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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Vermithrax – Vol. 1 Sampler (FREE Download!)

vermithrax-volume-1

 

VermithraxVol. 1 Sampler (14 February 2013)

 
Hey! Remember back when I used to write about music? That was fun, I think I’m going to try it again.

So the Pittsburgh-based old-school thrash & NWOBHM-influenced band Vermithrax has some new material available for downloading and inserting into your ears. They announced this fact a couple weeks ago, but I was right in the middle of a million different things at that moment, so I grabbed myself a copy and planned to go back to it later.

Well, “later” ended up being just a few days ago, and now I’m kicking myself for not jumping on this sooner. If you’re already familiar with Vermithrax — perhaps from their appearance on the Innervenus free compilation Iron Atrocity Vol.2 (more info here) — then surely you understand.

If you haven’t heard that compilation yet, go download the damn thing already!! But in the meantime, here’s the Vermithrax song, “The Final Feast”:

 
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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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Ion Vein: Another Digital Release is in Progress

 
Hello again, good people who have subscribed to this blog or like it on Facebook and read my rambly words sometimes! I hope you all are having a pleasant Monday — except for whoever the fucker was that unliked my page today! That person probably won’t ever see this, but still, I hope they have the worst day ever, and then keep re-living it Groundhog Day style!

Haha, but not YOU, dear faithful reader who is currently reading this! In fact, to show my appreciation, I’ll let you in on a secret — for the second time today, I’ve got some information about a band we’ve talked about in the past, who plans on having some new material for us soon!

 
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Out Last Week: The Faceless – Autotheism

Autotheism album cover

 

The FacelessAutotheism
(Sumerian Records, 13 August 2012 Europe / 14 August North America)

Well, folks, you’ve been looking forward to this for several years, and it’s finally here: The Faceless have finally put out their third album!

Well, when I say “you” I mean “a LOT of you” — here’s a band that has almost 200,000 Facebook likes (compared with the typical band I write about, which might have several hundred, or a couple thousand at most). So yeah, that’s a lot of people, and probably a good chunk of my faithful readers, hence the reason I felt compelled to pass along the details about this new album when they popped up in my in-box.

Do you know who was not among those hundred-grand-plus anxiously awaiting? Yours truly. The news of new The Faceless material left me feeling pretty indifferent, simply for the reason that I’d never heard this band before. True story. Now, I’m not one of those über-elitist types who refuses to listen to anything that isn’t underground enough — I like to believe I’m more open-minded than most — but more often than not, the modern style of metal music that’s currently in vogue (without naming names, let’s just say I’m referring to the bulk of stuff that gets played on Liquid Metal, or the bands that seem to have the most rabid fans among commenters over at MetalSucks) just doesn’t do anything for me.

Or to put it another way, it seems like the more hype that surrounds a band or an album, the less likely I actually end up enjoying it. Not that I purposely dislike stuff because it’s popular, it just seems to work out that way a lot of the time. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, and so I would never totally dismiss something without first giving it a shot, but I also typically wouldn’t go out of my way to check something out if I got that sort of a vibe from it.

But part of that earlier post prior to the album’s release included a video trailer, and the small amount of music that was included in that preview didn’t really sound like all the other generic crap floating on the airwaves nowadays. In fact, it struck me as a bit intriguing. So I decided I wanted to check it out — to see what the big deal was.

So Autotheism officially hit the store shelves ten days ago (figuratively speaking, as I’m pretty sure they don’t actually have shelves at iTunes or wherever), and since then I’ve heard it from start to finish no less than ten times. At this point, I feel that I can confidently say, this is an amazing album and I strongly recommend you take the time to discover what it has to offer — I’m sure that you, too, will be glad you did.

 
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Out Today: Icarus Witch – Rise

 

Icarus WitchRise (03 July 2012, Cleopatra Records)

So way back in the dark ages (i.e. the 1990s), when I was in high school, Cleopatra Records was my favorite record label. I’d snatch up all of the compilations and tribute albums I could find at my local store, of their bands’ gothic and industrial cover songs, as well as CDs by Electric Hellfire Club, Mephisto Walz, Melting Euphoria, and lots more.

Eventually, my musical interests expanded in different directions, to include a lot more extreme metal genres, and inadvertently I had completely lost track of Cleopatra.

Fast-forward several years later, and it came to my attention that there was a band from Pittsburgh who had signed to that label, called Icarus Witch. Now, I didn’t know anything about that band (at first), but remembering the styles that Cleopatra was most closely associated with, I was very surprised when I learned that the label had also expanded its musical horizons far beyond where they used to be. Icarus Witch, for example, do a more traditional heavy metal thing with, some power metal influence. And, as it turns out, they’re pretty good at it.

 

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Upcoming Shows: What To Do In Pittsburgh This Weekend (28-30 June)

Good afternoon! For those who will be in or around the local area this weekend, the Valley of Steel blog is proud to present you with: What To Do In Pittsburgh This Weekend!

Once again, there is a TON of stuff going on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and I’ve collected as many events here as I could! (But once again, I’m only human, and if you know about anything else that’s happening, either this week or anytime in the future, please be sure to let me know!)

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