Friday, May 24, 2019

Track Review: 6HOST WITHASIX "Forgive Me" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Artist: 6HOST WITHASIX
Location: Cape Breton Island
Country: Canada
Genre: Hip hop
Track: Forgive Me
Label: Independent
Release date: May 23, 2019
I have not mentioned 6host WithaSix on this site in quite a while, but with this newly released track, I figured that now is a good time to bring him to light once again. As he always was, 6host is a talented young hip-hop artist from Cape Breton Island, and his tracks without question have the ability to make you bob your head in a rhythmic motion to his clearly talent-filled and genuinely unique music. While this track is not my all time favorite of his songs (my favorites are still ''Born For The Art'', ''Drugs For You'' and ''You Can't Go Back..'') the message held within seems to be sincere and heartfelt. I too have dealt with the pain of depression in the past and I can for sure relate to the turmoil that it causes. As always, I am very happy to hear new music from 6host, and as always, I look forward to hearing more from 6host in the future. If everyone on this island (Cape Breton) had as much talent as this young man, nobody would be looking for work because we all would be living off of our forever escalating record sales. I hope to hear a new full-length album (or even an EP?) come from 6host within the near future, and I can guarantee him at least one sale... my copy. In closing, I will say one thing. We have all sinned, and we all have a chance (if not multiple) to be forgiven. Great job, 6host! Much love from one of your biggest fans. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Six

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon


Chapter Six

It was two days before the master and his apprentice were to leave Draconos and three days before the circus. There was another visiting arcane dignitary staying at the compound and Bell had to change rooms. It was not to her liking. It was too warm- not hot just warm.
The little miss went down for breakfast. She sat at the table but did not eat. This really wasn’t out of the ordinary for a child to not eat but it was strange behavior since she did not eat dinner the night before. She excused herself and went to her room.
She got back into bed and pulled the covers up over her head. The room was warm and the covers made it seem almost unbearable for her. About an hour later, her master comes into her room because she failed to show up for combat practice. As soon as she heard the knock she folded the blankets down to her chest to expose her head.
“Bell, I’m only going to say this once. Get up, get dressed and get yourself down to the practice area. Now.” He commanded. She moaned and rolled over.
Her eyes were closed but she could hear him walking across the floor. He placed his hand on her to lightly shake her. She moaned again. RavenDance was concerned. He felt something wasn’t right. He placed the back of his hand gently across her forehead. It was warm. He thought to himself that she has a fever.
“Bell? Are you feeling alright?” he asked. She just moaned. He left the room. She covered her head with the blankets and fell asleep.
She didn’t really feel bad but she didn’t really feel good either. The room was too warm for her and now the blankets made it worse.
A while later the arcane priest and her master came back in. The priest uncovered her head and checked for a fever. It appeared that the little miss may indeed have a fever.
The priest spoke. “There have been reported cases of this throughout the city Arcane Warrior. I’m afraid she may have contracted this disease while at the imperial feast. I will do what I can for her but you must know, that in most cases, this disease proves to be…have you the address of her next of kin?”
“Is there nothing we can do?” RavenDance asked.
“Other than praying?” he shrugged his shoulders. “There is a tea that has been rumored to help. Do you want me to prepare the tea for her?”
“How long does she have?”
“Oh I would estimate the disease is well into its course now. This disease is wretched. I would say if she doesn’t have the tea now then you may be writing her parents to inform them their little girl has passed away within a day. Shall we at least try the tea?”
RavenDance sighed. “Yes. Yes, of course. Bring her the tea right away.”
With that both of them left her room. Bell was scared and thinking she was going to die and she was mad because if this disease kills her it will have robbed her of her chance to kill that demon that keeps haunting her.
The priest and RavenDance come back into the room. RavenDance lifts the little girl’s head up and he sits behind her holding her up.
“Apprentice Bell, please drink this tea. It will help you get well. I am sorry it will taste quite horrible but it will keep you from succumbing death.” The priest said.
RavenDance held the cup of tea in his hand and pulled it close to her mouth.
“It’s best to drink it all at one time Apprentice” the priest stated.
Bell plugged her nose and drank the whole cup down at one time. Oh by Arcanos it was most nasty. She was gagging. The priest left a bucket by her bed. RavenDance stayed with her.
The tea caused her to become violently nauseated and she was now holding the bucket in her lap as her head hung over it. This lasted all night.
By morning the retching had stopped and she went down for breakfast. She was starving so much so that she had two heaving helpings.
“Master, can we stay for the circus? Pretty please?” She asked.
“We might as well. We must make sure you have your strength back to continue on after that because we have to make up for lost time. In the future, least you wish to become violently ill again, don’t come down with a case of circitis.”
Everyone at the table except for her laughed. She felt embarrassed and a little mad but this is exactly like a trick that Clef would have pulled on her. Remembering that, she laughed too.
They arrive at the circus. There are games to play with weird prizes. The big top was not colorful at all. What kind of circus master uses dark red and grey she wondered. They enter the big tent and take a seat. RavenDance was acting strange. He was jittery. Bell thought him to be excited or perhaps nervous.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls may I present Darklyn’s Circus Macabre. Where you’ll be dying to leave! I give to you our circus master, Darklyn” said a tall man with alabaster skin.
Bell found this to be a most interesting circus. She recognized the man who announced the circus master as a real vampire. There were knife throwing acts and tight wire acts. Some of the actors were losing limbs and one lost a head. RavenDance was tapping on the hilt of his sword.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
He replied, “I don’t like the undead. They too are our enemies at times.” She didn’t care; she was having a great time.
“And now ladies and gents, we need a participant from the audience to help us out with this next act. To make this fair, we have taken all the occupied seat numbers and put them into this glass jar” said the vampire. “Now our not so honorable ring master will pull one number out of the jar.”
The circus master or ring master as he was sometimes called was a jester who seemed to prefer dark red and grey rather than the traditional bright colors. His jester hat was most interested and disturbing at the same time. His hat was adorned with tiny skull bells that would jingle when his head moved. His face and hands was skull like so either he was an undead too or he had someone who did a great make up job on him. Darklyn was holding a shovel that had a carving of a skeletal elephant in his hand.
The ring master dipped his bony fingers into the jar and pulled out a piece of paper. He said “Would the person sitting in chair ninety six please come on down and join me. Again, chair ninety six.”
Bell Singer just happened to be sitting in that seat. She jumped up and went down into the middle of the ring. She stood beside the macabre jester.
She could hear him in her head. He said “Hello Ding-La!” With her mouth a gape she turned her head with a questioning look on her face. “Oh don’t worry Ding-La! I can find you anywhere! Hahahahaha!”
“Well who is our willing victim, I mean participant?” he asked.
“Arcane Warrior Apprentice Bell Singer” she replied.
“Well young apprentice, how about you help us with some juggling. You can juggle can you not? You are a Singer after all!”
“Um. Yeah I can a little.”
As she stood next to the macabre jester one of the crowns surrounding her belly button began to itch.
“Great! This is Zane the Zombie. Zane meet Apprentice Bell.” He said that in such a way as to imply to the zombie that she was food. The audience laughed.
They begin to juggle and pass the colored balls back and forth. Zane’s left hand falls off. The audience laughs. Zane eventually loses his right arm and Bell wins the so called contest. As a prize, Darklyn hands her a shadowy scale.
“Use this only if you are really in serious trouble. I’ll come help you.” He whispered in her head. She returned to her seat and put the small scale in her money sack.
Poor RavenDance wanted to leave this dreadful place as soon as he could however his apprentice would not have that. He was forced to leave the big top with her to go play games for prizes.
Bell knocked down all the bottles in the bowling game and won a beautiful ornate miniature casket with directions on the bottom. The directions say “Only open at night and in a closed room. Do not have open windows or doors. Not responsible for contents after opening.” RavenDance took that from her placing it in his pouch for what he deemed as safe keeping. Bell finally announced she was tired and wanted to go back to the compound.
“Don’t ever make me endure such a spectacle again, young Bell. I will not have the restraint I showed tonight. Understand?” He said.

Monday, May 20, 2019

EP Review: PREGNANCY "Demo 2013" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: PREGNANCY
Location: Melbourne
Country: Australia
Genre: Goregrind
EP: Demo 2013
Label: Independent
Format: 100 copies limited edition CD-R (sold out), streaming
Release date: January 3rd, 2014 (re-released on vinyl by Nerve Altar and Grindfather Productions August 2017)
Once again my window is splattered with depressing rain, so I have been spending a bit of time scrolling through Youtube for new tunes. During this search, I happened to come upon this EP, the debut release from the Australian goregrind band Pregnancy. From what I read on their Youtube bio, Pregnancy is a gore outfit including members of Internal Rot, Doubled Over, Roskopp, Contaminated and a handful of other bands. I am a fan of Roskopp, so I can for sure anticipate that this is going to be good. I hit the play button, and a wave of vicious grindage shattered my eardrums like a tsunami of splattery awesomeness. Dismal pitched gargling gutturals adorn this release, set alongside with brutal drum blasts and guitars tuned so low that it is hard to decipher what notes are being played. I let the EP play through a total of three times, and I was far from unimpressed. These guys rule! Something that is worth mentioning is that the production quality on this release is great. I listen to a ton of grind and gore, and anyone who is involved with these genres knows that lo-fi is the norm within this scene. Still, it is nice to hear grind with high quality production. Another thing worth mentioning is that the cover art is severely creepy, and is able to stand with the art put out by the greats. Clocking in at around ten and a half minutes, this EP is only short, but it is without question highly enjoyable and put together very well. I highly suggest that fans of this style of music give these guys a listen. Grindcore is love... but goregrind is life! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:
Aaron: Bass, vocals
Darcy: Guitars, vocals
Christoph: Drums

Track list:
1. Hypodermic Rabies Vessel
2. Lactating Noxious Chunks
3. A Backing-Up of the Bowels
4. Gestated in the Colon
5. Ocean of Piss

Video Review: MELANIE MAU & MARTIN SCHNELLA "A Touch Of Evil" (Progressive Promotion Records) by Dave Wolff

Artist: MELANIE MAU & MARTIN SCHNELLA
Location: Osterode am Harz, Niedersachsen
Country: Germany
Genre: Acoustic
Video: A Touch Of Evil (Judas Priest cover)
Label: Progressive Promotion Records
Release date: March 1, 2017
While surfing Youtube for another Judas Priest cover I had listened to previously, I came across this one, became curious and decided to give it a chance. Just to see how it sounded. As it turned out this was smart, as I was unprepared for a well-executed treatment of Judas Priest’s “A Touch Of Evil”. If you know the version from Painkiller, you should know the cover is far removed from it, almost to the point where it’s a different song. If you like metal and Celtic music in the vein of Loreena McKenniitt, this is essential listening from musicians who deserve a lot of recognition. Martin Schnella, one of the artists who arranged the cover, runs a Youtube channel where he and his cohorts cover songs by Iron Maiden, In Flames, Nightwish, Blind Guardian and others. His other projects Flaming Row and Moon Safari have videos there, but they are years old so I am not sure if those projects are still active. In 2002 Zwan did an acoustic cover of Iron Maiden’s “The Number Of The Beast” for the 2002 movie Spun. I mention this because both covers are acoustic pieces that completely reinterpret the originals and both gave me a similar feeling. But while Zwan’s Iron Maiden cover is a straightforward acoustic piece, Schnella’s Priest cover is deep and multi layered. It’s done not just with acoustic guitar and vocals but a full ensemble. The re-arrangement of the song with percussion, violin and traditional instruments is a testament to how seriously everyone involved took infusing the cover with their vision and the respect they showed for the original. Melanie Mau lends vocals with an insinuating feel that radically alters the mood, often singing with different notes than Rob Halford’s. The depth added by the variety in instruments is breathtaking. Acoustic guitars handle the synthesizer sections of the original song; bass lines are added for harmony; energy builds, wanes and builds again; vocals overlap; there’s interplay between the guitars, vocals and the other instruments. It’s simply a brilliant reimagining of a JP song that you can’t help becoming immersed in. Listening to this made me want to hear some of the other songs at Schnella’s Youtube profile. -Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Melanie Mau: lead vocals
Martin Schnella: Acoustic guitars, vocals & percussion
Niklas Kahl: Cajon & percussion
Lars Lehmann: Bass guitar
Jens Kommnick: Cello, uilleann pipes & whistle
Eric Brenton: Violin

Split Full Length Review: CEPHEIDE/TIME LURKER "Lucide" (Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions) by Kelly Tee

Band: CEPHEIDE
Country: France
Genre: Atmospheric black metal
Country: France
Genre: Atmospheric black metal
Split Full Length: Lucide
Label: Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions (France)
Format: CD, digipak, streaming
Release date: May 3, 2019
When a dark and unnerving sound amalgamates with a sound full of mystery and intrigue; a 3 track Split is created, and is one of impressive proportions.
Time Lurker, a French atmospheric black metal solo artist joins forces with the French enigmatic duo, Cephiede to create a disturbing metal experience which has been clearly designed to captivate the listener for the entire 33 minutes. This type of metal will hurl you deep into a place, which is void of light, saturated with insanity and fueled by torture.
The first track from The Lurker, "No One Is Real" offers a slow burn intro throwing a false sense of security toward the listener. All securities are soon removed, when this track spirals into spasms of heavy and confronting melodic heavy riffs, frantic blast beats and double kick percussion on a canvas of agonized and tormented screams, creating an extremely haunting vibe, one which seems to propel an unsettling warning toward caution. As the track tempo increases, so too do the impressive and ambitious ambiance. The terrorized faded screams, which are relentless on this darkened number enhance this moody black metal track superbly. Prepare for a trance-like state within this solid music composition.
"Unstable Night" is very appropriately titled and is a portentous and menacing track right from the start and holds right through to its completion. Think vicious blast beats on steroids and brooding guitars as The Lurker hits the lows vocally to beastly levels, delivering a pitch-black experience. The black metal shrieking and yells that are within this track are inexorable, frightening and beautiful all in one. A track fired by insanity and things that go bump in the night “Unstable Night” is special listen and will evoke a feeling of uncertainty.
Lucide is the one and the only track on the Split by Cephiede, however, make no mistake, the duo have filled this 19-minute black journey with all their mystery, atmospheric beauty and heaviness to a point of pure black metal satisfaction. As to be expected in a 19-minute song from a band such a Cephiede they create a sense of euphoria and story. Lucide is riddled with guitars creating sounds of a very ominous and gloomy nature, which is malice at times and intended to knot the stomach. This track is chaos and contempt, meets beauty and ambiance with a fantastic heaviness, creating an epic track with a big mood.
Overall this Split was enjoyable, dark and extravagant in sound and you will somehow find splendour among the echoes of trapped souls, distressed minds and torture.
A Split to close your eyes, listen intently to, and escape! Once you are there, you may or may not want to return. -Kelly Tee

Lineup:

CEPHEIDE
Gaetan: Vocals, guitars, drums
François Saint Voirin: Lead guitars, bass

TIME LURKER
Mick: All instruments

Track list:
1. Time Lurker: No One Is Real
2. Time Lurker: Unstable Night
3. Cepheide: Lucide

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Demo Review: STYGIAN SKY "Stygian Sky" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Location: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Country: Canada
Genre: Death/thrash/progressive metal
Label: Independent
Format: Digital, streaming
Release date: November 1, 2008
Recently I was privileged enough to catch heavy metal legends Anvil live in concert. Along with Anvil, the band Stygian Sky was the opening act for the night. Both bands were absolutely phenomenal live, and after the concert, I spent some time listening to releases from both acts. Anvil is an amazing band, but Stygian Sky is much closer to my personal taste in music, so I have decided to give their 2008 demo a review. This demo includes four vicious tracks. The songs held within are titled ''Here I Stand'', ''Over My Dead Body'', ''Such Prominent Endeavors'', and ''Tides of Consciousness''. Pulverizing vocals and heart-stopping bass meshes with pummeling drums and heavy yet very intricate guitar work. One thing that deserves a mention is that this demo reminds me of early releases from the well-known death metal band Death. These guys are a local band from my island (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia) but they push forward with an onslaught of metal fury that could stand along with any of the better known acts from Canada... or the rest of the world. I sat back for a bit and tried to decide what my favorite track on this demo is, but I honestly cannot pick one. Each track is ''more than awesome'' and is for sure worthy of a listen! Just like their live performances, this demo makes me proud to be a Cape Bretoner and I suggest that anyone and everyone far and wide checks this demo out for themselves. Brutally heavy and as tight as thieves, this demo is without question one of the best metal releases put out within the cape. Totally sick! 10/10 -Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:
Cliff Gouthro: Vocals
Jason Burke: Guitar
Colin Capstick: Guitar
Dave Grant: Bass
Craig Joyce: Drums

Track list:
1. Here I Stand
2. Over My Dead Body
3. Such Prominent Endeavors
4. Tides of Consciousness

Ed. note: Stygian Sky’s latest single “Dreaming The State Of Reality” was released December 21, 2018. -DW


Saturday, May 18, 2019

EP Review: HEINOUS "Exoneration Thru Exhumation" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: HEINOUS
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Country: USA
Genre: Goregrind
Label: Independent
Release date: May 22, 2017
Rain is pelting against my window and I am just finishing up listening to ''Exoneration Thru Exhumation'' by HEINOUS. I have always enjoyed this band, and from what I can hear, this EP pushes forward with as much violent fervor as their other releases. The guitar work and bass is on point, the drums pound along with vicious blasts and rolls, and the deep pitched gutturals are just as chaotic and unruly as ever. The audio samples of serial killer/hitman Richard Kuklinski add a certain eeriness to the tracks, and I can for sure acknowledge that these guys deserve a place in the annals of goregrind history. I will also mention that the artwork for this EP is genuinely creepy, and the artist without question has a talent for the style of art portrayed. This release was recorded March 2017 at Master's Chambers by Jeff Owens, and can be found (along with other merch) at www.disrocker.com. While writing this review, I am now on my third play through. HEINOUS is a great band and anyone interested in grind and gore should for sure give these guys a listen. The audio assault that commences once you hit play on the first track rides through the entire EP, giving the listener a sincere taste of forceful underground medicine. Great stuff, guys! -Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:
Andrew F: Bass, vocals
Cody P: Guitar
Wex: Drums

Track list:
1. Bile
2. Meathook
3. Bludgeoned
4. Rot
5. Guillotine

Friday, May 17, 2019

EP Review: HANDS OF GOD Blueprint For Self Destruction (Flatspot Records) by Sarah McKellar

Location: San Jose, California
Country of origin: USA
Genre: Hardcore, metalcore
Label: Flatspot Records
Release date: May 6, 2019
Hands Of God is a Californian based hard-core band based in San Jose, California- established in “Blueprint” is the opening track to “Blueprint for Self Destruction” has a slightly chaotic, dystopian feel to it, appropriately setting the tone for the oncoming aggressive onslaught. “No Mercy” introduces the listener to the high energy and hard-thrashing sound of Hands of God while still remaining slightly melodic and losing none of the customary aggressive tone. “Sacrifice” is a chunkier, riff- heavy, thrash inducing track, adding another layer to the onslaught. While not as melodic, there are technical aspects are to be appreciated. “254A” has some of the dystopian feeling from “Blueprint” but is much more aggressive and continues to progressively display more intensity. “Ethnic Decay” displays more of a distortion and riff heavy approach- displaying more of Hands of God aggression and sheer energy. “W.M.D” concludes “Blueprint for Self Destruction” with an intense, melodic yet technical finish. I genuinely look forward to hearing more of Hands of God- their technical hardcore approach and sheer energy and aggression ensure a brutal release in “Blueprint for Self Destruction”. -Sarah McKellar

Track list:
1. Blueprint
2. No Mercy
3. Sacrifice
4. 245A
5. Ethnic Decay
6. W.M.D.

Full length review: BIG|BRAVE A Gaze Amongst Them (Southern Lord) by Sarah McKellar

Band: BIG|BRAVE
Location: Montreal, Quebec
Country: Canada
Genre: Experimental rock
Full Length: A Gaze Amongst Them
Label: Southern Lord
Release date: May 10, 2019
Big|Brave is a three piece experimental rock band located in Montreal, Quebec, established in 2012. Avant-garde with post- doom and sludge elements, “A Gaze Amongst Them” is their fourth full-length release. Combining distinctive and strong clean vocals with dreamy and slightly depressive experimental rock- “Muted Shifting of Space” starts this release off with an ear-catching sound. “Holding Pattern” continues along this experimental rock feel with a more pared back and emotive approach, while still remaining melodic and mysterious with a slight trance element. “Body Individual” extends more into avant-garde experimental rock with heavy use of synthesizers adding to the mournful feel to this slightly chaotic track. A melodic, mournful and highly experimental track in “This Deafening Verity” combines synthesizers with the distinctive strong vocals that are a hallmark of Big|Brave. Concluding this release, “Sibling” has a post-sludge doom feel to it, providing an ominous and heavy end to “A Gaze Amongst Them”. Experimental, emotive and avant-garde- I genuinely look forward to hearing more of Big|Brave. -Sarah McKellar

Lineup:
Robin Wattie: vocals, electric guitar, amplifiers.
Mathieu Ball: electric guitar, amplifiers.
Loel Campbell: drums
With:
Thierry Amar: contrabass
Seth Mancheter: synthesizer

Track list:
1. Muted Shifting Of Space
2. Holding Pattern
3. Body Individual
4. This Deafening Verity
5. Sibling

EP review: 30XX "PRISS" (Independent) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: 30XX
Country of origin: Japan
Genre: Cyberpunk, electronic goregrind
EP: PRISS
Label: Independent
Release date: June 12, 2017
It is just after ten at night and I am finally getting around to doing a review for PRISS by 30XX. This is some severely obscure tuneage, but I can honestly say it is highly enjoyable to listen to. I can for sure hear a very strong gore/noise influence, but I can also hear what seems to be some form of electro or minimalist E.D.M. From the first to second track the music switches from splattery goodness to something that you might hear at a rave. The only way I can explain the first portion of this release is if C.S.S.O, Gore Beyond Necropsy and Last Days Of Humanity had a baby. The fetus birthed by this ménage à trois would represent how the first track ''NO FUTURE'' sounds to me. The second track ''2033'' is harder to explain, as I don't listen to this particular style of music often. Still, it was quite interesting and entertaining none the less. I have always enjoyed a good anime so the cover art for this is visually pleasing to me. This is apparently the very last 30XX release (this is the first time I have heard of them) and a discography release is apparently on the way soon. I will for sure have to check this out, as this style has me very intrigued. In closing, I will say that this release may not be for everyone, but for fans of music that is ''out there'', I suggest you give this a listen. The EP is short, so if you don't like it the horror will be over soon. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Lineup:
Goreman X - Cybernetic Aural Mutations
ベヘズト в е н е ѕ т Gχ - Biotech Abomination Engineering
N.0N// - Pulverizing Chaotic Forcewave

Track list:
1. NO FUTURE
2. 2033

Serialization: "The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice" by Roberta Downing: Chapter Five

The Arcane Warrior’s Apprentice
Novel by Roberta Downing
Cover artwork designed by Jerry Langdon



Chapter Five

Jotar, Lily, RavenDance, Bell and Cwell sit at the elegant Elven made wooden dining table in Jotar’s home. The only people at the table that are calm seem to be her father, RavenDance and herself. Lily and Cwell are in shock from Bell’s huge bombshell.
Lily begins to argue with her husband telling him that their little girl will go to the bardic academy.
“Enough! Would you have this child be someone she isn’t or to be something she’s not?” Cwell chimed in. “I am as shocked as all of you are. I feel the anguish this beauty has been through concerning this issue and I can see why she has made this difficult decision. She is a Singer. We are a very diverse family with many different races and professions and because she has chosen what path she will follow doesn’t fit in with anyone’s hopes or dreams does not invalidate what she must do. Bell, I feel the loss of you as a follower and I understand. You have my blessing and my love to follow your own path.”
Everyone in the room was silent as the head of the clan decreed that his granddaughter will go to the Arcane Island and train to become an Arcane Warrior. What else was there to say?
Bell repacked her items and placed the bardic gifts she had received for her birthday into separate bags then went to sleep.
She kissed and hugged her parents as RavenDance finished securing her belongings onto the horses.
“Bell? Please just answer one question for us” her mother pleaded. “Why?”
The little red headed girl answered “It is because I love my family too much” and with that she walked out the front door and mounted her horse.
At their first rest stop the Arcane explained the types of Arcanes there are, what they do and the hierarchy to his brand new apprentice over lunch.
“Ok little one, tell me why and don’t tell me the same answer you told your parents. I want to know the real reason” her master said.
Bell told him about the nightmare and how she knew no matter which path she took that it would come to pass and that she would rather be able to hunt that thing down and kill it before it could harm anyone she loved than to just write tragic songs and stories about what will happen.
“I will do anything to protect those I love from harm. Bards sit back and watch, paint, sing and write. I will kill that thing or die trying” she said.
“I must insist on complete honesty, loyalty and obedience. We must trust each other” he went on to tell her that her nightmare was not only prophetic but that a demon, had in fact, been in her room which was the trigger of the vision.
Over the next few weeks Bell begins to learn the arcane language and gets started on basic combat. The language seems to come easier than she had thought as does the combat. Her brother, Clef, who is apprenticed and enlisted with the Katanas, a very talented and unique sect of fighters, tried to teach her some basic combat but it did not go over well. In that moment, she realized she never said goodbye to her brother.
In as much fervor as the little girl watched the Katanas and how they moved; how they walked she did the same with RavenDance. She began to copy his movement.
Spring had now turned to summer and the new apprentice was no longer a fan. It was hot. She consumed more water than she normally would have and complained at every chance to her master. She stopped eating cooked foods because the heat was making her feel ill. The heat wasn’t bothering her master as much. They began traveling at night and sleeping under the shade of the trees during the day. His apprentice started feeling better.
Just as they pull into the imperial city of Draconos and it was very hot. The city guards were passing out to those coming into the gates. Bell looked at the flier and smiled. A circus had come to town. It read “Darklyn’s Macabre Circus. Come one, come all! You’ll just die!”
Apprentice Bell had never been to a circus or seen one despite that she comes from primarily a family of bards.
“Master do you think we could go to this circus?” she asked speaking in arcane. He shook his head no.
“We have business here with the arcane warrior of this domain and we cannot afford to lose any days. Classes will be starting next month and we must make sure you arrive on time.”
They rode to a large estate and were greeted by, of all things a demon. The student had never seen a real demon and she was filled with both fear and excitement. She was fascinated that the demon knew arcane and in fact it spoke it as if it were its native language. They were escorted inside the gates and to the stables.
The arcane priest and courtesan had met them at the stables. The courtesan bows before RavenDance.
“Welcome Warrior RavenDance. My master happily awaits you in the main compound. I shall escort you and your youngling.” The courtesan stated.
“I would like my…youngling to stay with your Arcane Priest and talk with him. This is her first time in meeting other types of Arcanes. Would you mind?” he said.
The priest nodded in agreement and took the young one to the Arcane Temple that was erected on the compound.
The priest was dressed much like her master except that he wore all white. The temple was cool and Bell was quite happy to be out of the sun.
The temple was adorned with portraits of Arcanos Demonos the same as any temple would be decorated with pictures of the deity of which it was dedicated to. She had never seen an image of Arcanos before. As it turns out, he has a duality and it was clearly depicted in the portraits; half demon and half human. From the story her master told her in the beginning the duality made sense.
She felt a peace come over her. It was most welcome. She had been lost ever since she lost her faith as if there was a vast emptiness within her.
The priest bowed before her and waited for her to signal his rising. She was confused. She wondered why anyone would bow to her as she was not really royalty, despite being of the direct blood line of the god of bards. She finally signaled for his rising.
“I’m confused. Why did you bow to me?” she asked.
“You are training to be an arcane warrior and it is the custom to bow to the warrior’s child.” He answered. He wrapped one arm around her. “Come, we have much to talk about you and I.” He led her to the first pew and motioned for her to sit. He would not sit until she had.
“Welcome to the Temple of Arcanos Demonos. Have you been told about who he is?” the priest asked.
Bell remembered her first arcane history lesson and recited it almost word for word to the man.
“That’s right! You have learned the ancient history! Most don’t learn that until they are into their history studies at the arcane academy on the island. You must be quite inquisitive. That’s a good thing” he said.
The priest continued to talk to her about religion and about her own spiritual wellbeing. He was very kind and quite understanding. He didn’t get upset with the mention of another god’s name being spoken in the temple. She admitted that when she made her decision to not go to the bardic academy or be a bard and took off Cwell’s holy symbol that she felt guilty and thought that she betrayed him. She still felt that way. The priest suggested that she try praying to Arcanos Demonos and see what happens.
Bell knelt at the altar and began praying while the priest left her in the temple to conduct some other business.
Within moments Bell was standing in a beautiful oasis that had not only a water fall but lava spilling from a volcano, steam, ice burgs in the middle of the water. Standing with her was the red headed man holding a mandolin which she knew was Cwell and Arcanos Demonos and the spitting image of duality.
“Hello Belly Bell” Cwell spoke as he tapped her head. Bell was in tears.
“Hello there Arcane Warrior Apprentice” Arcanos spoke.
Cwell told his granddaughter that she should not feel guilty for the decision she made or for letting go of a faith and god that could not help her in her new chosen life path and that he still loves her as his granddaughter. He said it was now time for her to find a new faith and fill the void. He disappeared. She was now standing with Arcanos. The two of them spoke for what seemed to be hours.
Then she found herself in a comfortable room and sitting on a bed. She felt better than she had in a long time. She felt at peace and for once the temperature of the room was very comfy. Her master came into the room wearing a sweater.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes I am. No more being lost. No more not feeling loved and finally a comfy room.” She said.
“Arcane Warrior Koriatar and I didn’t know if you would like this room or not. I had to put on a sweater to come in here because for me it’s quite cold. But glad you like it.” He said as he now had some kind of clue as to what type of warrior she is. For the first time since taking on his first apprentice, he reached out to hug her.
“You need to get some rest my dear. We have to go to the imperial court tomorrow evening as we have been invited to a feast for the Emperor’s birthday. The courtesan is working diligently on making you appropriate clothing for you to wear. I hear she is quite the seamstress.”
Bell had the best sleep of her life in that bed. She didn’t want to wake up or leave the room. The courtesan knocked on the door then came in. She helped the youngling bathe and get dressed. She was now wearing the dress attire of an arcane warrior apprentice. Black silks. The courtesan instructed Bell how to put the head dress on.
“I’ve also taken the liberty of making your regular daily wear uniform. Your master has instructed you that you are to wear your uniforms from now on.” With that she laid the daily wear on the chair and left the room. Bell packed the daily wear in her clothing satchel.
She went to the mirror to see how she looked. For a moment she thought no one was ever going to see her face again except for her eyes, nose and mouth and that this is what a Katana must feel like when he or she put on their apprenticeship mask. That feeling passed and she thought she looked lovely in the black silks. This was just another step toward her goals.
That evening after dancing and having her favorite meal which seem to be quite plentiful in Draconos the young apprentice excused herself to go find her master. She was quite tired. She walked out of the feasting hall and into the corridor where she saw a huge pitch black figure standing before her master. She allowed herself to let her master in and through trust also came to love him. Her nightmare was happening before her eyes.
She ran toward her master, she pulled his blade out of its sheath and began to size up the demon by swaying back and forth as if she were stalking the thing. She remembered every little detail she had learned in basic combat. Basic or no, she was not about to let this thing take her master from her.
It laughed and began to do the same with her. The demon was much better at the stalking than she was but that was not going to stop her. Her master moved aside, leaned up against the wall with his arms folded.
“You foul beast! You shall not have him. You will never take those I love away from me. Do you hear me?!” She spoke in arcane knowing full well it would understand her.
They stalked each other and then when she found an opening, she took it. She swung her master’s sword and actually made contact with it. It jumped back and the look on its face became angry which was just fine with her because she was full of anger and rage. The stalking continued and it took a swing at her and somehow she was able to block it. She gave an evil grin.
“Your time has come to an end you foul thing. I shall send you packing to the afterlife” she said matter of factly.
Her mentor stepped between the both of them shouting “HOLD!”
The demon complied yet Bell was out of control from the rage that had over taken her. She continued to attempt to stalk it. RavenDance had to grab her and wrap both arms around her and disarm her.
“Apprentice Bell, may I introduce Arcane Warrior Koriatar, Duke of the Arcane Isle.”
“She’s an icy one you got there my friend. She’s full of rage with a heart as cold as ice. I like her already. Bravo young apprentice.” He said.
He isn’t the one. His voice was as smooth as silk not loud and booming in her ears. No, he wasn’t the one. Then the words of her master finally reached her, this wasn’t a demon he was her master’s friend and an Arcane Warrior.
Breathing heavy from the sparring she apologized for her actions and asked her master what her punishment shall be. Koriatar and RavenDance were laughing and those that were in the corridor watching were applauding for what they thought was a demonstration.
After arriving back at the compound and getting into her room, Bell’s master entered her room. He put his arm around her.
“Bell. Though it is very frowned upon to attack another Arcane Warrior without proper cause, I do understand why this happened. I understand that you thought I was in danger from the demon from your nightmare. I am glad that you have come to love me as I have come to love you as a daughter. I must say, I don’t think I have ever seen a first year apprentice, let alone one that has yet to attend the arcane academy, enter into a combat situation with as much vigor and flawless execution of the basic combat techniques you have learned. I am very proud of you and of course this will go into your permanent record for combat. Just don’t do that again.” He laughed, brushed her hair back and then left the room.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Interview with Emily Walker of THE VAMPIRE COURT OF THE LIVE OAK by Dave Wolff

Interview with Emily Walker of THE VAMPIRE COURT OF THE LIVE OAK

The Vampire Court of the Live Oak, a local enclave from southwest Georgia, is said to “provide a safe haven for Georgia’s dark awakened and give back to the community we dwell in.” How did this group start, and what is your involvement with them?
The Vampire Court of the Live Oak was born and created after I moved to Georgia. I was a part of the Vampire Court of Austin when I lived in Texas. When I moved here to southwest Georgia I was completely taken aback that there seemed to be, not to my knowledge at the time, a court or safe haven in the entire state. I found this to be very upsetting, seeing as I knew there was interest in other vampires locally, but they have never had such a place to gather and consider family.
I found out later that there were indeed other vampires and communities but it was farther up north of the state and not easily accessible for me and my newfound people. With much encouragement and support of the monarchs of Austin, they gave me the tools and education to start a court here. Over a course of three months, of putting out the information and news of such a court being made, it was decided by the vampires of my city and surrounding counties that I would be made queen. I was very surprised and honored by this. And still am after two years from that day that I was considered for such a position.
After talking with the people of Columbus about what we wanted to achieve here, we decided that we, like several other courts in the U.S. wanted to make charity and the wellbeing of our community our first priority, not only serving the dark awakened but all the people that dwell and live in our home. We started doing small things like volunteering at the local shelters and food banks, building care packages to the homeless that migrate in the downtown areas, and raise funds for awareness, of several campaigns such as suicide prevention, and child abuse. In February of 2018, I filed with the state of Georgia to incorporate our name, The Vampire Court of the Live Oak Inc. to become a fully functioning nonprofit organization. As of March 2018, not only are we fully incorporated but also 501c certified with the IRS and Secretary of State of Georgia.
It seems like forever since I started this journey, but it’s only been a short wonderful year. We have accomplished so many things and are expecting an even brighter future.

Who did you found The Vampire Court with, and how did you spread word that you were seeking like-minded individuals to join?
I found the court solely on my own. I did have mentors who answered questions I had, those of which are elders in the community and leaders in their own light. I am very grateful for these individuals I don’t know where I would be without them. We do outreach to find likeminded individuals who may want to join the court, mainly by word of mouth and announcing public meet and greets to potential members to answer any questions in a “break the ice and stigma” of what the vampire community is portrayed in mundane society. Living in the Bible Belt of the South we do take precautions to not draw to much negative attention to ourselves and to also protect our members’ dayside lives.

How long did The Vampire Court work to become a fully functioning and certified nonprofit organization?
It didn’t take long for us when we knew what we wanted to do and how to go about it. Within six months of the court being founded we were fully functioning.

What is the meaning of the term “dark awakened”? Does The Vampire Court work to attain academic or spiritual pantheons?
Dark awakened is a term given to those who came to a realization in their life that they are not just an average human. They are something more spiritual, more enlightened if not somewhat supernatural. An awakening is not something that is strictly for vampires but also fae or “otherkin” as we call them; people who identify with animalistic habits such as that of a wolf. The people of this court are responsible and free to fallow their own academic and spiritual paths, though we offer guidance and education on certain subjects to those who are interested.

How does your group arrive at this realization? Define fae and otherkin in relation to the principles of The Vampire Court.
I think the awakening varies from person to person. Some experience supernatural symptoms such as visions, past life dreams etc. Some experience more of a physical aspect. Increased thirst, increased sensitivity to light, or sounds, change in sleeping patterns or becoming ill more often if not obtaining energy in some source. Otherkin are people who identify as anything other than vampires. Fae people have their own types of awakenings, for me, as also identify as fae.
I am dark fae, or succubi. I started noticing the change with my increase of sexual desire, my desire for sweets, the irritation of certain metals and my sensitivity to high pitched sound frequencies. My knowledge of otherkin in an animal aspect is slim, such as those who identify as wolves. I know a few and know of a few, but I cannot speak for their experiences for I do not know what they go through.
However as vampires, we have high senses, in an almost supernatural sense we can sort of “sniff out” other vampires and otherkin. It’s a sense of awareness for each other; almost animalistic; of one blood or species to another. We have a way of recognizing others of our tribe.

Was your own awakening a gradual process or a sudden realization of the changes occurring in you? Does The Vampire Court teach its members ways of recognizing and developing their awakenings?
My awakening was very sudden. I had a few changes here and there but nothing that was noticeable enough for me to think about. I happened like a revelation, for me it was a very dark time in my life, where nothing felt right to me. I felt like I was a stranger in my own skin.
Then one day I woke up and, I kid you not, it was like I was a new person embedded with this newfound wisdom and feel for everything around me. It was definitely a supernatural euphoric feeling. The court does offer valuable information and resources to help with newly awakened members, and seekers. A big tool that we suggest is any book written by Michelle Belanger.

Who is Michelle Belanger and what occult subjects is she most well-versed in? How many books has she published so far?
Michelle Belanger is kind of a staple go to in terms of information for the newly awakened in the community. Her books are often about the modern vampire, it’s life and just wisdom for those who experience it, I’ve always enjoyed her books and they were a great comfort to me. “Vampires in their own words” is one I tend to come back to often, I believe she has published 20 books.

Which of Belanger’s publications are you most likely to recommend to the readers? What would the readers would get out of them?
The book “Vampires In Their Own Words.” It’s basically an inside look on modern vampires today, their lifestyle, their wisdom, day to day goings.

I’ve heard about intolerance directed at witchcraft, occult and vampire groups. How much of a low profile does The Vampire Court take to avoid it?
My court is in a way divided. There are some members like me who are open about themselves and their lifestyles with no care for judgment. For instance my job. My very first day I remember shouting “I’m a vampire!” to all my coworkers, simply because I am just that comfortable with myself. I indeed got a lot of odd looks, haha.
I have members who are private. They keep their nightside lives separate from their dayside lives for the sake of their families and the belief systems they grew up in.
I have members in the military. We are a military prominent court, with a few high ranking officials, so you can imagine the lengths of privacy we have to go through to protect their identity from the government and prying eyes of the community. That type of sacrifice of self just comes with the job unfortunately. However the sole reason for creating this court was because these high ranking individuals found me through social media, through my husband who is military, and we had a conversation. As a soldier you travel a lot and duty stations change. This makes it difficult for military people to put roots down somewhere. A lot of my members have been part of the community for years but never had a readily available local safe haven they could rely on, that would not put their positions in jeopardy.
Being a military wife and understanding these guidelines opened a whole new world for these soldiers that they never had. I consider myself blessed to be able to give them that type of atmosphere and family, and support system so that they can be a part of the Vampire Court and feel included no matter where they are deployed or what life throws at them.

What job are you holding at present? On your first day, how much of a shock do you gather it was for your co-workers to be “confronted” with an actual vampire?
My profession, as a whole is complicated, haha. I am a jack of all trades. I mainly work for myself in real estate, I’m a model business owner. But the job I refer to is one of a bookstore in the town I live in. I am one of those people that grow tired of the same things, I need human interaction. Working for yourself has its perks but it can be lonely so I got a part time jobs simply to be around people and not fall into that dark recluse mode that I often do.
My first day being a vampire in the mundane work world, haha. Well I don’t think it really happened in a crazy manner; it was one of those “hi my name is Emily and I’m a vampire... no really I am” I’m sure they thought I was nuts, but working in an atmosphere of book lovers and nerds it was not as far-fetched as you would imagine. There are coworkers that know I’m serious and know the truth of who and what I am. But there are some that just think I’m an overwhelming Anne Rice fan, and that’s ok too. In reality both are correct, haha.

Have any co-workers taken an interest in learning more about you and The Vampire Court since you started being open and candid about your involvement with them? How much do you talk to them about vampires, fae and otherkin?
Yes actually, haha, I have several coworkers that joke about me being the resident vampire. But a few have been curious, and a few think I’m crazy but that’s fine haha. I do have a coworker that joined my court shortly after meeting me, I helped her through her awakening which was pretty cool to be honest. I considered it a blessing, as if I was meant to be at this job, time and place to help those on their path of understanding who they are. But it definitely makes the work environment more entertaining haha. I’m an open book; if they ask questions I answer freely. In the past some interest has been had, usually around the times of the events I attend. My coworkers find it fascinating, and of course I’m very active on social media about the lifestyle which they see. That often sparks topic conversation at work. But hey, it makes the days go by.

To what extent did you help your co-worker with her awakening? Will she be getting involved with The Vampire Court or other activities you’re involved in?
The process of helping with an awakening doesn’t really have a set time where a vampire is like “ok I’m good now I know everything.” Because you are always learning, changing and growing as an individual in the community, I think having a soul guide is quite convenient. Such as your sire, someone who is always there for the ride with you. My co-worker is still learning, and on her path as we speak, just like juggling jobs and family along with this new found crazy change, if you can imagine, is difficult. But in the off time I got her started on Michelle Belanger’s books, that’s how confident I am in the author.

Is your experience with your co-worker the first time you helped someone with their awakening? Did you expect it to happen in the workplace or was it a shock to meet someone with potential there?
My experience with my coworker is not my first experience but probably the most different seeing as this particular person had no previous knowledge of the lifestyle or the community at all, so it was starting from the complete beginning.

Back to Michelle Belanger’s books, which of them did you get her started on? Has she been taking in the information well?
I wasn’t looking for it to happen in the workplace but it’s entirety not impossible, especially at the type of place it is. Everyone there is some type of “alternative” from the norm, so it’s not surprising to find like-minded or like path individuals. She has been reading “Vampires In Their Own Words” as well as “The Vampire Codex”, and seems to be gaining knowledge from it. I have offered her other mentors, introduced her to other elders in the community that each may teach something new and different based on their own personal experiences. I think it’s important as a newly awakened vampire that you don’t get stuck on one belief or another, that you gain information on ways of many so that you can choose what is right for you.

Who in the community are you introducing her to, to assist her in choosing her own path?
I have introduced her to of course everyone in the court, people of the Austin court and the Dallas court, Alabama court and members of Sahjaza including Goddess Rosemary. She has been doing well in her mentoring.

Are there other communities besides your workplace where you have met potential vampires?
I’ve met other vampires all across the globe. Whether this was online encounters, or at the many events I attend. I always seem to be running across our tribe wherever I go and it’s wonderful to know I’m never alone.

Is The Vampire Court reaching out to other vampire communities in the U.S. to collaborate on any projects?
We work with many other courts; mainly the court in Augusta, Georgia ran by my sire, and the court in Alabama. Both are of close proximity and easily accessible to join together to make a bigger impact on charity functions.

What events if any are you currently planning with the courts in Augusta and Alabama? If any are in their planning stages, how soon do you expect to announce them on social media?
As of right now there are no pending large events in the near future, though we have been discussing them. Such events take much time in planning the perfect locations and such, but we do have some things up our sleeves. That we are keeping hush hush for now. We are currently more concerned with the Sahjaza Family Reunion in July as well as our charity work and outreach in our communities, the spring is a big time for that.

Have you considered writing a book of your own about your experiences as a vampire or your experiences in House Sahjaza?
I have thought about writing many books over the years; it’s just a matter of getting the courage to do so. I may have a good part of my life out there in the public eye, but on the inside I am a private person and the idea of even doing an interview sparks my anxiety. But maybe one day when I think I’ve gained enough wisdom and experience that people may want to read, I will do so.

Do you think readers would respond well to a series of books published by you? Would you self-publish it for a select few or look for a publishing company to reach a wider audience?
I cannot day for possible readers if I did write a book on whether or not they would be interested. I am a humble person, I do not set myself on a pedestal thinking all the world must perceive me in such a manner because I am queen of this and that in the community. I think that if I was to make a book it would be for my enjoyment and satisfaction first, and if it becomes a hit then even blessings to come from it. Self-publishing would be the easiest and probably less costly, but I’m one of those people that if I’m going to do something it’s go big or go home. So I believe a company would be the first thing I sought out


-Dave Wolff