Pittsburgh may not roll off people’s tongues when it comes to great metal towns in America, and that’s understandable. It really doesn’t come up in conversation amongst many people who live here either, because too many people seem preoccupied with barroom blues rock, shitty alt rock, and whatever NYC was doing three years ago. It’s a hilarious place to live.
But if you happen to attend a national metal show here, you’ll notice the crowds are healthy. People are enthusiastic for it and want to see it. Just a couple years ago, black metal legends Immortal graced our city with one of only four U.S. shows set for their tour, and despite there being about 7 inches of snow and counting on the ground, people packed Mr. Smalls and were bursting with joy for that show. And that’s only one example, of course, and metal and its appeal to our little town probably would be a bigger story if the bulk of the local media would stop kissing the asses of aging rockers and fly-by-night pop stars and pay attention to what’s bustling on the underground. We’re a metal town, and we have a pretty healthy scene that largely goes unnoticed by many of the scribes who inhabit Pittsburgh. It’s become sort of a joke with me.
Luckily that hasn’t deterred bands from taking to local venues, doing their thing, and making as much noise as possible. We’ve long boasted bands such as Hero Destroyed and Complete Failure (who are readying their first record for Season of Mist), as well as groups that pound the pavement locally such as Abysme and long-running Motorpsychos. That’s not the mention some of the hardcore-based bands that have thrived including Heartless (who put out “Hell Is Other People” on Southern Lord), Code Orange Kids (whose debut dropped late last year on Deathwish, Inc.) and Slices. We’re doing fine in the extreme music department, whether people care to acknowledge that or not.
Another important avenue for heavy music in Pittsburgh is Innervenus Music Collective, a local label that releases and champions the metal, hardcore, and punk scene, have put out two “Iron Atrocity” compilations, as well as music from bands such as Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Invader, Sistered, Storm King and more. Now, they have two more releases that just dropped from newer bands who apparently plan to further scuff up and bloody the scene, and both records and bands will be featured in a CD release show locally tomorrow night. I’ll give you details at the end of this piece in case you’re local or plan to be in the area. It should be a killer time.
The first band we’ll talk up is Lycosa, a grimy, sludgy, dirty quartet that reminds me of bands such as older Kylesa, Black Tusk (minus the Southern rock influences), Melvins, and L7, and whose music may make you want to feel like showering afterward. Their music is heavy and muddy, and their execution is impressive for a band only together since late 2010. The band is comprised of vocalist Leech (who has a knack for inhuman squealing at times), guitarist Tree, bassist Amy (also of Motorpsychos and Molasses Barge), and drummer Chris, and their five-song debut (well, six, as there’s an interesting hidden cut) could be something that piques the interest of a label such as Relapse.
“Barbara” opens the record and, naturally, it’s inspired by “Night of the Living Dead.” There’s a burly bassline, violence, and vicious vocals that sometimes veer a little too close to pig squeal territory. I am anything but a fan of the pig squeal vocals, but they’re only there briefly, and so it’s not that big of a deal. If you like that kind of thing, you’ll be fine. “Double Barrel” is heavy and thrashy, with Leech piling on huge with his deathy vocals, and the band’s blistering treatment bruising you up. “Circles” is muddy, chunky, and there are heavily distorted basslines that feel like steel cords. “Did We Have Sex?” is violent and tongue in cheek, but it’s also kind of eerie sounding, which I didn’t expect. “24 Becomes 0” has one of the best guitar lines of the entire record, and it’s cement truck heavy. Tacked on is a surprise take on Twister Sister’s “Burn in Hell,’’ that is a little messy but a lot of fun. I like the band’s sound, and they certainly come off like they had a blast recording this thing. I’m also interested to see where the band goes from here and if they draw any attention from national labels.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/lycosametal
On the other hand we have Grisly Amputation, a band just as heavy (if not more so) and ugly, but in a totally different way. These guys comprise a go-for-the-gut, eat-said-guts brand of grind-laced death metal that could have you thinking of Exhumed, Autopsy, and Cannibal Corpse (who hand-picked the band to open their recent show in Pittsburgh), and they certainly pull no punches (or stabs) in the gross-out department. Their music is full of slasher film-inspired gore, rotting flesh, and disease, and while it might make bile choke you having to endure this filth, it’s just so much fun for those of us who get it. The band is made up of vocalist Rob Grisly, guitarists Gene Fikhman and Garrett Twardesky, bassist Pat Bucher, and drummer Chriss Dissell, and they formed in early 2010 out of the ashes of the band Scorched, gaining a vicious reputation along the way and leading them to this eight-song debut.
“Woodshed Wetdreams,” the lead-off track, should let you know everything you need about the band from the start, with a gory horror film clip, a grindy thrash attack, and Grisly howling his promise of, “You will die.” “Scraping the Resin From Your Lungs” kicks off with the clip from “The Marijuana Conspiracy” info film before a growling, howling pit of chaos. “Liquefaction Necrosis” has a clip from “Drive Angry” built into it, and it’s a total death storm, while “Implement of Rectitude” has a murderous cut from “Gangs of New York” and an assault as vicious as the film. “Cannibalistic Tendencies” is rightfully gross and mangling; “Birthed From Defecation” is slow driving and ugly; “Hoarding Human Remains” has some painfully raspy growls and an overall feeling of macabre; while closer “A Chainsaw Swimming in Flesh” even has some guttural doom metal blended into the cut, something I’d like to hear them explore a little more, and the rest is chunky, skin-mangling bliss.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/grislyamputation
If you live nearby, the Lycosa/Grisly Amputation CD release show is Saturday night at 8 at The DEAD Horse Cantina and Music Hall in McKees Rocks. Admission is $7. Also on the bill are fellow Pittsburgh bands Storm King, Victims of Contagion, Torrential Bleeding, Lythem, and Meth Quarry. If you’re not local and want to check these bands out, links are below.
To hear Lycosa’s album, go here: http://lycosa.bandcamp.com/album/lycosa
To hear Grisly Amputation’s album, go here: http://grislyamputation.bandcamp.com/album/cannibalistic-tendencies
For more on the label, go here: http://innervenus.org/
For more on the show, go here: http://www.facebook.com/events/485509521491993/