Tuesday, November 13, 2018

EP Review: CRYPTOPSY The Book of Suffering - Tome II (Hammerheart Records) by Dave Wolff

The Book of Suffering - Tome II
Hammerheart Records
Place of origin: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genre: Brutal/technical death metal
Recorded at the Grid Studio, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Produced by Chris Donaldson & Cryptopsy
Mixed & Mastered by Chris Donaldson at The Grid Studio
All music written by Cryptopsy
Artwork by Remy C, Headsplit Designs
Band Photos by Eric Sanchez
Release date: October 26, 2018
Brutality, thy name is Cryptopsy! When I was introduced to this band in 1998 with Whisper Supremacy I couldn’t believe how tight and fast they were, especially DM drummer extraordinaire Flo Mounier. I still don’t know how they manage to play that way or even dredge up the energy to continue until today. But fans are already raving about the improved songwriting, production, range and musicianship they display on their new EP The Book of Suffering - Tome II. Four a four track MCD it does its job leaving fans wanting more as they persist in redefining themselves and Canadian death metal. The band’s earliest incarnation formed in 1988 as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so after working together in one form or another they know themselves and one another enough to compare with Stateside bands like Suffocation, Origin, Malignancy and Cattle Decapitation. Chris Donaldson helps bring out the band’s greatest strengths on this EP, a sequel to 2015’s The Book of Suffering - Tome I. Mounier’s blast beats and double bass are impeccable as he charges his way through each inspired, resourceful progression and time change by Christian Donaldson. Olivier Pinard’s bass has a distinctive sound which you hear in the proper amounts. Matt McGachy’s guttural bellows and bloodcurdling shrieks demonstrate dynamism and the appropriate amount of control so he doesn’t ravage his throat while laying down the vocal tracks. The EP’s Bandcamp stream also includes the lyrics to each song, so there’s no room to complain about lyrical unintelligibility. All the verses are extremely well crafted and easy to follow through the turbulent hurly-burly of the compositions. The length of each passage and their phrasing show the vast extent to which Cryptopsy have grown as lyricists. This is an asset if you’re one of those thrashers who pays attention to the lyrics. I don’t want to reveal what the songs are about but they are engaging and make you feel what’s happening with each line. All around this is a must own if you appreciate brutality, technical prowess and sophistication in equal parts. Run, don’t walk. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Matt McGachy: Vocals
Christian Donaldson: Guitars
Olivier Pinard: Bass
Flo Mounier: Drums, backing vocals

Track list:
1. The Wretched Living
2. Sire of Sin
3. Fear His Displeasure
4. The Laws of the Flesh

Fiction: STORYTELLER by M Teresa Clayton

STORYTELLER
Fiction by M Teresa Clayton

"Black cats... unlucky, that's what they say about 'em. Don't let one cross your path." The old man was almost faced- down in his drink... "They say, if one steps in front of you, just turn around and walk th' other away. Whatever you do, don't look back!"
"Harry, what the hell is he talking about?" Someone shouted from the other end of the bar.
The dust covered bottles that lined up in front of the mirror had long forgotten how to reflect their sharp staggering images. The mirror itself was covered in a brownish yellow film from years of heavy smoke and the occasional thrown drink. There was a crack that splintered from the bottom, across the last third of the mirror and out the top. If you looked at it just right, tilting your head a little to your left and squinting your eyes slightly, it looked like an old woman hunched over, in silhouette.
The bar was long and ran the length of the room. Three tables, each one had a matchbook under one leg for balance, with mismatched chairs were lined up along the facing wall. There was barely enough room for a man to walk between the tables and bar stools. Maybe this was done on purpose. It stood to reason that you could get shit-faced drunk and still be able to stagger upright to the loo without once losing your footing.
Tess was a regular here. An attractive woman, she never seemed to sit on her stool, but rather perched there; her long legs pooling over the edge of the seat. She came in about ten every evening to mingle with the other well established members of this lonely loser's club. She always left alone.
Marv and Al were roommates living in the apartment above the tavern. They came in every night for exactly four beers each before politely excusing themselves and heading upstairs. It had been decided years ago that the two were much more than roomies, though it was never confirmed.
Burt was a large man. He held court every night at the far end of the bar. His seat was sagging from years of abuse from his ample backside. It was also the only bar-chair in the place, made of imitation black leather, with a swivel! He expounded on a multitude of trivia without much debate. It wasn't like Burt to ever sit quietly and listen to the jabber amongst the other barflies. He was a book of useless information.
There were several others who would stagger in on their way to another bar two blocks away. There seemed to be a tavern on every other corner in this part of the city and the drunks would work up a thirst meandering from place to place. Eventually they would have to find a comfortable spot to lie down and snooze it off. Park benches were definitely out of the question, as were sidewalks; loitering was breaking the law. However, on cold winter nights, it behooved a sotted soul to be carted off to the pokey for the guarantee of a warm shelf to lie on and a dried up cake donut with black coffee in the morning before they were shuffled back out onto the streets.
I was a newbie. Not new to drinking, just new to this part of town. This made my third visit to Harry's Hangout on the corner of Hample and McArdle Street. This tavern didn't look much different from any other on the north side of town, but those others didn't have Tess.
I was put out of the house by my, now pending, fourth ex-wife. Jobless and unmotivated, I managed to set up temporary housing at the shelter several blocks away. "Getting on my feet." I assured the man at the reception desk of what was once a cozy hotel lobby before becoming the Saving Souls Mission. Yeah, right.
My first wife ran away with my best friend, my second with my sanity, the third with her best friend and the fourth was making away with my soul. I didn't have anything else to save.
The only thing I made away with was two plaid shirts, one pair of jeans and one pair of underwear. I managed to get my shoes but totally forgot about socks. The young lady I was with that night barely got out alive.
"Black cats? What does this guy have against black cats?" the question on everyone's mind was finally thrown out there by someone at the bar.
The old man at the far table looked like death warmed over. He kept up his sermon on black cats all evening, stopping long enough to throw a glance Tess' way.
Who wouldn't want to look at her? She was stunning and definitely out of place here in Harry's Hangout. Still, she didn't really seem all that interested in me or anyone else here. Try as I might to make conversation she always gave me the standard two or three word answers. Definitely, not interested.
Harry hobbled his way down to Burt and replaced his empty bottle with a new cold one. Without so much as a word, Harry picked up two quarters from the bar top in front of Burt.
Turning to make his way back down the length of the bar to the cash-register he looked up at Marv and answered, "I have no idea, he's been babbling about cats for two weeks now!"
I asked Harry what the old man's name was.
"That's Charley." He grunted. "He must have got hold of somethin' bad about two weeks ago. He came in here one morning shakin', eye's lookin' a little crazy, and talkin' 'bout some kinda shape-shiftin' he saw the night before out back in the alley."
Something... bad? Did I hear him right? "Drugs?" I asked.
"That or somethin' worse." Harry chuckled. "He was never nothin' but a drunk so far as I know, but the story he told me was outta-this-world! Must be drugs or the man's brain just shorted out!"
"Superstitions!" Tess spoke out from behind her Gin- Rickey with a slice of lime.
Charley froze and stared at Tess for a moment then looked down. Did I see a hint of fear on his face?
"Something about a black cat, a woman, drums, and then she just vanished into thin air! Bam! Gone!" Harry shook his head, "I dunno, it was some sort of hallucination if you ask me."
"Is the whiskey goin' bad?" Al suggested.
"That man's insides are pickled in cheap alcohol!" laughed Harry. "It ain't the whiskey... no, this ain't nothin' of the drinking variety."
I looked over my shoulder toward the man slumped down in his chair. Charley. He seemed like any other drunk I'd ever seen, maybe he was just misunderstood. Lord knows I was misunderstood. We had something in common, so I ordered two shots of the cheap stuff with beer chasers. I had a story to listen to...
"Heard you had an encounter with a black cat!" I spoke as I sat down across from him, "Name's Jack, glad to make your acquaintance." I extended my hand for a shake. He just looked up at me and squinted his eyes for a moment.
"Yes sir!" he said after a long pause to size me up, "Cat- woman. That she was!"
"A cat-woman you say? I'm all ears, Charley... and I'm not superstitious... tell me about your black cat-woman." I prodded him.
"I'll admit I was sotted, but no more than usual and I don't do no drugs!" he assured me in a stern voice, pausing long enough to shoot Harry a look before he continued. "I'm not crazy either!"
I wasn't so sure, but I'd sit through anything at this point to cut the boredom. And, it didn't look like I was getting anywhere with Tess.
Charley's story started with a whispered introduction, "It was closing time and I knew I'd have to find a spot out back and hunker down 'till mornin'. There are a few guys who make it a regular habit to get some shut-eye in the condemned remnants of the garage behind the bar, but it was such a nice night and the moon was full... I decided to catch some Z's in the alleyway that night so I pulled some bags outta the dumpster and made me a pillow to lay my head on..."
Charley took a deep breath and coughed. Was it my imagination or was he aging right in front of me? I decided it must be the light, or lack thereof, back here in the corner.
"It was about three o'clock in the morning," he continued, "and I was staring up at the most beautiful sky I'd seen in years. It was so... peaceful..." He stopped and threw back the shot of whiskey, then wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. "The full moon was casting odd shadows in the alleyway. Hadn't really noticed it before, but then, who am I but an old drunkard barely capable of noticing whether or not I've pissed myself."
Charley stopped and tilted his head as if he were listening for something. I watched him closely for a moment and noticed a small twitch run across his face.
"Charley, you okay?" I asked him.
"I'm fine," he assured me and went on with the story, "I had this edgy feeling, like you get just before someone hits you over the head and runs away with your last dollar. You get a sixth sense about things when you take to the streets."
Charley looked up at me for some sort of validation before continuing. "Though the alley was glowing under the moon's light, there seemed to be something moving in the shadows. I couldn't get a focus on it. It kept moving from one side of the alley to the other, crouched low, and coming closer."
I could see that Charley's hand was shaking. He hesitated, seeming to catch his breath, "I don't remember passing out there, nor waking up! It was more like I was hypnotized or somethin'. Again, Charley looked up. He didn't see me this time; he was looking in Tess' direction. I let my eyes follow his. Tess was still facing the bar seemingly disinterested with Charley's story. Harry was busily emptying ash trays. Marv and Al were silent and still. Burt was mumbling to himself about some war.
"I listened for some sort of clue but couldn't hear nothin' out of the ordinary..." Charlie explained. "I gotta tell ya, son, I was shaking like an old man with palsy! I could sense it, there was something coming and it was getting closer." Again Charley stopped to listen. His hand was shaking noticeably now.
I called over my shoulder for Harry to bring us another shot of whiskey. The story was getting interesting and I wanted the storyteller to relax and remember every detail.
Charley coughed hard a few times. I thought he might have actually spit up into his lap. Then he spoke, "Out of the blue I heard this high shrill scream. It didn't stop either. I wanted to cover my ears but couldn't move my arms. That awful sound would fade a bit and then come on strong again. Sounded like one of them hyenas at the zoo...or a cat being gutted...a cat...black cat..." he coughed again and slammed back his shot of whiskey.
The old man closed his eyes and when he opened them again I could see the popped blood vessels turning the whites of his eyes to red. He stared into space without batting an eye. I thought I'd lost him there. I waved my hand in front of his face and his lower lip began to tremble. He sucked in a long breath and looked directly into my eyes. "...then the screeching stopped cold."
Charley's eyes were taking on the look of madness, "She crawled slowly out of one of those darkened doorways and into the middle of the alley where she slowly crouched down like she was getting ready to pounce. She was staring directly at me. I couldn't move. I was afraid to move. I felt like a mouse being tested by a hungry cat."
"So, it was a cat?" I asked, "A black cat?"
"No ordinary cat, no sireeee..." he corrected. "A cat the size of a carnival pony! Biggest panther I'd ever laid eyes on and black as onyx." He sucked in another breath. "I could see her powerful shoulders twitch a little every time I exhaled. The moonlight reflected off the glossy shine of her sleek black hair. She flipped her tail carelessly to the left and then to the right."
He swallowed hard and continued, "Her eyes were reflecting the light like hundreds of sparkling emeralds... She didn't move for a long time; just kept staring at me."
I noticed Charley was sweating so much that it was now dripping off his chin and onto the table. He took a hanky out of his shirt pocket and wiped it across his forehead once, then folded it and wiped at his chin before returning it to its cubby- hole.
The room didn't feel especially warm to me. I looked to see if anyone else was showing signs of being hot. The room felt eerily distant. No one in the bar was talking. Perhaps they were listening to the story. Yet, no one moved to light a cigarette or to take a swig of their beer. The room looked unreal... staged.
I turned back to Charley and motioned for him to continue. He shook his head and took another rattled breath. "It was like watching a movie in slow motion as she got to her feet. It was hot as hell in that alley. I don't know if the night air had gotten warmer or if I was just hot from my incessant shaking. Gotta tell ya, pal, even my toes were vibrating."
There was a small thread of blood trickling from his right eye and gathering in one of the creases that ran down the side of his nose. I wanted to stop him but couldn't make the words exit my mouth. I felt like I was under his spell.
He shuddered once and gasped, "The air... I couldn't breathe. I was choking and I could feel something being pulled from my chest."
Charley put his hand up to his throat for a moment as if he was reliving it. "I kept thinking to myself, if only I could move my feet and run. I was frozen like a statue to the place where I was. The panther grunted out a couple of breaths... oomph, oomph, oomph, and then she threw her head up and stood on her back legs."
Charley shook his head and began to speak slower, more deliberately, "As she took one step toward me I noticed something happening to her skin, it was changing. It seemed...it looked like it was beginning to liquefy. Every step forward produced more and more of that black inky fluid."
The old storyteller's voice began to crack, "She was a huge beast standing there before me. Almost the size of a bear and then, in the blink of an eye, she morphed into the shape of a woman! I couldn't believe my eyes, she was beautiful!"
My eyes didn't leave the old man for a second, "Did you say... woman?"
I looked around the bar and nobody seemed moved. Not one sound could be heard from the otherwise talkative Burt. Everyone was in the trance, except for me. "What's going on here?" I shouted into the muted silence. "What is this all about?" The room seemed to be closing in around me.
I turned back around to Charley who was beginning to look very gray in the dim light of the room. I started to lean forward to speak to him when he began again. "She was a raven-haired beauty," he whispered as if he could see her standing right behind me. "Her skin was as white as alabaster; opalescent and almost translucent it was."
"I knew better than to touch her, yet my hand was reaching out for her in spite of it. She was so near that I could hear her panting and feel her exotic breath on me." Charley's hand was now at his chest and he was fingering the collar of his shirt. The sweat was still dripping from his chin onto his hand and running down his elbow and onto the tabletop.
"She danced... for me." He choked the words out. "It felt good... whatever she was doing to me there, didn't matter, it felt so good."
"Are you okay, Charley?" I asked him. "Do you need a glass of water?" I turned to see if someone was coming to help. No one moved.
"She danced and danced." Charley was breathing hard. "And she was using me. ME! She was sucking... the life... right out... of me!" The old man's eyes were rolling upwards and his mouth began to contort.
I jumped up and quickly made my way around the bar. I filled a glass with water from the sink for Charley and thought I must be in some sort of dream myself or something out of this world... and then I could hear it; the soft motor breathing of a cat's purr. Not a small house-cat purr... something... larger.
I froze. "Harry? Did you hear that? I asked over my shoulder. "Can anyone hear that?"
No one responded. The mannequins at the bar did not move. I found myself glued to the floor in front of the table as Charley stood up. "Charley?" I asked. "Sit down, take a sip of this and sit back down. You don't look so good."
The storyteller was getting paler and his face was becoming more drawn by the second. He was beginning to drool.
He coughed once more and wiped his chin with his hand again. "I heard music." He said. "Some sort of eerie low pipe sound and drumming. The drums were beating faster and then faster again. Her body was limber and bending into positions I didn't think the human body could conform to, but I don't think she WAS human. Not human at all."
His breathing was becoming labored. "The shadows seem to be dancing with her there in the alleyway. All the while, she was throwing her head back and writhing like a voodoo priestess before a sacrificial fire. I remember thinking that I might be the sacrifice that night, but she no longer seemed to even notice me there. She had what she came for."
He turned and looked one more time into my eyes before collapsing onto the bar-room floor.
The vacuum in the room seemed to be pulling at my chest and was becoming unbearable and then, at once, released me. The overhead lights flickered. Suddenly the tavern was alive again.
The lights flickered once more and Burt's engine roared to life. "Panthers don't come to the city!" he preached, "They keep to themselves up there in the hills; nothing down here for them, if they know what's good for them."
Marv and Al rose from their stools. Marv took his dollar bill off the bar leaving the change for Harry. "See ya, old man.
Time to go... morning comes early!" Al attempted a small wave and turned to follow his roommate out the door.
"SOMEONE HELP ME!" I shouted. Charley's eyes rolled under the loose skin of his eyes before they opened and focused on something behind me.
Harry was yelling into the phone on the back counter near the cash register. "Might be a heart-attack, hurry!" then slammed the phone back onto its cradle.
Charley coughed a couple of times and then his eyes fixed in their sockets. He was gone.
I stood up holding on to the back of my chair for support. It felt like my own legs had gone to rubber. "He's gone, Harry." I turned to see Harry's face a little paler; his eyes had that hint of craziness behind them.
Harry turned his head toward the spot where Tess had been sitting. She was nowhere in sight. Her drink sat on the bar untouched and there wasn't even the slightest hint that she'd ever been there.
"Where is she?" I asked. "Where did she go?" "Who?" Harry answered looking blank.
"Tess. Did she leave?" I inquired again.
"I don't know no Tess." Harry answered plainly. He had the look of shell-shock all over him. "There wasn't no girl here."
"Sure there was. She sat right here and this is her drink..." I insisted.
"No!" Harry screamed into my face. "NO GIRL!"
I could hear the sirens approaching in the distance. It wouldn't be long and the bar would be a bee-hive of questions.
"Harry... I saw her..." I whispered back to him, trying to make sense of all of this. "She was sitting right here... a dark haired woman, ivory skin, beautiful green eyes, long legs..."
Just then I saw it move, in the shadows near the back door; a large black cat running into the alleyway.
Three Months Later
"Hey Harry! Nice evening!" I greeted him as I stumbled through the door. "Marv... Al... How's everyone doing tonight?"
Al nodded and Marv beamed his yellow smile while asking Harry to set one up for me.
"Thanks Marv." I stammered. I was already three sheets in the wind by this time every night. This would be my last stop before I'd have to find a place to park myself and sleep it off.
Burt was expounding on the right to bear arms and how we needed to protect ourselves from E.T.'s because the government wasn't doing nothin' about 'em. "As a matter of fact, they are giving them food and shelter in exchange for uranium!" he quipped.
I took my shot of whiskey and beer chaser over to the back table and sat myself down in Charley's old seat. It was mine now. I was the storyteller.
I let my chin fall to my chest and let out a big sigh. It was almost time to close and I needed to get out back and dig for a bag of garbage to lay my head on.
I remember mumbling something to myself about black cats...

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Film Review: Paranoid (Independent) by James K. Blaylock

Paranoid (2000)
Directed by Jay Holben
With Tonya Ivey, Mark Reynolds, Patrick Gealogo, Tamara Balyan and Jeff Gabe
Based on a poem by Stephen King
Paranoid is a very well-made short film. Based on a poem by the master of horror Stephen King, Paranoid: A Chant, who could ask for more. The story unfolds in those wee dark hours at a roadside motel. We discover a woman in the darkness of her room. She’s in a sheer state of paranoia when we first meet. It’s a little more than interesting to hear her rambling and rant. I found myself wanting more, much more. Which simply means I would gratefully invest more time into a full length feature, but this offering was well worth the price of admission in its own right. I can’t help but wonder does Stephen King ever bother himself by watching short adaptations of his work. I seem to recall a lot of distain coming from him in the 80s and 90s over such things. So much so that he even picked up a camera and made the bittersweet Maximum Overdrive himself. Although, I’m sure there are always exceptions over the hollows of time, and in my humble opinion this is one of those. Of course none of it would’ve even been made possible without such a talented actress to carry the whole thing. Tremendous work all around. As a poet I can definitely appreciate this whole effort. It’s quiet spellbinding. There you have it: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. -James K. Blaylock

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Band Interview: THE NEGANS by Dave Wolff

Interview with THE NEGANS

Your band’s concept is based on the villain from the last two seasons of The Walking Dead. What inspired you to devise this concept? Are the band long time horror fans?
Jimi Halfdead (Vocals, rhythm guitar): I've been in a few horror bands before this one and always wrote songs on different villains/monsters point of view. So this time around I decided to pick one bad guy.... Negan from the Walking Dead which reminded me a lot of the Joker but set in the zombie apocalypse. I've been a fan of horror since I was a kid. It all started between the late 80s early 90s. When Jason could come out of a lake, Freddy invaded your dreams and Michael Myers could be hiding behind a tree ready to sneak up on you! I love horror because it scares me... that's the fun of it.
Joe Z (Drums): We're all horror fans, and have been in other bands in the past that focused on more horror topics and villains as well. For me I think of our first collaboration together even before this band was a thing, where just as a fun random project we sat down and watched this old horror movie at Rev's place and then wrote a song about it. So even before this specific band was thought of, the mutual interest was there for scary things and turning that into music.

What horror movies did the band members grow up on? Were these mostly mainstream horror movies or were there any underground/cult movies you watched?
The Rev (Bass): For all of us growing up it was all the classic slashers. I am a big Jason/Friday the 13th fan, Jimi is a big Michael Myers/Halloween guy. It was in college that I started to get into horror from other countries and discover some of the more obscure horror movies. It started with seeing Dario Argento's Suspiria and then watching most of his filmography. I then started watching other Giallo Italian directors like Bava and Fulci. From there I started trying to hunt down the goriest or most disturbing movies, which lead me to Takashi Mike and the August Underground stuff. I've toned it down a bit these days, but if there's something that's really disturbing people I'll usually go check it out. 

Who were the directors with the most inventive and groundbreaking approach to filmmaking in your view?
The Rev: As for groundbreaking filmmakers, it's tough because those that are really good seem to leave the genre. Besides the directors I already mentioned, you have the classics like Romero, Carpenter, Craven and Gordon. And even Spielberg used to be a horror director with Duel & Jaws! I used to push Guillermo Del Toro on everyone, but thanks to The Shape of Water everyone knows him now! Same sort of thing happened with Peter Jackson! Edgar Wright is one of my current favorites. I loved Shaun of the Dead & Spaced and he's just been killing it with everything since then. I've actually been on a car chase movie kick since he came out with Baby Driver. I'll go see anything Gaspar Noe does. I like movies that make you talk about them after you see them and after watching Irreversible I couldn't stop talking about how crazy it was. Really the French and the New French Extremity movement has been really making the best modern disturbing movies. On the more indie and shorter side of things I am hoping to see more from Nacho Cerda and Douglas Buck. Their shorts Aftermath and Cutting Moments are two of the best horror shorts I've seen in a long time. I showed Cutting Moments at a party about ten years ago, and some of the people who helped with our music video are STILL traumatized by it!

When did Nacho Cerda and Douglas Buck release Aftermath and Cutting Moments? What about them would you say stands out in horror cinema?
The Rev: They are both old, but to me classic horror is timeless. Aftermath came out in 1994 and Cutting Moments is from 1997. Both movies stand out to me because they make you think. With Aftermath, it shows the realization that after you die you have no control of what happens to your body and guys in morgues can be real perverts. It's not scary like there's a monster after you, but it's more of an internal realization horror. Despite the disgusting acts shown in the short it is beautifully shot, which makes watching it an odd experience of disgust and wonder. Nacho Cerda eventually went on to make The Abandoned in 2006, but haven't heard much from him since. Cutting Moments is gory, but what really cuts home is the silence of the movie. The horror is more than just self-mutilation but it's watching a woman desperately try to keep her family together. As I mentioned before it is one of those movies that sticks with you, and you just keep thinking about days after you watch it. Usually I have a nice feeling of existential depression for a week or so after a viewing.

Where can those two shorts be purchased online by interested parties?
The Rev: The DVD of Aftermath can be purchased directly from Unearthed Films’ website. As for Cutting Moments it's on Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America, you might find the DVD through Amazon but it's been discontinued. I think they've both been uploaded to YouTube, so you can always watch it there.

What is the New French Extremity movement? Are there any examples you want to tell the readers about?
The Rev: New French Extremity, to me, is sort of a broad term for the horror movies coming out of France. The French are just doing the most interesting things in horror it seems. After The Ring came out everyone was interested in J-Horror, the same thing has been happening with France after High Tension came out. The movies tend to be more graphic and extreme with sometimes an aspect of Body Horror to them. Watching them tends to be an experience, good or bad but you will be thinking and talking about it after you watch it. Some good examples are High Tension as I mentioned, Inside, Martyrs, Irreversible, and Them/ils.

How do you define J-Horror and Body Horror? In what ways does French horror cinema compare to cinema from Italy in the 80s and Japan in the 90s?
The Rev: J-Horror is Japanese Horror, so any horror movie from Japan would count. In general they are usually more suspenseful or psychological while dealing with ghosts. Body Horror would be movies that really focus on something weird happening to the human body, like a mutilation or changing into a creature. Cronenberg really was the film maker that focused on it and helped make it into its own subgenre.
I think the connection between French, Italian, and Japanese Horror is that their directors were brave enough to push the envelope. Each era had certain sensibilities and the directors of the different countries decided to push past them. They keep finding new ways to make the movies more violent and disturbing.

How long have you been fans of the zombie genre? Which films of that genre are your personal favorites? What about The Walking Dead resonates with you?
Joe Z: Zombies have always been an interesting kind of adversary that I think we've all been fans of pretty much forever. For me its movies like Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later that really stand out still. People argue the semantics of different kinds of zombies, but ultimately it's that grander scale also found in TWD, of it's not just a few teens against a lone killer for a night, its people of all types and ages trying to survive a world that's now filled with mindless killers, and the threat of becoming one. That idea is definitely a part of us, the struggle against the mindless masses, taking a show built on drama and seriousness and making it fun and turning it on its head with ideas such as that Negan and the Saviors are actually the heroes of the story and Rick and his group the villains. Mostly we're just having fun, but also going very deliberately against the norm.

How do you account for the zombie genre reaching the heights of popularity it has in recent years?
Jimi: I feel like the climb of popularity in the zombie genre started in 2002 with the movies Resident Evil and 28 Days Later, although it truly wasn't until the Dawn Of The Dead remake in 2004 that people just couldn't seem to get enough of those brain and flesh eating undead freaks. I mean that movie just gave it such a modern day, realistic feel that it might as well have been happening right outside your door. I grew up Catholic so when I heard that famous line "When there's no more room in hell the dead shall walk the Earth" straight out of the bible's book of revelations itself, I thought maybe this could really happen. It terrified me as a kid. I also think in general, people love the whole fright or flight excitement you get out of watching these movies and shows. Imagine adding zombies to your everyday normal boring routine and you've got yourself a fun yet horrific adventure.

Several zombie movies released from the 2000s to the present show zombies running and climbing walls. Is this effective or do you share the late George Romero’s opinion that zombies can’t engage in such activity?
Mark Zero (Lead guitar): I think the important thing to think about there is what the human body is capable of in life, and whether it could reasonably be capable of that in a state of undeath. Rigor Mortis, as far as I know, is actually a temporary state of a corpse, it isn't permanent. So it really depends on what sort of state the corpse would be in during undeath.
I don't think it's completely crazy to have zombies that can run or move quickly, but it depends a lot on how the zombie movie establishes how its zombies function. If we're talking long dead people who rise out of their graves, running zombies would be tougher to justify. But in the case of movies like 28 Days Later, where the "zombies" are more like living people infected with a rabies-esque disease, why not have them able to run?
There's also something to consider about what sort of tone the movie wants to set. Shambling, slow moving zombies are better for creating that sense of inevitable dread. A slow moving zombie horde invokes a feeling of walls slowly closing in. Whereas if you're going for action, shock, and rapid panic, fast moving zombies are the way to go for sure. You don't want the protagonists to have time to think, you want that instinctual fight or flight panic to kick into high gear.

Jimi, you compared Negan to the Joker. Is there any specific Joker from any era of Batman that Negan has the most in common with? Describe the similarities you see between the two.
Jimi: To put it best, Batman has The Joker and Rick Grimes has Negan. Both villains are a thorn (or barbed wire if you will) to their counterparts. Both are very charismatic characters that will pull you in and make you hate loving them. But as much as they are alike, they differ in many ways. I believe what differs is when it comes to the Joker, as intelligent as he may be, he is still a total off the wall lunatic murderer who couldn't care less about anyone or anything, while I see Negan as more of an anti-hero. As brutal as Negan can be at times he does care about saving people, even if it's through bashing some heads to keep people in line. Overall I think Negan is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise serious and bleak zombie apocalypse.

In what ways do you see the Saviors as the true heroes of The Walking Dead, and how does the band represent this idea?
Jimi: I don’t think there are any true heroes in a world like the Walking Dead. I mean there are people that save others more often than themselves as much there are people that save themselves more than others. It all comes down to survival of the fittest and how good you are at that. If you know Negan’s origin story you know he tried saving a lot of people on the way but they kept dying by their own decisions. When he first encountered the group that would end up being the Saviors at that time, they were led by a scumbag so Negan decided to take over, set his own rules to ensure his and others’ survival. Hey, Negan’s not perfect by any means but neither is Rick and his merry gang. The great part of this band is that we all have fun doing it and the theme of the band doesn’t make or break who we are as musicians and as people in general. So, I like playing with the idea in my head that we save people with our music. And hope they can feel the energy we put out during our shows and how much of a good time we are having on stage. In other words, fight the gloom and doom of the zombie apocalypse with a hell of a party!

I noticed in one episode of The Walking Dead (Knots Untie from season six), Rick and his people rescue someone from the Saviors and in doing so kill Saviors in their sleep. This and other episodes sort of blur the line between hero and villain, something that hasn’t been done to such an extent in most television series.
Jimi: When Rick and his gang decide to kill those saviors in their sleep it was a big dive from the good guy kiddie pool into the bad guy open ocean. I remember thinking, "What the hell are our so called heroes doing?" After that I started thinking that maybe this is way that they are trying to get the viewers ready for how Negan does things. It was a smart way to show that good guys can cross that line when it's called for but by doing this very villainous act it would change who they are and the things that they would do in the future. They have blood on their hands and they would pay for it with the deaths of Abraham and Glenn.

I have watched fan videos discussing Negan on Youtube as well as interview clips with Jeffrey Dean Morgan; from these I gather Negan is convinced he is doing good in the post-zombie apocalyptic world through his methods.
Jimi: It's funny, in some of the Walking Dead groups that I'm in, recently I've realized that I've been defending Negan as if he were one of my asshole friends who is just misunderstood. I feel this way because I do believe that Negan is doing these things for the right reason. Just like Rick does his "stuff and thangs." It has been said by the makers of the show that if we followed Negan from the start that we would be rooting for him and thinking Rick was the villain. In the end, Rick and Negan are just two sides of the same coin. It's just all in perception.

Has the band been watching season nine of The Walking Dead so far? Any theories about how this season will pan out?
Joe Z: I'm definitely very intrigued by this civil war aspect that's already begun to happen in season nine. Negan is sitting in a cell and yet remains the center of everything; he is that powerful a force. Meanwhile the communities are already fracturing and battle lines being drawn. Season eight was dubbed "all out war", but I think season nine may be building to something even bigger with multiple groups within and outside of our known community coming to a head against each other, and in the middle of it all is Negan just laughing and waiting for his time.

What predictions do you have for Negan as the ninth season of TWD continues?
Joe Z: My prediction is that Negan is going to get out, either on his own or Maggie will try to kill him and it'll go wrong and he'll escape. I think he'll try to go back to Sanctuary and gather up anyone who will join him and cause trouble, but I also see something happening that forces Alexandria to turn to him for help, gives him an opportunity to "save" people once again.

How do you think Negan will react to Rick’s death by self-sacrifice when he hears about it? What is your take so far on the Whisperers?
Jimi: When Negan finds out that Rick is dead he will be angry that he didn’t get to prove Rick wrong that the world needs a Negan more than a Rick kind of leader. But finding out on top of it that Rick sacrificed himself probably he did have some balls after all.
Joe Z: I think he may be mad that he didn’t get to kill him himself, though I could see him respecting Rick’s willingness to self-sacrifice for the good of the group. The Whisperers look like they’re going to be an interesting enemy, especially in from what we’ve seen so far in the previews their abilities to manipulate and blend with herds of zombies

Do you watch any of the theory-based videos on Youtube speculating how the current series of TWD will pan out? Which of them are most researched and well spoken?
Jimi: I must say that I stay away from those YouTube videos because my wife reads the comics and she answers my question when I want to know if something is going the comic book route or not. Also, there are so many articles on Facebook that catch my eye, I tend to read those from time to time.


Do you watch TWD’s spinoff series Fear The Walking Dead? How would you say the two series compare with one another?

Jimi: I love Fear The Walking Dead. I thought it was nice to have a fresh start from the beginning and not to be so concerned with things matching up with the comics. Also, I’m so happy that Morgan crossed over to the show. He’s another favorite character of mine after Negan of course.

How long has the band been active to date, and how have you been received by the punk community so far?
Joe Z: We’ve been working together for a little under a year and half now. Our first live shows were actually out of state in Rutland, Vermont and Albany, New York in July 2017. In that time since we find ourselves repeatedly almost surprised at how accepted we’ve been by the scene in such a relatively short time. Be it punk, rock or metal, I like to think there’s a little something everyone can enjoy. We’re all familiar with the struggles of the “local” musician trying to stand out and get people to pay attention to you and whatnot, our real goal is that no matter where we are, who we’re with, how many people are there, every show is a party. I can say personally this is easily one of the most fun bands I’ve ever been part of, and that energy really translates to the point that even people who don’t know anything about Negan or The Walking Dead or any of that will still enjoy the music and have a good time.

How many releases does the band have out to date? Do they usually get favorable press once they’re made available? On what streaming sites can they be found?
Joe Z: We just released our very first EP, Take It Like A Champ, in early October, and in fact your review was the first and so far only press review we've had for it. We definitely plan to get more reviews and earlier reviews on later releases, but for this first release the focus was really on getting the music out there and introducing ourselves to the world. So far though the response has been overwhelmingly positive and really feeling like the work we put in has paid off. The EP is on all the major streaming/download sites, such as Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Amazon, etc, and we do have a limited run of physical CDs. CDs, digital downloads, other merch items like t-shirts, patches and such are all available through Bandcamp online at thenegans.bandcamp.com.

Which of your merch has been selling the most of late?
Joe Z: Shirts have really been the big sell for merch so far. We actually went through the first batch so quickly that we were running out of sizes after only a couple weeks and had to order up a second batch. We've got some new stuff coming in that I'm very curious how it goes over, but the number of people wanting shirts is awesome, there's something about seeing people proudly displaying your name and logo that always hits home for me and is like damn, that is so cool.

Has the band dealt with any copyright issues since you began selling merchandise?
Joe Z: I think we've been good about keeping our own image, taking the general idea and concept and making it our own enough to avoid any copyright issues. That and we're still new enough that we're pretty under the radar.

Do you also release your material on cassette and CD format? Between these and streaming formats, which have proven most successful for the band?
Joe Z: As for which format has proven the most successful, the physical CDs still remain king. Streaming and downloads are all the rage now, and there's definitely a demand for that especially among younger generation listeners I find, but from what we've seen a lot of our fans still prefer to buy CDs. We may consider things like cassettes or records in the future, though generally I feel those fall more into the category of novelty/specialty items. While CDs aren't what they used to be, they're still a major music medium, especially for smaller bands.

In what ways do the lyrics of Take It Like A Champ reflect on Negan and The Walking Dead?
Jimi: The first two songs on the E.P., Shut This Shit Down and Pee-Pee Pants City, are part A and Part B to the introduction of Negan. In both songs I reference parts of the speech that he gives when we first meet him. Redneck Zombies was a song I actually wrote years ago. Since it's zombie related I thought it would fit well with our theme and the guys agreed. The Saviors is basically about Negan and his people as a whole as opposed to solely being about Negan himself. It's pretty much give us half your shit and we'll protect you from the undead. The last song, I Love Lucy, is a love song about Negan’s feelings towards his barbed wire bat which carries the essence of his late wife Lucille. Also, the title is a tribute to one of my favorite shows and favorite female comedian of all time, Lucille Ball.

Did you base Redneck Zombies on the late 1980’s movie of the same name? Are there other movies from that time period you would consider basing lyrics on?
Jimi: I mostly write lyrics and music about what I’m into at the current moment. But with that said if I watch an 80’s movie and get some ideas, I’ll pick up the guitar and give birth to a song about that movie. So, the possibility of me writing a song about Return Of The Living Dead or even a movie like 28 Days Later is not out of reach.

What sort of song treatment would the band give Return Of The Living Dead and 28 Days Later?
Jimi: I think a movie like Return of The Living Dead needs to have kind of 80’s metal/rock kind of flow. A 28 Days Later song needs to be fast and heavy. Hell, maybe I’ll start writing them now.

Where do you see the zombie genre going five years from now, in terms of popularity and original ideas? How much as The Walking Dead contributed to it since they began airing?
Jimi: I don’t see zombie shows/movies ever going away. The genre may not be as strong as it now but I feel people are going to keep writing about them. What I’ve heard about the plans that they have for the walking dead universe in the years to come alone will keep the genre undead for a long time.

What ideas based on The Walking Dead does the band have in mind for the next release? Will the next release also be an EP or perhaps a full length?
Joe Z: We've talked a few ideas for the next release, possibly expanding the EP into a full length. This first EP is an introduction, what's already been written and is continuing to come from that has started to dive deeper into some of the lore of what Negan is trying to accomplish, other stories of horrors that have happened in TWD and a zombie apocalypse in general. There are direct stories from the show/comic, and there are more conceptualized ideas of "What would Negan do?" type of things.

Are there any songs completed for the next release at the time of this writing? How many songs are you hoping to record altogether? How is the band planning to promote it when it comes out?
Jimi: As of this moment, we have eleven songs altogether including the five that are on the ep. I’m thinking we’ll go back to the studio, record the other six and maybe put out a full length. The funny thing is that I already have three new songs I wrote to show the guys and those might make to the album also.
Joe Z: We’ve talked about a few different ideas such as more videos, remixes, reviews, interviews, Rev laid out a whole master plan at one point. I think the major idea is that the EP was the first taste, and now we’re going to take the time to really lay out the full story and put everything into it that we can.

What would you most like the band to accomplish in their career?
Jimi: For me, it would be to get our music into people's brains from here to all over the world so they can enjoy our rock n roll apocalypse as much as we do.