Experience the Creepy and Compelling Rhythms of De Staat’s “Witch Doctor”

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

I don’t usually share music videos here (I think the last time was due to some fascinating musical detective work on Star Trek by the CBC). But in the case of De Staat’s new video “Witch Doctor,” I’m compelled to do so. After watching it four times, I feel like I’ve been indoctrinated into a secret cult.

It’s one of the most effective music videos I’ve seen in years (and apparently done on a shoestring budget). As Black Gate author Jeremy Tolbert says, ” I can’t seem to stop watching it… It has this creepy, Constantine vibe – an evil necromancer or black magician controlling a cult or something.”

Check it out. Just don’t blame us if you find yourself penniless in Budapest with a shaved head when it’s all over.

[Caution – one brief occurrence of adult language.]

Forbes on the Tragic Failure of Jem And The Holograms

Monday, October 26th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

Jem And The Holograms-smallLast week Box Office Mojo reported that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak “crashed and burned into 2,984 theaters to the tune of an estimated $12.8 million.” So what did it make of Jem And The Holograms‘ historically bad take of one-tenth of that total this weekend, $1.3 million from 2,413 theaters? It calls it one of “the year’s biggest flops… the fourth worst opening for a film in more than 2,000 theaters.”

Jem And The Holograms was a much-loved 80s cartoon produced by Hasbro, Marvel, and Sunbow (the same team behind G.I. Joe and Transformers). Featuring the plucky Jerrica Benton, whose father left her virtually flawless hologram technology that allowed her to disguise herself as a beautiful pop singer, Jem was the brainchild of comics writer Christy Marx (Sisterhood of Steel, Conan, Red Sonja). Forbes writer Scott Mendelson sees the massive failure of the live-action version as a genuine tragedy.

The film took a source material that is over-the-top colorful and over-the-top exciting, filled with larger-than-life characters and musically-charged action sequences where Jem and her friends had to both be kick-ass rock stars and kick-ass crime fighters at the same time, and made a toned-down, muted, and overly patronizing “young girl gets in over her head due to fame and artistic success and forgets what matters” fable that basically penalized its young heroes for wanting and achieving success and power…

It was the kind of film that Josie and the Pussycats spoofed a decade ago, and basically operated as a dark-n-gritty origin story that spent the entire film building up to the possibility of maybe seeing a Jem movie that Jem fans wanted to see the first time out in a would-be sequel. Okay, so a cheap film that spit on the source material bombed, who cares right? Well, here’s the rub: The overriding message of Jem and the Holograms is that a girl-centric action cartoon from the 1980′s doesn’t deserve or justify even 5% of the resources given without a second thought to boy-centric properties cashing in on 80′s nostalgia.

Read the complete article here.

Goth Chick News: Christmas at Beetlejuice’s House – Midnight Syndicate Does It Again

Thursday, October 8th, 2015 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Midnight Syndicate's "Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering" album coverAs you are all likely aware by this point, I go all fan-girl when it comes to my goth-boy-band crush, Midnight Syndicate.

From way back when they were providing the soundtrack to the Playboy Mansion’s Halloween bashes to the music they produced for movies like The Dead Matter, I’ve hung on their every note; and no fantasy game night or Halloween season would be complete without them.

So when Ed Douglas contacted me to say Midnight Syndicate had recently completed something really special that would be right down my under-lit, cob-webby alley, I promptly began stalking the mail carrier until the package arrived.

And once again, the boys deliver – in a wonderfully different and unexpected way.

A Christmas album.

Yes, you read that right. Midnight Syndicate has just released Christmas: A Ghostly Gathering.

How, oh how to describe this to you?   Let’s just say that if Beetlejuice invited you over to the Maitlands for a holiday Zagnut, he’d be playing this collection on all speakers.

Midnight Syndicate has taken your favorite holiday tunes and added in their unique mixture of dissident chords, eerie harmonics and original craftsmanship to deliver charmingly haunting fare that will take you from October straight through December.

Read More »

Beyond Ever After: Into the Woods

Monday, January 5th, 2015 | Posted by Thomas Parker

Into the Woods poster-smallWhenever I walk into my local chain bookstore, I am immediately attracted to a display near the entrance which bears the enticing banner, “Former Bestsellers.”

Here reside the Grishams, the Clancys, and the Kings of last year and the year before, pushed off the pedestal of the New and the Now by the never-ceasing flood that issues from the mouth of modern publishing. It is a great place to grab a good read, cheap.

It is, alas, the fate of even the most successful book to eventually become a “former.” A quick consultation of the New York Times bestseller list reveals that the number one hardcover fiction book of this first week of 2015 is Gray Mountain by John Grisham. It is, I am sure, an efficient and effective novel, but if we could leap forward two or three hundred years and conduct a cyborg-on-the-street interview, what is the likelihood that any of our subjects would be able to name the characters or recount the plot of Gray Mountain?

Of course I’m being unfair to Grisham, a writer who is a straightforward, popular entertainer of the moment with no aspirations to membership in the Pantheon. Might we do better asking our 24th century citizen about A Farewell to Arms, or Lolita, or Portnoy’s Complaint? Yes? Umm… no, I think.

What could we ask about with any chance of success — never mind centuries from now, but even today? (Outside the halls of the English Department, I fear that the great works of Hemingway, Nabokov, and Roth wouldn’t fare any better than Forever Amber — and if you’ve never heard of that one, that’s my point, and if you have… oh, just sit down and be quiet!) Here’s a guess — Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestilskin, Hansel and Gretel, stories that were already old when Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first collected them two hundred years ago.

Read More »

Art of the Genre: Roger Dean, Asia, and Finding Myself in ’82

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 | Posted by Scott Taylor

asia_alphafThere was a time back in my middle-school days when friends of mine were allowed to join those ‘record clubs’ that you could find in magazine ads. You might remember these deals, where you’d pay like a penny and get twelve cassette tapes if you promised to buy six at regular price over the next year. Now for an eleven-year-old, this was a pretty significant addition to a small tape collection, so imagine my chagrin when I’d see friends show up with all this new music and me still with such a modest collection.

It was during one of these bulk purchases that my best friend at the time, Jason, picked up a copy of Asia Alpha. Jason eventually moved away after 7th grade, but years later, we became roommates in college during our freshman and sophomore years in the dorm. During our time together, around 1990, I purchased an Asia collection (Then and Now) on disc and Jason asked what I’d purchased. When I told him, he replied ‘I don’t know that band’, and I was like, ‘What!? You owned Asia Alpha back in middle school!’ and he was like ‘I did?’ I guess the moral of that particular story is that when providing twelve tapes at once to an eleven-year-old, it might be more about the bragging rights and cool factor than the music.

Anyway, the prime reason I’d remembered he had the tape was that the album cover was so incredibly cool. It was far beyond anything I’d seen at the time and to this day I’m still pretty enchanted with it. Many years would pass before I discovered that the artist was Roger Dean, and that he’d been doing funky and incredible alternate fantasy images for more years than I’d been alive.

Read More »

Fantasy Out Loud V: Steeleye Span Meets Terry Pratchett

Monday, September 15th, 2014 | Posted by markrigney

815A5CiM4DL._SL1200_In late 2013, a strange event occurred: Steeleye Span, a British band that has outlived just about all other contenders except the Rolling Stones, released a CD entitled Wintersmith.

Coincidence? After all, there’s a Discworld spin-off by that name, too, a Terry Pratchett novel aimed at the young adult market and starring the infinitely resourceful tween witch, Tiffany Aching. Could there be a connection?

Indeed. It turns out that Pratchett has been a fan of Steeleye since the early seventies (“Boys Of Bedlam” was a particular favorite), and Steeleye’s lead vocalist, the incomparable Maddy Prior, has been, in turn, an unabashed fan of Pratchett’s. They got to talking, and next thing you know, the world was gifted with a terrific fantasy-driven album of folk, rock, and traditional Morris dances, all tied together by the Great A’Tuin and a nasty case of winter.

Pratchett’s Wintersmith is the third installment in the irregular Tiffany Aching series, a sort of sideline to the “official” Discworld novels (The Color Magic, et al). The story centers on Tiffany’s impulsive decision to “dance the Dark Morris,” a rite that shifts summer to winter – except that when Tiffany includes herself, both summer and winter, elemental godlings, take note of her and seek, in their own ways, to possess her. Tiffany now faces the possibility of endless winter, in the demi-human form of a smitten teenage boy.

Read More »

Was Star Trek‘s Theme Music Stolen From Beethoven?

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

The CBC’s Tom Allen and the Gryphon Trio do some amazing musical detective work, following the clues from Mahler to Brahms to Beethoven to the 23rd Century, in this delightful single-take through the twisted subterranean corridors of Paul Hahn’s piano studio in Toronto. Also starring teleporting pianist Jamie Parker, and a little cosplay.


CONAN: “Caveman Battle Doom”

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 | Posted by John R. Fultz


Cover to CONAN’s split release “Conan Vs. Slomatics” (2011)

What is the sound of Sword and Sorcery?

It probably sounds a lot like CONAN. This U.K.-based power trio gives a whole new meaning to the word heavy. But these guys aren’t hampered by “Cookie Monster” vocals or the demonic noise-worship that often plagues today’s heaviest acts.

CONAN have coined their own genre, calling themselves “caveman battle doom.” For hardcore fans, this is simply a new sub-category of the “Doom Rock” scene. For the rest of us, it’s an amusingly accurate description of CONAN’s unique sound.

As the band’s own bio puts it: “CONAN are as heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth.” TheObelisk.net christened them “Europe’s heaviest battle-sloths…” It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

After releasing an indie debut EP in 2010 entitled “Horseback Battle Hammer,” the trio signed to Burning World Records and released their critically acclaimed magnum opus, “Monnos.”

Both albums are perfect for headbanging, slow-grooving, couch-tripping, or simply cranking up loud enough to vibrate the walls of your apartment. And your skull. They are super sludgy brilliance in the vein of early BLACK SABBATH, KYUSS, MELVINS, and TOOL. Call it “stoner rock” if you will, but absolutely no drugs are necessary.

Fantasy and sword-and-sorcery themes are essential to CONAN’s lyrical cosmology, which makes perfect sense for a band named after Robert E. Howard’s famous barbarian. 

Read More »

Finntroll! Viking Metal and the War Against Irony

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013 | Posted by M Harold Page


Imagine if the Cookie Monster joined a Madness tribute band and persuaded them to adopt a heavier guitar sound while he rapped.

There’s a half-naked man on stage and he’s got pointed ears — not the rubber Vulcan/Elf ears you see at parties; full on floppy troll ears. More importantly, he’s not doing this for comic effect. He addresses the crowd in a crisp Finnish accent; “Did anybody buy the album!”

Incoherent roars and yells from the pit where long-haired students wait to “mosh.”

Somebody must have boasted about getting a pirate download because Mathias – Finntroll‘s lead singer – shoots back levelly, “#### you, sir.  We have the vinyl over there. You can go buy it right now.”

Perhaps the pirate retorts that information wants to be free, or that musicians should play for the love of it. If he does, his words are lost because the music starts.

Gamer Dad and I have hauled ourselves to the Classic Grand in Glasgow, a city which reminds me of late Constantinople; the inhabitants live out a vibrant life amid the crumbling relics of Victorian glory, repurposing old buildings until the very scars in their fabric tell the sagas of lost milieus. This venue started life in 1915 as a cinema. Now it’s a rather good rock club.

We 40-something dads have the shortest hair in the room and are at the upper end of the demographic, but we don’t care. We’re here to see Tyr, who are playing support tonight. They’re more melodic than their cohorts and sing about Viking gods and the old ways. Robert E. Howard would approve (but that’s another story). However, we’re in no rush to get our train. We stay for the main act.

Finntroll are… not easy listening.

Read More »

Goth Chick News: Music for Seducing Your (Dead or Partially Dead) Date

Thursday, September 12th, 2013 | Posted by Sue Granquist

image002I have no explanation for why a fairly cheesy Bride of Frankenstein remake from 1985 popped into my head while listening to this, but it did.

There I was in my headphones, taking in what can only be described as seductively creepy orchestrations, when suddenly Sting appeared in my subconscious, leaning over his “monster” in the form of a dewy-eyed Jennifer Beals.

Maybe this is normal when you finally eat red meat after a long hiatus…

Perhaps I’d better back up and explain.

In celebration of the upcoming “season,” musician Ken Elkinson had sent over a copy of his new release, Halloween Ambient, and I was giving it a listen prior to approving it for play over the sound system in the Black Gate offices.

The last time I allowed my seasonal music to be played without previewing it first, Howard Andrew Jones and John O’Neill were moved to go shirtless, don fake fangs and red contact lenses, and hang around the interns’ canteen asking everyone’s blood type. After that incident, I promised the Black Gate lawyers there would be no further public playing of music which had the potential of inciting poor staff behavior.

Halloween Ambient was definitely not getting played.

Read More »

  Earlier Entries »

This site © 2015 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.