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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Weird metal

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Weird metal isn’t A Thing, is it? I reckon it ought to be A Thing, especially when so much black/death/doom/drone metal intersects with The Weird. I mentioned last month that British doomsters The Wounded Kings had used my De Profundis piece for the gatefold and poster insert in their reissue of The Shadow Over Atlantis. My copy of the album arrived this week; it’s a handsome production that sounds tremendous so I’m very pleased to be associated with it. The relationship to Cthulhu isn’t as overt as more well-known compositions such as The Call of Ktulu by Metallica or Cthulhu Dawn by Cradle of Filth. But those are one-off pieces whereas The Shadow Over Atlantis sustains its atmosphere of cosmic dread throughout. It’s available from Ván Records, and I recommend it highly.

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All of which reminded me that my Lovecraftian art has featured sporadically in the metal world over the past few years. In the margins of my discographic work you’ll find the following releases.

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Thought-Cathedral (2000) by Of Trees and Orchids.

The perennially popular view of R’lyeh is featured on the cover of the second album by a German death metal band who later changed their name to Ingurgitating Oblivion. Inside the CD there’s also a detail from a Cthulhu drawing of mine.

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Azathoth (2007) by Azathoth.

There are many bands named after Lovecraft’s chaotic deity. This group is from the US, and this EP is their only substantial release to date.

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Demonstration 1998 (2009) by Portal.

And there are many groups named Portal. This lot are Australian, and have been going longer than most. Demonstration 1998 is a reissue on 7-inch vinyl of a cassette demo from 1998; the sleeve art shows a fuzzy detail from my R’lyeh spread from The Call of Cthulhu. Nobody asked permission to use the artwork, I only discovered this release since I get a credit for it on Discogs. So there may well be other releases out there that I haven’t seen yet. If you know of one then leave a comment or send an email.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Shadow Over Atlantis by The Wounded Kings
Rock shirts
De Profundis

 


 

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7 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Stephen

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    One would give a great deal to load up a time machine with all the cultural artifacts influenced by Lovecraft and take them back to present to him. What would he have made of all this?

  2. #2 posted by John

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    He’d be astonished and probably (fittingly) horrified. Success was slow in arriving, a combination of his own unprofessional attitude towards submitting work, and the ridiculous treatment he received from Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales who often turned down his stories on first submission. Wright also rejected At the Mountains of Madness which dispirited Lovecraft a great deal. Weird Tales was a popular magazine, and it gave Lovecraft a large audience, but when he died in 1937 there was no collection of his work in print, and little indication of the huge explosion of popular culture that would take place after the war.

    Excuse the name drop, but I was talking to Alan Moore about Lovecraft recently, and saying that the surprising thing with his popularity is that it’s come from the ground up via the stories then role-playing games. Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster et al all achieved global success via film in the 1920s and 30s. Lovecraft would have been astounded to know that Cthulhu would become (and is still becoming) as popular as these other monsters, where the name and character is known to people who’ve never read a word of the original fiction.

  3. #3 posted by Jani

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    I’ve always wondered why Portal’s vocalist wears a cuckoo clock on his head. They look like a possessed version of The Residents!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emrBZZtGFgI

  4. #4 posted by Andy

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    Hello John. I’d like to mention (if you’re not already aware of) the Swiss band Darkspace. They play very atmospheric ambient black metal. In terms of sensibility and lyrical focus, I think they fit nicely within Lovecraft’s theme of Cosmicism or cosmic horror, (I don’t know the right term), even if they don’t explicitly use Cthulhu imagery in their album covers, but rather minimal effective artwork which again suits well with their music. Definitely evoke feelings of endless space and cosmic indifference…

  5. #5 posted by John

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    Jani: I’d seen photos of them in robes but I didn’t know about the clock. That still seems less eccentric to me than guitarist Buckethead who’s been wearing a KFC bucket on his head (and a white mask) for many years.

    Andy: Thanks, Darkspace hadn’t crossed my radar. I remain interested in contemporary metal but don’t investigate as much as I used to so there’s a lot that escapes attention. These days I very much prefer the doom/drone end, and more leftfield groups such as Boris.

  6. #6 posted by Jani

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    IMHO, Darkspace’s third album is their best. If you like their music, may I suggest you to check out Trist from Germany too:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtUXjyRJJQQ

    That being said, I prefer Tobias “Winterherr” Möckl’s “main project” Paysage d’Hiver over Darkspace. It is the sound of your speakers freezing over. I’d say the best introduction to his music could be either the self-titled demo or the latest release “Das Tor”.

    Also, if my memory serves me right, Paysage d’Hiver have sampled Roman Polanski’s “The Fearless Vampire Killers” on one of the demos. Very fitting, as it is such a hibernal film.

  7. #7 posted by Andy

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    Indeed, if Darkspace is the sound of cosmic, Paysage is the sound of winter realms unblemished by human hand. Having listened to Das Tor previously, it can be argued that it’s better in terms of being more desolate than Darkspace. But, being more intense, it isn’t for prolonged listening, because it freezes over mu soul, rather than my headphones. I, however prefer Darkspace to Paysage d’Hiver, because they tend to sound ‘positively artificial’ to my ears, if that makes any sense.

 


 

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