Jana Dark: King in the Thicket (book review)

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You might think it unusual that I’m doing a book review on a music blog, but this book was written by a musician; Jana Dark.  There are a total of 18 short stories written by Jana; quick and easy to read.  There are thriller stories, science fiction and most notably fantasy stories.

There is a definite Poe influence throughout the stories, but what some of these stories remind me of is a 19th century Scottish author by the George MacDonald (there is a lot that can be written about MacDonald, but to sum up, he has influenced authors such as Tolkien and Lewis).  What MacDonald did in many of his works and what Jana does, is offer a glimpse into the Perilous Realm; fairy land.

In the story, Mask in the Bathroom, there is a strange mask which haunts the character, staring at her and compelling her to put it on and see the wonders it has to show.  And in the story The Forest, there is a girl who is fleeing and feels something pushing her along the way.  The girl wonders if there is an end to the forest and she finally sees what could very well be some sort of fairy creature, and it is calling to her in an unknown language.

The best glimpse into this realm is from the title story, King in the Thicket.  There is a girl named Little Duce, who is at the edge of another forest which has a definite feel of fairy land and she meets the King and Queen of fairy land.

Yes, there is a lot of darkness in these stories, but you can always see beauty in darkness.  If you’ve ever been outside of a city at night, you can see millions of stars, which are so bright, you can nearly read by them.  A person can interpret these stories any way they want, but the main thing is, they are dark and very beautiful to read.

The book also comes with a cd of dark ambient music (which I will be reviewing shortly, too), with a total of 10 songs on it.

 

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Darkrad: Heart Murmur (review)

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In this review of Jana Dark’s latest album,” Heart Murmur”, I will refer to my interview of her in April of 2016 on occasion.  If you’d like to read it, just scroll down and there it is.

“Heart Murmur” is the latest full-length album by Jana Dark, and is it good.  This is Dark Ambient at is best!  On this album there are a lot of eerie sounds which take you on dark journey through the mind.  I got the album, along with her book, “King in the Thicket” (review coming soon), and listened to it while driving.  I am a delivery driver, so I have a lot of time to listen to different stuff and what I noticed about this album is that it’s very relaxing to listen to.  Driving as everyone knows, is a very stressful situation to be in, and this album is almost hypnotic in its sound.

In my interview with her a couple of years ago, Jana mentioned that voice is one her favorite instruments.  In the song, She Lives in Me, Jana’s voice can be heard whispering almost silently in the background, giving the song a soothing feel to it.  The stand out track in which she uses her voice the most is a bonus track called, Stone Upon Stone.  The song is, shall I say, is minimalistic in sound.  She is sort of chanting in Russian about loneliness and emptiness, but at about 3:20, she has her voice recorded in such a way, that when I first heard it, I jumped out of my skin and had chills down my spine.

There are 9 tracks on the first part of the album, plus an additional 6 bonus tracks added to. it  One track is a remix of the song called Dead Bodies, by Flint Glass, which is very electronica in its sound, and is a stellar version of the song.

If you like Dark Ambient music, this is a must have to add to your collection, or if you’re not familiar with the style, this is a great album to cut your teeth on.  Jana is a master (mistress?) at making darkness both eerie and beautiful to listen to.

Her web site is www.janadark.net

And her Bandcamp site is darkrad.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suck

Today was the first time in awhile since I looked at this blog of mine.  It was a year ago on this day that I last published anything on it, but I’ve decided to quit being lazy and start writing on it again.

I will continue on with my themes of reviewing rare albums, commentary of the metal scene and just general goofiness.  Please forgive me for being absent from here.mayhem

Heavy Metal World Part Five: Gods and Devils

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Since metal music exploded on the scene in the 1970’s with the Boys from Birmingham, Black Sabbath, the style has always been controversial.  Geezer Butler’s terrifying song Black Sabbath, had people believing that they are “Devil Worshipers”.  Ozzy Osbourne is often called the “Prince of Darkness” and even their album covers were considered somewhat Satanic.  From the debut, self-titled album which is thought to have the ghost of an ancient witch on it, the album Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath which clearly displays the number of the Beast, 666, on the cover of the album, to the album, Heaven and Hell which has angels smoking and playing poker on it

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Then came the 80s’ metal music with Iron Maiden’s album The Number of the Beast, Venom having inverted crosses on their album covers and gleefully Satanic lyrics and Slayer with their invert crosses, pentagram’s and “Satanic” lyrics as well with songs such as Hell Awaits and I Am the Antichrist.  I’ve never been a fan of Venom, but Slayer’s lyrics are not true Satanic lyrics.  They started out has a punk band but then became one of the first “thrash metal” or “speed metal” bands on the scene.  Their lyrics are often anti-religious, and very political, but hardly Satanic.

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Also during the 70’s a young couple from Chicago, Wendi and Glenn Kaiser had formed a hard rock band, which did often bump into a metal sound and they had a special twist to their lyrical themes; they were Christians and their band was called Resurrection Band (later Rez Band).  Like the non-Christian bands, RB were considered controversial in that their music was “too hard” and Glenn had *gasp* long hair.

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Then during the 80’s more Christian bands started to appear, and like their “secular” counter parts, they created controversy.  One band called Philadelphia had an album entitled Search and Destroy which featured on the album cover a “devil” clutching a naked woman in its hand.  This was considered “too extreme” by the Christian community and of course, there was no way these guys could be Christians with that type of album cover and metal sound.

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With the onset of “glam metal”, there came a California based glam metal band called Stryper.  They caused controversy due to the fact that they did the big, teased hair, tight spandex and touches of facial make-up thing.  Their lyrics weren’t the best at the time, but they were full on about Jesus and did not compromise in their beliefs, nor their metal music.  Stryper broke the mold for Christian metal music and they opened the door for many styles to come.

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The latter part of the 80’s and into the 90’s saw quite a few Christian bands who were copy cats at best, but terrible at worst in their music.  But the lyrics tended to be very open about their Christian beliefs.  There were a few however, which were amazing in their metal sound, notably: Deliverance, Believer, Vengeance Rising and Light Force.

Steve Rowe, the founding member of Light Force had been a metal musician and Christian for many years and the musicianship of LF was a delight to listen to.  As the world of death metal began to grow in popularity, Rowe began to take the sound of LF and make it heavier and faster.  He eventually assumed vocals (he was also the bassist) and turned the band into full on death metal, changing the name to Mortification The name alone caused controversy; it is taken from the belief of Christians mortifying the flesh and becoming more like Christ.  Their self-titled album feature a hideous picture of these monsters being cast into Hell, but it did the trick…it sold the album.

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Drummer Jayson Sherlock is a multi-instrumentalist who had a love for black metal music and he created a black metal unit he called Horde.  This unit was full on ugly black metal music, dark, cold and scary to listen to.  But Sherlock’s lyrics were uncompromising.  Though I am no longer a Christian, I still listen to a few Christian metal bands and have no problem with their beliefs and what they do musically.  I highly recommend to any true fan of black metal to listen to Crimson Moonlight and Antestor.

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About those Satanic bands?  There are many out there and most tend to be black metal or symphonic black metal bands.  My favorites are:  Mayhem, 1349, Marduk, Dimmu Borgir, Emperor and Dark Funeral.

Black metal can trace its roots the early to mid-80’s with bands such as Celtic Frost (formally Hellhammer), Bathory, Mercyful Fate and the aforementioned, Venom.  The music and lyrics are often dark and brooding, and the roots can be found in classic metal as well has early thrash metal.

Then in the 90’s there arose the “modern” black metal movement in bands such as Mayhem, Emperor, Marduk, Dimmu Borgir and others.  Although Mayhem started in the 80’s as a more-or-less death metal band, it was when Per Yngve Ohlin, aka Dead joined up on vocals and lyrics, that the band took a much darker direction lyrically and the music became much faster and colder.

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The bands Emperor and Dimmu Borgir started up what was dubbed “symphonic black metal” incorporating keyboards to give the music a more haunting atmosphere to it.  The brains behind Emperor, Vegard Sverre Tveitan aka Ihsahn took his love of classical/symphonic music and incorporated it into the sound of Emperor and gave the music a darker and more sinister sound to it.

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The Satanism in the lyrical themes of some of the death metal and namely black metal bands is not the Satanism of Hollywood, Christianity, nor Anton LeVey (author of the Satanic Bible), but rather a Satanism of rebellion against Christianity.  They disdain the overall Christian attitude of believing in Jesus Christ as God Incarnate and view Him as a liar about His claims of Divinity.  Although as with Christianity, I do not believe in Satanism, I agree with the notion that Christianity is a cancer.  Christians do not respect other’s beliefs and have no tolerance for those whom do not believe in their way.

But, I digress.

It is often thought that Christian black metal should not exist as black metal is ultimately about being anti-Christian and indeed, as mentioned above, it is often held in disdain by those who listen to and/or perform black metal.  However, Mayhem drummer Jan Axel Blomberg, aka Hellhammer did session drum work for the Christian symphonic black metal band called Antestor on the ep Det Tapte Liv and the full-length album, The Forsaken.  Basically, this indicates to me what I’ve thought about metal overall.  It’s about a love of the music, no matter what your beliefs are.  So, if you’re just a metal head who likes good shit, listen to what you like and forget what others think.

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Hidden Treasures Pt. 6 Dream After Dream

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 You might think to yourself, why would I put Journey on this Hidden Treasures special?  After all, people who know classic rock, know who Journey are.  They have several gold and platinum albums and a string of singles which have charted quite well.  Escape, Frontiers, Raised on Radio and Trial by Fire, all are considered to be some of the greatest classic rock albums of all time.  Even albums such as Infinity and Departure are familiar albums.  Let’s face, Journey are very well known.

They are so well known internationally in fact, that in 1980 a movie studio in Japan asked them to compose a sound track for their movie called “Yume, Yume No Ato”, which became an album entitled Dream After Dream.  This rare gem has the Journey sound to it, but also has an unnamed orchestra (the musicians are listed on the album sleeve), giving the album a very unique sound to it.  It’s one of the last albums that pianist and keyboardist Gregg Rolie performs on and one of the first albums that drummer Steve Smith appears on.

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The opening track Destiny (which is Journey’s longest recorded song), starts with a beautiful string and woodwind ensemble and Steve Perry’s smooth tenor is mournful and beautiful, along with some complex vocal arrangements as it tells the story of the characters and has a dream-like feel to it.  It weaves softly at first, but then in classic Journey style, Neal Schon’s growling guitar slams into your ears with a frenzy and the rest of the band joins in, making the song seem more frantic.  But it then smooths out into the main theme, which is quite haunting.

 

There are several beautiful instrumentals on the album, which are able to enhance the sounds that Journey often makes, giving it a uniqueness to.  Even the album cover is different in that it does not feature the ever present Scarab beetle on it.  There are two beautiful swans flying on the front cover, keeping with the overall dreamy feel to the album.

I have never seen the movie itself and the album is very rare.  I’ve not seen it on cd, but I do own a copy of it on vinyl.  I’m sure in this digital age it could be found on various internet radio stations and I-tunes, so if you ever want to hear a classic album by Journey that is unique, I highly recommend this one to you.

Hidden Treasures Pt. 5: Three

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This is going to be part review and part tribute to the late Keith Emerson.  The album “To the Power of Three” came out after Carl Palmer’s band Asia went on a brief hiatus.  He rejoined Keith Emerson and guitarist, singer, bassist and producer Robert Berry and together they released this album, which although it didn’t sell very well, its track Talkin’ ‘Bout reached number 9 in the billboard top 200.

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Personally I have always liked this album quite a bit.  Berry’s vocals are on the level of Greg Lake and John Wetton and Palmer does his magnificent drum work as always.  And of course, the late Keith Emerson fills out the bands sound with his spectacular keyboards a piano playing.

 

The highlight songs on the album are not just Talkin’ ‘Bout, but a remake of the Birds classic Eight Miles High and the epic piece, Desde la Vida.  This last song is in the vein of classic prog rock music with three movements and featuring an instrumental piano break down by Keith Emerson.

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As I touched on above, Emerson’s playing is as usual fantastic to hear.  Sadly due to health issues, he took his own life earlier this year.  He had suffered from depression, a form of heart disease and he had nerve damage in his right hand, which he felt would inhibit his live playing and disappoint his fans.

Whatever else can be said about this album, the musicianship is great and Emerson’s playing will be missed by those who knew and loved him and by his many, many fans from over the years with the Nice, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and of course his solo albums.

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