Your Halloween Mixtape

Okay, so of course it’s not really on tape. We all know mixtape sounds cooler than playlist.

This year I’ve decided to share my annual Halloween playlist with you fine people. It’s something I refine all month & almost never finish to my satisfaction, but making myself accountable to others is always the best motivation. So here it is. My goal this time was to go for pure creepiness throughout. There’s no Danny Elfman orchestral suites or jams with a slightly Halloween-y vibe. This is all scary, all the time.

I hope you’ll enjoy using this playlist to set the holiday mood. As long as that mood isn’t a bumping’ party or giving out treats to the kiddies. Wildly inappropriate for both of those situations. Maybe next year!

P.S. I’m always looking for new weird music, so if you’ve got something you think would go well with this playlist, let me know.

2018 Silver Scream Fest (Feb 16-18)

Hi everybody! Sandra here, fresh off of a weekend chock full of horror content at the 2018 Silver Scream Fest, held at the Roxy Stadium in Santa Rosa, CA. I saw A LOT of brand new horror shorts, full length films, and even a couple special screenings over the festival's three days. A few standouts were exceptionally awesome and I want to get them on your radar.

Short Films


     I’ve never been good at saving the best for last. My favorite short from the festival this year was absolutely Avulsion. This piece was written and directed by Steven Boyle. The 10 minute short revolves around a female escort with a very specific set of skills. Her abilities enable her to grant the darkest wishes for people with a certain…fetish, let’s say. Avulsion is beautiful, and harrowing to behold. The color pallet is gorgeously balanced. The simple soundtrack, haunting. But the writing is the thing that truly shines and set this one apart from the pack for me. Keep an eye out, Avulsion is not to be missed. Unless you’re the queasy type.

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     Babysitter Wanted (Se Busca Ninera) is a Spanish language piece hailing from Mexico. Running a well-timed 18 minutes, we join a teen girl named Carmen as she settles in for a night on the job watching a pair of little angels. The kids want to play a game, of course. This one is a variation on hide-and-go-seek called, The Paltrish. What could go wrong with such a harmless premise? Plenty. Thank you, writer and director Pablo Olmos Arrayales, for crafting this tale of suspense. Arrayales has an eye for knowing when to show his cards, and when to tease the viewer by cutting away and prolonging the dread.

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     Last Meal is a horror comedy short that took me by surprise. This blend of genres often doesn’t work for me. So, imagine my pleasant shock when I ended up loving this one. Clocking in at 15 minutes, Last Meal was written by Jenny Klein and directed by Lula Fotis. This one revolves around a prolific serial killer on death row who requests a TV chef, famous for his unapologetic carnivore viewpoint, to craft him his last meal. And not just any dinner, a true masterpiece that will live in infamy. This one has a nice satirical comment on the cult of personality, and the lengths one will go for ego’s sake. Fotis impressed me with her visual storytelling. There are a few basic “sets” and each one sets the tone with differing camera angles and color patterns. It also enhanced that satirical edge by being just over-the-top enough to seal the deal.

Feature Films


     There was one especially strong movie I truly hope all of you get to experience one day. The eerie faux documentary, Butterfly Kisses. Expertly helmed and directed by Erik Kristopher Myers, this one, not so surprisingly, won Best Picture at the festival. It may be hard to explain, but Butterfly Kisses is actually a documentary inside a documentary…inside a documentary. A videographer allows himself to become the subject of a movie to help promote his own film. Gavin, an unfulfilled wedding videographer, thinks he’s struck gold when he finds a box of footage from a couple of student filmmakers investigating a local urban legend. The legendary figure is a particularly creepy ghoul known as Peeping Tom. But what happened to the students? They seemingly disappeared without warning. Gavin is met with skepticism. Is this all some elaborate hoax? Or will Peeping Tom soon be claiming his next victim?

     Myers did a truly masterful job at building his film. The stakes felt high, the mystery felt real. Peeping Tom is the archetypal local boogeyman we all grew up hearing about as whispered spooky stories at sleepovers. Or as some conspiratorial evil that befell a “friend of a friend of a friend” years ago. I was really pleasantly surprised by the way the movie was edited. There wasn’t any wasted or dragged out scenes that seemed to be begging to be cut. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how the scenes were stitched together. It wasn’t jarring to go from the student film footage and then back to Gavin in present day. Oh, and don’t worry about scares. There are plenty, and a few lingering images that will be burned into my brain for a while. One of my favorite things about film festivals is getting the chance to have a Q&A with the cast and crew. Erik Kristopher Myers was present after Butterfly Kisses played and I got the opportunity to chat with him about his movie. It’s so refreshing to be reminded that a REAL person composed and created this piece for us. His audience is made up of fellow horror fans, like himself. To me, that X-factor of someone who truly is a horror junkie making movies that they know WE want to see is irreplaceable.


     Living Among Us, directed and written by Brian A. Metcalf, was another stand-out offering at the festival. The good news is, you can find and watch this one right now on a couple of different streaming platforms. This story follows a small news crew as they’re invited to spend a few days living with a tribe of vampires. That’s right, vampires are real and want to show the public who they are and how they coexist with humans. The question hangs in the air, can we trust them? Will they tell the whole truth of who and what they are?

Here was another opportunity for festival goers like myself to sit for a Q&A session with the director and cast. Metcalf is another self-confessed horror fan. One of his biggest influences for Living Among Us was the 80’s classic Fright Night. It was evident to me that he also truly loves the horror genre and believes in his movie. I found this film to be very entertaining and a fun watch. The concept feels a tad tired, but I can’t say I was disappointed in the finished product. Actors Andrew Keegan and the late John Heard are particularly bright points. Though, I wouldn’t necessarily classify this one as comedy, there are plenty of LOL moments, and even a satisfying smattering of gore.


     I don’t know if I could say I’m any sort of genuine horror writer if I didn’t mention Derelicts. Written by Brett Glassberg, Clay Shirely, Andre Evernos, and directed by Glassberg, Derelicts is a burlesque in the most classic definition of the word. This one is unapologetically polarizing. Fans of 70’s grit and gore will probably be quite happy. I’m really glad I saw it, and Ieven enjoyed it. It is profane, gory, and darkly humored. Please also consider this a trigger warning for sexual assault, yet another plot point often found in those 70’s cult classics. A seemingly “perfect” upper middle class family is sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner when an uninvited posse of, well, derelict individuals show up. They then proceed to torture and terrorize the family. If one can stomach it, the viewer will hopefully see the satirical and farcical nature surrounding class warfare, mental health, inner demons, and family dynamics. The audience will love it or hate it. But, you will have a conversation about it, and that is art. When you do see it, reach out to me so we can talk about the ending. I have some thoughts…

Other Fun!!

Besides tons of great film content, The Silver Scream Festival had some other fun for horror fans. Special guests for instance! Here is a picture of the opening night ribbon cutting ceremony featuring horror icons, Barbara Crampton, Suzanne Snyder, Kelli Maroney, and John Russo.

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It was especially an honor to get to watch one of my favorite horror classics, Night of the Living Dead, up on the big screen. This was the beautifully remastered Criterion Collection edition. It was a highlight of my dorky life to get to experience this movie in a standing-room-only packed auditorium with other diehards. Not to mention, John Russo himself there as a guest of honor.

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With twenty books published internationally and nineteen feature movies in worldwide distribution, John Russo has been called a “living legend.” He began by co-authoring (with George Romero) the screenplay for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which has been recognized as a horror classic. He has had a long, rewarding career, also penning films such as RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, MIDNIGHT, THE MAJORETTES, THE AWAKENING, and HEARTSTOPPER.
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Crampton took an extended break from acting to raise a family, but when she finally returned to the screen, it was horror that brought her back: Adam Wingard’s YOU’RE NEXT (2011). The second stage of her acting career has also been dominated by genre films, including WE ARE STILL HERE (2015), Rob Zombie’s LORDS OF SALEM (2012), and BEYOND THE GATES (2016). She recently filmed a role in the star-studded extravaganza DEATH HOUSE.
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Maroney has often cheerfully poked fun at her own B-movie starlet image in numerous TV guest star appearances, such as a crazed evangelist on HBO’s TRUE BLOOD. She has also continued to act on the stage in Los Angeles in productions such as PINK at the Renegade Theater, OUTWARD BOUND at the Hudson Backstage, THE EDGE OF ALLEGIANCE at the Met theater.
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When your on-screen monster is an aquatic fish man, someone has to do all that swimming; and for the original Universal classic CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, that man was Ricou Browning!

SFX Artists

There were several SFX Makeup artists present doing live demonstrations and answering questions from the audience. I was particularly excited to see Elle Macs there!

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Ellinor Rosander, aka Elli, is one half of ellimacs sfx, a YouTube channel sensation that creates eye-popping special effects makeup tutorials, from monsters and Halloween heroes to gore effects and macabre Disney characters. 21 year old Elli is primarily self taught and uses basic makeups and household items for her amazing creations, which are filmed by Swedish photographer Macs Moser (the “macs” half of the duo). Elli recently won first place in the NYX Nordic Face Awards. The ellimacs YouTube channel has over 800,000 subscribers, and the most popular videos have upwards of 5 million views apiece.
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Please take the time to cruise on over the official Silver Scream Fest page and see for yourself the full lists of guests, vendors, and events. And if you’re in the mood to support Famous Monsters of Filmland and Sonoma County, consider stopping by next year! Look for me, the drooling horror nerd with tears in her eyes. Let’s grab a glass of wine and geek out!

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Profile | Ryan Brewer (Magic-Time Films)

Hello Bloodlust-ers! I was recently given the unique opportunity to interview the fantastic young filmmaker, Ryan Brewer, of Magic-Time Films. Ryan is a funny and humble fan of the horrific, who’s already had some success with his features to date. In fact, the lovingly shot Nyar was an official selection at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland. This guy is up to big things. Please take a moment to hang out, while I pick his brain a little. Needless to say, you should pop over to Magic-Time Film’s official Youtube page and check it ALL out for yourselves.

Oh, and...uh, Ryan, if you’re reading this, can you please send this lowly horror writer a Miskatonic University hoodie? Thanks.

How did you get started in film making? And Tell us about your company, Magic-Time Films:

I originally grew up wanting to be a screen actor. When I was really, really young (probably too young but if I remember right, I was 6 or 7 years old), I watched Ridley Scott's "Alien" for the first time and was inspired by Sigourney Weaver's performance. She seemed so genuinely terrified. I was too. It's a scary movie. My mom went on to explain to me that it was all fake and that acting is what she does for a living. I was sold! Ever since then all I wanted to do was work in film. I didn't actually start acting till I did my first play in the 6th grade. But I stuck with it from that point on till now. In high school, I met my best friend and brother-from-another-mother, Keith Melcher, and he got me into screenwriting. After high school, we lost touch with each other for a few years and eventually met back up. We started collaborating on scripts and after briefly trying to sell them to Hollywood with absolutely NO success, I basically said, "Fuck it, let's just make our own movies." Keith thought the same and the rest is history. Pardon the language.

Nyar was an official selection in the HP Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, and deservedly so! What is your background with Lovecraft?

I got started with Lovecraft at an early age. I remember my mother had a couple of small Lovecraft collections among her many, many horror novels and I always thought the art was strange and nightmarish. However, I didn't really understand any of it back then and my mom wouldn't let me read it (which is a surprise even to this day considering she had no problem allowing me to watch "Alien"). Over the years, I just slowly discovered it on my own. Eventually, I got a job working as a janitor in a casino and one of my co-workers was really into Lovecraft. We would sit in the break room and read on our breaks and exchange books and ideas about Lovecraft. Would talk about the weird dreams I had about Nyarlathotep and things like that. It was all silly fun, but I really dug it. The atmosphere, the strange monsters, the first person narratives. All of it.

Give us a quick run down of some of your favorite horror movies, directors, and writers:

Some of my favorite horror movies...hmmm...well, I will always be a huge Freddy fan. The "Nightmare on Elm St." flicks are still my favorites, to this very day. Loved Jason, too, but he just didn't do it for me the way Freddy did. I always gravitated towards zombie flicks. "Dawn Of The Dead" is still one of my all time favs (R.I.P. George). It's kind of strange though because most of my favorite writers/directors aren't the ones who typically do horror. Steven Spielberg is right at the top of my list. I mean, "Jaws" is downright terrifying. Scarred me for life. To this day, I still can't swim. Ridley Scott is a huge inspiration. Kubrick. The masters of horror, Wes Craven and John Carpenter, are obviously in there. Sam Raimi. The list goes on and on.

Larry and the Monsters is such a fun series. How did the concept originate?

Larry & The Monsters was actually one of the first movies I ever made alongside Keith Melcher. The second film, in fact. Keith was the one who came up with the original script, which was simply called, "Vampire Short." You can still see the original concept video on our YouTube channel. Shortly after making the movie though, Keith and I both had a mutual epiphany: that it could make for an interesting show. We co-wrote and developed four more episodes featuring a completely different cast and they were made much the same as the first one. We then had some casting issues and the show got put on hold for about three years, while we worked on other things. I always really, really, really, really wanted to go back and revisit the concept so I got an idea and ran with it and wrote the current "reimagining" of the show on my own. Keith came back on board as a producer and reprised his role as the title character, and we were able to hire on professional DP Shaun O'Connel out of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Any plans for Larry and his crew in the future?

As for the future of the series, I actually came up with a concept and Keith and I co-wrote what was supposed to be the 2nd season of Larry & The Monsters. However, we got a little more ambitious this time around and we've thus far been unable to secure the funding. The show itself has been struggling to find an audience. Not enough friends and family sharing the videos on social media, etc. It took almost the full three years that the first season has been up to get episode one over 1000 views. The other episodes are still struggling. If we can ever get the funding for season 2 then we will definitely make it. But until then it's sort of taking a back seat to other projects. I hate doing that because it really is a passion project for me, but there's just no way I could ask anyone to do this season for free. Too much work would have to go into it to make it the way we want to make it and it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the cast and crew to work for free. I'm always willing to sacrifice the paycheck to make my own projects but it's tough to ask others to do the same.

You seem to do it all! You produce, act, direct, write, etc. Do you have a favorite?

Acting will always be my first passion, but directing is a VERY close second. Writing is fun but, I have a hard time finishing scripts due to my anxiety. It's too easy to talk myself out of it. So I really have to run with an idea when I get it because if I wait too long, I completely lose interest.

What are some of your biggest challenges as an independent filmmaker?

The biggest challenge as an independent filmmaker is just getting a movie made. Finding local talent and crew that actually have a passion for filmmaking and aren't just there for the fun of it. Don't get me wrong, I love to have fun with filmmaking, you always should, but there comes a time where passion and desire need to trump fun so we're not waiting four months for everyone to get their schedules straight. It can be frustrating working around people's personal lives but, when you live in small town South Dakota, the "pickins' are slim" as they would say.

I'm intrigued by the Dead End teaser trailer. What can you tell us about this story?

Dead End was a story I collaborated on with a buddy, Kris Monroe. We wrote it together, intending to make it together but, he got busy with other things and I eventually just sort of took the reigns on it. It's intended to be a dramatic zombie film but that might change, depending on the digital FX guy and whether or not he can fix certain bits of footage. As for the story, it's about a mother and daughter surviving in a world overrun with the undead. At its heart, it's all about family versus survival. Maternal instincts versus survival instincts.

What direction do you see horror movies going in the future?

Horror movies have come a long way but, at their core, I feel like horror films are very much the same as they always were. Netflix and VOD have been a bit of a game-changer, as far as securing distribution. I see sooooooo many movies, some of which are just so absurd (perhaps even too absurb to have ever been made) and they are getting an awful lot of attention. That probably wouldn't have happened back in the 80's and 90's (though the 80's certainly had its fair share of questionable horror films). There are almost too many "bad" horror films these days. Like it has become a competition to see who can make the "best" worst horror film. I'm really hoping that more filmmakers step up and focus on making more intelligent horror films. It's been a while since I saw something that actually scared me AND made me feel something.

What's up next for Magic-Time Films?

Right now, Magic-Time Films is working on putting together a couple more shorts. Keith Melcher has his first feature horror film that was just released on Redbox and Amazon Video yesterday called "Bonejangles." We have a new horror feature which I wrote alongside Mr. Melcher called "Something," that we are slated to begin filming June 1st of 2018. We are currently in talks with Erin Hogan ("Paranormal Entity", "Hold Your Breath", "Ray Donovan") to star alongside myself, as well as Apryl Crowel of "Zombie Isle," and Allison Berg ("Until Forever", "Zombies"). I'm really excited for it. It's an homage/satire of the "unseen" monster. The first "origin" teaser was just released a couple of weeks ago. Otherwise, I'm just trying to get "Dead End" finished and focus on a personal project called "Alone," which is a psychological drama about a man who suffers from a strange form of OCD called Mal-Adaptive Daydreaming.

Magic-Time Films Official YouTube | Ryan's Facebook | Twitter | Larry & The Monsters

That’s all for now! Thank you for your time, Ryan. I look forward to following your career and future offerings from Magic-Time Films.

~ Sandra (@LilMsMnstr)

A Review of Inter Arma's Album, "Paradise Gallows"

A few weeks ago, I caught sight of a fall tour that I was pretty sure I wanted to catch. The tour is Carcass, Deafheaven, and Inter Arma. I have a very different opinion of each of these bands: Carcass has always been a huge favorite of mine, Deafheaven I would prefer to refrain from commenting on, and I had somehow never had any real exposure to Inter Arma. I remembered many times before when I had seen their name on other tours and I even remembered getting really solid recommendations for them from friends on more than one occasion, so I’m not really sure why I never gave them the attention they deserved. I needed another good reason to go to this show, and I hoped that Inter Arma would be that reason; my local date in Cleveland is the night before Thanksgiving (I’m hosting), and I was torn between not wanting to stand through an entire set of Deafheaven and my oftentimes fanatical love of Carass. If I could just find a little bit more justification to go to this show, I would bite the bullet and suffer through hours of cooking and baking slightly hungover, if need be. Hell, I would even endure a Deafheaven set.

I remembered that Inter Arma had just released a new album sometime last summer. I found that album—Paradise Gallows—and then I spent the next several days listening to it. And I mean I fucking listened to it. I listened to it at work. I listened to it at home. I listened to it over…and over…and over. I had to if I wanted to say anything intelligible about it besides, “Wow,” simply because it was so much to digest. I know I’m a little late to the party on this release, but man, let me tell you—it became an immediate favorite and I now consider it a personal contender for album of the year.

This album was fascinating to me and like a total chameleon, changing stride with whatever kind of emotion the band is forcing into your headspace at any given moment. You find yourself constantly speculating over where, exactly, it’s taking you, and looking back in surprise at where it brought you from. Throughout my first listen, it demanded nearly all of my attention, but I still knew that I had missed most of it. The album is fairly esoteric and challenging to listen to, and that’s what I dig about it; it’s a puzzle for my ears to solve. There’s a lot going on during Paradise Gallows. It’s all different, but it’s all good, and when you put it all together you get quite an impressive and complex piece of work.

The album begins with a short instrumental track, Nomini. Some unassuming acoustic guitar work quickly bursts open into nice, dreamy guitar harmonies (perfect for a Carcass tour!). At this point I kind of felt like I was getting prepped for something along the lines of a newer Baroness song, but what came next was more like getting gored to death by a mammoth. Track two, An Archer in the Emptiness, slams you into a solid wall of guitar that is utterly crushing. It comes out of nowhere and instantly begins pounding you into dust. This sound is certainly for fans of early Mastodon and Neurosis. An Archer in the Emptiness wastes no time getting to the meat of things; it is long and brutal, alternating between blasting and super slow, doomy parts sure to leave your neck aching, racing up and down like a rollercoaster. Most of the vocals are lows, which also delights my inner death metal dork.

After the long beating suffered through An Archer in the Emptiness, the band rushes you right along into Transfiguration, one of my ties for favorite track on the album. Transfiguration opens with a driving drum beat and bass line, steadily winding you back into a sling that you know you’re inevitably going to be launched out of. When the song finally does erupt, it drags you along for a whopping nine minutes, bludgeoning the hell out of you the entire way. The arrangement and continual evolution of the song, however, made its length virtually unnoticeable to me upon first listening. It’s quite a trip. The lyrics close out this heady song with the declaration of, “Man has transfigured the Earth, now we must transfigure ourselves.”

From here, the album cools off some, offering a nice refresher after such an intense first 20 minutes (spread between three tracks, no less). This is where more risks start to be taken regarding the style of the music. The album develops a bigger atmosphere from the beginning of track four, Primordial Wound, which is very slow and more sludge-like compared to the earlier tracks, straying from a path that we may have thought was already set. It flows well into track five, appropriately named The Summer Drones, now incorporating a significant drone quality. Around the half-way mark of the album, another instrumental track, Potomac, brings more surprises. (This is my other tie for favorite track on the album.) Potomac begins with those wonderful guitar harmonies we heard at the very beginning of the album, but a piano quickly takes the lead of the track. The song swells into an intricate and emotional composition, complete with obligatory sexy guitar solos, that I could barely even believe was produced by the same band I was listening to 15 minutes prior. But you don’t just subtle upon this song all of a sudden; Inter Arma guided the album to this point with such skill and finesse that it felt totally natural to be listening to something like Potomac. The fact that this track fit so well into the album even though it was wildly different from where we started at—it’s tied with Transfiguration for my favorite track, a song that really is nothing like it—is quite noteworthy. Potomac is certainly a grand flex of musicianship muscle.

Finally, as we near the end of the album, the enormous title track, Paradise Gallows, sweeps us away with prominent post-metal elements. This nearly twelve minute long track seems to summarize everything that we’ve experienced since we started listening to the album. Paradise Gallows (the track) revisits all kinds of sounds and emotions that we felt earlier on and seems to weave them all together into an epilogue of sorts, giving us something profound to reflect on. There is more ahead of us still on the album, but this title track was where the surprises seemed to finally end. It feels a lot like saying goodbye. Maybe not so ironically, the last words that we hear on the title track are a clean whisper of, “Laughing all the way to my grave”. The song left me in such a comfortable haze that it was hard to get shaken back up for the next track, Violent Constellations, which picks up and seems to be trying to give us back some of the aggressive energy that we first heard on the album. The closing track, Where the Earth Meets the Sky, was a gentle and appropriate end track (with all clean vocals), but the arrangement of these last three tracks always leaves me feeling a bit perplexed. I appreciate Violent Constellations and Where the Earth Meets the Sky individually, but I find when I’m listening to the entire album through that it’s hard for me to really get my stamina back after something like the title track. It almost makes me wish that Paradise Gallows would have been the closing track, even though Where the Earth Meets the Sky did such a good job closing the album. Regardless, it's a very small criticism and not something that substantially influences my opinion of the album. Maybe I’ll get to see them end a set sometime (soon?!) with Paradise Gallows, and I’ll feel satisfied.

Catch Inter Arma on tour with Deafheaven and Carcass this fall

Catch Inter Arma on tour with Deafheaven and Carcass this fall

As a whole, the album Paradise Gallows is pretty extraordinary. Inter Arma took some big risks on this piece by incorporating so many different styles, but they pulled it all off with such precision that it worked—and that really demands some respect. There aren’t a whole lot of bands in the world that can be so multi-dimensional, especially on the same album. (ESPECIALLY without sounding super abrupt and/or tacky.) I still haven’t listened to any more of Inter Arma’s releases (don’t worry, I’ll catch up and properly educate myself before Thanksgiving), but I’ve heard enough on this one album that I’ll gladly pay money to go see them throw down live. In fact, I am looking forward to seeing them for the first time now just as much as I’m looking forward to getting my Carcass fix. Everybody celebrates the holidays in a different way; my plan is to have my mind blown by Inter Arma, go to the bar and have a sip during Deafheaven, and drunkenly thrash my brains out for Carcass. I guess there will be turkey in there somewhere.

Check out Inter Arma on Facebook, Twitter, or visit their bandcamp page to listen to (and purchase — digital or 2xLP options!) Paradise Gallows now:

Amanda is a stereotypical cat lady with a penchant for death metal. Her idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes coffee, fur, egg sandwiches, and some really loud records. When she isn't tending to her urban farm, she can occasionally be sighted around the east coast traveling for shows and festivals. Her quest for enlightenment and good metal never ends.

A Review of Fister's Album, "Gemini"

For my first review, I could have written about one of the many recent big releases, such as the latest albums from Opeth or Neurosis, both of which are undeniably momentous releases. Instead, I decided to go super obscure on everyone and write about a three-piece sludge band from St. Louis, Missouri — with fewer than 7,000 likes on Facebook — because they’ve really been my favorite thing to listen to lately.

Gemini  album cover.

Gemini album cover.

I got turned onto this band called Fister recently - specifically their album, Gemini. Before you find yourself wondering if you missed that release, the Gemini full-length is not a new album. It was originally released in 2013 and is the band’s second full-length; Fister has since put out another LP (entitled, IV) in 2015. Although Gemini is an older release, it is still currently relevant because it's about to be released on vinyl for the first time, at the end of this month (October, 2016). This is how it was brought to my attention.

Fister is primarily sludge, but is also for fans of stoner, doom, and — surprise! — black metal. The vocals in particular are cut for black metal fans; they are quite haunting and screechy. The band’s Facebook page listed a few influences and the two that really leaped out at me were Yob and Burning Witch. If you can imagine something between those two sounds, you’ll arrive pretty close to what Fister accomplishes. As for Gemini, most of the songs are very slow or comprised largely of slower segments, with some upbeat glue to hold it all together (and boost your energy levels). Some of what Fister does is simple, but incredibly effective. They do what they do very well. There is also a good bit of diversity on Gemini, as they borrow from quite a few different subgenres throughout the album. This was enough to keep the songs unique and memorable for me. But what all of these tracks have in common is they are all consistently heavy as hell and have a morbidly depressed quality about them — one that really got its hooks in me. I love its darkness.

Fister members Kenny Snarzyk, Kirk Gatterer, and Marcus Newstead

Fister members Kenny Snarzyk, Kirk Gatterer, and Marcus Newstead

The opening track, “Antitheist,” immediately grabs you by the throat with a slow, thunderous riff, broken up with dramatic pauses. An agonized scream sings to you about suicide in words that will make your blood run cold — the lyrics for this song are really something to be reckoned with. This beginning is stormy, furious, and full of hate, but the track gradually (over the span of 8+ minutes) unravels into something more tragic than wrathful; the second half of this long, gruesome venture opens up into larger, atmospheric sounds with an underscore of mournful violins. It’s not just a tale of rage and misery, we also hear sorrow and hurt here. Yet, just as we think we’ve settled into a comfortable depression with this new mood, telltale of a farewell, it all crashes back to the beginning, shaking us awake to the horror of what’s to come. This is really a song about suicide. We had a brief reprise towards the end there to say "goodbye," but now back to business. It is truly a portrait of utter despair; the chilling lyrics ending with the statement, “and I don’t care anymore.”


This bleak soundscape only prepares you for the next six tracks, all full of hopelessness in their own ways. The second track, “Suicide Hessian," starts at a galloping mid-pace and has more of a punk vibe to it — something catchy that often gets stuck in my head. But it also descends into slow, tortured brutality. The title track, “Gemini,” features eerie sounds from a piano, an upright bass, and a violin, giving you a new depression — this time with a whimsical flavor, like that of a nightmare. “Permanent Chemical Psychosis” barges in with a very bluesy swing that changes the way your head is bobbing. And then the farewell track, “Invisible Corpse,” begins as straight doom, and is heavy, heavy, heavy.

Overall, Gemini is an agonized piece of work wrought with misery and despair, but it might take patience for some people. It is very serious sludge, so be prepared to commit to the album; the band is not in a hurry to take you on their hellish journey, with only one track on the album clocking in under five minutes (and three clocking in over seven). But if you’re into some seriously dark shit, it’s well worth the time. They kept me entertained the whole way.

Visit Fister on Facebook or at their bandcamp page.

Pre-order some absolutely beautiful bundles for Gemini here: Encapsulated Records

Amanda is a stereotypical cat lady with a penchant for death metal. Her idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes coffee, fur, egg sandwiches, and some really loud records. When she isn't tending to her urban farm, she can occasionally be sighted around the east coast traveling for shows and festivals. Her quest for enlightenment and good metal never ends.