Halloween Horror Anthologies

It’s that time of year again, friends; the time when black cats cross your path and an eerie chill has hit the air; a time of spooky stories and creative costumes.  I’m talking about All Hallows’ Eve.  I’m talking about Halloween.  Horror and Halloween are forever linked and fans of our favorite genre get especially going when the 31st of October is near.  Many people love to turn to scary movies when it comes to the holiday and really, there are few better ways to celebrate. There have been countless articles dealing with the ins and outs of Halloween themed films floating out there, so instead I thought I would do something a little different and talk about one of my personal favorite subjects to delve into this time of year. I’m talking about the anthology.  For reasons I’ll get to, I think of anthology films as the perfect choice for Halloween viewing.  It doesn’t even matter to me if a film relates specifically to the holiday itself.  As far as I’m concerned, all anthologies are perfect Halloween viewing. But first, let’s back up a little.

Horror in bite-sized form has been around for quite some time.  American cinema, for example, largely came from stage and radio. And old time radio was deeply steeped in short-form horror tales.  Witch’s Tale, Inner Sanctum, Lights Out; these classics terrified children and adults and like form the living room radio.  A lot of scares can be conjured up in twenty minutes with the right actors and many of these vintage episodes did just that.  These classic radio shows from the 30’s inspired a lot of people who wound up being pioneers in their own right.  This includes those behind EC comics such as William Gaines (well known as publisher of Mad Magazine) who set out to scare a new generation of children with the likes of Tales from The Crypt, Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear along with many others.  These comics were actually quite controversial in their times and pushed boundaries, shaking up society’s perceptions of important issues and topics.  These books not only told frightening tales in little bursts but also gave the illustrator’s freedom to do their thing rather than expect them to all be uniform and the comics have one set style.  This little detail may seem insignificant to my overall topic but really it all goes to the heart of it.  So many sub-genres and tones, styles and themes can be represented when you’re crafting multiple story, especially when rolled up in a bigger project.  I don’t need to tell anyone what was done with Tales from the Crypt but I will anyway.

Tales from the Crypt was adapted into a movie (along with Vault of Horror) in the 70’s and in the 90’s became an HBO series.  Along with reruns of the inspirational force that is The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside and the 90’s classic Are You Afraid of the Dark? Tales from the Crypt was a major part of my childhood.  Interestingly enough, what had started off as a way to give kids a thrill in comic form had come to represent something more adult-skewing on television decades later. But that didn’t mean that kids like me couldn’t love them.  These episodes were based on classics comics (not just the one actually titled Tales from the Crypt) but added to them and elongated them to fill out a half-hour time slot.  Admittedly at times this robbed the source material of a classic twist or punch but they were always such a blast to watch and put a smile on my face to this day.  I ate all of this up.  I adored every episode of every show, every little story.  There was something that instantly connected with me and still does to this day.

My personal introduction to anthology films was in the form of a few flicks in particular.  Notable examples were George Romero’s classic 1982 film Creepshow as well its 1987 sequel Creepshow 2. Both are awesome but the original in particular is still one of the most perfect anthologies there has ever been in my opinion.  The other seminal anthology that got me into them was the masterpiece that is Tales from the Hood.  I was too young at first to grasp the nuances and complex themes of race in the United States as well as injustice at the hands of those in power, along with many other very real topics.  But I still loved it right from my first viewing all those years ago and have only come to appreciate it more and more as my brain developed and matured.  It has a lot to say and at the same time is an absolute rollercoaster of a film. From there I went on a tear; From Campfire Tales to Campfire Stories; From Beyond the Grave to Body Bags.  I was obsessed with this style of film.  These movies kept moving and flowing, delving into new territory with each twist and turn.

So what does this all have to do with Halloween?  Sure, some fun flicks like (the fantastic) Trick ‘r Treat and All Hallows’ Eve center around the holiday itself.  But I’m clearly not just talking about those.  And sure, horror movies in general have a Halloween connection of sorts; but why the anthology especially?  It’s really simple, actually.  It’s all so much fun.  Yes, Halloween has quite serious origins that are to be respected from a historical standpoint -paying respects to lost relatives, the portal between our world and the next opening.  But I am a 90’s kid and we are a largely a very nostalgic bunch when it comes to certain things.  Old school Nickelodeon, discontinued snack foods, and the Halloween of our era are major aspects of what makes us what we are.  Do kids still love Halloween?  I’m sure they do.  And I’m the last person to pull the whole “Back in my day!!” crap.  But there was something special about the holiday for us, something stitched into every piece of media, every commercial, and every turn throughout the season.  I made the connection between anthology and Halloween early on.  They just fit so well with the heart of the holiday; the rushing around, the adrenaline; the experiencing all sorts of horrors in one night.  You see a whole variety demons and ghosts, slashers and creatures on All Hallows’ Eve.  And the same can be said for the anthology.  The mixture of beasts and killers, humor and darkness; the blends are as varied and delectable as the candy bags that are emptied out and devoured.

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Anthologies remind me of telling tales around a campfire; being teleported back to hearing a spooky experience from a friend who swears they seen a ghost once.  As a child, anything can happen on Halloween and that’s still how I feel about anthology films.  There’s a permission in the sub-genre to go wild; to try out different things and see what scares you and what you can conquer.  I have a pretty “all over the place” personality and so does the anthology, as does Halloween.  For me they will always be linked and one of the first things I conjure in my mind when I think of the time of year.

The anthology film is only growing in popularity as time goes by.  I’ve seen many phenomenal entries into the proud tradition being put forth with passion and that’s a wonderful thing to see.  I’ve recently reviewed the Volumes of Blood series as well as Torin Langen’s silent anthology film 3 Dead Trick or Treaters and both respective projects have kept my faith in the sub-genre alive and well.  It’s getting very close to Halloween at the time of this article being written.  I can feel the chill in the air; I see the decorations and sense the spirit of the season all around me.  And I’d like to celebrate this, my favorite of holidays. To relax, throw on an anthology and remind myself why they go so well together.  I hope you do too.  And may your frame story be an exciting one that you ultimately escape unscathed

Written by PJ Griffin

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Site Announcement

As owner/main editor of Horror Metal Sounds, I am excited to bring everyone a major announcement. HMS is getting a face lift and will be completely redesigned to look bigger and better than before. We’ve been around since the fall 2012 and it has been our mission to bring you the best coverage in horror and metal.

When we debuted on Halloween, we unleashed the site’s mascot Dead Meat. He’s been a fixture since the beginning and now he will be joined by a few new cohorts going forward. I can’t wait to introduce everyone to the next generation of Avatars who will join Meat in our efforts to entertain and frighten the pants off you!

I am overly excited for the future of HMS, so keep your eyes peeled and your ears perked up for further announcements. At this juncture, the newly redesigned site will be unveiled late summer/early fall.

So in the meantime, keep your head banging to a frenzy and keep the fists pumping furiously in the air!

Editor-In-Chief Kenneth Gallant

 

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ALBUMS THAT MEAN SOMETHING

Albums that Mean Something

Iron Maiden

Live After Death

Released October 14, 1985 via EMI/Capitol Records

Live After Death

I must admit that I hate lists. The idea of culling a list together is so subjective and often the people who create them don’t have a clue as to what they are talking about. Besides, everyone has a particular taste; subjective or not.

So with that being said, HMS has decided to provide you with a series of albums that meant something. At least this is from my perspective, so if you agree or not; that’s totally left up to your own discretion.

I will begin with this beauty going back to 1985. I was a sophomore in High School when I stumbled across a used cassette of Iron Maiden’s Live After Death. Surely for most Maiden fans, this is the definitive live recording in their discography and it never fails to disappoint every time I give this a spin. It was recorded on the World Slavery tour in Long Beach, California and at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, England.

At the time, the tour was colossal in many ways: lasting 331 days and performing more than a 187 shows across the globe. The band tied the tour in with their latest album Power Slave, so the stage and theatrics had an Egyptian theme running through it. Bassist Steve Harris had said at the time, the band wanted no overdubbing on the tracks and he wanted this to be the best possible live sounding record ever. Boy; did he ever mean that!

Live After Death sounded so crisp, bristling with energy throughout every track. Vocalist Bruce Dickenson lived up to his nickaname – as the AIR RAID SIREN; while the band provided the powerful soundtrack behind him. This was musical theatre at its best!

What really sold it for me was the wonderful cover art from Derek Riggs. Eddie is seen rising from the Grave amidst a wild thunder and lightning storm behind him. That image never left me from the first day I saw it on the cassette cover. In fact the artwork of Derek Riggs became a catalyst in my teenage life, steering me towards a career as a visual artists.

So I dedicate Live After Death as an album that meant something to me.

 

 

Judas Priest Firepower review

Judas Priest

Firepower

(Columbia Records/Sony Music)

Written by: Kenneth Gallant

9 out of 10

 

Firepower has been out for a few weeks now and word has spread like wildfire over the net; best album since Painkiller most would argue. Those are some lofty words to repeat out loud, and I will admit to not being among those repeating this mantra. But once I gave this release a few spins I quickly changed my tune. I found the songs on a whole burn into your brain forcing obsessive returns to this album over and over.

The album feels like classic Priest – with blazing guitar leads and the continued roar from one of the greatest metal frontmen of all time: Mr. Rob Halford. Even the album title ‘Firepower’ is appropriately earned here, as the band forges ahead with 14 tracks of metallic bliss and I do mean bliss. The opening salvo begins with the title track and it unleashes an array of razor sharp riffs and a hard driving tempo. I can guarantee your fists will be waved high and pumping like mad. When “Lightning Strikes” erupts, the high energy continues as Rob tears it up right at the start of the song, and daring his band mates to keep pace. The riffs are tasty and the chorus is very infectious; I simply love this song!

“Evil Never Dies” is a catchy number that I keep coming back to again and again. Rob delivers a sinister edge to the vocals and Ritchie Faukner and Glenn Tipton provide the firepower. “Never the Heroes” slows down a bit, but it still sounds heavy as fuck. When “Necromancer” starts up, the relentless pace hits hard and I swear this could have been on Painkiller. Faulkner and Tipton work in harmony with the leads, reminding me of that classic 80’s era of Priest.

But not every song is a winner. “Children of the Sun” reminds me of modern Metallica and “Guardians/Rising from Ruins” slows down the proceedings. I will admit the chorus is catchy as hell, but for whatever reasons I couldn’t help but think this is sort of in the Metallica vein of current song writing. You shouldn’t worry though, because this dip in the album is short lived as “Flamethrower” grabs you by the collar and doesn’t let go. I was bedazzled with a catchy chorus and some fast and furious licks from the boys, bringing back that classic metallic sound to the forefront. “Spectre” is a curious number providing tons of grooves, but adding on heaping amounts of meaty riffs to drive the song and chorus.

Songs like “Traitor’s Gate” fall into that familiar Priest pattern: harmonious guitars and driving bass and it won’t disappoint your ears. “No Surrender” is a prototypical sing-a-long Priest number and “Lone Wolf” explores the heavy groove to guide the song, but maybe not to the success I would like it to be. The riffs are bluesy at best and it’s probably not going to be one of my favorite numbers on this album. At least “Sea of Red” is a solid ballad to close out the album.

Overall, I have come to the conclusion of two things: Andy Sneap and co-producer Tom Allom has greatly helped to improve the metallic crunch on all fronts. The guitars are more pronounced here and there is a consistent beefy tone throughout. This was lacking a bit on the previous release “Redeemer of Souls”. The second big proponent here is Ritchie Faulkner’s emergence on guitar and becoming a fully integrated member of the core sound. He slots in nicely beside Glenn Tipton and has helped to rebuild that classic one-two punch we have all grown to love over the years. I’m not sure he found his footing on Redeemer, but here you can tell he’s brought some new life to this band with those incredible licks.

Firepower is not Painkiller, nor will it ever be for me. But you can bet this album will go down as a fan favorite next to Painkiller when this is all said and done. I can’t get enough of this album at the moment and I suspect the majority of Priest fans feel the same way. Check’em out on tour this summer as they bring the firepower along with Saxon; it’s going to go down as a tour for the ages.

 

Saxon Thunderbolt Review

Saxon

Thunderbolt

(Silver Lining Music)

Written by: Kenneth Gallant

8 Out of 10

The mighty Saxon return with their 22nd studio recording; proving they still have the staying power to be relevant and vital as ever. The album entitled “Thunderbolt” forges ahead with 12 epic tracks of molten metal goodness; embracing that continual conviction of becoming denim and leather demi-gods from the NWOBHM.

This time out, the band go for that big epic sound to get you fist pumping and ready for a series of tracks that would put Manowar to shame. The ominous sounding instrumental (Olympus Rising) at the beginning sets the tone for the glorious first track “Thunderbolt’. The lyrics touch upon the gods of ancient Greek mythology, but the razor sharp riffs are spot on in support of this rousing number. “Secret Flight” continues on in a similar vein covering the exploits of Icarus in support of the gift of flight. There is a great deal of melody here and the riffs soar throughout; proving this number is a great compliment piece to Thunderbolt. I really enjoyed the creepy and monstrous “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)”; as the sonic proceedings slow down, but the ominous textures really drive this number.

The thunderous attitude picks up again on “They Played Rock and Roll”. The track motors along at a great clip and at times feels like it could have appeared on 1981’s Denim and Leather album. I really got into “Predator” after the meaty riffs pounded holes in my eardrums. There’s an underlying death metal esthetic here, which might be a first for this band, so who says musicians mellow with age! “Sons of Odin” get back to that Manowar vibe and man do they let that rip loud and proud. This is also the track that Biff Byford shines best on vocally for my tastes, so move over Rob Halford – here’s another front man who can still belt out those tunes for his age. “Sniper” is a simple foot stomper that doesn’t let up for the duration of three and a half minutes. The riffs push the song to a satisfying finish; so if anyone is looking for a standard metal tune then this is it.

“A Wizard’s Tale” is a track that explores the boundless magic found in the tales of Camelot. The track strives to maintain the melody and it proves to be a descent number. Slotting “Speed Merchants” next is a stroke of genius as the prototypical thunder roars into life as a rancorous affair of riffs and a chorus that will surely get everyone in the moshpits going ape-shit over. “Roadies’ Song” pulls back on the reigns a bit; detailing the life of a roadie, but it’s a little on the dull side for my liking. The album ends on a return to “Nosferatu”, but entitled the raw version. I’m not sure this track is necessary, but it’s still a satisfying number. That riff that roars to life in the final two minutes of the song is still sweet music to my ears.

I was reading a few other reviews online and was a bit surprised that some find this album to be a serviceable heavy metal record at best. Personally for me there is a lot more going on here then what you would find in most young bands of today. Yes, Saxon is old boys still plying their trade to the heavy metal arena, but they are so prolific doing it that you can’t deny their contribution as a musical entity. I dig them still after all these years and Byford and the boys still know how to cut killer tunes to satisfy my heavy metal cravings.

Thunderbolt won’t disappoint and if you are digging the brand new Judas Priest record, then give this release a spin too. In fact Saxon and Priest are hooking up for a tour together this summer and it promises to be an epic affair. I’m giving this record eight thunderbolts out of ten and I can’t wait to hear these tunes live at some point this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starblind – Album Review

Starblind Never Seen Again

Review by Tim Duran

Starblind Never Seen again

First, they filled your ears with fear with Darkest Horrors, stole you away into dark fantasy with Dying Son, and now leave you stranded on a frozen tundra with no hope and only the icy wind to keep you warm with their new release, Never Seen Again.

Starblind’s music taps into the essence of the Iron Maiden sound with their own original feel. Bassist Daniel “Thor” Tillberg has a heavy hand that lets the tone cut through the thunderous sounds that drummer Zakarias Wikner creates. The terrible twosome, dual axe slinging mad men of Stockholm, Björn Rosenblad and J.J. shred with tasty leads, catchy rhythms, and beautiful harmonies. New vocalist, Marcus Sannefjord Olkerud, is outstanding. He has great depth and highs, like James LaBrie of Dream Theater.

The record opens with an airy keyboard intro, and you feel the tension build before the musical intro begins. “The Everlasting Dream of Flight”, I would say, is the anthem of the record. The changes in line up, the walls scaled, and endless hours of production did not keep the band down.  Instead, it made the music more aggressive, groovier, and more of a hard core rock sound than heavy metal.

“The Shadow out of Time”, a punchy little ditty, is a vision, a narration, and a journey in minstrel form.  A song that makes you envision what the storyteller is saying. The music fuses thought and imagination of the lyric.

Did someone say more cowbell? Well here you go! “Pride and Glory” not only gives you cowbell, but words of wisdom. Listen close to this one. Make up your own mind what this song says to you. What I feel is that pride and glory fade, so reach for what is eternal.

Speaking of eternal things, “Eternally Bound” has the storytelling of a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song. The mid tempo vibe translates the pain of memory of lost loved ones into every note played, every beat, and every word sung. I relate this one to the memories I have of a good friend, a drummer in fact, and a high school bud whose life was cut too short. This one I’m sure you all can relate to in some way, shape or form. We all have someone we love that is no longer with us to share in our joys and sufferings, but wait for the day when we will be eternally together. Danny Sherman, I dedicate this one to you, man.

This homage to war Veterans, tells of their bravery and strength. “Tears of a Soldier” goes hand in hand with “Eternally Bound”. The powerful lyrics, the strong rhythms, and the way the words flow as they revolve around the music fill the void with honor to the fallen and the ones who live with their memory. This one you should play for the Veteran in your life.

In the year 1845, explorers traveled to the Arctic. My research on Gizmodo.com says this: “To say that the 129 sailors aboard the HMS Terror and Erebus died slow and miserable deaths would be a gross understatement. As they attempted to traverse the last un-navigated section of the Northwest Passage, the ships became hopelessly trapped in ice above the Arctic Circle off Canada’s King William Island. For the next two years, the crew members struggled to stay alive, eventually succumbing to a variety of ailments.”

As such is the story behind the lyric of the title track, Never Seen Again.  I advise you wear a very warm coat.

Time to shed the coat for t-shirt and shorts as Starblind takes you on a trip through Purgatory.

In Dante’s Inferno, there’s a place in hell for the greedy. Here, is a taste of warning.  “Avarice (The Fourth Circle)” explains what awaits you if you choose such a path.  It’s best to be content with what you have, rather than receive a gift and use it foolishly.

“Demon Rider” is a fantastic tale of a rogue biker bent on mayhem, like Ghost Rider on steroids. It’s every boy’s dream!

Throughout history, the genius has always been used to make weapons of mass destruction and keep tabs (or taps) on the little guy.  I think “Insanity and Genius” is what this song is about.  I think of Albert Einstein and his reasons for wanting to build the atomic bomb. It saved millions of lives while taking just as many.  The insanity is how his ideas became avaricious for the powers that be.

The last song on this crazy historical mind trip begins with some deep thumping bass. “The Last Stand” has the rhythm section pounding the chthonic tribal beat as the vocals and guitars wail, flail, and sail its way till the very end.

Start to finish, the new Starblind record is amazing. It’s more of a roller coaster ride through life, death, and pain. As my wife asked, “Is this a concept record?” Musically it all ties together and the concept of life and death run throughout, but each song’s story is different. Anyone can relate to the songs all while banging your head, air guitaring, and air drumming to your heart’s desire. The tones are much deeper than Horrors and Son, it’s as if they used alternate tunings or just turned up the mid range on the amps.

Darkest Horrors was outright METAL, Dying Son filled us with fantasy, and Never Seen Again is a history lesson given to us by five powerful professors, but alas I must give the downside.  I noticed one flaw in one of the songs where they “punched in” on a take, a few of the songs have that droning “whoa-ooh” chant, but it does work for the arrangement. I wish the mic on the cymbals was a bit louder, and they could have added at least nine more songs. Ten is not enough. But then this review would be much longer. Upside, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. This longed for release was well worth the wait. It has the metal, the rock, strength, stamina, stigma, and style. I love the use of history that most are not aware of; as in the title track, the homage in “Tears”, and the memoir in “Eternally Bound”.

When the music fades and all is stripped away, there’s only one word that comes to mind, ten.

Check out Starblind:

http://www.starblind.se/

https://www.facebook.com/StarBlindtheBand/

Read about Albert Einstein here: https://www.nobelprize.org/educational/peace/nuclear_weapons/readmore.html

And the voyage of the HMS Terror and Erebus here: https://gizmodo.com/new-clues-emerge-about-doomed-expedition-through-the-no-1797855047

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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 .

 

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