The Exorcist: A BBC Radio 4 Production

E1The Exorcist (2014)

BBC Radio 4 Production

Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, Adapted by Robert Frost

Starring: Robert Glenister, Ian McDiarmid, Lydia Wilson and Alexandra Mathie

In an unassuming town house in Georgetown, Washington D.C, a young girl is showing signs of being possessed by a demonic spirit. A man has been sent to help her. This man is The Exorcist.

Absolutely nothing is scarier than the infinite power of imagination. To have the terrifying images of a slowly rotating head or a bloody crucifix masturbation is one thing, but Robert Frost invites us to experience a truly heart-stopping prospect: What if you’d never seen ‘The Exorcist’ and were the completely blind witness to just the noise of dialogue lifted directly from the book, in all their horrifying glory?

Well ok, perhaps I set my hopes for what a retelling of a genuinely disturbing story could be too high as I have to confess, I found this adaptation to be slightly underwhelming. Even when given the full opportunity for scares of listening to it in the dead of night and all the lights off, it was never quite able to hit the heights of the terrifying visions that used to plague my dreams at even the mere sight of a picture from the film.

E2 That is not to say that this is not a superbly valiant effort. Indeed, with some of the special effects of the film now drawing laughs rather than frights for being “out of date”, the radio adaptation goes down the solely audible route to devastatingly chilling effect. Helmed by the masterful Gary C Newman, the program begins with the most terrifying clock ticking and chiming you will have ever heard in your life! Borrowing a neat trick from the film of the clock suddenly stopping and using it as a cue for when something scary is about to go down, this instantly puts you on edge. Simple, yes but hugely effective.

There is also a tremendous amount of time that passes before we are even introduced to Regan as a character. It is clear that Frost’s masterful intention here was to tantalisingly keep the audience constantly ill at ease as to just when the hell we were going to walk up those steps, until the tension reached breaking point and then the shivers down the spine instantly set in as soon as we hear Karras open the door.

With such an assortment of hugely atmospheric sounds, you feel completely immersed in the narrative and if you were to dare close your eyes, you’d swear the characters were stood right next to you. By far and away the best example of this came in the form of Karras’ plagued dream about rats at the end of the first half of the program. With the demon’s haunting voice-over, the scrabbling and scratching sounds physically made you feel unclean as you listened and was truly a perfect example of the radio’s underused power to terrify and move audiences.

E3In a couple of cases, the radio adaptation is able to pick up and improve on elements that were important in the novel and yet were underplayed or ignored completely in the film. Most notably of all was the move to focus entirely on the developments in the wake of Burke Dennings’ mysterious (and grizzly) death, making the piece play out almost like a heightened true crime thriller. Not only does this mean a great deal more of the entertaining Detective Kinderman, but also the mysterious possible Nazi past of the MacNeils’ housekeeper Karl is brought into greater and intriguing focus.

For me personally, the most underrating scariest moment in this adaptation came from Karras’ interview with the psychiatrist who had attended Regan, when he confesses that after dealing with her, he’s never been able to look patients in the eye again. A beautifully under-played moment of genuine chills and you could brilliantly hear the fear in the voice as he recounted his experience with her.

E4The glowing red weak spot? The portrayal and dynamic of the ‘demon’/Regan. Initially the deceptively normal and sweet sounding voice that seamlessly gives way to the elderly woman’s is clever, only for the realisation to quickly set in that frankly, it’s just too normal. The delivery from Alexandra Mathie almost feels too casual, despite all the horrible things she is saying and it makes the haunting spectre of Mercedes McCambridge’s performance towering that much higher over it.

Mathie has to be hugely commended, however, for learning to speak the backwards lines of dialogue organically. It is sadly the only real moment were her clearly talented voice is put to great and terrifying use and it feels that much more hauntingly authentic as a result.

E5 With a slightly limp and undercooked actual exorcism scene, the adaptation does end on somewhat of a whimper, but it should be remembered that the programs primary focus was on everything else around it rather than the possession itself. It may not linger in the mind or be as celebrated anywhere near as much as the film, but what this offered was a fascinating exploration into the disturbing psychology behind ‘The Exorcist’ and a at times, brutally frank character study on how it affected all the characters around it.  Propped up by some fantastic vocal acting work, in particular from Robert Glenister as Karras, it would be fantastic if this were the start of a new trend of classic horror radio adaptations! ‘Jason X: The Radio Adaptation’ Anyone?

Verdict: A strong chiller that delves deep into the disturbing psychological fear factor of ‘The Exorcist’, only falling down at the crucial hurdle of the potential to make the demon properly terrifying  7/10

 

DéFago – Roots of Evil – Album Review

defagorootsDéFago – Roots of Evil – Album Review

Spanish electronic guru DéFago’s follow up album to 2013’s outstanding debut, Call of Darkness is set to be issued by UK horror label and firm UKHS favourites Graveyard Calling on the first of April.

 

Roots of Evil, 9 tracks of eerie and melodic EDM is much of the same style and frantic pacing which DéFago is known for and on a whole doesn’t disappoint, the tracks feel a lot more experimental than the first album with DéFago coupling and layering familiar synth sounds to create an alien yet inviting world which encapsulates around the music.

 

The simple, robotic opening track, Bag Full of Nightmares lures the listener into a false sense of security before unleashing the familiar and haunting sounds found in a spate of 80s horror opus’.

 

Hardly allowing the listener to skip a beat before the aural assault continues DéFago delivers a shorter sequence of tracks ( the first three tracks have a relatively short runtime) all of them offering something different to hear and plenty to discover on repeated plays, the tiny nuances on the layering and different musical equipment delivers a fresh and interesting sequence of compositions that reward the effort that is put into them.

 

The fifth track, The Uselessness of 4am is an undoubted highlight of the album, starting slowly and pulsing, a shallow rise luring in the listener until a third of the way into the track it evolves perfectly from a frantic paced sequence to a subtly haunting finale showcasing DéFago ‘s talent for composition and storytelling through music.

 

Our Lady of Shadows is a complete 360 from the previous track, isolation and desolation are created with the use of negative sounds and a really creepy extended loop, sounding harmless at first but suddenly mutating into the crying and desperate sobbing of a woman; this is a completely unsettling song, harshly throwing the listener into the peril and tightly grasping them with sonically weird, yet compelling sequence.

 

defago1The final two tracks are the closest to his first album, 80s horror synth mixed with an psychedelic, pulsing pace that could be placed directly into Escape from New York and become part of that world.

 

The aptly titled Epitaph closes the album perfectly bringing back the dual layered synth working as a round would bringing an upbeat and catchy loop to end the journey perfectly. The woman (presumably) from Our Lady Of Shadows is back yet this time not screaming but harmonising washing a calming, angelic feel over the track closing the album and with it her journey.

 

Futuristic, scary and strangely inviting DéFago is carving a name for himself in this sonic landscape and the comparisons to Carpenter and Howarth are undeniable; as is the magnitude of influence they left in the 80s horror soundtrack world but look to DéFago to see the evolution of the style as he manipulates the commonplace into a whole new creature, using the familiar to alienate and astound, shattering preconceptions as the runtime winds on.

 

The album swiftly passes and If there is any quibble to be had is that some of the earlier tracks feel as though they could’ve been revisited and expanded allowing more time for the audience to soak them in, yet this also helps the middle section of the album come into its own.

 

The Call of Darkness was a highlight of 2013 for me and to compare this second album to it is unfair, both showcase the talent that DéFago possesses but also his ability to utilise his influences to his own effect, creating two different entities using the same instruments is outstanding.

 

Part of the fifth double feature cassette from Graveyard calling with label-mates Werewolves in Siberia second album the other and presented on an transparent purple tape; Roots of Evil comes highly recommended and has plenty for horror music and horror movie fans alike.

 

graveyardcalling1Graveyard Calling and its bands are laying down the gauntlet for the horror music community and every double feature is perfectly coupled. The limited nature of the releases and the resurgence of horror labels over the past few years makes this home-grown label one to keep an eye on.

 

8/10

Roots of Evil comes out on Cassette and download on April 1st from Graveyard Calling on their site here – www.graveyardcalling.co.uk 

Metallica: Through The Never (2013) BluRay Review

met1METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER – 2013

DIR: Nimrod Antal

STARRING: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, Robert Trujillo, Dane DeHaan

Blu – Ray

Out Now

 

No one can ever accuse Metallica of resting on their laurels. Their output over the last twenty plus years may have been erratic, but they have always pushed their own boundaries and defied expectation. So the announcement that they were making a feature film didn’t surprise me as much as it might have. With Through the Never they attempt to give the traditional concert film a new spin by adding a narrative to proceedings and framing the show as part of a wider story arc. It’s a brilliant idea in theory and offers scope for something truly exciting. At its best Metallica’s music is heavy, and thoroughly cinematic, so partnered with the right story this could truly have been something epic. However, in practice it is a bit of a mixed bag, not quite materialising as the cinematic fusion the band had probably hoped for.

Through the Never is the story of Trip; a young fan boy roadie who finds himself sent on an errand to collect something that the band need. He takes a strange pill and sets off on his journey. He soon finds himself at the centre of a riot and becomes embroiled in a surreal dystopian nightmare. In order to get back to the show he must face his fears and fight his way back through the violence. All the time this is happening Metallica perform a set of epic proportions; some of the events on stage mirroring Trips journey through the city.

It’s a great set up for something exciting and the early moments show some promise. As Metallica take to the stage it is immediately apparent that this isn’t a traditional concert film. Having a feature film maker’s eye and a feature film budget mean that the camera is allowed to go places it can’t normally go, so the concert footage is absolutely superb. Metallica have spared no expense on the stage show either which goes beyond spectacular.

met2 It moves smoothly into the story to start with as the camera swoops up through the crowd finding Trip shouting passionately along to ‘Creeping Death’. But once he leaves the arena the movie’s shortcomings become apparent. The problem is quite a simple one: Trip’s story isn’t particularly interesting and adds very little to proceedings. During the making of documentary one of the producers is adamant that this is not a concert film. She insists it is a narrative film with concert elements. She’s wrong; very wrong. Through the Never’s fundamental flaw is that it is a concert film with narrative elements meaning that the ‘story’ distracts from what is a truly amazing Metallica show.

But that isn’t to say it is a total failure. Whilst the story itself isn’t particularly engaging there are some nice visual flourishes. At around the half-way point the music and the movie start to sync up quite nicely and there are some cool moments as Trip sinks deeper and deeper into trouble. Metallica fans will love the way it matches up the now famous ‘Enter Sandman’ stage collapse with Trip’s actions outside the venue. Dane DeHaan (from the great Chronicle) deserves some credit as well. He manages to give Trip more personality than the script does and, in what is essentially a silent role, gives it an emotional centre that stops it from being totally pointless. Ultimately, the intentions here are noble, and there is a lot for fans to enjoy. There are sly nods to Metallica’s history peppered throughout and it is clear that director Nimrod Antal (Predators) knows and loves Metallica. As a story it wants to play as a tribute to the lengths fans will go to be a part of the Metallica experience, and Metallica clearly want it to be a bit of a love letter to their fans. But it isn’t quite brave enough to go the whole distance and is a little afraid of its own ambition.

The disc itself is a must buy for fans. You get the Blu-Ray and the 3D Blu-Ray in one for a decent price. Not being much of a fan of 3D I have only watched the 2D version but can honestly say I don’t think 3D would change the experience at all. The image quality is absolutely top drawer, and is one of the nicest looking Blu-Rays I have ever seen. As for special features, there are interviews and festival panel videos as well as trailers and ‘Master of Puppets’ uninterrupted as a live music video. But by far the best reason to buy this is a making of documentary that, in true Metallica style, doesn’t pull any punches.

met3Anyone who has seen the ‘Some Kind of Monster’ documentary will be aware of how candid Metallica can be, and this making of goes beyond the usual overblown sales pitch. Metallica allow every part of the process a look in, and it is particularly interesting to see producers argue over the budget. Financially Metallica have made a loss on this as it died a quick death at the box office, and it is fascinating to see how everything unfolded in the films pre-production, especially when the band are constantly pushing for bigger and crazier things. What is a shame is that there is no option to watch the concert without the film elements, especially as the shows were longer than the film would allow.

In the end Metallica fans are going to want this. It’s a good package and is a genuine curiosity for those that love the band. Whether or not you feel Metallica are being overly self- indulgent, or that they are just trying to push the envelope a little more this is something a bit different for the committed fan.

FILM 7/10

EXTRAS 8/10

Deathless Legacy – Rise From the Grave (2014) CD Review

deathlesslegacy1DEATHLESS LEGACY – RISE FROM THE GRAVE

 

Steva La Cinghiala – Vocals

Frater Orion – Drums

The Cyborg – Bass and Vocals

Pater Blaurot – Organs and Synth

El Calaver – Guitar

The Red Witch – Performances

 

Horror and Heavy metal have always walked hand in hand. Both are often maligned and shunned by the mainstream, both delve into the dark corners of the human psyche, and both celebrate the fantastical and the macabre. With all this in mind Italy’s Deathless Legacy set about trying to occupy the same demented space as the likes of Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and more recently The Murderdolls. Their debut album ‘Rise from the Grave’ is a raw, gothic, and gruesome affair that is happy to revel in some of horror’s more lurid corners and some of metal’s more theatrical ones. It is, at times, a bit simple minded and has a tendency to slip into gothic pantomime; but it has enough grotesque moments to be worth a listen.

It doesn’t hit the ground running and takes a couple of tracks to build up a bit of steam, and as such opener Will o’ The Wisp is a bit underwhelming. It’s not a bad song it just lacks the punch you would expect from an album opener. The same goes for Queen of Necrophilia which, despite its twisted subject matter, is not as colourful it sounds. However as we get to the rather eloquently titled Bow To The Porcelain Altar the band start to sound more comfortable. It’s a surprisingly catchy number that manages to stick in the head long after listening and is the first to suggest a more experimental creative edge.

deathlesslegacy2From here the album improves quite considerably and a more confident band begins to emerge. On the albums second half they take a few unusual turns with songs such as ‘Flamenco Del a Muerte’; a bizarre flamenco tinted song that shows the band are willing to step outside of their comfort zone. Admittedly, they are only dipping their toes in the waters at this point, and it isn’t 100% successful, but it is enough to hint that the band are willing to take a few risks and that there could be some really interesting work from them in the future.

Production here is very raw and the bands more epic ideas get lost in the mix, but it sometimes suits their delivery as well. With a punkier edge reminiscent of The Damned and more recently popularised by The Murderdolls the straightforward production often works in the bands favour giving the guitar a rusty edge and allowing Steva La Cinghiala’s spitting, throaty vocals the grit they deserve. So whilst it doesn’t have the bigger, more elaborate bombast of some of its influences, it does have a certain ruff edginess that suits its murderous subject matter.

Ultimately Rise from the Grave is the sound of a band taking their first steps out onto the stage, and from that perspective there is much to enjoy. It lacks enough personality to stand out in what is a very crowded market, but there is enough to suggest there will be bolder and more exciting things to come. So whilst it never enters the realms of its idols, it does loiter a little outside the doors.

6/10

Deathless+Legacy++3Band: Deathless Legacy
Album: Rise From The Grave
Release Date: 03 January 2014
Label: Danse Macabre Records (DE)
Distributor: AL!VE  (DE)
Genre: Horror Metal

 

For any news check:
http://www.deathlesslegacy.it
http://plus.google.com/+DeathlesslegacyIt666
http://www.facebook.com/Deathlessmetal
http://www.dansemacabre-group.com

Werewolves in Siberia – Beyond The City Of The Dead (2014) Album Review

wisnewWerewolves in Siberia – Beyond The City Of The Dead (2014) Album Review

Beyond the City of the Dead is the sophomore album from Electronic horror guru Werewolves in Siberia; following on from their début The Rising, Beyond the City of the Dead showcases their talent, growing passion and knowledge they have of our beloved horror genre this release comes highly recommended.

 

From the opening track Everything is Gone desolate and downright sinister opening takes you to the eponymous city of the dead its sparse, haunting melody captures the isolation and paranoia the listener would experience during an apocalyptic catastrophe perfectly and from the get go has the audience tightly in the grasp of the music.

 

From the very first listen Beyond the City of the Dead drags you into a world that WIS have masterfully created and for the next ten tracks captivate the audience guiding them through an aural journey which they will be thankful they were along for the ride for and wanting repeated visits in the foreseeable future.

 

The range of musical sub-genres on display throughout the album is astounding and although WIS influences are worn on the sleeve like a badge of honour, never does the album feel like it is infringing on the works of Carpenter/Howarth and Manfredini but can certainly be classed among them using their styles to the advantage of the album creating a familiar yet alien world in the process.

 

The album also feels a lot more mature than The Rising; this is no way a knock on the first album which I wholeheartedly endorse but the cues on display work far better in generating fear and panic especially in the track “The Woods” is remarkable and shows the signs of a great composer.

 

wis2Broken Souls, the album’s third track builds on the pacing of its predecessor, the fantastically titled Lycanthropic Dream-scape and if Lycanthrophic is the metaphorical movie’s chase scene Broken Souls is the pay-off; atmospheric drums and electronic dread in four minutes. The elongated synth rises coupled with a catchy crescendo progresses as the drumbeat morphs into a more complex arrangement subtly lying underneath the electronic sounds in an almost jazz-like accompaniment.

 

Showdown With a Ghoul is a methodically paced entry the sweeping electronic rises and rich organ feels remarkably like the early universal scores and rings like a warning of the underlying terror, almost a beacon of lost hope.

 

The Carpenter influence is evident on Revenge of the Zombi, although the track is thoroughly modern using that influence to their advantage WIS take the familiar and spin it 360 degrees into something strangely compelling. Harking to the new generation of horror composers and firmly slotting themselves in the aforementioned company with ease.

 

The layers of depth that are created throughout; its runtime allowing the audience to visualise a horror film in their own heads while WIS provide the accompanying soundtrack; this would be the perfect for score for a late 60’s Zombie flick straight from the Italian masters themselves.

 

wis1The whole album feels like it has purpose and slots alongside each other each song leading into the next like a jigsaw becoming so much more rewarding once the final notes of the outro track and silence echo’s allowing the listener time to reflect and indulge.

 

Each track could be broken down and visualised into its own scene and this is the main reason the album works so well; not only offering the viewer to get involved emotionally but leaving them salivating for more.

 

I for one would love to hand each track to a different director and see the outcomes that each director envisions.

 

On the other side of the coin WIS’ Chris Cavoretto has a wonderful mind for composing and is both highly knowledgeable and respectful of past composers work and the horror genre, which is evident after just one listen of any of his songs. He encompasses a visual flair that will undoubtedly further his scope of work in the near future and allow WIS to expand and develop on each release.

 

Beyond the City of the Dead comes highly recommended and is due for release by the UK horror label Graveyard Calling on limited edition cassette and digital download on April the 1st..

 

Turn down the lights, lock the doors, and raise the volume. Let this magical sound scape wash over you and go Beyond the City of the Dead with the Werewolves in Siberia.

 

8.5/10

wis3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can check out Werewolves in Siberia on the following links –

Websites – www.werewolvesinsiberia.com/

www.werewolvesinsiberia.bandcamp.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/WerewolvesInSiberia

Twitter – www.twitter.com/Werewolves_I_S

 

And check out Graveyard Calling records –

www.graveyardcalling.bandcamp.com/

Facebook – www.facebook.com/GraveyardCalling

Twitter – www.twitter.com/GraveyardCallin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Miss Stakes – Monster Party Hits (2013) Music Review

coverLittle Miss Stakes
“Monster Party Hits”

 
Little Miss Stakes are a horror punk/rock band from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The last ten years or so, we’ve seen hundreds, maybe even thousands of horror punk bands pop up.  Ninety-five percent of them sound the same.  LMS are not that typical horror punk band.

I will say, right off the bat, that the vocals on the album will be the thing that drives the casual rock listener away from this band.  For me (and fans of the more aggressive rock and punk rock), they work very well.  There’s plenty of range and diversity here with the vocals. At times, there is an early AC/DC Bon Scott style.  There’s a growly type of almost death/black metal demon possession vocal.  There’s a more feminine(ish)-rock and roll vocal style ala Joan Jett.  A lot reminds me of Vince Neil as well.

Overall, there is a huge 45 Grave meets WASP meets The Misfits vibe.  None of it, however, sounds like they’re ripping anyone off.  They’re playing their own brand of horror-themed rock and roll. The bass sounds amazing and I’m glad it starts before the guitar here as it’s easy to have the bass tone buried and miss it.  With it coming in first, it stays fresh in the mind to really listen to it throughout the album.  The guitar tones are great as well.  Raw but very pronounced in the recording. A good heavy drum sound helps it make a well-rounded sounding album.

DSC_0186-3The first song is “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”.  This one screams 45 Grave as soon as it kicks in.  It’s that sort of generic horror movie 80’s rock sound that you just can’t get enough of.  This song might not be quite as catchy as the Dickies’ “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” that made it in the movie, but I’d probably say it’s better.  Great horror rock song.  It ends with a great punk rock circus vibe, complete with some keyboard bell sounds.

As Killer Klowns ends, “The Ghoul Next Door” kicks right in and you can hear influence all over this one.  It’s the 50’s-influenced horror punk that made The (original) Misfits famous and this song is phenomenal.  With the backup vocals and better recording quality, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Michale Graves-era Misfits, as well.  With these vocals being nowhere near a Danzig-style, the song feels more influenced by than a wannabe Misfits replica.  Very refreshing in the horror punk genre.  At this point, I’m really feeling this album.

“Mina” is more rock and roll fun.  Something about the riffing in it reminds me a bit of Calabrese.  Again, I can hear possibly an influence but no ripping off going on here.  Three songs in, LMS are doing a great job of keeping my attention. When “Drag Queen Dracula” hits, what can I say?  It’s another solid rock and roll song.  This one sort of reminds me of late 80’s/early 90’s era Alice Cooper.  Fun, horror rock with a bit of metal entwined to round out the big sound.  When it ends, so does the album (fairly abruptly).

Each song on this album has a bit of a different feel than the last but each one is strong and they feel good together from the listener’s standpoint.  Most horror punk bands are content with trying to sound like The Misfits and letting that be their defining quality.  Influence is fine, but most bands take it too far and lose any sense of listenability. What Little Miss Stakes have done is they’ve taken these influences and recycled them into their own sound.  This is how it should be done, horror punk bands.  Take a lesson from these guys.

Little-Miss-Stakes-1-e1376052510949 The biggest problem this EP has is that it’s over a little too soon.  The problem with short, four song EP’s is that they’re forgotten in the stacks of other music we all have.  We put on an album when we’re doing something and we don’t want to have to change it again in 12 minutes.  However, I’ve listened several times since receiving it so this one might be strong enough to keep from getting buried.

After several listens, I did a little more research on the band and came across another four song album, Bela Lugosi’s Pro Skater 3 (awesome title, by the way).  If it’s as strong as this one, I suggest we all put both albums together in one playlist and listen often.

7.5/10

Chris Cavoretto

You can visit the Little Miss Stakes bandcamp page HERE

Or their Facebook page HERE

Johnny B. Morbid “Welcome to Die” (2013) Review

jbm2Johnny B. Morbid
“Welcome to Die”

If there is one thing Johnny B. Morbid from New Jersey can do, it’s write a catchy song.  The second time I gave this album a listen, I was singing along.  These guys play horror themed poppy punk.  It’s not pop punk by any means, but punk rock with a poppy twist.  There are so many metal genres these guys thouch on as well.  It’s obvious they like their metal.
Much like Bad Religion, their recording is very clean and polished.  It sounds sort of non-threatening, not in a bad way, just non-threatening.  Unlike Bad Religion, the passion for what they are doing shows through and it’s actually pretty good.  Yes, that’s a jab at Bad Religion.
After giving this album several listens and making up my mind on what I thought, I checked into the band a little more.  Johnny B. Morbid started at a one man band, releasing albums and playing everything on his own for two years.  After growing in popularity and trying out a few sets of musicians for live shows, the band expanded little by little.  I have not listened to any of his/their other efforts, but I can say, the musicians on this album are great.
The opening/title track kicks in hard.  This is my favorite track on the album.  It’s the catchy, poppy punk with a metal flavor that these guys are good at and this track shows every positive and no negative of what this band is capable of.
jbm3  In the second track, “Population: 0”, I noticed something.  The clean recording is sort of a double-edged sword for this band.  It’s so clean that every piece of vocal that is a little off, is very noticeable.  The rest of the album is this way.  I’m not saying it’s bad.  If the recording were grittier, it would fit better.  If there were maybe a few more takes to really hit each note, it would fit better with the clean recording.  Aside from this, the music is superb and, again, it’s catchy as hell.
“Delusions” is a solid track, musically.  I think this song is the one where the vocals sound most “off” pitch-wise though.  The catchiness carries it through without letting that make a mess of the entire track.
“Forever” is next.  Not quite as catchy as “Welcome to Die” but one of the top tracks on the album.  There are some great vocal harmonies towards the end that expand their sound a bit.  Again, every note the band plays is heard with this crisp recording.  Even if it’s not your style, it’s catchy enough that you’d probably find yourself singing along anyway.
On “Last Day Alive” the band slows it down and the first thing that comes to mind is, “every bad boy’s got a soft side.”  Here in the US, there was a hair metal power ballads album advertised on television with that catch phrase so please excuse me if it didn’t make complete sense to you readers on the other side of the Atlantic.  This song is a bit reminiscent of the late 90’s-early 2000’s pop punk bands who put ballads on their albums.  While those songs usually consisted of whining about their fathers, this one is about the fact that tomorrow might never get here.  It’s a good, catchy acoustic song that still keeps that horror theme going.
jbm4When “Enough” comes in, it’s a good kickstart after the ballad.  Quick poppy punk and super catchy.  “Dying’s not enough to make me happy” will be rolling off your tongue in no time when listening to this one.
On “Drinking About You”, I noticed that these guys could transition nicely into a new country band.  They use lots of plays on words, much like newer pop country artists.  This is evident again on “Sincerely, Gabriel” with the line “kill me now or forever hold your peace”.  On a side note, “Sincerely, Gabriel”  also has a killer blast beat, total metal annihilation section in it.
“Stockholm” is another of my favorite cuts on this album.  Still strong, catchy sections all over this one.  A great melodic hardcore type breakdown at the end ties it all together.
“Death Undefeated” hits us like a ton of bricks and sounds like we’re getting a thrash masterpiece.  It immediately kicks into more catchy poppy punk but has some great double bass and metal sections in it.  It’s sort of reminiscent of newer Propagandhi stuff.  Blending so many elements of poppy punk and metal really works great here.
There’s a great black metal sounding opening on “Erebus”.  It transitions into a killer thrash/power metal song.  Unfortunately, the vocal style doesn’t fit here for me at all and leaves me feeling that the song fell short of what could’ve been great.  Don’t discard the song altogether from my point of view on the vocals though.  Every riff in this song is awesome and the drums hit hard.  So much potential for a kick ass thrash song here.
To end this album, the band kicks into a metalled-up version of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll, Pt. 2” and then transitions into a full-force rock out version of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”.  Great way to close the album strong.
jbm1 Each song on this album (after “Welcome to Die”) seems to have two issues.  One, it seems to be missing something.  I can’t put my finger on it.  I think the album may just be a little too polished and loses a little edginess in that aspect.  Two, the vocals are a little flat here and there.  The upside is that the songs are played so well by the band and it’s just all written so well, that it evens itself out.
Fans of Bad Religion, Good Riddance, Propagandhi and Calabrese should find elements in Johnny B. Morbid’s “Welcome to Die” that they enjoy.  Check it out and see what you think for yourself.

7/10

Chris Cavoretto

Visit Johnny B Morbid’s facebook page – HERE

And you can purchase the album (or songs) on Itunes – HERE

Also you can visit their website at www.johnnybmorbid.com

Call of Darkness by Défago (2013) Music Review

 

dfeagoCall of Darkness by Défago

Released 25th November 2013 by Graveyard Calling Records.

Readers of UKHS will undoubtedly already be familiar with the horror record label Graveyard Calling (if not where have you been?). November 25th sees the release of two new limited edition cassettes filled with the best in Horror themed EDM.

 

Défago offer 10 tracks (plus 5 bonus) of haunting melody and eerie synth sounds for you all to devour with the album Call of Darkness.

 

Hailing from Spain this is Défago’s first release on a beautifully designed Orange Cassette and limited to only 50 copies!

 

From the opening track Welcome to horror-mood! Défago grab hold of the listener and refuse to let that grip go; a pulsing yet simple baseline that feels perfectly at home in Escape From New York welcomes the listener before an haunting vocal encased within the beat subtlety captures the imagination starting proceedings nicely.

 

Much like label-mates Werewolves in Siberia the Carpenter/Howarth influence is clear but Défago take this template and expand on it creating complex, layered songs alongside a expansive knowledge of timing and rhythm with each song almost telling a story to the listener.

 

 

 

graveyardcalling2Robotomy for instance would fit perfectly in a possessed doll film; its slow methodical rise will bring chills to the spine, whereas Halloween eve and They fly by night offer a much more upbeat sound adding to the more chilling moments greatly.

 

Children of the forest is the stand out track on the album, an eerie wind encompasses the track adding depth and the feeling of expansion and desolation to the viewer all leading to a playful laughter which comes across as more sinister than is usually connected with a child’s laugh.

 

The great thing about this release is the way Défago uses backing and underlining tracks to escalate the horror of the actual tracks; The use of wind in the aforementioned Children of the forest, an almost watery effect at the finale of Noctuary (which I would love to know how they created).

 

The hypnotic and dread filled The Brotherhood rides again is a pleasure to listen to , sonically filling the speakers with tension and dread. Couple this with a hypnotic, surreal breakdown in the middle before gradually slowing the pace down masterfully. This is straight out of a satanic panic film.

 

If Welcome to the horror-mood is Défago doing Carpenter, ascending into blindness is the artist tackling Goblin and Argento; dramatic long notes flows beautifully along the track whisking away the listener with every sweep, listen to this track immediately.

 

 

 

defagoRealm of the MadChords is exactly as it sounds, frantic layered synth creating complex rhythms with each note perfectly placed and vital; this is a science fiction opus in 2:14.

 

The sheer scale of variation on this album is astounding delving deep into more eerie and creepy sounds before turning a complete 360 into strange and alien sounding worlds.

 

Graveyard Calling have found a real gem in Défago and having previously being unaware of this talent I envy new listeners discovering this for the first time.

 

There is lots to love about Call of Darkness any horror fan who has grown up on a diet of 80s horror and the soundtracks of its ilk will feel right at home here bringing back fond memories from a time long gone.

 

Regular Graveyard Calling fans will find this essential and newcomers to the label can file this in-between the Halloween II, Escape from New York and Susperia soundtracks in their collections.

 

 

 

graveyardcallingDéfago easily have the skill-set to score a complete feature the passion they bring to this release to a joy to witness unfolding in your ears, turn down the lights put the volume up and let them take you wherever you wish to go.

 

9/10

 

You can buy the cassette (which also includes a digital download) or order a digital copy from Graveyard Calling – http://graveyardcalling.bandcamp.com/album/call-of-darkness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madder Than A Full Moon Dog (2013) DVD Review

madder1Madder Than A Full Moon Dog (2013) DVD review

 

UK Distribution – Wienerworld – OUT NOW

 

The Full Moon Dog Festival started in 2011 in honour of the Asomvel frontman Jay Jay Winter who died in a motor accident in 2010.

 

Here we have a DVD from the 2012 festival that features live performances and backstage interviews with bands on the bill and people who knew Jay Jay. From the Cockpit in Leeds here we have Madder Than A Full Moon Dog.

 

With live performances and interviews from Orange Goblin, Asomvel, Stuka Squadron, Dark Forest, Triaxis and more.

 

This is a great DVD that does what really hasn’t been done before , it shows a small UK metal festival with UK bands and explores the idiosyncrasies of UK metal fans.

 

The camera work is top notch and as well as some great live performances there are some great montages and a good mix of bands that all fall under the metal banner. The sound is OK but this understandable as it was filmed in a live venue and live music is a very fickle mistress at the best of times.

 

madder2All in this is a great look into UK metal from some smaller bands to the mighty Orange Goblin , and of course it is a fitting tribute to an obviously much loved and much missed friend and band-mate .

 

Well worth picking up and something quite unique 6/10 .

 

Track Listing

Full Moon Dog – Asomvel
Stone Cold Stare – Asomvel
Death before Dishonour – Stiletto Farm
Black Shadow – Mercenary
The Wizard of Alderley Edge – Dark Forest
Stand for Something – Orange Goblin
We Rule the Night – Eliminator
Drudgery – Asomvel
Black Trinity – Triaxis
Round Up the Horses – Orange Goblin
Tales of the Ost – Stuka Squadron
Blow Me – Screaming Eagles
They Come Back – Orange Goblin

Released by the great people at Wienerworld who continue to release obscure and top class music. Please visit them HERE and support UK Independent Companies .

 

Inverticrux – Virgin Reaper – Music Review

inverti1Inverticrux – Virgin Reaper

A ghost, a pirate, a cartoon vampire and King Diamond walk into a bar… and start a band called Inverticrux.

Now, this is how I imagine this band started: Someone knew someone that booked a metal band and decided to throw together an opening band. Their friends find this band hilarious.  No one else gets the joke and finds it obnoxious.  The band finds THAT hilarious and decides to stay together.
All I knew about this band prior to listening is that they are a New Hampshire horror metal band (possibly the only one).  I don’t like to do research on anyone before I give them a listen for review.  I like to decide what I think for myself instead of looking for someone else’s thoughts.  Having said this, I don’t know the above paragraph is accurate but this has to be a joke… I really hope this is a joke.  If this is a serious band, it’s one of the worst metal bands I’ve ever heard.  If it’s done in good fun, I can give them some credit for that.
In order to review this album, I had to stream it on YouTube.  Negative points for that, alone.  I can’t tell you the name of the tracks or if intros are their own tracks or just the beginning of a song.  What I can tell you is this sounds like shit.
I’m not sure if it sounds so bad because it’s being streamed on YouTube, if it’s just a shitty recording or if it’s supposed to sound bad.  Nothing sounds leveled right and the high end (especially cymbals) sounds like a really bad digital conversion occurred here.  I could see it being on purpose.  At times, it’s reminiscent of the old black metal recordings but it doesn’t work for me either way.
inverti2  Everything I said in the opening sentence describes this album, vocally.  All of the vocals are goofy but the King Diamond style vocals come out of nowhere throughout the album.  I won’t lie, it got a few laughs out of me.

The whole package here sounds so terrible, most people would never even notice that the band actually plays pretty well (minus the drummer’s inability to keep a steady blast beat) and some of the decipherable riffs are kind of cool.  The interlude before the last song is an example of that.  I wish more of this album sounded like that did.
I also got a good chuckle out of the poorly played harmonica on the second song.  This whole album is so ridiculous that you can’t help but laugh at times.  Unfortunately, most of this album was just beyond my level of absurdity.
I hate being the guy that reviews something with pretty much nothing good to say about it but that’s the case here.  I think there are plenty of people who would find this to their liking so don’t disregard Inverticrux based on this review.  I have a feeling if I knew these guys, I’d find it a lot funnier, myself.  That’s just the way bands like this are.  They are hilarious to friends but most people outside that circle just aren’t going to get the humor behind it.  If you’re into ridiculously over the top goofy metal, this might be for you.

4 out of 10
unless they’re being totally serious… if that’s the case…
2 out of 10

Chris Cavoretto