Shock Totem #10 (Jan 2016)
- The State of Shock Totem Publications, or We Are Not ChiZine Publications
- Closing for Submissions
- Shock Totem Returns!
- Apex Publications Acquires Shock Totem Book Line
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 8
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 7
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 6
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 5
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 4
- The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Thing: Musings on Jaws, Part 3
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I discovered Ghoultown by way of Solitude Aeturnus, my all-time favorite doom-metal band. Count Lyle, vocalist and once a bassist in Solitude Aeturnus, founded Ghoultown in the late 90s. The epic, somber tones of his doom days are not to be found here, though. Instead, Ghoultown plays southern gothabilly mixed with horrorpunk on a Spaghetti Western binge, a house band for a hoedown in Hell.
Life After Sundown is the band’s sixth album, and easily their best to date. It begins with “Cruel Winds of Dusk,” an intro that elicits images of an imminent showdown on the main street of a lawless desert town. And maybe that’s the point, as “Dead Outlaw” follows, barging out the saloon’s batwing doors, drunk on firewater and ready to kill. “Against a Crooked Sky” and “Werewolves on Wheels” keep that punk rockabilly spirit kicking up dust, as do “Find a Good Horse” and “Under the Phantom Moon.”
“I Spit on Your Grave” is a sweaty ode to vengeance, while “London Dungeon” is a dark country and western take on the Misfits’ punk classic. Life After Sundown is a fantastic album, but the brilliance of “Drink with the Living Dead” is what truly sets Ghoultown apart from the other bands spinning yarns about drinkin’ and fightin’ and causin’ a cowboy ruckus. “Drink with the Living Dead” is exactly what its title suggests, a six-minute cautionary tale about a liquefied showdown with the ghost of Stanton Cree. Pure lyrical and musical genius.
Like its predecessors, Life After Sundown is a masterful piece of work, only this time it’s even better. Ghoultown has created the perfect soundtrack for a drunken night of poker, murder, and whorin’…
Zoviet Records | 2008 | 12 tracks (43:21) | File Under: Hellbilly Horror Rock
Originally appeared in Shock Totem #1, July 2009.
What happens when you partner the son of a country legend with one of the greatest and most recognizable writers of the century? You get one of the best albums released in 2010, in my humble opinion.
Shooter Jennings has, thankfully, never tried very hard to shake the shackles of his roots. When your father is Waylon Jennings, why would you? He looks and sounds so much like Waylon, it is uncanny. After putting out several albums on his own, all mining familiar territory of honky-tonk outlaw country with tinges of hard rock, he upped the ante.
Black Ribbons was an undertaking, and I would imagine a hard sell to the label. CD sales—and music sales in general—have been on the steady decline for a few years. So how the long hard, dark-eyed young man was able to sell a cynical concept album about the government control of the media, and land the participation of the one and only Stephen King, is nothing short of a miracle. But it worked. Whatever he did, it worked.
The story arc of the album is an edgy one. In the not too distant future, on a given day, the big bad government will take over all voice media, TV, and radio.
The tale follows a lone disc jockey (voiced by Stephen King) as he conducts his final broadcast before the faceless brutes shut him down. The story is told through his spoken tirades and sermons as well as through the songs by his favorite band, Hierophant, which is essentially Shooter Jennings and band channeling whatever styles seem to suit them.
This album most likely horrified fans of his earlier work, as the music contained on Black Ribbons is a multi-headed beast. Taking some of the country flavored rock he has always presented and incorporating elements of nu-metal, industrial, folk, and alternative.
Stephen King does his best to channel his inner DJ, not a difficult task considering he owned his own radio station for some time, and he knows his music. His role is solid and well-played, and makes the album a more enjoyable experience.
Also of note, the packaging for this particular album is among the coolest I have ever seen, every bit as darkly gorgeous as the music within. A masterpiece that will sadly smolder unrecognized for years until someone discovers it and proclaims loudly from the hilltops what it is: A dystopian prophecy, a 1984 for 2011—or more actually, the sad truth.
Rocket Science Ventures | 2010 | 20 tracks (71:33) | File Under: Indie Folk Fusion