Dimitri "Maximillian" Skordos
I would like to inform you about another aspiring gothic metal group, After Forever. The more metal-oriented of the groups I mentioned, hailing form the Netherlands, hit the stage in 2000 with their first album Prison of Desire (Transmission Records).The record was great with an original gothic feel, combined nicely with powerful metal tunes. Male and female vocals are present reminding us in some parts black metal influences. Donít miss on this one. Their second album Decipher (2001, Transmission Records)is good too, although the mood is not as heavy as in their first one. It has some great moments though.
Evil Dead: The Musical
Released: April 2, 2007
Stephen "ScS" Sutton
When you think of evil demons and blood splatters naturally you think of off-Broadway musicals. For many years we've had to make do with improvised combinations, what with holding summoning rituals during Cats and the controversial blood-orgy in Rent. But back in 2003 Toronto became home to the greatest evolution in stage performances - Evil Dead: The Musical.
I was lucky enough to catch the show after its second Toronto run was extended. There in the Diesel Theater, I was privy to a fantastic vision of singing, dancing and decapitations. The story itself is an amalgam of Evil Dead I and II, and makes some clever self-aware comments about the mix of two movies. The show plays up the comedic angle and has a great low-budget charm. Its so low-budget that its well within the capability of any high-school or college.
Beyond the great performances is the most exceptional innovation to the stage; the Splatter Zone. The first three rows of the theater are the designated target for the gruesome blood and gut spatter during the second act. The actors take great care to ensure everyone gets a good coating of ichors before the final curtain, ensuring that the streets of Toronto will be swarmed with roving bands of blood spattered theater goers.
The CD is recording of the songs from the play, as well as a few of the clips in between. The songs are wonderfully clever and guaranteed to get a laugh. Amongst the best would definitely be "Join Us", a cheerful recruitment jingle for the forces of evil, "Good Old Reliable Jake", and the self explanatory ditty, "All the Men in My Life Keep getting Killed by Canadarian Demons". Its a wonderful record and worthy of anyone's collection.
I'd suggest seeing the play first, since the comedic timing works better and the CD could work as a spoiler. The only downside is that I kind of missed hearing the voices of the Toronto cast. I'm fairly certain that the whole play will eventually be released on a DVD, though that won't be for a long while.
Five severed hands out of Five.
Dimitri "Maximillian" Skordos
Some of you might have never heard of Haggard,a German band that combines Gothic, Folk and Symphonic music to achieve a truly original effect. This HUGE band of over 15 standard members, let alone guest musicians, choirs etc. has released two great albums And they Shalt Trust The Seer (1997, Serenade Records), and Awaking the Centuries (2000, Drakkar Records). Both of the records are really good, with the second having even more classical influences, with more symphonic parts and the famous Rachmaninov choir. The expert musicians (not self-taught star wannabes, mind you) perform flawlessly under the direction of Asis Nasseri. Trust me on this: You are definitely missing a lot if you havenít listened to Haggard.
Jekyll & Hyde
Andy "Platinumwarlock" Klosky
Lyrics by Leslie Briscusse. Music by Frank Wildhorn
As you can probably tell by the title, this 1997 musical tells the story of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". The musical rendition deviates slightly from the established story, focusing on the awkward love triangle between the Jekyll/Hyde character, who is pursued both by Emma Danvers (Jekyll's fiancee) and the feisty harlot Lucy, who simultaneously dotes on Jekyll for his humanity and lusts after Hyde for his pure animal instincts.
The first lyrical track "Lost in the Darkness" sounds Jekyll's plaintive cry at the bedside of his dying father. Robert Cuccioli does a fantastic job in this, as helpless emotion drips from his every word. The first choral track "Facade" has a quick, dark rhythm to it, perfect for night combat encounters. It could also be well used for chase-scenes and other high-tension operations.
The real stars of the show, nonetheless, are its two female parts: Christiane Noll (playing Emma) and Linda Eder (playing Lucy). Their duo "In His Eyes" may be a little too hopeful for most campaigns, but the sound they provide is nothing short of exquisite and triumphant. Eder also truly shines in "Dangerous Games", where she sings with Cuccioli's Hyde. A second choral number "Murder, Murder" functions much the same as the earlier "Facade", but with a much different sound to it. Detailing Hyde's killing spree, it quickly goes from loud bursts of choral panic to the low tones of Hyde's menacing threats. If used appropriately, it can add quite a bit to the mood as your PCs travel through frightened towns--as I think now, it would work perfectly when running the new adventure 'Shadows of the Knife'.
I've always tended to shy away from using music in my campaigns that has lyrics or spoken words to it. As such, I tend to stick with such greats as Stravinsky, Holst, and the film scores of Howard Shore. However, "Jekyll & Hyde" is a true exception in my book. Its fantastic vocals, contained within a poignant, dramatic score, get me in the mood for Ravenloft every time. While it has just a few flaws, those are easily overborne by the massive amounts of great music contained on this disc.
I easily give it 4.5 out of 5 blood drops.
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
There are those who believe the soundtrack to id Software's first-person shooter Quake is the best material Trent Reznor has ever conjured up. Certainly, this collection of music has little in common with the rest of Nine Inch Nail's output, aside from a few abrasive guitar notes here and there. There are no lyrics to be found on this album. The only voices a listener can make out are creepy unintelligible whispers that might've come from the depths of Hell itself.
Reznor certainly channelled his love of dark ambient acts such as Coil when creating this soundtrack. Every track manages to capture an ethereal atmosphere, at the same time pounding the listener with unnatural, gut-wrenching dread. Yes, there is much repetition here, as evident in the unending pounding of "Parallel Dimensions", but this only adds to the terror. It sounds as if an army of shamblers or fiends are right around the corner, marching towards you. By the time the pounding stops, you want to scream... but who exactly would hear your cries?
If you're a fan of the traditional output by Nine Inch Nails, listening to Quake for the first time may be startling. It will certainly take a little getting used to. On the other hand, if you're more of a fan of the ambient or industrial genres, and NIN is a bit too 'mainstream' for your tastes, you may want to check this soundtrack out. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Relation to Ravenloft: Although it's set at some point in the far future, Quake's themes of horror and alienation are great inspiration that could easily translate to a Ravenloft game. The soundtrack is no exception; it seems like it could be perfect background music for any type of Lovecraftian nightmare scenario or perhaps a terrible night in a twisted asylum. It's probably also quite handy for the DM to play alone when crafting a Ravenloft adventure or campaign. It's unyielding darkness puts you in the perfect mindset to create untold amounts of horror.
Four out of Five tentacles.
Theatre of Tragedy
Dimitri "Maximillian" Skordos
I would like to introduce Theatre of Tragedy, a nice German gothic group that has given us some real diamonds until they decided to change their scope. I talk about their first two albums, namely Theatre of Tragedy (1995, Massacre Records),and Velvet Darkness They Fear (1996, Massacre Records). They are simply great pieces of gothic music. The strong melodic tunes are greatly enhanced by both the female soprano and the male brutal vocals. When I first listened to their music I sincerely thought about Ravenloft, and how this kind of music is appropriate for the setting. My opinion is that the second album, Velvet Darkness They Fear, is even better than the first and shows that the groupís skills were obviously (or audibly!) refined to a great extent Just donít look for their other albums though. The next one, Aegis, definitely does not have the right mood, although it is a nice album by itself. After that they turned over to Electro-Pop to the great disappointment of their loyal fan-base.
Dimitri "Maximillian" Skordos
Another group with something to offer to Ravenloft fans is Within Temptation. A gothic group form the Netherlands that imitates Theatre of Tragedy to some extent, having however some original ideas and a more Medieval-feel to their music. Their first album Enter, released in 1997 by DSFA Records was a hit (at least among metal-heads), but the following Mother Earth, completely spoiled the mood. Just listen to Enter with the ominous, heavy melodies appropriate for every gothic horror setting.
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