Hey there! We’re embarking on a pretty busy week as far as new releases are concerned. I’ve already touched upon a couple records due out this Friday (here and here), with more on their way.
Including one of the two I’ll be sharing with you today! And if you enjoy that one I promise you also won’t want to miss the band’s previous release, which came out almost exactly six years earlier! Here we go…
Eight Bells – Landless (Tartarus Records, 23 March 2016)
Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (Prophecy Productions, 25 February 2022)
Moving right along — here are a couple albums that were each released a few years back, but caught my attention when they were given the vinyl reissue treatment in 2021.
One is a drone/doom/free-form jazz thing from the Netherlands and the other is a more goth-oriented troupe from Portlandia. Hopefully you’ll find one of these will be to your liking. Maybe both! Only one way to find out…
Bong-Ra – Antediluvian (digital/CD Svart Lava Records and cassette Tartarus Records, 23 October 2018; vinyl Tartarus Records, 25 June 2021)
Murderbait – When the Sun Goes Down, It Goes Down Forever (digital self-released 15 November 2019; vinyl Sentient Ruin, 15 October 2021)
Good afternoon! If you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, you’ve probably heard Disemballerina, whose 2014 and 2016 albums were covered here, and A Stick and a Stone who had a release we discussed back in 2017 and one just this past January.
But if you haven’t — both are musical projects that generally tend toward the folk/ambient, sometimes a bit on the experimental side with unusual instrumentations, but always highly expressive, cathartic responses to both inner and outer turmoil. And over the past few months each has released a new single or EP, both of which I’d like to point in the direction of your ears today. Enjoy!
Disemballerina – Fawn (Riff Merchant Records, 06 August 2021)
A Stick and a Stone – Root Shock (Spirit House, 03 November 2021)
Hey folks. I won’t waste my time or yours trying to introduce you to Red Fang, because obviously you are already familiar with them — American stoner rock band for the past decade and a half, aficionados of cheap beer and good times, probably as well-known for their goofy videos as for their music itself?
Well in case you missed it, earlier this year Relapse Records put out the band’s fifth album Arrows, and as par for the course, the band also filmed a video for the title track “Arrows” (which you can check out below if you haven’t seen it yet).
Once you’ve checked out these four-plus minutes of the bandmates whacking every imaginable object in half with swords, your initial reaction is likely to be how much fun this would be, and how much you would like to try it for yourself. If that’s true, well then you’re (somewhat) in luck…
Yob – Clearing the Path to Ascend (Neurot Recordings, 02 September 2014)
Yob – Our 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.
Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (Thrill Jockey Records, 13 April 2018)
As you may recall, Wrekmeister Harmonies hit our Top 15 of 2015 List with their enormously epic outing Night of Your Ascension, with its dozens of contributors and guest stars. Since that time, the eclectic collective has been distilled down to just the duo of founder JR Robinson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Esther Shaw (the same pair who toured under the Wrekmeister name following that album, performing half of a set alone and the other half with Bell Witch as their backing band).
Also since that time, these two people have dealt with a variety of hardships and sorrows, culminating in a relocation from Chicago to Astoria, Oregon — and a lengthy period spent healing (mentally and emotionally) as well as composing, which Robinson referred to as a “cult like affair, just the two of us, thinking the similar thoughts and working them out with hours and hours of conversation, totally alone.”
The result was The Alone Rush, released last month, in which only Robinson and Shaw perform, along with drums by Thor Harris.
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!
A Stick and a Stone – The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost (cassette Sentient Ruin / Breathe Plastic, CD Spirit House; 21 July 2017)
Hey… remember several months back when Bandcamp donated all of their profits one day to the ACLU to aid in the fight for equal rights for all? Well apparently that was a big success, and they’ve decided to do something similar again, TODAY.
Their announcement earlier this week said, in part (read the whole thing here):
We support our LGBT+ users and staff, and we stand against any person or group that would see them further marginalized. This includes the current U.S. administration, and its recent capricious declaration that transgender troops will no longer be able to serve in the military.
In response, we will be donating 100% of our share of every sale on Friday, August 4th (from midnight to midnight Pacific Time) to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable.
That announcement also included a list of featured artists of various gender identities, and they’ve also posted a follow-up detailing hundreds of bands and labels who’ve pledged to join in by donating all or part of THEIR profits from today as well.
Of course, our archives here at Valley of Steel are filled with releases that are available on Bandcamp as well, if you’re looking for something to buy today. And if you keep reading, here’s one more recent release you may wish to consider.
Disemballerina – Undertaker (Graceless Recordings, 28 June 2014)
Disemballerina – Poison Gown (Minotauro Records, 10 July 2016)
Moving right along with our theme of not-exactly-metal music, today we’re going to cover a pair of albums by Portlandian trio Disemballerina. This ensemble first came to my attention about two years ago when harp/viola player Myles Donovan had contacted me about their album Undertaker, which had been mixed and mastered by Tad Doyle and released via the Loss-owned Graceless Records. It was described as “something like doomed chamber music,” and had cover art that was taken from a series of images where the harpist had placed found bird carcasses (in this case, a blue heron) into the photocopier at Kinko’s. With a pedigree like that, of course I was instantly intrigued.
Disemballerina, it turns out, had been formed back in 2009 by Donovan and guitarist Ayla Holland. The two have worked with a number of other musicians over the years, but their line-up is currently set with the inclusion of cellist Jennifer Christensen. Last month, the “doomed chamber” group had another album emerge — Poison Gown — through Italian label Minotauro Records, and so today we’ll tackle both of those records.
High Fighter – The Goat Ritual (self-released, 28 October 2014)
High Fighter – Scars & Crosses (Svart Records, 10 June 2016)
Zirakzigil – World Builder (Prosthetic Records, 10 June 2016)
Hey folks, how are you? Thanks for stopping by. Are you ready for another dose of good stuff to listen to? I hope so, because once again I’ve got some here to share with you today.
Both of the bands we’ll be discussing today will have an album released on Friday: High Fighter from Hamburg, Germany, will see their first full-length put out by Svart Records, which we’ll talk about in addition to that band’s debut EP that was self-released a while back; Zirakzigil from Portland, Oregon, also have their first LP forthcoming, one which was originally released by the band last year but is now being repackaged (and etched onto vinyl for the first time) by Prosthetic Records.