Thursday, July 29, 2021

Film Review: Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (New Horizons Picture, 2014) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (2014 TV movie)
Directed by Kevin O'Neill
Written by Matt Yamashita
Starring Wilhem Abreu, Keisha Shadè Akinyemi and Lorena Alemany
Produced by New Horizons Picture
Do you enjoy movies where the CGI is so bad it is almost like you are watching an episode of Reboot in the 90s? How about acting that is dreadfully terrible and a script that is absolutely deplorable? If this type of thing interests you…I suggest checking out Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda.
Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda is the second film in this series, following the original film “Sharktopus” in 2010. The plot is kind of patchy and there is a lot of this that doesn’t make much sense, so instead of giving you an overview of the film I will just suggest checking it out for yourself. Although the movie is one of the cheesiest things I have ever seen, there is lots of blood and action…and even though the low budget is quite evident, Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda was actually “kind of” entertaining.
There are elements of humor in the film, and Conan O’Brien even made a short cameo (his first movie cameo in his career).
The main reason I watched this movie was because it was produced by Roger Corman, the mastermind behind the Carnosaur series (which is actually one of my favorite movie franchises of all time) and a slew of other lower budget films. Just like the Carnosaur series, Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda stretches the limits of what is visually acceptable in a film…yet I couldn’t stop watching.
After Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda, a third movie was filmed in 2015 called “Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf”. I’m sure it is just as crap-tacular as this one. Will I watch it? Only time will tell! Syfy films are known to sometimes be less than amazing…but then again, some are actually pretty damn good. And you won’t know until you sit down and watch them.
Now please excuse me as I stick my head beneath my kitchen tap to try and wash my last existing brain cell…at this point, the poor little bastard is holding on by a thread! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Film Review: Gremlins (Warner Bros., 1984) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Gremlins (1984)
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Chris Columbus
Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Hoyt Axton
Produced by Amblin Entertainment
Presented by Warner Bros.
Ah, late night television. There is normally never anything good on, but around one in the morning I was watching TV, and after a movie my mother was watching ended…Gremlins came on. Now, I didn’t get to watch the entire film before I went to bed, but as I have watched this movie a hundred times over I figured I would give it a review. Actually, I find it strange that I haven’t reviewed this film in the past. It is a monumental movie from my childhood, and I thoroughly enjoy it every time I watch it.
I don’t imagine I need to say what this film is about. It is right in the title! Gremlins (Wikipedia states that they are “folkloric mischievous creatures” that cause malfunctions within the British Royal Airforce) are let loose on a small town on Christmas Eve and all hell breaks out (we will leave it at that).
The story of Gremlins was thought up by Chris Columbus. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer and the film was produced by Michael Finnel. It was released by Warner Bros. and had outstanding success both critically and commercially. I am just finding out as I write this the movie Gremlins was the reason behind the PG-13 rating, due to the violent sequences which are dispersed throughout the film. The film’s score was done by none other than Jerry Goldsmith, and it has proven to be entirely monumental. He also wrote “Gizmo’s Song”!
Another thing that I have learned about this film is that Howie Mandel did the voice of Gizmo the mogwai (the lovable creature that “births” the gremlins in the first place). In my opinion, Howie did an amazing job on the voice acting and Gizmo’s voice has since been burned into my brain forever. He is an absolute movie legend!
Gremlins is a wonderful movie that blends horror and comedy perfectly and I would honestly suggest it to pretty much anyone. Due to the PG-13 rating and the “somewhat family friendly” vibe of the film, I suggest that it is a great film to help introduce younger viewers to horror…but again, I say that it could be enjoyed by anybody.
Gremlins has a sequel, “Gremlins: The New Batch”, which is also highly enjoyable. A third film is currently in production and I cannot wait to see if it holds up to the first two. These films were absolutely legendary! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Film Review: Creature (Trans World Entertainment, 1985) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Creature (1985)
Directed by William Malone Writing Credits
Written by William Malone and Alan Reed
Produced by Moshe Diamant (executive producer) and William G. Dunn Jr. (producer)
Starring Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal and Lyman Ward
Trans World Entertainment
While browsing TubiTV I stumbled upon the 1985 cult movie “Creature”, also known as “Titan Find” or “The Titan Find”. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but after watching the film, I only really have a few things to say.
First off, this movie is fucking cheesy. Maybe it is because it is so absolutely dated, but it features some of the worst acting and effects ever. If you want a movie that is full to the brim with astounding effects and movie magic wizardry, this is for sure not the movie you are looking for. Again, it came out in 1985 so we need to cut it some slack…but this is literally a “man in a rubber suit” type deal.
Secondly, at first glance I would have said this was a clear Aliens rip-off (the creature looks remarkably similar to a Xenomorph), but after doing some mild research I found out that there was work done on this film by Robert and Dennis Skotak, who actually went on to work on Aliens…so I guess that the similarities between the creatures are forgivable.
Creature was nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (I don’t see how) by the Academy of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Horror Films at the 12th Saturn Awards, but lost on both accounts to Gremlins. (Which honestly makes a lot of sense, because Gremlins is far superior of a film in my opinion).
Directed by William Malone, this film is supposedly a “cult classic”…but I’m not sure if I will be watching it again. I did enjoy viewing this, but in my opinion it is a one-watch-wonder and I can see why it was on Tubi as opposed to Netflix or some of the other providers. Do you want to get a laugh at poor effects and rubber aliens? Sure. Give this one a go. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…this is B- at best. –Devin Joseph Meaney

Full Length Review: Omen "The Curse" (Metal Blade) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Omen
Location: Los Angeles, California
Country: USA
Genre: Power metal
Full length: The Curse
Format: Vinyl, cassette
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: October 1986
I spent some time away from writing reviews, and honestly I needed the break. But this did not last long and I soon made my way back to the realms of the thrashing and the heavy. In a fit of nostalgia, I made my way to the album “The Curse” by Omen. According to Wikipedia, this is the third full-length album from the band, and it was originally released on Metal Blade.
This album was pretty monumental in my childhood. It was one of the first albums I owned on cassette, and I completely wore out the original tape from years of use. Most of the albums by Omen are pretty amazing, but this is the one that has stuck to my heart, and recently I have had it pretty much on repeat. It’s that damn good!
It also states on Wikipedia that this is the final studio album by Omen with the original lineup. I mean, I guess it isn’t uncommon for bands to go through a slew of different members, but I am glad I was indoctrinated to Omen with the original cast of characters. (J.D.Kimball, Kenny Powell, Steve Wittig, and Jody Henry).
I would try to pick a favorite track, but this is something that is really hard to do. All of the songs are pretty amazing and are all of the same heaviness and quality. With ten tracks, this album is standard length for an 80s thrash album. (Though the 1996 re-issue includes six bonus tracks from the Nightmares EP).
So, In conclusion, if you like that 80s rasp, heavy and intricate guitars, pounding drums, and a bass that just doesn’t quit…I suggest checking this album out. Fans of metal new and old are sure to dig what is offered on this release…or at the very least, I did. (And still do). –Devin Joseph Meaney

J.D. Kimball (R.I.P. 2003): Vocals
Kenny Powell: Guitars
Jody Henry: Bass
Steve Wittig: Drums

Track list:
1. The Curse
2. Kill on Sight
3. Holy Martyr
4. Eye of the Storm
5. S.R.B.
6. Teeth of the Hydra
7. At All Cost
8. Destiny
9. Bounty Hunter
10. The Larch

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Full Length Review: Angel Witch "Angel Witch" (Bronze Records) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Angel Witch
Location: London
Country: England
Genre: Heavy metal, NWOBHM
Full Length: Angel Witch
Format: Vinyl
Label: Bronze Records
Release date: December 1980
On my usual YouTube music escapades, I came upon “Angel Witch”, the self-titled album by the British heavy metal band of the same name “Angel Witch”. This is the first album from the band. I had vaguely heard of these guys, but never spent much time looking in to them. As it turns out, I really enjoy this album and I have a feeling it will grace my future playlists for a long time to come.
The album was released in 1980 through Bronze Records, and has had four re-releases since. The album over the years has gained mostly positive reception. Supposedly, this album has made Angel Witch one of the “key bands” in the new wave of British heavy metal.
Featuring the talent of Kevin Heybourne, Kevin Riddles, and Dave Hogg, I can imagine that fans of old-school metal all over the globe would highly enjoy sinking their teeth into this one. Apparently Angel Witch are already widely known, but as they are “mostly” new to me I plan to spend some time digging a bit deeper within their output and history.
The original release of the album featured ten tracks (and these are the ten that I have reviewed) but various re-releases and re-issues have various different bonus tracks, so I will make a point to check them out as well.
I guess when it comes down to it, I am really trying to push this band on you. Fans of Black Sabbath and acts such as Megadeth are sure to enjoy this one. I read in one negative review that the production was not the greatest, but personally, this type of production is exactly what I am looking for. Old-school and grainy, it manages to transport you to the atmosphere of a seedy pub or bar…and even though I haven’t touched alcohol in forever…that is always highly enjoyable, isn’t it? Listen to this album! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Kevin Heybourne: Vocals, guitars
Kevin "Skids" Riddles: Bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Dave Hogg: Drums, percussion

Track list:
1. Angel Witch
2. Atlantis
3. White Witch
4. Confused
5. Sorcerers
6. Gorgon
7. Sweet Danger
8. Free Man
9. Angel of Death
10. Devil's Tower

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Full Length Review: Leila Abdul-Rauf "Phantasiai" (Cyclic Law, Cloister Recordings) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Leila Abdul-Rauf
Location: Oakland, California
Country: USA
Genre: Ambient, neoclassical
Full Length: Phantasiai
Format: Digital album, CD, vinyl
Label: Cyclic Law (France), Cloister Recordings (USA)
Release date: July 16, 2021
Oakland, California, USA-based multi-instrumental composer Leila Abdul-Rauf is becoming known for basing concept albums on the kind of human experiences we all face in our lifetimes. These include times we when can’t seem to fall asleep at night and the inevitable moment when life itself expires. She presents the deep thought she gives each subject of her recordings as a bottomless abyss, one that is inescapable because it exists inside all our minds. Dark, unnerving, and beautiful, Abdul-Rauf’s albums compel us to look closer at the darkness in our own souls, the fear and wonder waiting to be experienced by every one of us.
Her music is somewhere between the ambient instrumentals of Burzum, the operatic work of Diamanda Galas and the earthy tones of Serpentine Arborvitae. But these similarities I perceived can’t completely describe the profound magnificence she reveals in herself and her musicianship, or in the depth of her imagination. Her latest recording “Phantasiai” is a waking nightmare from which there is no escape, based on a Greek word meaning imagination and the Greek verb “phainomai” meaning “I appear”. The connection between these refers to the psychological capacity to receive and interpret ideas and sensory input from without.
Sensation is needed for there to be phantasia, and phantasia is needed for there to be thought, as was generally stated by Greek philosophers. Our imagination processes the input presented to us. Abdul-Rauf puts across the idea that music and art emerge from the place in our minds between sense and thought, and in many cases, music and art can express what words cannot. This notion is where the appeal of her work lies and explains why “Phantasiai” is such a deeply profound experience.
With a bare minimum of instruments, Abdul-Rauf creates what she calls her coldest and most sinister work to date. She encourages her listeners to use their imagination and create their own narratives while listening. Her own narrative, presented in two suites of four movements each, is of a character seduced by an addictive, powerful phantasy that slowly consumes the body, mind and spirit to the point of complete destruction. From there the former self is vaporized, purged of pain, only to be reorganized physically and spiritually. The abyss this character falls into is as disorienting as it is inescapable, and reality is reduced to a question.
Along with this album’s atmosphere and production, Abdul-Rauf’s musicianship and vocals chill you to the bone, overpowering your senses and getting right into your head. I strongly recommend you give this and her past recordings a chance as they lead you to examine your perception and the stimulus you absorb every day. It takes you to a place of total darkness and eventually returns you to the physical world with more of an understanding of what makes you what you are. The journey is complex, intense and perturbing, but as you’re inexorably drawn into the bottomless chasm you still suspect you’re reaching a light at the tunnel’s end. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Distortions in Phantasy I: Lure
2. Distortions in Phantasy II: Consumption
3. Distortions in Phantasy III: Suspension
4. Distortions in Phanstasy IV: Disembodiment
5. The I Emerges I: Rebirth
6. The I Emerges II: In and Out of Being
7. The I Emerges III: Imago and Mirror
8. The I Emerges IV: Cell

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

EP Review: Weston Super Maim "180-Degree Murder" (Dark Trail Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Weston Super Maim
Country: Transatlantic
Genre: Extreme progressive tech metal
EP: 180-Degree Murder
Format: Digital, vinyl
Label: Dark Trail Records
Release date: July 16, 2021
Writing a two song EP about a man scapegoated with the world’s collective hate, negativity and inhumanity, and being inadvertently made the catalyst of global Armageddon when he returns it to those who heaped it on him, Weston Super Maim founder Tom Stevens would have to write music as heavy as possible. On “180-Degree Murder” he does so while making it fresh and inventive. If it was too much of a task to see it through to releasing the completed product, Seth Detrick was welcomed in to provide vocals channeling this bleak tale of vengeance and unforeseen destruction with sufficient intensity to equal the musicianship the lyrics are set to. “180-Degree Murder” is their debut EP following “The Neglected Works” a collection of unreleased songs recorded over more than a decade. They seemed aware this first impression had to be special; to fulfill this they spawned an EP that makes the likes of Crowbar, Godflesh and Acid Bath sound domesticated by comparison. Bringing in other elements, maybe not to soften the blow but to demonstrate the talent they can display alongside all the ire and wrath prevalent on the EP, they allow melody to grow organically from these two songs while furnishing them with off-beat time signatures in the vein of Meshuggah, Fear Factory and Gojira. Add emotional depth and introspection by the epic themes brought in and you have an EP that’s much more than mindless Neanderthal brutality if you care to look for it. Not that difficult to find if you’re open to the sense of lost or stolen humanity evident in the lyrics: “I have seen your nightmares, trotted through your empty homes, I have showered in your bile, slipping on your fat.” What’s impressive is how this sense builds as steadily as the ire and wrath hinted at before, until “180-Degree Murder” became bigger than Stevens and Detrick had expected at the outset. If you have the fortitude to experience this EP in its entirety you can hear it at Bandcamp and Spotify. –Dave Wolff

Tom Stevens: Guitar, bass, drums
Seth Detrick: Vocals

1. 180-Degree Murder
2. We Need to Talk About Heaven

Full Length Review: Interstitia "Hermes Slips The Trap" (Pax Aeternum Digital) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Interstitia
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Country: USA
Genre: Electronic, ambient, techno, downtempo
Full Length: Hermes Slips The Trap
Format: Digital album
Label: Pax Aeternum Digital
Release date: July 16, 2021
You know something I find pretty underrated is the need, the want, the passion for creativity!
Not many people want to be creative or should I say not many people want to push the boundaries and this is for obvious reasons they don’t want to look foolish, they don’t want their sales to dwindle, they don’t want a new sound that their current listeners may hate to the core, they don’t want to ruin the good thing going for them and probably most importantly they can’t be bothered switching up a change in lane because when the lane that you’re in is doing fine ‘don’t fix something that isn’t broken’ is the expression.
What we see here is a rare instance of pretty much someone going ‘screw it let’s go balls to the walls’ and that is the main quality I love about this album because unlike the other albums that I’ve covered this doesn’t have any vocals, it’s just a wonderfully mixed electronic fusion of all kinds of sounds.
Whether you are you talking about experimental, whether you’re talking about rave, whether you’re talking about hard bass, whether you’re talking about classic techno or whether you’re talking about house there’s elements of everything in here! But what makes it special is that each song represents its own different layout of the electronic world (so to speak).
Over the six tracks including the final track which is a 15 minute Magnum Opus we have such a variety of textures such an exploration of colours sound and vibrant textiles, sonic textiles that help represent the fabric of what a creative person or persons can do when given the opportunity to reinvent themselves!
Now to be fair this is the first album I’ve heard of them maybe in their past discography they do this kinda stuff all the time but to me this is colourful, this is vibrant, this is as I said a deep exploration into the world of electronic music!!
It may not seem like it, thanks to my reviews that I am a fan of electronic music but I really am (when it’s done right)!
To me this album sounds like a combination of early Deadmau5 mixed with Death Grips mixed with a little bit of Steve Aioki and even a little touch of classic early David Guetta!
You can even find earlier influences of synthpop in here as well such as your classic or you’re Yellow Magic Orchestra (straight from Japan).
This group uses fundamental sounds and combine them together to make a not so traditional mix of all the brightest sounds and colours of the world that is electronic and I really appreciate that!
It was a fun listen, each song represents its own sub style and altogether comes for a really great really forward thinking and really Boundary pushing album and I highly recommend that you all give it a try because although this has no vocals in more than makes up for it in production! –Corban Skipwith

Graham Scala: Sounds, art, mixing, and mastering

Track list:
1. Ekstasis
2. Monument Eternal
3. Rye Wolves
4. Axis Mundi
5. Marzeah
6. The Truly Angelic Must Instill Fear

Full Length Review: Strings Of Distorted Doom "Doom Trials" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Strings Of Distorted Doom
Location: New York
Country: USA
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Doom Trials
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Label: Independent
Release date: July 4, 2021
Strings Of Distorted Doom (S.O.D.D.) is a black metal band from New York, USA, the brainchild of Daniel Ryan who published Transylvanian Forest E-zine in the 2000s. Ryan released a handful of demos and EPs and appeared on some split releases in the early 2010s, then went on a hiatus that ended with an advance EP of “Doom Trials” this year.
This is not a band playing anything even remotely polished or progressive, but one that’s headed in the opposite direction as black metal bands refine their songwriting and build on the musicianship displayed by the likes of Cradle of Filth. You can liken them to Darkness Enshroud, Black Funeral, Vrolok, and Leviathan in terms of grittiness and haunting atmosphere, but S.O.D.D. can’t be lumped in with them as Ryan presents ideas that haven’t been attempted by other musicians.
When I reviewed their advance EP last month, on which there were three tracks, I compared it to a soundtrack to sanity dying. As I listen to the album I think it more apt to say it’s a soundtrack to sanity being slowly unraveled at the seams and scattered on the ground. “Doom Trials” not only appeals to love of black metal but attacks your subconscious, making you question reality and your place in the scheme of things, if you dare dive as deeply into horror and insanity as the band does.
The ten songs comprising “Doom Trials” seem to be chapters in a macabre tale inspired by The Shining, The Evil Dead, Hellraiser and The Blair Witch Project, calling impressions of creeping evil from the deepest parts of your mind. Those places that resonate with the darkest horrors most people don’t dare drag into the light. Things you’d rather keep buried for being too dark and negative to face in yourself. Ryan and his band keep enough control of their faculties to retrieve at least some of it, challenging your ability to cope with it. Ironically, this is partly where love of horror comes from. But while you usually know you’re safe watching a movie, the abrasive production and unnerving atmosphere of “Doom Trials” leads you to question how safe you really are.
Another album I’m reminded of was released by the Japanese black/avant garde metal band Sigh in 1997 “Hail Horror Hail.” This album is one of the most original and inventive released by a metal band in the late 90s, and demonstrated the black metal genre’s potential for growth. Described as a “celluloid phantasmagoria”, it brought visual images into the music so you could imagine a movie in your head while listening. S.O.D.D. takes similar license with “Doom Trials”; the visuals of entering an abandoned cabin in the midst of unspoken evil is apparent from the start. These effects are vital to the album as they breathe macabre life into it as it becomes darker and more bizarre with each song.
“Doom Trials” is available in digital, compact disc and vinyl format, and other merchandise is available at the link provided above. -Dave Wolff

Dan: Vocals, lyrics, mastering, music composing
Chad: Backing vocals, bass, guitars, drum tracks

Track lst:
1. Cabin In The Woods
2. Buried In Blood
3. Dark Souls
4. The Attic
5. My Last Rites
6. Alone In The Dark
7. Der Gefallene Engel
8. Witch Craft
9. Dead Lights
10. The Cellar

Friday, July 16, 2021

Full Length Review: Dispyt "Total Death – Total Live" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Dispyt
Country: Finland
Genre: Black/death/crust metal
Format: Digital album
Release date: June 25, 2021
What’s going on everyone, I’m back!
This time with yet ANOTHER Bandcamp exclusive and this time (and for the first time I’m pretty sure) we will be reviewing a live album!
Total Death-Total Live by DISPYT.
So this album was released on the 25th of June 2021 and the first thing I noticed was how short the track list was. The whole live set was only just over 16 minutes in total and when you set yourself a project this short you can go only one of two ways.
1. You can assemble a short but sweet sonic narrative where you use that whole length to build for listener this grand ‘Magnum Opus’ so to speak incorporating a beginning, middle and end within the time you have. Essentially doing what Pink Floyd did with the album ‘Animals’ but obviously in a shorter time frame.
2. Go all out ballistic and leave nothing on the table, rain down the insanity, fire and brimstone till there’s nothing left to utilize! So in essence use the band ‘Nails’ approach short but brutal till the last second!
With this live album they definitely chose the latter. Every track is filled the brim with intensive energy, passion and determination the likes you don’t hear too often (especially in a live album) what becomes clear while listening to the tracks is that they pit their heart and soul into every single second and second I have to say this is one of more impressive live recordings I’ve heard, period!
They have a strong Death/Black metal fusion with those maniac drum patterns and shredded guitar riffs, the kind that you can’t help but to headbang to! The vocals to me are more reminiscent of Black Metal with those intense screeching and growls setting the gloomy and dark stage presence that hold for the entirety of the performance.
One thing that did interest me is that almost every song starts the same, with the opening to every track being the guitar reverb for a few seconds before the song officially begins, this is neither a good or bad thing just something that caught my attention in the initial listening.
Overall, this is an interesting, heavy and no nonsense live recording. Normally when you listen to a live album you’ll hear the band or artist talk with the crowd or do a lot of hype building things like get the crowd to clap or repeat certain phrases etc. but these guys are straight to the point, get in, rock the house down and get out which I feel will either be a big turn on or turn off depending on the listener.
If you’re into the heavier aspect of metal then this is definitely one to look out for! And make sure to SUPPORT.SUBSCRIBE AND STREAM these guys and help them go viral! –Corban Skipwith

Mathias Lillmåns: Bass, vocals
Juuso Englund: Guitars, vocals
Owe Inborr: Drums, vocals

Track list:
1. Skenhelighetens Monotoni
2. I Skuggan av Självförakt
3. Jag och Demonen
4. Total Alkoholist
5. Martyren Själv
6. Va Fan Vill Du
7. Mannen I Slips
8. Men Ändå Ska Man Dit
9. Sluta Döma

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Full Length Review: Zwaremachine "Conquest 3000" (Phage Tapes) by Dave Wolff

Band: Zwaremachine
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Country: USA
Genre: Industrial, EBM
Full Length: Conquest 3000
Format: CD, digital
Label: Phage Tapes
Release date: July 17, 2021
Zwaremachine has made several appearances in Asphyxium since I reviewed “Be A Light” in 2018, though they’ve been active for about a decade. From the wide range of descriptions reviewers have given them, they started out writing music that can’t comfortably be grouped into categories, be it ebm, industrial, darkwave or experimental. I have no desire for clichés or hack writing, but they’re still constructing a dark castle on an isolated ocean island as they continue releasing material under the radar. I still consider “minimal hypnotic industrial body music” the most interesting description of their music. “Conquest 3000” shows Zwaremachine further in that direction, taking in everything from early 80s new wave to industrial metal like Raism, Diabolos Rising and Mysticum. Most appreciated is their ear for expanding their “future sonic weaponry” without losing their cataclysmically gloomy edge. I could immediately perceive differences between their older material and songs like “International Hero” which resonated like a funk and roll Nine Inch Nails, with driving percussion and Escape From New York-reminiscent keyboards, “Parasol” with a cyber-goth theme, distorted keyboards, Duran Duran style slap bass and Devo style synthetic science fiction kitsch, and “Ripping at the Fabric” which reminded me of a more keyboard-heavy Rammstein with low-pitched, robotically insinuating vocals. “Conquest 3000” was initially intended to be a concept album set in the distant future in which the earth is ecologically dying as a result of corporate greed and corruption and the last humans are struggling to survive with depleted resources. Four songs meant for inclusion didn’t make it, so in their place are remixes/remasters from the band’s EP “Ripping At The Fabric”. If it had continued as a concept album, I imagine part of the story could have been the last humans struck with saving earth by replacing everything organic with computerized parts, but this eventually leads to the downfall of humanity. The title track “Conquest 3000” was featured in an advance EP of sorts released last December featuring four remixes. –Dave Wolff

Mach Fox: Vocals, synthesizer
Dbot: Bass guitar, vocals
Dein Offizier: Drums

Track list:
1. Intentional Hero
2. Toymaker
3. What We Are
4. Parasol
5. Ripping At The Fabric
6. Zero Containment
7. New Design
8. Conquest 3000
9. Resist
10. Until Tomorrow

Review of "Be A Light (Special Edition)" by Gene Olivarri
Review of Smile That Killed A Country by Dave Wolff
Review of Remain Unseen by James K. Blaylock
Review of Be A Light by Dave Wolff

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Poem: "Poem Inspired by Decluttering" by Alison Stone

Poem Inspired by Decluttering
by Alison Stone

Marie Kondo says our things should spark joy.
Make hay in the sunlight. In the dark, joy.
As the drowning cried out, did Noah and
his wife feel guilt or, safe on the ark, joy?
Poe’s raven’s stuck repeating, Nevermore.
The warbler trills longing; the skylark, joy.
Love’s first flush. We kiss in bedrooms, on boats,
near marble generals in the park. Joy,
ours and the world’s, spilling everywhere. Trees
weighed down with blossoms. Cats purr, dogs bark joy.
The felled elephant’s body triggers grief.
The lighting’s zag, fear. The rainbow’s arc, joy.
We overspend and fight about coffee
cup designs. Christmas used to mean, Hark! Joy.
The child’s rambunctious delight. The teen’s
hormone-driven pleasure. The monk’s stark joy.
Worry leaves dark circles. Despair, grey hair
and awkward smiles. Why no mark from joy?
Bottomless CEO’s grab and grab. Stock,
land, water. Soon they’ll try to trademark joy.
Once-abused women take their scarred bodies,
pack away memories. Embark on joy.
Aren’t you bored, Alison, with black clothes and
practiced angst? Why not try, for a lark, joy?

Poem: "Models" by Jeremy Void

By Jeremy Void

She bought him whiskey
when he was 17
if he promised to drink it
with her. She was sad and skinny

kinda pretty too
Dressed like a French model.
She was classy.
He was not. He was skinny too but

dirty like a raccoon.
He foraged in dumpsters and
clung to women with money
even though his background

wasn’t of the poor.
He could rip his clothing and
his parents would buy him
more but still he chose

to collect dirty clothing
that he found in dumpsters.
At 17 he drank a lot
At 21 she was lonely

Once she kissed him
That’s for another time
but he never really knew her

as much as he knew his own.

Poem: "Nirvana" by Jeremy Void

by Jeremy Void

I woke up and they were gone.
I was crashing and my veins were on fire.
I was in a strange room and the lights were so bright
my eyes turned inside out.
I begged to turn back time, just to feel that rush again.
I remembered the feeling
like a distant memory.
So long ago it was that she removed the needle
and I sunk back into the couch.
I remembered the threads of blood
mixing with the drug
the tension released when she undid the tourniquet
and I could feel the floor drop as she pushed
as she pushed the cocaine into the hole in my arm.
I never thought I would die.
Snorting cocaine was great.
Smoking crack was better.
Shooting it, now that takes the cake.
She and Andrew gave that guy a ride to get more.
She blew him the night before in exchange for some more.
She wasn’t a whore, for I would have done the same, just to get more.

Poem: "Art" by Alison Stone

by Alison Stone

Critics look for cycles, try to track art.
Arrangement of apples and pears. Snack? Art?
Cobain rhymed libido with mosquito.
The Fool leaps carrying a sack of art.
Fear behind every bullet or fist.
Bullies target the smart, fascists attack art.
My first-choice school – the University
of Illusion and Dreams. My fallback – art.
Some cultures vanish into history.
Invaders burn libraries, ransack art.
Blue jays squabble and screech at the feeder.
The Dolls sing about the poison black art
of the pimps. Remember when drag queens were
shocking? We’d blare “Jet Boy,” yak about art.
Diapers and mashed banana instead of
paint. The new mother wilts from lack of art.
Would you waitress? Face rejection over
and over? Live in a shack for art?
Among the airplanes’ taillights, one star, long-
dead. Among flea market bric-a-brac, art.
Farm-fresh, he marvels at the disparate
hungers of New York – Wall Street greed, crack, art.
Where are you, Alison? Sick of living
in the “real world,” I escaped back to art.

Poem: "Guided" by Sky Claudette Soto

by Sky Claudette Soto

Guided by whispers I listen to the vast universe...for I am a part of you ,and you are a part of me within every breath I take and within every gracious,fluctuating heart...pumps a beat that pumps ever ...ever so throughly...through and throughout, within our souls ,soul,in a pattern of waves and motions...rising and falling
Listening to sweet whispers of this great vast universe...manifesting our greatest desires,simply guided by whispers..Beneath a cavernous waterfall sweeping through and throughout mine eyes... mine soulful eyes looking down upon a long meadow swamp I manifest my most greatest and my most deepest visions in a lucid state of mind,seeing what is and what was now than and always,above and beneath, below and beyond ,in an inner and outer state of being.

First American Publishing Rights Only!
Copyright and written by Sky Claudette Soto 2021

Poem: "Heavens Waters" by Sky Claudette Soto

Heavens Waters
by Sky Claudette Soto

I am engulfed in a luscious
land filled with water as blue as the skies above... it
Gently massages my soul's flesh as
I climb inset ... I the top of a mountainous steeple,resembling apache's tear,.....
it pours like tears and rain..just saturating every stone I see in it's vessel ...
it's a rushing of water godlike...goddesslike coming back unto stillness as the blackest of water snakes sweeps by just touching my heart's heart swept up and pushed over from a body of water from the lakes dam...a sweeten night falls and thy warm sultry waters darken yet I move..I moveth forward to heavens waters. .heavens..heavenly waters ..heaven on earthen earth ...

First American Publishing Rights Only:
Copyright and written by Sky Claudette Soto 2021

Poem: "Meteoric Rise" by James Kenneth Blaylock

Meteoric Rise
James Kenneth Blaylock, 8-11-20

ok, go, check yourself because there’s
a fevering pitch just beneath the skin

maybe it’s something so much bigger
but, then again, it could be nothing...

people have seemingly died from
far less - have them looking your

glistening body over, before you fall
into the meteoric rise of a black hole

no matter your age or health the heart
could still break due to abandonment

Poem: "Wishing for Shine" by James Kenneth Blaylock

Wishing for Shine
James Kenneth Blaylock, 2-14-21

the sun didn’t want to rise today
and it tore us all asunder, wonder

what tomorrow will bring yet we’re
much too depressed to sing, binging

upon Netflix and recycled water it’s
a wonders that winter hasn’t froze ‘

our accounts into solid icebergs
but here we are wishing for shine

Poem: "The Monk" by M Teresa Clayton

The Monk
by M Teresa Clayton

Ever wonder if this is real, or is that place inside of us real? How about, life, death, dreams, awakenings?

Hello again, to no one there,
Shadows of those who really care.
I can feel you inside of me,
Waiting to listen so patiently.
The vision haunts behind my eyes,
Slowly appears, then quickly dies,
Like forgotten lies.
Whispers spoken to no one there.

I am lucid in all my dreams,
Astral projection laser beams,
Looking for something I will not find,
It remains back there, inside my mind.
I know not why, and I know not when
The memories haunt me once again,
Tell me where you’ve been.
I looked for you inside those dreams.

Then at once, something appeared,
Nothing welcomed; nothing feared,
Someone speaking, a hollow sound,
Someone searching, nothing found.
The only truth I comprehend
Promises break, truths can bend,
Broken hearts never mend.
Something stirred then disappeared.

I screamed out, one single word,
“You won’t listen. Am I not heard?
I can save you from what you’ve become,
Return those feelings where you are numb."
The message was lost, already dead,
No one understands what I have said.
Too much paralyzing dread,
Of what may come afterward.

People followed people, just like sheep,
I saw it all inside my sleep.
I tried to change the path they’d taken
But was pulled away as I awakened,
Aware that no one will ever know,
They will not ask which way to go,
Or see the visions that would show
They are sinking in the deep.

“Will we live before we die?”
The question asked, no repl
y. “Will people fall into despair,
Awakening to no one there?”
Nothing is simply nothing shared.
Believing no one ever cared,
No one dared...
Whisper the question, “why?”

Poem: "Echoes in the Mist" by M Teresa Clayton

Echoes in the Mist
by M Teresa Clayton

One can hear, if he listens very well,
The echoes in the mist and stories they tell.
Lie down upon the moss, soft and sweet,
Say nothing, just listen as they begin to speak.
The fog slowly covers the landscape where
The sights and surroundings look eerily bare.
Your mind no longer knows the distance or the way,
You have no other choice, listen to what they say.
“You are not lost, you are simply found,
Look out into the mist that moves o’er the ground -
It knows the way to where it is going
Without ever asking, just with the ’knowing’.
Remember the lady who loves you dear,
She has cleaved you a path, so do not fear.
There are no obstacles to overcome, so receive.
The key is the ‘knowing’ and to simply believe.
Near the hearth, she keeps a fire for you.
She knows you are coming, you are long overdue.”
“Now the fog is lifting, can you see the tall trees?
Can you hear the birds and feel the soft breeze?
Look out at the distance, there is where you belong!
In the arms of her love, so pure, true and strong.
Yes, you have been found worthy of this gift of love,
It surrounds you here, with blessings from above.
We will walk with you until you and she are united,
Then your topsy-turvy world will at once be uprighted.
Oh how we will rejoice when you no longer need to roam -
The celebration awaits you, sir, at the gates of your home.”

Poem: "Meaningless Exsistance" by Skitz J. Fitch

Meaningless Exsistance
Skitz J. Fitch

Noise in my head noise in my head these thoughts they haunt my sleep they tell me that I am better off dead , make the noise stop make it drop the tones they creek and moan they scratch at the inside of my head clawing fighting tearing biting , please give me rest please take this weight off my mind take me to the dark leave me behind . this wall my resting place leave me be I am to tired to go on no motivation to eat no rest from this noise to sleep nothing to comfort or hold me , cold so cold my body turned to a husk my breathe turned to ash as my skin dissolves into dust I would slit my wrist if I believed I could bleed anything to bring an end to this pain anything to cease being me , please quite this noise this terrible noise time for the Devil to put away his toys machinations of a new hell close my eye's one last time tonight here I come .

Poem: "Raging Demon" by Jerry Langdon

Raging Demon
©Jerry Langdon 2020

People look at me from the side.
Keeping distance; afraid of my hyde.
Liquor is the potion that sets him free,
While sober anger wastes me.
A bit of booze and shazam
The crimson flood breaks the dam.
Darkness commands my dread skies.
Hellfire engulfs my unwilling eyes.
All its pain at his disposal
Releasing it all upon your soul.
I fight to make him sleep
Behind cold eyes, I weep.

Poem: "Building A Ship In A Bottle From Unsent Letters" by Jerry Langdon

Building A Ship In A Bottle From Unsent Letters
©Jerry Langdon 2021

They say a message depends on the point of view.
From my perspective it's pointless without you.
Between drinking whiskey and writing
I'm unsure which is more intoxicating.
I have been so lost in spilling my heart to you
That letters piled, unsent and long overdue;
So overdue they missed your burial.
A day that has since been a daily trial;
One which a bottle or two had to believe
In a sad sad attempt to relieve.
Instead I just relive and write another
Long overdue and saddened love letter.
I close my eyes to the presence of tears.
I sink in sorrow; drown in the years.
I crack another bottle and fill another page,
'Cause love letters get better the more they age.
I crawl in the bottle of whiskey
And drown in its feral sea.
I build a raft from unsent letters to you
But there is no land in view.
So I begin to build a ship
That will surely endure the trip

Poem: "After Only So Much" by Alan Lisanti

After Only So Much
by Alan Lisanti


I wasn't ready for
the unanticipated consequences
that riddled my existence
since that one dawn
where clarity shone so bright
it was simply undeniable

That to be subjected to such torment
would undoubtedly devolve
into me as a shadow of myself
Less than a shadow even

Like a ghost with no reflection
The frantic search for what
slowly but surely became invisible,
both to her and the rest of this world,
and my own perception
was all that was left after the fall

Dissolved in every rubix cubed conundrum
Scattered across spaces so vast
All without ever stepping back into the sunlight
that still illuminated every facet of life
beyond that prison

And like a collector,
I traveled and scoured the edges of this planet
Overturned every rock
Investigated all the unknown crevices
With eyes that became spotlights
So as to be like a beaming light
To where nothing hidden could stay that way

Desperate measures were fueled by desire
And that desire, for redemption,
was the only thing stronger
than my will to take
such tactical and concentrated actions
Along the way, with wisdom gained,
some were placed back
in their proper places
Although dulled by the
erosion of experiences

And some were new
Which in the impermissible exchange
Cut even deeper than ever fathomable
But I wore it all
with a distorted sense of pride
because that is what survival
tends to do to you

And though the seconds turn to minutes
The minutes turn to days
The days turn to months
And the months turn to years
The scars still bleed sometimes
Like fresh cuts by the unforgiving
edge of those blades
that maim and mend you
into something mildly recognizable


And so on the other side of that coin
Again, I was ill-prepared for what churned
like it dressed itself in a
self-stitched get-up called 'Presumable'
As if anticipation earned its stripes uninvitedly
To always lower itself to some
self-imposed standard in the negative

And if that is the echo of fear
At the helm of this charade
That commands every action and reaction
Motivated by self-preservation
To be cautious and hesitant
I could ask for nothing more
But to be reckless again
Like I used to be
Only now armed with the tools
to make better use of it

Suppose, just for the moment that
One must master
the art of self-destruction
to truly comprehend
the benefit of healthy mindfulness

Yes, on the other side
Danger is not a threat
But rather a prerequisite
The only sure indicator
That what I'm feeling
Is worth the torture of being vulnerable

And I would gladly endure
Call the guards off
And step beyond this illusionary safety
Built for assurance purposes
But only if it was right
Only if it was

Poem: "After Twilight" by Renascentia Bella Morte

After Twilight
by Renascentia Bella Morte

Into the dark I went
Never knowing you would meet me there.
Two familiar souls colliding in the midst of night.
No words needed,
Everything felt energetically right.
In this moment it was all known.
A familiarity, a bond between them both.
No words were needed.
Yet with each one spoken.
A calmness, a sweet surrender,
For the first time not wanting to run.
Their two separate souls,
Started intertwining as one.
And so there in the darkness,
Time stood frozen.
They both knew in their hearts they had been awoken.
Awoken to something beautiful in each other, in the darkness a light.
They both remember this at every twilight.

Poem: "Beauty in Darkness" by Renascentia Bella Morte

Beauty in Darkness
by Renascentia Bella Morte

In the darkness of night
Soaking in the moonlight
Wearing it like lingerie
Drenched in it like
A flower blooming from its glowing rays.
She speaks to the stars
Her intentions,
Her desires
In that very last moment
From out of her lips
She whispers your name
As she begins to feel her body lit on fire

There is always beauty to be seen
Sometimes it is right in front of us
We only need a little reminding
It can be anything and mean everything
I wrote this during the full moon.

Poem: "Horga" by Natasa Nikolic

by Natasa Nikolic

Reaching for the violin case,
the fiddler and the bow were bathing in the sunlight
Just as all the people ran,
towards the hill, away from god
Over the hills and meadows, dancing,
heading for the Horga ridge
Losing minds and all too weary
Their mayhem was without end

Poem: "Neck"" by Natasa Nikolic

by Natasa Nikolic

The phoenix flies
to the meadows, far,
may the sun rise high
in his precious mind,
with flaming wings,
he salutes me now and
creating a warm summer breeze.
Rings of people dancing free,
like an ode to life with beaming smiles.
Rings of people dancing now,
celebrating a life with the tide.

Poem: "Doors Opened...Singer Sang!" by Rich Orth

Doors Opened...Singer Sang!
©Rich Orth

Longing to live life fast
Sometimes life throws a curve
Not always bulletproof
Oftimes the car won't swerve

Nine lives vanish in a moment
One, two, three, ten
Here today...gone tomorrow
As truth descends

Into darkest days
Yet brightest vision
Through eyes of youth
Through truthful decision

Through a child's eye
This child became an adult
Woke from nightmares plagued
To mysteries so vague

To the beat of a different drum
This singer sang...
song he wanted to hear
New life began...
as eyes opened to what is dear...

Dedicated to Dan O'Brien, lifelong friend and Brother

Poem: "Exhaling!" by Rich Orth

©Rich Orth

Peculiarity spoke words
Defined by irregularities
In her cadence
What a fool such as I
Drifted upon this plane
Sifted simple disdain...
She... once my love
Kissed me once
Pissed away each chance...
How I loved her... still
Still her corpse 'neath my feet..
It remains... she remains...
I abstain.. on most days
quick to define.. each play
Lustify one's dreams
How it seems
With half a kiss
My world swirls again...
And again and again
Banded... candid... in sorrows
In horrors kissed by truest hell
Expelled... how worthwhile
For as her virlal vial
words...absurd, yet truth
This truth bursts forth
Awakened truest pain ..
Yet.. as now she tis gone
I refrain from wasting each breath
Exhaling her name

Poem: "This Sacred Place" by Steven Michael Pape

This Sacred Place
by Steven Michael Pape

This sacred place,
That i briefly visit
In certain seasons.
As inner voices, beckon,
And guide me towards.
A place where no one asks,
What i am doing?
Why i am here?.
A place where one sits,
On freshly cut grass
Where incense smoke,
Lazily mixes with summer breeze.
My thoughts transgressive,
A sacred place,
Where i touch the stone surface
And trace each letter, inscribed,
With my hand,
Where warm lips kiss cold,
And flowers are arranged,
In impressive formations.
And the ancient angels
With watchful eyes
And weathered bodies,
Observe my exit.

Poem: "Towards The Light" by Steven Michael Pape

Towards The Light
by Steven Michael Pape

We head towards the light,
On a rattling train
Craning our necks,
Our heads out the windows
Like children on a day trip,
Curious tourists, a discovery,
Holding hands like young lovers,
Through tunnels
Awash with graffiti,
That reminds us of brighter days.
Below us tainted tracks,
The lost souls remembered,
By flowers, destroyed, discarded,
In memory of those who searched,
But just couldn't find.
Behind us is the past,
Left like discarded litter
Ahead is the future, unravelling,
The light comes into our view,
Like the new sun rising,
A startling light burning,
Our tear ducts, opening,
Happiness, descending,
We let them travel,
Into our smiling mouths.

©® Steven Michael Pape 2021

Poem: "The Briar Patch" by Coralie Rowe

The Briar Patch
by Coralie Rowe

A scritchity, scratchity noise ensued
Getting faster and faster under blackened hue
Blanketed silence broken by an awful scritch scratch
A nightmarish echo floating from o'er the briar patch

A shishking, shushking repetitive sound
Like fleas being scratched from the back of a hound
Over and over and on it went
Driving me round, till I twas almost bent

I followed the noise and found the sound
Twas a funny looking hill but kinda a mound
What looked like hair, stuck out in little patches
And wiry little hands caused the sound of the scratches

I couldn't believe what it was that I saw
And I do admit I kinda dropped my jaw
I stood there with my eyes and mouth wide
Just stood there stock still, stopped in mid stride

I finally found my senses and as such came to
Waking from a nonsensical notion… I musta had a few
I blinked real hard and rubbed my eyes raw
But there it still was… what I swear I never saw
How could a hill have tiny hands scratching hair
And how could I be the only one standing there
No one would believe me and what it was that I saw
No one else was there to drop their jaw

I stepped a bit closer just a wee tiny bit
To see if I could see what in hell twas it
The tiny little hands still scritched and scratched
So I approached very cautiously to the closest hair patch

And as I saw it … it saw me
A twisted evil thing that looked like a gnarly tree
With razor sharp teeth and hard black eyes
It looked at me with an attitude of despise

It still kept scratching at the random hair patch
And as I watched it scratch I never noticed the grass thatch
The grassy thatch behind me, it did start to move
But I was to mesmerised by the scratching's groove

The shishking and shushking had rendered me numb
This was proven when something just bit off my thumb
I barely noticed the teeth gnawing on me
As I kept watching the evil thing scratching furiously

They gnawed on my thumb and my foot as well
They nibbled me all over these creatures from hell
They nibbled and gnawed and chewed away
And I swear I heard one say I'd be great with a chardonnay

I was eaten alive as I just stood there
Eaten alive and all I could so was stare
Eaten down to my very marrow and bone
Tis a very good reason why I should have stayed at home

So now I am but just another little hair patch
On the hillish mound getting scritch scratched
The only thing left not eaten, my hair
Now getting scratched from here to there

This is my warning I'll give to you now
If you ever hear a scritch scratching don't wonder how
Leave it be... just let it scratch away
Or you may not live to see another day

Poem: "Silence Absolute" by Coralie Rowe

Silence Absolute
by Coralie Rowe

Falling into this realm of dreams
Nothing ever was as it seems
Fracturing figments swirling as one
Nightmarish apparitions that slowly become

Marbling mists of twisted shades
Appear so briefly and then they fade
Dancing in between black monstrosities grow
Moving in silence through the fog they flow

These eerie delusions they taunt my eyes
Creatures of wrath, death and despise
Spiralling back and forth enclosing around me
Seeking to consume me into my insanity

Manifestations of ash swirl in silence absolute
A raging seething mass that incessantly convolutes
An illusionary storm of undeniable hatred
My impending doom which could not be sated

They took me to pieces, fragmented my parts
Dislocated my being and devoured my heart
Absorbed into my dreams darkest deviations
Swallowed whole by my own mind's creations

Poem: "- Lesser Of Two Evils -" by Daniel Ryan

- Lesser Of Two Evils -
by Daniel Ryan

The Mind
Plays Cruel Tricks
On Me
Everyday Disconnected
Isolated Feelings
Deathness Facing
Self Awareness
My Mind
Has Made
Its Mind

Lesser Of
Two Evils
Closer In Days
Deadly Sin
Lesser Of
Two Evils
Age of Venomous

The Mind Plays
Cruel Tricks
On Us
Take The Risk
Be Washed Away
The Relentless
The Endless
Seas of Ideas

Lesser Of
Two Evils
Giving Answers
My Questions
Lesser Of
Two Evils
Let Us
Wash Away

Event Horizon
Timeless Space
Endless Eons
Empty Space

Lesser Of
Two Evils
Becoming Mans
Self Awareness

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

Poem: "- Healthy & Sick -" by Daniel Ryan

- Healthy & Sick -
by Daniel Ryan

I Wish I Could Clean
These Streets Up
You Are Only As
Healthy As You Feel
Why Have I
Been Able To
Call You Once
And Never Get
Your Calls Back?
You Are All
The Same
Cold And Distant
(I Still Think I am Sick)
Do You Think
I am Sick?
You Don't
Have To
Answer Me...
Look At
The Woman
In The Window

You're Driving Past
The Place
You Know
Where Your
Love Is
You Think
I Don't Know
Where You Are
You Must Think I am Really

I am God's
Lonely Man
A Lone Man
In A Long
Continuous Change
And Now
A Change

.44 Magnum
In My Pocket
Do You Know
What It Could
Do To A...

6pm to 6am
Every Night
Every Day
I Have a Healthy Conscience
Real Clean

Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Interview with Kris Farrant of Snake Witch by Dave Wolff

Kris, Skott, Dan

Interview with Kris Farrant of Snake Witch by Dave Wolff

Snake Witch’s official site says you draw from a diverse range of inspiration to create something unique in metal. What sources do you draw from, how much input do the band members have and how does it make you stand out from other bands in your area?
The band as a whole listens to a varied range of metal genres. With bands such as Iron Maiden, Exodus, Kreator, Bathory, Obituary, Bolt Thrower, Sepultura, Runemagick, Amon Amarth, Enslaved, Venom, Motorhead, Heilung, Dzivia, and Fear Factory frequenting our playlists.
We also draw inspiration from traditional pagan music and music from South America with band members having connections to Brazil, Colombia, Norway, and Ireland.
When it comes to songwriting, every member has input into the creative process. As we haven’t set genre or time limitations it's quite easy to explore ideas and concepts.
In some cases it’s quite a structured approach, someone may present to the band a partial or near-complete song concept that we then collectively flesh out. In other cases, it’s very organic, someone will play a riff or a groove and we all pile in. It’s then a mad scramble to remember what we just play and quickly record something to help jog our memories.
What we feel makes us stand out from other bands in our area is the diversity in our music as well as a strong sense of camaraderie within the band. We were friends long before we were bandmates and that makes it quite easy to work together. For us, Snake Witch is not just the music, we are very much a brotherhood, and we view each other as equals and members of the Snake Witch family.

What is the name Snake Witch meant to mean and how does it fit your music?
We could say something about the snake being representative of rebirth, transformation, and healing; and the witch being representative of our ancestral connections, but this would not be entirely true. When coming up with a name for the band we set out some parameters: it had to be original, easy to remember, easily identifiable, appeal to a broad range of people including people outside of Metal, and lend itself to a strong brand image. We looked at bands like Iron Maiden, Immortal, and Amon Amarth and tried to decipher some of the tricks and techniques that used to create a band identity.

Most of the bands you mentioned as inspirational to Snake Witch are from the old school of thrash/death/black metal. With all the growth and expansion underground metal has undergone since then, how much value do you still perceive in the old school?
I think there is still a lot of value in the old school. After all it did provide the stepping stones for newer bands. With all of the issues going on in the world at the moment, people are wanting to reminisce of the simpler times, of their carefree years, and are going back to the music of that time. Which is probably why we are seeing a lot of cover bands and tribute shows doing the rounds, along with many long-retired bands hitting the road once more. For us, we are a product of the 80s and 90s and that provides the main drive behind what we play. We may be a new band but we are not young and our influences reflect that.

Does the retro-thrash of the 1990s and the second wave of thrash metal from the 2000s to the present show how timely old school thrash is today?
Many of the more prominent thrash bands wrote material that remains contemporarily relevant, a hallmark of a great band no matter the genre. Whether it is due to social awareness or the deeply personal issues addressed, much of it still holds up to the test of time.

What lyrics written by thrash bands can resonate with listeners years later, and why do you think they still speak to people?
There are so many thrash songs whose lyrics still resonate with our current social and political climate. For example, Exodus: Corruption, Slayer: Expendable Youth, Overkill: Hello From The Gutter, Sacred Reich: pretty much their entire catalog. These pieces still speak to many due to their immense relatability, alas, not many advancements have been innovated regarding how most folks live day today. The rich still step on the backs of the poor, corruption is still rife and youth seem ever more disenfranchised and disconnected to the preceding generations.

Combining metal with traditional music from Brazil and Colombia and traditional music from Norway and Ireland sounds like something that has rarely if ever been done. Is there any way you liken traditional music from those countries? And how do you see them fitting with old school thrash etc?
The members of the band have family connections to those countries and exposure to the sights and sounds from those regions. While our preference is metal, as musicians we like to listen to music where we can appreciate the skill and musicianship. A good song, regardless of genre, will stir something in your heart and make you listen. As for fitting these elements in with old school thrash, metal is flexible and ever evolving, it is perhaps the most free of genres. You can try something and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, well at least you gave it a go.

When incorporating these musical styles into your formula, do you end up sounding similar to bands like Sepultura and Borknagar or does your style sound like something else entirely?
Bands like Sepultura and Borknagar set out to evoke a particular emotion or feeling. Borknagar wanted to create a sense of something epic. Sepultura shifted from an angry rebellion to something more tribal with the transition from Chaos AD to Roots. With us, we are not setting out to sound like anyone in particular and we are still finding our sound. Our approach to incorporating different elements is, for the most part, more subtle, with hints of different influences popping in and out of songs. There might be more of a Latin feel to a drum line or a touch of Sepultura, for example, in a guitar riff.

Extreme metal has had many opportunities to grow for many years. How much more room for experimentation is there in the 2020’s?
Extreme music shall always be open to experimentation. The beauty of creativity is that limits are only placed by the artists themselves. It may also depend upon the direction the artist wishes to express their music in, but ultimately a broad scope will reach many more ears. As long as it remains true to the chosen path and the overall integrity of wherever one may walk, why not try to evolve musically?

How different and unique is Snakewitch’s sound for the way you write traditional music into your songs? Do any instrumentalists inspire the band?
We hope that our sound is unique enough to pique interest without plagiarising from those who shaped and influenced us. It is very difficult to actively seek a truly unique sound these days, but what we write we feel is a genuinely organic process. As for the more traditional aspect, we draw from a diverse cross-section, mostly from pre-Christian era paganism, and by listening to traditional music we are looking for inspiration and elements, such as the progressions and arrangements, that we can incorporate into our music. We are also starting to explore a multi-lingual approach to some tracks.

Does your closeness as friends help you work together more easily when writing and arranging?
The brotherhood and friendship certainly ease the creative process as does the lack of egos. If one of us writes something we think works, we seem to all enthusiastically jump on board to flesh out the concept. If it doesn’t work, we may put it aside for something else. Being somewhat seasoned in the creative process affords us all the ability to guide and nurture each other’s strengths whilst simultaneously bolstering any challenges.

Does lack of ego account for your longevity as a band and your ability to create something that stands out from other bands?
The lack of competing ego makes it easy to work together. Everyone is open and approachable and we hope that will outcome across in our interactions with other bands and the punters in the clubs. Having only recently formed, only time will tell if it will aid us in our longevity.

Describe the writing and recording of Snake Witch’s debut album, and how you left it open to progress further on future recordings.
We are still in the process of finalizing our material. Most of the songs were originally written as instrumentals with the intention of adding vocals later without vocals and re-working where required. This was done as the lineup was filled in and the last member added was our singer. We are now re-working the songs to include vocals and trying out different arrangements. Our intention is to record as soon as possible and prepare a few demos along the way.

How long has it taken to compose the songs for your debut? Where is the band developing those songs; do you intend to record them in the same location and/or with the same method?
The bulk of our songs were written during the first half of year at our bass player’s house. Each song took a few weeks to get to a point to present to the rest of the band and often two or three songs were being worked on at the same time, each at a different stage of evolution. This produced a solid base from which to build upon as drums, vocals and additional guitars added and allows us to explore alternate arrangements, solos or complimentary lines. We have a number of options available to us that we are exploring for recording.

What subject matter have you been addressing through the lyrics you’re writing for your songs? Can people expect lyrics similar to the songs you cited earlier?
Our current songs deal primarily with the mythology and pagan beliefs from several different cultures. We also explore the Cthulhu mythos, Tolkien, depression/anxiety and historical events. Our songs offer a form of escapism from the monotony of present day life while striving to inspire a sense of bonding through shared ancestral themes. For now, we are not focusing upon social or contemporary issues, but maybe that is a concept we can explore further down the path.

In what ways will your songs offer escapism and inspire bonding as you intend them to? What are you seeking to create this way? Can you name some of your songs as examples?
Listening to a song should be an immersive experience. The music and lyrics should take you on a journey, be it time, or place, or emotional. As Bruce Dickinson has said it’s a theater of the mind. We have one song called The Dark Riders, which is about the Nazgûl and their search for the ring. Another song, Return Me To My Grave, is from the perspective of a reanimated corpse who seeks revenge on the Necromancer who raised them. Our song, Pagan Dawn, is about the resistance and renaissance of pagan culture in the face of Christianity.

When you first penned the lyrics to those songs, were you inspired in any way by the occult and horror based lyrics of other bands, or were you drawing from your own inspiration?
Our lyrics are drawn from our own experiences and interests. They might start with a simple phrase, word or reflection on something we have read, seen or felt. We haven’t consciously set out with the idea so-and-so sung about this, let’s sing about that too. For us, our music and our words are deeply personal and introspective.

What did you mean by a multi-lingual lyrical approach? Will this be featured in any of the songs on your debut?
Within the band, we have the ability to speak a number of languages and we are working on ways to incorporate this into our songs. We are exploring having multiple languages within a single song or for thematic reasons having a song in a language best suited to the lyrical content. Our intention is to certainly make this a feature in our material.

Bands from several countries (including but not limited to Norway, Japan and Mexico) have penned lyrics in their native languages. In what ways do you plan to carry this to the next level?
We shall be incorporating several different languages into our songs, partially as homage to our own heritage but in recognition of others as well. Many ancient cultures sang of adventures or trials, it is a tradition that we are proud to uphold. We are also starting to explore conflicting views within a song, with each side of the story told in the language of the opposing sides.

Is your exploration of conflicting viewpoints an effort to become more lyrically theatrical? Will there be English translations or summaries at the end of each lyric to explain each story?
In a way yes, music and theatrics are not uncommon bedfellows, but it’s more of exploring new ways to tell a story and utilize the skills that we have available to us. Not all stories have two sides but why not try to tell both where possible? As for translations, we will look at options such as the CD booklet, on our website etc. Nile are a band who are great at providing background and context to their tracks in the album booklets but we don’t have the budget for that sort of thing so we’ll have to be more creative.

Some people who don’t normally listen to underground metal complain that the lyrics are difficult to understand. Are you making a point to enunciate so your subject matter can be readily understood?
There is a difference between hearing a song and listening to a song. A lot of people who complain about Metal are only hearing what they want to hear to support the stereotype that they have about Metal. When someone complains that people in Metal can’t play, show them Archspire’s Human Murmuration guitar play through video. When someone complains Metal singers can’t sing, show them Bruce Dickinson. The voice of the singer is as important an instrument as the bass, the guitars and drums. Our vocals style is, for the most part, akin to that of Amon Amarth. We have the option of doing a gritty hard rock style of vocal if needed or if it better suits a particular song.

I’ve heard brutal vocals require the same techniques as melodic vocals. Do you have an approach to vocalizing so as not to cause vocal cord damage as pointed out by vocal coaches?
The vocal training for singing the way we do consists of deep voice exercises to assist with resonance as well as projection. It also helps to have a vocal coach who can aid with proper technique as well as breathing. Our vocalist is more concerned with breathing due to having only half a lung on his right side. He has suffered several pneumothoracies when younger, so proper technique is fundamental to him.

If you decided to write about more contemporary social issues on future albums what do you think you would cover?
We each have plenty of personal demons that would provide some pertinent material as some of these issues are ones shared by many - depression, anxiety, isolation, alienation, persecution and mis-perception. Geo-political and socio-economic issues have been a mainstay of metal but it is a fine balance as many dive into music to escape such things, even if it is only for the length of a song.

How would you approach those contemporary issues so they’re less like copies of other bands and more personal to you?
By drawing from our own experiences and looking at how we have been affected by an issue or how we can have an effect upon it, will hopefully enable a fresh perspective or present one that others can relate too because they have also had similar experiences.

What current issues have had an impact on the band, so much so that you’d consider writing about them?
One of the issues we may draw upon down the path is mental health, this is particularly important to us as it affected a number within the band on a very personal level and has touched the lives of almost everyone in some capacity. Others issues such as corruption, violence and of course the COVID pandemic are all relevant topics worthy of mention.

Are you going to release your debut independently and hoping it will be picked up by some indie labels sometime following its release?
We will release independently and be as self-sufficient as possible. There is always the dream of being picked up by a major label and touring the world, and while fame and fortune would be nice, the reality is we are here because of our love of music and live bands. If a label wants us then they had best be prepared to work as hard as we do and put in the same effort. With streaming services and other such businesses, they are a double-edged sword and seem to make money for themselves at the expense of the musicians.

While releasing independently, are you considering any additional distribution in the US or other countries?
We will look for options and opportunities both locally and internationally. Physical sales at shows or disc trading. Digital sale via Bandcamp and the like. Media packs to labels and promoters. With so many bands and so many avenues, there is a lot of work that needs to be done in addition to producing the best music you can.

How much more work has to be done before the full length is ready?
We were originally planning to begin the recording process towards the end of the year, but sadly during the course of doing this interview our drummer has decided to part ways with the band and pursue other interests. This has caught us off guard and will mean delays while we search for their replacement.

-Dave Wolff