Steel Bridge Promotions — who have been responsible for putting together all sorts of really solid shows in the Pittsburgh area over the past few years, as well as being among the most genuinely nice people you will EVER meet — recently announced that their final shows will be taking place this October. While that’s terrible news for this city, SBP will definitely be going out with a bang! Today, we’ll be sharing some information about another of those final shows.
Hey! I know I promised recently that we’d be getting back to reviews soon. That was before I spent the majority of January just getting caught up on listening to stuff from 2016 so that I could belatedly finalize my list of the year’s best releases! But that’s finally online now, and our first review of 2017 is scheduled to be published tomorrow. First, though, it’s time for another quick news update.
In this edition: charity donations at Bandcamp; tour news from Katatonia, Conan, and North; album release news from Ever Circling Wolves; plus more news about new videos and shows!
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…
He Whose Ox is Gored – Rumors (Bleeding Light Records, 28 October 2014)
He Whose Ox is Gored – The Camel, the Lion, the Child (Bleeding Light Records, 09 October 2015)
Hey, guess what: there’s a great band on tour that’s scheduled to play in Pittsburgh tonight (Wednesday, 7 September 2016) — Seattle’s psychedelic doom quartet He Whose Ox is Gored! This is happening at The Smiling Moose, 1306 East Carson Street, South Side. Doors open at 5:30 and the show starts at 6 — also performing will be Retox, Silent, and Netherlands.
Have you heard about this? Perhaps not, because I haven’t been able to find a Facebook event or any other sort of mention of the show, ouside of a mention on the calendar section of the venue’s website, and this being included in lists of tour dates shared by the bands themselves.
It’ll really be a shame if folks miss out on this just because they didn’t know it was taking place, so this seems like a great time to share the following review of a couple HWOIG releases — specifically their debut EP from 2014, and first full-length album from 2015. These are both pretty incredible and I’ve been meaning to write about them for the past year or two anyhow, so here goes! If you like what you hear, please be sure to spread the word, especially if you live in Pittsburgh or near any of the band’s other remaining dates! (Those will be listed down in the comments section.)
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 →
Anicon – Exegeses (vinyl Gilead Media / CD Avantgarde Music, 08 July 2016)
Good morning, reader — hope you’re having a good, relaxing weekend! Normally this would be my time away from writing, too, but I just realized that Anicon are coming to Pittsburgh tonight. And I realized that last year when these blackened Brooklynites came to town, I had their 2015 EP Aphasia on my to-do list, but something came up that prevented me from attending that show or even getting a chance to write about the band’s most recent release. (I eventually did get around to it earlier this year, but I still felt bad for my negligence.)
So this time around, the band has a brand-new album which just came out earlier this month, and — even though, due to some rotten luck, family obligations will prevent me from being able to see this fantastic band perform again — I definitely did not want to miss the opportunity to share this with you people before tonight.
For those of you in the Pittsburgh area, The Smiling Moose on the Southside is the place to be; here are all the details. For those living elsewhere, the band’s scheduled dates can be found here, and in either case, keep reading to check out their newest record …
Derkéta – In Death We Meet (originally self-released 2012; remixed/remastered CD and vinyl edition Ibex Moon Records, April/December 2015)
Named for a goddess of death in the mythology of the fictional kingdom of Stygia (analogous to Egypt in the Hyborian era setting of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories), the band Derkéta are widely regarded as Pittsburgh’s own goddesses of death/doom metal. You remember Derkéta, don’t you? Formed almost three decades ago, active on and off throughout those years with many of the same core members rotating in and out of the line-up; released a number of demos and EPs but then finally put out their debut album in 2012?
For a quick refresher, you could get a more complete history by checking out this interview that I did with founding guitarist/vocalist Sharon Bascovsky about three and a half years ago, when the band was about to perform at the Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh.
Since that time, In Death We Meet was remastered for a vinyl release via Ibex Moon, and during that process they went ahead and polished up the recordings for a new CD version as well — which (in my opinion) was a vast improvement to the overall mix (generally sounding louder and heavier, wider and more spacious, with a more even blend of all the instruments rather than having the cymbal crashes dominating everything else) and warranted an “Honorable Mention” on my Top 15 of 2015 list.
And now — tonight, in fact — the band will be appearing in Pittsburgh once again, this time alongside the legendary Deströyer 666 at the Smiling Moose. You can find the relevant details about that right here if you happen to be in the area, but first, whether you’re planning on going to the show tonight or not, this seemed like a perfect opportunity for us to discuss In Death We Meet …
Hey people. If you remember, in this Thursday’s post I was talking about how lots of music gets released this time of year — usually on Friday — and that there were a few things coming out this week in particular that I really wanted to talk to you about. Well I’m still planning to do that, but not quite yet. First I need to cover a band, Immortal Bird, that just blew me away when I first heard them over two years ago and continued to do so with their last release last summer and during all this time they’ve been traveling back and forth across the country like crazy, but for one reason or another, I just never got around to writing about them.
Even though we almost never do Saturday posts around here, because nobody reads anything on the weekends, I wanted to make sure to get this out there by today. I’m going to share with you some thoughts about the band in question, their debut EP and follow-up LP, and then (if you head on down to the comments section) I’ll let you know about all the details of their current tour all over the eastern U.S. with Pyrrhon, which kicks off tonight in Pittsburgh!! and runs for the next few weeks.
Hey folks! I’d like to share a quick little anecdote with you, then it’s time to talk about some more music. Deal?
Ok. So several months ago, this band called Attalla from Wisconsin wrote to me to let me know they’d released an album last year, and to see if I’d be interested in reviewing it. I then downloaded it and added it to my library of stuff to check out — but it just kind of sat there for a little while. I can’t exactly say what it was that kept me from listening to the album right away, but I feel like something about the band’s name brought up some sort of negative imagery on some subconscious level. (And frankly, that’s really a shame, because — at least from what I learned by watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure — the storied emperor seems to have been quite the bad-ass, and his name should certainly evoke similarly awe-inspiring thoughts.
In any case, I ultimately overcame whatever mental roadblock had been there (the word “attalla”, I would later discover, actually derives from the Cherokee word for “mountain”) and hit PLAY on the band’s self-titled LP. And I’m really glad that I did. I wasn’t just ‘pleasantly surprised’ at what I heard; rather, the album turned out to be pretty great. I guess the lesson to be learned here was, not only should you not judge a book by its cover, but you also shouldn’t judge a book by its title being vaguely similar to another book’s title. Particularly if you’ve already pre-judged that other book to be terrible based on ITS cover. Okay, moving on.
Mortals – Cursed to See the Future (Relapse Records, 08 July 2014)
I don’t know who wrote the official band bio for Brooklynite trio Mortals (the one that accompanies their press kit and also appears on their record label’s website), but I don’t think I really understand what it’s trying to say. It starts off by contrasting this band with the way most other bands come together:
Many heavy bands follow a straight line — they start a band with some people they know, they pick a well-worn genre, they write riffs and drum beats that sound pretty similar to all the other riffs and drum beats that have been written. That isn’t Mortals.
…but then it goes on to explain how the three members met when they were involved with various other bands (for example, two of them were in a Slayer cover band together, two of them were in a math-rock band together) and eventually the three of them found they had enough common interests that they decided to form a new band; chemistry developed and gradually they found themselves evolving into their own style. Which, in essence, sounds like a variant of the history behind almost every band I know. So that’s got me feeling slightly confused.
But anyway, none of that really matters. What the band sounds like is far more important than any written description, when it comes to me picking what I want to write about and share with you, and the music should be able to speak for itself. And here it certainly does. It also helps that I’ve been watching for news from this band over the past couple of years — on the advice of Meat Mead Metal (whom you should absolutely familiarize yourself with immediately if you aren’t already a regular reader, because not only is this without a doubt the best music journalism you’ll find here in Pittsburgh, but this guy churns out high-quality writing with a consistency that could rival just about anyone else out there!), who has had plenty of good things to say about Mortals on several occasions (like here, for example). About a year after that particular article was written, the band had signed a deal with Relapse Records, and today marks their first release with that label, the full-length Cursed to See the Future.