Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dark Suites Music Reviews

Dr. John The Night Tripper--Gris Gris (1968)

Like some backwoods black magic ceremony, Dr. John The Night Tripper's (shortened a few years later to just simply Dr. John) 1968 debut album was something American listeners had never heard before. The entire album is imbued with a dark quality that feels as if he were trying to give us the musical embodiment of the religious mélange which makes up the rites and beliefs of Cajun swamp magic. It is at times irreverent, strange, amusing and frightening, but always adventurous. Wails, moans, insane cackles, animal screeches and caws- all these cacophonous sounds are grist for the mill as Dr. John draws us into his mystical world of swamp magic and gris-gris bags, voodoo dolls and red beans and rice. Lyrics are repeated, as if the singers were summoning something from beyond with their voices.
Of course, the standout track on this debut album is the one that made Dr. John famous: “I Walk On Guilded Splinters”, a song about black magic and the Hoodoo’s dark powers to control zombies and raise Hell on Earth. And with Dr. John’s rough tone, it all sounds believable that he could make a zombie or two with the contents of his gris-gris bag.
GRIS GRIS is an album that could only come from The Big Easy, a city as much a dark mélange as this album.
If you have a taste for soulful, dark, strange music that at times feels as if it might actually call forth some demonic swamp entity to do your bidding, then find this album and add it to your collection.

1. "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya”
2. "Danse Kalinda Ba Doom"
3. "Mama Roux"
4. "Danse Fambeaux"
5. "Croker Courtbullion"
6. "Jump Sturdy"
7. "I Walk On Guilded Splinters"

Check out Dr. John's website--it's worth it.

--Nickolas Cook

HIM: Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice
Review written by Steven M Duarte

I have often defended HIM’s music. Too often people hear their music and dismiss them for some alt emo band. There is so much more to their music than their radio friendly singles. Their new release “Screamworks,” is perhaps their most emo sounding album yet which makes it tough to defend their music from falling into the emo category.
Screamworks is very much a departure from their previously dark and heavy album “Venus Doom.” Venus doom had heavy down tuned guitar work along with dark lyrics and themes. The songs averaged 6 minutes in length with the exception of Sleepwalking past hope which clocks in at 10 minutes. My enthusiasm for the band was increased tenfold when I first heard Venus Doom. HIM has always had that dark gothic sound and Venus Doom really put that side of them center stage. Venus doom was based off of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The darkness of the album really reflects this.
Screamworks is much more pop and emo than any of their previous work. This album is closer sounding to 1999’s “Razorblade Romance.” Majority of the themes and lyrics included on Screamworks involve heartbreak and love. The radio friendly single “Heartkiller,” is very reminiscent of the Razorblade Romance era. A couple of the songs contain throwbacks to the old casio keyboard sound of the 80’s. “In The Arms of Rain,” starts with an Atari Pong sound effect that plays throughout the entire track. “The foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness,” also contains an 80’s Depeche Mode sounding backing track. A very nice throw back to the 80’s with the use of these effects.
“Ode to Solitude,” and “Like St. Valentine,” are two of the heavier songs on the album. These two mirror the sound found on Love Metal. I always felt that HIM sounded their best when playing heavier and this album could have used more of these heavier songs. Screamworks is not a bad album by any means; it’s just disappointing that they were headed towards a darker sound first with Dark Light then with Venus Doom. Now they have taken the route of a lighter pop sound which can leave HIM fans on divided ends.

3 heartagrams out of 5

Track List
1. In Venere Veritas
2. Scared To Death
3. Heartkiller
4. Dying Song
5. Disarm Me [With Your Loneliness]
6. Love, The Hardest Way
7. Katherine Wheel
8. In The Arms Of Rain
9. Ode To Solitude
10. Shatter Me With Hope
11. Acoustic Funeral (For Love In Limbo)
12. Like St. Valentine
13. The Foreboding Sense Of Impending Happiness

(Visit H.I.M. here)

--Steven M Duarte

Rob Zombie: Hellbilly Deluxe 2- Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool
Review written by Steven M Duarte

The long awaited sequel to the original Hellbilly Deluxe has finally been released. Fresh off directing the not too well received Halloween 2, Zombie felt the need to return to his horror rock roots. And for the most part he succeeded as Hellbilly Deluxe is much more 90’s era Zombie than his previous effort Educated Horses.
Even though not specifically stated in public, I always felt that Educated Horses was somewhat of a concept album. Then Zombie had a new band backing him and he had not released an album in a couple of years. The overall direction of Educated Horses took a much different direction than we had previously heard on Hellbilly Deluxe and Sinister Urge. To my surprise Hellbilly 2 features much of the same feel and direction of his previous albums. The titles of the songs mirror names of 1950 B-movies that were never created. We have titles such as Werewolf, Baby, Mars Needs Women, and Werewolf Women of the SS. Zombie includes samples of dialogue from older movies, much like Hellbilly deluxe contained.
One thing that Zombie incorporates into the new album that was not used too much in previous albums is his use of distortion for his singing. Songs such as What, and Dream Factory contain this filter. While I guess the potential is there for it to sound cool, I just couldn’t get into the sound and felt like it actually took away from the songs. Zombie’s band from Educated Horses is back which includes one of my favorite metal guitarists John 5. His melting riffs never disappoint and Hellbilly 2 is full of face melting solos and haunting complex riffs.
There really are not any bad tracks on the album. Every track is listenable and you really will not find yourself skipping through tracks to get to your favorite. The entire album is decent enough to allow a full play through. One nod that horror fans will easily recognize will be Zombies inclusion of a song for his faux trailer Werewolf Women of the SS. Werewolf Women of the SS was one of the trailers included between the Planet Terror and Death Proof double feature released in 2007. The song is fitting for the trailer and we can only hope that Zombie actually makes a Grindhouse style full feature film for Werewolf Women. Hey if Robert Rodriguez’s Machete does well, it might actually happen.

Track List
01. Jesus Frankenstein
02. Sick Bubble-Gun
03. What?
04. Mars Needs Women
05. Werewolf, Baby
06. Virgin Witch
07. Dream Factory
08. Burn
09. Cease to Exist
10. Werewolf Women of the SS
11. The Man Who Laughs

(Visit Rob Zombie's site here)

--Steven M Duarte

Calabrese: They Call Us Death
Review written by Steven M Duarte

Calabrese is band that has steadily gained popularity in the states. I myself am new to their music and was excited to hear their new album “They Call Us Death.” I can happily say that I was left with a good impression of their sound and look forward to not only checking out their back catalogue but waiting for new releases from the trio.
I have always been very clear on not wanting to label how a band sounds, but if someone were to ask I would point out Calabrese’s heavy influence from Misfits, Type O Negative and even the great Ramones. They have a good sound with a touch of Rockabilly thrown in for good measure. The vocals which are handled by Jimmy and Bobby Calabrese are very reminiscent of Evil Elvis himself Glen Danzig.
Calabrese’s lyrics and sound centers on horror themes with the use of B-movie sound bites. During my many listenings of this album, I was often reminded of 70 to late 80’s era Misfits. Calabrese definitely has the sound of an evolved modern Misfits.
Many of the songs found on They Call Us Death are very catchy tunes. Calabrese does a fine job of creating catchy tunes without having each one sound the same. Too often bands come up with hooks that just sound too damn similar. It can sometimes sound like your listening to one long song. Two of my favorite tracks from the album include the title track “They Call Us Death,” and “Black Anathema.”
“They Call Us Death,” is an album that grabbed my attention and appealed to both my horror and metal side. Calabrese is a band to look out for in 2010 so do yourself a favor and buy “They Call Us Death,” to share in the nightmare that is Calabrese.

Track List
01. They Call Us Death
02. Black Anathema
03. Deep in The Red
04. Near Twilight
05. Blood of the Wolf
06. Within the Abyss
07. Venomwolf
08. Summon the Beyond
09. Violet Hellfire
10. The Machine of Instant Death
11. Endless Night
12. Loveless God

(Visit Calabrese here)

--Steven M Duarte