Maelstrom – Of Gods and Men (2020)

MaelstromOf Gods and Men (self-released, 22 May 2020)

 

Hey, folks. Better make sure you’ve got yourselves strapped in, because we’re taking a trip in the “Way Back Machine.” Although Of Gods and Men, the debut full-length album of Long Beach (Nassau County NY)’s Maelstrom, was released mere days ago, this is a story that starts off much, much earlier than that.

Here at Valley of Steel I first became aware of this trio back in October 2012, when I checked out ThrashHead Magazine‘s second A Gallery of Rogues compilation. (As an aside, the magazine doesn’t appear to exist anymore but that 45-song collection is still free to download.)

At that time, one of the tracks that I pointed out as a highlight was “Arise” — which also appeared on the band’s EP It was Predestined, which was being re-released that same month by IME.

I hadn’t been aware of it at the time, but the mini-album had initially been released independently several years earlier (in 2008), by a newly-reformed Maelstrom. The group had called it quits fifteen years prior to that, after having produced a pair of demo tapes (in 1989 and 1991) that collectively featured the original recordings of the three songs that would later become It was Predestined.

The EP, out of print by now, had grabbed my attention back in 2012 just as much as that first song had done — and so when I recently learned that there would finally be a full-length record (32 years after the band was founded), well, that was certainly some exciting news I just had to share with you lucky readers.

 

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River Cult – Chilling Effect (2020)

River CultChilling Effect (Tee Pee Records (digital) / Nasoni Records (vinyl), 01 May 2020)

 

Good afternoon, everyone! Do you still get a sinking feeling of dread every time a Monday rolls around — even though every day feels exactly the same and they all seem to suck equally now? Or is it just me?

Anyway, it’s time for another discussion about new music. Those with really acute memories might recall talking about River Cult, rock trio (with bits of stoner and psychedelic influence) from Brooklyn, about two years ago when they had released their debut LP.

Well they’re back with another five tracks of fuzzy goodness, pushing even further into both the stoner and the psychedelic territories. Let’s check out Chilling Effect!

 

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Insect Ark – The Vanishing (2020)

Insect ArkThe Vanishing (28 February 2020)

 

Hello again from the unofficial VOS WFH substation. Things are starting to settle down around here, at least to some small degree. At least, we’re all doing the best we can to adapt to this new reality of staying cooped indoors and never interacting with anyone except via a computer or other electronic device. To be honest, aside from no longer driving to and from work each day, that description isn’t all that far from how things have always been for me.

But anyway, disruptions to the day job modus operandi have really wrecked my publishing schedule, especially with large chunks of each day now spent on conference calls and in Skype meetings. But it’s time we get back into doing what we love best around here: talking about music we’ve enjoyed hearing lately and that you also may enjoy hearing.

First up is cinematic doom duo Insect Ark. Since the last time we checked in with them, founder/composer/bassist/slide-guitarist Dana Schechter (who has added collaborating with Swans to an already impressive resume that included work with Wrekmeister Harmonies, Gnaw, and others) has now been joined by new drummer Andy Patterson (who coincidentally had been looking for a new gig following the dissolution of his former band SubRosa right around the same time this group’s drummer had moved on).

And then more recently, Insect Ark‘s third album The Vanishing had just been released and the twosome had just headed out on a scheduled tour of Europe and the UK throughout the month of March, when the whole world suddenly went to hell (leaving the band with numerous cancelled dates and scrambling to find their way back to the USA). So, without any further ado…

 

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Tombs – The Grand Annihilation (2017)

TombsThe Grand Annihilation (Metal Blade Records, 16 June 2017)

 

Hey! Remember almost a year ago when we let you know that Brooklynite post-black metal ensemble Tombs would be releasing a new record — the fourth full-length in their decade-plus of existence, which would be the first thing coming out via the band’s new relationship with Metal Blade? And furthermore, that it would be the first LP featuring [the bulk of] the new line-up that had debuted a year earlier on the All Empires Fall EP?

Well anyway, that happened, and with Tombs hitting the road tonight for a handful of shows across the northeast over the course of the next week, it seemed like an appropriate time to finally get around to sharing that new album with all you swell people. Those dates are listed down at the bottom of the page.

 

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Eternal Black – Self-Titled (2015), Bleed the Days (2017-18)

Eternal BlackEternal Black (Obsidian Sky Records, 30 June 2015)

Eternal BlackBleed the Days (Obsidian Sky Records, CD/cassette/digital 08 August 2017, vinyl 04 February 2018)

Is it just me or has this week been dragging on way too long — like, excruciatingly, brain-deadeningly long? Just me? Ok. In any case, I feel like I need a break from anything that requires too much thinking. So I’m going to take a moment and share some music with you.

This is coming courtesy of old-school stoner/doom trio Eternal Black from Brooklyn. We’ll start with their self-titled debut EP from a few summers ago, and follow that with their first full-length which came out last year but just recently got pressed to vinyl for the first time (all via the band’s own Obsidian Sky label). Hope you enjoy it.

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River Cult – Halcyon Daze (2018)

River CultHalcyon Daze (Magnetic Eye Records / Blackseed Records / Nasoni Records, 09 February 2018)

 

In the grand tradition of classic power trios like Mountain or Cream, infused with the loud and fuzzy psychedelics of Blue Cheer, Brooklyn’s River Cult ought to be bursting onto radar screens all over the place with their first LP Halcyon Daze. Only five tracks long but with a running time around forty-two minutes, the record came out earlier this year via a handful of labels in New York, Pittsburgh, and Germany — but if it has somehow managed to elude your attention thus far, our job today is to fix that!

 

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Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns (2018)

Insect ArkMarrow Hymns (Profound Lore Records, 23 February 2018)

 

Bi-coastal DOOM duo Insect Ark is made up of film music composer and animator Dana Schechter (Angels of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor, Gnaw) on bass and lap steel, and electronics expert Ashley Spungin (Taurus, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Negative Queen) on drums as well as various synths and analog noise pedals she created herself. With this unique arrangement (featuring zero electric guitars, in the traditional sense), the instrumental assembly has brought forth their latest sonic creation (through a combination of long-distance collaboration and in-studio cooperation).

Although nearly two months have passed since the record’s Profound Lore release, last night (Sunday, 15 April) was the celebratory release show in Brooklyn. Next up, the pair will be hitting the Roadburn stage later this week followed by a month-long tour through Europe. You can find a listing of all those dates at the bottom of the page, but first, check out Marrow Hymns!

 

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Imperial Triumphant – Part II (2015-2018)

Imperial TriumphantAbyssal Gods (Code666, 10 March 2015)

 

Imperial TriumphantInceste (CD and digital Redefining Darkness Records, 15 April 2016 / vinyl Temple of Torturous, 23 March 2018)

 
[NOTE: this is the second of a two-part series on NYC black metal crusaders Imperial Triumphant. If you’ve missed the first part, check it out here.]

As I’ve mentioned, Imperial Triumphant have become known for producing unique and unpredictable music, which is dense and complex and really requires some commitment of time and attention from the listener to really be able to unpack and grasp everything that’s happening. The same could be said of the two releases we’ll be discussing in this article, their second full-length (released in early 2015, just two months before I finally got the opportunity to experience this band in person) and another EP that will be turning two years old this weekend (which just last month was given the vinyl treatment with several bonus tracks). Let’s dig right in!

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Imperial Triumphant – Part I (2012-2014)

Imperial TriumphantAbominamentvm (self-released, 05 September 2012)

 

Imperial TriumphantShrine to the Trident Throne (Code666, 23 June 2014)

 
Introduction:

Our story begins “in early 2011,” according to the narrative I first started composing sometime between late 2012 and early 2013 (and which has been stored as a draft on this website until today). As such, apparently I’ve been a big fan of NYCBM hellions Imperial Triumphant for quite a while: since prior to my taking up music-writing as an unpaid side profession, and (clearly) since I used to have spare time to read what others were writing about music. In the interim, I’ve accumulated a bit of a stockpile of this trio’s releases, intending to write something meaningful enough to suit the innovative and interesting music contained therein — a task that has seemed more daunting with each passing year.

Anyway, I’ve finally concluded that enough is enough, here are my ramblings and musings on this band’s output over the past five and a half years. It will be broken into two halves, and don’t forget (once you’ve finished wading through all this nonsense) you can catch Imperial Triumphant in Pittsburgh TONIGHT alongside Vile Creature at the album release show for Slaves BC‘s latest, Lo, and I am Burning.

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Black Anvil – Hail Death (2014), As Was (2017)

Black AnvilHail Death (Relapse Records, 27 May 2014)

Black AnvilAs Was (Relapse Records, 13 January 2017)

 
Recently I was reminiscing about the last Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh, partly because we’ve been reporting the news about this summer’s Migration Fest which will also be taking place in this area, but also because we’ve just (well, a little over a month ago) hit the five year anniversary of Winter’s Wake. This also had me thinking about Black Anvil.

They’d been around for a few years by that time and had already released a pair of albums, so I’m sure I had heard a song or two at some point, or at least was vaguely aware of their existence within the realm of domestic black metal bands. But that show — which was immediately preceded by a series of “getting to know you”-style interviews I’d conducted with nearly all of the performing bands (I’d missed a couple, due to timing issues or communication breakdowns, but as I recall, Black Anvil were the only ones who had outright declined to participate in the interview process) — was the first real exposure I’d had.

I can just vaguely remember that night — this was Friday, the first of two days full of music, and they were the second-to-last band to play, after we all had been standing for hours in this cramped loft-sized space breathing in the toxic fumes rising from the nail salon down at ground level. That was the atmosphere through which the band members pushed and shoved their way, each dripping with blood, to ascend to a stage hazy and thick with fog machine discharge — and instantly exploded into a maelstrom of blackened death fury.

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