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.
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…
Since then, both bands have undergone line-up changes — Hivelords now features two new guitarists (including Evan Void, formerly half of that band’s frequent tourmatesSadgiqacea), and Tombs has replaced some of its members on at least two occasions (also, coincidentally, including new guitarist Evan Void) resulting in essentially a wholesale overhaul for that band.
And now, these two bands will be performing together on a series of dates, the details of which will be shared with you as you continue reading below. Further down, we’re also including the remainder of Hivelords‘ currently announced dates through mid-summer; and finally, details specific to both bands’ stop in Pittsburgh next Saturday, including your chance to WIN FREE TICKETS to that show!
Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!
But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…
Deathcrawl – Accelerated Rate of Decay (self-released, 16 October 2012)
Okay, true story: earlier this month, I had a cookout for a handful of friends (mostly musicians or music-related folks, just because that’s how I roll). At some point in the evening, as we were standing around the fire and socializing, I remember talking to someone about a song that was playing (I’d hooked up my MP3 player and set it to shuffle); during that conversation, the song ended and the next one began — and on hearing the grimey riffs that were pouring out of the speakers, I then remarked, “Oh, and this is Deathcrawl.”
Well. Standing nearby just happened to be Josh Thieler, vocalist for Slaves BC. You may recall that his band creates some awesome music, and so it’s no surprise that he’d generally have pretty good taste in stuff to listen to. Anyway, I could see that his eyes were all lit up. “I was just about to ask you what this is,” he told me, “because it’s really good. This is Deathcrawl?” I nodded, and he added (I’m paraphrasing here; this was a couple weeks ago), “So, my band is playing with this band at the end of the month??” I nodded again, and his face lit up even more.
Because yes, I’m pleased to say, the Ohioan sludge factory that is Deathcrawl is finally playing a show in Pittsburgh, and that show is tomorrow night!! In addition to Slaves BC, that line-up will also feature Meth Quarry and (coming back to the city for the first time since last summer) The Osedax from Virginia. More details on that show coming up soon, but first, I’d like to bring you up to speed on a band and an album that you really need to be listening to (if you haven’t already)!
Six Questions with Grisly Amputation/Vulture Guitarist Gene Fikhman
by Asya Yanyo
My second Person or Persons Unknown is with Gene Fikhman, guitarist for Grisly Amputation and Vulture (one of my personal favorite bands EVER), horror and gore movie enthusiast, and all around cool and collected kind of guy. I must admit that I don’t know Gene very well, but in my personal interactions with him it has always seemed like he was the type of person who knew lots of information once you scratched the surface. I’ve had a lot of men in my life that are like this — in fact, I am married to one — and it’s been my personal experience that you are never disappointed when you get to know these kinds of guys. They are usually extremely intelligent, full of useless knowledge, helpful in all kinds of situations and hell to play trivia against. This is what made me want to interview him, not about just GrisAmp or Vulture, but about him personally so I could see if I was correct and I think you’ll see from this interview that I wasn’t disappointed. I hope you won’t be, either.