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.
Heron – A Low Winter’s Sun (Sludgelord Records, 13 April 2018)
Ever notice how many really great bands there are, who are named after birds? I mean, just off the top of my head: Vulture, Cormorant, Mockingbird, Wren… and I guess to a lesser extent, Counting Crows? Anyway, it’s time to add Vancouver (BC)’s Heron to that list.
Surprisingly graceful for their size, as well as extremely stealthy and patient hunters, the heron is already no stranger to cover art (both dead and alive*), so it totally makes sense for a metal band to use that name. Just released yesterday, Heron‘s debut album is one of the first few put out by the relatively new Sludgelord Records, and it’s one I’d highly recommend you check out.
Imperial Triumphant – Abyssal Gods (Code666, 10 March 2015)
Imperial Triumphant – Inceste (CD and digital Redefining Darkness Records, 15 April 2016 / vinyl Temple of Torturous, 23 March 2018)
[NOTE: this is the second of a two-part series on NYC black metal crusaders Imperial Triumphant. If you’ve missed the first part, check it out here.]
As I’ve mentioned, Imperial Triumphant have become known for producing unique and unpredictable music, which is dense and complex and really requires some commitment of time and attention from the listener to really be able to unpack and grasp everything that’s happening. The same could be said of the two releases we’ll be discussing in this article, their second full-length (released in early 2015, just two months before I finally got the opportunity to experience this band in person) and another EP that will be turning two years old this weekend (which just last month was given the vinyl treatment with several bonus tracks). Let’s dig right in!
Imperial Triumphant – Abominamentvm (self-released, 05 September 2012)
Imperial Triumphant – Shrine to the Trident Throne (Code666, 23 June 2014)
Our story begins “in early 2011,” according to the narrative I first started composing sometime between late 2012 and early 2013 (and which has been stored as a draft on this website until today). As such, apparently I’ve been a big fan of NYCBM hellions Imperial Triumphant for quite a while: since prior to my taking up music-writing as an unpaid side profession, and (clearly) since I used to have spare time to read what others were writing about music. In the interim, I’ve accumulated a bit of a stockpile of this trio’s releases, intending to write something meaningful enough to suit the innovative and interesting music contained therein — a task that has seemed more daunting with each passing year.
Anyway, I’ve finally concluded that enough is enough, here are my ramblings and musings on this band’s output over the past five and a half years. It will be broken into two halves, and don’t forget (once you’ve finished wading through all this nonsense) you can catch Imperial Triumphant in Pittsburgh TONIGHT alongside Vile Creature at the album release show for Slaves BC‘s latest, Lo, and I am Burning.
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)!
Well folks, here we are, starting another new year. 2016 was quite an eventful one, both on a personal level (Valley of Steel headquarters has relocated within the past few months! — which is why we’ve been so quiet for a little while; we’ve been hella busy between finding a place to move to, moving there, getting settled in, etc. — although for those who may be worried: we’re still in a valley in a former industrial area outside Pittsburgh, so the website title is still accurate, it just happens to be the valley of a different river than our former location), as well as on a sociocultural level (politics, both domestic and foreign, has really been a mess lately, hasn’t it??).
Of course, like every year, tons of great music got released in 2016 as well — and like every year, I’ve failed to write about everything I’ve wanted to share with you folks (or even half of it). We’ll be diving back into the reviewing and sharing of new (and some fairly not-so-new) music very soon. But today, I’d like to hit a few other items as we briefly glance over the year that was…
at The Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St., Pittsburgh (South Side) PA 15203
21+ only | 10:00 | $10
Tickets are on sale NOW at this link… OR you can WIN a pair of tickets FREE, courtesy of Steel Bridge Promotions and Valley of Steel! Keep on reading to learn more about the show and to enter for your chance to win … Continue reading →