Voyag3r – Doom Fortress album review

voyag3r-doomfortressVoyag3r
“Doom Fortress”

Voyag3r (pronounced Voyager 3), were first brought to my attention about a year ago when someone showed me their two song EP, “Victory in the Battle Chamber”. The Detroit three piece quickly gained momentum when word spread about them and rightfully so. It seemed their name started popping up all over the internet right after I heard them.

If you need vocals in the music you listen to, Voyag3r probably isn’t for you. But… if you like mood music that really sets a tone, you’d better seek them out. Their instrumental horror/sci-fi synth rock is perfectly suited for all you fans who love the masses of genre film scores making it out of the gates recently.

“Doom Fortress” is the newest effort from the band with six brand new tracks. Right away, it sounds like the same band as their previous album but the songs are a little more mature. Not necessarily better or worse, but maybe more thought out. Soundscapes are more drawn out to really bring in the listener on this one.

I pick up on influences from Tangerine Dream, Fabio Frizzi, Zombi and Goblin, but more so, John Carpenter. Both earlier and later Carpenter seem to guide Voyag3r’s newest effort, yet they manage to NOT sound like Carpenter clones. It’s merely influence.

What I’m getting at is that there are parts of songs that are minimalistic, synth-driven movements but they also go all out into a supercharged assault with the full band giving it everything they’ve got before a songs’ end. The guitar work, especially, helps bring this Carpenter influence to mind, as his later themes seemed to be more guitar driven.

voyag3r-bandSpeaking of the guitar… The tone on the lead guitar work felt familiar to me at first listen. As I dove further into the album, I noticed that it was reminiscent of “Wildhoney”-era Tiamat. If you’re a fan of the gothic-esque melodic metal of the mid-90’s, you’ll be loving the guitar work on this album. But, onto a little more about the album, itself…

As soon as you start Doom Fortress, you’re immediately transported into space. Maybe it’s a futuristic spaceship. Maybe it’s a space station. Either way, beneath the spacey sounds, the tone for a battle of intergalactic proportions swells.

Doom Fortress is an out of this world journey. It sounds like the score to a good versus evil, human versus alien film in the making. Our heroes blast off into space, fight their way through enemy territory, get viciously attacked by the aliens and somehow end up saving all of humanity in the end. If you don’t believe me, give this album a spin. You’ll see it, too. The driving drums, stellar synths and spacey guitars make for a hell of a fun listen.

8 out of 10

Vinyl LP Distro in USA via Light In The Attic Records: http://lightintheattic.net/releases/1520-doom-fortress
Vinyl LP Distro in UK via Death Waltz Records: http://deathwaltzrecordingcompany.com/shop/voyag3r-doom-fortress/

doomfortresscdCD & Cassette available at: http://www.voyag3r.com/merchandise.php

TRACK LISTING:
1. Summoning The Forgotten One
2. One’s True Intentions
3. Doom Fortress Escape
4. In The Hands Of The Computers
5. Il Guanto Nero
6. Lord Of Doom Fortress

Doom Fortress was recorded using vintage analog synths, electric guitar through vintage tube amplification and maple shell acoustic drums. All music was recorded to 2″ analog tape (MCI JH-24 2″ Analog 24-Track w/ALIII remote) through various vintage pre-amps and a 1977 Custom Harrison 3232 console for maximum authenticity and spirit in capturing this classic sound.

Steve Greene – Synthesizers
Greg Mastin – Drums
Aaron Greene – Guitars

 

Sam Haynes – Spine Chillers CD Review

spinechillers1Sam Haynes – Spine Chillers CD Review 

As All Hallow’s Eve draws ever closer and the long days turn into dark nights horror fans can now revel in the haunting sound-scapes of UK EDM Horror music pioneers Sam Haynes as 2014 brings us another studio release for all your Halloween and horror themed nights.

Spine Chillers brings plenty to the table for fans of 80s horror synth and electronic dance music. The scene which has seen a boom over the past few years with a resurgence of both classic re-issues and modern music is been held at the forefront by UK Label Graveyard Calling with a wealth of excellent music on the horizon.

Things open hauntingly with the intro Death Comes Creeping in, a mellow and atmospheric track which sets the atmosphere and tone perfectly in its relatively short runtime.

People already familiar with the work of Sam Haynes will find plenty of new things to discover with this set of tracks breathing new life into his style making it both work well on Haunts and horror themed parties without being relegated to that alone, this is ideal music to fill your ears in those cold autumn nights.

Album highlights are the creepy, almost Hitchcockian Masks, its simple rhythm and methodical melody push this out of the haunt realm alongside some of the classic scores which fans hold so dearly.

The album nicely progresses on its runtime mutating into a terrifying listening experience; Fans of Rob’s recent Maniac score will adore Grim Reaper the albums 5th track, its pulsing and catchy electronica is a wonderfully upbeat yet sinister affair.

Speaking of Maniac the track Night Caller, a pulsing electronic beat slowly paces under a ethereal ghostly chorus before slowly gaining momentum and dread in equal measures wonderfully produced and emotive this is a stand-out on the album.

spinechillers3Pandemonium Carnival is showcase of the complex and intricate work that Sam Haynes produce, after an excellently subtle intro the track evolves into a grandeur,epic circus inspired opus extremely sinister and right out of a killer clown slasher film this is the music that accompanies nightmares.

Spine Chillers spans the entire horror sub genre spectrum, lullabies from ghost stories, Carpenter and Howarth inspired terror synth but it is the 80s where Sam Haynes’ heart firmly lives and his passion and influence are the concurrent theme of this album giving it a nostalgic yet modern feel, allowing listeners to find a new spin on something familiar.

The albums artwork comes from the excellent horror artist Kachenstein, his colourful and energetic artwork rounds of this CD package nicely

The album is released on September 13th on all the digital music trade sites and the timing is perfect for the festive season, anyone interested in the horror music scene or those planning Halloween shindigs are recommended to pick up this and the earlier Sam Haynes album and won’t be disappointed with the results.

6/10.

spinechillers2

The Mugshots – ‘Love, Lust and Revenge’ EP review

mugband2The Mugshots
“Love, Lust and Revenge”

The Mugshots are a band who don’t sound like your typical horror-themed band. I guess, technically, they’re not. They’re more a band who play rock and roll with a dark twist. The classic rock influence is so heavy on this album, I have no doubt you could convince any number of people that this is a remastered reissue of a “forgotten” album.

The Mugshots did something with this EP that so many other bands today don’t do. They put the time and effort (and, likely, money) into hooking up with a producer who knows what he’s doing and recorded at a real studio. Most bands figure, “hey, I’ve got some recording gear. Let’s just do this ourselves.” A big percentage of these bands don’t know the first thing about how to make it not sound like a crappy, local band’s recording.

The band enlisted Dick Wagner as producer. Wagner has contributed to songs with the likes of Kiss, Hall and Oates, Peter Gabriel and more. He’s most known for playing guitar with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper in the 70’s. This partnership is fitting because The Mugshots actually sound heavily influenced by 70’s Alice Cooper.

When most people think of classic rock, they’re not thinking dark and brooding. These guys could easily fit in on a soundtrack to a horror movie, though. The subject matter is dark and extremely reminiscent of those end credits pieces or the song someone’s listening to on the radio that actually has a theme that fits with the movie.

MugBand1“Curse the Moon” is the first song on the EP. It has a nice piano intro. This is followed by a cool classic rock guitar solo over the top. The whole feel is very Alice Cooper. When the chorus comes in, it has a very Queen-like chord progression. Everything comes together and blends very well on this song. This is easily my favorite song on the album, as I could probably listen to it over and over.

“Nothing at All” is almost a Jethro Tull-meets-Meatloaf type composition with the guys from Queen helping out with the chorus’ back-up vocals. The production is great and the song feels like it could have been a huge hit in the 70’s. This could give anything Tull or Meatloaf did in the era a run for their money. It doesn’t catch my ear, personally, but it’s a well put together song.

“Under My Skin” immediately feels like more Alice Cooper tribute material. It’s got a dark progression and a steady, pounding bassline. Lyrically, it seems like something Cooper would have written, as well. The turnaround in the guitar riff has a cool doomy-feel that hooks you. The only problem with this song is that it never really takes off. It feels as if it builds and builds, getting ready to explode into huge finale. However, it never hits that climax, therefore, leaving it a little flat. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, it’s definitely one of the better songs on the EP and keeps you waiting to hear what’s next.

“Free (As I Am)” is, lyrically, dark and brooding. It feels very stalker-esque. The music, again, brings a heavy 70’s Alice Cooper vibe. It just happens to be one of those more forgettable, deep tracks in a Cooper album that it reminds me of. The song never really catches me. The bridge section is reminiscent of the “No More Mister Nice Guy” bridge where he’s talking about a dog biting him on a leg today. The “free as I am” repeated section feels very much like a war protest song and sort of keeps the song from feeling like part of the rest of the album.

Grunge film frame“Pass the Gun Around” immediately reminds me of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”. I can almost hear the phrase “Ground Control to Major Tom” in the opening. It’s got a desolate, lost in space feel. I hear a ton of Queen influence, again, with the backup vocals. The super digital delayed guitar solo is a nice touch. It’s really helps bring the song together.

Overall, this is a good, well-rounded album. It’s not something the typical,”horror music” fan might appreciate. However, fans of that early Alice Cooper-era stuff… the deep cuts, they should definitely give The Mugshots a chance. It’s most-likely right up their alley.

6.5 out of 10

You can visit The Mugshots website here – http://www.mugshots.it/

And their Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/themugshots

[youtube=http://youtu.be/X9fKZgTBe7M]

 

Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox House of Dolls EP – Review

sjil1Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox
House of Dolls EP

When I got this review assignment, it was described as horror ska-punk. I’m no fan of ska, in general, but it’s been awhile since I reviewed anything so I figured I’d go for it, being as unbiased or closed minded as I possibly can, to be fair.

The intro (aptly titled, “Intro”) starts up and the vibe is very Danny Elfman. I immediately imagined Vincent Price putting Edward Scissorhands together. The chiming piano gives off a somber tone only intensified by what sounds like a saxophone underneath. I’m wondering where they’re going to go from here because this isn’t setting up a ska-punk album to me. I’m into this and I’m expecting to not be into this album.

“Aliens” is the second track and I’m getting those upstrokes that I’m expecting from a ska band but the overall feel is so different. This one feels like a total Oingo Boingo song. The vocals are buried a little too much so it’s hard to make out where he’s going, lyrically. Upon further listens, it’s obviously about being probed by aliens after abduction. However, the Elfman/Oingo Boingo feel is very prominent. I can easily see this in any of Tim Burton’s claymation movies, albeit a bit toned down, lyrically. They keep those horns properly mixed so it doesn’t kill the vibe. A little double bass action on the drums helps add a little depth, as well.

When the third song comes in, I’m feeling pretty optimistic that I may like this whole EP. The track is called “Do You Know”. Some fun, haunted house-esque giggles on this one over those ska upstrokes is entwined with a haunted amusement park-type jam session. Nothing really happens in the song, but it feels very Squirrel Nut Zippers and it’s still fun.

When “Freakshow” hits, it feels like I’m on the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. This happens to be one of my favorite things at Disneyland so, again, no complaints. There’s a very brief Elfman-type breakdown in the middle that screams “Corpse Bride” before ending with an upbeat horror ska(ish) ending.

sjil2The title track comes last with another Corpse Bride feel. I can also see this song easily thrown into The Addams Family movie during their party. I know it’s not a Tim Burton movie but it felt like one. The movie also doesn’t have any Elfman music in it but I always thought it could use some, along with Tom Waits’ “Russian Dance”. Now, add this one to the list of songs that could easily be inserted.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this EP. It’s weird and a bit off the wall. I would bet these guys are fun to see live. This is obviously a band who is doing what they want to do and they’re having fun doing it.

The likeness to Danny Elfman/Oingo Boingo, Squirrel Nut Zippers and a little Tom Waits in the music is pretty apparent to me. It’s probably something that I wouldn’t listen to all the time as it’s something that you have to be in the right mood for. I definitely like what they’re doing, though.

I don’t know that I’d call Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox a ska-punk band, myself. I don’t really know where I’d classify them but there’s no punk rock from what I heard and, while there is a definite ska influence, it’s not defining to the sound. Maybe I just don’t want to call it ska because I actually enjoyed this album and it’s hard for me to admit to liking anything ska. I could easily see any of these tracks ending up in a dark, kooky movie like those that Tim Burton makes. There’s a very dark cartoon/claymation feel and it’s just a bunch of fun, altogether.

7 out of 10.

Chris Cavoretto

For more info on Spooky Jefferson’s Ideal Lunchbox check out their Facebook page HERE 

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 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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