Unholy Rat King: Wine Into Blood (Review and Interview)

a0144397714_10There is an infection spreading across this neon soaked landscape, covering it in a darkwave sludge that is oozing straight out of the sewer, and this #SynthPlague has completely consumed Watermelon Banzai today with the release of Unholy Rat King‘s “Wine Into Blood.”

It’s raw, it’s gritty, and although it’s coming was foretold in the unholy scriptures (a wonderfully written blog that explains it’s backstory), ultimately nothing could have prepared you for the auditory assault that would ensue upon its outbreak.

The first track, “Fallen from the Pure of Faith,” is like a psychedelic signal of impending doom. It pulsates, fluctuates, inching ever so closer towards its next victim; the darkness attempts to envelop your brain.  It tries to completely take hold in “Proselytized,” and though you try to resist, in the end you can feel the #SynthPlague being to cloud your mind and every thought.

As you enter “The Sacristy,” you feel the sounds of the old world are quickly drowned out, replaced by the haunting melodies of your new reality; you are now officially one with the #SynthPlague. As the newly crowned “Harbinger,” yourself now a plaguebearer, you feel the desire, privilege, and honor to convert more to the cause of the Unholy Rat King; no matter the cost to your own soul.

And it ultimately comes to that because, try as hard as you might, your attempts at forceful persuasion are met with equal force that overwhelm you; you’ve become a “Supplicant Sacrifice” as you hear the church bells ring in time with your last dying breaths. As your soul spirals through the darkness, taking a “Shortcut Through Hell,” that familiar pulsating sound of uneasiness returns… followed by something all too reminiscent of chiptunes? Was it all just a game?

Perhaps you better play it all over again to make sure… but not before pressing start on the remix to one of Unholy Rat King’s earlier songs, “Activation Sequence,” masterfully crafted by FacexHugger. Overall, this is an infectious release from the Unholy Rat King, who has put together an impressive collection of dark and heavy synth work. This might be his first extended sermon, but the hymns contained within still hit you hard and leave a lasting impression, showing that the King of Rats knows how to put you under his spell.

If you have yet to pick this release up, I suggest that you do so now, for these is no escaping the #SynthPlague! I enjoyed this release so much myself that, not only did I preorder the album, but I also asked his Unholiness to sit down with me for an interview of which he so graciously accepted below…

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Ethereal Delusions: Wingman (Feat. Noah Bernstein)

a2323524224_10The #SummerofSynth kicks off strong with a hot new single straight off of Ethereal Delusion‘s upcoming album “Summer Haze,” which is due out on August 1st, but he’s not alone on this one! Much like the title itself, he’s got a Wingman in the form of Noah Bernstein, who absolutely tears it up on this track with his sexy saxophone skills.

The sounds in this song just conjure up images of them both riding along the beach in a suped-up sports car, like a rather infamous crime fighting buddy cop duo from the 1980’s, with the sun setting and giving way to the neon soaked night as they cruise for danger.

They find it on the B-Side, “Outrun the Dark (2017 Edit),” an updated version to a song of the same name from Ethereal Delusion’s “EP1.” I always enjoy when a producer goes back into their catalogue and updates a track, it really shows their progression as an artist, and Ethereal Delusions continues to show off his talent and skills not only with this updated version but with Wingman as well. If this is but a taste of what we can expect come August 1st, I have no doubt that we’re all in for a treat, because passionate producing such as this can’t be stopped.

Also, there’s a music video, which you can check out below!

Human Music: Day Two

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If the first day of Human Music was a sprint, with a start time of 7:30pm and an end time of just before 2am, then the second and last day was a marathon. Starting at 4:30pm, and getting out once again just before 2am, the last half of the two day festival was, in many ways, bigger, longer, and uncut. So, in the interest of not wasting any more time, let’s dive straight in:

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Human Music: Day One

downloadEarlier this year I lamented that there wasn’t really much of a synthwave scene where I live, the north east coast of the United States, at least in terms of live shows with big name acts like Carpenter Brut, Perturbator, and GosT making only occasional touring appearances in Boston. Therefore, when I heard that there was going to be a massive two-day music festival in New Jersey, just a short four hour train ride away from me and featuring acts in the synthwave, chiptune, and electronic music genres, I knew that I had to go and I’m glad that I did because it turned out to be an amazing event.

Human Music, at the QXT Nightclub in Newark, was everything that a music festival should be: it brought together a community, highlighted a variety of acts, and introduced many of those acts to a new audience including myself; I walked away with a number of artists to dig deeper into as well as keep tabs on in the future. It was also a great time for me to finally get to see some of the heavy hitters play live, as this was my first ever exposure to any of the acts in person, and especially to do so in such an intimate venue where I was practically always in the front row made it feel even more special as a result.

Now, considering that this was a two day event, I will be having two posts between today and tomorrow to cover both. So, without further ado, let’s talk about the first half of Human Music:

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The G: Postcards from LA

a1655299710_10I have lived on the east coast of the United States all my life. The furthest west I have ever been is Las Vegas. I’ve always wanted to go further, all the way to Los Angeles, but until that day comes all I have are photographs. However, much like Def Leppard once sang in their song of the same name, it’s hard for me to settle with just a photo, even if it’s said they are worth a thousand words.

Postcards from LA” by The G, released through TimeSlave Recordings, goes beyond words with something better than a photo: music which touches on your emotions and stimulates your mind. Listening to these tracks, and closing your eyes, whisks you away on a visionary vacation up and down the Pacific Coast Highway; it’s postcards in the form of songs.

The opening track, “Malibu Nights,” sees you cruising the neon-soaked streets of the titular town hopping from club to club, getting your kicks and fix. A night of partying eventually leads you to “Zuma Beach,” watching the sunrise as you get sand in your pastel suit and trying to catch a few winks under sunglasses, before climbing back into your Porsche “928.”

Driving up the coast, you stop for a bite to eat at a roadside breakfast joint, getting some hair of the dog that bit you. “On the Rocks,” of course, because it’s sweltering outside even this close to the ocean so early in the morning. Eventually you reach “Santa Barbara,” an hour’s drive turned into two because you can’t help but admire the view. Another town, another night of partying, during this perfect “Tropical Summer” in the mid-80s.

Now, this was but my listening experience, and your mental mileage may vary. Either way, no matter what your mind conjures up as you listen, let go and let The G take you there with their impressive work of euphonious escapism. There’s a lot of music out there that tries to emulate the sounds of yesteryear, but there’s only so many that actually make you feel like you’re there, and The G nails it.

Movie Review: Beyond the Gates

imagesGrowing up, I always looked forward to Fridays, and it wasn’t just because it signaled the end of the school week and beginning of the weekend. No, when I was younger, Fridays meant a trip to one of my local video stores. It was a tradition: I was allowed to rent one movie and one video game, no more, no less.

That was my weekend; give or take some homework, of course. Therefore, much to my Mother’s chagrin or a testament to her patience, I would often take my time in selecting my weekend’s entertainment less I choose poorly.

Choosing a video game was often easy, as I would go for some of the latest releases, but when it came to movies more often then not I would walk past the new arrivals and head straight for the horror section. I was a horror movie fiend. I grew up on horror movies. I loved looking at the cover art, scanning the photos on the back, reading the synopsis and review quotes. That said, if I could sum up this movie in a few words as if it were a catchy review quote on the back cover, I would say it’s “Jumanji but directed by Lucio Fulci!”

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Who Ha: Synthwave Belongs In A Museum

a4100009891_10Full disclosure: “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is one of my favorite movies, ever, of all time. Therefore, when I found out that someone had fused vocal sampling from the film with the righteous sounds of synthwave, I felt just like the famed archaeologist hunting for the holy grail when I discovered Who Ha.

Synthwave Belongs in a Museum,” the titular track, comes in a few flavors and experiences. First and foremost there is the track itself with all the aforementioned vocal sampling, as well as a bonus instrumental version without them, but for my money the real overall experience comes in the video for the song:

To say this is masterfully crafted would be an understatement. Using the sound of a cracking whip as the start of a beat is genius. Utilizing the Wilhelm Scream, and that random car passing by shout, is hilarious. Synching up the dialogue with the beat, and the choices of said dialogue, is top notch too; Who Ha chose wisely. This is honestly one of the most fun synthwave compositions that I have heard in some time and it never ceases to put a smile on my face. My only regret is that I am only now just hearing it but better late than never, right?

Now, while I have given much attention thus far in this review to arguably the hit single of the album, there are other tracks on here that are fantastic in their own right that deserve a mention as well. “Magenta Teal Desert Cruise” for example, which plays immediately after the titular track, is a complete 180 in terms of bringing in a bit more of a darker and sinister tone to start before ramping it up with battling beat that ends with a calmness after the storm.

The next track, “Cool Teenage High School Jacket,” keeps that calm vibe running like a cool breeze before bringing the ice hammer down on the beat in “Concordia Station,” a track that almost makes you feel like you’re isolated in the location bearing it’s name. Rounding the album off after that is a chiptune infused track entitled, “I Don’t Wanna Do My Homework,” which brings back memories of days gone by where video games often mattered more than school.  It’s my second favorite track, for sure, due to my previously mentioned love of such an infusion.

As I said before, my only regret in terms of this album is how long it took for me to find it, what with it being released over a year ago. So, if for some reason this amazing collection of songs hasn’t been on your radar yet either, I implore you not to choose poorly by ignoring it any further; don’t miss out on WHO HA!

Azriel: IVY

a0909397016_10The latest release by Azriel feels like a mix between a concept album and the long-lost soundtrack to a cult science fiction film or video game. With but a hint of story supplied at the bottom of the bandcamp page, “IVY” is the name of a new kind of android, with the sounds on this album being about their exploits in Neo New York on the planet Aegis.

Those are but the little crumbs you are left with, but the real main course is in the songs themselves, with titles that suggest actions and scenes which your brain must then use to fill in the blanks as you listen along to the music. All together they have a haunting tone to them, otherworldly and technological, with a real sense of danger; as any piece of cyberpunk tech noir should.

While I will not be reviewing each and every song, there are a few that I want to highlight, although I would like to stress once more that I feel this is an album which needs to be listened to straight through from beginning to end. It’s a listening experience. After all, one does not watch a movie or play a game out of order. Even still, there are a few songs that stick out, at least to me:

  • “I Am Alive” is an interesting track for the sole reason of the vocal work, as they themselves are synthesized to be not unlike that of a robot, which makes sense given the context of the backstory to the album. There are other songs which contain some vocal sampling later but, since this song is near the beginning, it sticks out and helps to signify what’s on the horizon.
  • “I’m Not A Freaky Circus” is one of the more aforementioned haunting tones, unsettling in its design, sort of how I often feel when I visit the circus. Nonetheless, it is a great song due to these facts, and rather simple in it’s execution as well. It can often be surprising how the simplest of things can make the biggest impacts and this one certainly did for me.
  • With a name like “Ivy’s Assault,” it’s no surprise it’s a pulse-pounding action oriented track, but what is a nice surprise is the fantastic guitar work. In the theater of my mind, I could only imagine the titular Ivy running rough shot with all guns blazing, taking down and all who dare stand in their way.

Now, I feel it is imperative that I mention this before concluding my review: if you click the “info” button for each track, Azriel actually does have commentary which more or less explains what is going on story wise for each song. I myself did not read these until after I had listened to the album in full, twice, so therefore I found it to be an interesting comparison between what Azriel intended and what my mind pieced together while listening.

It amazed me how, more often than not, I got it right which I think says something about Azriel’s abilities. I will say that it certainly made for an interesting third listen and, while there is never a wrong way to enjoy an album, I just thought it was important to mention this in case you wanted to approach it from a certain angle. Either way, this is a great release, and further proves Azriel to be an effective synthwave storyteller. I look forward to the next experience.

Synth Spotlight: Paladin f.k.a. Mild Peril

0008812141_10About three or four years ago, when I first started to became entrenched in the sounds of synthwave, I discovered a producer by the handle of Mild Peril. Their unique sound was unlike anything I had ever heard at the time, and really I haven’t heard anything like it since but, to my dismay, they seemed to disappear after their initial release through Telefuture. It happens, unfortunately, with any musical scene. Acts come and go for various reasons. Many acts who were around just a few years ago are no longer producing, which is always a shame, but in Mild Peril I found a real connection; losing that was something which has bothered me ever since.

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