Stupid Shit Singers Say…

I’ve been to my share of rock gigs over the years – enough to consider myself something of a grizzled old veteran – more than enough to get seriously sick of some of the clichéd old crap that too many vocalists bark, mutter and prattle into the microphone to fill the empty spots between songs. Sure, a talented frontman can make a concert with his magnetic charisma and witty repartee. But not every decent vocalist is an accomplished raconteur, and for every natural star whose gilded words transform a gig into a transcendent experience, there are numerous windy gobshites who really should just get on with it…

So, as something of a vainglorious gobshite myself, I’ll treat the world to a brief rundown of the most irritatingly predictable and inanely pointless banter that echoes with depressing regularity through the music venues of the world…
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Hello Worksop/Warsaw/Washington/Wherever we happen to be playing…

As a generous sort, I’ll let them have this one. It does at least prove that they’ve made the effort to find out where they are that evening, and that they’ve got the basic cognitive function and motor skills to recall and repeat the information, which bodes well for finishing the gig before sinking into an intoxicated heap. It can also be useful for the more inebriated members of the audience, who can occasionally use a few pointers as to where in Hell they are now.

I want you all to put your hands in the air…

Why? Seriously, what the fuck for? I have a horrible suspicion that it’s a preamble to trying to get the audience to clap along and ruin some fucking song I used to quite like. Clapping’s for the end of the song, recognition that at least you’ve made it to the finish of another number. Clapping halfway through betrays a lack of confidence. Plus, it makes everyone look sort of desperate and retarded.
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I want to see if everyone on the left side of the audience can sing louder than everyone on the right side of the audience…

Again, why? Is this some sort of OCD thing? Are you so bored you made a bet on the matter with your drummer? Whatever the reason, you can satisfy your curiosity on your own fucking time. I paid to hear you sing, not the teeming mass of unwashed drunks in the audience, let alone be guilt-tripped into singing myself. I sing, I want a slice of the door take.
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Are you having a good time?…

It’s sweet of you to ask… Actually, no. No it’s not. File this one under futile. Call me a cynic, but when I try to respond I don’t think you’re really listening. As it happens, I ate from the fast food van outside the venue, so my guts are churning like a burlesque dancer’s titty tassels. But you don’t seem to care. Don’t stop the gig to fetch me a bottle of Gaviscon. Callous bastard with your empty sentiment.
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Everybody drink!…

I’ve never understood the idea that people need advice on how to get drunk. They don’t have instructions on booze bottles directing the purchaser on how to achieve inebriation, and there are reasons for that. So why do so many singers feel the compulsion to continually urge the crowd to keep drinking as if otherwise they might forget? How about reminding folk to eat healthily or exercise regularly? Teach everyone some basic conversational Spanish or some shit maybe? You might even get some kind of EU grant.

Goodnight Wakefield/Wichita/Wellington/Wherever we were just playing…

This is fine if you mean it. If, however, you plan on returning after five minutes backstage, waiting expectantly for the boozy mob to chant your band name, then fuck off. That moment when the magic of a pitch perfect gig means everyone wills the musicians to return for just one more song is the stuff of legends. The inevitable, rehearsed obligatory encore, where the band troop out for a second bite of the cherry, is a waste of everybody’s time. Why not do everyone a favour, and sod off prompt and pronto leaving everyone wanting more?

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Raising Hell in Bath

Félicien_Rops_-_Le_bibliothécaireThe good people of the Omphalos Group in Bath have invited me to give a talk at their monthly meeting this coming Sunday (March 9th). I shall be holding forth on my specialist subject, the Devil, focusing in particular on how Old Scratch has adapted and evolved to serve our collective needs, dreads and desires over the years. While I can’t guarantee anything quite as exciting or scandalous as the manifestation being enjoyed by the lucky librarian in the delicious illustration by the eminent Monsieur Rops above, I will be unveiling some of the original research behind my imminent new book, while suggesting that the modern witch needs the Devil more than ever!…

For further details, click here.

Summer is a Coming In (in a Manner of Speaking…)

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black swanAny fans of horror cinema who find themselves in the ancient city of York this coming weekend, may be interested to learn that there is to be a screening of the classic cult chiller The Wicker Man at the historic Black Swan inn. Screening at 8pm on Saturday 22nd of February as part of the BFI’s Gothic season, I’ll be delivering a short introduction to the film, opening this rare opportunity to see one of the greatest British films ever made in a peerlessly atmospheric environment washed down by some fine local ale.

Cupid’s Dart (Seriously Off Course in the Seventies…)

Okay, I know this is a little late for Valentine’s Day, but I got a bit distracted one way and another. It’s also another post to file under ‘Hell – it’s my blog – I write what I want’ I’m afraid. It’s mad rubbish – so sue me. So, on with our story…

The book I’m currently working on involves a lot of transcription. It also involves going through a lot of the 70s pulp occult paperbacks I collect (at least part of the justification for this post is an excuse to post the wonderful cover below). Anyhow, while trawling a junk shop a few years back I found The Magicians, one of the apparently limitless number of similar volumes edited by the indefatigable Peter Haining.
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It was only when I got it home that I noticed that the original owner had written on the inside cover of the book. Usually people who write anything in books inspire me to venomous rage, but on this occasion, the poignant – and evidently pissed – nature of the outpourings detailed therein appealed somehow. I thought they were kind of appropriate for Valentine’s, so decided, somewhat randomly, to share.

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As the pencil writing’s rather faded over the past forty-plus years, here’s a transcription…

I wrote this when sitting outside of the Crown waiting for Aileen to finish being a barmaid, I believe it’s hopeless but I will have drank at least four pints by 10.30, and I want her cause I guess I am in love, 3rd July 72. What a shit I am.

And, on the inside back cover our saga continues, though now the writing’s slightly wobblier…

Oh dear this is a dead loss she just [illegible] (10.45) its stupid me waiting around and think there is a bus in a minute. But I can’t go and I don’t know why. I’m [illegible] while listening to the glasses rattle, and a man collects the glasses and I fear she may have a lift home and leave me – but I don’t care – I have to stay and I can’t go _ God why do I hope for what I know is logically impossible. Why I don’t know. But it’s so and I can’t get rid of the idea of her, it’s obviously desperate and I know the man the more incidents happen that it’s more and more [illegible] but I just can’t help it. Please help me –

And there, our story ends. Whatever happened to our hero – he must now be of pensionable age – or indeed the lovely Aileen? Was his love forever in vain? Did his interest in occult paperbacks and habit of writing in them with a pencil up the pub put her off? Will I do anything to avoid doing actual work? Answers scribbled on the inside of a ratty old horror book and then donated to a junk shop please…

Holy Homophobia! or Why David Silvester was (Sorta) Right About Gay Marriage…

A young Christmas shopper gazes at a flooded city centre in YorkLike many of my compatriots, I enjoyed the recent news story concerning an English councillor named David Silvester, and his somewhat strident views on recent meteorological activity, and the resultant flooding that plagued much of England late last year. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with this savoury slice of local Brit politics, the essence and background to the story are as follows… (Apologies, incidentally, to those already familiar with the episode – feel free to skip the next few paragraphs – but some of the details are just too toothsome to resist repetition.)

David Silvester, the hero of our story, used to be a member of the Conservative Party, until he defected to Ukip in 2013 outraged by a decision by Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to propose a law legalising gay marriage. Ukip are newcomers to the Brit political scene, founded as a single-issue party dedicated to opposing Britain’s membership of the European Union. However recent successes encouraged them to consider trying to challenge the Conservatives as the UK’s foremost centre-right party.
David Silvester

The Conservative leader David Cameron memorably dismissed Ukip as mostly composed of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’. An opinion a communication he received from a former fellow Conservative, David Silvester, might have appeared to support. According to David Silvester himself, prior to his defection to Ukip, he warned the Prime Minister that legalising gay marriage would lead to ‘disasters’. But all to no avail. Hence, observed Silvester, the British PM having sown the wind with his impious bill, come the winter of 2013 the whole UK was reaping the whirlwind.

‘Since the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, the nation has been beset by serious storms and floods’, the councillor explained in a letter to his local paper, the Henley Standard. ‘One recent one caused the worst flooding for 60 years. The Christmas floods were the worst in 127 years. Is this just “global warming” or is there something more serious at work? The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.’

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

In the face of his dire warnings of the consequences of passing such unholy legislation, continued our pious councillor, the Prime Minister ‘went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so. Now, even as Cameron sheds crocodile tears on behalf of destitute flooded homeowners, playing at advocate against the very local councils he has made cash-strapped, it is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods.

‘He has arrogantly acted against the Gospel that once made Britain “great” and the lesson surely to be learned is that no man or men, however powerful, can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it for everything a nation does is weighed on the scales of divine approval or disapproval’, our Mr Silvester concluded with appropriate Biblical solemnity. Only that wasn’t an end to it. Far from it. The Ukip councillor’s letter to his local paper quickly went national, as the party’s many opponents swooped upon it, Conservatives and leftwingers alike seizing upon the eccentric declaration with glee as evidence that Ukip was a nest of nasty extremists.
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Silvester was warned by his Ukip bosses to keep his head low, but he wouldn’t be silenced. After conducting a radio interview in which he described homosexuality as a ‘spiritual disease’ that could be cured, Silvester was summarily drummed out of the party. For many commentators outside of Ukip central office, the episode was one to be smugly savoured even celebrated. Silvester’s views were so absurdly medieval that it offered a golden opportunity to preach piously against the evils of homophobia, all and sundry feeling safe that they’d look broadminded, modern and compassionate by comparison. I would, however, add a caveat here. For Mr Silvester is to be commended on one thing – unlike the vast majority of his colleagues in politics – at least he stands up for what he believes in. And what he believes in happens to be the Bible.

While suggesting that tolerance towards homosexuality can lead to violent divine retribution may sound a bit crazy – Hell it almost certainly is – it’s exactly the kind of thing you’ll find in the Bible. The fate of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis is well known. While some a few theologians have quibbled over exactly what sins these cities tolerated among their denizens which provoked the wrath of God, tradition makes it pretty clear. While ‘sodomy laws’ (a term derived of course from Sodom) can theoretically cover a range of ‘unnatural acts’, in practice such legislation is almost exclusively targeted at homosexuals, known in vulgar parlance as ‘sodomites’. Compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, obliterated in a rain of sulphur, you might argue that the UK got off lightly with a few soggy Xmas presents and some overwatered Christmas trees.
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Because, make no mistake, punishing people with lethal natural (and unnatural) disasters is very much Jehovah’s M.O. in the Bible. The sacred text is stuffed to capacity with examples of God cutting loose on his creation to devastating effect. Author Steve Wells has even attempted to calculate his death total, publishing the results of his research in the book Drunk with Blood. Jehovah accounts for some 25 million (substantially more than his rival Satan, whose batting average is a miserable ten – just ten, not ten million – and most of those with God as his accomplice). Most famously, of course, God drowned the whole world, save Noah and his family, underlining His readiness to use torrential rain to make his displeasure plain.
sodom

Even if we accept the theological hair-splitters who say that the punishment meted out to Sodom and Gomorrah was a consequence, not of holy homophobia but divine wrath aimed at rape or maybe bad hospitality, there can be little denying the anti-gay agenda in the Bible. Leviticus doesn’t mince words in describing it as ‘an abomination’, and those responsible ‘shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them’. In other words, to return to our beleaguered Ukip councillor for a second, making his odd meteorological observations he’s simply following good Christian logic: God opposes homosexuality, and expressed his disapproval with natural disasters. David Silvester might be talking bigoted garbage, but it’s good Christian bigoted garbage.

The next line of defence in this argument that Christianity isn’t inherently homophobic, savage and somewhat insane, is to insist that we should focus on the New Testament, and that Jesus never expressed any antipathy to homosexuals. Only that won’t wash either. For one thing, to discount the Old Testament is to render JC meaningless – if he’s not the Son of God, then he’s just an obscure 1st Century rabbi of dubious mental stability. And who might dad be? It’s clearly Jehovah of the Old Testament – Jesus even makes admiring references to his old man’s obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Why would Christ feel the need to make his feelings on homosexuality known when they are already so plainly laid out in established Judaic law? (‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’: Matthew.) Back to the issue we began with – gay marriage – while JC had nothing to say on homosexuality, he had plenty to say on the subject of marriage…
JC

‘They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage,’ explained Christ according to the Gospel of Luke. In other words, gay or not, you’re not getting into Heaven if you’ve got a ring on your finger. Seem a little extreme? How about family values Jesus style? ‘If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.’ (Luke) Or, if you want to make doubly sure of your place in Heaven, why not cut your balls off? ‘There are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.’ (Matthew)

So, when we get down to it, the main problem with what David Silvester said was that it was a bit on the wishy washy side. If anything, he was being a bit of a piker by suggesting that God might respond to news of a proposal to sanctify gay marriage with a mere spate of localised flooding. It goes without saying that I don’t respect or agree with David Silvester or his views on homosexuality. But before you’re too quick to dismiss him and have a good laugh, maybe pause to wonder what you should be dismissing and laughing at? All the evidence is that he’s a man of sincere faith upholding what he believes to be right. Perhaps it’s time to start challenging and mocking faith and religion, rather than taking the easy option and joining the fashionable tendency to pillory obvious scapegoats as lunatics while conveniently ignoring the source of the lunacy…

To Be Continued…

Have Yourself a Supernatural Christmas!

Supernatural
I put my guest reviewer’s hat on again for a brief sojourn at Brutal as Hell, taking in the recent DVD release of the BBC’s 1977 series Supernatural as part of the BFI’s excellent Gothic season. Contemplating the series also inspires me to meditate on the oft-overlooked relationship between the films and programmes we enjoy and the time that we first encounter them. To learn more, just click here dear reader…

To Hell and Back

A Trip Down Metal’s Memory Lane with Kev Bower of Hell

When Old Nick magazine approached me recently about penning another piece for them, as ever they were kind enough to offer me carte blanche on the subject of my contribution. I had no hesitation in proposing a feature on the metal act Hell. Both because I thought Hell’s infernal aesthetic chimed perfectly with Old Nick’s devilish tendencies, and also as few bands have excited me as much in recent years as Hell. However, circumstances conspired to throw a few spanners in the works – securing an interview with founder and guitarist Kev Bower proved elusive – so my Hell feature for Old Nick won’t be appearing until early in the new year.

But, as I had plenty to say about the band, and their new album Curse & Chapter has just come out, I thought I’d put this essay up on my site as something somewhere between a teaser and a sister piece to the forthcoming Old Nick feature. As this is my site, it also allowed me to address a few more personal perspectives that might not be so appropriate for a newsstand magazine. While the Old Nick article will be more about Hell and the relationship between Satanism – particularly LaVeyan Satanism – and music, in the next few hundred words here, I’ll be talking to Hell’s Kev Bower about the band’s history and his views ( and my own) on the relationship between metal and the media…
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I first encountered Hell live in 2011 at the Bloodstock festival. They’d been given the graveyard slot, opening to a sea of grey, hungover faces as the opening act on the final day, playing under the full atmosphere-destroying glare of the midday sun. Yet Hell took it in their stride, winning over the crowd with an electric, powerfully assured blend of passion and professionalism. I’d been looking forward to the performance, and wasn’t disappointed. This reminded me of why I’d first become intoxicated by metal’s dark arts all those years ago, a pleasure that felt at once nostalgic and fresh. The music was sophisticated rather than merely complex, the lyrics authentically devilishly witty and acute. Vocalist David Bower delivered them with crisp, melodramatic aplomb, almost as if he were channelling Vincent Price from the camp Shakespearian horror classic Theatre of Blood.

Completing the picture was a wonderfully over-the-top, unholy stageshow, which was clearly an organic aspect of the band rather than an afterthought. “There’s really nobody doing the big theatrical productions that we’re doing – all of the fire, the pyrotechnics, the stilt-walking, the pulpit, the organ, and all the props. Apart from a few huge headline acts, nobody does it anymore,” observed Kev Bower when I raised the issue of the band’s shameless theatricality. “Obviously, if you go to an Iron Maiden show then you expect to see something on that dramatic scale. But where are the headline acts to replace bands like those guys? They’re all in their 50s or 60s and who’s coming through to replace them? It would be lovely to think it might be us.” It’s commendably ambitious, particularly for a band with such a turbulent history.
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This 21st century Hell is the band’s second incarnation. They first formed in 1982, before tragedy brought an abrupt end to the band’s career five years later. “The original creative DNA of Hell consisted of myself and Dave Halliday, and it just kind of clicked, kind of happened”, explains Kev. “We were both very interested in the macabre and the occult and all that kind of stuff, and we both thought that it’d be really, really cool to develop something visual around that. Even though obviously people like Black Sabbath had been in that area for a long time, nobody had really developed a theatrical show in the way we were, even if it was on a budget of practically zero.

“What drove us down this route is the fact that the music that we do is often not instantly accessible. It’s not wave-your-arms-and-sing-along stuff – it’s quite technically complex – it can take two or three listens to get your head around it. We appreciated that we needed to keep people there watching us, and knew they’d stay as long as there was a lot of visual activity going on. At the moment everything we’re doing is on a modest scale – a lot of homemade props and a relatively small pyro system and all the rest of it. As the band grows in stature, as the fan base grows, as the size of the venues grow, and all the rest of it, so will the size of our production grow.”

Hell’s first incarnation came to an untimely end in 1987, when all of the preparations for their debut album came to naught, the band’s original vocalist/guitarist Dave Halliday taking his own life not long after. For obvious reasons they then decided to call it a day. But a cult following continued to revere the band’s memory, to wonder what might have been… Looking back, it’s clear Hell were light years ahead of the competition in terms of musical and lyrical intelligence and vision, that the dogged refusal of the domestic rock press to pay them any attention was not only a major injustice, but an indication of the cluelessness of the UK metal media of the era.
Hell devil's arse

Unsurprisingly, Kev has his own views on why Hell were overlooked and under-appreciated during their 80s incarnation: “The professional reason is that we worked for five years, and then we got signed by this Belgian record label called Mausoleum, that went bankrupt two weeks before our album was due to be recorded. The artistic reason that we never made it first time around is that we were between a rock and a hard place. The whole New Wave of British Wave of Heavy Metal thing, the major bands – Iron Maiden, Saxon, Angelwitch – were all already established, and the whole movement was obviously in decline.

“Meanwhile”, he adds, “thousands of miles away, the whole Bay Area thrash revolution was starting to kick off, and we didn’t fit into that camp either. At the time the record labels in the UK were looking for bands with bigger melodies, bigger hair, bigger girl appeal, and obviously we didn’t fit into that category. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Something that Kev doesn’t mention, but that I recall from being a teen metal fan at the time – confirmed by trawling through hundreds of old rock magazines while researching my first book, Lucifer Rising – was a dismissive antipathy to fantastic and allegorical themes, particularly Satanic imagery and lyrics, in the UK rock press. The fans might like it, but the hacks despised the nascent black metal scene.

The same might also be said for metal in general. I was surprised, when I started my own dubious career as a rock hack, by how many editors and fellow writers at the metal magazines clearly weren’t actual fans of the music. Rather, many saw a role in a hard rock title as a regrettable step towards finding employment covering a more ‘credible’ genre. If Hell suffered from this snobbery, they certainly weren’t the first (genre forefathers Black Sabbath were almost universally panned in the early days). Nor the last, though one of the next bands in the firing line of Britain’s bigoted rock press would ultimately prove a lifesaver for Hell.

As Kev mentioned, during the 80s the burgeoning thrash movement that was beginning its conquest of the international metal underground from America’s West Coast. Brit rock hacks were typically willing to give substantially more space and respect to these Stateside invaders – the dubious exoticism of hailing from across the Atlantic typically spared thrash bands the scorn reserved for Brit acts. Indeed one perverse side of the prejudice of the Brit rock press, of this widespread hostility to homegrown talent, was the ironic situation whereby the first time many of the neglected NWoBHM bands – pilloried at home – enjoyed any credibility was when they were acknowledged as influences by the American thrash bands happily hyped by the UK press. Meanwhile, Britain did have a thrash scene, though you’d hardly have known it thanks to the dogged indifference and bigotry of the domestic rock media.
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The Brit thrash band with arguably the brightest future, ultimately suffocated by a lack of homeland media coverage and label support, was Sabbat. Formed in 1985, the combination of Martin Walkyier’s sharp, clever lyrics and Andy Sneap’s intricate, innovative guitar-work initially earnt plaudits for Sabbat, but by 1991, under the pressures of trying to evolve in a vacuum, the band imploded. However, a curious continuity exists between Hell and Sabbat. Sneap and Walkyier were devoted Hell fans, the former even learning to play guitar from Hell’s ill-fated vocalist Dave Halliday. In the years following Sabbat’s collapse, Andy Sneap went onto become the best-respected UK genre record producer in the country, his name on the production credits of a host of landmark metal albums of the past 15 years, with a trio of Grammy nominations under his belt.

But he never forgot the band that first inspired him, and in 2008, Sneap set about orchestrating a reformation of Hell, in order to set the record straight by finally recording the band’s debut with the state-of-the-art studio facilities now at his disposal. Of course one vital member was now missing, and while Andy stepped in to take over Dave Halliday’s guitar parts, his former Sabbat bandmate Martin Walkyier was drafted in on vocal duties. But Walkyier’s singing proved too distinctively Walkyier and a new approach was required, which turned up in the sinuous shape of Kev’s brother, David Bowyer, a classically trained actor whose charismatic, melodramatic approach proved a perfect fit. In 2011, Human Remains, Hell’s debut album, was finally released, only 25 years behind schedule.
Hell - Curse & Chapter - Artwork

Now – with a happily generally more enlightened rock press – it received rave reviews. Two years on, and with a host of similarly enthusiastic live notices and fan awards under their belts, this left Hell on their difficult second album. “The issue for us, which is the same issue that faces any band that’ve produced a killer album, is that it’s so easy to fall at the second hurdle”, observes Kev. “Many debut albums contain all of the band’s best songs, all of their best ideas, all of the best riffs. But what happens next? The album comes out, it gets a fantastic reception, then they band tour it exhaustively for years, and then all of a sudden you get that phone call from the label saying, ‘Okay guys, we need the next album in six weeks please’. So many bands then hit the studio with nothing prepared, nothing written.

“With us, when the first album came out, I just didn’t stop, writing and rehearsing, to the extent that most of songs on this album were ready and demoed and good to go a year ago. It’s been quite a thought-provoking experience. You can’t afford to fuck up the second album.” For what it’s worth, I don’t think they have fucked up. Curse & Chapter’s another powerful work of intricate, epic, demonic art, replete with the intelligence, mischief and sly wickedness that made their debut an instant classic. I truly can’t wait to see it manifest fully on stage. In closing I mention to Kev why I was so keen to interview the band – that sense of remembering why I first got into the music I love. “We get that a lot”, he responds with a grin.

Old Nick Gets My Goat…

oldnickJust time for a quick plug for Old Nick magazine’s horny Halloween special before heading off to Abertoir. Among the usual selection of sinful stories and pulchitrudinous pictorials is a feature by yours truly tracing the roots of the association between the Prince of Darkness and the humble goat. For further info and to lay your sweaty claws on your own copy, just click here.

The Return of Abertoir!…

abertoir2013Details of the programme for the Abertoir horror festival have just been announced, with the event itself kicking off in under a month, and this year – the centenary of the birth of Hammer horror legend Peter Cushing – there is something of a Gothic flavour to affairs. Running between the 5th and 10th of November, the Welsh festival offers a peerless selection of vintage horror films and premieres of the latest celluloid chillers from around the world, alongside the best in horror theatre, music, and live presentations. (I conducted an interview with festival founder, the inimitable Master Gaz Bailey, last year, which you can check out here.) With passes for all six days priced at under sixty quid, it’s not only among the best horror fests in the UK, Abertoir’s also surely among the best value.

Abertoir 2012
I’m both flattered and delighted that my favourite festival has invited me once more to deliver one of my infamous talks. This year’s address is entitled ‘Tell Me Strange Things’, and will be on Friday at 3pm. But I’ll be there for the duration, so anyone wishing to buy me a drink, chase me with a stick or whatever, please feel free to introduce yourselves. Meanwhile, for further information on the schedule, location, programme and anything else Abertoir related, click here to view the official site. Hope to see some of you there – it really is the most fun you can possibly have in a darkened room with a few dozen consenting adults!