Film Review: All is Empty

Alfredo Abaunza’s All is Empty

Reviewed by P.J. Griffin

All is Empty

I’ve been fortunate enough to check out several of Alfredo Abaunza’s short films and written about a few of them.  I got hooked with his impressive cannibalism-centered project Family and then wrote about his film Nothing But Ants.  Both showed talent and skill but were quite different from one another.  Abaunza is a versatile filmmaker and I’m never sure what to expect when I start a new film of his.  His latest project, All is Emtpy, came under my radar and so I checked it out.  Did it stack up to the quality I’ve come to expect from this particular writer/director?  Absolutely.  Allow me to explain why.

All is Empty centers around Travis (Norbert Velez Jr.), a young man who is about to enter a world of confusion and terror.  When we meet Travis he is clearly in a bad way and trying to explain himself and the situation he has found himself in to unseen doctors.  What follows quickly gets going into the erratic and deeply affected state of mind Travis has to deal with.  After our protagonist meets up with a young woman from his life, things spiral out of control and the viewer discovers that things aren’t always what they seem.

Especially with a short film, it’s important for me not to go into too much detail and spoil anything.  This film deserves to be experienced with as little information possible to get the full effect so I’ll just vaguely go over what I feel works.  First off, I was impressed with how the film simultaneously grabs the viewer right away, but then allows itself to stew.  The project isn’t a bombardment of images nor is it a completely slow burn.  Both concepts can work quite well with specific works and for this one I feel the blending of the two was a good call.

It was all shot well, pairing the different tones that shift throughout.  The mixture of the visceral and more slow paced are complimented by the music and the sound.  Atmosphere is key and All is Empty realizes this while taking full advantage of the various settings and landscapes.  I appreciate when mood is conveyed honestly, no matter of the genre or realistic nature of the story itself.  I can say with certainty that the beats all hit their mark for me and I was with the project the whole way.  I guessed at the right times, I discovered at the right times, I was surprised at the right times.

It’s clear that everyone involved was on board for what the film entailed right from the start and it’s always nice to see such enthusiasm.  It keeps a dreary project fun while the material keeps it all genuine.  The film is just spontaneous enough to be entertaining without being confusing.  This is a tough thing to accomplish but at no point did I feel lost.  I felt the baffled nature of the main character but it always felt like part of the process.  I’ve loved many an artsy horror film but with such a story-driven project, it was smart how it was done.

All in all, I was completely satisfied with All is Empty.  I found it to be an absorbing project that is best to just delve into and just see what happens.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Alfredo Abaunza, as I’ve been given more than enough reason to trust in whatever he has in store.

 

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Tom Petty remembered

Tom Petty

Tom Petty : Saying Goodbye Is The Hardest Part.

He wasn’t a metal guy, or even prog or hard rock.  Just simple, rock songs that simply rocked my soul. His lyrics could make you learn to fly, or break your heart to pieces.  That’s the magic of Tom Petty.  Blue collar, story telling, straight forward rock n’ roll songs.

Back in  November, 1982, the release of Long After Dark, I had a spiritual, musical birth.  I had grown up listening to The Eagles, Chuck Mangione, Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zep, assorted Christian artists like Larry Norman , Randy Stonehill, and John Fisher.  But what I was hearing was more gritty, raw, with Bob Dylan style vocals.  It was magnetic.

Listening outside my big brother’s bedroom door I heard a magical sound that pulled me closer to take a longer listen.  I heard the words, “You got lucky, babe, when I found you.” being sung, followed by a wobbly sounding guitar solo.  I peeked in to see the red album cover with a dude and a guitar on the bed.  I read the name, Tom Petty, but it was all I could read.  Being as shy as I was, I didn’t ask to be let in, but stood outside the door listening to the wonderful strumming and a beat that that made my heart warm.  I had to hear more.  “I have to find out who this cat is!” I told myself.  So I set off to find this Tom Petty character.

Once before, have I ever been stricken by an artist that I had changed my life.  The first being Johnny Cash, who made me ditch light for darkness, and Tom Petty who blew my imagination wide open.  It wasn’t just music, it was narration, it was Tom at my bedside telling me a bedtime story of having a “Change of Heart” and being led “Straight into Darkness”.  It was emotion, it was elation, it was heartbreak, sadness, comedy, and tragedy, tongue-in-cheek, and serious business.

As the years went by, my love for his music grew.  I wrote a song for my wife and it has hints of “Here Comes My Girl” and “Time” by Pink Floyd.  My daughter was three when she heard her first Tom Petty Song.  It was “Runnin’ Down a Dream” playing on the radio, and she said, “I like that song!”  When I asked her why, (as I always did when she liked a band or song) she said, “I like the way he sings ‘The rain was unstoppable”.  I knew right then that he touched her soul too.  We would listen to Petty all the time.  She loved singing, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”… My wife didn’t think it was a good idea hearing her daughter sing, “Let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint…” I had to agree.

My big brother gave me the Anthology CD’s a few months back.  He handed me the folding, cardboard jewel case, and I stared at it and just wept as I embraced him.  To be given a gift of music is magic, but when the title reads “Tom Petty”, it’s an emotional ordeal.

No one writes like Tom Petty.  No one can rip your heart out of your chest and then put a brand new one inside like he can.

To me, he had the best band behind him laying down simple solos, infectious grooves, and slick backing vocals.  There was nothing flashy about him or The Heartbreakers.  Humble guys dishing out soulful tunes.

Every memory I have when there was a Tom Petty song, is a happy one.  Except today.  Today, October 2, 2017, I died also.  The second man who saved my soul was called home to the first Man that saved my soul.

Thank you, Tom Petty.  Without your music, I don’t know where my soul would be.

My heart and my forever gratitude goes out to the Petty family.  I never knew Tom, but he knew me.

Written by Tim Duran

 

Dylan Rose Interview

Dylan Rose

 

Archer interview by Tim Duran

Over the last couple of years I have been following this band via social media and whenever then they come to town; a power trio worthy of more than what they have already accomplished. A band that went on tour with DORO, Queensryche and Annihilator, spent months touring Europe, each night giving more than 100% of themselves to the audience. If RUSH was a heavy metal/thrash act, they would be called Archer Nation.

Fronted by guitar virtuoso/singer extraordinaire Dylan Rose, alongside bassist (with groove to spare) David De Silva and the man on the pots and pans Keyhan Moini. You’ve never seen a metal act that couldn’t stay in one place like these guys. I overheard a gal say to them after a show, “It’s hard to get a picture of you guys standing still!” Now with that being said, you have to check them out when they come to your town.

I had the opportunity to send off some questions to Dylan Rose and here’s what he had to say:

HMS: Thank you for taking time out for us. Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on the success of Culling the Weak and the tour you have been on in support of it the last couple years. How long has Archer Nation been together, what is the meaning behind the name, and tell us about the album cover to Culling the Weak.

Dylan Rose: Hi Tim – Great to see you in Las Vegas again last time! First off, the Culling the Weak record cycle was a real stepping stone for us and we had a hell of a time touring all over to support the album, so thank you for the kind words! We can’t wait to get the new album out and get back out there!

The band was founded way back in high school actually by myself and two other metal-inclined classmates here in my hometown of Santa Cruz, CA. We went through a few early incarnations of lineups and failed band names but eventually settled on the name Archer because we just felt it was a simple and cool sounding one-word name that was easy to remember and chant at local shows. There was no deeper meaning than that!

All the artwork for Culling the Weak was done by a guy down in Brazil named Marcelo Vascos. He is a brilliant graphic artist who has done work with a ton of bands including Slayer and Machine Head.

HMS: I was pleased to hear all those new songs in your last show. Tell us about the new record, its artwork, and what the next step you have planned for Archer Nation.

DR: For the new album, we decided to go back to producer Mike Clink (who did Culling the Weak) and record with him in LA again. There will be 8 songs total and we’re excited about a few of the additions we’ve made with the new material in terms of influence, approach, etc as we continue to evolve as writers.

Also, one of the coolest aspects of this upcoming release for me in comparison to any others before it is that it will be the first opportunity for our fan base to hear Keyhan Moini recorded on drums with us.  He toured on Culling the Weak for 2 years and has put in all the hard work and effort to help us get to this point so it will be very rewarding to release an album with the lineup that has been in the trenches together for a while now.

The artwork is actually still under construction, so to speak, but we’ve got some very cool concepts in the works that we’re trying out that sort of tie all the lyrical themes together nicely.

HMS: I was really impressed on how much more aggressive the sound is on the new songs. Not to take anything away from the raw power of Culling, but “Shackled” is pretty harsh. How did that song come to life?

DR: If you were to listen to each of our releases over the years in chronological order, I think it’s fairly easy to discern that we’ve gotten a bit heavier each time around. This album will continue that trend as far as I can tell! “Shackled” was one that I had in the can for quite some time before we entered the studio so once the time came, David and Keyhan helped tie everything together and off it went! It certainly draws from that classic thrash sound that I love.

HMS: During the last show, I noticed that you don’t use a Wah pedal. As a matter of fact, I think the only effect I heard was just Distortion or Overdrive. What does your live rig consist of?

DR: There was one song – “Hurl The Cross” – from Culling the Weak that I used a wah on for the solo. Actually, there will be only one section on the new material as well so you’re right – it is a rarity! To be frank, I don’t like hearing it on every lead in any band so I try to use it sparingly for impact rather than a constant tone-defining aspect of my everyday sound.

Overall, I try to keep my live rig as simple as I can. I don’t love huge pedalboards and with the sort of frenetic stage energy we’re always trying to maintain, I can’t afford to be tap dancing on pedals all night. With that being said, I do have a small board that I’m always tinkering with while chasing the right tone to serve our trio well. So aside from a Boss TU-3 tuner and the ever-essential Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus to run everything, I bring a Dunlop Dimebag Crybaby wah, a vintage Ibanez Tube Screamer, and an EP Booster pedal made by Xotic. That thing is vital to me now. I also have been messing around with the T.C. Electronics MIMIQ doubler pedal lately. Lastly, I always roll with an MXR Smart Gate in case there are noise issues with too much stage volume, etc. Sometimes I’m running all these pedals at once, sometimes only the EP Booster. It just depends on the room each night. I’m always trying to adapt to what we’re hearing at sound check every day and get some consistently strong guitar tones on tour…. And every venue’s different!

HMS: Going back to Culling, there are a few songs on that record that just caves in my cranium, “Belief”, “Dawn of Dilution”, and my personal favorite, “Day That Never Came”. As a whole, “Culling the Weak” is outstanding, but these are three highlights for me. How did the lyrics come to mind in these?

DR: “Belief” was a cathartic sort of thing for Dave and I. We had just been through a slew of issues trying to find a drummer during that period that could offer commitment towards writing, recording, and ideally joining full-time and touring into oblivion! There were several false starts, though, and so the lyrics in “Belief” are borne from a lot of those frustrations and negativity that came along with that stuff at the time. “Dawn of Dilution” was one that I wanted to write about the repercussions of how modern technology shapes our world now because I feel like we don’t always focus on the social, emotional, and even physical consequences of everything – for example, staring at our phones all day. “Day That Never Came” is fairly similar to “Belief” in its lyrical theme although it takes a much angrier approach I think. The title refers to one of those “what if” questions of wondering how things could have played out had things gone according to plan.

HMS: I’m sure you guys get asked this question a lot, but I’ll ask anyway. Who encouraged you the most growing up to pick up your instrument, write songs, and reach your fullest potential? Who are your musical inspirations, and what groups do you get into these days?

DR: Well for me it always goes back to my parents. My Dad has always played guitar and our house growing up was very musical. The first encouragement was definitely having guitars around the house and all these great players, friends of our family, always dropping by for a jam! The writing aspect came a little later after I figured out how to play a little bit and was influenced by bands I was obsessed with at that young age like Nirvana and The Beatles. As far as lifelong musical inspirations, there’s a few that will always stick with me. Black Sabbath was my number one growing up, as well as all the guitarists Ozzy has worked with. Led Zeppelin is one of my other all-time favorites even though we don’t sound like them, but you can still draw inspiration from Jimmy Page no matter what! A lot of the old thrash stuff is big for me too, and my favorite of the bunch is early Megadeth. I can always appreciate guys that write and perform killer metal riffs while singing on top of it.

HMS: As far as crowd response, what tunes, new or previous, gets the loudest reaction?

DR: That’s a tough one… I think the title track from Culling The Weak did well in that regard, but a few others like “Day That Never Came” and “Dawn of Dilution” seemed to hit crowds pretty hard on those tours as well. Every night was different too. We did close almost every show with “Dawn of Dilution” so it had a nice impact I think. As far as the new stuff, I can’t wait to answer that question myself! Even though I have my thoughts on the matter, we’ll just have to wait and see how the new songs are received…. Hopefully sans tomatoes!

HMS: When you guys sit down to write, is it a collective, or do you all have riffs or a verse/chorus section that you bring to the table?

DR: You know, every song was different on this new album. Some, like “Shackled” and a few others, were a lot of riffs I put together and brought to the guys halfway completed already. One of the songs David wrote almost entirely by himself. There’s even one that Keyhan wrote riffs for on guitar! At the end of the day though, it’s always going to be a collaborative effort because each of us has a unique personality that has to be infused into the song along the way.

HMS:  The thing that really impressed me about you guys, aside from being completely blown away the few times I’ve seen you, is that your attitudes before and after the shows are friendly. How do you keep that outlook going night after night, city after city, country after country?

DR: Well there’s really no other way to be! We love to tour and play live. We love to meet fans and hang out afterwards and communicate with people at every stop, and you have to always be in promo mode whether we feel up to it or not because you have to always make the most of your efforts. Even though the drives can be long and the exhaustion, starvation, and impoverishment is very real sometimes, we are still doing it because we love it. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t!

HMS: I wrote in a review of the last show how the solos are very different from one another. They all burn with bluesy and jazzy overtones. How do you keep solos interesting for you to keep them from sounding alike?

DR: Good question. I like to sit with the songs for a week or two after all the basic rhythms are laid down and play along with the lead sections until something develops naturally. This process can even be started prior to the studio when we’re rehearsing them over and over. If your ears are open and you have some repertoire from which to draw, then something usually presents itself that can kick things off for you, whether it be one lick or scale idea or mood that you choose to attack with any given song. Some pieces of music call for aggression and speed and a lot of notes, other things call for more mid-paced melodic approaches; others need exotic weird flavors that sort of rankle the brain for a second before resolution. Every song is a different case and ultimately it just comes down the serving the song itself with what you think is appropriate for each musical scenario.

HMS: Out of all the places you’ve played, where is your favorite stop? (And you don’t have to say Las Vegas). What about that place stands out?

DR: Las Vegas has certainly treated us well! In terms of big crazy crowds and the best tours we’ve happened to do thus far, Europe is the top choice. Germany is consistently awesome, to name one country in specific, but many of the countries around there are all great stops. Believe it or not, Poland is also absolutely nuts when it comes to metal shows as. I always have to mention them. There are some good cities stateside as well, though, and we have a wonderful family of friends and fans out in Texas actually.

HMS: How do you guys survive on the road? Touring can get expensive and I have heard many horror stories of labels and managers dumping bands in the middle of nowhere with no way home.

DR: We do whatever we can man. If we have to sleep in the van or at friends’ houses along the way, so be it. I’ve consumed many a truck stop hot dog in my day too. It’s all about doing it together and it ain’t always easy. But again, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it because we sure as hell aren’t doing it for the dough!

HMS: When you guys are back home, what do you do to unwind?

DR: I’m pretty quiet man. I teach guitar lessons and hang around my favorite local music shop here in town. I sit in with weekend cover bands for fun. Most importantly, though, I just soak up Santa Cruz and spend time with my family and closest friends.

HMS: Turn on’s, turn off’s?

DR: A turn on would be someone who loves Sabbath… The turn off is when someone doesn’t!

HMS: As musicians, the last few years we’ve been devastated by the untimely passing of great people. Lemmy, Prince, David Bowie, Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Chris Cornell… how will these affect your songwriting and how you look at the future?

DR: It’s been hard lately, for sure. That’s a lot of important names and it feels like the list keeps getting longer. That touches on a bigger issue though because in 10 years, 20 years, who’s left? It’s a scary thought man. Pretty soon we’re going to be living in a world without any of the classic heroes left and no one to fill the void. It’s gonna’ be tough.

HMS: My daughter had just gotten into Motörhead about two years before Lemmy died. Ours were the only shoulders we could cry on. These days , music and songwriters don’t affect people like they used to. I’m just glad that music touches her soul and she connects with the artists she enjoys listening to. When she was young, I wouldn’t let her listen to anyone if she couldn’t tell me why she liked a certain band or song. Maybe that’s what’s missing. Mindless music that just has a beat or groove, but no heart and no soul.

What’s the biggest disappointment you see in the music industry, and if they gave you half the chance, what would you change about it?

DR: Well this could go on forever but I’ll mention one aspect of it – I really feel like today’s youth has less of an attention span and appreciation for the act of consuming music, meaning finding, listening, and (Lemmy forbid) purchasing music. Kids listen to 10 seconds of a song on a streaming service before hitting the button and getting on to the next blip of excitement. I think it would kill them to have to sit down and put on a record and listen to it front to back without moving or changing the channel. And as far as buying it, that ship has completely sailed, especially when it comes to young people. YouTube and other outlets have taught everyone that it is entirely acceptable to never pay for a single note of recorded music, whether it’s a hundred years old or brand new. The effect of that is there is no longer any intrinsic value associated with recorded music in anyone’s mind because it’s always completely free and right there for the taking. Why would anyone pay for music in 2017? And even worse, the lack of value placed on music probably deters kids from picking up instruments of their own to some degree. The trend is irreversible and has re-defined the business model completely. I don’t know how you’d change it at this point, though. You just have to adapt nowadays.

HMS: Lastly, and most importantly, thanks for taking time out. I know you are probably still on the road and would much rather catch up on some needed sleep. It’s always a pleasure when you guys roll into town. Keep HorrorMetalSounds.com posted on the new record and we’ll do our best to give an honest review. And if we don’t like it, we’ll lie!

DR: Hey, a few white lies in regards to our awful product is always welcome!

Thank you Tim for the fun interview and make sure everyone stays on the lookout for news about the upcoming Archer Nation release by visiting our website and socials! We will tour our asses off in 2018 and beyond so be ready!

 

 

 

Album Review Logan’s Room

Logan’s Room:  To be Continued

Review by Tim Duran

Last year I was invited into Logan’s Room for the first time. The room was small, but a lot fit inside. The walls were filled with original sounds and it was carpeted with angst. Today I was invited back. It is an honor and privilege to once again have this door opened to me.

This new E.P., To be Continued, is nothing short of brilliance once again.  I can’t remember what I wrote last year of their first E.P. so forgive me if I use the same verbiage like; awesome, cool, far out, and groovy”, because there just ain’t no denying the truth of Logan’s Room.

“Transgression” is a brutal little ditty bent on making you do some damage to the grey matter within your skull.  Right off, the music is ten times more aggressive than the first E.P.  The kicker is definitely the second track, “Radiation”.  It’s a grit your teeth, shake your fist; grapple your partner type tune that spews brimstone and lava.

“Hollow” is a beautiful mix of anger and solemn.  The breakdown is far out, man.  The drum work on the ride and hi-hat are jazzy; then it gets insane after the solo.  It’s six and-a-half minutes of shake, rattle, let mellow, and punch a bunch of holes in the wall greatness!

And where would any band be without a namesake tune?  Hey, Iron Maiden, Bad Company, and Anthrax did it, why not the mighty Logan’s Room?  This one brings back a little of that fast talkin’ jive stuff that we got a small taste of in “Karma” and “Locked Inside” from the first E.P.

For me, Logan’s Room is the bomb!  I’ve never used that phrase before, but in this case – I mean they are explosive!  To be Continued is heavy, aggressive, groovy, angry, insane, and simply over the top.  The vocals are stronger, the bassist is a lot busier, the tone is richer, and the drumming surpasses the first E.P.  The guitar work is outta sight man!  Clean and in your face burning solos.  No sloppy, greasy kid stuff laid down on these tracks.

So I hope I wasn’t too repetitive.  If these guys keep making music like this, they will make the big time. If they’re not signed, the labels are fools.  In short, I give them a 10.

Check them out now at www.facebook.com/Logan’sRoomOfficial and www.Logan’sroomofficial.com .

 

007Logan's room new

Killer Waves – Film Review

Killer Waves (2016)

Written and directed by James Balsamo

I’ve reviewed several of James Balsamo’s films in the past.  Everything I’ve seen from him has been a blast to watch and I’ve been consistently interested in what he has on the horizon. Because of this, I was excited to check out one of his newest films Killer Waves. Did it hold up to his others?  Absolutely it did, so allow me to explain why.

Killer Waves centers on a highly anticipated surf competition that is just around the corner. The film jumps right in with a classic slasher opening but with Balsamo’s unique flair. The movie then shows a series of interviews with fans, Judges and competitors alike who are getting pumped about the upcoming battle of skill, pitting surfer against surfer. These scenes display the feeling and vibe of the film overall as well as establishing the scenario. Everyone involved is clearly having fun with laying down the surfer slang and immersing themselves in the culture, but in a totally hilarious over-the-top way.

It’s not all fun and games for our characters; however, as a pun-spewing murderer in a diver’s outfit is going after locals in the area. Competitors and judges alike are getting taken out of the competition in all sorts of wacky and often beach-based ways and people are starting to become concerned that they may be next. One primary focus of the film centers around writer/director James Balsamo’s character Axel; a famous surfboard carver, and his friends. They’re not about to let a few murders spoil their partying and they live it up, all while getting cut down.

The movie as whole is largely about the colorful array of entertaining characters paired with the creative slicing and dicing. Our diving-helmet wearing villain is clearly having a grand ‘ol time, making quips about each murder and reveling in the excitement of it all. A distorted voice is used and it adds not only to the anonymity to the character, but aides the personality as well. All the while, cops in the area are hellbent on finding the troublesome slasher and are suspicious of everyone.

In classic Balsamo style, Killer Waves is packed with cameos from all sorts of talented people and there’s no shortage of familiar faces. These cameos include Pantera frontman/legend Phil Anselmo, cult perennials such as Edward X Young and Shawn C. Phillips, cult director Joel M. Reed, all-around fantastic actor Chris Mulkey and those are just a few examples. Along with these talented people is a wonderful soundtrack featuring the likes of Cropsy Maniac, Contemplating Murder and Immortal Suffering along with many others. The music keeps up with the lively pace of the film and the visual to song dynamic is effective.

One thing about Killer Waves that I especially took note of is how it manages to be two different things at once. On one hand, it’s a simple story with an even pacing. It’s not difficult to get on board with and the running time going by smoothly.  But on the other hand, it’s a ball of energy that never takes a moment to slow down too much. Two characters simply having a conversation is fun to watch as its all heightened emotion with every player just going for it with their performance.

The film knows just what its audience wants and delivers. It’s wall-to-wall with wacky quips, plentiful nudity and a multitude of inventive kills. From electric eels to chainsaws, the victims meet their end in often unexpected ways. None of the kills are repetitive and the film knows how to ride the line between playfully oddball and gory.

Little by little we get more insight into the killer’s motives and while I certainly won’t spoil the ending, I thought it was perfect for the film. It ends on the right note accompanied by twists and turns along the way.  The whole experience goes by quickly, but in a good way. Nothing in the film felt dull or unnecessarily slow to me. It’s vibrant and colorful and I had a great time with it.

All in all, I recommend the film to anyone that loves campy flicks that are all about the fun. It’s packed with people who give it their all and through the cheesy puns and tongue-and-cheek gore is a film that I was glad I saw. It knows exactly what it is and I dug it. So surf’s up and check it out!

Review by P.J. Griffin

 

Wormwood Prophets Society

BOOK REVIEW:

Wormwood Prophets Society

From Rogue Planet Press

Paperback, 176 Pages

 

I love me a good short story collection. It’s similar to my love of anthology horror films. I thoroughly enjoy little slices of fiction, using the shorter length as a way of pumping up the fun and imagination.  Even collections with a common theme usually have a wide range of tones, subjects and delivery.  The latest book I’ve read in this proud tradition is The Wormwood Prophets Society and it’s quite the experience. There’s a lot going on and the concept runs deep so let’s jump right in.

The Wormwood Prophets Society isn’t just a catchy title. It refers by a cult-like organization of sorts that has genuine influence and involvement in dark forces. The stories are accompanied by little looks into the depth and culture of the society; portraying various ways that their work is played out and unleashed onto the world. We start off with an introduction featuring a curious man who is learning about the group and as part of this he is told a story.  This story by Mark Slade introduces the format, as the stories themselves in the book are stories that are usually being told by the group’s followers to give some insight.

The first official story entitled Got a Light deals with a down-on-his-luck man named Phillip who makes the mistake of stealing a mysterious lighter that is far more sinister than a small flame. Bad things start to happen, things that seem to be not only predicted, but caused by the lighter. The story is well paced and kept me invested all the way through.  It was a unique concept and a quite palatable story that served as a wonderful first taste into what is about to come.

Despite the society connection, all the stories have their own characters and situations going on. The next story Bloodroot, for example, also penned by Mark Slade, deals with a man back in the dusty post-civil war days of southwestern Virginia who drifts into a town to collect songs. The connection to the overlapping darkness that encompasses the entire book is present, but in its own way. I agree with the book’s decision to start off with these two stories as it displays the book’s intention while simultaneously showing the diversity of the tales themselves.

As the book presses on the reader is given all sorts of different material and means of delving into the culture that it has created.  There’s transcribed conversations, ominous redacted documents, chants paying tribute to the Society’s rulers, unique illustrations as well as a variety of tales. Agents, if you will, of the Wormwood Prophets Society often filter in and out of the stories, as well as around them as they show various examples of what their association can do, control and behold.

The stories span over different time periods and contain all different types of horror traits.  Redwood Dolly by Phil Thomas deals with a man who comes across a radio that has far more to it to than the latest AM/FM.  Baby Bub by T. Fox Dunham deals with a possibly delusional woman who becomes obsessed feeding the child she believes she has been blessed with from a higher power. There are stories of voodoo and monsters, masked killers and strange liquor. It all feels fresh and new and there’s never enough of the same thing for any story to ever seem tiresome. It also helps that the stories contain different narrative styles to get their point across.

A lot of different horror-favorite subjects are at play in the book. These include Halloween settings, tales of revenge, rituals, and the constant fear of being watched. Even someone going home happy-go-lucky after a day of success (or hanging out at a club) can find themselves in a downright menacing predicament.  Whether a story is more grounded or out-there, such as Dunham’s story: something for something, the fear is always palpable.

Every entry goes out of its way to engross the reader in the very heartbeat of those experiencing the diverse situations. You feel the emotions of a detective who has stepped foot into a house harboring a foe that isn’t at all your normal criminal. You take in the shocking repercussions of what can go on at a hospital when chaotic horror shows its face.  It all makes the book feel well-rounded and authentic, which I appreciate.

Any good horror anthology arranges the stories to serve as a palate cleanser of sorts for the previous entry.  The Wormwood Prophets Society certainly utilizes this trait. The varying nature of the stories is put to good use and no stories that have a topic tone or subject matter are stacked on top of one another.  Doing this allows each story to pop in their own way and make their desired mark on the reader.

All in all, I found myself impressed with The Wormwood Prophecies. A lot of thought and cooperation clearly went into it and while I never felt like a full-fledged member of the society who understood it all, I feel that this was the point. Like the terrified characters, getting thrown into a world of madness and confusion, terror and unpredictability, the reader is left feeling like they’ve glimpsed through the door just a crack and seen things they can’t comprehend, but know to fear. Some of the stories are more directly in the society itself than others, but the influence of the core is felt throughout every page. Plus, it all wraps up nicely in the end.  I definitely recommend The Wormwood Prophets Society to anyone who loves a good story collection, as well as anyone who enjoys all different types of horror material.  Even with the high-concept nature, there is something for just about everyone.

Review by P.J. Griffin

Worm Book

 

 

Concert review: Archer Nation

Archer Nation, at Vamp’d, Las Vegas Nevda

May 18, 2017 was the worst possible day imaginable.  I woke to the news that Chris Cornell had died, and I had to work all day trying not to break down.  My headspace was foggy, my eyes were watery, and my legs were numb.  All I could think about was getting to Vamp’d and fill that headspace with something other than the sadness that was overtaking me.

On my way home, a wind storm was sweeping through the valley of Las Vegas.  I hate driving in those conditions and I just prayed, “Lord, please stop this wind,“ and you know what?  He answered my prayer.  It was around 8:30pm when the storm had passed, so I got changed, hopped in the car and drove off.  On the way, Badmotorfinger was turned up to full volume as I headed down the near empty motorway.  Upon my arrival, I headed to the dark corner of the club so no one could see my pain.  There I posted on Facebook that I was at Vamp’d.  I continued by saying, “Archer Nation is gonna’ heal this broken heart.”

Archer’s set was filled with new songs that they have been writing for the coming record, due out not soon enough.  Let me tell you, the songs from the first record, Culling the Weak, are pretty heavy, but the new songs like “Not My Own” and “Shackled” are going to rattle heads!  Archer gets tighter as a band every time they roll through.  With new tunes on the rise, the sound has gotten more aggressive, more powerful, and more mosh worthy.  They make me wish I was 21 again, ‘cause in those days I could head bang till the cows came home.  These days, if I turn around to fast, I’m laid up for days!

What I really enjoy about Archer is that every song, groove, beat, and solo is different.   Dylan nails a few trademark pinched harmonics here and there, but it’s rad when he hits them.  I have seen guitar players that riff the same solo progression in the same neck position, hitting the same two top strings, using the same bends, and it gets old in a hurry like that last sentence.  Not in the Nation, my friend!  Musically, they sound like Motörhead, Megadeth, and Anthrax got in a fight and started playing hockey!  As musicians, they are learned, as songwriters they are genius, and as people, they are humble.  With that attitude, they will have longevity and a growing fan base with ne’er a complaint.

They closed the show with my favorite tune from Culling titled, “The Day that Never Came”.  I said more during that song, mainly because I was singing along, than I did the whole night, aside from small conversations with the band afterwards.

As I said, my heart was in need of healing, and that’s exactly what they did that night.  Music is a healer, and when Archer Nation is the doctor, you’re in good hands.

Archer Nation

 

The Saturday Metal Review

PRISMIND

Disciples by Design

(Independent Release 2017)

Written by Tim Duran

10 out of 10

For about a year, I have had the fortune to hear and follow this power prog band from Canada.  Prismind (pronounced, “Prism-Mind”) has all the elements of progressive heavy metal that a band can put together, and  I would go as far as to say that they are a more insane version of Dream Theater’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.  They have a thicker tone, and the manic melodies that surround the listening device have gotten me admitted.  PRISMIND is fronted by power vox John Mamone; ultra rad bassist, Justin Faragher; cannon fire by Mike Harshaw; and one of the most technical guitar players, next to Vai and Satch, Kelly Kereliuk.  I have seen and heard many a fine axe grinder, but Kereliuk is one of the finest – another true king of the seven string for the 21st century.

As I mentioned above, Prismind has a deranged atmosphere to their music.  They suck you in with heavy metal intros and spin your head off with all kinds of musical nuances and mosh worthy rhythms.  As a bassist, I am all about rhythm and Justin kills unsoftly with his.  His arpeggios match Chris Squire and his scales are like a six fingered John Myung.  Case in point, “Our Broken Fate” has such a moving bass line; it’s like everything revolves around the bass riff.  He even gets a short (too short) solo in “Void 5:14”.

Speaking of riffs, the intros and all around mayhem of the first two tracks, “Pawns of the Dammed” and “Dagger”, will have you swinging from the chandelier while the tune, “Last Breath” drops some Anthrax vibes on you. True to speed metal, here comes “Time Unforgiving”.  It’s less prog as the others, but the breakdown is an exercise for the fingers and the thrash factor is turned way high on this track.  “Slaves to the Machine” has an interesting, clean guitar during the second part and an easy arpeggio adding grace to impending doom. “Palace of the Mighty and High” is rhythmically similar with the heavy down strokes, and Kelly even throws in some pinched harmonics for a tension builder. Lastly, “Diamond Eye” is like the anthem for the namesake of the group.  Kelly does some house cleaning with all the sweep action in this song!

Downside is moot.  Upside is that throughout the whole record, each musician takes the spotlight.  The vocals are strong and not overexerted, the drumming keeps the heartbeat of the band at break-neck speed, the bassist is percussive and takes the lead in places, and the guitars are phantasmagorical. This record and work of art was a pleasure to listen to and for me to give my thoughts on.  I cannot give Disciples by Design anything less than a ten simply because it never slows down.  It’s a bullet straight into your mind with no exit wound.

Check out PRISMIND at www.prismindband.com and www.facebook.com/prismindband

Disciples by Design available now on Spotify, cdbaby, and iTunes

Prismind at the Rivoli

Prismind/Driftglass/Slyde at the Rivoli, Toronto ON.

Thursday, June 8 2017

 

One of the hottest shows to take place last week in Toronto was tearing it up big time when Prismind, Driftglass and Slyde got together for a night of unbridled rock goodness. The show started promptly at 9pm and it was Prismind that took to the stage first, unleashing songs from the debut CD Disciples By Design.

Prismind performed about 8 songs in the set, giving the crowd a taste of what this band can offer in a live setting. I’ve long admired the progress Prismind has made with these songs over the course of three years, and to finally hear the album played so expertly by 4 guys devoted to their craft – well it all comes up smelling like roses.

They began the set with “Slaves to the Machine” and let the festivities roar into action. The song is a pure foot stomper and arguably the catchiest chorus you will find on any album of this magnitude. From there they played “Dagger” which I have a close affinity to, since the band was gracious enough to allow us usage of this track for a video package promoting an upcoming project being helmed at HMS. Dagger exhibits superb lyrics, allowing singer John Mamone a chance to really shine on stage.

The next few numbers show how diverse this progressive Canadian Metal act swiftly enthralls an audience with the power of their sound. The beefy bass tones of “Our Broken Fate” perk up my ears and I have to give it up to bassist Justin Faragher on this one. Then, “Palace of the Mighty” drives the show with Mamone’s impassioned vocals and the razor sharp riffing provided from guitarist Kelly Kereliuk illustrates how good this band is live. Of course we can’t forget the splendid “Diamond Eye” performed here to thrashy perfection and getting the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up!

The band closed the set with a pair of my favorite tracks from the album. First up we got a total thrasher in “Last Breath” – galloping to life with burning speed and bombastic riffs guaranteed to blow your head off. This track showcases the strength of both Kereliuk and Faragher; a surefire tandem if I ever heard one; not to mention Mike Harshaw’s rousing back support on the drums. The last number closing the set “Pawns of the Damned” soars into a musical flourish of synergy and energy proving that Prismind are a force to be reckoned with on any stage they play.

As a musical entity, Prismind deliver on every level, bringing together a sound from four devoted musicians with lofty goals and ideals. Having seen them play live on a number of occasions I will go on record and say the bar has been raised high and Prismind is here to take that brass ring to great heights.

Just don’t take my word for it, go and see them live!

Wormwood Prophet Society

HMS staff writer Mark Slade is back with another interesting project called Wormwood Prophet Society. It’s a thrilling book of anthology stories centering around a secret society published  by Rogue Planet Press.

We have an audio Ad posted right here! Click on the link and give this a listen to!

ACTORS: PETE LUTZ AND LAURA NICOLE. PUBLISHED BY ROGUE PLANET PRESS, WILL BE AVAILABLE ON LULU.COM.
Reserve your copy now!!
WPS LOGO 2

https://archive.org/details/WPSAD1