Taking a Stab at the Scene – Yet another Cult Indie Review
Werewolves in Siberia
Beyond the City of the Dead
Graveyard Calling Records
Everything is Gone
Showdown with a Ghoul
Island of the Dolls
Revenge of the Zombi
Dance of the Dead
A Hole in the Space–Time Continuum
I’m back again, and delving deep into the seedy underbelly of indie releases.
This week’s installment tells of a band, a release, I have been eagerly anticipating since I first heard of them amid a related buzz within the horror community on Twitter. This release is from a smaller label, who specialize in cassette tapes. Is this considered “retro” or maybe, “hipster”? You decide, regardless, the label, Graveyard Calling, who it appears enjoy taking risks…nothing ventured, nothing gained. I wish them only the best.
The band, Werewolves in Siberia (I’m going to shorten their name to save on digit and keyboard damage) and the album takes much influence from horror soundtracks more so than from anything else. For the record W.i.S. is a one man outfit which only peeks my curiosity more. I can only imagine how rare live shows must be. Although I recently saw Necrophagist, a technical death metal one man outfit, that utilizes session musicians for live events. I wonder if perhaps W.i.S. does the same?
The cover to this release is a picture of a classic graveyard scene hued in red tones stamped with the band’s logo. It looks like an official file folder photograph that a government entity might conceal in an undisclosed location. The real kicker is the splatter of blood upon the “document” giving it an eeriness and dark sense of foreboding.
Onwards, my anticipation fueled fingertips are poised over the play button.
Before I mention the music itself I will be totally honest and admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, the most recent logo for the band is a black and white snarling wolf eclipsing a full moon. A lot of black metal bands (especially) have used similar, and more primitive black and white artwork as album covers such as Dark Funeral, Bathory and Venom to name but a few.
My thoughts that perhaps W.i.S. may be a black metal band fade and immediately dissipate as I begin to relax and embark upon this new and unfamiliar audio journey that unfolds between my ears.
The first few seconds of the opening track briefly reminded me of the intro to Bolt Thrower’s Warmaster. But when three notes from a piano, an infrequent, mournful and slow melody, are played the comparison is swiftly forgotten.
Lycanthropic Dreamscape, the second track, kicks up the pace.
If you are a fan of the horror genre, in its many forms and guises throughout recent years like myself, you can immediately feel a definite presence, an influence if you’d prefer, within the synth melodies, drum and electronic beats. The feeling very quickly becomes a sense of recognition which only seems to fester and blossom as the album progresses.
Certain tracks trigger memories of the many times I saw specific cult movies. Most notably european ones, with titles like Suspiria, The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue or ever lesser known titles from genre masters (Lucio Fulci’s name immediatley springs to mind) such as City of the Living Dead. Or even John Carpenter titles of American classics such as Christine, Escape From New York, The Fog and Big Trouble in Little China. I’ll be lambasted and thrown to the wolves if I forget to mention Halloween. This album has quite the strange effect on me, it makes me wish I had actually paid more attention to these aforementioned genre gems, without skipping through to get to the juicy bits.
There are several stand out tracks displayed here such as, The Woods. It isn’t admittedly one of my favorites though it is very effective in leaving an “aftertaste”. The beats in this track build to a quick and lasting crescendo that scream tension and malevolence. So vivid and but yet so far away of a familiar movie soundtrack from long ago that I can almost see the movie and scene it belongs to in the back of my mind.
Showdown With a Ghoul is a stand out and one of my favorites for great reason. I don’t think I’d be wrong in the assumption that it could be associated with The Gates of Hell (aka City of The Living Dead). A great track that bounces along nicely that I’m sure even the original composer Mr. Fabio Frizzi or Goblin would be proud of.
Revenge of The Zombi is another standout, in an album devoid of filler, obviously the title suggests the classic that gorehounds everywhere celebrate for good reason (eyeball upon a splinter scene in slo-mo, anyone?) I’m trying my hardest not to conjure up images of sluggish, at best, paced flesh eaters on yachts abandoned close to the New York harbor, but to no avail!
Street Vengeance brings to mind the 1979 classic street warfare film entitled Warriors, or even Lucio Fulci’s Warriors of the Year 2072 (there’s a lesser known gem for ya!) A soundtrack from Riz Ortolani infamous for the chilling theme most associated with Cannibal Holocaust (my personal fave “Nasty”) and lesser known for Mondo Cane.
I will openly admit I have listened to this soundtrack homage, synth masterpiece at least eight times now. I will not hesitate to suggest it to anyone interested in exploitation and cult movies especially those from the late seventies and early eighties. Let’s face it, it wasn’t just the gore that attracted fans. It was also the unique, often very enjoyable and quite different sounding audio recordings that complimented most of those memorable scenes.
Werewolves in Siberia have surprised me for this was not at all what I was expecting, though I am pleased to say I am ecstatic that it now has a place in my laptop’s audio files. Here’s hoping they don’t fall to corruption from over-usage, I’ve been known to wear my favorite CD’s down to a mere sliver of indescribable material.
Again, Bravo! This is an outstanding acheivement, this release deserves and demands a listen, or two.
Werewolves of Siberia can be found on Twitter @Werewolves_I_S .
Graveyard calling Records can also be found on Twitter @GraveyardCallin