Saturday, March 27, 2021

Full Length Review: MNHG "Mundare" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Dave Wolff

Band: MNHG
Location; North Rhine-Westphalia
Country: Germany
Genre: Black n roll
Full Length: Mundare
Format: Digital album, jewel case CD
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: February 26, 2021
MNHG is a German black-n-roll band comprised of ex-members of Thyrgrim who disbanded in 2017. Black-n-roll may seem to be a limitation filled genre, but this band takes a step toward broadening its range. After playing black/pagan metal for about twelve years they strip extreme metal to its basics for their debut full length “Mundare”, a Darkthrone-meets-The-Road-Warrior soundtrack to the Book of Revelations-foretold Apocalypse. Here the Beast of Revelation is stepping in to complete the job humanity started by launching World War III, striking when all is ruins and nomadic gangs struggling to claim what’s left. Remember when Prince promised to party like it’s 1999? Well MNHG go ahead and do so, knowing what’s coming with a drive to revel in life right to the bitter end, indulging in their figurative last celebration for all it’s worth. If Thyrgrim was the distant gone-but-not-forgotten past, MNHG is a future where everything is on the brink of ending. I listened to some of Thyrgrim’s old material while reviewing “Mundare” (go to Spotify if you’re interested). It’s a far cry from what they’re doing now, leaning closer to epic themes and exploring traditions of centuries past. While MNHG as a separate entity is less intricate and more direct, with raunchier guitars, the band is still in the practice of cramming many riffs and conflagrant guitar solos into their songs. In some ways “Mundare” is a darker album (understandable considering the subject matter) but the darker qualities are uplifting and it isn’t necessary for you to be nihilistic or misanthropic to be put into a good mood while you’re listening. Their black-n-roll tag is fulfilled to the fullest by drawing on the dirty, gritty qualities of 90s black metal and black/thrash metal without wasting energy trying to convince you to have fun. I quit drinking years ago but their redirected energy and razor sharp bite invite you in for a couple beers, inspiring me to get a natural buzz. Just one track is persuasive enough to make you want to hear more. Most 80s arena bands couldn’t have hoped to recapture the penetrating animation the band preserve from Thyrgrim, without party rock’s masochistic, self-destructive excess. If you saw the convivial spirit in Venom’s early albums, you should give this a listen sometime soon. –Dave Wolff

Kain: Vocals
Irrsinn: Guitar
Berath: Bass
Max Scheefeldt: Drums

Track list:
1. Introduction
2. Blasphemic Warfare
3. The False Prophet, Rise
4. Babylon, The Whore
5. Praise The Beast
6. Reborn In Suffering
7. Ride For Me
8. I.N.R.I.
9. The Darkest Strain
10. Here Comes The Truth
11. Revelation
12. Transition


Saturday, March 20, 2021

EP Review: hororhaus "evocation" (transmigration records imprint) by Dave Wolff

Project: hororhaus
Location: Woodstock, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened hauntwave
EP: evocation
Format: Digital album, compact disc (limited to 50 copies)
Label: transmigration records imprint
Release date: March 5, 2021
“evocation” is the second EP from this one-man project, now described as blackened hauntwave by founding member Scott Harris. Following his July 2020 debut “entrance”, it again evokes haunted attractions and horror classics with shades of supernatural horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Suspiria” for additional effect. This EP is a seven-part Pink-Floyd-meets-King-Diamond tale of a nameless soul who feels compelled to contact entities on the other side through an Ouija board. She does this on her own, without a medium or other participants. Once whatever she contacts takes hold of her mind and soul, they tell her of a mysterious grimoire by which she will achieve power in this world and beyond, under the condition they take exclusive possession of her. Her desires become an obsession as she becomes increasingly isolated until… you’ll have to read the lyrics to find out what happens in the end. With the proper parties involved this would work as a horror film or miniseries, or at the least an internet horror movie or a DIY independent feature like those sold by local companies at fan run conventions. Any medium would work. and if this EP was added as a kind of soundtrack it would likely be a slick feature like “Friend Request” or “#Horror”. There is also the potential for original ideas to be shown in the scriptwriting and cinematography, and with more fan movies being made for Youtube and other networks this is a distinct possibility to launch a career if done the right way. The instrumentation and atmosphere Harris brings to the EP provides some chilling effects in this regard, especially the conclusion of the story which is more or less guaranteed to raise the hair on your arms even if you’ve listened to goth, darkwave, funeral doom or ambient for a long time. “evocation” brings back that old popcorn horror complete with slow build-up and penetrating scares that give you nightmares for days on end. –Dave Wolff

Scott Harris: Music, lyrics, vocals, programming

Track list:
1. Conjuring
2. Ouija
3. Grimoire
4. Possession
5. Trancendence
6. Deathhaunt
7. Aftermath

Full Length Review: Tjolgtjar 'Vruguun" (Independent) by Danny M. Ryan

Band: Tjolgtjar
Location: Kenney, Illinois
Country: USA
Genre: Black metal, Black n’ roll
Full Length: Vruguun
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: April 30, 2017
First off, I like to say from personal experience that Rev Preston's music gave me a voice when I first burst onto the scene with my own raw black metal project, Strings Of Distorted Doom.
I can sit here, and name countless influences. Friends of mine I made music with from their own bands or projects. Bands that are well known in the black metal scene and beyond. But Tjolgtar was the first Raw black metal band, I read about through online research of such bands from the states when I was deciding what to do musically with my limited experience doing music by myself while getting ideas listening to the late somewhat great, Seth Putnam band, Impaled Northern Moonforest, for fun. Prestons music was on the top of the list and eventually, I got contact with him personally after he heard my music amongst other bands I am associated with within the underground. His musical output is massive and his discography is a lot to go over. If anyone wants to get into TJOLGTJAR before playing anything by him, this is the first one they should get.
His album VRUGUUN is not his latest album, it is from 2016 but the only album I own so far by him in my collection of albums I own from many types of artists I have collected. He is a reserved guy that carries that Illinoisan Thunder. I can kind of put Rev in the same category in personality as my musical friend Dan Klyne of Appalachian Winter. Expect they are both their own type of out in the woods mad man from different states!
Rev here has great songs on this beautifully crafted album of his that is a two-disc collection. The first disc with 13 songs and the other with 12. All the art inside and on the back is personally drawn by Rev himself. It has very creepy and primal tones to it. Absolute madness. Does it remind me of what some album's artwork on the inside looked like in the 90s? Cover art is done by Athanor Arts and co-produced by Matt Comerford.
The vibes you get from this album are not exactly 90s. They come across as over-the-top classic hard rock n roll musically & vocally but still have the powerful presence of BM throughout. The guitar manship here is well crafted and composed. Hypnotic, and draws the listener in with the cult magic touch that is spoken of in it.
Then you get a whole other feel from it, that hard country feel, that, MOUNTAIN feel. Remember the guy from the band Mountain? He was a SCARY looking dude and was sort of an Andre The Giant type from looking at his physique. I have a Mountain record, I opened up the gatefold and that dude looked like a bear that was a frontier. Climbing!!!
That is what I get when I hear that 70s sounding vocal presence on most of his songs. It has a flavor to it only listeners of Mountain, Hank III, and even 80s metal music only has. It relates to a lot of different music genres on many levels. All wrapped up into a cosmic gift that is VRUGUUN.
The consistent theme throughout the album is simply one thing, SATAN.
I understand the topic is a touchy-feely one for most, but what the Rev pulls off here is a tribute to the man himself. Many bands in the past that have gained notoriety have also gone into this territory, The Rolling Stones, with Their Satanic Majesties Request...and even with Kiss - Hotter Than Hell. In his own personal way, he puts the nails in the coffin here. His own master of reality.
Also, his songs are covering other topics from other things that have to do with outer space, women, science, personal demons, rebellion, and much more. Just the whole trip that is humanity in itself through one's life.
If I had to choose one song from each disc that is my personal favorite, disc 1 would be Hearing The Voice Of The Devil, and on disc 2, Oh, Jupiter.
This is a long-overdue review too since I do not do my own zine anymore but better late than never. JR Preston captures all the things I am looking for when it comes to music that I grew up to, grew to enjoy, and also enjoy playing myself. An interview between him and I was made not too long ago which also will be linked here. Preach Rev!
Side note, I wish I knew what he is saying in the tray art with words like EMMEEDEEAA ISJTJAT JMANNJEEAJ but if I had to put it in my own words... it is the chant of his own black ritual under the party moon.
Get your hands on this great escape, while you still can...because Tjolgtjar is a tuxedo & black metal is a pair of brown shoes.
This one is for you, J.R. –Danny M. Ryan

The Rev. J.R. Preston: Vocals, all instruments

Disc 1
1. A Great Escape
2. Call of Holnijimnjok
3. The Dancing Satan
4. Then She Let Me See
5. Inside the Holwling Moon of Vruguun
6. A National Astronaut
7. Mars as a Fixture in Planetary Science
8. The Internal Arts of Ballal
9. Hearing the Voice of the Devil
10. Through the Pororium
11. Rjelmjinn Telminosz
12. Satan, Woman of Desire
13. I Am the Black Ritual

Disc 2
1. Lair of Skuul
2. Your Daughter
3. Until the Monsters Take You
4. Lustful Spirit
5. Oh Jupiter
6. Our Father
7. The Earth Immortal
8. 7 Lonely Demons
9. Flight of Ikarik
10. She's a Cannon
11. A Forgotten Oath
12. Party Moon

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Poem: "Dream Ghazal" by Alison Stone

Dream Ghazal
by Alison Stone

An only child’s a receiver of dreams.
Is the boy flushed from sun? Fever? Dreams?
Two shawls she brought from the old country. Three
dresses, red ribbon, a meat cleaver, dreams.
Love opens wounds, turns us children. Which spouse
is worse, honest drunk or deceiver? Dreams’
code -- Bees signify sex, a desk means fear.
It’s lucky to meet a beaver in dreams.
The orange pill offers chance of a cure.
Granter of time. Retriever of dreams.
My grandmother sews with thread in her mouth.
I burn herbs to Maya, weaver of dreams.
Lost selves visit at night. The king’s a slave,
the slacker an overachiever in dreams.
Call me scarred optimist, fool who should
know better. Battered believer in dreams.

Article: "10 Amazing Vampires and why you should know them" by Deacon Gray and Madame X

10 Amazing Vampires and why you should know them.
Deacon Gray and Madame X, 2014 Dec 14th, © Graveyard Press

Thanks to Goddess Rosemary of Temple House Sahjaza for contacting the authors. -DW

There are a lot of amazing people in this world, and our community is no different. Recently I went into a few forums and asked the members there who they thought were some of the most amazing people in the community. I Have to admit that there are many circles in the community, and not everyone is known everywhere regardless of how amazing they are.
The outpouring was pretty wonderful, and a lot of people made the list. So I started out with the top five, then realized I couldn’t limit the selection so easily. How do you pick five people when there are so many amazing people out there?
So I decided I would take the top ten people who had inspired enough people to be frequently mentioned. Some of them I knew well, some of them I don’t know well at all. But with a little help from some good friends, we put together a list of amazing people you should know in the community.

Evan Christopher Nightside Productions LLC
“It has been a pleasure to consider Evan Christopher as a personal friend for 2 decades. He is first, and foremost a Gentleman and Renaissance man. Jovial, approachable, compassionate and tempered, Father Evan Christopher is a remarkable role-model and teacher for the Nightkind Community.
His warm welcome to individuals in his local area speaks volumes about his altruistic identity. Father Evan is one of the very few individuals who are perfect for the public eye; he is savvy, well-spoken, charismatic and good-looking which transmits a very favorable image, not just for himself, but for the whole Nightkind Community.
His community involvement is clearly his passion, not being limited to his long-standing event in Tampa’s Lighting Bay as a Master Fang smith, but it extends to the hearts and lives of everyone local or not that he interacts with.
If you have not had the opportunity to meet Father Evan Christopher, do so. You will walk away with a fuller spirit.”- Madame X

Madame X: Founder of the House of The Dreaming
Madame X is the creator of The Collective interview series. She is the Co-founder of the new Iron Garden Court of New Jersey, and the champion of the movement to allow Ronin Vampires into the Courts.
Tenacious in her desire to help the Vampire Community develop, her consistent activity in the community has made her a large influence but kept her close to ebb and flow of the community. In her time in the community she has founded many projects, too many to list, but one thing is certain, she will never stop.
Matriarch, writer, creative figure and spokesperson for the community Madame X demanded I remove her from this list, which of course I agreed to, and then did what I wanted. –Deacon Gray

Belfazaar Ashantison: House of Mystic Echoes
A key figure in the New Orleans Vampire Alliance, Voodoo Priest, and community celebrity, “Zaar” as he is known by his friends has more accomplishments than there is space to detail.
He has a kind nature, and often helps community members in New Orleans when they are down on their luck, but he is not one to be taken advantage of easily.
He is held in high esteem for his longevity in this community, though perhaps he is best loved for his outreach to the poor on the holidays. It is widely known that Zaar goes out on Christmas and Thanksgiving to help the needy, an act that is truly inspirational to everyone”.–Deacon Gray

Lady CG: Founder of Smoke and Mirrors
“The Author of Practical Vampyrism for Modern Vampyres, she is a prolific writer for the vampire community. Lady CG has been an inspiration for many vampires with in the community that have become common respected names to know. Whether working to bring people together in the Voice of the Vampire Community, or simply engaging in conversations, she is an enduring member of the community who is loved by many.
Whether you know her as Lady CG or Barbara Kammerer, knowing her is a pleasure. I personally see her as a mentor and friend, which can endure even when we disagree.”- Deacon Gray

Merticus Stevens: Suscitatio Enterprises LLC
“A member of the Atlanta Vampire Alliance, Voice of the Vampire Community, and the Vampire Community News are all things known about Merticus. He defines himself not by his deeds, but by his actions, and has become the ‘go to guy’ for scholars and media due to his release of the VEWRS and AVEWRS Statistical Surveys.
Merticus will not tell you a lot of about himself as an individual, but if you want to “friend” him he is always open to it.”- Deacon Gray

Anya Rakoczy: House Rakoczy
She is the Ambassador to the Dark Nations, Nocturnal Grove and New Orleans Vampire Association. Anya is well known for being a published author of fiction, a business owner, and sorceress with a thriving practice. She is a self-proclaimed fashionista with a real drive to assist newcomers in the community.
While not the most senior member of the vampire community, she has a developing legacy as a woman with ambitions toward kindness and education.”- Deacon Gray

Michelle Bellanger: Writer, Medium, paranormal investigator and TV Personality
“Who in the Vampire Community has not heard of Michelle Belanger? She is a renowned author, researcher, paranormal specialist, television personality, and is ‘the’ leading authority on vampires in fiction, folklore and modern culture.
Michelle is more than just a spokesperson for the Vampire community. She is a font of inspiration and our biggest resource, particularly when it comes to ancestral knowledge.
A dynamic go-getter, it is Michelle’s charismatic appeal, intelligence and sharp-wit that make her the center of attention, no matter where she is. Back in the mid 90’s before we even knew each other, Michelle and I were both working independently in different corners of the United States on two very similar literary projects designed to draw out others who shared our Nightkind identity.
When we finally met about 20 years ago, I immediately recognized her as a spiritual sister. I consider myself quite blessed to have the opportunity to interact and socialize with Michelle in person and certainly look forward to next.”- Madame X

Octarine Val Valur “Founder of the South African Vampire Alliance
She is the Founder of House Valur, Magister of Mintaka Halo, and she helped to develop the Totum Lex Vampyrica (community guidelines for South African Vampires)
Few can match her contributions, and none can honestly say that they started the fire for an entire community’s development throughout a country. “Val” to her friends is known for her commitment to her projects and her drive to bring the SAVA to the forefront of the Vampire community.
If you don’t know Val, I suggest you meet her. Very seldom do you meet people as motivated and yet kind.”- Deacon Gray

Rosemary Sahjaza: Founder of House Sahjaza
“Some may know her as Goddess Rosemary, others as Silky Rose; I call her Sister with a capital S. Goddess Rosemary is the loving sister and mother figure for countless many in our community. Humbly, she offers encouragement and advice with a warming embrace.
Goddess Rosemary’s greatest desire for the community is its development and growth, so that all with in it have a safe place to learn and grow. However, don’t mistake my Sister’s warm compassion for malleability. She may be flexible, but it is her strength of character and unwavering candor that has upheld her integrity and maintained Temple Sahjaza strong for decades.
Hailing from the same roots of the ‘NY coven days’ and of underground fetish parties, Goddess Rosemary and I share many friends and have many interesting stories to tell, but by far the most remarkable story is the one told by all the individuals whose lives have been transformed just by heading Rosemary’s loving wisdom and guidance.”-Madame X

Shaolin Asura-MacPhee, Abani House Sabretooth MacPhee of Clan Elysium
A founding member and 2nd chair Elder of House MacPhee. He is the author of Gotham Vampyre Archives, and member of the Gotham Court. Known for his reasonable consideration of issues, love of music, and his drive to complete worthy projects, he is a warrior that follows a path of Blood and Dharma. There is not enough time to detail all the good works and worthy projects Lord MacPhee has put his mind to, but we always know it will be worthy, and not sugar-coated.” -Deacon Gray
So this is ten, of many, I know not everyone will agree, and that’s ok. Our community is big, our population is diverse and prettying amazing. Over the years many others will be included in their ranks, and we can hope it results in a better community for us all. -Deacon Gray

Poem: "Dull Electric Eye" by James Kenneth Blaylock

Dull Electric Eye
by James Kenneth Blaylock

with your dull electric eye
you saw beyond my flesh

and into my poor ol bones,
you told me, “you’re weak”

but, don’t you know that I’ve
been adopted and cherished?

I doubt your prejudices care
further than selfish seeking

James Kenneth Blaylock

Poem: Untitled by M Teresa Clayton

by M Teresa Clayton

I’m not naïve or simple-minded.
I’ve chiseled my name at every mountain summit,
Drowned in an ocean of my own tears,
And learned to breathe and swim to its depths in spite of it.

I do not need to be reminded
Of something that I have never had or understood.
There is no reference in my years,
Tell me, how should I know this is bad or this is good?

You think me weak? Or somehow blinded?
I can see the future, my dear, the possibilities.
What changes it is simply our fears,
But if we believe, they become probabilities.

Though I’ve never been able to find it
Doesn’t mean it wasn’t patiently waiting for me.
Love, when it’s ready, always appears,
Just about the time our eyes are opened to see.

Poem: "Walk Through the Door" by Roberta Downing

Walk Through the Door
by Roberta Downing

When God opens a door,
He sends someone to heal the pain within.
As God closes that door
He allows his servant some respite
For a job well don
Then he opens another door
And what could be behind it?
A reward? Peace? A better life?
All we have to do is accept God’s plan
And claim what he’s offered no matter
How scared or upset you might be.
Just walk through that next door.

Poem: "Hell Will Suffer Me" by Skitz J. Fitch

Hell Will Suffer Me
by Skitz J. Fitch

Ravaged by pain till it overflows the brim drowning on it like a fine deep red wine , the taste upon my lips divine suffering just for me , you can not take this away all you're white coats can't save me you're savior a lie only here to beat and enslave me , This flesh mine for I shall partake this blood my sacrament bled from scars I can not hide I can not fake , bleed me like the sacrificial lamb upon this altar called life cut deep cut true take me away from this life , release me release me I pound with my fist enraged trapped in this cage called mortal shell I call it home and my own personal hell , feeling so detached so cold this body not mine not really it never was it never will be this mind as empty and devoid as the rest of the husk this mortal coil I must be released with a swift final thrust , I leak out unto the floor crimson in the moon light eye's drawn up lips curled in curses to something in the beyond I never had faith in, this is my final act of control to take it all away never to be seen or heard from again never to touch the light of day fuck you all .

Poem: "Monsters Everywhere" by Jerry Langdon

Monsters Everywhere
by Jerry Langdon

Of all the mad delusions,
Monsters are just illusions
Has to be the deepest lie.
Nightmares aren't always dreams.
Sometimes we don't hear the screams.
And monsters never really die.
Evil is growing like trees:
The Devil is letting Hell freeze;
Always a fresh sin.
Death dwells behind a mask.
Finding monsters has become a task.
Demons hide under skin.
We breathe the same air;
Monsters are everywhere.

© Jerry Langdon 2021

Poem: "Clouded Clarity/Clear Cloud Commodity" by Alan Lisanti

Clouded Clarity/Clear Cloud Commodity
by Alan Lisanti

The problem with instinct is that it faulters and
dilludes in the mind of the survivor
into something...else,
That fine line between paranoia and
The jester, the joker, and the fool.
The realist, the seeker, and the truth.
Coalesce into a continual conundrum
Where doubt and certainty merge
Into an hour glass that empties and fills
Despite what side is up
Despite the deliberate and predictable cycle
And to try and identify an end
Is no different than every new beginning
And to try to decipher a beginning
Is an end that wears both masks
Without a tell or a hint of a difference
And now, you have been assigned
The task of separating the sanity from the insanity
And now your mission and motive
Lies in separating the insanity from your sanity

Poem: "This World & Body" by Steven Michael Pape

This World & Body
by Steven Michael Pape

This world and body,
Changing, ageing,
The flow of life,
The birth of the young,
The death of the old,
A constant change,
All life controlled.
It's in the trees,
Centuries they stand,
It's in the earth,
You hold in your hand.
It's held in the eyes,
A knowing glance,
It's held deep within,
All life's a chance.
It's the slow decay,
That we know will come,
It's mistakes we've made,
That can't be undone.
The uncertainty,
That we know will rise,
It's thoughts we held,
Once deep inside.
It's the air we breathe,
As the sun does find,
This world and body,
All here beside.

©® Steven Michael Pape 2021

Poem: "- Joke -" by Daniel Ryan

- Joke -
by Daniel Ryan

I'm only laughing on the outside
My smile is just skin deep
If you could see inside I'm really crying
You might join me for a weep
I am simply a joke
Something this world can't take serious
Upon my promises and threats
One might think I am delirious
Underneath my outside face
This one you can not see
A little less sad, a little less glee
But a whole lot more like me.
A threat to society
I'm furious
Now that I see my true face
Why so serious?
Smile, because it confuses people
Smile, because it’s easier than explaining
What is killing you inside
I just hope my death makes more cents
Than my own life
For my whole life
I didn't know if I even really exist
But I do now
And people are starting to notice
I haven't been happy
One minute of my entire life
There is no punchline
To my bad day
I just don't want to feel
So bad anymore, every day
Forgive my laughter
I have a serious condition
Being a clown
Is just part of my tradition
The worst part of having a mental illness
Is people expect you to behave
As if you don't
I used to think that my life
Was a tragic joke
But now I realize, it's a fucking comedy.
You know, that now, this is my life tragedy
Laughter you can now hear
That echoes through the walls
For all to see
As they look in my eyes
Through my mask
I designed of my own pure
Insanity . .

Poem: "Kill Me Already (Just Do It)" by S.C.C.

Kill Me Already (Just Do It)
by S.C.C.

Just do it. I don't want to scream.
Just do it. I don't want to be here waiting for you to care.
Just do it. I no wanna feel anymore.
Just do it. Let me rest, let me be free.
Just do it. Just... Do... It...

Poem: "Young Pine." by Sky Claudette Soto

Young Pine.
By Sky Claudette Soto

And She talks In spirit tongue,a skin walker pickin young pine from the grounds she steps upon as the wind whistles in the distance an echoing howl be whilst me as I bathe inside and outside of frankincense water ,purifying my soul
While shooting stars travel twinkling above me in the slowest and most beautiful of somber emotions,wide eyed,doe eyed ,shimmering, mirroring as a kaleidoscoped vision shutters through mine eyes,Endowed in thine greatest of moments do you hear me I hear you do you see me I see you,I love you.

Written by and CopyRight ,
First American Publishing rights only:
By,Sky Claudette Soto.

Fiction: "Veil of Forgetfulness" by M Teresa Clayton

Veil of Forgetfulness
By M Teresa Clayton

'Twas a war fought hard and we were weary from such a long fight. Many had fallen, begging to be released from the intensity of their pain. With the smoke of villages and bodies burning, day had seemed an endless wretched night, and those of us who were barely able to whisper the words prayed for a cleansing rain.
But, no rain would fall upon this blood-soaked ground where the ending had begun. The crimson flow cut ribbons o’er the emerald fields and fell into the distant brooks and streams. Yea, there had been a battle fought upon this blessed ground but no prisoners were taken and no war would be won. All that could be seen, for miles and miles, was broken bodies; all one could hear were their dying sighs barely audible beneath a cacophony of screams.
I closed my eyes and tried to recall a day when the winds blew in from the salty sea. I remembered running up the hills and looking down upon the beauty of the dale. I drew upon what was left of my memory to grant me solace until death came to set me free. I prayed for the sweet sound of her wings to come and place me safely beneath the veil. I lay motionless for most of the tri la’ and then lost the count of days as my pain subsided and what remained was the company of my own doom...
(When I was a wee boy, I heard that one would feel her vibrations gaining strength as she approached the surface of the land above, Sheelah Na was her name and she would open up her labyrinth and upon one's death, would call you back into her womb. )
I would welcome her this hour for the comfort of that magnificent grave, but she was not the one who appeared to me here as I lay upon the blood-soaked ground. Nay, the grace that would appear and my soul would save, came to me through the parting clouds with a thunderous sound; the flapping of the wings of the great white horse caused a mighty wind to blow and upon its back rode a white-haired Queen, accompanied by one I recognized from stories told long ago. Her hair was black as night and as she moved beneath the horse's graceful feather, no foot stepped to the fore and nothing supported her weight. I could hear their delicate voices unite in song together and divide the heavens. There before my unbelieving eyes, I watched as they pass’d through Morrigan’s gate followed by Brigit’s legions -the Eponian’s ride.
The bodies of the deceased were carefully gathered up and mounted to the skies, the Eponian riders carried them homeward to the Emerald Isle that lay just on the other side… The white-haired lady dismounted her mighty steed and came upon each of those who were left wounded and waiting for death. “I am not here to judge those who fought the battle and lost, nor will I reward those who fight these battles and succeed.”
I now understood the goddess before me by her divine name. "Rhiannon" I spoke with my failing mortal breath.
“Aye, 'tis I who comes to you and to you I will plead - the conquered and the conquerors - no man is immortal, all men will bleed. No war is ever won, no battle ever fought... but once war has begun ‘tis only suffering that is wrought. All are your brothers here and not one of your brethren here sees you as their foe. There is no reason here to kill or maim. Greed separates the living from their insatiable ego and though it appears there is change it all remains the same.”
The dark-haired lady approached; she stood calm and still and made this appeal. “I shall open the Veil of Forgetfulness and bring you Truth. My name is Sirona - ‘tis I who subdues the injured; commanding wounds to heal."
“I shall return you to a time long ago in your youth and you will teach men to lay down their weapons of war; there is no need for an army. There is no need for accounting or keeping one's score if all men choose to live in peace and harmony."
I felt the moment grow longer as I was given eternity to make my choice. I did not know if I could deliver the message and teach the elders of their own deception, where would I find the authority to give me such a voice? Who would stand with me if I were met with the people's rejection?
As if she could see into me and read my mind she answered without hesitation, "Look for me you shall always find the grace of truth and illumination, but if the people of your land refuse the opening of the Veil then all will live and die at the warrior’s hand. If your words are confused and the message fail, I will send the Eponians to come for you and bring you safely home behind these gates, forget not that once you have come to know what is true you will be taunted by the fates. They will eventually silence the one who threatens to expose their neglectfulness, but you will not be touched by the chafe. We will close the Veil of Forgetfulness to all and no mortal man will ever be safe."
My choice was made; she knew how this would reach its conclusion. I agreed to return to those times of yester and yore and I would try to end their confusion and give them a truth they could not ignore. Surely, men would see that nothing of this earth belongs to any one man; though the veil is closed upon our birth it can be opened if one chooses to be born again.
I went back to that time when I was young and told them the story of the battle lost; I told them of the songs that were sung when they gathered the ransom for which this war had cost. I tried to open their eyes to see all the beauty that lies in truth's believing and I became lost in that place where love and truth dies, and prepared for the coming of my leaving.
I looked to the heavens beyond the cloud and again the flapping of wings was ominous and loud. There, appearing before me as if it were yesterday was the goddess Rhiannon and Sirona saying "So mote it be." - inviting me to come beyond the veil and stay.
I took one more of my mortal glances and watched as the Veil disappeared from the minds of those below. As the Veil of Forgetfulness closed, all the chances to divine understanding and the truths they will never know.

Fiction: "Asgard’s Trash" by Ben Fitts

Asgard’s Trash
by Ben Fitts

“I can’t believe they would build a church here,” said Haraldr. “I understand that Olaf is ordering churches to be built, but on the former site of an important hof? That’s just poor taste.” Eiríkr thought about that as they watched the king’s men work in the distance. They hauled lumber and stone, hammered boards into the walls, and extended the framework of the structure ever upwards. The church was already taller than any building that Eiríkr had ever seen, and they hadn’t even gotten to working on the roof yet.
“I think it’s symbolic,” said Eiríkr. “They tore down the hof so they could build the church on its foundations. It represents the old gods becoming replaced with the new one.” “The new one?” asked Haraldr.
“The Christians only have one god,” said Eiríkr. “It’s kinda their whole thing.”
Haraldr laughed so loudly that his blonde beard shook and several of the men in the distance looked up before returning to their work.
“They believe only one god built the entire world?” he asked between chuckles. “Now that’s just silly. This is really what they want to replace the old ways with?”
“Well, do you really believe that Thor disguised himself as a bride to steal his hammer back from the king of the giants?” asked Eiríkr.
“No, not really. Or at least not so much anymore,” admitted Haraldr. “But it’s not about whether or not I actually believe our stories. It’s about having to give up our heritage and our culture just because some Englishman managed to convince the king’s gullible father that his own was superior.”
Eiríkr shrugged.
“Stories are just stories,” he said. “Telling them is a wonderful way to amuse ourselves, but believing them is for children.”
“So what are you saying?” asked Haraldr.
“That I don’t really care what this foolish king wants Norway to believe in, because none of it really matters,” said Eiríkr. “None of it’s real.”
Eiríkr was about to say more, but his words were cut off as a deafening whooshing noise thundered above them. Both men looked up to see a big object streak across the sky and towards the forest behind them. It moved too quickly for either of them to discern any details other than a trail of pale yellow light left in its wake.
They lowered their gazes once the object was out of view and met each other’s eyes. There was no need for words at the moment. The look they shared conveyed all there was to say. As one, they looked up at the king’s men building the church in the distance. The men continued to work as if nothing strange had happened, showing no sign of the object that had passed overhead. Suddenly, there was a need for words.
“They didn’t notice that thing in the sky, did they?” asked Eiríkr.
“No, I don’t think they did,” agreed Haraldr.
“I can’t help but wonder how that’s possible,” said Eiríkr.
Haraldr chewed on his lower lip and idly ran a hand through his big blonde beard. Then he smiled.
“Because, unlike those men building that church, we are the true sons of Norway,” said Haraldr. Now it was Eiríkr’s turn to scratch his beard in thought.
“I don’t get what you mean,” he said.
“Eiríkr, can’t you see?” said Haraldr. “We just witnessed Thor’s chariot flying through the sky! We were doubting the truth of our own beliefs as the Christians take over our homeland, and then Thor showed himself to us.” Eiríkr frowned.
“I didn’t see any goats,” argued Eiríkr. “Thor’s chariot is supposed to be pulled by goats.”
“The chariot was moving too fast for either of us to make out any details, and you know it.”
“Alright, fine,” said Eiríkr. “We just witnessed Thor’s chariot fly over our heads. What now?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” asked Haraldr. “We follow it.”
Haraldr spun on the heels of his boots and took off towards the forest behind them. He vanished into the dense foliage a moment later. Eiríkr stood there alone and shifted his weight from foot to foot. He cast glances back and forth between the clearing where the king’s men worked and the woods his friend had entered. Eiríkr cursed under his breath, then ran towards the forest.
It took less time to catch up with Haraldr than he thought he would. Haraldr was standing in place about a quarter of a mile into the forest. Before him was a clearing that looked like it had just been more forest that morning. Freshly splintered trees lay strewn at haphazard angles and Eiríkr spotted what remained of several crushed birds. However, none of that was what drew the two men’s attention.
Sitting in the center of the wreckage was a massive disc made of a dull, matte metal that Eiríkr couldn’t identify. The disc was easily the size of a jarl’s home, a big bump protruded from its center. Eiríkr took in the sight, then walked up to Haraldr.
“I still don’t see any goats,” said Eiríkr.
“Alright, so it’s not Thor’s chariot,” admitted Haraldr. “But it must be somehow from the gods. How else do you explain this?” Eiríkr ran his eyes over the giant metal disc.
“It looks like scrap metal,” he said. “If it’s from the gods, then it must be Asgard’s trash.”
As soon as Eiríkr finished speaking, the bump in Asgard’s trash began to slide open. Tendrils of smoke poured out from the growing opening and almost obscured the strange little creature that emerged. Haraldr and Eiríkr watched in dumb disbelief as the creature climbed out of the metal disc and waddled towards them.
The creature was about three feet tall and had entirely hairless gray skin, a disproportionately large bulbous head, and massive black eyes with no irises. It opened its mouth as it approached, revealing rows of tiny, needle-like teeth, and spoke. The creature was clearly forming words, but its language was unfamiliar.
“What’s it saying?” asked Haraldr.
“How the Helheim would I know?” said Eiríkr.
The gray creature ceased speaking and withdrew a small black rectangle of a material Eiríkr could not discern. The creature wore no clothes, so Eiríkr was left to guess where it had taken it from. The creature examined the rectangle, frowned, and reached towards its back with the rectangle. The black rectangle vanished as mysteriously as it had appeared.
“My apologies,” said the creature in the Norse language. “I thought I had landed in England, and so I was speaking their tongue.”
“You thought this was England?” declared Haraldr. “I’m not sure where you’re from, but this is Norway!”
“Haraldr, I think we have bigger issues at the moment,” said Eiríkr under his breath. Haraldr seemed to agree with him, and quieted down.
“Once again, my apologies,” said the creature. “I’ve never been here before, and it’s a long way from my home.”
“Where exactly is your home?” asked Eiríkr. “Are you from Asgard?”
“Asgard?” said the creature. “I do not know this word.”
“So it’s probably safe to assume that you’re not from there,” said Eiríkr.
“Yes, it’s probably safe to assume that,” agreed the creature. “May I ask about something?
“Sure,” said Eiríkr.
“When I flew overhead, I saw you two gentlemen staring at the construction of a building,” said the creature. “You seemed rather unhappy about this construction, and I was wondering why.” “They’re building a Christian church on the site of a former hof,” interjected Haraldr. “A hof my friend and I both worshipped at since we were children.” Eiríkr found it interesting that Haraldr neglected to mention that they had all but stopped visiting the hof since reaching adulthood, but he decided against pointing that out.
“I fail to understand what you are trying to communicate,” said the creature flatly.
“Some people from an island far away are imposing their own religious beliefs on us, and working to destroy our own people’s religious beliefs in the process,” explained Eiríkr. “My friend is very upset about this.”
“You mean to say that people from another culture far away are coming to impose their belief system on you?” asked the creature. “That’s just awful.”
“Exactly!” said Haraldr. “See, you understand.”
“That’s just awful,” repeated the creature. “That’s what we were going to do.”
“Come again?” said Eiríkr.
“We’re here to spread the belief of Zardhu Of The Seven Tentacles, the supreme being of the galaxy,” said the creature. “And while we were at it, we were probably going to colonize the shit out of this place and strip it for what natural resources we could. Zardhu would want it that way.”
“I’m starting to like you a lot less,” said Eiríkr.
“But the problem is, we can’t do any of that if you’re already doing it to each other,” said the creature.
“You can’t?” asked Haraldr.
“Do you have any clue how difficult it would be for us to spread the way of Zardhu among your masses if we have to compete with you pushing your own beliefs on each other?” said the creature. “And, if you’re pushing religion on each other, then I’m guessing your kind has a habit of looting each other's precious minerals and other valuable resources?”
“We’ve been known to do that,” admitted Eiríkr, whose father Óláfr had been a notorious Viking raider with a fondness for hanging severed heads off the prow of his longship. The sight of his father returning home accompanied by the bloated, bloodless heads of dozens of dead men had been enough to dissuade Eiríkr from the martial profession at a very young age.
“See, my point exactly,” said the creature. “How can we efficiently loot this world if you’re constantly looting each other. That seems like a real headache.”
“I’m having trouble sympathizing with you,” said Haraldr.
“We had this same issue when we last visited you, a little shy of one-thousand of your years ago,” said the creature. “You were busy colonizing and pushing your various religions on each other, which left no room for us to do that. We were hoping that your species would’ve evolved enough to no longer be doing that by now, but I guess we overestimated you.”
“But that’s exactly what you want to do to us,” pointed out Eiríkr.
“Yes, but we have the right to,” said the creature. “Zardhu is on our side.”
The creature stretched its stubby gray limbs and took in the forest around it. “It is rather cold in this place,” it said. “What did you call it?”
“Norway,” said Haraldr.
“Yes, Norway. Thank you,” said the creature. “Anyway, it is very chilly in this Norway place.”
The creature bent down and scooped a handful of snow in its big, four-fingered hand. It brought the snow up to its bulbous eyes.
“And I don’t care for this frozen water all over the ground,” it said. “We don’t have it where I’m from, and it makes my feet feel like they’re about to fall off.”
The creature dropped the handful of snow onto the ground and waddled back towards the giant metal disc from whence it had emerged.
“One of us will be back again for the third time in about another thousand of your years,” the creature called over its back. “If it’s me again, I’m going to choose somewhere much warmer to land. Maybe somewhere with lots of sand. I’ve always liked places with sand.”
The black rectangle reappeared in the creature’s hand. Eiríkr was still unable to tell how it had gotten there. The creature tapped the front on the rectangle with one overly long finger and the giant metal disc began to hum. The creature climbed onto the disc and into the opening it had come out of. It turned around to look at the two men.
“We’ll be back to see if you’ve improved this awful behavior,” said the creature. “And if you still haven’t, then we’ll leave and come back until you have. But eventually, you’ll be ready to be ruled by Zardhu Of The Seven Tentacles.”
The top of the metal disc closed itself over the creature, obscuring it entirely. The disc hummed with increased volume and began to float off the snowy forest floor. The disc arched itself towards the sky. A moment later, it took off and was out of sight.
Haraldr and Eiríkr looked at each other but didn’t say anything. At that moment, neither of them had anything to say.


Fiction: "The Vampire Journals" by Nigel Zachary Courtwright - Chapter 1 (excerpt)

The Vampire Journals
By Nigel Zachary Courtwright
(Damien L. Thorr aka Nigel Zachary Courtwright)
Copyright © 1997 unauthorized reproduction prohibited

Chapter 1
The Kiss
Another night, another kill to make. I slowly cracked open the upper lid of my coffin in the sunlight-resistant chamber of my luxurious penthouse apartment that overlooked the city. I loved my penthouse apartment. Its twelve foot glass walls on the south exposed the loveliest view of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the harbor, which I enjoyed on those rare dawns when a light darkness prevailed for a brief instant. It is one of the curses of the kiss, being deprived of the daytime, confined to the darkness of the night for eternity.
Still a bit groggy from the death-like sleep, I rose from my coffin and one at a time, I lit the tapers that adorned the room's walls and corners. It didn't take me long to be entirely coherent and realize it was a very nice evening with warm temperature and a clear sky. It only meant there would be a great number of potential victims out for feeding in the night.
The thirst for blood has no mercy. Luckily, or I should say, appropriately, being a vampire, it is very easy to overcome any mortal human due to my superior strength, speed and senses. As a chameleon, I camouflage and blend with the mortal population undetected. When they find death at my grasp, they never realize what I am. Even when I first approach, I do not have an abnormal or monster-like appearance like the vampires of fiction, as those as Hollywood idiots have created for years. I look human; like a handsome, young man in his mid-twenties, although I am 160 years of age. We never grow old. We never die.
With every awakening, I am hungry. Hungry for blood. Nothing else satiates. Only blood. I was arising each night emotionally enraged due to my immortal condition. I felt like a prisoner of life. I grew tired as the decades went by as one may go mad numbering each grain of sand. My wish was to be mortal. All I wanted in my life, before I was infected by the kiss, was to study law, get married, raise a family and eventually die in the end. Instead, I am cursed by the kiss and imprisoned in this hopeless world as an immortal blood-drinker never to see or feel the rays of the sun for eternity.
I am not entirely immortal. I can die if I am over-exposed to sunlight, fire or total dismemberment, although severing my head would suffice. Sunlight may not always kill me. When my skin comes in contact with sunlight, it burns painfully and violently. When I escape sunlight, I'm left with revolting scars that can last for weeks. However, I heal at a very accelerated rate. I can take a bullet or a blade and suffer no more than a temporary scar but I will die if I do not feed. I must have blood. I have often thought of self-demolition to end this eternal suffering of darkness that I call my life but, it isn't that simple. I am always overcome by the need to take blood. All there is for me is blood, to tear away at someone's skin and watch them die before me as I drink every last drop of their life force, to feel them quiver with fear at my death-bringing grasp and slowly surrender to death itself. That is all there is for me. Blood, nothing more. I have adapted to living in New York City in 1997. Things have really changed since the days when I was mortal, when this nation was young and technological breakthroughs still virgin, undreamed of. Science never ceases to impress me. If only my family were here to see it all. . . Especially my brother, he would've loved to see all these airplanes fly at incredible altitudes and speeds. He once told me about how it would be possible for man to fly someday, and I clearly remember laughing at him. Now, I feel as if he can mock me from his grave.
Most changes to civilization are favorable. The government has developed systems to alleviate some social problems, although not all can be taken care of entirely. There will always be homeless people on the streets. There will always be hunger and poverty. There will always be disease and there will always be crime. The streets run red with crime these days. Immigrants still flock from all over as they have since the turn of the century. Except now, the government takes care of them. The lazy, the criminals, the vermin, the ill, and the good as well now blend with the American population whereas in the past, they were left to starve in the streets.
I have seen many changes come and go. Everything from fashions to ordinary figures of speech. I have modified my English to sound current. English hasn't evolved very much in 160 years but there is a distinct accent that has evolved due to the blend of foreigners and their ways of speaking. Even my own accent has evolved and blends with today's trend. There are some acquired slang expressions that have been around for many decades and most people don't know they have been around longer than they realize. There is a small community of vampires in the city that I'm acquainted with. Every now and then, we talk about the phenomenon of social evolution, how the new replaces the old, fashions, music and whatever becomes trendy.
I have a good friend, Liam, that I've known since 1890, when Benjamin Harrison was president. Liam, an Irish immigrant, fell into the hands (and heart) of Annette. Annette is one of the older vampires in our community of immortals who, from time to time, crosses over a young mortal male she lusts for, transforming him into a creature of the night with her kiss. It was I who helped Liam adjust to the new vampiric existence and we've been like brothers ever since. It isn't easy for a new vampire to adapt to the new condition soon after the kiss. One must have a companion or coach to learn the new ways both emotionally and physically. He would sometimes say:
"Nigel, this is evil!"
My remark was always the same:
"There is no God, there is no evil. There is only blood."
Truly, I've never seen a sign of God or the Devil. I've never witnessed a miracle nor an angel. I do not believe a single word from the Bible is truth. If anything, religion is simply a false sense of hope for humanity's fear of death. I wasn't always certain about that. At the time religion was a great part of my upbringing, and I hadn't weaned myself from it all entirely even after all those years. However, I live, or exist by those words now. After all, there is only blood.
My heart was blackened with hatred, for eternity, it seemed. Hatred for mortals, for they could walk around in the daytime when I felt as a prisoner of the night. Hatred for man, for most everything he touches, he destroys. Hatred for women because they can be so heartless and play the game. I tried not to kill for blood at one time. I tried to only feed from blood banks in hospitals and experience the comforts of a woman. I found I was so wrong to trust them. I was used and betrayed, and it caused great sorrow. I never knew such suffering. I enjoyed ripping the bitch's heart out with my bare hands, and it gave me even greater pleasure to watch her die as I drank her blood.
All washed up and dressed in contemporary leather attire, I blew out all the candles for the evening. Of course, I had electricity. I enjoyed playing my compact discs at full volume on my stereo equipment. I just simply prefer the appearance of candlelight, and to avoid a major fire, I didn't leave them burning when I wasn't home. I carefully locked my main entrance and swiftly sped past fellow tenants and doormen undetected. I was in no mood for meaningless socializing with them on that evening.
Outside the building, I looked up and gazed at the night sky as no mortal can see it. My building, like most buildings in the city, pierced the sky. I'd let my hair grow long in the past couple of years so, my appearance reflected as a man in his early twenties, which serves well as a woman magnet to make my kill. Honestly, I couldn't fuckin' wait, as they say in this age.
Thirty minutes into my search, at the pace of mortals, I found myself on Ninth Avenue and 41st Street, one of the city's drug and prostitute infested areas. There are far too many low standard pornographic movie houses for the average person to care to count. I was propositioned twice before making my way into the door of a theater by these truly revolting people. Inside the theater, a violent rape scene was the center of attention on the giant silver screen. There were thirty people sitting in the darkened room, scattered at a distance from one another to manage some privacy for their masturbation or sexual acts. I could feel each one of them. I could sense their hearts and even their thoughts when I focused. I wanted each one of them. I wanted to feast upon all their precious blood. Even for a vampire, that is easier said than done. Times have changed. With the growth of the population of mortals, each birth and death is accounted for. The government documents everything these days. Under the new vampire ways, our un-written laws, we must dispose of the bodies of our victims. Trouble is, it doesn't always happen. Even I don't do that. To avoid having to go through so much trouble, I kill in these horrible places where people don't normally care what happens. I kill the vermin, the prostitutes, the pimps, the drug addicts, the drunks, the rapists, drug dealers, the child molesters, the thieves, the killers and all the scum of humanity. I kill the innocent as well. I don't discriminate. I am a monster, and humanity has monsters of its own. That is no secret.

This is from the first chapter of a novel written in 1997 by Predator guitarist Damien Lee Thorr, as Nigel Zachary Courtwright. The paperback novel is out of print but digital copies are available for a $20 wire transfer. Contact Thorr on Facebook for information.

Fiction: "here i am now!" by Jeremy Void

here i am now!
By Jeremy Void

what am i but a dreamer! i want to be something more, perhaps seen as a mythical deity here to bring light to a sweltering delusion, to a world on the brink of darkness. a derelict soldier, a knight in rusted armor. i’m a boy a man a mystified, leering cretin on the beat of a street awash in flames and sheering madness. it’s halloween night! tonight is halloween. i was sitting alone in my studio reading sexus by henry miller; now i’m sitting outside listening to the now! and watching as costumed freaks creeps & weak invaders storm countless wasted miles rousing a bleak energy brimming with a nothingness so shallow that it bores me and devours the night. i hate them. i hate all of em. they mean nothing to me. i am above them. they don’t notice me here. their voices are grating. me, i’m lovely. i wanna be a savior. i’m the light; the darkness flares brightly. it’s like a corrupted delusion. i let my mind wander down loose alleys. yes, a dreamer i am: fused with hope and hopelessness. my solution is to confuse and yet i find i’m broken and defused. i wonder why the lot of them are so bemused with everything in sight. smash their wanton illusions, an elusive amusement i assume stems from all the many lights & colors & sounds and safety that arouses us daily. we’re surrounded by it….
i have surrendered my soul to a wanting nihilistic fever of surreptitious dissatisfactions i am dissatisfied by all the vain interactions that have transpired in this drunken jungle of lost college kids///a lousy student body constantly fucking intoxicated belligerent like bobblehead dolls dancing to another grateful dead cover band another beatles tribute another crappy artist trying to come across as avant-garde and thoughtful but really coming across to me as thoughtlessly ordinary …
or perhaps, and at last, and with another gastral hemorrhage of dull interactions the entire wasted student body of burlington proper will stumble past me in a saddened crawl of slack-jawed, drunken folly leaving me the laughing stock of a maddened, howling flock of college birds flapping maniacally but not lifting off but not touching down but not going anywhere but around&around prancing manic ground-bound circles searching for fertility amid a leaden sea of futile sterility. but anyway i digress….
the point i’m trying to make is: i was arrested by a lost, lone suggestion that keeps me flaccid and untouchable///a peeking eagle reaching epic, looming heights but mostly keeping to itself in this ever-isolated sky of fallen dreams. but then i remind myself that this world is shit. why go on living when everything is shit, people are shit, i am shit. me, i’m the biggest piece of shit in this entire intoxicated town too small to be called a city, in this entire inebriated city too big to be called a town, in our own little slice of limbo encumbered with complacency and artistic constipation i’m completely wasted now on the festering mindless fog of hindered thoughtfulness and impending, booze-soaked nights of nothing- -of NOTHING- -of NoThInG///what a great fuckin day&age to quit drinking & drugging, don’t you think!—oops, did i just say that out loud? either way though i’m sold///sold on whatever euphoric, un¬natural remedies that they got…. so i might as well just sit on the ground now and join the crowd—better to medicate my heavenly woes than to sound the alarms and let the people of this miserable playground in on the fact that shit lives among us run for cover!!!
see, my apathy stems from a place of complacency. friends they’ll always come and go throughout the years but still i sit here waiting for that one friend to stay but when he does i always run for cover—if history has taught me anything—and leap lunge & splash into that hysterical lake of derailed solutions. right now i’m sitting outside listening to the now! and watching, avid and perceptive, as the many lights & colors & sounds and safety bloom, for once allowing myself the idle comfort that comes with embrac¬ing such a soothing delusion. now, i’m bemused. the now! thunders in my ears….

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Full Length Review: Sullen "Nodus Tollens – Act 1: Oblivion" (Blood Blast Distribution) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sullen
Locaton: Porto
Country: Portugal
Genre: Progressive metal
Full Length: Nodus Tollens – Act 1: Oblivion
Format: Digital album, digipak CD
Label: Blood Blast Distribution (digital subsidiary of Nuclear Blast)
Release date: March 5, 2021
Sullen play an eclectic mix of several different genres, assembling them in a manner that seems aberrant. irrational and schizophrenic but works in its own way. By its very nature their music represents the cognitive dissonance created by years of contradictory input from without, and a near desperate search for a new direction of one’s own choosing. Their debut recording “Post Human” (2015) was a journey into dementia and lunacy, as a test run of sorts for what was to come later. “Nodus Tollens – Act 1: Oblivion” represents the dementia and lunacy found at the end of the journey, and its extent once you’ve been there for an extended period. To experience the full weight of this you need to listen to both these albums back to back, paying close attention. Progressive metal, melodic death metal, jazz metal and math metal are woven together in a kind of dystopic tapestry with clean production that presentably allows you to hear every overt and subtle nuance of Sullen’s songwriting. This is an album that’s accessible to more than one audience without compromising any of the band’s originality. Bands like Voivod, Meshuggah and Extol are held in high personal regard by many metal fans for taking anti-commercial routes and drawing from sources most underground bands would have considered unthinkable. While Sullen aren’t drawing from genres presently untouched, they look to more explored and time-tested formulas, connecting them in areas that other musicians either hadn’t thought of or didn’t think would have been feasible, making them work so well those musicians would likely kick themselves for not trying sooner. From spin to fake news to the chaos of Trump America to the current crisis caused by the Covid pandemic, Sullen write to demonstrate how media and politics have impacted us in the last ten years, from their perception of the world. Conceptions of matter and spirit are shown in conflict, perceptions of reality clash and generate an endless stream of confusion and disorder going far beyond alienation and arriving closer to hallucination and psychopathy than most albums I’ve heard til now. It’s too easy to lose yourself in Sullen's maze of songwriting, but any turn in this maze will somehow bring you back home in the end, and maybe you’ll be thinking about the world a little differently. –Dave Wolff

David Pais: vocals
Pedro Mendes: guitars
André Ribeiro: guitars
Ricardo Pinto: bass
Marcelo Aires: drums, percussion, keyboards

Track list:
1. The Prodigal Son
2. Skylines (featuring Ole Børud)
3. Soul Interrupted
4. Acheronta Movebo
5. Memento
6. Human
7. The After
8. Fail-safe

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Full Length Review: All My Faith Lost… "Untitled" (Cyclic Law) by Dave Wolff

Country: Italy
Genre: Ethereal darkwave
Full Length: Untitled
Format: Digital album, limited edition digisleeve CD (500 copies), standard edition double LP (200 copies), special edition double LP (100 copies)
Label: Cyclic Law
Release date: March 9, 2021
Continuing what was begun by Pink Floyd, The Doors and Lou Reed, All My Faith Lost… bring sonic darkness closer to home than you’d have expected. While they started releasing material in the mid-2000s I’m taking a seat in the middle of the production so to speak. Their third full length “Untitled” is built on the dark ethereal qualities of their past releases and the inspiration they got from personal experiences and surrealist paintings by João Ruas, Tara McPherson, Nicoletta Ceccoli and Ray Caesar. None of these are artists I’ve heard of, and I’m unfamiliar with the European Surrealist movement of the years between world wars I and II. But “Untitled” is making me curious to read about the artists who contributed to this era. Like gothic music and extreme metal, surrealist art defied reason by combining dream images with the rational world; this was a response to European rationalism that was a factor in the causes of the first world war. And like goth and metal, its purpose was to create positive expression by reflecting destructive attitudes and what can result from them. All My Faith Lost personifies this in their music and lyrics, citing the poetic connections between love, sex and death, spirituality, the disconnection of humanity from nature and Greek tragedy. Guitars, piano and string instruments paint a three-dimensional musical tapestry striking you as empty, forlorn and profoundly beautiful, representing goth and darkwave with a minimal addition for synths and other electronic instruments. This makes for an organic quality that re-establishes the connection with mankind and nature, taking you back through the centuries to a time when humans took nothing more than they needed from earth, and expressed their alienation from the world around them in a poignant manner that encourages you to dream and remember simpler times. “Untitled” is recommended listening even if you don’t normally listen to goth or darkwave; you need to experience how the tapestry comes to life. –Dave Wolff

Viola Roccagli: vocals, piano, synths, flute
Federico Salvador: vocals, guitars, synths
Angelo Roccagli: guitars, bass guitar
Fabio Polo: violins
Alice Micol Moro: cello on “White Thread”, “The Ice Princess” and “Nymphs IV”
Chiara Tricarico: vocals on “White Thread”
Marco I. Benevento: vocals on “White Thread”
Fabio Polo: violin arrangements
Alice Micol Moro cello arrangements

Track list:
1. Violent Dreams II
2. We All Die Sometimes
3. Nymphs IV
4. The Ice Princess
5. Keeping Time
6. The Inconvenience Of Spirits
7. White Thread
8. Awakening The Moon
9. Flood
10. Cassandra
11. The Night Is Calm

Interview with Chris of Incineration by Dave Wolff

Interview with Chris of Incineration

Tell the readers about your new EP and explain why you released it on vinyl.
It is four new tracks we laid down shortly after our third full length was out. After a short tour we did for its promotion and a couple of shows here and there we decided to record them and release them as an EP. The format is vinyl simply cos we never had one of our own. So we thought to ourselves...What the heck…Let’s do a vinyl this time! Haha.

What is the title of the EP and the four songs appearing on it? Were those songs you recorded for your previous full length only to find there wasn’t enough room for them, or were they written after your last full length was out?
The EP is called “Deeds of Debauchery”. We have uploaded the EP on our Bandcamp so anyone willing to see the song titles can check there. Let’s leave a mystery to it shall we? Hahaha…They’re about all kinds of disgusting deeds from human to human…They were completely new. We usually don’t write extra tracks. The question with them was if we would write more, enough for a fourth full length or just leave it there and go for the EP. Looks like the EP won!

How much exposure and interest in “Deeds of Debauchery” came from uploading it to Bandcamp?
We got many more pre-orders and stuff for sure. This thing definitely helped with us getting it out there easier but then again…we would upload it anyway. Bandcamp and Youtube and all those platforms are there to help you bring your noise out to the people right? This is exactly what we do…Now if we gained a bit more exposure, it is good. If not…I suppose it is still good. We really don’t care much about words as “exposure” and “views”, you know what I mean?

What real life societal issues has the band based their lyrics on? Were there times your subject matter was too uncomfortable for some of your listeners or is it generally easy to handle?
To be totally frank, I don’t think people read our lyrics this much. We don’t have anything to say anyways. They just follow the brutality protocol. You know…Brutal music needs brutal lyrics. So what better than horror inspired disgusting stories? Anything gross, bloody, sexually absurd and grotesque can be part of our lyrics. We never had a problem so far and my guess is we never will. We’re not that big of a band actually to begin with…But I think it takes a lot more than couple of retarded horror lines to start having problems. So…We’re safe…Hahaha.

Would you like your listeners to read your lyrics more often? What subject matter do you draw from most often: movies, books, true crime or other sources?
Well we don’t care that much about that. They are not going to change one’s views on the world. Mostly there to fill the gory concept of our music. One can read them only to see how far we can go and maybe compare our sickness with his/hers but that’s that! Inspiration comes from everywhere but what we mostly deal with is real life disgusting stories. We sometimes add couple of nasty embellishments to the original tale amplifying its sickness but the original story is already out there. What can I say? Our world is a sick place man. Hah.

Cite some of the true life stories you are basing your lyrics on. Why did said stories inspire you to write songs about them?
Well real life is more brutal than any horror movie bro. You can bet your bottom dollar to it! Starting from the well-known serial killers and the horrible things they did to people and moving into that path you can understand why humans have become the most disgusting form of life. The story of the father who was soo theatrical in crying for his deceased child at its funeral only to be discovered that he had raped and killed it( Although rumors claim he only said so to protect his other son who was the actual perpetrator). Or the one with the fucking cop who chocked his five year old daughter to death and then cut her in pieces and boiled the chunks with rice, throwing her in the dustbin and acting as if he did not know where she was…These are real life stories man…Happened in real life. Adding the sexual perversions to it (from playing with feces to playing with animals….you follow?), and the religious oppression you get a vast field of never ending lyrical inspiration. And the stories of course keep coming! I was initially swept away by how anyone can be a “normal” person during the day and turn into a total freak during the night. It is really fascinating to think that someone sitting next to you in the train station, could easily be the one who couple of hours before, murdered his own granny and fucked her corpse while it still bled. Or that the girl you look at the bar, thinking how you’ll put your junk in her, likes to shit herself and masturbate in her feces….Hahahahahah…..Real life stories man…Can’t beat em!!!

Vinyl has been making a comeback and experiencing a resurgence in popularity for years. Have you seen bands of similar genres to Incineration releasing material on vinyl more often? Why do you think people still prefer vinyl albums to sound files and streaming?
Yes it has, hasn’t it? It is just something like a fetish that came to the surface once again. It never stopped completely actually. I mean...I was always watching the big bands release their stuff on vinyl. The process never stopped for them I guess! It is just that the big labels wouldn’t release a minor band on vinyl cos it wouldn’t sell as much. It is kind of a thing nowadays once again. It is mostly driven by the underground I would say. Was always watching underground death metal and grind bands releasing self-financed 7” vinyls mostly. The punk scene also has never quit releasing vinyls. So yeah. All of these guys kept the flame alive. Now…There are the ones going with the romance in it….You know people that won’t listen to anything other than vinyl. The sound of it is definitely more warm and better in many aspects but I guess still…it is also the fetish. Personally I don’t care. I mean…I like to have what I like in some sort of format but when it comes to listening I don’t care. Vinyl, CD, tape, Youtube, Youjizz….whatever….hahahahaha….As long as the damn snare keeps blasting wild!

Do you or the other band members still collect vinyl albums? If so, what new or previously owned albums have you recently purchased?
I don’t collect for sure. I have everything I like on CD. And those I don’t have, I am trying to find. But I am very far from being called a collector. About 350 CDs and 10-20 vinyls is all I have. I can’t speak for George (drums). I don’t know if he collects but then again if he had the collector’s craze I would’ve known. He is in the same status with me more or less. The rest of the band members can go fuck themselves I don’t care….(there are actually no other band members, just me and George...Haha)….My latest purchase is two rare 7” vinyls from Obsecration. Two split vinyls they did. One with Nethescerial and one with Slaughtered Priest and a CD from Cerebral Effusion. Idolatry of the Unethical of 2014.

Did you purchase the splits Obsecration released online or are there stores in your area you acquired it from?
Well there are stores you can purchase their stuff for sure. I just happen to be bad-ass enough to be friends with the singer (Necros…Horns up yo!), so I got my share from him!

Are you also acquainted with Nethescerial, Slaughtered Priest and Cerebral Effusion?
I believe the first two are just friends with Obsecration. Not acquainted with them in any way. Cerebral Effusion is an awesome brutal death metal band from Spain which I am really fond of! So the purchase was me being a fan. Don’t know them personally unfortunately.

Does the band have their own studio for recording and mixing? What do you consider the reasons why more bands are recording and producing their own material?
Yes and no actually. We record the drums at a studio where the guys owning the place are long time pals so it is more or less family. Besides that, guitars, bass and vocals are recorded home. Then again back to studio for re-amping and then mixing-mastering at home. For us it is more fun this way. We’re never gonna make money out of it so we might as well have our fun with it right? The money factor is in it as well. Especially when you pay everything out of your own pocket, being able to do certain stuff yourself is something that will treat your wallet with the utmost respect. This is actually the biggest reason most bands try to do it this way nowadays.

At what recording studio does the band usually work on their releases?
Well we used to visit a studio called “Studio Π”. It is a place ten minutes from where we live and thing is we are close friends with the owner and practically we could do whatever we wanted. “Deeds of Debauchery” is the last drum recording we did in that studio. Our friend sold it though to new owners so we parted ways with it. Now we rehearse at Feedback studios. Friends with the guys owning the studio (Slavebreed motherfuckerzzz!!) as well and a really cool place. We might record our next album there. We’ll see!

Did anyone from Studio Π have a hand in the production of “Deeds of Debauchery” or did the band work on each aspect of it in the studio and at home?
It is just us all the way. Studio is only for drum recordings, re-amping and band practice. All mixing and mastering took place at our home studio.

What equipment does the band work with at home? At some point would you want to record, mix and master all your work independently or is your present arrangement working well?
We already mix and master independently. The only thing we can’t do independently is drum and guitar recording. Like mentioned above, we do re-amping when it comes to guitars and the drums are recorded at a recording studio. Sure we’d love it if we could record the drums at our own place but the thing works fine as it is already. No need to change anything so far. Our equipment at home is the typical equipment every band that does home recording uses. A mixer, good soundcard, two loud speakers and a decent PC.

Where did Incineration tour in support of their latest full length and how well did audiences respond to your shows? Has the Covid pandemic been a detriment to the band performing?
Our latest album is “Dawn of Dismemberment”! We didn’t manage to do a lot for it actually. A tour in Greece and a gig in Romania. We had a Balcan tour scheduled and some other European dates but fuckin Covid made sure we’d cancel everything! As long as we played though, people seemed to like the new stuff so we cannot wait for this pandemic to be over and get back in track! The Covid pandemic has been a detriment in general. In all aspects of life so…yes, in the band being able to perform live as well!

How long ago did your Greek and Romanian tours for “Dawn of Dismemberment” happen? What other activities has the band been taking part in?
It was 2017. November and March of the same year. A couple of live shows in Greece followed after that but yeah…You get the point. Between shows it is mostly rehearsing for us. I mean…we got our jobs and families and bills to pay so this is more or less our means of diffusing reality reigning on our shoulders…haha…sounded kinda dramatic didn’t I? Hahahaha…Well this is it more or less. Now with all the Covid restrictions of course there’s no rehearsing but what can you do?

How much material was released prior to “Dawn of Dismemberment”? How much has Incineration grown with each release?
We have had two full lengths, two demos, a promo and two split CDs prior to “Dawn of Dismemberment”. The goal is the same in every record. Produce the nastiest shit we can produce. Now it goes without saying that we have evolved as time goes by. I wanna believe we are becoming better players, so we can perform better when it comes to recording. Our songs are getting a bit more complex than they used to be but I think they remain attached to our original “primitive and raw” protocol. Lyric-wise I think we are getting more disgusting in every release. We used to talk about blood a lot. Now we got feces in the game…..Hahahah.

What bands did you release those splits with? Were you friends or did you contact them while seeking bands to collaborate with?
The first one was KREAS (us again…hahaha), The Anal Treatment XXXperience and Necrorgasm. KREAS was actually a band created by members from us and Nekroi Bakogiannides. The Anal Treatment XXXperience and Necrorgasm are good friends so…yes, the first one was pretty much family. All Greek bands. The second one was with Paroxysmal Butchering, Goemagot, Abdicate and Catatonic Rigidity. For this one I worked the idea with Barrett from mighty Sevared Records who also sang for Catatonic Rigidity. I also knew Tim from Paroxysmal Butchering. Barrett brought Goemagot and Abdicate to complete the bill and the rest is history.

What were your two earliest full lengths titled, and are copies of those still available for stream or purchase?
The first one of 2007 with the title “Blasphemous Theologies” and the second one of 2013 with the title “Disciples of the Garrotte”. Both of them are sold out! Not printing many copies from our albums (and not really interested in re-printing any of them) so they are getting sold out pretty easy. They can be easily found for streaming on the internet.

What songs on “Dawn of Dismemberment” do you think best represent the band musically? What songs do you think need some improvement overall?
I like playing all of them! You twist my arm enough though to pick one, I’d have to go with the title track. I believe it has most elements we like to mess with, in it. That and “Baptized in Anal Discharge”….Had to pick two eventually…Haha.

Overall, how much of an improvement is “Deeds of Debauchery” from “Dawn of Dismemberment” musically, technically and lyrically? In reference to your above answer, how much more disgusting are the lyrics of the EP than those on the album?
Technically it is a step above. I believe we have improved as players since “Dawn of Dismemberment” and this eventually has affected our writing skills…Lyrically it is more disgusting I believe...Or at least I hope it is… Hahaha.

Do you have ideas in mind for the next EP or full length you plan to follow up with? How much further do you want to take the band’s music and lyrics?
Actually no! There are many riffs waiting to be laid down and worked upon but we’ve done nothing so far. Covid, lockdown and all that shit is preventing us from getting productive as a band…

How well known do you want Incineration to become outside Greece; places like the UK, Canada, Mexico and the US?
We mostly wanna tour to those places. We don’t care so much bout if we are known or not… It is not that we don’t like to have fans of our music around the world. We like it. But we mostly wanna tour around the world even if nobody knows us…Haha…Get my point?

-Dave Wolff