Rat King – Garbage Island (Within the Mind Records, 24 June 2016)
Rat King – Vicious Inhumanity (Within the Mind Records, 17 January 2020)
As much as I hate to admit it, during the almost eight and a half years I’ve been administrating this website, I have amassed a list of literally hundreds of albums I’ve hoped to find time to write about and share with you folks. Realistically I know I won’t ever get through ALL of them, but at the moment I am striving to keep up with the new ones as well as I can so it doesn’t get any worse; and if I can knock off an older one here and there while I’m at it, wonderful.
So having said that, here’s a record that just came out within the past month, as well as one that’s been sitting on my to-do list far too long. Both are by Seattleite trio Rat King, released on their own label Within the Mind, and both were recorded by the legendary Mr. Tad Doyle — but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. As you will soon discover. Please to enjoy!
Atmospheric metal band Laster has signed with Prophecy Productions. The Netherlandic group, which formed in 2012 and refers to its ferocious sound as “obscure dance music,” is currently hard at work on its third full-length release and follow-up to last year’s Ons Vrije Fatum (Dunkelheit Produktionen). Laster‘s Prophecy debut is expected in 2018.
A uniquely gifted band with a singular, solitary sound, Laster plays metal with all its fury, but its music could also be described as progressive (i.e. Crack the Skye-era Mastodon), atmospheric, experimental, and even jazz-like. Attempting to categorize Laster‘s elaborately textured and ever-changing style is like trying to catch air with a net; it’s difficult to describe, but “atmospheric blackened shoegaze space prog” should provide a shadowy sense of what to expect. The band has the ability to stun first-time listeners with the utter violence of its initial impact which is unapologetically harsh, particularly with regards to the vocals which morph from flesh-peeling shrieks to ugly, gasping growls, harsh whispers, somber spoken words and rising yells of anguish. Despite its gruff exterior, digging into Laster‘s compositions reveals many layers of complexity.
“Prophecy has been part of our musical development since we were in our early teens. Inviting each other to this dance feels like a proper and weirdly magical gesture,” comments the band when asked for a statement. “At the moment we are in the middle of the writing process. The record will be an expansion of Ons Vrije Fatum. A bit more technical. A lot more nocturnal. City vibes. Some more dissonance. Experimental.”
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!
Happy Monday, folks! Not sure how many of you out there are hockey fans — and specifically, fans of North America’s NHL. Maybe some people reading this were in bed by a perfectly reasonable hour last night and got an adequate amount of sleep. Not me; I was far too busy reveling in watching my hometown team capture the league championship for the second consecutive year, and all of the trophy presentation ceremonies and the other assorted festivities that go along with that, until way WAY past my regular bedtime. So it might be fair to say I’ll be slowly easing my way into this week, and mostly using today to get caught up on some stuff. In that spirit, I’ll skip doing any reviews today, but I’ll take the opportunity to pass along some recent news items that just might pique your interest …
Cultura Tres – Rezando Al Miedo (Devouter Records / Cumpa Records, 15 May 2013)
From the very first time I heard Cultura Tres (on this compilation in April 2012), I knew there was something special about these Venezuelan sludge/doomlords. I loved their album El Mal del Bien (which I reviewed a few weeks later, here), and absolutely would have included it among my favorite releases of 2011 if I had just heard it a few months earlier. Actually, I was tempted to stick it on my list of top 2012 albums — since Devouter Records re-released it on CD, but it would have felt like cheating at that point.
In any case, I’ve become a huge fan of this quartet and their dark, bleak worldview. When their third album Rezando al Miedo came out last spring, if anything it sounded even darker and bleaker. What more could you ask for? Naturally, this album DID find its way onto my list of the best of 2013. And now I’d like to tell you some more about it to encourage you to go check out this band yourself.
Monsterworks – Album of Man (Mortal Music, 28 March 2013)
So I just realized in a few more days this year will be half over — and I also realized that I’m nowhere near halfway through writing reviews for LAST year’s top albums list… yikes! If I don’t want to still be working on these when I’m supposed to be putting together THIS year’s list, I guess I’d better get moving at a quicker pace. So here’s another one for you guys.
Monsterworks from London, England (formerly New Zealand) have been making crazy mishmashes of awesome music for nearly twenty years, and during that time they’ve released roughly seven hundred albums and EPs. I don’t know the exact number, but I’ve heard that they’ve done two more (Earth and Universe) since the one I’m currently writing about (which was only fifteen months ago) and they’ve just announced that they’ll have ANOTHER two (Overhaul and Existence) by early next year. Seriously.
I’m sure I’ll get caught up on all of that some day. Maybe. But for now, let’s talk about Album of Man, which came out last March.
Folks, if you’ve had your ear to the ground over the past few months you might have noticed that there has been some rumbling coming out of the dark underworld of hardcore. There has been so much hype swirling around the crusty, grimy beast known as Meth Quarry lately, that the band has reached a nearly mythical status — without having played a single show yet!
But all of that is about to change, because these guys are finally ready to come crawling out of the dank cellar of Pittsburgh’s underground and expose the good people of the Steel City to their grim “dirge” hardcore style. Last weekend I met up with the quintet (guitarists Chris Smith and Kevin Hogue, bassist Aaron Kaczynski, vocalist Adam Joseph Bailey, and drummer Brandon “Fluffy” Baker) to talk about the story of the band’s formation and what sort of things they’ve got on the horizon — I joined them at one of their rehearsals, which took place in the basement of Kevin’s house, so when I say “crawling out of the cellar” I actually mean it literally…