Molasses Barge – S/T + Covered in Molasses (2017)

Molasses BargeMolasses Barge + Covered in Molasses (Blackseed Records, 28 July 2017)

 

So I’ve been writing about Molasses Barge basically as long as I’ve been writing about music in general. It all started way back in late 2011 when they had a few shows scheduled, and I threw together a little synopsis of my first experience seeing them perform live (earlier that year when they opened for Pentagram). This was followed by an interview with drummer Wayne Massey in 2012 (as they were about to open for Tombs and 16), and then guitarist Justin Gizzi also answered a few questions as part of our coverage leading up to the Winter’s Wake festival in 2013.

In all, these Pittsburgh-based doom-metal workhorses have appeared (at least mentioned in passing) on this website a few dozen times. And yet, as active as they are (and despite having been in existence for close to a decade now!), the band’s official recorded output thus far has consisted of one EP six years ago, plus a three-song demo a few months later. (Both of them are available to stream or download FREE at Bandcamp.) But that all changes now: this Friday they will be unleashing their stunning debut self-titled LP, and as a special added bonus (perhaps as a thank-you to all the fans who’ve been patiently waiting so long), it’ll come bundled with a second disc filled with cover songs.

 

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Argus – Beyond the Martyrs (2013), From Fields of Fire (2017); Arduini/Balich – Dawn of Ages (2017)

ArgusBeyond the Martyrs (Cruz del Sur Music, 01 October 2013)

 

Arduini / BalichDawn of Ages (Cruz del Sur Music, 24 February 2017)

 

ArgusFrom Fields of Fire (Cruz del Sur Music, 08 September 2017)

 

I can still remember the first time I heard Argus — in the burgeoning days of the early 2010s, the song was “The Damnation of John Faustus” from their self-titled album. I can’t say for certain, but it was probably on Foundry of Doom radio, since that’s what I spent most of my time listening to back then. And here, among epic tracks by the likes of Solstice, Atlantean Kodex, Solitude Aeturnus, etc., this song’s dark themes and powerful vocals really caught my ear.

This was still months, maybe even up to a year, before the genesis of my career as a writer, but I’ve always been inquisitive and wanted to research and learn more about everything I heard. In this instance, I was struck by how new the band was (their first demo dates back ten years, now, but at the time of this story the debut full-length was about a year or two old), but even more surprised to see that these guys were local (originating in Franklin, PA, just about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh)!

I also discovered that the vocalist, Brian “Butch” Balich (formerly of Penance), is also a member of Molasses Barge, another local doom band that would greatly impress me when I saw them for the first time just months later. Eventually I’d manage to catch Argus live, as well, and they definitely managed to live up to the high expectations set by their incredible recorded output. I believe this was just before the 2013 release of their third album Beyond the Martyrs — one that immediately made its way onto my writing “to do list” but inexplicably has stayed there for these past years.

But now there’s a ferment of activity surrounding the band once more: they recently announced that their fourth album will be coming later this year — and I’ll be discussing both of those today, with an added bonus that was released a few months back by a side project involving Balich. And to top it all off, Argus will also be performing in Pittsburgh THIS FRIDAY (14 July) at an event that doubles as a preview of September’s Brewtal Beer Fest as well as featuring the world premiere of the new beer produced through a collaborative effort between the band and Big Rail Brewing! So after you’re done reading about the music, pop on down to the comments section for more information about that.

 

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Winter’s Wake Winterview: Dream Death

dd-new-record

 
And here’s the moment you’ve all been eagerly anticipating. Following their triumphant return to the stage last year, the legendary Pittsburgh band is back for another show — their only scheduled appearance in this area this year — as well as a brand-new album and line of merchandise!

Without any further delay, here’s a series of questions and answers I exchanged with guitarist/vocalist Brian “Goodbread” Lawrence

 
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VOS Interview: A Drummer Double Feature! Molasses Barge vs. Vulture!

Hello folks, and a happy Friday to you! Just when it felt like it would never happen, the weekend’s finally here. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be an especially good one, because there’s a ton of amazing shows and events happening! I’ll have more on that later, so stay tuned.

One of them in particular stands out, though — tomorrow night at the 31st Street Pub is the first date on the joint headlining tour between Relapse Records artists 16 and Tombs. That by itself is reason enough to get excited, but opening the show will be two of my absolute favorite local bands, the heavy doom armada that is Molasses Barge and Steel City sludgelords Vulture!

I’ve only seen Molasses Barge once before (and it was over a year ago! — read more about that here), and (believe it or not) although I’ve been listening to Vulture for a long time, I’ve never had the chance to see them play live yet! So needless to say, I’m really looking forward to this show. I’ve already got my tickets (they can be ordered here) but if you don’t, it’s just twelve bucks when you show up at the door. More info on the show itself can be found here.

Anyway, in anticipation of this event, I decided to get a couple of interviews lined up. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, you may have picked up on the fact that I often tend to focus on drumming while listening to music. It’s just the way I hear things, I guess — and I don’t know if it’s because I play drums (occasionally) or if I chose to play that instrument because it’s something I pay a lot of attention to.

In either case, the drumming in each of these bands’ genres is one of the main things that attracts me to those particular styles. So, it only seemed natural for me to talk to the two bands’ drummers. Here, then, are the questions and answers from Molasses Barge’s Wayne Massey and Vulture’s Kelly Gabany

 

 

 
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Upcoming Shows: The Gates of Slumber Kicking Off U.S. Tour

I haven’t really seen a lot of press about this, but fortunately I just happened to stumble upon a post by The Gates of Slumber on Facebook which referred to new tour dates… as it turns out, the Indianan colossi of epic doom metal are heading out across the country, beginning tonight (21 May) in Cleveland and tomorrow night (22 May) in Pittsburgh!

It’s been about a year now since the band released their latest album The Wretch (their fifth, not including a whole slew of EPs, splits, and demos), and the critical praise just keeps on pouring in. I’ve been a huge fan of these COTD-ers since 2008’s Conqueror, but haven’t yet had the chance to see them in a live setting. They’ve got such an enormously crushing sound on record, though, I can only imagine it would be a pretty monumental experience. Full dates listed below.

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Upcoming Shows: What To Do In Pittsburgh This Weekend (12-15 April 2012)

Hello, readers! How are you? I think I’ve officially recovered from the holiday weekend and am ready to get back into the swing of posting updates. Did you have a nice Easter? I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Ghost, since I finally got around to picking up Opus Eponymous on CD almost two weeks ago. I like it a lot, but I’ve kind of got a funny feeling about it. I haven’t tried slowing it down or playing it backwards or anything, but I get the impression that there might be some kind of hidden evil messages or something. Oh well. Hey, speaking of which, they’ll be coming to town in just a few more days! In fact, they’re just one of a whole slew of awesome bands playing in Pittsburgh over the coming weekend. Just keep on reading for all the details on this show and tons more.

 
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Upcoming Show: Dream Death Reunite for One Night Only!

Yes, that Dream Death. The Pittsburgh doom legends from the 1980s. The ones who attained cult status in local metal lore, after they had split up and reconfigured themselves as Penance. They recently posted an update on Facebook announcing that they were getting back together the last line-up of the band (which included all of the founding members except for bassist Ted Williams, meaning that this also includes all the members of Dream Death who later went on to form Penance) for a one-time-only show!

 

Pittsburgh metal legends Dream Death are reuniting for one show.

This will be the line up of:
Brian Lawrence (Goodbread)
Mike Smail
Terry Weston
Richie Freund

With special guests Argus and one more TBA. 21+

Saturday, April 21, 2012
9:00pm

31st Street Pub
3101 Penn Ave. (Penn Ave @ 31st St. Bridge)
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

 

Update, 5 March 2012:

The band has announced that tickets for this event are now available!

Tickets for the April 21st show are now available.

Tickets can be purchased for $15 at Smails Custom Drum Shop.
www.smailscustomdrumshop.com

The following options are available:
Check or Money Order
Cash
Paypal

Make Checks and Money Orders payable to Mike Smail

134 Market Street
Kittanning PA 16201
724-548-4725

PayPal Paypal Address is: mike@smailscustomdrumshop.com

** IMPORTANT **
Please include your return address so the tickets can be mailed back to you.

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You can find out more by visiting the following links:
Dream Death: Facebook
Journey into Mystery album (CD – rare, out of print! | MP3 Download)
Pittsburgh Sludge Metal live album (CD)

Penance: Facebook
Parallel Corners album (CD)
Alpha & Omega album (CD | MP3 Download)

Argus (featuring vocalist Brian “Butch” Balich, also currently of Penance and Molasses Barge):
Facebook / official website
Boldy Stride the Doomed album (CD | MP3 Download)

Closer to Hell: Facebook
Read the Valley of Steel profile of this band as the “Sign Me To Roadrunner Records” Band of the Week

31st Street Pub: Facebook