Derkéta – In Death We Meet (2015 Reissue)

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DerkétaIn 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

 

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Gnaw – Horrible Chamber (2013)

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GnawHorrible Chamber (Seventh Rule Recordings, 15 October 2013)

 

Hello again, readers. As I’ve mentioned numerous times lately, things are still crazy busy around here, and I’ve been having some trouble finding much time for writing. But, I suffered a pretty traumatic experience this past weekend — while attending a bachelor party for a friend of mine, I found myself squished into a van with a bunch of other guys, subjected to something called “redneck hip-hop” at very a high volume. Trust me, the less said about that, the better.

But as unpleasant as that experience was, an even worse thought came to mind: I imagined a scenario in which folks didn’t have access to any good music simply because they didn’t know where to find it. That sounds like a nightmare, for sure! Now, I’m not going to pretend like I’m anybody important, or that there aren’t plenty of other places out there to learn about new music, but if my writing this helps even one person discover something that they might otherwise have missed out on, and if it saves them from listening to some other sort of rubbish, then it’s worth the effort.

Having said that, I’m pleased to bring to your attention Horrible Chamber, last fall’s sophomore full-length from the experimental/industrial/noise ensemble Gnaw.

 

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Out Tomorrow: Icy Black Metal On Waldgeflüster’s Third Album

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WaldgeflüsterMeine Fesseln (Bindrune Recordings, 10 January 2014)

 

This week has seen a wave of record-breaking cold all across North America, with sub-zero HIGH temperatures in some places, as well as dangerously low wind-chill factors that prompted widespread closures of schools and businesses in many areas. Those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be able to stay home under several blankets could be seen bundled in as many layers as possible while still being able to walk, in a vain attempt to protect against the freezing winds. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s been pretty damn cold around here.

And so, I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate time than this, for a new album to be released by the German one-man black metal contingent Waldgeflüster (just that name — which approximately translates to “whispering woods” — evokes images of icy cold darkness). The full-length due out tomorrow (10 January) from Bindrune Recordings will be the third overall from the project, which consists chiefly of a guy called Winterherz (“Winter Heart”). Comprising seven tracks in all, and lasting just over an hour, new album Meine Fesseln (“My Shackles”) also includes contributions from a variety of other musicians, including Austin Lunn of Panopticon (mandolin, vocals, and guitar solos) and Johan Becker of Austaras (violin), among others. Incidentally, Johan has also appeared on Panopticon recordings, and both he and Austin happened to have guest spots on Vit‘s The Dry Season — which had just been released when I spoke with that band’s drummer prior to last year’s Winter’s Wake festival in Pittsburgh; furthermore, Johan had accompanied Vit at that performance, and shortly afterwards he mentioned to me that he was working on a few other upcoming projects at that time — which happened to be my first time hearing of Waldgeflüster. Not that any of that has any particular relevance to this review (or to anything at all); I just thought I’d share some trivia with you.

 

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VOS Videography 2013: A Mid-Year Retrospective (Part 5)

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6119 (East Liberty / Pittsburgh, PA), 23 February 2013

 
These videos are from Saturday’s Winter’s Wake performances.

 
The Gates of Slumber – “Bastards Born”

 
Occultation – “The Sea of Snakes and Souls”

 
Derkéta – “Rest in Peace”

 
Vattnet Viskar – Untitled (New Song) and “Intention Oblivion”

 
Molasses Barge – “Crux Influx” (New Song!)

 
Molasses Barge – “Bone Chills” (New Song!)

 
Vulture – “Coming Storm” and “Dead Sea”

 
NAVIGATION
 
Part 1 (28 December – 18 January)
Part 2 (01 – 09 February)
Part 3 (16 February)
Part 4 (22 February)
 
Part 6 (02 – 09 March)
Part 7 (10 March)
Part 8 (14 March)
Part 9 (16 March)
Part 10 (22 – 24 March)
Part 11 (28 – 29 March)
Part 12 (02 – 11 April)
Part 13 (12 – 19 April)
Part 14 (20 – 26 April)
Part 15 (04 – 05 May)
Part 16 (11 – 17 May)
Part 17 (18 – 27 May)
Part 18 (31 May – 20 June)
Part 19 (23 – 30 June)

VOS Videography 2013: A Mid-Year Retrospective (Part 4)

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6119 (East Liberty / Pittsburgh, PA), 22 February 2013

 
This year, Allure of the Earth‘s Winter’s Wake Festival was expanded to a two-day affair. Here are some videos from the performances on Friday.

 
GNAW – “Haven Vault”

 
Vit – “The Dry Season”

 
Vit – “The Ascension Ritual” and “Sixteen Bodies”

 
Liquified Guts – “976-BEEF”

 
Liquified Guts – “Pissing Woody Harrelson Off Wasn’t a Good Idea”

 
Meth Quarry – “Drug Melted”

 
Meth Quarry – “Crash Anthem”

 
NAVIGATION
 
Part 1 (28 December – 18 January)
Part 2 (01 – 09 February)
Part 3 (16 February)
 
Part 5 (23 February)
Part 6 (02 – 09 March)
Part 7 (10 March)
Part 8 (14 March)
Part 9 (16 March)
Part 10 (22 – 24 March)
Part 11 (28 – 29 March)
Part 12 (02 – 11 April)
Part 13 (12 – 19 April)
Part 14 (20 – 26 April)
Part 15 (04 – 05 May)
Part 16 (11 – 17 May)
Part 17 (18 – 27 May)
Part 18 (31 May – 20 June)
Part 19 (23 – 30 June)

Dendritic Arbor – Sylvan Matriarch

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Dendritic ArborSylvan Matriarch (self-released, 26 March 2013)

 
Good morning, folks! What’s new with you?? I have to tell you a story about what happened to me recently, but it’s a little bit embarassing…

So I’m sure you all remember Quercus, guitarist/vocalist for that band of black metal eco-terrorists Dendritic Arbor — he and I had a conversation about his band last month when they were performing at the Winter’s Wake pre-fest show (which you can read here). As you’ll recall, there was some discussion at that time about their forthcoming release Sylvan Matriarch

Anyway, fast-forward to a couple days ago, and I got a message from Mr. Quercus, where he asked me whether I do album reviews on this website. Well. That was sort of a reality check for me — I know that I’ve been very preoccupied lately and have been writing very, very little. And what I have been posting recently has largely consisted of interviews, either conducted by myself or by someone else. But at that moment I realized, geez, you really couldn’t tell just by looking — unless you were to dig pretty deep — that reviewing music is sort of supposed to be the primary purpose of this website!

So I got my hands on a copy of Sylvan Matriarch, which is officially available today — it actually went up on Bandcamp yesterday, but tonight Dendritic Arbor will be playing a show to celebrate the release. I’ve got all the information you need about the album, the show, AND a special super-limited bundle were you can get a whole bunch of goodies for a really low price, IF you’re one of the first few people to jump on this deal!

 
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Person or Persons Unknown: Six Questions with Slaves BC Bassist Jason Cantu

Hey there, folks! I hope your week is going well. If it’s not, I guess you can be glad that it’s almost over! Personally, I’m just about totally recovered from last weekend’s Winter’s Wake festival, and sometime soon I’ll probably even start writing again.

In the meantime, please enjoy this BRAND NEW feature which will be running periodically here on Valley of Steel — courtesy of the lovely and wonderful person to whom I am fortunate enough to be married!

 
Person or Persons Unknown

Six Questions with Slaves BC Bassist Jason Cantu

by Asya Yanyo

 
Greetings and salutations! Many of you know me, or have met me, or at least know of me. My name is Asya (aka “Mrs. Valley of Steel“). I’ve been married to Eric (aka “Mr. Valley of Steel“) for about five years now — tomorrow [01 March] is our five-year anniversary, in fact.

I’m sure most of you have seen Eric‘s many posts about shows that are occurring in the Pittsburgh area. Well, he doesn’t just post about them; he actually attends — we both do, actually. [Editor’s note: at least, as frequently as physically possible!] Well, through the course of attending these shows, we’ve met some great people and it occurred to me that you (the general public) might like to hear a little bit more about these interesting people, the bands that they are currently in, and what brought them to the musical path that they are traveling down.

I will be doing these on occasion: they will always be six questions, just enough to give you a sense of the person and their tastes (as opposed to the same old stale band questions you’re always reading). So I hope that you will join me on this new journey in getting to know these wonderful and unique people, and — who knows — maybe you’ll find a new band that may change your life, too!

My first “Person or Persons Unknown” interview is with Jason Cantu, the bassist for Slaves BC, whom Eric and I have already seen three times this year. Jason, while just one part of this great band, has an infectious enthusiasm that really enhances their live show. His love and support of music in general is also infectious, and it has inspired me to do these interviews.

Everyone should have a friend like this: someone who’s always posting about records you’ve forgotten about, or wearing t-shirts you would kill for (specifically, I am referring to the Ten Years After shirt he sometimes wears), and someone who is supportive of not only his own band but all local and non-local bands. He is the type of fan that makes you want to be a better fan, too.

Check out his band Slaves BC on Bandcamp, and then come out to see them FOR FREE this weekend [Saturday, 02 March] at Kopec’s Bar. You will not be disappointed.

 
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