Tag Archives: Heavy Metal


Kit Power is a kind soul and a fellow metalhead, so when he reached out to me about reading this self-published story, Lifeline, I said sure. When I received in the mail a one-of-a-kind print and signed hard copy, I was duty bound.

With this story, actually part of a trio of tales that almost tie together, Power delivers a sliver of sheer brutality and nastiness that is unbridled. The premise is hatefully simple: a working class Joe is abducted for no reason other than to be tortured to death by a complete stranger. That’s the meat of the matter.

Where the story shines is the nearly claustrophobic attention and immersion into the terrified and pain-addled thoughts of our hopeful hero. The small details—noting the passing of time by what song is playing on a CD, killer/victim bonding over a concert shirt, etc.—that nail this puppy home are the things that made it so special, things that fellow metalheads and other music fans will totally get and revel in.

The simple cover art was handled by Greg Chapman. The story is self-published and offered as an Amazon exclusive. Kit also says it is DRM free, so it is convertible to be read on anything. Give it a go.

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Despumation: Volume 1: Issue 1

Despumation: The act of throwing up froth or scum; separation of the scum or impurities from liquids; scumming; clarification.

Those are the dictionary definitions of the word. I will add that it is also the name of a very exciting new magazine on the block. Edited, illustrated, and conceived by Kriscinda Lee and Anthony Everitt, Despumation has the look and tone of a heavy metal album. This is good, as that’s what they’re aiming for.

See, this is a digest of short fiction; not horror specifically but stories that are inspired by metal, based on metal songs, and forged in the fucking fires of metal! That being said, most of the tales between the covers are of the dark variety—it’s metal, remember? Most have a surreal slipstream narrative quality, that makes them read like music videos in word form. Lots of shadow and blur, robes and demonic imagery, rhythms that jar your spine and skull.

In “Brothers & Sisters,” Dustin LaValley shows us that the lines between fans and tribal family are not that far apart, if they are at all. T.J. Tranchell spells out heavy metal tragedy in “Nail Shitter,” and Mary Goff’s nightmare prose poem, “Inspiration,” is haunting . “Basement,” by Ben Gwin, is an expose of the demons that live inside a fractured young woman. And Nathan Meyer’s “Severed Ties” is a furious collage of riotous violence and fear.”The Light from Dead Stars” is a great darkly sci-fi read, written by two fellows who know a bit about it: Stephen Jansen and former Hawkwind bassist/keyboardist, Harvey Bainbridge.

The vibe, tone and look of Despumation is exactly as they warn you—it’s metal. And it’s great. Being a metalhead most of my life (although not into the really heavy shit that the kids prefer these days), I love the whole idea behind this magazine. I hope it works and they keep putting out issue after neck-snapping, head-banging, horns-throwing issue. Give them a chance and get ready for some interesting reading.

Despumation is available through Despumation Press.

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Tales from the Metalnomicon: James Newman

We here at Shock Totem HQ are big fans of Decibel Magazine, and we’ve been very privileged to have a fan in one of their writers.

Shawn Macomber has featured Shock Totem on the Deciblog in the past, and just recently he invited James Newman to stop by and drop some knowledge on writing and music for his Tales from the Metalnomicon feature.

Looking for inspiration? Click here.

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The Armageddon Chord

It’s Armageddon time again, boys and girls! This time brought our way by a scheming corporate scumbag and his equally vile archaeologist toadie. Festus Baustone is THE big cheese. In the corporate ocean, he is the top fish. No one messes with him; he gets what he wants at any and all costs. He employs Helmut Hartkopf, a badly scarred Egyptologist, to unearth a fabled relic that would usher in the End Times as well as grant the dying gazillionaire immortality. Helmut succeeds in finding the artifact, a piece of ancient music written in hieroglyphics by Satan himself, that when played will open the clanging gates of Hell and allow all its populace to spill forth and run amok.

Enter Kirk Vaisto, critically touted “Guitar God” of the modern age.

Kirk, a humble and nice enough fellow, is about to have his humble and nice enough life torn asunder. Festus and Helmut decide to rope him into a ploy to translate and play the evil song and open up a can of Hell-on-Earth™ on an unsuspecting world. That is the basic premise at work here.

The biggest mistake one could make with The Armageddon Chord, Jeremy Wagner’s debut novel, would be to take it too seriously. Doing that would no doubt cause one’s brow to furrow a bit and also leech the fun from the novel. The characters are great and purposefully over the top. They are loving caricatures based on some of Wagner’s favorites from page and screen. Helmut Hartkopf is so very obviously a mishmash of Major Toht from the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark and Vladis Grutas from Hannibal Rising. Festus Baustone being an amalgamation of all the wealthiest, pompous douchebags we read about in Forbes. Our hero, Kirk Vaisto, is as blatant a homage that anyone versed in great guitarist would recognize it—Kirk Hammett and Steve Vai, if you need it spelled out.

Jeremy knows the ins and outs of the music end of things, being as he served as a guitarist for the grindcore band Broken Hope and is currently the Riffmaster General for the groove/death-metal band Lupara. He knows his shit.

With The Armageddon Chord Wagner has crafted a love letter to biblical/supernatural adventure works, drizzling them with numerous musical references and nudges. Jeremy describes it as “Crossroads meets The Da Vinci Code.” I can get behind that synopsis.

(And for all you kiddies out there, by Crossroads he means the bad-ass 80’s blues film, and not the tepid Britney Spears vehicle from a few years ago.)

I actually think this is quite a daring debut, in that the man is a horror writer and the debut novel he hands us is…well, barely horror. It has more in common with action/thrillers than monsters and gore. I know in my heart that Jeremy will deliver those to us as well, in the not too distant future, but the The Armageddon Chord is not that kind of book. It is, however, a fun and quick read and not a shabby way for the guy to stick his toes in the murky water.

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