Venom Prison – Animus (2016-18)

Venom PrisonAnimus (Prosthetic Records, 14 October 2016 / deluxe edition 23 February 2018)

 

British death metal horde Venom Prison, who exploded into international consciousness with their Prosthetic-released debut album in late 2016, are currently touring North America with a whole bunch of other heavy hitters in the genre.

In fact, the month-long tour is a little more than halfway over, so we don’t want to waste any more time — here’s our write-up of Animus, and later you can see the full list of dates, plus a handful of European cities the band will be visiting in August with Dying Fetus!

 

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Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker

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Scott Ian: Metal God Turns his Hand to Poker

EDITOR’S NOTE: as some of you may have noticed, I put out an open call for writers a short while back when I updated this website’s contact page. That offer still stands — anyone who might have something to contribute, please feel free to get in touch! Today I’m posting an article that was sent to me regarding Anthrax/S.O.D. guitarist (and perennial VH1 personality) Scott Ian. Please enjoy!

 

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Slaves BC / Cousin Sleaze – Split 7″

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Slaves BC / Cousin SleazeSplit 7″ (self-released, 11 April 2013)

 
 
Several months ago, I wrote about a new EP from the Pittsburgh-based dark, caustic hardcore/metal band Slaves BC, which was titled we mean nothing. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you could look it up if you searched for it, but I’m not linking to it here. Because honestly, it was among the worst articles I’ve written, and I wouldn’t advise taking the time to read it. Instead, just listen to the songs and download the EP, which you can do it you follow the Bandcamp link at the end of this page.

About that review — I’ve noticed sometimes when I really like something or really connect with a piece of music on some level, I feel inadequate to convey that in words, and so I end up rambling about some other nonsense that isn’t related to the actual music. In this case, we mean nothing. centers around the concept of someone struggling and perhaps questioning the validity or value of religion — and I sort of ran with that idea, focusing more on people who place too much value on religious principles, at the expense of common sense and moral decency.

Sort of lost in all of that was my opinion of the actual music — dark and caustic, as I just said; abrasive, ultra-heavy. Some music is described as “doom metal” which usually seems to foretell a bleak, dire outcome; some music is “post-apocalyptic,” representing that tragic new reality. What Slaves BC bring is more like DURING the apocalypse: there isn’t doom coming, it’s happening RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

Anyway, one thing I did point out in that review was that the sound had improved dramatically over their first release, the demo album This World Shall Pass Away. With that in mind, the appearance of any new Slaves material should be really exciting. And GUESS WHAT — today we have exactly that! Two new songs, to be exact, coupled with a pair from the band’s comrades from New York, Cousin Sleaze.

The four-song split is available as of today on CD (if you come to the bands’ joint release show TONIGHT at The Smiling Moose in Pittsburgh — see below for details), and the 7″ vinyl version (in three different colors) can be ordered now, and will be out in the very near future!

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman

  
Person or Persons Unknown

 

Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman

by Asya Yanyo

 
 
My second Person or Persons Unknown is with Gene Fikhman, guitarist for Grisly Amputation and Vulture (one of my personal favorite bands EVER), horror and gore movie enthusiast, and all around cool and collected kind of guy. I must admit that I don’t know Gene very well, but in my personal interactions with him it has always seemed like he was the type of person who knew lots of information once you scratched the surface. I’ve had a lot of men in my life that are like this — in fact, I am married to one — and it’s been my personal experience that you are never disappointed when you get to know these kinds of guys. They are usually extremely intelligent, full of useless knowledge, helpful in all kinds of situations and hell to play trivia against. This is what made me want to interview him, not about just GrisAmp or Vulture, but about him personally so I could see if I was correct and I think you’ll see from this interview that I wasn’t disappointed. I hope you won’t be, either.

 
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Out Last Month: Dreaming Dead – Midnightmares

Dreaming DeadMidnightmares (Self-released, 20 April 2012)

So it’s been about three weeks since Midnightmares, the new Dreaming Dead album was made available. As you may recall, I told you they were giving it away for free on the day it was released. Did you see that post, and did you take advantage of that offer? If you did, feel free to share your opinion in the comments below — I’d love to hear from you. If you missed it, though, I’m sorry — but you should totally consider taking advantage of subscribing to the Valley News email updates or RSS feed (see the relevant links somewhere on this page), or heading over to Facebook and “liking” the Valley of Steel page, because I’m always sharing information about freebies like that when I hear about them, and maybe next time you can be better informed!

In any case, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this lovely slice of progressive death-thrash yet, don’t worry — it might not be available to download for free any more, but you can still catch a stream of the album at the band’s website, and they’re also selling it in download, CD, and LP formats!

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In Case You Missed It: Stéphan Forté – The Shadows Compendium

Stéphan FortéThe Shadows Compendium (Listenable Records, 28 February 2012)

Ugh, I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday. Last week, with the holiday and me adding on a vacation day, I only actually worked three days… which I think has now totally spoiled me, because I keep feeling like the workweek should be just about over. This sucks. I spent most of the past couple days listening to some ultra-heavy monolithic death metal, which is usually great for settling the nerves and calming me down. Right now it isn’t really doing it for me, though, and I’m afraid the next person that bothers me is going to end up with a pretty nasty punch to the throat unless I find a better way to chill out. Considering the fact that the majority of the time, I deal with the pain-in-the-ass people over the phone or by e-mail, the whole punching thing might be a bit awkward, but believe me, I’d find a way.

So that brings us to the subject of this review, since I was looking for something totally different to listen to. How about some guitar-driven instrumental metal? Probably not something you’d expect me to gravitate towards, especially since I’ve discussed some of my thoughts on the genre previously, and how it can really rub me the wrong way unless it’s done just right. I was a bit skeptical too, at first, especially when I saw this album cover (see above) and noticed how much this guy looks like a French Steve Vai with a bunch of eyeliner. But then I decided, what the hell, I can be open-minded and at least check out a song or two, then move on to something else.

Well, I’m glad I did give this album a chance, because honestly I was pretty impressed by the quality, and — if I can say this without having it sound like a backhanded compliment — I was surprised by the overall lack of pretension and pomposity that one normally expects from solo guitarists (e.g. Yngwie, etc.).
 

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In Case You Missed It: Visions – Home

VisionsHome (Basick Records, 18 July 2011).

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Dear Reader, I have a confession to make.

I know this has the potential to forever diminish your opinion of me as a music critic, as a metalhead, and perhaps even as a person, but it’s something I need to get off my chest. 

Here goes… I’m just not that into Dillinger Escape Plan.  I never have been, and to be honest, I fail to understand why this band is held in such universally high regard by critics and fans alike, just as I fail to understand the majority of the music they make.

I accept that there are surely listeners out there who thrive on such frenetic chaos and see a complex beautiful sense of order in what appears to be only random madness to my simple ears.  But on the other hand, I expect that there must be some like-minded souls out there, nodding in agreement as they read these words, but afraid to ever speak publicly for fear that (like in the case of the Emperor’s New Clothes) they would be ridiculed by the others who DO get it (or at least who claim to).

Anyway, the reason this discussion is sort of relevant stems from my decision to listen to Peterbourian band Visions‘ debut LP Home, which was released earlier this year.  Since they are a relatively new band (formed in 2009), and given that this is their first album, I didn’t really know what to expect beyond what is written in the official press release and some other advertisements I’ve seen.

First, we have the fact that they had been signed by UK label Basick Records (and the fact that the album itself was mixed and mastered by members of labelmates Monuments and Chimp Spanner), which sort of hints at some proggy/techy/melodic-y leanings.  But at the same, I kept seeing that infamous marketing phrase “for fans of…” and in every case, it seems to include Dillinger Escape Plan.

Well, if any of that made me feel apprehensive at all, I decided to plow ahead anyway (or I guess I should say “plough ahead” since we’re talking about a British band here), and let me just say, I’m really glad that I did.

Keep reading after the jump for some more in-depth analysis, plus your chance to listen to some of the songs (including one available for free download)…

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