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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Wrekmeister Harmonies – The Alone Rush (2018)

Wrekmeister HarmoniesThe 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 (metally 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.

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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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A Stick and a Stone – The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost (2017)

A Stick and a StoneThe 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.

 

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Disemballerina – Undertaker (2014), Poison Gown (2016)

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DisemballerinaUndertaker (Graceless Recordings, 28 June 2014)

 

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DisemballerinaPoison 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.

 

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High Fighter – The Goat Ritual (2014), Scars & Crosses (2016); Zirakzigil – World Builder (2016)

EP Cover Artwork + by Dominic Sohor Design

High FighterThe Goat Ritual (self-released, 28 October 2014)

 

High Fighter 'Scars & Crosses'      Album Front Cover_ By Dominic Sohor

High FighterScars & Crosses (Svart Records, 10 June 2016)

 

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ZirakzigilWorld 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.

 

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Graves at Sea / Sourvein – Split EP (2014), Sourvein – Aquatic Occult (2016)

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Graves at Sea / SourveinSplit EP (Seventh Rule Recordings, 13 May 2014)

 

Sourvein - Aquatic Occult

SourveinAquatic Occult (Metal Blade, 08 April 2016)

 

Hello and good afternoon, longtime friends and first-time visitors. I hope your Monday has been, at minimum, tolerable. From this side, “Today I didn’t even have to strangle anyone with their own phone cord or throw my computer through the cubicle wall out of frustration / I got to say it was a good day.”

Anyway, whatever kind of day you’re having, get ready for some positive, uplifting vibes to be coming your way from the music I have here to share with you. Now, that music is going to start with Graves at Sea, and for those who’ve heard the full-length they put out earlier this month (reviewed here), you’ll be able to tell right away that last statement was at least partly sarcastic. (For those who haven’t heard it, what the hell are you waiting for? Go read that review, or even better, check them out in person during their tour that starts tonight in Atlanta!)

The remainder of this article will be about material — some of it a couple years old, some from just a few days ago — by the southern sludgery cesspit Sourvein; although it may not seem that way, this is (supposedly) where the positivity comes into the equation. Or at least truthfulness and realism. Off we go …

 

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