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Slash Dave - Tomb Of Horror (2014) review

Slash Dave "Tomb Of Horror" (Bellyache Records, 2014)

Okay so this isn’t going to be the normal, rock filled entry that I usually come at you all with.  As a child of the 80s I grew up surrounded by some of the greatest films of all time.  During the 70s and 80s, given a lot of determination and a bit of luck, it seemed like just about anyone could make a movie and there were some really daring film-makers that stepped up to the plate, creating some of the most original and unique films in history.  As some people and most musicians are aware, along with making a movie comes the difficult task of the soundtrack.  Pioneers in the electronic score fields like John Carpenter, Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave made sure that the movies didn’t just kick ass, so did the music!  Thirty years down the line those soundtracks are just starting to earn a bit of the appreciation that they’re due and with so many people stating to take an interest there are even people stepping back into the studio and crafting their own takes on the dark wave, ambient, electronic sound that helped define horror to my generation.  Most of these acts are either ghostly, pale comparisons to what they pay homage to or are direct covers, but there’re some people capable of crafting music that sounds just as at home today on the wax grooves of niche market vinyl as it would have some thirty years ago.  Slasher Dave offers up his sophomore album, again for Bellyache Records, Tomb Of Horror just in time for Halloween and if you’re a horror or synth freak, this album is going to have you going gaga.   “Half Past Midnight” ushers the listener into the album, haunting tones and ambient rainfall setting a somber, mellow tone for the trip through the old haunted house that is Tomb Of Horror.  Slowly building synth lines and a heavy throbbing beat grow under the surface of “Half Past Midnight” until the drums explode with a crack of thunder and the transformation is complete!  The ethereal cacophony of organs is teamed with a twisted vocal sampling and dragged through the blood and sweat that created the album; “Half Past Midnight” truly does sound like a symphony of the night.  Another crash of thunder and we’re ushered into the “Burial Ground”.  It’s easy to hear why Fabio Frizzi’s name is on the back.  Dedicated to his memory Tomb Of Horror houses several songs that sound like they could have been taken almost directly from unused pieces he composed for House By The Cemetery or Zombi 2.  “Evil Presence” helps to craft the tightly wound groove that propels Tomb Of Horror as an album, a groovy Goblin-like almost disco beat seeping it’s way into the pores of the listener’s mind.  The light acoustic guitar emerging from underneath a veiled smoky haze of fog lends a note of sincerity to the album somehow, making it clear that it was designed to showcase an incredibly diverse number of sounds and takes on the now classic genre of horror soundtracks.  The slow fade into “Graves” might be one of my favorites on the album.  As the first shivering notes of “Graves” crawl up your spine it’s apparent that a lot more people have again begun to take notice of stuff like Phantasm in the past few years.  Demonic xylophone clangs along with a ghastly choir of harmonically sampled voices to a broken beat of hissing and slithering snares and cymbals.  “Chamber Of Chills” to me is the first real driving Carpenter track on the album, which surprised me on first listen as that’s usually the soft easy spot that most new musicians take aim for.  Slasher Dave on the other hand possesses the spellbinding ability to travel back to a pre-Howarth era of Carpenter, like The Fog or Assault On Precinct 13 without sounding at all derivative, and combines it with his uncanny knack for Italian horror and “Chamber Of Chills” lives up to it’s name in every possible way!  “Eerie Happenings” fell out of a Dario Argento film, I think Goblin just forgot to take credit for the thing and somehow Slasher Dave tapped into the mind waves and channeled their entire essence into a single track that I perhaps actually like a bit more than anything Goblin’s done themselves (just to be a bit sacrilegious).  I must admit that I had to stick on Gremlins after listening to “Eerie Happenings” as it manages to capture the horror and frantic delight that films were able to bring to the table in the past, their dark sensibilities shinning through a sinister veil of every day life and the joy of adolescence.  “Unearthing The Hideous” might as well refer to the way Slasher Dave seems to summon up the song as a way to hypnotically command the listener to continue to finish side B of the record.  There are some compensatory thriller chords and sections thrown in, but it serves as one of the best emotional pieces on the album, really making it feel like the soundtrack to some lost horror film.  You can see the main characters in your head almost, the music leaves so much space to create your own world, while painting an extremely vivid picture of what these imagined characters would be doing and saying.  “Beyond Madness (Far Past Fright)” is heading towards a crescendo of the album, the sounds getting bigger, heavier and definitely much more ominous.  The final battle is beginning to approach for our heroine as reality literally begins to spin out of control and spirals into madness!  “Gruesome Discovery” is one of my favorite pieces on the album, a thunderous beat propelling minimalist stings of sound that are layered one over the other into a woven pattern of sheer madness.  The Carpenter feeling is back, once again teamed with Frizzi and this time it’s simply let loose to cause destruction and clear the path for the ambient drone of “Nightmare”.  “Moldy Coffins” begins to move back into the Italian organ area again, providing a much needed break from the non-stop concussive battery of terror that is the rest of Tomb Of Horror.  That Goblin like groove is back, live drums backing up the bellowing bass and reptilian synth lines creeping around on top.  “The Dead Walk” is just menacing as hell from the second it starts.  A snarling beast of twisted 70s sounds, “The Dead Walk” stands tall against anything that Rob did for the incredible Maniac remake soundtrack a few years back, it just sounds sinister, like the damned thing’s truly haunted or something.  “Crypt Shocker” ends Tomb Of Horror like not many films do, perfectly.  It’s an amalgamate of everything else on the album, all tossed together and compacted perfectly into a three minute attack on your psyche.  I can remember growing up where you’d sit in the theater, hoping the ushers wouldn’t come in as the lights came up and figure out you had snuck into an R-rated movie, and wait for the credits to finish.  Not because there was a hidden scene or anything, but because the score was just that fucking good.  As the last few beats of “Crypt Shocker” faded into nothingness all I could do was hit repeat and hope that enough people catch on that we’re going to be hearing plenty more Slasher Dave albums in the future.  I’m just going to leave it at this, if you’re a fan of the genre, or curious about it and are looking for a good way to start, pick up Tomb Of Horror yesterday!  I’d tell you to buy his first album Spookhouse too, but it’s sold out.  Don’t let this album pass you by, this is an absolute must have…  Plus, all the LPs come with a spiffy Halloween mask for all you lazy bastards that don’t wanna make a costume.  What are you waiting for?  You know you want to…

Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
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