On this day last year, THE MISANTHREPORT became physically manifest with an introduction and very first review. There wasn’t much in the way of expectations when this blog began, and while there is much more to accomplish in the endless continuum ahead, it’s been an interesting venture and I’m truly humbled by the response so far. I send my sincerest thanks for the support and encouragement I’ve received from bands, labels, music groups, and also to anyone else who bothers reading my posts. The purpose remains to highlight as much as possible of what is, according to my own preferences, the best in metal while tapping into the meaningful and empowering qualities it possesses. I hope my efforts contribute in some way to the music that continues inspiring many years after first answering its call.
The timing of this genesis was right before Halloween, coincidentally, but also appropriately since metal is intimately connected with the darkness this holiday embraces. Metal, like horror movies, can be particularly enjoyable during this time, and so I decided to commemorate this one-year milestone with a collection of metal albums that complement Halloween, along with a bonus horror movie review. Some of these are personal preferences while others are mentioned as interesting ideas, and many others were also considered. Those may eventually appear in future posts, but for now, this is just a fun opportunity to revisit some older releases in celebration of THE MISANTHREPORT and Halloween. Thanks again for all your support, and here’s to another year… and metal until the end!
CULTES DES GHOULES Häxan
The first full hex from this Polish coven is certainly appropriate for Halloween, and a bewitching presence emanates from its rugged, bass-heavy sound while the arrangements conjure malevolent expressions of the arcane. Raw tremolo and blast beat sections drive their frenzy, which creates moments of heightened enchantment when combined with different elements, but the true power lies in heavy grooving rhythms as Mark Of The Devil projects varying levels of demonic possession through his wretched vocals. Eerie melodies and derangement creep like death through the slower passages, and they unveil ritualistic undertones that become magnified by certain features, including the sound of infant cries on “Baptized by Barron.” These developments reek of depravity, and maniacal impressions continue in the anguished howls that haunt within flowing spectral forces. Dismal guitar tones carry this diabolism with other ambient nuances, and it all crafts an experience like taking part in a Black Mass.
CARACH ANGREN Death Came Through a Phantom Ship
This modern symphonic act from the Netherlands was devised around the paranormal, and their second full-length tale, which was my introduction to the band, is a concept based on the notorious Flying Dutchman. Their imagination fills in any contextual gaps surrounding this mythical ghost ship, and some tracks even give insight into character perspectives involving the captain and his crew. Its symphonic elements form the backdrop for a dark fairytale, and their interactivity with heavy riffs effectively brings out the horror, along with razor-sharp tremolos and various melodic arrangements. Brighter moments near the beginning convey a time before tragedy, and others literally play like skits to enhance the life of the story. The way the vocals come through as an EVP on the intro still strikes as innovative, and a narrating quality continues in their delivery throughout. Blast beats raise the tension of specific sections while a different emphasis comes with slower rhythmic variations, and melodic soloing heightens their final impact. Other effects are downright ghostly as this work orchestrates an immersive nightmare at sea.
KING DIAMOND Conspiracy
Including KING DIAMOND or MERCYFUL FATE seems mandatory for a list focused on conceptualized horror, and this fourth full-length by the former evokes its tenebrosity in a classic metal approach. It continues and completes the story beginning with 1988’s “Them,” which is also highly recommended listening, and they inflict further torment through the forces encircling spirited riffs. Their heavy rhythms expand with pinch harmonics and the intricacies from other melodic transitions, and memorable hooks are formed between their interactions with the percussive timing, and also with vocals from the King himself, who plays the role of a lunatic with his trademark falsettos and a ghastly array of other expressions. Acoustic passages are also integrated into these compositions, and the compelling leadwork capitalizes on their haunting magnitude. A theatrical aspect is displayed when, for instance, organs play the “Bridal Chorus” during “The Wedding Dream,” and a delusional state is steadily realized as keyboards develop ominous and dissonant tones. This work reflects a disturbed mind whose fate leads to malevolence pursued from the beyond.
Australia’s shadowy order introduces a different breed of horror on their first full-length disturbance, and its claustrophobic impressions aim to disorient while prompting a descent into utter madness. Ambient manifestations project the subtle roar of the void, and technical formulations course through the mass of writhing density created from its riffs. Lead melodies and solos also emerge as these riffs pulsate with their own cosmic force, and drums that sound partially incorporeal amplify the chaos with blast beats and various rhythmic alterations. A grinding speed underlies this murky aura, which is pursued by tremolo melodies that extend their heaviness into the fathomless expanse, and the deranged progressions are augmented by slower groove tempos. Warped clock chimes drive the sense of spiraling through an otherworldly dimension, along with other effects that gradually induce a dark hallucinogenic paranoia, and a post-apocalyptic essence permeates from their ominous tones. The unique style of this release leaves a lasting impression that continues on future tormenting explorations of the unknown.
CRADLE OF FILTH Midian
These legendary composers have produced several dark thematic works throughout their career, and Midian is based around the city of monsters from Clive Barker’s Cabal and the later film Nightbreed. This fourth opus, which was my introduction to black metal, also was released 21 years ago today, and it remains timeless with the dynamic extent of its soundscapes. The conversion of organ melodies over to guitar on “Cthulhu Dawn” still captivates, and symphonies enchant with their atmospheric depth on tracks like “Saffron’s Curse” while background choirs carry this influence further into haunting realms. A powerful display of riffs and tremolo melodies are embedded in these arrangements, which drive the development of other monumental forms, and rhythmic varieties balance speed with dark flow to highlight specific orchestral tones. Dani’s unmistakably devilish vocals give character to the monstrosities dwelling within, along with Doug Bradley, whose iconic voice also provides narration on some tracks. This era of the band is personally significant of course, but the work on Midian emanates with a supreme presence that remains highly regarded today.
NECROPHAGIA Season of the Dead
These US death metal pioneers were also inspired by horror-related topics, and the undead ravage their full-length debut in various recorded samples. The production indicates a classic work from the genre’s formative era, which is also made apparent by the thrashy elements permeating its compositions, and the riffs typify that method while incorporating heavier notes to express its deathly vibes. These align with the proper drum arrangements to create doom passages, and melodies course through the riffing speed and double bass, along with solos to complete their detailed song structures. The vocals reflect an old-school style but also incarnate monstrous personalities with varying distorted layers, and other interesting manifestations appear in the stalking pulse from bass lines on “Terminal Vision” and a strange bending harmonic riff on “Painful Discharge.” Acoustic and ambient effects intensify the atmosphere, and the guitar rendition of “A Night on Bald Mountain” is particularly notable. This collection of tracks comprises a sometimes overlooked but undeniably influential work of extreme metal horror.
I was hoping to review TERRIFIER 2 but must instead remain patient for its upcoming release. The anticipation for what looks to be a killer sequel brings an opportunity to revisit the first installment, which was one of the few recent works to reawaken my youthful enthusiasm for horror movies. I’m admittedly out of my element here so will only say the acting, editing, and directing were all effective enough for me, and I also won’t be critical of other aspects like character development since those aren’t really of personal concern either. The plot is simple and carries the vein of a slasher film, where a maniac terrorizes and slaughters the hopeless cast, and some scenes allow the suspense to build before a psychotic break, while unpredictable developments transpire in others. The music fits the atmosphere with a minimalistic and dismal approach, but also fluctuates to meet the arising conditions. What appeals to me most is the dark and gritty setting, along with the twisted psychological elements of some characters, and I consider Art the Clown to be a modern icon for the genre. You can’t ask for a more wicked villain, and he engages in some of the highest profile killing scenes I’ve encountered for some time. His mannerisms, the way he smiles and waves while splattered in blood is disturbingly amusing, and there are other committed acts you should just see for yourself. A supernatural trace puts him on a similar tier with Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, and the ending hints to deeper storyline features that may be revealed in the future. Overall, it’s impressive considering the low budget, and highly recommended if you like deranged films with gratuitous violence and gore. Check it out if you haven’t already, and also get hyped for Part 2 with the trailer below.