PICK OF THE WEEK: Windhand put focus on journey from life to death on murky ‘Eternal Return’

Photo by Joey Wharton

None of our lives are mapped out or really can be planned in any real concrete way. So many things happen from the time we’re born until our death that cause our paths to curve and go into places we’d never expect, it almost makes no sense to make plans at all. It’s part of what makes existence so frustrating yet ultimately exciting.

For Virginia-based doom pillars Windhand, they took all of this into account and let it shape their fourth record “Eternal Return,” a nine-track, 65-minute opus that follows the blossoming of life and our impending demise. The band itself endured loss, changed its lineup, and all the while endured, coming back as a band you’ll very much recognize when you hear this record, though you’ll notice some subtle differences in sound mixed in with the psychedelia-draped doom. As for the band, longtime guitarist Asechiah Bogan left the fold, leaving Garrett Morris as the only guitar player. But that subtraction doesn’t lessen their grip at all, and if anything, they sound even more channeled. Singer Dorthia Cottrell remains one of the most powerful, alluring vocalists in all of metal (not just doom), and the rhythm section of bassist Parker Chandler (also of Cough) and drummer Ryan Wolfe pounds you, as this band keeps getting stronger and wiser as they grow.

“Halcyon” opens the record with noise swirling and riffs that are trademark Windhand coming for you. Cottrell’s voice, adding emphasis to the, “I wish you would,” chorus really sells this one, and in other spots she sees visions in the waters. The soloing burns, while a psychedelic haze is applied, and following a return to the chorus, everything bleeds away. “Grey Garden” is riffy and sticky, with the chorus of, “Isn’t it all a mess? Soon it’ll go away,” rewiring your brain. A cool psyche wind blows in, with the guitars bringing everything back to life, and a the chorus’ return blowing everything away. “Pilgrim’s Rest” pulls things back, as it’s a doom ballad with moody, reflective tones and Cottrell noting, “All love is pain.” “First to Die” has muscular, burly riffs as the pace lands blows, and the vocals swelter. The pace of the song gives off serious steam, with a strong chorus, bold vocals, and the leads burning before fading away. “Light Into Dark” is a cool instrumental that reminds a bit of the fade-in from “War Pigs” as guitars keep unloading, firing away and bleeding into madness.

“Red Cloud” unloads more jagged riffs, with Cottrell howling, “My hands are clean, washed up your precious heart,” amid a pulsing rhythm section and fiery guitars. The track delves deep into the fuzz as it goes on, ending in trudging melody. “Eyeshine” runs 11:03, and it buzzes in the air before the doom drops. The pace is filthier and steaming, with Cottrell singing about a “stranger crossing the sea” repeatedly so it gets stuck in your head. The soloing spits fiery noise, while the back end is steady and bruising, leaving you a heap. “Diablerie” reopens old wounds, as it’s a shorter (for them), heavier track where Cottrell pastes you with her call of, “Hope it don’t come back again,” in yet another chorus that you won’t be able to forget. A fluid, doomy solo slices in, as the track comes to a melodic, memorable end. Closer “Feather” is the death knell, clean and swimming in warm melodies, slowly melting as Cottrell’s softer singing sends chills. The band later rips right through the calming fog with bludgeoning, exploring and soaring, unleashing sorrowful guitar work that makes your heart quiver. Thick drone later arrives like a swarm, and then the track reawakens, as the vocals immerse you, sounds blend, and everything drowns out in a psychedelic storm.

The journey that unfolds on “Eternal Return” might result in death, but that’s only from the perspective of this vision. As a band, Windhand weathered the storms they faced and came out galvanized, which you’ll hear on these great nine songs. This band is building their legacy with each building block, and “Eternal Return” is one that infuses Windhand with even more life even while they stare into the mouth of impending darkness.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.windhand.band/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.relapse.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords

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Marissa Nadler exposes darker aspects of love, relationships with excellent ‘For My Crimes’

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

Relationships can be stretched thin. Things can get in the way, distance can keep two people apart for too long, and people’s connections can dissolve without even realizing it’s taking place. Love can be wonderful and freeing, but it also can be torturous and painful, leaving your heart bloody and beaten.

On her breathtaking eighth record “For My Crimes,” Nadler confronts the delicacy of love and relationships and the things that can weigh down on those ties with these 11 tracks, which are some of the best of her decade and a half as an artist. I feel like we say that every time Nadler returns with a new record, and its because she keeps refining herself, digging deeper into her own psyche, and boldly revealing parts of herself, even if they’re the aspects that hurt the most. Along with her on this record are notable guests who add their own textures and voices to the songs, including Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls as well as a solo artist), Sharon Van Etten, Patty Schemel (drummer for Hole), harpist Mary Lattimore¸ and multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin, and saxophonist Dana Colley (Morphine). Nadler is the centerpiece here, no doubt, but the artists who color in the edges help her round up these tremendous songs and glimpses into her world and life.

The title track has Nadler playing the role of a criminal on death row staring down a long corridor, her wrists tied, as she faces the wrong she’s done, balancing this role with her own life. “Please don’t remember me for my crimes,” she pleads, as the song slips into solemnity amid the haze of squeaking strings. “I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Anymore” is about longing for a riding partner now gone, as she admits, “It’s getting harder to save you from the fire,” as she laments that listening to the Byrds founder’s songs is impossible without her partner. “Are You Really Gonna Move to the South” also tags loneliness, as she fears someone’s imminent departure, noting she has been, “Sleepwalking through the days, I’ve been out of my mind.” “Lover Release Me” is, like much of what’s on here, quiet and acoustic, as love’s grasp gets too tight, as she realizes, “I’m dying in the dark with you.” Organs rush in and amplify the mood before all light fades. “Blue Vapor” is a stunner, one of the finest songs of her rich catalog, as guitars churn, the pace is a little rougher, and the easily intoxicating chorus gets into your head and never leaves, no matter how many times you hear it.

“Interlocking” takes the mood even further into the shadows, with Nadler noting, “Every day’s a bad day, and I’ve been so down,” which is so emotionally punishing. Dark guitars then drip, while the track ends on a gothy note. “All Out of Catastrophes” extends the bad luck run, nothing a lover calling her by the wrong name at night is one of the nicer things that has happened to her, while later she opines, “I’m going to hell,” repeatedly, as her heart dissolves. “Dream Dream Big in the Sky” has a simple chorus, though its strong and always comes back to haunt, and an extra gust of atmosphere thickens the clouds. “You’re Only Harmless When You Sleep” has a different touch, and she goes more straightforward folk, while she recalls, “You saw my death in a dream,” as she makes good on the song’s title. She feels her downfall every time her partner rests, and it makes for a cold, chilling song. “Flamethrower” has her pushing, “You wanted to burn, burn, burn, leaving only charred remains,” sounding like she’s writing a death metal cut, but delivering the line with fragility and pain. The guitars weep, as a Western feel is infused, and then it bleeds away. Closer “Said Goodbye to That Car” bids farewell to love as well, as she longs for lost days all the while telling her story through an old car she says once “took a bullet in New Haven.” The unique chorus of, “119657, and the engine blew,” is both catchy but sorrowful, as Nadler cuts ties with her past as she leaves for old car behind.

Nadler’s darkness, her personal touch to her music, and her willingness to display her vulnerability is something that’s always attracted us to her music, and that continues in spades on “For My Crimes.” She has a voice that is unmistakable and can’t be duplicated and a way about creating music that can touch all the sensitive scars inside and as well as all those times we felt the same way and couldn’t think of a way to express ourselves. And she slays that beast every single time

For more on the band, go here: https://www.marissanadler.com/

To buy the album, go here: https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com/collections/marissa-nadler

For more on the label, go here: https://www.sacredbonesrecords.com

Descendants of Crom returns with an extra day, whole slew of metal, doom, sludge bands

We’ve been fairly spoiled by metal and heavy music in general here in Pittsburgh in 2018. We’ve had a ton of great bands come though (just a few years ago, that was not a given), we had the glorious Migration Fest in July, and now, just as autumn begins to dig in its claws, the second Descendants of Crom festival is returning, this time with more bands and another day tacked on for good measure.

Starting Thursday night with the pre-fest gala at Howler’s in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh and continuing Friday and Saturday with full lineups of some of the most diverse metal, doom, psyche, and rock artists imaginable, the event sets up shop once again at Cattivo in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh. Last year’s event was a blast, and it’s one of the most fun festivals I’ve ever attended. With two stages (an upstairs and a downstairs setting), the fest flew by. Once one band was done, you went to the stage on the other level, and things were getting under way. No downtime, bands that sound nothing like each other, and an attendee-friendly environment makes this one that you definitely want to check out. Organized Shy Kennedy (also of local doom burners Horehound and the brains and brawn behind Blackseed Records) has put together a killer show, and we’ll take a quick run through all the bands so, if you’re unfamiliar with any of them, we can at least tell you a little something about them.

Also, we repurposed the piece from July about all the cool shit to do while you’re in town that we did for Migration Fest. The info is all still relevant, and we had a lot of people tell us the guide was very helpful. So, check that out as well. Now, onto the bands.

 

Thursday, Sept. 27, 8 p.m., Howlers (https://goo.gl/maps/1AFWB5yKhQ12)

GRAN GILA (9 pm.): Local doom metal crushers get the entire event started off. Warning: There will be beards.

MIRES (9:40): Pittsburgh-based instrumental doom/drone quartet that will bring an atmospheric, mind-bending edge.

FIST FIGHT IN THE PARKING LOT (10:20): A more rock and roll-based band that will bring a rowdier attitude to the gala. Vocalist/guitarist Abby Krinzer also is a DJ for local radio station the X and is one hell of a force.

REBREATHER (11:10): Ohio-based trio that always comes with plenty of heaviness in tow. These guys have been crushing hearing for nearly 20 years now.

DESTROYER OF LIGHT (midnight): Austin, Texas, doom rockers bring energy and fire you’ll need when the clocks turns Friday. They just released their “Hopeless” EP in May, and their last full-length was last year’s “Chamber of Horrors.”

 

Friday, Sept 28, 4 pm., Cattivo (https://goo.gl/maps/ERW2YkPnQfA2)

THE LONG HUNT (4:20 p.m.): Pittsburgh instrumental doom filled with atmosphere. Their new record “All Paths Lead to Here” is highly recommended and as beautiful as it is heavy.

SOLARBURN (4:45): Pittsburgh-based trio will bring heaviness and power to your Friday, which you’ll totally need after a bullshit week at work.

YATRA (5:10): Is your mind ready to wander into the void? If so, Maryland-based trio Yatra has you covered and more. Doomy and from the beyond.

ETERNAL BLACK (5:35): Brooklyn-based doom/stoner metal band that released “Bleed the Days” last summer.  They’re heading back into the studio in November to record their second record.

CURSE THE SON (6:00): Hailing from New Haven, Connecticut, these guys also bring the stoner metal and doom vibe and records for the mighty Ripple Records.

DOCTOR SMOKE (6:30): We haven’t gotten a new full-length from this Ohio-based band since 2014’s “The Witching Hour,” but we’ll get to see what these doom rockers have been up to lately.

HOREHOUND (7:00): Fest creator Shy Kennedy fronts this awesome doom band that can be melodic and crushing. Their new record “Holocene” is a barnburner and is out in November.

DOOMSTRESS (7:30): This smoking, fiery band mixes classic heavy metal and doom and is fronted by Doomstress Alexis, who will tear your head off. To add to their awesomeness, they’re major LGBTQ supporters, and Alexis has become a major advocate for other transgender individuals and artists.

DEMON EYE (8:00): You can’t go wrong with a band named after a Deep Purple song, and the last record they hit us with was last year’s “Prophecies and Lies.”

SIERRA (8:30): Ontario-based psyche doom pounders Sierra released “The Mirror” in April, and it has flashes of doom, prog, and psychedelics. Should be fucking loud.

HEAVY TEMPLE (9:00): Bad-ass Philly trio Heavy Temple will haunt and bludgeon you with their sound, which is heavy, haunting, and bluesy as fuck. These ladies are coming for your blood.

DISENCHANTER (9:30): This punchy duo certainly has a doom buzz to it, but vocalist/guitarist Sabine Spangenberg adds a classic metal flair with her bellowing, powerful singing.

HOWLING GIANT (10:05): Nashville psychonauts Howling Giant almost assuredly will bring in tow songs from their raucous two-part “Black Hole Space Wizard” EPs. They will be a blast and heavy as hell.

DEVIL TO PAY (10:40): Sludgy and apocalyptic, Indianapolis pounders Devil to Pay have a healthy resume of five full-length albums, their latest 2016’s “A Bend Through Space and Time.”

LO PAN (11:15): Columbus’ Lo Pan have become a pretty regular visitor to Pittsburgh, and their inclusion here makes all the sense in the world. They also have one of the strongest traditional singers on the bill in Jeff Martin.

COME TO GRIEF (midnight): This band formed from the ashes of legendary Grief, whose landmark record “Come to Grief” recently was added to the Decibel Hall of Fame. And for good reason.

 

Friday, Sept 29, 4 pm., Cattivo (https://goo.gl/maps/ERW2YkPnQfA2)

URNS (4:45): These good, good local boys just tore open the recent YOB/Bell Witch show here in Pittsburgh with their heavy doom that reminds a bit of the sadly fallen Pilgrim.

JAKETHEHAWK (5:10): Pittsburgh is about as far away from the desert as you can get, but this Pittsburgh band (and Blackseed Records artist) finds a way to bring the dry heat, which they do on “Year of the Hawk,” which was released in January.

THUNDERBIRD DIVINE (5:35): Rising from the collapse of Wizard Eyes, Thunderbird Divine are getting ready to release their debut record “Magnasonic” on Salt of the Earth Records.

RIVER CULT (6:00): Heavy psyche rockers River Cult are from Brooklyn and bring with them songs from their debut record “Halcyon Days” that was released by Blackseed Records in February.

MOLASSES BARGE (6:30): This Pittsburgh band (featuring Brian “Butch” Balich of Argus) unleash their brand of classic doom metal, which will be heavy and epic. Their last album “Covered in Molasses” was released last year by Blackseed.

WORSHIPPER (7:00): This Massachusetts-based metal band is one of the members of TeePee Records’ stellar roster, and they released their EP “Mirage Daze” in June that contains covers of songs by Pink Floyd, the Who, Uriah Heep, and the Oath.

WOLFTOOTH (7:30): Indiana-based heavy doom maulers Wolftooth offered up their self-titled debut record this year. The album feeds off classic heavy metal and gallops hard on the plains.

IRONFLAME (8:00): This is the brainchild of the great Andrew D’Cagna (Coldfells, Nechochwen, and new vocalist for Icarus Witch), a power metal-friendly unit that released their latest album “Tales of Splendor and Sorrow” this year on Divebomb Records.

CAVERN (8:30): Maryland’s Cavern are one of the artists on the impressive Grimoire Records roster, and their brand of storming doom and metal will bruise bodies and pulverize ears. Their new album “Eater” was released in June, and it’s a smasher.

TOKE (9:00): I mean, if you’re not familiar with this band, do you really need it spelled out for you? They’re called Toke. They hail from North Carolina, and they’ll out-smoke every one of you.

FORMING THE VOID (9:30): This band calls Louisiana home, and they play an interesting blend of progressive sludge and doom that perplexes and punishes. Their latest record “Rift” was released in August by Bolication Records.

GEEZER (10:05): Bluesy and hazy, this New York-based band deliver riffs, as one might expect from the name of the group. They’re cosmic and psychedelic, and they’ll deliver the goods in their later slot.

FREEDOM HAWK (10:40): If you’re starting to get tired with the night going on, the energetic power and groove of Virginia’s Freedom Hawk should be enough to get you going again.

MOS GENERATOR (11:20): This band has been steamrolling for nearly 20 years now, and from their Sabbath, Van Halen, and Kiss covers to their own soulful doom sound, this band has plenty from which to choose for their set.

DUEL (12:05): Rounding out the festival is this Austin, Texas, proto-metal band. They just released their “Live at the Electric Church” album, and they’ll send everyone home thinking about metal’s sturdy roots.

To buy tickets for the event, go here: http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

For more on the event, go here: http://www.descendantsofcrom.com/

Descendants of Crom: What to do around town between the metallic, doom-fed poundings

NOTE: Yes, you’ve seen this story before. We did a roundup of cool places in Pittsburgh, things to do, places to buy records and coffees and books and all that when Migration Fest rolled around in July. This weekend’s Descendants of Crom festival takes place roughly in the same vicinity of town, so we felt repurposing this story for all the folks coming into town for a healthy serving of doom, sludge, psychedelics, etc., could be helpful all over again.

Also, come back in an hour for an entire preview of the fest.

Everyone still thinks there are steel mills in Pittsburgh. And the rivers are brown. And you can’t breathe the air. Not even close, friends. This is a city on the rise and has been for a few years, and there is a lot of fun things to do around here in your hours where you’re not being devastated by metal.

We put a few features together about what you might want to do while you’re here for Descendants of Crom. Two things: First, I didn’t add lodging. You should have done that by now. Second, don’t go to fucking Primanti’s. Every asshole in town will be like, “You gotta do dahn Primanti’s,” but that’s because most of these people haven’t traveled past Sea World. Primanti’s is shit. I’m embarrassed we are known for that place. Fuck it. But we have a lot of cool things going on, and this city is great, so here are a few things. Also, this is not a comprehensive list of everything. Just some stuff I think you might find fun. I’m also going to keep this concentrated on the area near the festival (Millvale, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield) and not throughout the entire city. We’d be here all day.

Also, quick note about transportation: If you’re driving, you should be able to find parking in Millvale. It might be tight, though. Your best bet is to use Lyft or Uber. Local taxi service is a joke, and the light rail doesn’t reach out to this end of town.

RECORD SHOPS:

Attic Record Store: This is a few-minute walk from Mr. Smalls, and you could spend all day in there. There are a ton of new vinyl loaded in the front and a practical library in the back of new and used vinyl. There’s a decent metal section on the display shelf in the back. Just ask. Someone in their ridiculously friendly staff will help you find it.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3k9XheBJBsq

Juke Records: This store evolved out of Soundcat Records (RIP Karl Hendricks) and is located in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh. Lots of indie rock, jazz, and classic rock, though you can find some metal, punk, and hardcore records amid their collection. They also have a really healthy used vinyl section.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fSyCbAixfcw

Eide’s Entertainment: Located in the Strip District right next to downtown Pittsburgh, this four-story shop is another you could be in all day. Comics and toys on the basement and ground level floors; used records and DVDs on the second floor; new vinyl and CDs on the top level. Pretty much every time I’m there, they’re playing fucking bad blues rock, but the selection makes the torture worth it.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/qHs5DGoovao

Cruel Noise: Located in Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh, Cruel Noise has a slew of used metal, hardcore, punk, and indie rock records, as well as a decent section of new vinyl, cassettes, T-shirts, and whatnot. Almost every time I go, I find something awesome I never thought I’d find. Also, sometimes the owner’s cool dog is there. Definitely scratch the pup on the ears.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3jVB78tCzZo

Others: Get Hip Inc. (North Side), Jerry’s Records (Squirrel Hill), Dave’s Music Mine (South Side)

 

BREWERIES:

Like every city, we’ve got a lot. These are some good ones.

Grist House: One of two breweries in easy walking distance from Mr. Smalls, they have a menu of beers that are very drinkable and range between 4 and 8% ABV typically. Laid-back and cool hangout spot.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/QD3qqQdAEMU2

Strange Roots Experimental Ales: Formerly known as Drai Laag, this brewery changed their path very recently, concentrating on mostly on sour ales and interesting brewing techniques to come up with brews that are pretty different. Also, they have a nice dining menu. Short walk from Mr. Smalls.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/vREmsHMdXyN2

Roundabout Brewery: Located in Lawrenceville, right across the river from Millvale, this small brewery is owned by a husband-wife team and always come up with new concoctions throughout the year. You can get a 12 oz or 16 oz pour in their taproom, and they have a limited food menu. Fun place run by people who love beermaking.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/FrC5wZD1Krt

East End Brewing Taproom: East End was up and making their craft brews long before the trend became such a huge thing. They have two locations, but this one is the closest to Mr. Smalls. You can get a pint, a growler filled, or a fleet of beers that have become local favorites.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/6D1A9v184PU2

Full Pint Wild Side Pub: Full Pint’s actual brewery is in North Versailles Twp., but this brew pub features their tremendous beers in a dark, ambient bar setting. They have some of the better beers in Pittsburgh, and if they have it on tap, definitely get the Rye Rebellion. It’s dark, tasty, and potent.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5qdjZSpyvsm

Others: Southern Tier (North Shore), Dancing Gnome (O’Hara Twp.), Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar(Lawrenceville), Penn Brewery (North Side)

 

RESTAURANTS:

I’ll keep these to the names and location, broken down by style of food. We like these places a lot, and maybe you will too. These are a little more spread out over the city, but Pittsburgh’s not too big of a place. Also, many of these places have bars and serve alcohol. A quick Google search will help.

 

Traditional American:

Nova Café (hoagies, hot dogs, deli sandwiches)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/meLyygq659T2

Millvale Diner (name says it all, and it’s right down the street from the venue)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/kntRFkMjGHG2

Franktuary (all kinds of hot dogs, veggies options, and beware one of the potential toppings is tarantula!)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/RCmdoLNGd852

Industry Public House (great beer selection, American-style food)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/DaW9CbTygnE2

 

Pizza:

DeMore’s Pizzeria

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/UDDHu4kjjxs

Caliente (excellent beer menu)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zQv6RDSHLAw

Driftwood Oven

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/HjcSs2HnAC72

Alida’s Woodfire Cucina

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/A939FamijY22

Spak Brothers Pizza

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/xEHRQA95q5C2

 

Asian:

China House

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5wtVDEBUwgn

Zen Asian Diner

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/x1TCoEpUoTM2

China Lin

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/gigbbB1VH312

Umami (specializes in Japanese street foods)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/mhtWTQYE91B2

Feng Japanese Steakhouse

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/UdwWKeSH1Py

Ginza Japan

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/LgJjYsVoYCw

Pusadee’s Garden (Thai)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/oRJSznWhw2p

Hug Thai Restaurant

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/GPvBemU1yQw

Thai Gourmet

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/67Q5RP1VK8r

Pad Thai

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/47DkAmVi6Ut

Tram’s Kitchen (Vietnamese)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/KtqSt1cybfu

Pho Minh

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/4vGrkLob6K42

 

Italian:

Piccolo Forno

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9CXsQxeeQAB2

Senti Restaurant

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fPh7ew4Nujv

Alida’s Woodfire Cucina

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/A939FamijY22

Sausalido

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Ab4w97Zqyq62

 

Indian:

Taste of India

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/KcEkNSGzzi52

People’s Indian Restaurant

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/45XLcGZxbQz

 

Mexican/Tex-Mex:

El Burro

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9pi7xt98y3k

Baby Loves Tacos

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3kJUzRjAhsR2

Round Corner Cantina

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/qKEcWbj6J712

Smoke BBQ Taqueria

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MULJP2KGogu

Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/8MDpY2ZX4wp

 

Mediterranean:

B52 Café (mix of American and Mediterranean with vegetarian options)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/gKtHmSKc42P2

Cure (Mediterranean with local ingredients)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/csALhSXsLjQ2

Pastitsio (Greek)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/EkoTv5ZbA5B2

 

Middle Eastern:

Salim’s Middle Eastern Food

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zGvYRVmqg6n

Khalil’s

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5RaX43KwYc42

 

Vegetarian/Vegan:

Almost all places have vegetarian options, but here are some better vegetarian/vegan stops.

Onion Maiden

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/DBhWxfiwW1U2

APTEKA

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/WPAoE1meHks

Milky Way

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/6bPf2PtqeiH2

The Zenith

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MpgNwz1kpBk

Brillobox

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MT5JydEbtLx

 

Gluten-Free:

Gluten-Free Goat Bakery and Cafe

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/A3brxWrsmK12

 

Breakfast:

Midtown Tavern

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/vnUSW3ngXxt

Pamela’s (local chain … I think it’s really overrated, but tons of people disagree with me)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/56D4TY7FCQG2

Coca Café (known for breakfasts but also serve lunch and small-plate dinners)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/FkKJwsX3oDq

Geppetto Café

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/QKXkja2RsnQ2

Barb’s Corner Kitchen

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PLE9cRDfvFR2

 

Dessert:

Crazy Cones of Millvale

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/e7tSjuR7qZo

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/tavaB1282to

Yetter’s Candy

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/2eqM48QpJsx

The Butterwood Bake Consortium

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/cLiDYuc9FGM2

La Gourmandine (French pastries and other baked goods)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/ss5Cpes17Tx

Twisters Ice Cream

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PCaQGm3dV2y

Bella Christie and Lil Z’s Sweet Boutique

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PCaQGm3dV2y

NatuRoll Creamery (ice cream made with Thai technique of rolling batter)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/L9aWdGikr4x

 

COFFEE SHOPS:

Black Forge (it’s a little out of the way from the venue, but it is THE metal coffee shop of Pittsburgh)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/5FocNpHbBLF2

The Abbey (also good beer selection and is open for all meals)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/rMJcoWF9siz

Constellation Coffee

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/obfi76DmtYr

The Commonplace Coffee House

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/obfi76DmtYr

Tupelo Honey (tea)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/T9kUCD7xNhr

Espresso a Mano

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/7Xz8yFE1GSR2

Zeke’s Coffee

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/QWTEF3nQDry

Coffee Tree Roasters

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/xTbBbHpMrUH2

Nicholas’ Coffee

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/PqP5PEHru8y

 

ASSORTED FUN SHIT:

Millvale Riverfront Park (hiking and biking trails)

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/UBnUbyiz6b32

Bloomfield Park

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MbxtruPTvmL2

Arsenal Bowling Lanes

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/jHvKDP4UFq32

Millvale Bowling Lanes

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3Kw7JNTXbc52

Lumberjaxes Axe Throwing

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/bJnp4xsruJG2

 

Horrendous continue to alter death metal’s DNA, inject jazzy, spacey touches to cagey ‘Idol’

Photo by Scott Kinkade

Death metal is having a banner 2018 with so damn many good records that have come our way, and there are still some to arrive later in the year. One reason the scene and sub-genre have become so healthy is because it has expanded its identity greatly. As have many categories of metal. But there is just so much you can do with this sound, that it’s exciting to see where it goes next.

One band that’s been changing and morphing their own death metal identity has been Philly’s Horrendous who, quite quickly, have become one of the most talked-about and sought-after bands on the planet. Their highly anticipated fourth record “Idol” is nearly in your hands, their first for Season of Mist, and if you’re expecting it’s going to sound anything like their earlier work or even resemble 2015’s “Anareta” at all, get ready to be shocked.  Though you really shouldn’t be. Horrendous have been changing out and updating their DNA ever since 2012 debut “The Chills” began sickening audiences, and what we have here is a band in the midst of a creative awakening who are just figuring out exactly what they are. It’s a shift that reminds me a lot of Megadeth when they transitioned from “So Far, So Good… So What?” (difference being “Anareta” isn’t a piece of shit) to “Rust in Peace.” The band—guitarists/vocalists Damian Herring and Matt Knox, bassist Alex Kulick (he joined in 2016), and drummer Jamie Knox—push themselves into space and even unleash a new jazziness to their work, which you can pinpoint to Kulick’s arrival.

The album opens with “…Prescience,” a quick introductory cut with liquidy bass and spacey noise, and then it’s right into “Soothsayer,” where you get your first real taste of the state of Horrendous, 2018. A swirling pace, proggy madness, and shrieked cries greet you, letting you know it remains savage in here, but there’s so much more going on. The leads swelter while the pace is loopy and blistering, playing tricks on your mind before a thrashy closing that loosens bricks from walls. “The Idolater” is clean and shimmery at first, but then the bass quivers, and everything speeds ahead. The tempo keeps changing, never allowing you comfort or expectations, and later the guitars swim in the air and through the cosmos. “Golgothan Tongues” also is spacious at first, with riffs burning and an amplified sense of prog. There also are some clean vocals that enter, though amid that, Herring howls, “The tyrant has fallen,” which, let’s not get my hopes up, OK? A melodic solo takes over, and the song bleeds out.

“Divine Anhedonia” has slinky, jazzy bass licks to start, as the band works on a slow build that eventually moves its way to an explosion. The riffs encircle their prey and then begin racing, as wild shrieks are emitted, and a spoken section arrives as if out of an old science-fiction movie. The track comes thrashing back before more clean singing and then a violent end. “Devotion (Blood for Ink)” has crazed cries, a wild pace, and a sense of panic instantly injected into the song. The crush later dissipates in a pool of cold guitars, with a stretch of singing and an ambiance that reminds a bit of Cynic. Strong soloing enters, and then the track fires up, reaches its climax, and then fades. “Threnody…” is an instrumental piece built by strange environment and moody guitars, and then we’re onto 8:37-long closer “Obolus.” Trudgy and jazzy, the track then lobs punches, as Herring wails, “Show me my savior, my specter, my devil!” Clean calls sit behind the growled rage, while the track blazes and, like many of the cuts on here, seems to end prematurely before restarting as a different beast. The track gets ominous then gets, as the guitars burn away the trail that is carved, leaving no trace of its steps behind.

If we’re being honest, “Idol” is not going to make all Horrendous fans happy. There will be those who don’t like their proggier sound, who will eschew to arrival of cleaner vocals in spots (it didn’t do anything for me, either), and will just want all-out brutality. Horrendous haven’t been that for a long time. Instead, they’re an alien that keeps gaining knowledge, continues to get stronger and more savvy, and is leaving many other death metal bands in their dust.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/HorrendousDeathMetal/

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

PICK OF THE WEEK: Paths unleash gusts of winter, bleed melodies with icy ‘In Lands Thought Lost’

It’s hard to imagine heavy snow falling and icy, uncomfortable conditions here when it’s still in the mid-80s. Summer is getting ready to gasp its last and, as we’ve been talking about all this week for some reason, it really won’t be much longer until we’re back in the throes of winter, as sad as that may make some of you.

If you want an even earlier taste of wind gusts that’ll freeze the oxygen in your lungs and create nearly frostbitten flesh, you can take on “In Lands Thought Lost,” the third record from the Victoria, British Columbia-based black metal power Paths. The concept of sole member Michael Taylor (Panopticon’s Austin Lunn handles drums on this album), these five tracks get inside you and make you hunger for days in front of the fire, chilling your bones and admiring the majesty of winter. The music, like some of what’s preceded it in the Paths catalog, also delves deeply into Scandinavian heritage, which you can feel in the heavy, fluid music contained here. With these songs, all of which clock in at more than seven minutes, you take a journey into terrain that will require you join in, keep moving, and ensure your blood is pumping so that you aren’t overcome by the conditions.

“Nights Tomb” starts off clean before the riffs tear everything apart, with Taylor’s furious shrieks pelting the ground. Melodies storm and pound, threatening to cover the earth, while cavernous howls help infuse atmosphere, and the drumming rumbles the earth. The song gets raw and wintry as sounds cascade, thunderous leads burst, and the track comes to a furious end. “To Brave the Storm” brings icy guitars that are thawed by warm, scorching leads. Gushing melodies and punishing drums overwhelm, while the melodies lap and spill. The song then swims through the fog, as leads spiral backward, while Taylor levels and acknowledges the time “to count the cost of a battle hard won” as the song leads you out into the wilderness.

“Creaking Boughs” starts in dreamy fuzz, with creaking verses and an atmosphere-rich push, as the melody rains down. “I speak in whispers,” Taylor warns, as the pace surges, and the overflow of melodies eventually unloads. Wordless harmonies lather before growls knife through, the riffs clobber, and everything ends in dust. “The Everbright” tears open as crazed wails strike, and the drums begin to flatten, as elegant synth bleeds into the scene and changes the ambiance. “Open the gates to paradise with brazen strength,” Taylor blasts, while the guitars bubble over and rush, raging right to the end. Closer “South Ever South” is the longest track, running 12:33, and it starts with synth echoing and a murky, foggy tempo being established. Taylor’s shrieks reverberate, as he cries, “Hope fades with the changing of seasons,” before the track turns serene. The playing mesmerizes, taking your mind on a journey before the deluge fades into a stinging single guitar burning a hole. The music then submits completely, with the only sounds left being boots crunching their way over snowy terrain, reminding of what’s just over the horizon.

Paths maintain a traditional black metal sound while also delivering freezing sentiments on their excellent third album “In Lands Thought Lost.” It’s a record that’ll overwhelm you with its melody and power, and it’s an incredibly infectious listen that offers heaviness and emotion. We may still be a few months away from the ice and snow, but this record will chill your blood in your veins long before the darkest days of the year arrive.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pathsmetal

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.bindrunerecordings.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://bindrunerecordings.com/

Scorched unleash cosmic doses of violent death metal horrors on damaging ‘Ecliptic Butchery’

Photo by Jacki Vitetta

Just about every day here in America is a goddamn horror story, with each event that would have baffled and infuriated people years only being digested like grease in a clogged artery. Let’s instead pull away from this diseased plane and head into space, where the horrors are relegated to your imagination and can be just a bloody and unforgiving.

Delaware death metal beasts Scorched are going to take you on an intergalactic terror voyage with their devastating second record “Ecliptic Butchery,” yet another insanely good album from a sub-genre flowing with quality content this year. These nine tracks transport you into deep space, where blood is shed generously and smeared all over, and the horrors are amplified because the scenes you’re seeing are altogether alien. Along with the band’s brand of brutal yet technically scarring death comes sheets of icy synth you’d expect from a creepy horror movie in the early 1980s. All of that combined helps the band—vocalist Matt Kapa, guitarists Federico Dimarco and Steve Fuchs, bassist Andrew Benenati, and drummer Matt Izzi—push their blood-soaked trauma to the next level, surpassing their furious debut “Echoes of Dismemberment” and making their filth sicker than ever.

“Blood Splatter Eclipse” starts with cosmic zaps before noise surfaces, and burly riffs tear into your flesh. Kapa’s growls snarl, while the band crushes everything in its wake, unloading thrashy assaults, sludging bone crushing, and everything being sent into a chasm. “Disfiguring Operations” is heavy and evil with sinister riffs splashing blood on the walls and animalistic growls burying you in the dirt. Speed blinds, while the guitars wail away and burn right up to the end. “Astral Savior” is nasty right off the bat, with growls simmering and the band’s playing destroying souls. Doomy guitars arrive to make things even darker, with a razor-sharp solo knifing its way in, and everything falling mercy to a wall of noise. “Bodies Collect” has sounds building before beastly growls from Kapa blister your center and the guitar work charges and stabs. From there, the guitars go off and boil flesh off the bones, while weird horror keys mix in and send chills, with the track succumbing to haunting weirdness.

“Exhibit of Torture” bludgeons from the start, as the growls thicken, and the pace sends your stomach into hyperdrive. Doom streaks color the guitar work, while the soloing is fierce and terrifying before the song punishes you one last time for good measure. “Mortuary of Nightmares” is furious, as the guitars splatter, and the track enters a path of ugly trudging. Death growls combine with an engorging tempo before everything comes to a violently abrupt end. “Darkness Infests” is thick and thrashy with weird psychedelic sounds playing tricks on your mind and the guitars sending you into a wave of dizziness. Strange keys rise later, making this feel alien and odd, and then we’re into “Barbarous Experimentation.” There, fluid riffs and shredding guitar parts draw first blood, while Kapa’s growls sound like they’re gurgling bodily fluids and mud, making this even more disgusting. The band trudges away while Kapa gasps a gross, “Egh!” before it all comes to a blistering end. “Dissected Humanity” closes this tale with chugging violence, leads that scorch skin, and punishing growls. The guitar work leans heavily into strangeness, as an unexpected industrial haze looms large, choking lungs. That, combined with the last throes of savage death, lead into the final movement that feels like the tail end of an old B sci-fi movie, where you can’t believe something possibly could have turned your stomach like this.

Next time you think shit down here can’t get any worse, look to the stars and wonder about the torture and mayhem beyond that’s brutally described on “Ecliptic Butchery.” Scorched are working to ensure death metal remains grimy and plasma coated, all the while delivering the goods in a scintillating, devastating fashion. We’ve been over-served great death metal this year, though we managed to find room to squeeze in the vile morsels force-fed to us by these deranged fucks.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/scorchedde

To buy the album (LP), go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/20bs-vinyl/products/scorched-ecliptic-butchery-lp

Or here (CD): https://www.20buckspin.com/collections/20-buck-spin-cds/products/scorched-ecliptic-butchery-2xcd

For more on the label, go here: https://www.20buckspin.com/