those who saw the show but were left wanting more, the Swedish heavy metal band will be offering something very special soon: a new studio album.

Lead singer Tobias Forge confirmed the album to Metal Hammer in an exclusive interview where he unveiled details of Ghost‘s upcoming LP, including its title — Prequelle — and its June 1 release date.

“There were a few things that I wanted to get in Prequelle that I don’t think had been fleshed out yet, and had very little to do with what came before,” he told the iconic magazine. He then revealed that the album was inspired by the deaths of the band members’ idols, including Ronnie James Dio, David Bowie, and Prince. The band, according to Forge, was particularly affected by the death of former Motörhead frontman Lemmy, who died in 2015 after battling prostate cancer.
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Tau Cross – Tau Cross (2015)

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Tau CrossTau Cross (Relapse Records, 19 May 2015)

 

Hello, and happy Easter Monday! Today’s kind of an ugly, rainy day here in Pittsburgh, so I guess it’s not such a bad thing that I’m stuck at work. Maybe the weather is nicer where you live, and maybe you don’t have to work because maybe in your country today is an official holiday — folks many parts of the world will be celebrating the beginning of Eastertide. In either case, I’d like to talk about an album that was released almost a year ago — actually, it was during the last week before Pentecost, the conclusion of the Eastertide season.

That album is the self-titled debut of crust-post-punk supergroup Tau Cross, whose name comes from the T-shaped symbol of the Franciscan Monks, based on the Greek letter Τ (Tau). In traditional symbolism, this letter is used to represent the cross, since ταυ is an abbreviation for the word Σταυρός (Stavros, which means “Cross”), and because the letter itself is cross-shaped. As such, the Tau symbol has also come to stand for Resurrection, and by extension, is closely associated with Jesus — nearly as much as the letter Χ (Chi).

Anyway, that’s surely enough of a history lesson for today, let’s get to the music! As an added bonus (for those who live in the northeastern U.S. — which includes Pittsburgh! — or southeastern Canada), scroll down to the comments section to find details about the band’s trip across the region which starts tomorrow night and runs for about a week and a half — their first live performances ever!

 

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The List of 2013 Year-End Lists

Photo Collage - 2013 Shows - by Asya Yanyo

Click for full-sized image

 

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…

 

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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Annakarina’s Craig Hodgkins

Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Annakarina‘s Craig Hodgkins

by Asya Yanyo

 

Have you ever been going to an event somewhere, where you don’t really expect things to be different — you figure it’s totally going to be a fun night, but nothing out of the norm — then suddenly after you’ve walked in the door, something begins and BAM!, you are completely blown away?

Yes? No? Doesn’t matter, that’s basically the exact scenario of how I first heard Annakarina: I was attending a punk show with Eric in Charleroi, PA, last December. This show was about five minutes from our house — quite a change from our normal hour-plus drive, so I was happy to be attending for that reason — but with the inclusion of the word “punk” I didn’t expect to be hearing something that Eric later described to me as “Post-Mathcore,” but we did. It was seriously gorgeous in its expression of angst and precision side-by-side.

So Annakarina and their music really never left my mind after the show. Soon afterwards, I found out that someone had taped their whole set and put it on Youtube, and I’ve probably watched it like five times since then — needless to say, I was a fan.

Anyway, last month we were attending another punk show at the same venue — where as it turns out, Annakarina was going to be making another appearance — and on this day I happened to decide that I needed to drink A LOT of tequila before the show (and during). Probably because we were so close to home I was feeling a little more rebellious, I don’t know. Drunk or not, I was extremely excited to see Annakarina again, but this time I decided that I needed to talk to those guys. In my drunken stupor, I basically poured my inner fandom out for them, sharing the fact that Eric was a blogger, that we attend shows at least once a week in Pittsburgh, all sorts of stuff.

[Editor’s note: at one point, I recall she had told bassist Kurtis Kelley about the description I made up the first time we’d seen them. He seemed a bit puzzled, but then said, “Well, I know what post-hardcore is, and I know what math rock is, and — yeah I guess I can see that.”]

I’m sure they were like, who’s this crazy lady, but even so they were all very kind. I got introduced to them all one by one, and in particular I felt drawn to [guitarist/vocalist] Craig. In between bands I talked casually to him (or as casually as I could manage — remember I was very drunk) about his music, his friendship with the drummer and other bandmates, and soon I realized this guy was special pretty special.

In a way, I was feeling sort of annoyed that no one else we knew really knew anything about this band — because I’ve never seen them at any shows in Pittsburgh, and (I mean this in the nicest way possible) honestly they’re better then a few bands that we’ve seen playing other shows in the past. So I decided I needed to introduce Craig and his music to more people — so there’s the core reason for this interview. I think you’ll agree he’s quite a special guy — that magical combination of intelligence, wit, weirdness, awkwardness, and sincerity that you couldn’t fake if you tried. So here he is, pouring his heart out to you, via my six questions; I hope you will find him as endearing as I do, and I hope you will venture out to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg this Sunday to see his band playing a charity show benefiting PLEA. Trust me, Annakarina is a band you won’t want to miss, and this guy is one of the major reasons for that.

 
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Just Released: Pharaoh – Bury the Light

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PharaohBury the Light (6 March 2012, Cruz del Sur Music)

Good evening, Readers. How’s it going? I’d like to take a quick poll, if you don’t mind. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone says “power metal”? Is your first impulse to run away screaming? It wouldn’t surprise me much if that were the case, because that would be the reaction of many people — including myself, sometimes.

Why is that? Well, because somewhere along the line power metal got its name blemished pretty badly in the eyes of most listeners. Somehow the genre got associated with bands who, when they heard “Run to the Hills” for the first time, fell in love with the lightning-speed galloping part towards the end, but thought the song would be better if they had cut out all the stuff that builds the tension up to that point, and creates dynamic contrast, and holds the listener’s attention. Bands whose favorite album of all time is Rising Force, but they never realized that their turntable was switched to 78 RPM instead of 33-1/3.

It’s no wonder most people turn their noses up at the thought of this genre, when its most visible representatives are a bunch of over-the-top, ultra-cheeserrific fuckwads whose primary goal seems to be to constantly outdo themselves in terms of speed and wankery, much more than giving any thought to making good quality music.

Of course, this stereotype didn’t just spring into existence overnight; there have been bands that have incorporated cheesy schtick into their repetoires (whether intentionally or not) for decades. It’s almost as if everyone had forgotten it was possible to put together a group of talented musicians and play music that strikes a balance between heavy and powerful but also emotional and melodic; and to tackle lyrical territory that is epic and grand but not corny and overblown. Almost.

A certain group of Philadelphian gentlemen (who, by the way, come from the eastern side of my home state – just a few hundred miles from here) who call themselves Pharaoh haven’t forgotten. And just one listen to their newest album (their fourth full-length, and fifth release overall, dating back nearly ten years) Bury the Light, which is on Cruz del Sur and was released just last week in North America, is all it will take to ensure you don’t forget, either.

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