Úzkost – Blood Debt (self-released, 21 August 2020)
Hello out there, friends and faithful readers who have been bearing with us as we have been going through a bit of a slow period in terms of writing output! For those who don’t watch television or read newspapers or spend all day doomscrolling Twitter (that last one has been my personal sickness lately), sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but the entire world is crumbling to shit.
In entirely unrelated news, earlier this week I got a notification that this website’s domain registration was renewing (marking the eighth anniversary as an official “dot net” site, and putting us a few mere weeks away from our ninth anniversary operating under the Valley of Steel name), which reminded me that I have a self-assigned duty to share my musical discoveries with the good people of the internet.
Frankly, it’s been pretty difficult lately to get excited about anything or to focus attention on anything that isn’t the constant stream of negativity and hatred that surrounds us all. But I’ve managed to drag myself away from the harsh misery of 2020 America just long enough to write up some words about this new single and video that was released two weeks ago by local (Pittsburgh) band Úzkost. And as a bonus, both song and video happen to be a strikingly apt reaction to all that negativity and hatred!
Slaves BC – Third Temple (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 18 March 2020)
Hello from the Valley of Steel Quarantine Command Headquarters. Hoping that everyone is staying safe out there, wherever you are.
Personally, my coworkers and I had barely begun adapting to an entirely new accounting and ERP software system, which we had been preparing to implement for about the past year and a half, and which finally launched company-wide, a mere three days before the mandatory work-from-home proclamation went out. But as stressful and difficult as this has been for me, I know how fortunate I really am to have a job flexible enough to allow me to perform my duties from the safety of home — unlike so many folks who have to continue venturing out into the world, or so many others who simply aren’t able to work at all under these circumstances.
That’s always very important: to recognize the relative triviality of our own struggles when compared with those of other people; but especially in times of widespread crisis like this, we should all be asking ourselves what more we could be doing to lend a hand to those who might need it. This philosophy is perfectly embodied by local Pittsburgh band (and longtime friends of this website) Slaves BC, who released a brand-new song a few days ago accompanied by the following announcement:
With the global pandemic we are now facing, a lot of people are losing their jobs and are really struggling financially.
We were going to use this track for something else, but we decided to release it early to raise money to help people we love.
For the foreseeable future, any money paid for this track and all other releases by Slaves BC will go to friends in need.
Mevrimna – INHIBIT\\EXHIBIT (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 01 November 2019)
While they may take the stage silently, completely shrouded in the anonymity of long black cowls, I don’t think either member of Pittsburgh-based blackened noise duo Mevrimna is making any real attempt to conceal their real-life alter egos: the guitarist (and occasionally bassist) and the drummer/vocalist serve in those same capacities as members of the much-acclaimed Slaves BC.
In fact, their live debut (almost exactly one year ago in Turtle Creek, PA) was slotted immediately before a performance by their “other” group. While I don’t know whether they found themselves to be a hard act to follow that evening, I can confirm that the peculiarly-named twosome did succeed in utterly scaring the hell out of everyone in attendance.
And now, following a few one-off tracks, this month these guys have released a brand-new full-length recording, which assuredly will serve up the exact same result. Consider yourself warned.
That’s right, these two titans of (the music) industry will be making an appearance in Pittsburgh: Ghost (who were here exactly five years ago today and gave one of the more memorable performances I’ve ever witnessed) TONIGHT, Friday the 18th; and (the) Melvins (who also came through town five years ago this month, with what was quite possibly THE best show I’ve seen) TOMORROW night, Saturday the 19th!
Stick around for more details on this weekend’s shows, as well as a bit of a walk down memory lane…
Holy Rivals – Holy Rivals (self-released, 25 May 2016)
Hey folks, remember all the way back to yesterday, when we talked about a pair of Howling Giant releases from 2016 and 2017? If not, make sure to go check it out! Anyway, way down at the end of that post you might notice that the Tennesseans are heading out on a tour of the eastern United States tomorrow night (Thursday, the 10th of May) and swinging through Pittsburgh soon after (Saturday, the 12th).
Well as it turns out, one of the local bands performing at that show also happens to be someone whose music we’ve been meaning to share with you for a while — in fact, their self-titled debut EP came out two years ago this month. So before any more time passes, today let’s listen to the self-described “three sludge/grunge dudes from Pittsburgh” known as Holy Rivals!
Slaves BC – Lo and I am Burning (The Fear and the Void Recordings, 16 March 2018)
The new record from Pittsburgh’s blackened hardcore doom juggernaut Slaves BC officially hit the streets about a week and a half ago. Considering this writer’s lengthy history of covering the band, it’s pretty shameful that I haven’t gotten around to writing about this one much sooner. Especially in light of their last album All is Dust and I am Nothing landing so high on my list of 2016’s top releases. And yet, “The world is an ugly, ugly place. Virtually everything and everyone in it is awful.” I used that line in a different review just a few days ago, but that axiom is a terrific way to succinctly summarize why I haven’t managed to write more often over the past few months.
Coincidentally, it also describes Lo and I am Burning to a “T” (as well as the general underlying themes upon which the album is based). Two quick spoilers: first, Lo marks a huge step forward for a band that has essentially dropped all the other descriptors that used to follow “blackened”; and also, this is going to be a strong contender once again when year-end rolls around. Here, we’ll take a look at the album in slightly more detail, and that’ll be followed by the info about the band’s record release show — which will be coming up in just a couple weeks here in Pittsburgh, featuring Vile Creature (whom we’ve also discussed quite recently) and Imperial Triumphant (who you can expect to hear much more about on this site in the near future)!