Saturday, December 9, 2017

Darkest of the Hillside Thickets - Nyarlathotep



The Crawling Chaos.
The Faceless God.
The messenger of the outer gods.
Nyarlathotep.

The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets is a perfect band for what I like to write about. Hailing from Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, this lovable band of rock nerds have created something truly wonderful; a cheeky punk rock band whose majority of songs are half comedy half grim homages to H.P. Lovecraft.

It is a perfect idea for a rock band, and something I dearly needed in my life.

This light-hearted approach to Lovecraft is something of akin to the horror comedy genre of movies like “Evil Dead” or “Reanimator,” where humour is found amongst the deadly and horrible. Such things have always touched upon my sensibilities and dark sense of humour and after many years of gradually listening to more and more music by Darkest of the Hillside Thickets I have come to love the band and all that they do.

Despite the fact no one I know has ever heard of them, Darkest of the Hillside Thickets have been around since 1993. That is almost twenty-five years of being virtual unknowns, and once again I have the internet to thank for introducing them to me. A cult band if there ever was one, the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets have done a handful of small shows every few years in the British Columbia area, sometimes branching out into Washington state, maybe elsewhere, I do not know.

Way back in the day I hosted a radio show, and one night I was digging deep trying to find songs to play in a Lovecraft theme episode, and that was when I discovered Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. At the time I had only been listening to songs like “The Innsmouth Look” and “Yog-Sothoth.” It would take a long time to discover some of their best that came out later like “Shhh,” “Frogstar” and “The Math Song,” none of which have any notable connection to Lovecraft, but “You Fool Warren is Dead!” is absolutely about “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” and it is fantastic. However, my favorite, is one of the first I ever heard “Nyarlathotep.”

I am a man who deeply enjoys deep lyrics, but today will not be one of those days where I post some quote from the song in the blog and blab about how clever it is, because in “Nyarlathotep” the words are not in English. If the comment section on youtube.com is to be believed, Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are singing in ancient Egyptian. Upon further research I have since learned that the band reached out to their fans to help write “Nyarlathotep” finding a fan who actually spoke, or at least knew, middle Egyptian. That sort of artist fan relationship is very endearing.

Also judging from the comment section, the Japanese really like “Nyarlathotep.”

From what sounds like a tambourine, a death rattle is created, and it is the first sound in “Nyarlathotep,” the first sting that brings out the deathly ambient sound. Next the war drums hit and a rolling thunder carries us forward to the lead guitar and Egyptian vocal melody.

"Nyarlathotep"
by Erkanerturk
I have talked in the past about the sound of implied terror and horror, and “Nyarlathotep” has something of that, but also something else, it has that joyful levity. Like all the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets songs there is an ironic mirth added to the songs of dread; and dread is an appropriate description of the subject matter.

Everything Lovecraft wrote, and everything he created, was horrifying but also nihilistic, and the being Nyarlathotep is no exception. The space monsters in Lovecraft’s works are also ultra dimensional gods, and are often very difficult to describe because they are so alien. As I explained in the last review, Cthulhu physically is the most human, somehow, and as such he has proven to be the easiest for fans to rationalize in their minds and illustrate, and this probably goes a long way to explain Cthulhu’s popularity. The most human cosmic god Lovecraft created in personality is probably Nyarlathotep. None of the Lovecraft gods have any relatable human motivations or emotions, they are completely unrelatable, except for Nyarlathotep.

Using his shape shifting powers Nyarlathotep has through out history appeared as a human, most notably as an obsidian dark skinned Egyptian, who shows devices and objects of wonderful and terrible affects. His powers are many and he could cause massive harm at any time to all human civilization, but he relents, for Nyarlathotep enjoys toying with humans, we are his play things, his greatest source of amusement. Nyarlathotep’s playfulness and cruelty are inherently human traits, his dark sense of humour and manipulative manner is the behavior of a trickster, and humans can relate to that.

This video from the Exploring Series explains Nyarlathotep better than I can:

The Exploring Series - Nyarlathotep:

I really like the Exploring Series, he talks about all my favorite things, Middle Earth, Elder Scrolls, and Lovecraft. We should probably hang out.

In summary, some nerds in British Columbia decided to make punk band where they combine horror and comedy to sing about a variety things, but namely Lovecraft’s mythos, and I like them because their fun.

- King of Braves

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Metallica - All Nightmare Long



For the longest time I have had mixed feelings about Metallica. I love Metallica, they are the premier American metal band, and more so than any other band they brought metal music to the mainstream. I love Metallica’s first five albums, and there are good number of really goods songs on their sixth and seventh album. However, Metallica did sell out.

Selling out is a controversial and complicated thing, as the nature of it is largely subjective. Some die hard fans think the slightest change in a band’s lineup or musical stylings is an automatic sign of selling out, some defend a musical group they love even when they blatantly start doing indigent things solely for money. I do not feel that Metallica sold out when they made their first music video for the song “One,” that was just them finally having the resources to do something artistic like they never could before, and the “One” music video is freaking epic. I do not feel that James Hetfield wanting to sing a country song was him selling out, that was just some strange different thing he wanted to do. I do not feel that having he Black album produced by a different production company was selling out, that was just that next logical move for the distribution of their music.

I think the movement Metallica sold out was when they promised to perform a live concert of their new album, the Black album, and they just played the CD for everyone instead. I mean, what the fuck was that about? Maybe they were not totally corporate whores at that point, and the Black album is amazing, but that moment, that was the beginning of the end.

Then Napster happened. I respect that Ulrich did not want his music stolen, but talk about fighting against technology, and talk about unappreciation for the real goal, which is sharing your art with the world. The point is, Metallica made it clear they cared more about money than making music and while Load and Reload had some great songs, there was a big dip in overall inspiration and quality. Then “St. Anger” came out in 2003, and I thought I was just about finished with Metallica forever.

If all you want is money, then I am specifically not going to buy your music. Your head is in the wrong place. Go home Metallica, you’re drunk.

So… I sort of have mixed feelings about Metallica. On one hand I love them, and their earlier music is some of the most important metal music ever. On the other hand, they behaved like such sad prostitutes for such a long time and the music they made was really bad probably because of it.

In 2008 “Death Magnetic” came out, and despite everyone telling me it was pretty good, I put off listening to it for six or seven years. When I finally did listen to it, I was forced to admit that it was pretty good. It was not a return to providence like “Master of Puppets” but it was a huge step back in the right direction. To recover from the cringe that was “St. Anger” Metallica had to go back, to go forward.

I have made it pretty clear what early day Metallica charms me the most, their obsession with death, and deeper than that, their interest in horror of the Lovecraft variety. What better way to return to form than to have Metallica write a new song about cosmic horror.

The single song I took the greatest liking to from “Death Magnetic” was easily “All Nightmare Long.” Long before I began to dissect the lyrics, as is my want, I could feel a Lovecraft vibe. Metallica had worked such magic in “The Call of Ctulu” and while being fundamentally a very different song “All Nightmare Long” had that same dangerous ambience. I could tell it was a Lovecraft inspired song, even before I dove into the lyrics.

As it turns out “All Nightmare Long” is about the Hounds of Tindalos. I have read every story by Lovecraft… and I had no idea what the Hounds of Tindalos were.

"Hound of Tindalos"
by Mike Franchina
As it turns out the Hounds of Tindalos are not from a Lovecraft story, but are from a story by Frank Belknap Long and later these creatures were folded into the Lovecraft mythos by August Derleth, and I had to look all that up. Apparently, Lovecraft did mention the extra dimensional beings in “The Whisper in Darkness” but I do not remember that.

The Hounds of Tindalos exists outside of space and time and they hunger for something in human life that makes them hunt out humans once they can make a connection to them. If I am understanding what I have read online correctly they are creatures of sharp angles and can therefore pass through any angle less than a hundred and twenty degrees, whatever the hell that means exactly. I suppose rational do not apply to abominations from other dimensions.

Like a lot of creatures of otherworldly terror, the Hounds of Tindalos are very mysterious, even in the stories specifically about them. The appearance of the Hounds is unknown as no one who has ever seen them has survived but apparently their appearance is somewhat bat like, and the name comes more from their nature than their form. But how does Metallica describe this?

“Hunt you down without mercy,
Hunt you down all nightmare long.”


This is an amazing chorus whether you know about the terrible Hounds of Tindalos or not. Some determined killer unrelenting hunting down their prey, possibly during sleep, possibly during a waking nightmare; either way this is intense and exciting, and it makes for a great metal song.

“All Nightmare Long” is pretty great for a few reasons but it represents hope. How does a nightmare song about being mercilessly hunted down by otherworldly monsters represent hope? The content is not hopeful, the existence of the song itself is hopeful, just as “Death Magnetic” is an album of hope. Metallica needed to go backward to go forward. By returning to form, even just a little there is the new hope that future Metallica songs will be good, and maybe they can add to their already impressive catalogue.

Now all I have to do is listen to “Hardwire… to Self-Destruct,” maybe I’ll get around to it in six or seven years.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Metallica - The Thing That Should Not Be



I find Metallica a difficult band to talk about. A band of Metallica’s success, quality and legacy, has lots to talk about, and I know a lot about them, however the gulf between what I know and what hardcore Metallica fans know is sizeable. It is like talking about the Beatles, there are some people out there that know so much about them, it feels almost pointless to try to contribute anything new to the conversation.

You know what I also know a lot about, H.P. Lovecraft.

I wrote what I would consider to be my best Music In Review to date in 2013, and it was focused around Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu.” I combined my knowledge of heavy metal music and horror literature to create what I think is a nice commentary on both subjects. So, I feel like I should continue to play to my strengths.

I think it is safe to say that Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” is one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and I believe it is the most beloved album by Metallica fans. Basically no one needs me to elaborate further on that point.

Within the album “Master of Puppets” the two most popular songs are “Sanitarium” and the title track “Master of Puppets.” Obviously both songs are fantastic. “Sanitarium” is about being in an insane asylum, and poses the interesting situation that a sane person could be unjustly placed with the asylum and the life they live there within would drive them insane, thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Master of Puppets” meanwhile is about drug addiction, and the drug is the master and user is the puppet, a very metal piece of poetry. Again though, no one needs me to point out how awesome these two songs are or what they are about, they are both infamous and everyone knows how fantastic they are.

Does everyone know “The Thing That Should Not Be?” I mean does everyone know what the thing that should not be is? Because I can help with that.

“The Call of Ktulu” may have been the first Lovecraft inspired song by Metallic but not the last. Traces of Lovecraft are in many of Metallica’s songs, and mostly with similar themes like insanity, like the afore mentioned “Sanitarium.” The song “The Thing That Should Not Be” is rare insofar that is explicitly mention beings and other things in it’s lyrics from Lovecraft’s works. Every line in fact appears to reference something from the Cthulhu mythos.

“Messenger of fear in sight,
Dark deception kills the light.”


This opening line is a touch vague, as there is a lot of dark deception in a lot of literature, horror and otherwise, Lovecraft or not. However, I suspect this is a reference to Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep is the message of the father god Azathoth. Nyarlathotep is a shape shifting, mind reading, trickster sort of like a much crueler and much more monstrous version of Loki from Norse mythology.

"Deep One" by Kingovrat
“Hybrid children watch the sea,
Pray for father, roaming free.”


This is a reference to the deep ones. In the book “Shadow over Innsmouth” it is discovered that the people of Innsmouth, a fictional new England town, obtain their wealth several generations ago when a sea captain made a deal with the deep ones, these andromorphic frogs with fish faces who dwell at the bottom of the ocean. In exchange for wealth, the deep ones wanted Innsmouth’s women, and thus the descendants of Innsmouth, the current generation, were mixed raced slimy hybrid frog people. The praying for father, roaming free, is possibly a reference to Cthulhu, the god the deep ones worship, however I suspect it is a reference to Dagon, the original frog/fish monster man Lovecraft created in the book of the same name. Also, Dagon is mentioned briefly in “Shadow over Innsmouth” where he is referred to as Father Dagon.

“Fearless wretch,
Insanity,
He watches,
Lurking beneath the sea,
Great old one,
Forbidden site,
He searches,
Hunter of the shadows is rising,
Immortal,
In madness you dwell.”


It is possible the chorus could be taken to be either Dagon or Cthulhu, but I suspect the mention of things like “immortal” and “great old one” is more likely to be in reference to the elder god Cthulhu, with the “forbidden site” being the lost city of R’lyeh, the very place Cthulhu rests.

"The Crawling Chaos"
by Ramsimation
“Crawling chaos, underground,
Cult has summoned, twisted sound.”


The Crawling Chaos is the title and description used to describe the afore mentioned Nyarlathotep. While being a shapeshifter his true form is a tripodal worm like monster with no discernable neck or eyes, with a writhing mess of tentacles and indeterminate number of arms sprouting from his body. When taken a more human form he leads the cult of Azathoth.

“Out from ruins once possessed,
Fallen city, living death.”


This is most likely a reference to Cthulhu and the lost city of R’lyeh. I suppose it is possible that it could be reference to “The Nameless” city, another dead city and title of another Lovecraft book.

“Not dead which eternal lie,
Stranger eons death may die.”


This verse is a modification of:

“That is not dead can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die.”


This passage is from the Necronomicon and appears to a few Lovecraft stories, most notably “The Call of Cthulhu,” and also “The Nameless City.” The passage is about the old gods, and how they cannot die and are merely resting, in the case of Cthulhu, which is doubtlessly the elder god Metallica is singing about, the great monster sleeps beneath the sea, undying and when enough time has passed he will awaken and horrors unimaginable will be wrecked upon the world. Even death may die? Maybe this is to suggest a fate far worse than death? Perhaps there is an end even to the elder gods if enough time and strange events were to pass?

And lastly:

Cthulhu by unknown
“Drain you of your sanity,
Face the thing that should not be.”


Given the strong presence of Cthulhu in this song, and his overall popularity and obvious influence on Metallica, the thing that should not be, could conceivably be Cthulhu.

However, the crawling chaos, Nyarlathotep was also mentioned, and it is sort of strange to say this, but Cthulhu is physically the most human looking of all of Lovecraft’s elder gods, the easiest to visual make sense of. So perhaps the thing that should not be is the cult leader, Nyarlathotep, in this true form as an incomprehensible mass of nonsense.

There is still another possibility, Azathoth. Azathoth true form is even harder to describe or make sense of than Nyarlathotep’s, and it is effectively his cult that has been mentioned whenever Nyarlathotep is referenced as the leader thereof in this song. Azathoth is the most powerful elder god, with it being believed that all of reality is simply his dream and should he ever awaken all of reality would cease to exist. That is certainly a thing that should not be.

We could also invoke Yog-Sothoth, whose appearance is an insanity inducing storm of tentacles, eyes and teeth, but he is not mentioned anywhere in the song, even tangentially, so it is highly doubtful Metallica is referring to him.

It is not entirely clear what the thing that should not be is, because there are so many things in Lovecraft’s works that should not exists even within the crazy continuity he had created. However, the best guess is probably Cthulhu.

So, let’s recap; the obvious, Metallica, great band, “Master of Puppets” is an amazing album and the title track and “Sanitarium” are great, probably the best songs off the album. The less obvious is “The Thing That Should Not Be” is possibly the third best song on the album “Master of Poppets,” and the very thing that should not be is most likely Cthulhu.

I hope I helped.

- King of Braves

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ghost - He Is



Sometimes when you write out your thoughts and feelings you learn a lot about yourself. I guess I must come to terms with the fact that I really like songs about Satan.

Maybe it is the rebel in me, that is drawn to the rebellious nature of Satanism and Satanist. It could be that the spirit of rock and roll that is of revolution and defiance, and from a biblical perspective the devil could easily be interpreted as rock and roll as he literally rebels against an all-powerful god. I like the complicated character that Lucifer has become over his many iteration and the complex entity that he has now become in fiction.

There are a lot of reasons to enjoy the fictional character Satan, and there are even more reasons to like the metal band Ghost, which includes all the reasons to like Satan. Satanic music, and Satanic metal are not new, nor is adopting a persona, but Ghost is something special. I think I have made that clear with my two previous reviews. I crushed hard on Ghost when I discovered “Square Hammer” and I have confidently declared Ghost as the best Satanic band ever with the best satanic song ever in “Year Zero” however Ghost has a fantastic playlist and they have another song that should probably, or possibly, be considered their very best and that is “He Is.”

“He Is” to the best of my knowledge the only song in the history of music that comes across as a love song about the devil. A love poem to the devil. Who would think to do such a thing? Tobias Forge apparently.

The theme of Ghost is Satanism, and its presentation and visuals incorporate much of what one would expect for demonic imagery, however there is also the aspects of parody present. Everything about Popestar was a parody of the Catholic church, and obviously the Pope. While Popestar is the most painfully obvious example of this Christian parody, it is far from the only action in inversion. It is not just he visuals as well, but also the sound, again, the obvious example is the inclusion of choirs and chanting, however there is only one song like “He Is,” and it’s parody come from Christian rock.

I believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who respects or enjoys “Christian Rock.” Rock songs with Christian themes or messages are fine, but when the music comes second, the music suffers. Ghost, turning things upside down has effectively made a Satanic Christian rock song in the form of “He Is.”

When you pause to asses the content of some Christian rock songs, you should soon discover that the message of love for Jesus is venturing uncomfortably into the realm of being in love with Jesus. This adds an unintentional element of comedy to the genre, and Ghost, mimics this wonderfully in “He Is.” It is a ballad done in the style of Christian rock song, about their affinity for the devil. It is so intense in it’s phrasing that admiration becomes love, and the love is so passionate, that it comes across like a love song.

Who knew that this was exactly what the world needed. Again, Tobias Forge apparently.

Since discovering Ghost and “He Is,” I have on several occasions related this allegory and explained the great joy of this song. I received the expected reaction every time, a great surprise that such a song could exist and an even greater disbelief that is was beautiful.

If you pause to inspect the lyrical content of “He Is” you should soon discover that it is very poetic, and indeed beautiful.

The first verse:

“We're standing here by the abyss,
And the world,
Is in flames.
Two star-crossed lovers reaching out,
To the beast,
With many names.”


The chorus:

“He is.
He’s the shining in the light,
Without whom I cannot see,
And he is,
Insurrection, he is spite,
He’s the force that made me be.
He is.
Nostro Dispater,
Nostr'Alma Mater,
He is.”


The second verse:

“We’re hiding here inside a dream,
And all our doubts,
Are now destroyed.
The guidance of the morning star,
Will lead the way,
Into the void.”


And the chorus repeats twice more thereafter.

It is impossible to argue that this is anything other than high level romantic poetry. The combination of ideas within “He Is” is such an unexpected creation that many doubt it’s existence, or fail to believe the quality of the final art piece.

Any jackass can sign about Satan, but a genius is required to make a song like “He Is.” A parody of Christian style, an inversion of expectation, and a daring to be so bold to so openly adore the devil. It should not be a real song, but it is, “He Is.”

Until next month keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ghost - Year Zero



“Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub.
Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer….”


Since I discovered them last year, I have been listening to a lot of Ghost. Despite my best efforts I have had a difficult time over the past couple years of discovering new music I like, fortunately European metal has not let me down, as Avantasia, Sabaton and Ghost all had new content released last year. I talked about all three last year, but I feel like Ghost, the new comer to my music collection, deserves more discussion.

In my opinion Ghost is the most interesting musical creation in recent history. A satanic concept group where all the band are masked ghouls except for the creator and front man Papa Emeritus who is a sort of satanic pope. There was a full commitment by the band to stay in character, and play along that they were legitimate Satanist, and actual ghouls, and this made for amazingly fun live performances.

It has since been revealed that the many of band members have been replaced and none of the original line up are currently active, thus confirming the potential immortality and quasi stage show nature of the band. It has also been reveled that all three Papa Emeritus who have thus far fronted the band were in fact what most people suspected all along, the same person, and due to a legal battle between past members and Emeritus his name has become public and he is in fact Tobias Forge.

Now I have to go and learn about Forge’s earlier work.

My first discovery of Ghost was their 2016 single “Ghost Hammer,” the only original (non-cover) song from their LP Popestar. I loved it. It was greatest song about Satan I had ever heard; but not for very long.

I went to see Ghost weeks after discovering them, and since I was only familiar with “Square Hammer” and a passing knowledge of the rest of their music I was in for a night of discovery. I heard many songs I would love instantly that night, like “Gheleh/Zombie Queen” and “Monstrance Clock.” However, nothing hammers and thunders quite like “Year Zero.”

I just really like the album Infestissumam, as all three songs just mentioned are from it.

It was an impossible to forget performance that sent me home directly to find these songs, I needed to hear “Year Zero” again, and have done so probably two hundred times since then. I have try to pace myself when talking about a band, not to repeat talking about them again for at least a year, and I have literally been waiting a full year to write this. If you are comfortable with, or enthusiastic about, satanic metal music, then listening to “Year Zero” is a must.

In “Yero Zero” the drums are roaring thunder, and everything is built around it and the marching base line. It is a perfect example of a heavy metal song, as it is both loud and powerful, but it is also deadly. Demonic chanting of the many names of Satan, and Emeritus sings of the futility of man’s struggle.

“Since dawn of time the fate of man is that of lice,
Equal as parasites and moving without eyes.”


That’s the first line, it really sets the mood.

It is a song of the hopeless of our plight and the pointlessness of our existence, as the next line makes perfectly clear.

“A day of reckoning when penance is to burn,
Count down together now and say the words that you will learn.”


Which brings us to the chorus, the amazing chorus.

“Hail Satan, Archangelo,
Hail Satan, Welcome year zero.”


The chorus is less sung by Emeritus and more shouted by him. It is a dark invitation that cannot be refused, welcome to year zero. The Satanic invocation adds that something extra that makes the song even more metal; even more badass. Ghost is literally yelling at us “hail Satan.” There is no subtlety in this chorus, there is no room for it. “Year Zero” is the most in your face, Satan worshipping song I have ever heard, and it takes no prisoners.

On an amusing side note, I find it charming the way Emeritus pronounces “Satan” in the chorus, instead of saying “seyt-n” he says “sawt-n,” I do not know if there is some deliberate reference being invoked or if this is an accent thing. I mean Forge is Swedish, but the Swedish do not pronounce Satan like that. Emeritus speaks in what I believe it meant to be a fake Italian/Vatican accent, which blends with his natural Swedish accent creating a very unique voice, so maybe Emeritus just pronounces Satan like that, you know… only he never does at any other time, and he says Satan a lot. Why “sawt-n?” Maybe I’ll never know.

When considering the greatness of a song like “Year Zero” it is a fair conclusion to draw that it is in fact the best Satanic song ever, not necessarily the best song about Satan or Ghost’s best song, however it is the best tribute to Satan ever, and given that most Ghost songs are effectively just that, “Year Zero” stands high among a very fine playlist.

More Ghost Soon.

- King of Braves

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Wax Fang - Dawn Of The Dead Of The Night Of The Hunter




It is the nature of progressive rock to be very experimental. It is also only natural to be highly psychedelic. Musicians have been creating what we consider progressive rock for over a half century now which raises the question, how do bands continue to be “progressive” in rock and roll. The best advise I could give would be, embrace the strange.

Wax Fang is a strange band. I have been listening to them a lot for the past several years and somehow, they continue to surprise me. They are a perfect blend of experimental, psychedelic and strange.

Effectively a two man group, Wax Fang hail from Kentucky, Scott Carney performs lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, piano and others instruments, meanwhile Jacob Heustis plays the bass and keyboards and also provides the backing vocals. They used to have a drummer named Kevin Ratterman. Wax Fang have been making music since 2005 but their popularity surged significantly when they had a successful tour with fellow Kentuckians My Morning Jacket, followed by a very interesting appearance on American Dad.

I would like to tell you that I liked Wax Fang before they were cool, but I would be lying, I discovered Wax Fang through American Dad. I do not watch American Dad regularly but my favorite episode is the strange space rock opera that was “Lost in Space,” where… well it was strange. There is a scene where the aliens probe Jeff’s mind to see his memories of Hailey, and what we see is a not true love, and it is done as a sort of music video for Wax Fang’s song “Majestic.”

Majestic on American Dad:

I had thought about doing a review on “Majestic” but I failed to strike while the iron was hot. That episode of American Dad aired four years ago (2013), also “La La Land” the album that houses the song “Majestic” came out ten years ago (2007). No mater how I view it, I am late to this party. “Majestic” is a great song, and I think a lot of people know that without me writing anything about it. However, despite their recent surge in notoriety, Wax Fang remains a cult band, most of their work is unknown, and they have songs other than “Majestic.”

With a title like “Dawn Of The Dead Of The Night Of The Hunter” it is only natural I would be take notice. “Dawn Of The Dead Of The Night Of The Hunter” is a long title for a song, but I knew immediately the references at hand, Wax Fang had combined the title of two famous movies, “Dawn of The Dead” and “The Night of the Hunter.” “Dawn of The Dead” 1978 is George A. Romero’s second installment in his zombie movies, and in my opinion the best one. “The Night of The Hunter” 1955 is a classic film about a religious conman terrorizing a poor family after serving time with the condemned father who confessed to hiding ten thousand stolen dollars. The music video contains clips from both movies as well cuts from 1974’s “Deathdream,” which is about family wishing their son home from Vietnam after he has been killed, and he shows up as a vampire, or something, it is not entirely clear, the movie is pretty ambiguous.

The visuals created by the combination of these three movies are rather memorizing, and the video attached I found to be very enjoyable, regardless if you have seen any of the films in question or not. There are a lot of fan made videos online, a stupid quantity really, so I naturally assumed that is exactly what the video attached in this blogpost for “Dawn Of The Dead Of The Night Of The Hunter.” To my surprise that is the official music video. I knew George A. Romero never copyrighted any of this works, which made him significantly less wealthy and also kind of a hero, and I guess the other two films are also in the public domain. I would say it was clever to do such a thing, Wax Fang using clips from, presumably movies they really enjoy, to make a music video that are not protected properties, but it actually speaks to another side of the band, they are a humble bunch. I have no idea what Heustis and Ratterman look like, they are perfectly content to let their music to the talking for them, and instead of a focus on the two musicians we get an interesting art piece combing a great song and three films.

I went and watch “Deathdream” because of this video, and had I not seen the other two films before I surely would have been inspired to seek them out too.

Wax Fang does not follow convention when it comes to song writing. Their lyrics are choppy and pacing is deliberately erratic, there is a blend of short and long sentences making up the content, and yet it works. It is intentionally jarring, the shorter sentences have a deeper impact by the longer presence they hold.

There is an added element of strangeness in Wax Fang songs, for they are very experimental in all things.

“Come to get you,
They’re crawling out of mirrors, into your rooms,
They walk out of the shadows,
Nothing you can do,
Don’t bother trying to hide ‘cause, they’re gonna find you.
It’s just a matter of when.

And when they do, they’ll take you by the arms and tear you in two,
Your spirit from your body,
They’ll make you choose, which one you get to keep and which one you lose,
'Fore you make your decision, listen here.”

I am unsure if the lyrics are meant to be literal and describing some sort of demons ripping the souls out of people, or if it is entirely metaphorical about society forcing to choose to artistic or productive. Will you give up your creative soul or your needed body? There is a lot to take in. The first few listens is was expecting some talk of zombies or conmen, but I suspect the name is more tribute than anything else. Given the lack of identifiable connection between the three films and the song’s lyrical content, and also the vast possibilities for interpretation of those said lyrics, it could be believed that “Dawn Of The Dead Of The Night Of The Hunter” is an embrace of the nonsensical, but I do not believe that. I have not pieced together exactly what this song is about, or what the title has to do with anything, but I think something very deep is being sung about here, and I look forward to figuring it out, or someone commenting below.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Thermals - Here's Your Future



The Thermals are a hip trendy band out of Portland Oregon. I have heard them described as an indie rock band and also a punk rock band, those two styles are very different from one another, and yet weirdly The Thermals could be argued as either one. When I first heard them, I thought the Thermals were best described as a modern punk rock band, one of those soft pop punk bands, you know the type, but I must admit there is an indie influence present. Whatever, all these subgenres are getting hard to keep up with anyway, I guess The Thermals are an indie punk band, and no, I am not sure how they pulled that off.

With a quick listen, The Thermals would not necessarily seem like the sort of band I would get into, what with their somewhat nerdy, somewhat hipster ways, but here we are now, talking about them.

The Thermals
The Thermals is a three-piece band, fronted by Hutch Harris on lead guitar and lead vocals, and his now wife, Kathy Foster who plays bass and does the backing vocals; these two are effectively The Thermals, as they have gone through a few drummers at this point. I like Hutch and Kathy, while I am still learning about who and what they are, they seem really nice, and also, I like their music.

I first discovered The Thermals in November of 2012. I remember the date because I published a Music In Review called “27 Songs about the End of the World” which included The Thermals’ “Here’s Your Future.” You can read that review here: http://colinkellymusicinreview.blogspot.ca/2012/11/27-songs-about-end-of-world.html

At the time, I had never heard of The Thermals before, but I really like “Here’s Your Future” it had great energy, and I liked the prophetic doom of the chorus “here’s your future.”

Since that time, youtube.com has consistently recommended The Thermals to me, surely because I have listened to “Here’s Your Future” so many times on that platform. In that time, I have grown to be very fond of other Thermals’ songs like “Returning to the Fold” and “Never Listen to Me.” I have listened to many of their albums and live performances but my enjoyment seems to be primarily linked to their 2006 album “The Body, the Blood, the Machine.” Despite everything I have heard and learned to love by The Thermals, nothing compares to that first love, nothing is quite as great as “Here’s Your Future.”

As part of “27 Songs about the End of the World,” “Here’s Your Future” is indeed about the world’s end, specifically it is about biblical Armageddon.

“God reached his hand down from the sky,
He flooded the land then he set it on fire.
He said, ‘Fear me again. Know I'm your father.
Remember that no one can breathe underwater.’
So bend your knees and bow your heads.
Save your babies, here's your future.”


This interpretation of god is pretty damn brutal, and thus fairly accurate to the old testament. Rarely we see god presented in such open harshness, not only is he threatening his audience, but he is threatening their children, even more than that he is promising an eternity of abuse, “here’s your future.”

From that dramatic opening verse, we break into Noah’s flood:

“God reached his hand down from the sky,
God asked Noah if he wanted to die,
He said ‘No sir,
Oh, no, sir.’
God said, ‘Here's your future.
It's going rain.’

So, we're packing our things,
We're building a boat.
We're going create the new master race,
Cause we're so pure.
Oh, Lord, we're so pure.
So here's your future.”


Then we discuss Jesus:

“God told his son, ‘It's time to come home,
I promise you won't have to die all alone.
I need you to pay for the sins I create.’
His son said, ‘I will, but Dad, I'm afraid.’"


There is a rather obvious message in this song that is critical of the Christian god. It is very difficult, even for the staunchest apologists, to ignore the cruel and destructive nature of god’s actions in the original white light faith text. Those stories took place in savage times, full of violence and death, so we should expect no less from a god representing spirituality and morality of that era. Still, few, present god in such a linearly frightful way as The Thermals have here. The menace is not only extreme and immediate, but immortal, the shouting of “here’s your future” is of severe significance because it implies that this nightmare is continuous, forever, and given that god is the one enforcing this never-ending tragedy, we are powerless to stop it.

Other songs by The Thermals come across almost positive towards Christianity, and this seemed to somewhat conflict with the content of “Here’s Your Future,” but I come to believe the more upbeat and encouraging religious moments in The Thermals repertoire are mostly sarcastic, but also reflective of a rather neutral perspective on the topic. I do not believe Hutch and Kathy hate religion or Christianity, I suspect they have a passing fondness for it, but are ultimately critical agonistics, and that is why songs like “Here’s Your Future” and “Returning to the Fold” can both exist on the same album.

I thoroughly enjoy a good critical bashing of religion, but agnostic subtexts had nothing to do with my initial love for The Thermals or “Here’s Your Future.” As I said, the energy and pace of “Here’s You Future” is fantastic, the dread of a fearful future shouted at us by Harris with such unrelenting aggression makes for a very intense and powerful song of doom, and the end of the world.

Back in 2012 I knew one day I would be writing this review and promoting this song. “Here’s Your Future” got it’s hooks deep into me all those years ago and never let go. It is probably one of the best songs of this decade that I have discovered.

- King of Braves