Oct 31 2014

The Drool Brothers, HALLOWEEN FOR CREEPS

The Drool Brothers
Official Site
Halloween For Creeps, Barfing Glitter Records 2012

I am so winning the Diorama-rama with this!

The Drool Brothers have a long and interesting history. Back in the mid 80’s, brothers Chuck Mancillas and Tom Slik decided to practice music together. Legend has it certain grooves were so difficult to play that the brothers would occasionally drool onto their instrument of choice. But although they had a name, it wasn’t until 1996 that things really started coming together. Having earned enough money playing for other bands, Chuck bought the equipment they needed to finally start making the kind of music they wanted to make. Teaming up with some like-minded musicians, the released their first single later that year. Said single was a hit and helped further cement their place in Los Angeles’ underground music scene. Their first full-length release came in 2000 and was followed by Kasio Montigo in 2004, Ajax Muffler in 2009, Decoupage in 2011 and Halloween For Creeps in 2012.

But who are the Drool Brothers? The band consists of:

Chuck Mancillas: Drums, lead vocals and various instruments
Tom Slik: Bass, background vocals, and various instruments
Joe Kramer: Guitar, background vocals, and various instruments
Dan Marfisi: Bongos and various instruments

They aren’t kidding about the “various instruments,” either. Their number of instruments is rivaled only by their list of musical influences. Trying to pin down their exact genre is almost impossible, as they have been described as everything from “psychological pop music” to “Psychedelic Fuzz Soul.” It would probably be easier to list the music and artists they aren’t influenced by! As the subject of this review shows, they effortlessly switch from genre to genre during the course of a single album!

“Introduction” is a 35 second song excerpt which sounds like it is being played on a scratchy record . There’s a xylophone, bouncy drum and plenty of wacky effects as the singer tells us tonight is Halloween. The use of a whistle couldn’t help but remind me of Mysterious Mose. In “Lost in Space,” pulsing music and space instrumentation make for an engaging track. The guitars really shine here and I love the drum work as well. I also love the amnesiac singer’s exasperated attempt to contact Saturn 3. “Tonight is Halloween” is the full (and clean) version of opening track. It has a perfect old school Halloween for kids feel and I love it for this. The sounds of waves and wind take us into the surf track “Green Tiki.” This humorous tale of the misfortunes of those who come into the titular tiki is insanely catchy and loaded with reverb. “Skeleton Girl 3000″ is an extended take on a track from their 2000 self-titled feature album. I actually prefer chorus of new version and love how the opening grabs you and never lets go. The funky keyboard beat goes great with drums and guitars.

You know what else goes great together? The samples from various horror movie and spook show trailers mixed with rocking guitars in “Reptile.” Despite the samples having nothing to do with reptiles, the vocals help the listener understand the connection between them. “Creeps” reminds of the the music heard during the pool party in Boogie Nights (aka “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War). Which is great, since that song rules. In contrast, “Anti Establishment Scholarship Fund” is much slower and low key. It’s done in the form of a pitch for the previously mention fund, where all the proceeds will go to you! There’s plenty of interesting electrical effects while the organ and other instrumentation are appropriately offbeat. The instrumental “Revenge of the Green Tiki” offers a wonderful exotica/surf fusion take on the beat from “Green Tiki.” In addition to the guitars and bongos, there are also touches of reverb and klaves. Things appropriately draw to a close with the 27 second “Conclusion,” where we get another scratchy record sample. Having the record get “stuck” was a perfect touch.

Halloween For Creeps is not only a great listening experience (whether it’s on Halloween or any other time of the year), but it also does a perfect job of paying tribute to the group’s roots. Remember their hit single? It was a little something called “Halloweenish.” The disco mix contained on the original LP’s “B” side not only turned up on The Drool Brothers along with “Skeleton Girl,” but also appeared on compilations like Listen and Learn with Vibro-Phonic and Joe’s Blue Plate Special Vol. 14. And here’s a treat: If you order the CD version, you also get a vinyl sticker featuring the Drool Brothers logo!

Speaking of vinyl, the “Halloweenish” single has been reissued on orange vinyl and is now available for purchase. In addition to getting a free sticker, purchasing it will let you hear the rare “A” side featuring a guest performance by Kristian Hoffman from The Mumps. Oh, and here’s one more treat: You can download a free copy of “Tonight is Halloween” on Bandcamp! If that isn’t something to drool over, I don’t know what is.

Special thanks to The Drool Brothers for the review copy!

Happy Halloween!

Oct 31 2014

6′+ Episode 126 (The 2014 Halloween Special) is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Happy Halloween! Something strange is going on with Strange Jason – he’s actually cheery on Halloween! What the GdL16 Intern uncovers is SHOCKING (more shocking than the guest appearance by Bernie Freakshow!) It’s a horrible fate that puts not only the town of Leathbridge, but the entire WORLD at risk! ALL IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN!

Featuring the music of Fauxrror, from their new album SOUNDTRACKS TO HORROR FILMS THAT NEVER WERE, available at Goblinhaus.com.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 30 2014

The Newton Haunted House

Don't mind me.  I'm just tidying things up before the next group comes through.

Location: 18 Washington Park Newtonville, MA 02460 (Directions)
Dates/Times: October 24, 5:30 – 8:00 pm (Dates/Times subject to change as years go by)
Admission: $5 per person
Phone: (617) 969-6848
Website: http://www.newtonhauntedhouse.org

The Barrett family (no relation to the people who run Barrett’s Haunted Mansion in Abington, MA) have been running a haunted house in their basement since 2004. Created by Sophia Barrett as a way to raise money for charity, the haunted house has received support not only from her parents but also from several organizations and netted her a Nally Award in 2012. It is only open one night a year, usually on a Friday (but will open on a Sunday instead if there’s rain). While free parking is usually available about a block from the haunt, I recommend stopping by much earlier to scout out some potential areas because the haunted house is very popular and spots fill up fast. The line builds up quickly, so expect to spend some time outside and bring a jacket. There are also plenty of baked goods for sale if you get hungry.

Its being open to people of all ages is one of the reasons for its popularity, as is how customers are able to choose the level of scariness they will experience when they go through: “No scares,” “Medium scary” and “Very scary.” “No scares” is pretty self explanatory, the performers just stand around and act friendly (and will take off their masks upon request). “Medium scary” has the monsters lurk around and “Very scary” has them use more advanced scare tactics and even touch you. Each ticket costs the same, but the monster at the start of the haunted house calls out the level you (or if you’re not alone, your group) has selected and uses a special noisemaker for each level. Those who opt for the “Very scary” version also have to wear a special lei that you return at the end of the haunt. This lets families visit each year and adjust the level of scariness as their children get older. The ticket taker was always ready to assist if people were having trouble deciding on a level and I loved how she reacted to kids who wanted to jump right to the scariest level. “Are you sure? The monsters haven’t eaten since last Halloween!” Classic.

Naturally, I opted for “Very scary” and can vouch for the experience not being for little kids. While there are several instances where monsters jump out at you, they also use other methods. Some distract you, some follow you, some touch you and others wait until you least expect it before making a move. Some performers near the end actually almost surprised me, which no other haunt I have reviewed for this website has managed to pull off. There were also a few clever setups involving positioning which I won’t spoil by explaining further. In addition to rooms featuring just monsters, there are also several scenes and static displays. The free candy at the end was also a pleasant surprise. The basement itself provides a lot of great atmosphere and as a haunt catering to all age groups, there’s little to no blood on display. The props range from the kind you can find at your local pharmacy to high end (along with some cool homemade ones) which makes for a good mix considering the target audience. It’s also understandable since all proceeds are donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank. The layout was well-chosen and helped the 5 minute tour feel much longer. Believe me, I mean that in a good way.

I was very pleased to see how all performers wore full costumes. The only “mask and street clothes” one in the bunch was the guy who announces the level you selected and he has a valid reason for that. Going into a room with dim red lighting and scary sound effects blasting away can be very intimidating for younger children and being able to switch from a monster to a person is extremely important in those circumstances. Given how some last minute scheduling issues resulted in me attending later in the evening and it was their busiest year yet, I was impressed by the performers’ energy (especially since they did not have any breaks). However, there were a few issues with my trip through the haunt. I caught two actors having a conversation and had to interrupt them so they could actually go through their routine. I give them credit for trying to make it work, though. There was another point where a performer seemed to have temporarily abandoned their post and left their mask behind!

This being a busy year had another effect on the haunted house. The scenes and scares are subject to change each year and I understand this year saw little change due to everyone’s work schedules being heavy. But other years have had numerous changes and they tentatively plan to change every room for 2015. Thankfully the increased level of traffic seen this year also resulted in the Greater Boston Food Bank receiving about $2,150! All these factors made it hard to pin down an exact rating for the Newton Haunted House, so I had to fudge things a bit. It’s definitely equal to other charity haunts I have attended and surpasses one for profit haunted attraction previously covered here. I’m sure you will enjoy yourself if you visit (and that next year’s incarnation will be a real treat).

Final verdict: 3 skulls out of 5

UPDATE: It turns out Lisa Barrett (the ticket taker) is a famous researcher and published author specializing in the study of emotions. She uses her knowledge of fear to train the haunt’s performers (who are also members of her lab) how to be as creepy as possible! I have also been informed the level announcer is her husband, who wears street clothes as part of his costume so his Greater Boston Food Bank can help further promote the organization.

Special thanks to The Newton Haunted House for use of the image!

Oct 30 2014

Help Roz Fight Some Real Horrors This Halloween

We received a letter from a fan of 6ftplus from Roz, who is attempting the admirable goal of raising money to combat Multiple Sclerosis through the SWIM FOR MS campaign with the Multiple Sclerosis Association for America.

Roz became a fan of the show back in 2011 and has been following since. She thanked 6ftplus for introducing to so many great bands. And since 6ftplus focuses on the creepy genres of music like psychobilly and horror punk, it’s quite familiar with fearful frights and sinister scares.

Total Badass

Total Badass

But MS is a different kind of terror. The National MS Society describes MS as “an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.”

Now, my alter-ego has indirectly witnessed the sadness, the pain and the desperation this condition causes in both MS patients and their families. It’s a treatable condition and the advances in medication are astounding, but we still have a lot to ground to cover.

According to its website, SWIM FOR MS is “a national fundraiser in which volunteers create their own swim challenge while recruiting online donations to support the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA).”

Now, swimming is fun but it is TIRING. Just reading that Roz has aimed to swim 35 miles made me exhausted. It’s a great goal that aims to raise money for a good cause. Plus, her Swim Team name is “The Fighting Narwhales.” Whales with unicorn-like teeth that totally skewer their enemies.

The Fighting Narwhales have a group on Fitocracy, but to directly support Roz’s campaign go to here: SUPPORT ROZ’S EFFORTS TO SWIM FOR MS.

Oct 29 2014

Royalty Free Music For Haunted Attractions

Whenever you hear background music playing at a mall or restaurant, chances are it’s being used under some kind of licensing agreement unless they meet certain criteria. Yes, even businesses using satellite radios to play music are subject to this. If they aren’t doing this and don’t meet certain qualifications, then they run the risk of getting sued if they get caught doing so. Something which can easily happen in the age of social media. Although there are many types of payment plans and complicated factors to consider, one of the most popular methods of licensing is the blanket license. Rather than pay a fee each time a particular song is used (aka royalty), those with a blanket license pay set fee to a performance rights organization to use their collection/library of music. Similarly, producers of advertisements, television shows and movies can avoid paying fees if they use royalty free production music, usually by purchasing an expensive CD or access to a digital library. Although sometimes public domain material and Creative Commons music can be used without having to pay a royalty, this does not mean all royalty free material fits into those categories. Especially not the music in this article.

So why use royalty free music if your haunt is of the home or charity variety? If paid admission or donations involved, some might try arguing your event is actually for profit. On top of the extra protection royalty free music can give you, many of the artists who make their work available that way are willing to give you free publicity! Although the type of material discussed in this article does not require any royalties for use in your haunted attraction after the initial purchase, its royalty free nature does NOT apply to use on the radio, television shows, movies, YouTube videos, etc. I have divided the artists into three categories based on their policies for royalty free use. The order of my listing them is based solely on the order I learned about their policies for each category. In EVERY case, you HAVE to purchase the music in order to qualify. Do not hesitate to contact the artist if you have any other questions about using their work:

Registration and Web Display Required:

Nox Arcana – If your haunted attraction is a registered charity business, they will let you use their music in this way as long as you email them and credit Nox Arcana on your website’s sponsors section. If you are not a charity, please contact them to see what low cost or trade options are available. I understand everything is done on a case-by-case basis in order to insure maximum fairness for all.

Music For Haunts – Home haunts, charity haunts and for-profit haunted attractions which see 10,000 or lower patrons can use his work royalty free by providing credit on your website (including a link to his website) and emailing him about how you plan on using his work in your haunt so he knows how to best publicize your haunted attraction online for free. All other businesses should contact him to discuss his reasonable licensing rates.

Registration and Public Display Required:

Midnight Syndicate – You must register with them for each year you use their work. In return, they will send you a poster to display at your haunt and will also provide publicity for you on their website. Displaying the poster is NOT optional.

Jerry Vayne – You must register with him every year you use his work. You also have to print out and display a poster from his website.

Verse 13 – You must submit registration through his website for each year you use his work. You also need to print out and display a poster from his website in order to qualify.

Prelude to a Nightmare – All you need to do is provide public credit at your haunt and contact him so he can publicize your haunt for free online.

Registration Required:

Sam Haynes – To use his work royalty free, send him an e-mail with “Register” in the subject line and provide a link to your website (along with details about your haunted attraction).

Dulcet Jones – Please email him for details about using his work.

Other:

Grave Tone Productions – Registration via email is not required, but they do appreciate it when people do it. They also appreciate it when your provide public credit for their work. They appreciate it so much they will even help promote your haunt online for free if you do it!

Michael Hedstrom – If you buy the album, you can use it royalty free in your haunted attraction. While he does appreciate getting email about the matter, there is no obligation.

Gore Galore – Purchasing any of their “Sounds of Gore” effects albums and/or Rusty Knife haunt soundtracks allow you to use their work royalty free. Although they offer albums from many other artists in their web store, the royalty free license ONLY applies to the two previously mentioned lines of albums.

Even if the artist whose work you are using does not require you providing any credit, I highly recommend that you do so anyway. After all, they are letting you use their music to get publicity for their work and publicity is meaningless if none of your customers knows who provided the music. If possible, really put some extra effort into your public display of credit at your haunt. Having credit written on the lid of an open coffin would look great, as would having a sign held by a “Monster Mud” creation. Be sure to factor in removable signs into the designs of such props if you want to use different artists each year. The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links should have all the information you need.

I’m sure there are more artists out there who let haunters use their work royalty free and will definitely keep searching for them. Please feel free to send any leads you may have my way.

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion. Nobody here is a lawyer and all legal matters discussed above are done so in the simplest, bare bones way. Consult a lawyer whenever possible.

Oct 28 2014

Music to Haunt By: The Dead of Fall

Darkmood
Official Site
The Dead of Fall, Notic Reign Records 2014

This is what happens if you don't brush your teeth.

It has been quite a long time since we last heard from Darkmood. After the release of Halloween Descends, the album later went out of print and Steve Montgomery had to balance work on the next album with other projects like SDM and Portrait Black. But the patience of fans has been rewarded with the arrival of The Dead of Fall. Unlike Darkmood’s debut album, this is a concept album rather than a sampler of spooky themes. But the zombie apocalypse theme is used lightly enough so that this album can be used in a wide range of haunted attractions.

Pounding synths open “Outbreak” and are soon followed by varied and creepy piano work. The drum segments (and later use of strings) are a great touch and help build suspense, along with a sense of menace and fear. “Infected” has a THX-style opening buildup, but gets more unstable and unnerving as time goes on. If you need something with soft winds and otherworldly synth sounds, this is the track for you. “Death Bell” has a soft, slow and sneaking piano opening backed up by sinister synth work. Just as the title implies, there are sometimes bell clangs as well. There’s also kind of a dance feel as the beat kicks in. In fact, most of the tracks could be thrown into a party mix without complaint and still be used in haunts. “Quarantine” feels otherworldly right from the start and the synth stings are on full display. The excellent dark piano work adds to the feel. In addition to the synth music break which sounds like something from an 80’s horror movie, you sometimes here a crying baby, woman screaming, blowing wind, ragged breathing and other effects in the distance. I imagine this being used in scene designed to look like a child’s room. More specifically, in the passage to the boogeyman’s realm found in the open closet. Synths and piano combine in “Bury The Dead” and the varied piano work creates feelings of nervousness and lurking. The wordless vocals are a great touch. While its occasional use vaguely sci-fi touches could allow use in a mad scientist’s lab, it could also work nicely in a ghost scene. Clocking in at over six minutes, “Walkers” is definitely the longest track of the album. I love the soft and steady beat that gradually raises in volume, along with the spooky synths that pop up at times. There’s also eerie chiming and a pounding chase beast later on. There’s so many potential uses for this, but let’s go with a zombie room since that is the theme of the album. A chained up door restraining zombies would be perfect. Especially if you added some fake hands and a hidden motor to move the doors “Mutation” has a catchy drum beat mixed with synths and windlike effects. It’s perfect for any jungle room.

Stabbing synth tones and a soft beat join with light (but creepy) piano work in “Hordes.” Thanks to the unisex musical moans and some effects which remind me of sharpening knives, I envision this being played in the lair of a mad butcher or in a meat locker. The opening of “A Day So Black” offers medium pounding notes and synth effects combined with wordless male vocals. There’s a beat with a mild “Egyptian” feel later on, but horror stingers and clanking metal change things up. You know that theory about aliens building the pyramids? That’s right, the one based on an unauthorized sequel to The War of the Worlds. Well how about making an area in your haunted attraction based on this and use this particular track? Don’t laugh, it’s been done before. The slow, heavy synth work and effects used in “Pulse” reminds me of skittering and tuning. At least until the fast beat bursts in. There are lots of electrical and sci-fi touches, plus some winds and wails as well. This would be right at home with an alien or laboratory theme. “They’re Coming” has plenty of soft, pounding piano notes with a “We are coming” chant layered underneath. It sometimes takes breaks for synth effects, but always returns. It has a nervous or sneaking feel to it and you could have funt with it by having this play softly and gradually turn up the volume in a room where people are lingering. If your haunt has a tour guide, have them panic and quickly guide people to the next area. If you are operating an outdoor attraction, this would be perfect to use with a hellmouth. “Last Breath” uses lurking synth notes to evoke a breathing feel. This feel is further aided by some breathing sound effects, along with a woman crying and laughing. Try using this with your haunt’s breathing doors or breathing grave, especially if you can synch up the track’s breathing parts to when prop starts. Eerie synth work opens “Epitaph” offers a steady beat, light creepy music and great use of effects. The effects reminded me of wind at some times and ghosts at others. “Dark Waters,” the special bonus track, mixes the sounds of wind and water with plenty of synth touches as well. If you want your haunt to have pirates but don’t want to go through the hassle of making a fake ship, this track can help. Why? Because it implies the ocean so you don’t have to show it. All you need is a room designed to look like it’s from a pirate ship. The track’s somewhat unearthly feel can also let you throw in a sea monster or ghost pirate.

Darkmood’s sophomore release has proven itself well worth the wait. In fact, I actually rank it higher than the first album! I was quite impressed with how so many tracks could be used to dance to (and haunt by) while not being overtly “dance” tracks. No other artist I’ve reviewed has ever pulled off before and this was quite the pleasant surprise. If this sounds like your kind of soundtrack, then you are in luck: it was just released today! I was able to write this thanks to being provided with an early version of the album. I bring this up because I do have a few minor nitpicks about the album and said nitpicks might not even be present on the final version. As much as I loved “Outbreak,” it seemed to end much more abruptly than the other tracks. It also had a somewhat lengthy period of silence at the end before going to the next track. Several other tracks have similar silent periods, but are much shorter than the one following “Outbreak.” But this issue is only really noticeable if you loop those tracks individually. I found listening to the album as a whole helped draw you in and ignore everything but the music. Aside from the bonus track, there’s nothing here that could rule out playing the album in full while handing out candy, so it’s great for casual horror fans and dedicated haunters alike. I’m already looking forward to the next album!

UPDATE: Notic Reign Records has confirmed the issues I noted were errors and assured me corrected versions of the tracks have been uploaded in their place.

Special thanks to Notic Reign Records for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 27 2014

Music to Haunt By: Virgil Franklin

Virgil Franklin
Official Site
Into The Ether, Lame Duck Digital 2013

Why don't you come up and slay me sometime?

Virgil Franklin, often known as simply “Virgil” to fans of spooky music, has a lengthy musical resume. Having worked as a freelance arranger/composer for many years, founded the label/recording studio Lame Duck Digital in 2000. This quickly led to him composing and performing numerous film scores. On top of that, he gives demonstrations at conventions and shares his audio skills at Vincennes University. His first release under as “Virgil” was the 2002 album Spacial Estates. But his first horror releases came out two years later: Out Of The Ether and Music For The Others. These were soon followed by Fade To Black, Klown, Dark Hollow, Hillbilly Hell, and A Visit From Mister Grey. Not having released a new solo horror album since 2008 (although he did do a collaboration with Clifford Franklin called The Plot in 2011), Mr. Franklin announced his retirement from the genre in 2013. Thankfully this was short-lived and he returned that same year with two new albums: Into The Ether and Night Sins. Of the two newest releases, I chose to review Into The Ether due to its interesting theme. The album references the names and styles of his many previous releases but contains all new material. With such a celebration of his past and present available, how could I refuse?

Soft tones take us “Into The Ether,” where eerie piano work sets the stage for scares. I never thought I would ever hear a scary horn, but here it is. The choir and rockin’ guitars make for an unusual (but pleasing) combination. “Zombies 1″ has a somewhat misleading name. The wailing wind, synth work and musical moans make one think of spirits rather than the walking dead. This can be used in many kinds of haunted attraction scenes, but I think it would work particularly well with a moving Ouija board. “The Darkness In The Hollow” has knocking synths and soft, playfully creepy music something that can be described as being like a “theremin fairy tale.” With that in mind, why not use it in a scene inspired by fairy tales or in a haunt intended for younger audiences? Dark and heavy synths open “Left For Dead,” which reminds me of crashing surf. There’s plenty of wailing winds and other creepy touches while knocking noise and otherwordly effects come in around the second half. “Miklos’ Dream” offers soft, light music coupled with dark strings. There are plenty of classic horror music touches here and you’ll know them when you hear them. “Midwest Haunters” is named after the Midwest Haunters Convention and the quick, spooky piano work reminds me of the Midnight Syndicate. The eerie theremin work is nicely mirrored by the dark strings. “A Stock Of Iron” is also named after a haunters’ convention. In this case, it’s Ironstock. Crickets, otherworldly tones and eerie music start things off and storm effects bring in lighter (but still creepy) work. The beautifully scary piano and ticking clock which close this track make it especially useful for spooky areas containing a haunted clock. “Zombies 2″ lives up to its name thanks to its catchy “Voodoo” drumbeats and creepy effects. The soft, distant flute and use of a musical instrument which sounds like fluttering insect wings are great touches. It reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft’s description of the original Arabic title of the Necronomicon translating as “that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons.” So in addition to playing this in rooms themed around jungles or shrunken heads, you can also have it playing in a room with a Necronomicon prop. I recommend playing it softly enough so that it can only be faintly heard when your guests are close to said prop.

“Master Of The Ethermuse” is a reference to a title used in reference to Mr. Franklin and features plenty of heavy breathing and spooky piano work. My short description doesn’t do this justice, you really need to listen to it to truly appreciate it. “Left For Dead (Reprise)” offers sinister ethereal effects, soft moans and distant drumbeats while the fairly speedy piano and synths of “Pirates!” provide a feeling of adventure. Loud, eerie effects open “Atmosfear,” along with some soft moans and dreamlike chimes. It reminds me of the kid of music you hear when a character on a TV show has a nightmare. It your haunt has a vortex or scene set in the netherworld, this is the track for you! “John’s Vision” has a very effective, super soft opening buildup of effects. The pounding tones combined with the light and quick synths will make listeners think of crawling things. With that in mind, using it in areas filled with spiders or insects seems appropriate. The pounding drums and creepy synth work of “Music For The Others” take on a rather mournful tone, even with the addition of “horror” musical stingers later on. Possessing a length of over eleven minutes, “Luminousity” is easily the longest track of the album. It’s great for actors who have to spend time in one area with this playing in a loop since there’s so much variation on display. There’s soft piano work accompanied by strings, harpsichord and some eerie synth tones. While good with low key scares and generally creepy scenes, the medieval feel conjured by the harpsichord also allows its use in a room themed around castle or throne room. “Miklos’ Dream (Reprise)” has a spooky synth buildup this time around and creepy chimes add to the dreamlike quality of the track. But the drums and burst of menacing synth change all that real quick. With a name like “Klown,” it’s easy to guess how it will sound and what type of haunt scene to use it with. Creepily weird clown laughter starts things off as a clown urges children to come and play. This clown returns throughout the track to laugh and taunt the listener. In addition to the calliope and synth work, there’s also some surprise guitar work!

Into The Ether is both a perfect way for Virgil to demonstrate he hasn’t lost his touch after a long break and is a highly recommended addition to any haunter’s collection. The track lengths allow for individual looping without being repetitive and its wide selection offers much to choose from October 31st rolls around. That said, a few tracks have a good deal of silence at the end which should be considered when doing so. These tracks are “Midwest Haunters,” “The Darkness In The Hollow” and both “Zombie” tracks. But I should stress how this is only a minor issue and it doesn’t effect the overall quality of the music. Virgil Franklin has since announced two new albums scheduled for release in the near future and I
(like so many other Halloween enthusiasts) eagerly look forward to them.

Special thanks to Virgil Franklin for use of the image!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 26 2014

Zacherley and Southern Culture On The Skids dress up as Creedence

Southern Culture On The Skids got a well deserved nod by “Weird” Al Yankovic on his recent no.1 album, ‘Mandatory Fun.’ Al did a SCOTS-style parody, similar to his DEVO-esque “Dare to Be Stupid.” The song “Lame Claim To Fame,” and subsequent video, pay a pastiche homage to the long running trio. I first got to know Southern Culture On The Skids from the HALLOWEEN HOOTENANNY comp when they teamed up with Zacherley for a cover of Creedence’s “Sinister Purpose.” I have to say, I prefer the SCOTS+Z version. Zach’s vocals add some real old time mysticism to it. But, what do you think?

VS

Oct 26 2014

Music to Haunt By: Halloween Music Collection

Midnight Syndicate
Official Site
Halloween Music Collection, Linfaldia Records 2010

Dear Midnight Syndicate:  Please make a pumpkin carving stencil based on this Jack O'Lantern.

2010 was a busy year for Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka. Not only was their film The Dead Matter released that year, but they had also teamed up with Destini Beard for her album The Dark Masquerade and released The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. They also released their thirteenth album: Halloween Music Collection. Said album consists of material specially selected from the following albums: Realm of Shadows, Gates of Delirium, Vampyre, Dungeons and Dragons, The 13th Hour, Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994-1999) and The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates. It’s worth noting how Out of the Darkness (Retrospective: 1994-1999) contains rerecorded and remixed versions from early Midnight Syndicate releases, so the selection of music is even larger than expected! As I have already commented on certain selections picked for this album, I decided to include those comments along with my new material. It just seemed more appropriate that way.

“Family Secrets” starts with a synthesizer riff that should be familiar to horror movie fans, then gives way to a light, steady piano under synth and wordless female vocals. A bell causes a shift to greater sense of danger, then shifts out to interesting variations in both music and vocals. “Darkness Descends” originally appeared on Born of the Night and while I feel the version presented here isn’t quite as dark in feel as the original, it is still scary. The opening piano leads to bells and eerie backing synth work. The light use of wind and wordless female vocals make it appropriate for just about any spooky scene. The same goes for “Fallen Grandeur,” a great “general scare” track thanks to its spooky, speedy organ work followed by heavy synth and the occasional chanting vocals. Moans take us into “Room 47,” where wordless male vocals and “Darkness Descends”-style notes help further chill you. Wordless female vocals join in, along with all-new piano work comes in later. The ghosts remain a constant presence and therefore this track is ideal for séances and any other scenes involving one or more ghosts. The new “Born of the Night” may lack the whispering vocals at beginning, but still has the great piano work and heavy backing notes I adore. I consider it one of my favorites no matter what form it is available in. It’s just so moody and evocative! The wordless female vocals and piano speedup (with some light touches) play a huge part in creating that feel. A spooky buildup and horror movie-style musical stinger welcome us into “Raven’s Hollow.” This soundscape combines wind, distant tolling bells and ravens cawing to make a track perfect for a haunted forest or graveyard. Unsure synths, soft wordless vocals and knocking tones create a perfect slow buildup to “Awakening,” which was a Hammer horror tribute years before Monsters of Legend came to be. In true classic horror movie style, crashing gongs usher in a change in tone so it feels more confident and regal. The unisex vocals
and bells also add to the overall mood. “Shadows” still has soft pounding notes at opening, but sounds different. There are light music box-like touches and the buildup isn’t as intense, but it has spookier feel this time around. It still has all the great piano work, sound effects, vocals, etc. that made it so special as well. This track is actually a reworking of a track from the band’s self-titled debut album called “Darkfolk,” which had more of a fairy tale feel to it. Similarly, “Haunted Nursery” has its origins in a track from that album called “Enchanted Nursery” and was one of the earliest tracks ever written for the band. The most recent version skips the opening sound effects and goes right for the creepy music box that slowly winds down. So if you plan on using this in a haunted nursery, the track’s ending is a great cue for a hidden helper to do their thing. This works especially well if you have a decoy prop set up to make your visitors think is going to be the thing that scares them.

Given its tabletop RPG origins, “Army of the Dead” was apparently designed for the introduction of monsters in play. This is why the dramatic, steady synths are coupled with the sound of burning torches and footsteps. The chanting vocals, drums, gongs and tones that make me think of horns and strings all conjure up a feeling of menace. If you play it low enough, you can eliminate the sound effects but still retain the music. No matter how you chose to play it, I think it would be great for a scene involving a cult or summoning ritual. Or if your haunt’s story involves a location with multiple secret tunnels, having this play behind a wall can imply beings marching somewhere out of view. A medium, steady piano opening in “Dark Legacy” leads to synthesizer work, and later a gongs signals the organ to join in. It feels like someone recollecting of the past, and there are otherworldly touches at one point (along with vocals). The synth work in “Morbid Fascination” reminds me of main titles to John Carpenter’s The Thing. I love the piano buildup (and variations in play) which follow and how it contrasts with the synth work. The wordless female vocals and storm effects add to the overall sense of mystery and lurking. This has plenty of uses, but if you want to use in room based on The Thing, I say go for it. The short, but scary “Deadly Intentions” uses a whispered female “come with me” and synth work to great effect. Such vocals and synthesizer work lead us into “Undead Hunters,” which has a very dramatic tone. I love the use of gongs, wordless unisex vocals and bursts of drums. You can feel the danger and pursuit in this. “Soliloquy” still features a mournful piano and wordless female vocals, but is a little louder and more “confident” in its new version. The piano seems to be slightly faster here, bit you can still feel the sorrow and loss. Although the wordless male vocals are still present later in the track, the bells don’t show up until much later. I suggest using this with a “Beloved” tombstone or with a bleeding portrait modified to produce tears of blood. Eerie instruments and wailing wind offer an effective opening in “Tempest.” It’s mostly a storm soundscape, but there are some unisex vocals layered into the mix as well. It works wonders in so many kinds of scenes, even a simple spooky room with a hidden fan blowing at guests. Running just under two minutes, “Grisly Reminder” effectively uses soft, light synth work and piano with the occasional use other effects. “Residents Past” offers wailing choral vocals and slow piano coupled with cymbals. The use of synth work and tolling bells help make me think of people from long ago. Maybe this could be used in a room where a Pepper’s Ghost effect is used to make spectres of the past appear? The piano work in “Veiled Hunter” is medium in both volume and speed, and also picks up synth at times. In fact, sometimes it reminded me of the famous “ki ki ki, ma ma ma” from the original Friday the 13th. Castle setups will benefit from use of “Alchemist’s Chamber,” which uses heavy, somewhat pounding synth over very scary organ work and wordless vocals. Harpsichord interludes gives it an “ancient” feel. “Noctem Aeternus” (which means “The Eternal night”) sounds very close to the original version. The brief, slow piano note and male vocals still open it and there’s plenty of synth work. In fact, the only major difference I picked up was how it seemed a little darker in tone and the wordless female vocals seem to have some new touches. In “Vampyre,” winds take us into wordless female vocals. Said vocals burst into a full-fleged chorus singing in Latin after a gong strikes. These are all a constant in the track and are joined by organ music, dark synth tones, wordless male vocals and tolling bells. The synth work takes on menacing quality and the gongs help one feel like they are being chased. As you have guessed from the title, any vampire scene in a haunted house would benefit from having this played in it.

As a “best of” album, Halloween Music Collection is the perfect starting point for new fans or for those who have yet to collect the entire Midnight Syndicate discography. But even if you already own the albums it is derived from, it’s still worth having as a handy collection of classic tracks from the band’s past. It would be great played in a loop on Halloween and most of the tracks lend themselves well to individual looping. The music can be potentially used in an untold number of haunted attraction scenes rather than fitting only a few select room types. Not only is it available by itself, but you can also get both it and The Dead Matter: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack when you buy the special edition The Dead Matter DVD pack. And you had better believe that last detail is going to come into play here at some time in the future.

Special thanks to Linfaldia Records for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 25 2014

Music In Costume: Vincent Price dresses up as Bobby “Boris” Pickett

Vincent Price always had a musical side to him. With that voice and history as a stage actor, it’s not surprising that the man could sing. Most of his singing is a bit of a sprechgesang, or the speak-singing that you can find in any B-52s song. But, when you can get away with that, do it. And Vincent does it on his rendition of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Halloween staple, “The Monster Mash.”

Listening to the “Monster Mash” this time of year is akin to drinking something pumpkin-flavored – even if you don’t WANT TO, it’s going to happen. I like the song. Pickett’s career is more than just the “Monster Mash” so look him up.

VS

Oct 25 2014

Music to Haunt By: Spine Chillers

Sam Haynes
Official Site
Spine Chillers, Haunt Music 2014

Silly monsters, you can't carry much candy in those.  Should've gone with a pillow case...

Sam Haynes is a spooky music machine. In this year alone, he has created and released three albums: Ghost Stories, the limited edition Halloween Music (as noted earlier in the countdown) and Spine Chillers. He’s probably putting the finishing touches on another project as you read this! So I had better hurry up and get this review of Spine Chillers finished as quickly as possible.

A soft moody opening gradually builds up “Death comes creeping in,” which leads to gong strikes and creepy musical stings. The musical moans are a great touch and its use of heavy tones creates a sense of pursuit. If a monster leaps out and chases people in your haunt, this is the track for you. “HeXed” starts with a very soft harpsichord feel and then a heavy dance beat suddenly shows up. This has a definite Sam Haynes feel and the numerous little spooky touches layered in make it equally at home in a party music mix or haunted attraction. “Masks” compliments its slow, soft build with creepy electro touches and violins. In addition to the whispering winds and wordless female vocals, there’s a sense of things creeping and slinking in the dark. I think this lets it work in many kinds of haunt scenes, but I think something involving spiders or insects would be the most popular one. The titular “Spine Chillers” offers a pounding opening and constant feel of unease, along with some fantastic piano work coupled with gongs and strings Music box chimes open “Grim Reaper,” but are joined by an electro dance beat joins in. It even sounds like dubstep at times! Not only is this like the opening theme to a horror movie, but it would work wonders in your haunt’s waiting area. It keeps the energy (and anticipation) up while still reinforcing idea of scary things to come. “Halloween Twilight” could be my favorite track on the album. I love the scary opening, along with the moanlike music and eerie tones. An otherwordly feel starts off “Night Caller.” Wordless male vocals join wordless female vocals, along with constant pounding tones and electro touches as well. The brief harpsichord-like tones are also a nice addition. Using this in a dark maze could be fun! Just as its title implies, “Sinister Lullaby” is soothing and unsettling at the same time thanks to its chiming music box feel. It’s obviously great for use in scenes involving creepy dolls or a haunted child’s room.

As the name implies, “Cemetery Gates (remix)” is a remix of a Sam Haynes track from another album. But the original was not from a Sam Haynes album, but appeared on this year’s free Graveyard Calling compilation Monsters Unplugged. I told you the guy was a machine! The remix has a wonderfully atmospheric opening thanks to the mix of storm effects, flapping wings and a crow cawing. The spooky piano and mournful strings add to the mood, but develops a (somewhat) lighter tone as time goes on. I envision this being played in a graveyard or haunted forest scene. Moans and wails form a unique musical mix in “Spirit of Halloween” and then spooky music takes over. It’s good for any ghostly scene or séance. If you are performing an interactive séance, play this with volume extra low and slowly turn it up as track plays (and the “spirits” start to make themselves known). “Pandemonium Carnival” offers spooky circus music, Sam Haynes style. There’s an electro buildup and soft spooky circus music, then the drums kick in and everything picks up. I also like how it mixes a circus march and merry-go-round music. Rather than give an example of the usual clown room, I want to pitch a new idea to you: Have guests enter a room which includes a small model of a carousel. A model which later starts mysteriously rotating and playing this track while a hidden actor prepares to scare them. Night of the Living Dead samples abound in “Night of the Ghouls,” which offers a spooky pounding beat and heavy electro touches. Why use the word “ghouls” instead of “zombies?” Because that’s what the creatures in the movie were called in the script! It was the general public who decided the revived corpses were zombies and Romero’s depiction quickly became the law of the land. Only for many people to decide the infected people in 28 Days Later were zombies years later and sparked a debate over whether these fast-moving creatures actually counted as such because they didn’t match the Romero version of zombies! “Pumpkin Carver” has moaning and eerie touches aplenty. The soft piano work adds to the frightening feel the music creates. Since the title suggests one, a haunt scene using this track could be themed around a pumpkin carver. Imagine a static figure of a knife-wielding scarecrow surrounded by glowing Jack O’Lanterns. Just make sure the scare doesn’t involve the carver, because that’s what people would normally expect.

“Hex (soundtrack mix)” is the track “HeXed” minus the “dance” parts. The harpsichord-like spooky music and wordless female vocals give it a mysterious and eerie feel. “Just before dawn” starts with crackly sample, but it is the wordless female vocals and dark tones which set its soft and creepy feel. It’s perfect for just about any scary scene. “Silent Kill – Stories of the dead (Sam Haynes remix)” is a collaboration with Silent Kill and you can download the original version for free here. With its soft spooky opening and piano work, it’s practically like a new song! Marching drums play a big part in this track as well. It’s a more subdued and atmospheric take on the original with some sound effects thrown in for good measure. Continuing with the remixes, “The Other Side (remix)” is a new take on a selection from Ghost Stories. Its spooky opening vaguely reminds me of an 80’s slasher movie, but then plants itself firmly in dance territory. “Halloween Night (Extended remix)” is the last of the remixes, this time derived from Welcome to the Horror Show. It’s sure to please fans of the original while still offering something new. Spooky piano work and old school ghostly wails are the stars in “A Haunted House Party.” Speaking of stars, a sample of Vincent Price from House on Haunted Hill leads us to dance music and chiming. “Night of the Ghouls (No Zombies version)” is just what you expect: The previously heard track with all the samples removed. Given the number or remixes on display, it’s a nice way to close things out.

With Spine Chillers, Sam Haynes has once again knocked it out of the park. This is even more impressive when you factor in the way he has been pumping out album after album this year without a single dud. All of the tracks can be looped nicely and I personally think its mix of dance and horror gives it more leeway for use while handing out candy on Halloween. When you factor in the amazing cover art by Kachenstein, it’s a perfect purchase to aid your haunted house or Halloween party. It’s a sure thing we’ll be seeing more of Sam Haynes’ work at Gravedigger’s Local 16 in the future. And knowing Sam Haynes, that could be the very near future!

Special thanks to Sam Haynes for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 24 2014

Music to Haunt By: Atrium Carceri

Atrium Carceri
Official Site
Kapnobatai, Cold Meat Industry 2005

It's so hard to get a picture of Cthulhu's good side...

The timeline for the Atrium Carceri is just as interesting as the timeline for his various albums. Founder Simon Heath was also one of the founding members of the Swedish group Za Frûmi in 2000, with Donald Persson and Simon Kölle. The band focused on dark fantasy music and is not only split into two branches, but there are several side projects as well. Simon Kölle and Heath handle Abnocto, Simon Kölle has Musterion, and Simon Heath has both Atrium Carceri and Knaprika. Unlike his solo project Atrium Carceri, Knaprika is a joint project with Donald Persson (who left Za Frûmi in 2001). Atrium Carceri started in 2003 with the release of Cellblock, the first of many dark ambient albums with a focus on desolation and loneliness. The debut album’s title was quite appropriate, as “Atrium Carceri” roughly translates as “the fore room of a prison.” His work has also appeared in horror movies, so it’s not hard to see why haunted attractions could easily use his work. So why am I reviewing an album named after drug using shamans rather than ones utilizing a more traditional haunt theme? It’s really quite simple: I had come up with some new ideas for scenes in an alien-themed haunted attraction and was disappointed I hadn’t thought of them in time to include them with similar ideas in my Attrition review. Considering how rarely that theme pops up in haunted ambiance albums, I thought I would never get a chance to share those ideas. But then a friend told me about Atrium Carceri and how Kapnobatai just might be what I was looking for.

Chimes and a slow buildup open “Enclosed World/Liberation,” along with the sounds of metal doors unlatching and jets of steam. Along with the sounds of computers and machinery heard, there’s a dark chorus and snippets of a barely understandable conversation (along with lots of unnerving and gross sound effects). It’s like walking through an abandoned, but somehow still functioning factory. If you use this in an alien haunt, you can surprise people by having an alien projector suddenly turn on. It’s up to you if you want it to be motion activated or triggered by a hidden assistant. “Behind the Curtain of Life” effectively opens with a heavy buildup and the sounds of someone walking and breathing heavily. Something being tuned and the mysterious walker is surprised. There’s lots of machinery sounds, along with a man speaking in Japanese. Samples like this pop up a lot during this album, so you might have to build your theme around a haunted international space station to make them fit. My first guess is it’s from a Japanese horror movie, but apparently anime samples are fairly common in the works of Atrium Carceri. Unless you live in an area with lots of people who can understand Japanese, of course. “Impaled Butterfly” is fascinating to listen to, but I have trouble seeing this work in a haunt. Maybe it’s the combination of machinery and crickets. I suppose crickets could get into a factor, but years of spooky ambient albums have made me permanently associate crickets with outdoor scenes. A man and woman are heard conversing in Japanese, along with a spooky chorus. Both sexes are heard, but one woman’s singing (and crying) eventually stand out. “Maintenance Tunnels” has a great dark and spooky opening. There’s a definite sense of menace to the opening beats and even the lighter tones are sinister. The noises are almost like growls at times and the background chorus (with occasional wordless female vocals) do work quite nicely with the sounds of pounding machinery and a bubbling substance. I can see this working in a room with an alien slime monster If that doesn’t fit your theme, this track could also be used in a dark maze, chain hallway, spooky tunnel, boiler room, nursery or clown room.

In “Wrapped Cloth,” glitchy machinery beats convey a static feel. The scary sounds, faintly heard Japanese samples and a far off person chanting all add to the overall mood. A gong and heavy tone start off “A Stroll Through the Ancient City,” which leads us to an old friend: the sound of pounding machinery. The groaning, choking and conversation snippets allow for use with a scene involving a messy transformation from human to something else. Perhaps a performer can be hunched over in a corner and seem normal from behind, only to reveal a disturbing face and claws once they turn around and rush at your guests. I can’t describe all of the sound effects here, but there are screams, someone walking in dirt, electric effects and digital reverb. “Synaptic Transmission” is harsher and high pitched in opening, which does make it sound like some sort of transmission or feedback. There are plenty of static-like tones and bizarre sounds…or are they voices? It was a great idea to have the music itself get disrupted at times. Someone is heard talking, but I can’t place the language. The spooky male chorus is a wonderful touch, as are the mechanical sounds and pounding beat take us out. This is perfect for a room (or whole haunt) themed around a haunted space station or aliens. If you go the aliens route, be sure to have plenty of alien artifacts various bottled specimens on display. It’s surprising how easy it is to make unearthly objects out of clay. Using a lighting setup like this also adds to the effect. “Ruins of Desolation” is further proof you have to hear this album in order to truly understand it. This review can only go so far. It’s a low key kind of creepy as glitchy tones and distorted voices are coupled with pounding beats and briefly heard snippets of male choral work. The surprise orchestral tones and chorus do work very well here. I can see someone using this in a mad scientist’s lab or a spooky room filled with old televisions playing static. Perhaps one of them will start playing something people can actually watch, which allows for a performer to sneak up on them. It’s hard to describe the opening of “Torn Citadel of the Autarch,” but I’ll try anyway. There’s distortions and spaceship landing noises aplenty, along with droning, screams and static over a steady, ever present beat. I absolutely love the musical use of distortions here. “Monolith of Dreams” has a medium beat and truly bizarre musical work (but in a good way). A rare English language sample says something about our eyes, which is soon overtaken by storm effects, crickets and a woman crying and panicking as someone struggles with the door. The Japanese samples get really frightening toward the end. A sample of an interview talking about a killer opens “Stained Pipes,” but this soon gives way to heavily distorted speech and music. Its pulsing, pounding tones and echoes will haunt you. There’s also another sample of the Japanese woman talking. If you turn the volume down really low, I can see this working in a morgue of some kind. “Thermographic Components” has a great moody horror buildup, complete with eerie female vocals. Some parts remind me of John Carpenter’s music in the 80’s while the rest of it is an instant head trip. There’s breaking glass, pounding, moans, male vocals and plenty of distortion effects. “The Corruptor” offers a creepy, pounding buildup which becomes a mix of unearthly moaning and distorted “transmissions” after a sample tells us to “destroy.” The word “monster” is clearly heard later on, so there’s lots of potential fun to be had with this track. The distortion-filled opening of “The Carnophage” leads to the sound of someone (or something) breathing and moving among the static. After we hear tuning in noises, there are plenty of garbled samples and other audio oddities. Having the track close by “tuning out” is a very clever touch. I can see this working well with an alien control panel coupled with a disguised drop panel.

With Kapnobatai, Atrium Carceri offers an instant lonely journey through a bizarre industrial wasteland. Although it runs over an hour, the way sound is used in it makes it feel much longer (and I mean that in a good way). Given how the shortest one is “only” over two minutes in length, all tracks can be looped individually. Although my personal opinion is the general public could potentially get confused if you used the tracks with the Japanese samples in your haunt (minus the international space station theme), they can still be used if you know your audience would react favorably to them. With the right group of friends, having the entire album softly playing in a loop in a dark room or hallway at your next Halloween party could make for a very interesting experience. Otherwise, I suggest selecting the tracks which work the best for you. But, in fairness, this album was not originally intended for use in this manner. The most recent albums are 2013’s The Untold and the 2014 Cryo Chamber collaboration Cthulhu. Cryo Chamber is the dark ambient label Heath founded after parting ways with the now defunct Cold Meat Industry label in 2011. Although Swedish in origin, Cyro Chamber is now located in America. As I enjoyed my experience with this album, you had better believe and will definitely be seeking out other works by Atrium Carceri (and Cryo Chamber) to review in the years to come.

Special thanks to Atrium Carceri for the review copy!

Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for the content on or anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of visiting any links on the above sites (or constructing a project that’s detailed on them). This also applies to the suggestions made here. Attempt at your own discretion.

Oct 24 2014

6′+ Episode 125 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Our yearly fiendish foray into the sinister sounds of the season – Ambient and dark instrumental music that turns the mood evil and spooky. Sneak Previews from Grave Tone Productions, Dead Rose Symphony and Prelude to a Nightmare. Plus, the Monstermatt Minute and much more!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Oct 23 2014

Music In Costume: Ghost dresses up as Roky Erickson

Thanks to his legacy as an outlaw musician (as well as the stories about his wild persona before he started to properly regulate his mental illness) Roky Erickson has a legion of followers, many of which have done proper tributes to the former 13 Elevators frontman. So picking one was a bit hard – so I decided to go with Ghost. Skeletal faced religious imagery seems fine, though I think the Faceless Ghouls are biting off the Lurking Corpses style. NOW there’s a split I’d like to see – Lurking Corpses vs. Ghost.

Anyway, Dave Grohl supposedly produced the EP where this cover emanates, and Grohl recently talked about how his first real experience with rock and roll came from a Naked Raygun concert (during a recording of a HBO special) so hey, good on Dave Grohl.

 

VS

Oct 23 2014

Music to Haunt By: Dulcet Jones

Dulcet Jones
Official Site
Halloween, I’m Afraid, Green Cottage Music 2013
More Halloween, I’m Afraid, Green Cottage Music 2014

That doesn't look like professional crime scene tape.  I call shenanigans!

The artist being spotlighted in this article offers an interesting first for “Music to Haunt By” and that’s not because he’s Canadian. Dulcet Jones is a stage name of sorts adopted by Jim Graham and the reason for that one which requires a good deal of explanation. Starting the road to his music career at age nine, Graham eventually played with numerous bands and then branched out into a solo career as a guitarist. Said career resulted in three CDs and countless live performances. When you factor in teaching music and composing, it’s no wonder he started to burn out. A trip to the doctor revealed repetitive strain injuries in his arms. Although they would go away in time, he would have to change his musical style if he wanted to keep playing. Now as “Dulcet Jones,” he is able to explore new territory and indulge in his love of Halloween at the same time. With daughter, professional graphic artist Natalie Graham, providing the cover art, Dulcet Jones seeks to demonstrate a style he describes as “spooky instrumental Halloween music with a progressive rock feel.”

His 2013 album Halloween, I’m Afraid appropriately begins with the track “Halloween, I’m Afraid.” The creepy organ-style tones and a beat using smashed glass create a lurking feel. Even the lighter moments and somewhat jaunty piano feel unsettling and odd. I see lots of asylum or circus scene potential with this track, but those are far from its only potential uses. The artist himself used a segment from it to score a video featuring a changing portrait effect and you can do something similar at your haunt. Paint scary figures over one or more portraits with luminous paint that is clear when it dries. Watching from a hidden area, you can dim the lights and play this track to make the paintings change. “Tuckers Brother” has a very eerie opening and its drumbeats and bells give it the feeling of the opening track of an 80’s horror movie. There’s also a definite sense of menace and the wordless vocals greatly add to this effect. “Timeframe” offers a somewhat mournful acoustic guitar and other instruments. It’s very enjoyable track but not scary. The following track, “Urban Crawl,” is spookier (but not as much as the other spooky tracks on the album) I personally suggest using it in your haunt’s waiting area to keep the crowds entertained while still subtly reminding them of the scares to come. Drum machine beats take us into “Silicon Dirge,” which has some excellent guitar work on display. The echoing guitars of “Electro Acoustic Lament,” coupled with wind effects give the track a peaceful sci-fi feel. “The Ghost in my Guitar” offers electro tones and a rockin’ guitar while “Overmed Daydream” has plenty of peaceful guitar work and “New Age” music effects.
Given how he was still in the process of transitioning from his old style to haunting Halloween music, the presence of these tracks is understandable. Although well-suited or relaxation or general listening but there is some haunt potential here. Imagine part of a haunted asylum where patients were taken in order to calm them down. Surely that kind of music would fit in there. Or if you have a scene involving an evil doctor or dentist, you can play some of the more relaxing tracks in their seemingly normal waiting room. Perhaps those tracks can also appear in a hellevator, right up until things go out of control. But if those don’t work for you, it’s not a big deal. Why? Because his next album only offers one relaxation track (and even then it’s thematically appropriate)!

Steampunk'd

Like the previous album, More Halloween, I’m Afraid starts off with the titular track “More Halloween, I’m Afraid.” The moody opening buildup and wind effects lead nicely into the electro beats and spooky “woo” noises. I loved the piano work and guitar as well. This is good for any spooky scene in a “Haunted House of Rock.” Despite the name, “Night Circus” can also be used in a variety of haunted house scenes. Things start off low key with a somewhat spooky piano, but then some other eerie touches (including scary organ work) kick things up. Its somewhat light touches make it good for young children. “Asylum Wedding” offers organ work and strings that are soft, slow and moody. There’s a creepy music box feel at times and drum machine kicks things up. In fact, it gets really wild and creepy with its use of effects towards the end. You could use it for an asylum, but the wedding part of the title really got my imagination working. Imagine walking into a haunted church with glowing stained glass windows. You have to walk past rows of monstrous guests (perhaps with a few live actors hidden among them to startle you) in order to reach the bride and groom. They have their backs to you and are clearly static props, which makes it all the more surprising when their heads spin around at you! “Release the Bats” would be perfect for the belfry of a “Haunt House of Rock,” thanks to its use of guitars and stylized electric sounds which sound like bats fluttering about. The bizarre bells and drum machine also add to the effect. Blasts of steam and an oddball music box join other audio oddities in “Steampunk Lullaby.” It;s off-kilter enough for an asylum, but its use of steam and music associated with children also allow for use in a Freddy Krueger-themed boiler room display. But why got go exactly with what the title says? There are steampunk haunted houses, haunted nursery scenes and steampunk nurseries, so just combine them and play this track! The acoustic guitars and plinking music box tones “Lobotomy Ward” give it a mildly creepy feel. The “woo” noises help, as do the eventual audio distortions. I suggest using this in a hallway for an asylum-themed haunt. For something which can be used with various scary scenes, “Red Narasimha” fits the bill perfectly. There’s plenty of moody strings and spooky wordless male vocals, along with heavy organ work. I also enjoyed the wind effects, electro tones and piano work. “November First Coming Down” has an “old” feel to its guitar work, not unlike Second Grave’s “Salvation.” The wind effects add to the offbeat feel, but it’s not scary. But it is thematically appropriate given how it’s the end of an “October”-themed album.

Dulcet Jones offers a breath of fresh air into the world of spooky music. While some might shy away due to the inclusion of relaxing music, those who don’t will be rewarded with unfamiliar music to scare visitors with and the reduced competition will only make the use of said music even more effective and special. Each track is long enough to allow for individual looping, which is probably the best way to make use of the varied selection. Did I also mention he’s also open to his music being used royalty free in haunted attractions? He’s even given out copies of his work to a few haunts in his area. You will have to email him for details, but it will definitely be worth it. I am looking forward to his future albums, especially ones that are spooky from start to finish. But even if they aren’t, I’ll still enjoy them. It’s not every day you get a Halloween album you can enjoy all year without getting weird looks from people.

Special thanks to Dulcet Jones for the review copies!

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Oct 23 2014

Costume Crazyness 2014

Once again October has given me a lot of new costumes to mock. It’s also given me the obligatory Scream knock-off and offensive ethnic stereotype costume. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or impressed that they managed to make something that could offend two groups at the same time. As it gets more and more depressing the more I think about it, let’s move on to some other costumes:

KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Now that is one suggestive mouth…

I don’t know which is a lamer name for a knock-off Freddy Krueger mask, “Badly Burned Ghost” or “Black Hat Ghost.”

Doctor Professor” is the most ridiculous name you could pick for a Doctor Who knock-off costume.

Remember those old costumes we all wore as kids? The ones with the picture of the character’s face on a plastic smock? Well it turns out there’s an adult equivalent of those.

This is a “Pale Blue Face” mask and not Michael Myers. BECAUSE REASONS.

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