Posts Tagged ‘music’

Lockets

Sweet Sounds

By Michael Aronovitz

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I have always been a metal-rock guy, as I came to age in the 70’s and always made assessments based on guitar speed and drum tricks. It was a neighborhood hero sort of a deal, where the kid in his garage or basement could sound like the big boys if he got a flying V, plugged into a Marshall, and practiced his scales until he was slick as Skynyrd and his best friend’s kit made thunder like Bonham. From a listening standpoint, it wasn’t about the way the music made us “feel,” but more about making tile. You saw people go down in the forge and practice their asses off so they could play someone’s keg party and be a rocker for the night. It was a blast…a grass-roots spectacle based on manual labor and sweat.

But I also liked the sweet stuff, and I’m not just talking about Gary Wright and Leo Sayer. Queen started out seeming a bit girly and inconsequential, but wound up making the most diverse album in history with A Night at the Opera. Foreigner had pretty backing vocals, but rocked the living shit out of us with “Hot Blooded” and “Long Long Way From Home.” Boston would seem sugary by today’s standards, but no one can deny the crunch and sustain Tom Scholz manufactured with his axe, and even though Kiss helped start metal with Sabbath and the Coop, they did, after all, have a mega-hit with “Beth.”

A lot of popular music gets translated through street poets and rock gods, showboats and master technicians, but another crucial part of the equation is the soul of the listener. Some fans open their hearts by raising their fists and banging their heads, studying the scales and analyzing the breaks, but others want the music to simply consume them. To paint pictures. To make them feel.

I had the opportunity recently to get to know one of the founders of a synth-pop band from Philadelphia called Lockets. His name is Todd Mendelsohn, and he was a student of mine in a continuing education fiction class I teach at The University of the Arts. Todd is a big presence, outgoing, gregarious, and his fiction is bold, atmospheric fantasy horror. When he told me that he had a synth-pop band in which he played all the instruments and programmed the drums, partnering with a female singer (Dani Mari, who by 2015 was replaced by Melissa Ricca, yet to record) I was rather surprised. It didn’t seem to fit. Todd was the life of the party, the guy everyone wanted to sit next to at the bar, the one who told stories in a booming voice that held us spellbound, and the idea that he was the soft-spoken master-magician behind some kind of docile mood music seemed hysterical.

Still, I listened to the Camera Shy album and the Surrender EP, and was astounded, not only by the depth of the production and the breadth of the instrumentation, but also the way it affected me through emotional channels I wasn’t used to acknowledging. I tied to rebel. I tried to analyze the rhythm tracks, the guitar layering, the vocals, the breaks. And while the execution of all of the above would be appreciated on anybody’s stat sheet, the music finally didn’t filter in that way.

It painted pictures. Beautiful ones.

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When I listened to Camera Shy, I was initially reminded of The Cranberries, but that faded by the 3rd track titled “Violet.” The counterpoint of the building guitar and the immediate presence of the harmony vocal merged with the idea that I started seeing myself in my mind’s eye on a beach. There were waves and a sunset, warm breezes and memories. By the time I got to track #6, “Crush,” the beach had gone abstract to colors, and “Winter Light” made me smile.

“He changed the season,” I thought. “Clever.” I suppose a criticism of synth-pop in general might be the idea that the music has a linear construction as opposed to a climactic one, but what Lockets kept consistent in terms of instrumentation, they made sure to broaden with theme. The album has a “spreading” effect if you will, not only growing on you, but growing with you, supplying oils and brushes for your evolving inner mural.

The EP Surrender is brilliant. Concluded with two rather dark (and odd) remixes of the title track, the Lockets version is mesmerizing. It contains a phenomenal arrangement of keys and drums, and the harmonies are simply outstanding. The second track, Girl, is more upbeat, and demonstrates a subtle diversity, especially in the instrumentation and sound effects in the spaces.

Most of all, however, all of the music paints pictures. They don’t hang on walls, and they don’t prance around the stage.

The pictures are in your own head.

And they are aesthetic masterpieces.

 

Link for Vinyl version of Camera Shy / UK

https://beautifulstrange.bandcamp.com/album/camera-shy

Buy link for digital copies

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/lockets/id548765294

Michael Aronovitz is a horror author who has published three novels, two collections, more than thirty short stories, and a number of horror and metal reviews. His first novel “Alice Walks” will come out in E-book form through Cemetery Dance Publications this summer. His latest novel “Phantom Effect” can be seen on Amazon here: http://tinyurl.com/jcg59wo

As Paradise Falls

A Call From the Abyss

By Michael Aronovitz

The song “Star Blind,” by Eclipse recording artists As Paradise Falls, is the potent and devastating first cut that appears on the forthcoming album Digital Ritual, worldwide release July 21, 2017. This is a song about death and denial, a terrifying binary that links a desolated finality with our lifelong attempt to dress up the journey leading to it with alternative facts, hip Instagram accounts, and a barrage of metaphorical selfies smiling back at us like circus creatures in an eerie ring of carnival mirrors. As Paradise Falls is Danny Kenneally on guitar, Shaun Coar on vocals, Jon Messer on bass, Jimmy Upson on guitar, Christian Rady on drums, and Glen Barrie on guitar. I mention Glen Barrie here, because they kept his guitar tracks on this album. I mention Glen Barrie here, because he died in 2015.

Not to become a character in my own review, that which would be seen as pretentious (and rightly so), I nevertheless feel it is important in this particular case to discuss my process. I had a choice. I could have talked about As Paradise Falls as if the current five members are the band, that the lifeblood of this project is pumping through a brand new heart in a brave new super-being about to be born. The “ultrasound” is the sneak-peak we get of “Star Blind,” and the glorious birth occurs on July 21, 2017, when Digital Ritual comes out and we get to perceive the band as brand new phenomenon, as if they belong to us, our precious find, something we helped discover from the point of inception.

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            On the other hand, I could have called this album what I might argue it is going to actually become: a memorial for a great one who has fallen, and the song “Star Blind,” among others, a testament to the importance of his life, not only to the other members of this powerful musical project, but to listeners fortunate enough to celebrate his legacy.

Of course, the video for “Star Blind” is grand, almost majestic in its aesthetic representation of stark hopelessness. Visually stunning, the performance footage takes place on a beach with empty desert sand under a bleak or dying sun. Many of vocalist Shaun Coar’s shots are presented in dark profile with the background of storm clouds bleeding the dusk, and in between the close ups of bands members, the more profound clips show the distance between players in what seems hundreds of yards on the crest of this wasteland.

Considering the complexity of the mixed meter verse riff, its heaviness, and absolute razor sharpness, the visuals of vast emptiness almost play the viewer like being beaten into a state of vertigo, especially at the moment the camera is brought straight up looking down as if from a crane five hundred feet high over drummer Christian Rady, showing just how isolated he is from his band mates.

The female model does a nice job in the story shots at the beginning of the video exemplifying the lyrics, those which directly address the latter side of this binary, indicating that we are living virtual lives and losing our sense of self and collective identity. She is looking at her tablet, unhappy with her social media, and then it is indicated that she is being perceived (possibly by herself) as this monster in a mask with goggles, similar to the killer in My Bloody Valentine, (1981). The lyrics back this up with the lines, “When was the last time you saw it for what it is (alternative facts), “We’re all dying from “exposure” yet we never see the sun (we are “exposed” to social media more than being exposed to life), and, “We got blind people screaming at deaf men” (all of us posting and hoping for the likes that our “friends” are only giving in return so we’ll reciprocate the gesture in some sick, incestuous circle).

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            All of this works. The message is clear, the music fits it, and the optics make it real. This song has a phenomenal beat, an outstanding vocal, and a buzz-saw riff that gets you right in the spine. If I wanted to go metaphorical, I could easily raise the point that the sand here seems oceanic, almost like a “sea of life,” and I don’t think there are too many that would disagree that As Paradise Falls could very well be illustrating the idea that when we are cast out into the cold water some of us have a sliver spoon. Others get thrown to the waves in a rusty dinghy, and to make matters worse, we brag that it’s really a clipper ship. In terms of this part of the paradigm, the band nails it. They have made a powerful statement audibly, visually, and emblematically on two levels. What more could one ask?

How about the primary part of the binary?

Fact is…they left some of Glen Barrie’s guitar tracks on the record posthumously. That makes this song more than a song. It makes it more than a hit too, though I will cheer for the band when it becomes one.

Glen Barrie’s guitar tracks are on the record.

Growing up, I was a rocker through and through, and I will admit to you, I never liked New Wave. Still, the band The Police came up with an album name I never forgot: Ghost in the Machine, probably alluding to Arthur Koestler’s novel, The Ghost in the Machine,” 1967. Here, in the case of As Paradise Falls, the concept takes on a whole new relevance. I might word it differently, as I do not consider Glen Barrie a “ghost,” as that has a schlocky, B-horror movie feel to it, and this band is anything but schlocky. I might call this “the spirit in the mechanism,” for Glen Barrie lives in this band, in their fingers and their fiber, and their music has an almost machine-like proficiency. If it stopped there, however, As Paradise Falls would be generic Industrial Metal with a heartache, and I believe it goes further than that.

Listen to the music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yi4zId0ae7w

There is a pristine, unbreakable loyalty embedded in this mechanism, and a glorious phantom working the pistons and the crank shafts in the shadows of the ones who will never forget him. This song is about desolation, but one walks away from it feeling enlightened on a number of complex levels. This is an amazing thing for one song to embody, but the stakes could not have been higher.

This was the one As Paradise Falls defined themselves by.

This one was for Glen.

Michael Aronovitz is a published horror author and a college professor of English. He has a story called “Breath” coming soon in the Hippocampus anthology – Nemesis, and another short story titled “The One Armed Brakeman” to appear in S.T. Joshi’s upcoming anthology Apostles of the Weird. Aronovitz is the author of the novels Alice Walks and Phantom Effect.

 

Serious commentary on horror and how it relates to new bands that matter.

Twelve Noon

The Faces We See In Our Shattered Reflections
By Michael Aronovitz

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            I have constructed what is now an ongoing proposal that Eclipse Records is not just a “Deathcore” label, or even one that merely produces and distributes “New Metal.” That would be the definition of a conduit, and Eclipse is more like a canvas. Though I would admit that bands like Our Last Enemy, Saint Diablo, Cold Snap, A Breach of Silence, Despite, and Mindshift share the common signature of tight and razor sharp rhythm sections, it is clear that each project brings something new to the table, something altogether unique, and above all, multi-dimensional. Being that I was a professional metal club musician in the 80’s and currently teach English rhetoric at the college level, my standards for “multi-dimensional appeal” are not limited to tight rhythm sections, spectacular lead platform solos, and daring vocals, though I treasure the manner by which they are delivered by the extraordinary musicians currently recording under the Eclipse umbrella. I am additionally searching for metaphor, for dramatic precision, and a distinct literary thread that the given band would weave into the broadcloth of art and humanity, and Eclipse bands are consistent in their ability to live and breathe in both worlds, something I find magnificent.

To briefly digress, I see Our Last Enemy as interpreters of a modern day Renaissance similar to the way that Saint Diablo reinvents the lens of psycho-religiosity and spiritual awareness. Cold Snap cleverly articulates the paradox of media influence and conservative brutality, as much as A Breach of Silence offers a profound pathway to the human spirit, architected on the poetic level of a Whitman or Frost.

If you will allow a second digression, this brings me to the work of the greatest American author on record, the ground-breaking inventor of Modernism, Ernest Hemingway, and it is more than clear that Eclipse Records has made it a subtle yet powerful mission to provide us a number of bold innovators who would create aesthetic masterpieces reanimating and therefore redefining the influence of Hemingway’s dark, poetic vision. The band Despite explodes with the violence and glorified spectacle that Hemingway portrayed in his war scenes just as much as Mindshift illustrates a brilliant portrait reminiscent of Hemingway’s cold manifestations of boyhood dreams, biting realities, and harsh rites of passage. In terms of Ernest Hemingway’s fascination with the ebbs and flows of bodies of water, and more specifically the distorted reflections we might stare into during our given searches for identity, I have not seen a more striking modern example than the single, No Way Out, by one of Eclipse’s newest bands called Twelve Noon.

First off, these guys can play. Before getting into the literary comparisons, I come from a primary position of loving rock for the sake of rock, and while the press on this project says that they are “An American Alternative Metal Band” I want to make the broader statement here that regardless of “brand” or “label” or “genre,” this particular group is a rocker’s dream. If you grew up on The Who and graduated to Sound Garden (rest Chris Cornell’s soul), you’re going to love Michael Loew’s vocal. If you were raised listening to Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and found God in Van Halen, you’re going to dig Rob Heil’s guitar work. If you were one of the ones like me, who not only got off on Angus Young, but fucking LOVED his brother Malcolm’s chops, you’re going to want a tee shirt that says John Devlin on it, and if you could never get enough of Sabbath’s rhythm section, or Zeppelin’s or Purple’s for that matter, you are going to get hooked on watching Tim Clark work his bass in and out of Justin Runkel’s clever drum work all through the No Way Out video. Again and again and again.

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            I do not mean to infer that Twelve Noon is “throwback.” In fact, they are incredibly fresh, demonstrating the more current growl vocals and hummingbird sixteenth double bass drum licks all the modern deathcore and more commercial metal guys are throwing out there, almost like benchmarks, like a line in the sand, claiming, “Are you good enough to do these? Well, you’d fucking better be.”

            The difference is that Twelve Noon uses these standards and other “metal tropes” if you will, not for the purpose of checking off boxes or making grades. They use the various techniques where they are appropriate, where they come as surprises, always themed in a pattern that plays into the idea that it was constructed for the greater good of the song. Twelve Noon is a team. They come off as a band, not a bunch of free agents, and that is their primary appeal once you take in how damned good they are in their given roles.

The funny thing is that their image is a strange one, weird optics, and if one looks at them without hearing the music it might seem that they come from different parts of the world. Loew has perfect short hair and that perfect cowboy jaw, like a Hollywood star wearing sunglasses, while Clark and Runkel look like they work for Harley Davidson. Devlin could live next door to you, while Heil is your partner in fantasy football and the clean-up hitter on your softball team. But the real funny thing (funny-ironic) is that it is clear they were born to play together, and it doesn’t take a genius to see how well they mesh once the song starts. Moreover, the track is a hit, and you don’t have to have a bunch of tunes from Octane to compare it to. Sometimes you just know. Twelve Noon makes it easy.

It is clear the band musically follows the vision of guitar extraordinaire Rob Heil. I have watched the video eleven times today, and come away from each performance in its entirety with a feeling of absolute joy. I think it’s the idea that he has that rare ability not only to help engineer a smash single, but float in and out of it through a kaleidoscope of techniques that are as diverse from each other as they are holistically true to the general theme. There is a finger picking intro, tasteful as hell, gripping at your heartstrings the way old time songs bring you back to some specific moment in your past that you measured yourself by. Effortlessly, that becomes a riff, into a call-to-arms lead, into a quickie-run, into the hard picking that backs the verse, into the tapping in the themed bridge during the growl vocal, into the speed-metal riff, into the half-chord lead mixture supporting the catchy chorus. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better after verse and chorus number two respectively, there is the power chord transition where Runkel does his entertaining cross-cymbal crashes, the slow down to the uplifting wake-me-up-with-the-sunrise strumming (two measures), then the pull-off lead, the melodic chunk-a-chunk, the acrobatic lead, and back to the chorus of the decade.

Hell. If I was a guitar instructor, this song would be my demonstration for the parents at the spring festival showing that I was worthy. Like everyone, I have seen and heard those song/videos where the guitar player is just showing off tricks (The Freebird Syndrome…even though I still love that song), and this is not one of those ego-filled demonstrations. It is one of the most beautifully textured and engineered backbones to a song that I have ever seen. And the Van Halen bird-chirp tapping (really introduced in 1932 on the ukulele by Roy Smeck) is delivered with such a specific Heil appeal, that we can do nothing but smile right along with him and give a nod to the allusion.

Musically, there are other areas in here that add to the “wow” factor of Twelve Noon. While Loew is the stud on vocals, managing a broad range of tapestries and personalities, Clark is exceptional in his doubling work, playing it rough or tonal depending on the echo that best flavors the phrase. And Runkel reminds me of a very, very tight evolution of Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, hard and everything metal, but smooth on the fills like fine silk.

On literary grounds, this band is all about growth and hard rites of passage, the theme of Hemingway’s debut, In Our Time. In his collection of short stories, we are given a variety of tales and scenarios of attempted bravery by those too young to address the given circumstances. It is no small coincidence that lyrics in No Way Out mirror these things, with exclamations such as, “Here’s my anthem from the time I was young,” and “A change inside me ignites,” moving to “Turn the tables on the things I have done.” All this reflects tests of youth and the following transition to adulthood, and Hemingway fans will literally sit back with a satisfied smile when they hear, “Fighting the bull now. And grab it by the horns,” as the central vignettes in the book In Our Time are all about bull fighters, and whether they face their deaths bravely.

Instead of grabbing them by the horns, however, Hemingway has his performers get it “through his sword hand” and “through the belly” (83), and after the trials and tribulations in the bull ring, metaphorical and literal, Hemingway has his non-bull-fighting lead character (Nick Adams) healing his own sorts of wounds at the Big Two-Hearted River, looking in the rushing water at his distorted reflection trying to figure out who he is and how he got there. The most striking part of this comparison between art forms and generations, however, remains both audible and visual, as Loew tries to “Re-enable what I have become,” only reversing it into the question, “Re-enable what have I become?” sharing the idea with Hemingway that we spend much of our time in a state of “static odyssey,” standing in place while we sort through our shattered self-images. Why else would Twelve Noon use the otherwise random effect of having the camera filming the band intermittently “shake” as if something was just dropped into river-water, creating this disturbed liquid mirror?

Twelve Noon is a worthwhile, legitimate, and talented rock band performing on a label with an established reputation for precision and excellence, statement and metaphor. No Way Out is a part of the canvas, an important thread in the broadcloth, a rich aesthetic, a guitar player’s golden template. But mostly, it works. Mostly, it moves us, and altogether, when everything is all said and done, it’s simply just one great fucking rock song.

Click here to see the official video for No Way Out.

This review is in anticipation of Twelve Noon’s album – Saints and Sinners, to be released in the Summer of 2017.

Michael Aronovitz is a college professor of English. He was a professional metal musician in the 1980’s and currently writes horror fiction. He has a story called “Breath” coming soon in a Hippocampus anthology titled Nemesis, and another short story titled “The One Armed Brakeman” to appear in S.T. Joshi’s upcoming anthology Apostles of the Weird. Aronovitz is the author of the novels Alice Walks and Phantom Effect.

Serious commentary on horror and how it relates to new bands that matter.

Despite

Lifeblood to Wear and Labels to Trash

By Michael Aronovitz

It’s funny. I went on YouTube to watch a video and celebrate this new band signed by Eclipse Records. They call themselves “Despite,” and even the name brought interesting thoughts to mind. “Despite” is one of those multi-faceted terms that commands our attention more through it’s secondary usage, for the initial appearance in Merriam Webster’s Dictionary has it represented as a noun, and therefore, linked directly with words like “contempt” and “malice.” Still, we primarily use the term as a preposition, one of those key words in the middle of the sentence that makes us sit up straighter and take notice, because we are about to witness an action that was performed “in spite of.” This is more where I think this band marks its territory. “In spite of” suggests that there was a new idea just conceived that would oppose traditional and antiquated norms, conceived by those baptized by fire, and illustrated for us in vibrant explosions of color and contour straight in the face of blurred truth, fine print, and euphemism.

Plainly, the band Despite rocks the living shit out of you, and they do it in a way that is ultimately surprising and refreshingly unique. Their roster includes vocalist Peter Tuthill, bassist Anthony Cui, drummer Janne Jaloma, and three master axe grinders – Timmy Leng, Andre Gonzales, and Zoran Panovic – who play eight-string guitars and tune them a full step down in order to add a heaviness and bottom that will knock you bow-legged. There is much to say about their performance ability and musicianship, yet before giving close analysis to their newly released single “As You Bleed,” I thought it more than appropriate to dovetail back to the idea of “definitions” and the way this band shatters the concept.

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I looked up some of their videos “pre-Eclipse,” and in reading the comments below the “Show Me” prompt, I marveled at some of the “definitions” fans pinned to this wonderfully diverse project.

“Deathcore.”

“Melodic death.”

“smth like melodic djent.”

“Massively stupid w/all the genres and subgenres. Didn’t sound like djent in any remote way, clearly jazz influenced melo-black rapcore death.”

I sincerely hope the last one quoted is aware of his own use of irony, yet either way it brings a couple of interesting issues to the surface. First, in the metal game, fans are possessive, emphatic, and defensive about the trivia, almost like maniac-historians, drawing up flowcharts and marking specific historical shifts in the landscape determining the birth and strange, complicated journey heavy metal has taken since Black Sabbath shocked the world with their debut album in 1970. And if you happen to try and stick a Post-It note to the timeline yourself, well, you had better not get a fucking detail wrong. All too often, metal-heads are not patient tutors. Still, their allegiance to the art is unshakable. They might not always articulate things in crystal prose and poetic nuance, but they are certain as fuck when they know what they know and they are never even minutely unclear.

Then comes a band like Despite, and in this overarching, multi-faceted genre, where precision is celebrated as much as rebellion, where truth is exposed to be raw and untamed, where musicians would show us experimentation before formula…we have come to a strange juncture where it has become appropriate somehow to define, pigeonhole, and compartmentalize the new vision playing out before us, all according to “rules” seemingly carved into some sort of ancient, holy monolith and enforced by strict fans who police the territory like stone faced assassins.

But I thought metal was all about breaking rules, about questioning standards and using the guidelines mostly so you could draw outside of them. Look. Despite is a metal band. They are from Gothenburg Sweden, and they do in fact celebrate the guitar, the hard chunk, the current and fashionable metal-groove delay, and a buzzsaw vocal that will rip your spine apart. The percussion is complex yet driving, and the overall effect of the project is one that makes you a part of it immediately. OK. Standards are standards, and we can check off a few of the neat little boxes.

However, as one can see in the “As You Bleed” video, off the album Synergi, release date July 22nd, 2016, they do some things within the general framework of metal that are refreshingly unique, and this begins with the way they utilize their guitars and the instrumentation around them. The piece begins with a riff that is both funky and industrial, an addictive hook in itself, but for the purpose of texture and mood, there are velvety patterns developed on both sides (atop and below) if you will, featuring intricate, hummingbird double bass drum work like dark supple bottom feathers and then melodic, sustained lead as if ethereal wings above it all, heartbreaking in its subtle dissonance, layered in the second part of the phrase in harmony.

When Tuthill comes in with the first verse in growl, the harmony guitars drop out and join the background riff, but we are quick back to the theme of sustained notes, like keys backgrounding the hook where Tuthill has cleverly switched to a traditional vocal. Just when we are comfortable in a theme, however, it evolves, and the one line chorus ends with a break, a vocal roar, and a traditional melodic leads that erupts. That’s right. It explodes off the neck, and while melodic leads don’t normally do that we appreciate the contradiction, especially since it develops quickly into a strange, almost Mediterranean vibe that not only fits the dissonance, but compliments the background sustain still echoing in our memories.

The song is full of changes, in other words, that do not fit too many past patterns and standards, but make sense within themselves. This is new. This is art, and the portrait is startling and glorious.

Watch Despite – As You Bleed

After the first two verses, there is a break, a smart drum riff, and the lead guitar goes to an octave technique, an arresting transition that sends us off deep into a journey of the unexpected. The octaves continue, and the vocal joins the background guitars in the ongoing theme, brought to the forefront unexpectedly, and giving the song a medieval, choral feel. Talk about irony; presented to us is a mood and tapestry the opposite of what we would have expected, though the themes were already given to us in other contexts. Were this a film or a book, we would call it brilliant foreshadowing leading to an unexpected climax or plot-twist. And while Despite’s aforementioned fan might not even be aware of his own verbal irony, it is more than clear that the band drew this one up purposefully. To break trends. To blow us away.

The balance of “As You Bleed” returns to its original themes and hooks then, offering the riff and the chorus for reinforcement, and by the time the song is over, you know it like the back of your hand. You can hum it even, but don’t expect to sell the dissonance as if delivered on some heavenly feathered wing. That gift belongs to Despite, and lucky for us, they’re willing to share.

On thematic / visual grounds, the song “As You Bleed” features blood, lots of it, and if you look at Despite’s latest press releases, they claim that the song is a sort of an ode to the violence and glory of the UFC. Cool. I happen to watch the UFC exclusively, and truly believe it has made boxing obsolete, but the idea of the ring, the arena, and the octagon does not just address the literal boundary in professional fighting. The “crucible” is a metaphor for a physical or psychological trap that forces people to confront things they wouldn’t ordinarily choose to. In other words, for the sake of modesty, it seems Despite has offered us a particular and singular read of their song, when there are some universal emblems that would mark the periphery of their work with added depth and dimension.

From a novelistic standpoint, the crucible is a vital part of the lexicon that writers use for the sake of structure and heightened dramatic potency, in many ways as effective as an overt conflict or time limitation. These difficult traps are all around us, and when forced into one, we soon discover that it is a dramatic playing field defined by wins and losses. In a literal sense, this is our “octagon,” our football fields and basketball courts, but aside from sport, we can alter the lens slightly and consider other crucibles that dictate similar tensions, like the courtroom, the classroom, the bedroom, the home. Put two people in a situation through which they must interact unhappily, with borders, and you have just as much a form of dramatic imprisonment as a scene from the film Saw.

In the case of “As You Bleed,” I would argue that the blood (and the video is filthy with it) and their allusion to the UFC, both more represent the metaphorical human arena, where we are sometimes put up against a wall so to speak and we must act, come out of our comfort zones, lose our cool, sacrifice our aura of control. To make a point. To die on a hill if necessary. If you can’t quite picture this phenomenon, ask any parent that ever has to defend his or her child against stacked odds. Whether the adversary is a bully or a school administrator you do what you have to do. For your child. For the family. You might get “bloody” and it might not be pretty, but you enter the arena to win. Then you do it. We all have. It is how we are built and the way our personal narratives are constructed at their very core.

Despite has given us this distinctive video titled “As You Bleed,” and the blood-effect plays more about wearing your heart on your sleeve than victory on your chest. There is a heavenly overtone despite the heavy, riff-oriented structure, and a feeling of jubilation that builds inside the viewer as opposed to the dread such gore would normally initiate.

Despite.

The opposite of what we would expect, and in that spirit, maybe we should just pull out all the stops and categorize them as Deathcore Medieval-Ethereal Power Thrust Labarynthian Nuance Trance Metal, with an undercurrent of Black Meta Fusion Def and an overlay of Mock Corinthian Slaughter-Groove that would hint at Gregorian Maniacal Funk Thrash and Goth Steampunk Killer Muse.

Or maybe we should just say that Despite rocks, that they walk the walk, that they say it and play it, and maybe after all the labeling, they are just plainly and simply a great fucking band.

 

Michael Aronovitz fronted a heavy metal band that played Philadelphia and New Jersey clubs in the mid 80’s. He is a Professor of English and currently co-hosts a radio talk show linking horror and new metal called “The Wikked Goblet of Horror” with DJ WikkedLiss on her station WCR247 WikkedChikRadio.

Aronovitz’s latest novel titled Phantom Effect was just released February 2nd, 2016 through Night Shade Books. http://tinyurl.com/jcg59wo

Past Publications:

Seven Deadly Pleasures (collection), 2009

The Voices in Our Heads (collection), 2014

Alice Walks (novel), 2013

The Witch of the Wood (novel), 2014

In honor of Mother’s release, we’ve put together a list of the songs referenced throughout the novel. We found that music helps define our characters and we hear lots of it as our characters stroll Morning Glory Circle. Some are surprising – who knew the Portendorfers were metalheads? Some music plays, some is hummed, some are chapter titles, one is a doorbell … and some tunes are associated with nightmares and other horrors, but all are pertinent to the story.

MOTHER

Mother is available now on Amazon.

American Pie – Don McLean
American Woman – Lenny Kravitz
Ave Maria – Johann Sebastian Bach and Charles Gounod

Barracuda – Heart
Big Shot – Billy Joel
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

Candle in the Wind – Elton John
Chariots of Fire – Vangelis
Children of the Grave – Black Sabbath
Close to You – The Carpenters
Colorado Rocky Mountain High – John Denver

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree – Andrews Sisters

Fever – Peggy Lee
The Fishin’ Hole (Andy Griffith Show Theme) – Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer
Fun, Fun, Fun – Beach Boys

Hello – Adele
How Great Thou Art – Carl Gustav Boberg

I Heard It Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye
I Put a Spell On You – Bette Midler
In-N-Out Burger Theme
Invisible – Clay Aiken

Jupiter Symphony – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Little Boxes (Made of Ticky-Tacky) – Pete Seeger

Magic Flute – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Magic Man – Heart
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett
Misty – Johnny Mathis

One Way or Another – Blondie

Pleasant Valley Sunday – Monkees
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads

Rocky Raccoon – Beatles
Row, Row, Row Your Boat – Traditional
Run for Your Life – Beatles

Silver Springs – Fleetwood Mac
Stand by Me – Ben E. King
The Star-Spangled Banner – Francis Scott Key
Still Crazy After All These Years – Paul Simon
Strangers in the Night – Frank Sinatra
Strawberry Fields Forever – Beatles
Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen

Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Teddy Bear’s Picnic – Henry Hall and His Orchestra, 1932
That’s Amore – Dean Martin
Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen
Tiny Dancer – Elton John

We are Marching to Pretoria – The Weavers
White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
White Wedding – Billy Idol
Witchy Woman – Eagles

 

Serious commentary on horror and how it relates to new bands that matter.

A Mirror’s View Through the Glass Eyes of Dolls

Shinobi Ninja

Review by Michael Aronovitz

 

There are elements of terror in everything artistically worthwhile, for this is the essence of dramatic tension. Comedy is based on darkness in order to inspire the most effective moments of irony, just as good romance is always laced with an underlying fear of judgment, failure, and rejection. Mystery is hinged on the trepidation of not knowing, and even the most banal of biographies that would dryly illustrate one’s goals and accomplishments is usually rooted in obstacle and circumstantial restrictions one must confront and finally overcome.

No conflict, no story. Period. We no more want to read that the day was like any other day than we wish to hear music that doesn’t raise in us some sort of reaction, and I would argue that even the most joyous musical celebrations only succeed because they can be compared to an opaque sort of coexisting undercurrent. I head-bang because I am constantly told to behave. I shout, because I am trained to listen. I sing, because my expression is most commonly rewarded when I robotically formulate five paragraph essays in school, and I dance because I am trained for most of my life to sit still.

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            The band Shinobi Ninja with their song “Bang Bang” instills in their viewer/listeners a desire to absolutely erupt: head bang, shout, sing, and dance, “HSSD” if you will, and the reaction does not come from the brief footage they inter-splice with the man-sized puppets fake-fighting almost in comic relief. I suppose we should start with this thread, since it initially seems so contradictory to the skillful musical performance footage and the intimate portraits we get of lead singer Baby G in front of a mirror studying the haunt of her own self-reflection in a dark and mysterious way that is almost Noir. Plainly, the man-sized puppets, including the “mascot-like” Cyclo Ninja, are not there to be considered literally. They are a springboard to a much more complicated statement, ironic because the music immediately detonates our need for HSSD, while simultaneously bringing us on a more cerebral journey into the splintered reflection we have of the self.

To be clear, puppets and dolls (though overtly playful) are automatic subconscious fear-triggers as was evidenced through our cinematic fascination with Karen Black and her Zuni doll in Trilogy of Terror (1975), the puppet-fiend in Magic (1978), the clown under the bed in Poltergeist (1982), and our favorite evil piece of factory-plastic, Chucky in Child’s Play (1988). Of course, this particular toy chest of horror is crammed to the gills, ritualistically brought down from the attic again and again to our sadistic and continual delight, featuring those like the various players in Puppet Master (1989), Demonic Toys (1992), and Blood Dolls (2005), not to mention boyfriend in the wheelchair in Saw (2004), and the latest appearance of Annabelle (2014).

Still, as I mentioned previously, the Cyclo Ninja and his egg-headed adversary in the “Bang-Bang” video are parodies, and while they come off a bit cartoonish if viewed in isolation, the broader context makes it clear that they are a far cry from slapstick. They are, in fact, the comic detonator for a musical explosion that leaves images in its wake of the dark, shattered psyche.

First and foremost, however, this song pops. It is exciting, with a hard edge and a dance vibe, all delivered through performance – shots of the players in action: Baby G on vocals, Alien Lex on bass, Terminator Dave on drums, DJ Axis Powers on turntables, Kid Shreddi aka Maniak Mike on guitar, and DA Doobie aka Duke Sims on vocals and guitar. The tune is a mega-hit from the very first chords, and watching the players execute this through to fruition is a pure pleasure. HSSD – automatic. Booya.

Still, through an intricate sort of underscoring process, there are the deeper and darker emblematic levels the band reaches when one considers the clips of Baby G sitting in front of a mirror, analyzing herself, and slowly painting her face into a disguise, using her mascara no less, the instrument that would normally “bring out her eyes,” those which in any other scenario would be mirrors to the soul.

At the 45 second mark in the video, we see Baby G approach the aforementioned make-up mirror and then we get her eye in close-up, a reflection of her inside it, brought sideways in a moment of personal disequilibrium. At the 102 second mark, we see she is in front of the same mirror, applying her mascara, but the result winds up being the beginnings of a mask, eyes overdone and curved up toward her temples like Cat-Woman, and the mouth drawn up at the sides, giving that odd effect like scary clown-makeup, revealing the smile that’s not a smile, making the kids at the carnival cry and the mothers nervously look into their rear views backing out of the mulch-covered parking lots. At the 243 second mark, near the video’s conclusion, Baby G looks at herself blandly, and the reflection staring back at her is one of a stranger, a stone-like replica of a woman’s face ritualistically covered in X’s and other strange markings reminiscent of the symbols hanging from trees in The Blair Witch Project.

Baby G has evolved. The question is…into whom…or what.

Let’s do the odd math. This character approaches a makeup mirror, about to play the role of a singer, yet she sees in the reflection – her own eye which refracts her image and pitches it sideways, meaning the internal “person” is not standing on solid ground in her own interpretation of self. She applies makeup that makes her performer’s face into a mask of its prior self, that which was an effigy formed by public and commercial demands. Finally, she makes a mask over the mask over the image reflected in the eye of a fractured self, that which looks like witch-insignia, or even more, like the broken pieces of a mirror realigned on the fragile personas reconstructed beneath in jagged tiers.

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The haunting key to this reflective spiral that seems to ping-pong back and forth between perception, self-reception and what really lies underneath it all, can be found in the lyrics.

First, there is a clear indicator that the ecstatic bounce and feel of the song itself, hitting on all cylinders of HSSD at its very core-best, is shadowed by a dark portrait of the psyche, taking form and foundational contour from the lexicon proposed by the inventor of American horror, Edgar Allan Poe. “Bang Bang” is an example of onomatopoeia, a literary device Poe made so popular that one can see his name in the spelling. The idea of “knocking on the door” which surfaces multiple times in the song, also harkens back to the more specific work of this iconic author, as his lead character, the old man, is confronted by a knocking door and the knocking under the floorboards in The Tell Tale Heart (1843). A knock upon the door is frightening in the right (or wrong) context, as we have gone back to that particular well many times, the most recent coming to mind being the actions of the masked predators in The Strangers (2008), but in Shinobi Ninja’s demonstration of the phenomenon, we are given these extra reflective (and deliciously) terrifying layers.

Critics call the technique Shinobi Ninja has executed here, “The Chinese Box Effect,” most notably evident in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1603), when the Prince of Denmark watches his mother watch Ophelia watch her father watch Horatio watch his uncle watching a play. In the lyrics of “Bang Bang,” we reach the outskirts of this reflective funnel-shaped maze with what seems the intentional grammatical misuse of “they’ll” instead of “there’ll” in the repeated line: “Knocking on the door no more / Cuz you know they’ll be a cover up.” Note that Baby G is not referring to the intruders in the sense that there will be a cover up, but more that the intruders themselves are a cover up, embroiled in their manufactured reflection of self as deeply and with as much shattered complexity as their target, almost making it seem that this hall of mirrors has become an endless infinity of copy upon copy of copies until all that is left in the end is the blank, staring mask, empty for all but the insignias and societal brands that have long become antiquated and meaningless.

And the terror isn’t that someone’s knocking on the door. Look closely at the lyrics. It’s the fact that they are “knocking on the door no more,” in a clear suggestion that in today’s world, with all the noise on social media, we can’t even get negative attention that lasts long enough to stick. We are ignored, left to our masks and our endless cyclones of refraction, leaving the soul no more than a haunt of a distant replica.

All while we head bang. All while we shout, and we sing, and we dance.

Shinobi Ninja is a celebration of the spirit and the self, pure HSSD, and it feels oh-so-good to see Baby G getting ready for the fight with the opening chords, cocking her head one way, then the other. It is exhilarating when the verse kicks in, when the turntables scratch, and the drummer hits the cymbal so hard in slow motion it seems like he’s knocked the thing clear out of tension.

There are intricate levels here.

The song rocks. It coaxes you in with tasteful, meaty musical hooks, and visual stimulation coming from multiple angles. In the end, however, it is the offset that catches us. It is the way baby G leans forward and swings her hair in a 360 like a metal-head, then stares into the looking glass with her blank eyes and her war paint, it is the parody of the puppets juxtaposed against the complexity of our symbolic masks, the musical hooks and the lyrical depth put up against the eyes that are mirrors into no more than existential caverns leading to nothing but memories of once having memories.

This song is a hit and a poetic statement. It gets you from multiple perspectives of attack and makes you think. And scream. HSSD. I coined the term, because Shinobi Ninja defines it. And their song “Bang Bang” makes you get up and fucking DO it.

Watch Bang Bang by Shinobi Ninja

Michael Aronovitz is a published author of horror fiction:

Seven Deadly Pleasures (collection) Hippocampus Press, 2009

Alice Walks (novel) Hard Cover – Centipede Press, 2013, Paperback / Dark Renaissance Press, 2014

The Voices in Our Heads (collection) Horrified Press, 2014

The Witch of the Wood (novel) Hippocampus Press, 2015

Aronovitz has always loved hard rock music, and fronted a heavy metal band that played Philadelphia and New Jersey clubs in the mid 80’s. Currently he is a Professor of English and lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. His latest novel titled Phantom Effect was just released February 2nd, 2016 through Night Shade Books.

Serious commentary on horror and how it relates to new bands that matter

To Taunt, To Tempt, and To Never be Tamed

Phoebe Pinnock and Heaven the Axe

By Michael Aronovitz

The literary perception we have of the “willful woman,” or more currently, the “bad girl,” has never been quite fully realized, not in a sense we would consider holistic or real. It is possible that this phenomenon exists because men have always dominated the literary world as well as the mass media. Consequently, women as characters have been historically pigeon-holed as abused and subservient as most of us observe in our earliest contact with literature, most notably the Disney versions of European fairy tales popularized in 1812 by The Brothers Grimm (Rapunzel is trapped in a tower, Snow White is poisoned, and Cinderella is surrounded by abusive relatives). This tradition has been mirrored throughout the various movements century to century, and modernized by the “Scream Queen” of horror films, falling down for no reason, dropping the knife, and volunteering to go out to the woodshed for a beer when the maniac with the burlap bag over his head is waiting for her with a butcher knife in one hand and a Mineral Mountain Battle Hatchet in the other.

Phoebe4sm William James

This is not to say that the rebellious female as a literary prototype has not been given a preliminary sort of pattern and contour. In 441 B.C. Antigone openly defied her uncle Creon by demanding her brother be buried rather than left out and devoured by carrion. In 1400, Chaucer gave us The Wife of Bath in The Canterbury Tales, she who took her fifth husband to task by punching him in the face for reading out of a book about “wicked wives.” In 1590, William Shakespeare offered us a vision of the sexual shrew: impatient, waspish, sullen, and sour, and a few centuries later our “agonist” female heroines defied the odds and braved the cold world on their own in the name of independence and spirituality.

Still, Antigone hung herself in a cave. The Wife of Bath’s husband Jankyn responded to her arrogance by hitting her so hard in the head she became deaf in one ear. Katherina the “shrew’ wound up kneeling before Petruchio and holding his foot submissively, just as the agonist heroines inevitably latched onto older, fatherly figures because they could not make it on their own.

And so the rebel-girl never got very far, at least not in books written before 1900.

 

Yet even in the modern era with the dawn of technology and “liberation,” women of potential strength wound up flawed, almost in a weakened, flickering sister-image of the classic male heroes of yesteryear. In 1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald created Daisy Buchanan, beautiful yes, but also flighty, annoying, and irresponsible when it came to looking after her child. In that same year Anita Loos teased us with Lorelei Lee (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), laughing and sleeping her way up the ladder like a “professional girl,” yet many critics and readers saw this as the poster-piece for masculine privilege, architecting the social design that would make feministic presence a soulless one, synonymous with exchange and commodity. Of course, Hemingway tried to combat all this in 1926 with Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises, she who knocked back whiskey with the boys, but she came off more masculine than feminine, and it was almost as if the blueprint for the female persona got lost in the translation through the ages even though the artists kept coming back to the canvas with the best of intentions.

Modern film makers have made their own sort of stab at investing in more exciting portrayals of strong, assertive woman, but in shedding the sheepskin they all too often soared into hyperbole, yielding a wide playing field of one dimensional cardboard cutouts. In 1981, Faye Dunaway showed us cruelty personified in Mommie Dearest. 1987 was when Glenn Close demonstrated just how unappetizing sex could become in Fatal Attraction, and all the assassins in the Kill Bill series (weird skinny Uma aside) wound up too maimed (scalped, blinded, and subjected to amputation) to think of as anything but corpses or cripples. Of course, there was Cat Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer / Halle Berry) but that character, after all, is a cartoon. The “Mean Girls” were parodies, and the witchy young women in The Craft only found empowerment through magic that inevitably failed them.

This brings up the question of whether it is possible for a woman with a backbone to come forward in the entertainment field without being a caricature of someone else’s outline of an archetype. It seems that rock music has offered an avenue of sorts that certain women have decided to travel down in an effort to at least shed a few of the aforementioned stereotypes, like Ann Wilson, Joan Jett, and others like them that I have mentioned in prior reviews, yet it so often seems that being “different” (or female) comes with a damaging price. Pat Benatar with her short, boyish hair (throwback to Hemingway) admitted that her lover was the “invincible winner” and Cindi Lauper, while “having fun,” did it in those weird boots and grandma dresses that inevitably made her so easy to laugh off and dismiss. And of course, there have been those countless others, bitching about their hearts aching or eclipsing or breaking in two, and while that is appealing in that we’ve blandly accepted it as a sort of common nostalgic emblem, more specifically, it is the nineteenth century all over again: Miss Poor-Poor-Pitiful-Me looking for her sugar daddy to take her away from all this.

Phoebe 3smMatt Allen, Silk Imagery

On the other hand, it seems that lately in terms of female fronted rock bands, there have been flashes and starts along the landscape, stutter-shocks of lightening illuminating a fresh canvas where emotional poetry and raw talent are allowed to dance with attitude and sexuality in a manner that not only pleases the observer, but fills him or her with a feeling of absolute joy.

To the point, one simply cannot watch a Heaven the Axe video without feeling a rush of elation. First off, the instrumentation is extraordinarily powerful in terms of presentation, dexterity, and stylistic diversity. Vocals aside for the moment, the various musicians provide their fans satisfying, innovative rhythm tracks and syncopated changes and progressions that would please those looking for a hard pop feel (Enemy), elements of legit in-your-face Industrial Metal (Good Things Come to Those Who Hate), and the type of addictive power-hook we grew up on with Motley Crue and Judas Priest, brilliantly redefined with what one might now call the “Heaven the Axe” commercial signature (Bogan Hunters Anthem).

In terms of being “tight” I would argue that the bass and percussion tracks in all three aforementioned compositions provide a backbone that is so powerful and intricate, it rings similar to that point in writing a novel where you hit the climax and every word, phrase, and sentence is on fire. Moreover, the guitar playing overall is stellar, complex, unabashed, and creative. And before I leave this particular thread behind, I do have to give a hats off and a nod to Heaven the Axe for offering the viewer the specific section in “Good Things Come to Those Who Hate” where the camera closes in on the fingers playing the lead guitar track. For years I have been frustrated when that particular spot in a song comes up and the producers opt for showing the drummer twirling his sticks, or fans screaming and weeping, or the other players wind-milling their arms at the same time. It’s called “lead” for a reason, and I must offer kudos to the band for getting it right.

But if we are going to discuss the concept of taking the proverbial lead, grabbing the spotlight, and mesmerizing the viewer and listener, one must recognize singer / front person Phoebe Pinnock, and here, I am making the argument that she should not just be considered a front runner in current pop culture, but an agent of historical change and more universal significance.

Plainly, once you see a Heaven the Axe video, you cannot get Phoebe Pinnock out of your head. I know I can’t. And I am not necessarily talking about beauty. (Yes, she’s beautiful). I am not specifically talking about sensuality either. (Yes, she’s sexy). Moreover, I am not altogether talking about vocal ability. (Yes, she’s extraordinarily talented). I am talking about presence and attitude. I am referring to the way she approaches the microphone with the confidence of a lioness and rips through a vocal in a way that reinvents the genre, changing the game, reanimating the way we look at aesthetics altogether starting with those old fucking fairy tales she makes us want to rip to shreds and throw into the bonfire.

Phoebe Pinnock is not just a “bad girl.”

She is a nuclear explosion.

And the thing that is so very striking about this performer is the idea that she embodies a sort of rebellion that is accompanied by a smile, sometimes warm, often crafty, always letting you feel somehow that you can be in on it with her, even when she is tearing down the very walls around you with a vocal tinged with that devastating, high register death growl. Concurrently, we must consider Pinnock’s musical diversity, in that she can also sing traditionally and with memorable heart rending potency, as evidenced in songs like “Enemy” and “Bogan Hunters Anthem.”

In specific reference to “Enemy,” there is an immediate connection with Phoebe Pinnock when the song kicks in after the brief courtroom (story) footage. In what seems to be a Heaven the Axe trademark of sorts, she fills the camera with a sudden and erotic burst of her vocal in close-up. The first note she holds is stunning, and while one could so easily get caught up in the striking visual component she offers, (the unbridled blonde hair and pouting lips, my GOODNESS), the most compelling aspect of the performance is in the subtle, yet rather sophisticated vocal line that explores range and harmony in a manner both surprising and pleasing, creating before our very ears the hooks we were always searching for, but were not quite articulate enough to realize (until Pinnock sang them for us, of course).

Phoebe 2smChucky’s Photography

Then we have (at least in my paradigm) the gargantuan centerpiece – “Good Things Come to Those Who Hate,” as wonderful a display of symbol and anger I can recall in a rock song. With the opening chords, we see inter-spliced mid shots of Pinnock with that hallmark look of mischief, yet she is wearing what appears to be some strange set of Catholic School garb, part black and embroidered with a conservative white collar. She has put that unruly blonde hair into pig-tails, but her bangs, coming down to the chin, act as a veil, only partially covering her disillusionment, that which has come of age, ready to burst into emotional flames. While there are certainly religious overtones to the piece emblematic of more spiritual and therefore global historical fallacy, the most striking part of the vocal emerges when she initiates a more personal “conversation” by claiming “I’ve drank the blood of my innocence,” followed later in the piece with, “In retrospect you never earned your stripes as friend.” In this, Pinnock shows us a terrific awakening which is only accomplished by devouring the prior naiveté of the self, and then recognizing one’s social network as nothing more than a web of apathetic pseudo-psychology. She has been betrayed transcendentally and interactively, societally and most privately, in the heart, the mind, and the marrow. No wonder she’s pissed, and it feels oh-so-good to join into it with her.

Speaking of which, there is no party I would rather attend than the outdoor bash going on in the “Bogan Hunters Anthem” video. In this, Pinnock still wears the girlish pigtails, but now has on military clothing, more poetic antithesis, as she delivers that wonderful, full throated vocal amidst what looks like some raucous and glorious carnival of drunken insanity. There is plenty of footage from what I would imagine is the Australian television show the song is used for (congrats on that!) including women flashing their breasts, men streaking, cars tearing smoking donuts onto the asphalt, and bikini-clad females mud wrestling. In a fashion one comes to expect from a sophisticated project like this, there is a huge change of rhythm in the song three quarters of the way through (going to halves when Pinnock cues us a few times with the warning, “They’re coming”) that which is refreshingly dramatic, and one simply cannot watch this video without wanting to get up and scream. And dance. And above all, celebrate.

phoebeAnthony Pinder

Phoebe Pinnock somehow gets in your blood, in your veins. Included in the body of this review is the picture I found of her on line in those pig-tails, grinning and giving the finger with her long bangs hanging in her face. I would argue that this image in itself is somehow definitive and iconic. I wish I could support this with better phraseology, but plainly, I have never felt so uplifted and ecstatic getting flipped off, and this is finally the point. Ms. Pinnock approaches her aesthetic from what seems an endless number of visual and auditory perspectives and trigger-points, and somehow works the game in a perfect sort of irony (the sharpest tool of the artist and critic). She is the bad girl who gets straight A’s in school, the one that gives you sass but lets you into her world, the one your mother hates and your crazy aunt adores, the one who is tough as nails yet offers you everything.

Phoebe Pinnock is not just shredding fairy tales.

She’s rewriting the story chapter and verse.

 

Michael Aronovitz is a published author of horror fiction: Seven Deadly Pleasures (collection) Hippocampus Press, 2009 Alice Walks (novel) Hard Cover – Centipede Press, 2013, Paperback / Dark Renaissance Press, 2014 The Voices in Our Heads (collection) Horrified Press, 2014 The Witch of the Wood (novel) Hippocampus Press, 2015

Aronovitz has always loved hard rock music, and fronted a heavy metal band that played Philadelphia and New Jersey clubs in the mid 80’s. Currently he is a Professor of English and lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. His latest novel titled Phantom Effect has a release date of February 2nd, 2016 through Night Shade Books.