Imagine a band that has achieved a mastery of power rock combined with an excruciating recording slickness. They could seek commercial fame with reasonable ease...but they go and ruin those chances by deciding to sing about unholy horrors instead of sappy love songs. This is the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.
Based in the Canadian wilderness, this band has dedicated itself to popularizing the shadows that haunt the staunchest nightmares. Their catchy tunes are steeped in disturbing nuances, inspired by the writings of horror master H.P. Lovecraft. (If you're unfamiliar with him, then you're newly arrived on this sad planet. Go Google the name and unlock a realm of unparalleled unease from which you'll never escape.) Some might consider the band's choice an act of suicidal destruction as far as audience appeal. Others would revel over the band's courageous path, and you'd be surprised how numerous this last group is.
To be fair, not every song by the band is drenched in unspeakable horror. They also exhibit a strong fascination for science fiction.
All of which wins the band a stiff salute for creative bravery in choosing niche genres for their topics in lieu of the mindless romantic pabulum that dominates most popular music.
THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS: Spaceship Zero (CD on Divine Industries Inc.)
This release from 2000 offers 46 minutes of spacey spooky hard rock.
The band consists of: Toren McBoren MacBin on vocals, Warren Banks on guitar, Bob Fugger on bass, Jordan Pratt on drums, Merrick Atkinson on backing vocals and additional bass, with Thomas Falk on electronics, Steven Joe Brooks on keyboards, and Howard Redekopp on tambourine, buttons and knobs.
The guitar belts out catchy riffs with fervent determination, grinding chords with searing intent and delivering peppy melodies of the darkest type.
The bass provides a thunderous foundation that seeks to bridge dimensions with rumbling effect.
The drums pound away with true rock'n'roll style, lending hyperstellar propulsion to the tuneage. Often dizzying in their rhythms, these tempos can be brutal one second, the next pursuing a concert hall sound with monstrous proportions.
The vocals mimic top 40 crooning with amusing depth and scope. Sounding like typical grunge rock vocals, the voice articulates lyrics that delve beyond conventionality and explore occult realms laced with harsh science fiction sentiments.
A modicum of electronics slip and slide through the mix, imbuing the tuneage with an unearthly disposition.
The CD includes multimedia files which provide details on ship's personnel and a few monsters in ship's storage (with art by Richard Corben). Also included is a video for the band doing “Walking on the Moon.”
THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS: Cthulhu Strikes Back (CD on Divine Industries Inc.)
This release from 2003 offers 49 minutes of occult rock.
This time the band is: Jordan Pratt, Warren Banks, Bob Fugger, and Toren McBoren MacBin, with Merrick Atkinson, Jeffyboy Kasper, Garett Nicol, and Starchy Dixon.
Once again, the band delivers a tasty dose of power rock tinged with grunge mien and tongue-in-cheek humor.
The guitar wails, scraping the paint from the ceiling with each searing churning chord.
The bass rumbles with wild abandon, oozing like a blasphemous unstoppable force.
The drums deliver a masterful array of compelling rhythms that set the heart pounding with tension.
The vocals achieve a commercial appeal, then defy that state by singing about things that are separated from conventional love songs by immeasurable eons.
Samples approximate movie snippets, plunging each tune into a world of familiar scenarios...innocents stumbling into profane locales, victims struggling to escape slimy tentacles of unholy origin, victorious adventurers thinking they've defeated the monsters.
This release specifically displays the band's extreme interest in the literature of horror master H.P. Lovecraft with profuse references to the author's classic mythos. References is an understatement, for these songs are thoroughly crafted around Lovecraft's rich legends and unholy tapestry. These topics are guaranteed to please devout fans while intriguing the uninitiated with hints that have inundated horror films and literature and comics for over countless decades.
THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS: Great Old Ones (CD on Divine Industries Inc.)
This release from 2004 offers 62 minutes of classic tracks.
For this release, the band is: Toren Atkinson, Merrick Atkinson, Warren Banks, Bob Fugger, and Jordan Pratt.
The material on this CD is collected from releases by the band stretching from the early to mid Nineties.
Herein, the subjects of the band's tuneage is more varied: exploring the fertile fields of horror and mystery and atrocity and dinosaurs and outer space. Okay...not much different from the above releases. But still...just as enjoyable and engaging.
Grinding guitar licks and thundering basslines and monumental drumming and passionate vocals--all powerfully delivered and smartly crafted. The energy level is frenetic; the melodic content is compelling. The tunes are gripping and catchy. The mood is dark and thoroughly tongue-in-cheek. This stuff is not intended to convert the masses from decency, instead it is offered as entertainment from the darkside. And highly entertaining it is.
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