Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Full Length Review: LADY BEAST Vicious Breed

Vicious Breed
Release date: November 17, 2017
Seal The Hex: It is an interesting intro that reminds me Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” till the real guitar kicks in with an interesting lead and steady drum coupled with the voice is an interesting mix. It’s quite smooth flowing, one of the interesting things is the fact they leave it on a cliffhanger.
The Way: The rhythm guitar is smooth, with clean and precise strumming. The drums and the guitar solo are quite interesting.
Lone Hunter: It just gives the feel of the hunt from the very start. It is my favorite track of the album because of its energy and how well it conveys the message of being a hunter musically speaking.
Always With Me: It has some melancholic vibe on the voice which I’m fond of, with steady drums and precise power chords. It is my second favorite because of how it’s put together with a brilliant yet simple solo, skills come in many forms but sometimes it doesn’t need to be flashy or too hard. The change of tempo was a nice touch but when it shifted back it felt complete.
Get Out: A strong tempo with drum guitar combo, love the rhythm and the fact it’s well articulated it is an easy-to-listen-to track which is quite solid
Every Giant Shall Fall: Reminds me of a bit of a medieval-style tune with the guitar, the drum while it’s not as energetic as before is still precise and then the guitar solo which yet again makes this track epic, this is also my favorite number 3 of this album.
Sky Graves: A somber intro that really made me feel chilly to the bone, it’s quite different from the other tracks, with a calmer vibe at start till the drums kick in and even then it’s calm enough. It’d say it’s a track I’d use for an epic scene where it’s the theme song of a new character that is quite relevant in a story.
Vicious Breed: Starts with an energetic guitar strumming and is followed by amazingly precise and fast drums, it is a track you know by the mere start that you will enjoy. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Track List:
1. Seal The Hex
2. The Way
3. Lone Hunter
4. Always With Me
5. Get Out
6. Every Giant Shall Fall
7. Sky Graves
8. Vicious Breed

Film Review: Otherlife by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Date of Release: 16 June 2017
Companies involved: WBMC, Cherry Road Films, Head Gear Films (in association with), Kreo Films FZ (in association with), Metrol Technology (in association with), See Pictures
Director: Ben C. Lucas
Produced by: Stephen Boyle as executive producer, Tommaso Fiacchino as producer, Jamie Hilton as producer, Lucas Howe as executive producer, Phil Hunt as executive producer, Bo Hyde as executive producer, Janelle Landers as producer, Marco Mehlitz as producer, Aidan O'Bryan as producer, Josh Pomeranz as executive producer, Michael Pontin as producer, Kendall Rhodes as executive producer, Compton Ross as executive producer, Elliot Ross as associate producer, Fenella Ross as associate producer
Starring: Felipe Bau, Yolanda Muñoz, Cristina Perales
Plot: A Scientist, Ren Amari, creates a drug that makes people live experiences of days in a little amount of time, the product, called Other Life; she struggles with her partner called Sam about what to do with their new discovery.
Review: It seems like a relatively new fresh concept. The premise of the trip being as good as another normal memory and that is as perfect as it should be, an ideal day in short. It hooked me up from the start, which doesn’t happen often. It flows smoothly, Jessica’s acting is quite impressive, and natural when playing Ren. The movie in general is quite dark but also masterfully planned and brilliantly executed, I feel it has tons of potential for a sequel and I’d gladly love to see it done. For a weekend when you got nothing to do and want to see something futuristic. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Monday, November 20, 2017

Full Length Review: PERTURBATOR The Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley
Release Date: May 6, 2016
Perturbator are a solo project from France that plays a very horror and sci-fi orientated form of dark synth music and this is a review of his 2017 album "The Uncanny Valley" which was released by Blood Music.
Industrial style beats start off the album along with some synths that also mix in elements of 80's era synth pop while also sounding very modern at the same time as well as mixing in the atmosphere of some classic horror and science fiction movies and one track also introduces robotic voices onto the recording.
A great portion of the tracks are all instrumental while elements of ambient and experimental are also utilized at times and some songs also show an influence of metal but capturing the atmosphere with synths instead of guitars and as the album progresses a brief use of female vocals can also be heard on a couple of the tracks and melodic guitar leads are also used briefly and some of the songs are also long and epic in length.
Perturbator plays a style of dark synth music that captures the atmosphere of 80's horror and science fiction movies while also mixing in some metal influences and modern electronic music elements, the production sounds very dark while lyrics when they are utilized cover science fiction themes.
In my opinion Perturbator are a very great sounding sci-fi orientated dark synth solo project and if you are a fan of this musical genre, you should check out this album. Recommended tracks include "Neo Tokyo" "Venger" "Assault" and "The Uncanny Valley". 8 out of 10. -Loki Astaroth

Track list:
1. Neo Tokyo
2. Weapons For Children
3. Death Squad
4. Femme Fatale (Feat. Highway Superstar)
5. Venger (Feat. Greta Link)
6. Disco Inferno
7. She Moves Like A Knife
8. Sentient (Feat. Hayley Stewart)
9. Diabolus Ex Machina
10. Assault
11. The Cult Of 2112
12. Souls At Zero (Feat. Astronoid)
13. The Uncanny Valley

This review is also posted at Dark Underground Music Zine. -DW

Serialization: A Darkness Within by Alexander Z. Kautz (Chapter Five & Epilogue)

A Darkness Within
Fiction by Alexander Z. Kautz

Chapter Five
Awakened on the sixth day by the noon sun's burning glare, I shielded my eyes with a hand, groaning as I slowly moved from off the couch.
I paused while noticing the light of the lamp and realizing that the power must have come on shortly after I had passed out?
It was a great relief, as the thought of having to go down into that old basement alone, even during the day, still bothered me.
With the memory of the night's terrors still vivid within my mind, I found my way into the kitchen, took my morning medication and immediately sat down to compose my notes.
I wrote as though one still caught within a dream, the words coming without a single, interrupted thought. It were as though it was not even I who related the grim tale, but someone or some thing reaching from out of me.
When the telephone rang it broke me from out of that strange mesmeric state of which, dream-like, had held me captive, just sitting and staring at my notes.
It was Keiko and as I heard her loving voice within greeting, it seemed to drive all the darkness from out of my heart and soul.
"It's so good to hear your voice, darling." I sighed with the greatest of relief.
"I miss you so very much sweetheart." She blew kisses into the phone, asking,
"Is everything alright? You eating, taking your med's and taking it easy--like you promised?"
The words came slow as each thought, like a lead weight, seemed a great burden as I said,
"All is well dear--yes, as promised."
"Did I wake you dearest?" She seemed strangely suspicious.
"Oh--I was just sitting around. Day-dreaming--drifting," I looked around at the large kitchen window's. Squinting as my eyes became sensitive to the bright afternoon sunlight, saying,
"I'll be fine."
"I'm calling to give you some good news!" She became excited, saying,
"I will be catching a red-eye flight. So, I should be home in the morning, my love!"
"That's fabulous news sweetheart!" I hesitated in mid-sentence, dreading the conversation that would ensue upon her arrival and saying,
"I can't wait to see you--feel you in my arms again. It seems like forever."
"Tell me about it!" She groaned, saying,
"I will be home in the morning. So, please get some rest, you sound totally beat."
"I can't argue with you there honey." I winced with a sudden and sharp pain. A stiff neck from sleeping crooked, saying with a grunt,
"I'll make sure to rest up for when you come home."
"You better mister!" She chuckled, saying in a seductive tone,
"It’s been a lonely two weeks. We have some catching up to do."
"I'll go right to bed after you hang up!" I forced a laugh, saying,
"I'll need the energy."
"Please, take care of yourself dear." Her voice once more echoed with suspicion and something just short of fear as she said,
"I don't want to lose you. See you tomorrow. I love you, very much. See you soon."
"I love you too--don't worry dear. You won't lose me. See you soon." I listened as she hung up, the line humming as though she were a million miles away. And the way that I was feeling at that moment, she might as well have been...
Dinner had been quick and simple. A green salad, some hard boiled eggs a little cheese and a lot of imagination to force myself into assuming that this was truly a wonderful thing.
I had taken my evening heart medication and was in the process of making some Jasmine tea when I suddenly heard a strange knock?
I say strange because the source was not from any near-bye door, but rather something from beneath me?
Pausing to pinch my arm to be certain that I was indeed awake. Moved from my seat and slowly walking to the basement door, located to the rear of the kitchen, just stood there listening?
With my hand inches from the crystal door knob, I watched as the little hooked latch rattled within a cold gust.
Having never considered the security of the place. I now became painfully aware that should there ever be a reason to secure that basement door. That little hook and latch was nothing more than a way of keeping the door from swinging inward on a draft.
Why bother looking down there anyway? The sound had gone and by all accounts was likely nothing more than pressure within the old pipes or settling of the house?
Besides, nothing had ever happened there during the hours by day and it was still light out....
I had forgotten how quickly the darkness came in the winter months as turning to look out the window, now gazed into the dusk's final rays.
"Okay--it's getting dark." I cursed under my breath, speaking aloud while attempting to calm the increasing, pounding of my heart, said,
"There is nothing down there. Nothing wrong with this house. It's all the product of sleep deprivation and stress. Alright, those stories Linda told you didn't help anything. Or the graves in the backyard. But, the fact is--Andrew--there is nothing here to be afraid of but your own fear."
Reaching for the hook latch, I halted, putting a finger to my lips in thought and saying,
"Although, there really isn't any reason for me to go down there--alone, at night."
Making my way back to the table, I took both tea, notes and flashlight into the living room and making myself comfortable in the chair by the hearth.
This time, I had also stocked plenty of wood such as would easily last for several days. Within a moment of consideration, I also turned the chair from the hearth in such a way that I could easily see down the corridor with a single turn of my head.
As ridiculous as these precautions may have seemed at the time, regardless of anything else it offered a little comfort.
To pass the evening, I had decided upon doing the editing on the incomplete story, there-bye occupying both mind and time.
Preparing a pot of tea and building a cozy fire in the hearth, I made myself comfortable, focusing upon my notes.
Whether it had just been nightmares, sub-conscious images imagined through Linda's grim revelations or something actually existing within those shadows, it certainly felt real enough.
Deep down, I now believed that though invisible to the naked eye, somewhere within that dimension between sleeping and waking, existed a place where every nightmare ever imagined awaited us all.
Perhaps it was simply a matter of darkness and the power of fear which generated a key, opening a psychic gateway from our reality into that ethereal realm? Or maybe I was simply a victim of my own, over-active imagination?
With a yawn and little stretch, I placed down the pad and pen, settling back into the chair. Peering, dreaming into the warming glow of the flames.
It was the first and foremost, singular moment of real peace that I had felt since having entered the place.
Maybe after having realized that I was quite safe, as while awake, that I had allowed my defenses to drop, becoming rather secure in the fact that nothing could or would harm me while conscious.
Merely childish fears of which having followed me into adulthood, now taunted and tormented a tired and troubled mind.
The flames gently swayed, dancing as the embers hissed, crackled and occasionally spat. The night so very calm, so very quiet, so very still from all about me....
The long fingers of an ancient elm tapped gently upon the window pane in the cold November wind as settling peacefully, I closed my eyes by the fire's gentle glow.
Fatigued and fading, did I drift into silent slumber. The night's cool embrace carrying me off into an ocean of twilight and beyond to the realm of dreams and nightmares.
I felt as light as a feather, my mind drifting like the morning dew upon a gentle spring breeze. Downward, ever downward did I drift into a twilight world much the same as our own, but cast within light and shadow rather than wood and stone.
I knew this road, the hills and trees to a familiar place nestled among other old and fanciful homes.
I was now brought down by the night's calming breath. Through turret and roof did I sink and swim, traveling three stories down into that dark, old and large living room.
To the chair by the hearth did I finally come down to rest, but something seemed different? It appeared much older, darker than death.
And so did I ponder, had I traveled back in time to when the house had first been built?
Or had I? No... This was not the original house, but some kind of astral projection. An energy field representing the same place in a different dimension.
Dear God, this place was an ethereal plane, a manifestation of the energies, suffering, anger, a cumulative cesspool of pure evil...
I could sense it building up from all around me. The images of the people, the families as through time, the essence of their being like a video recording, repeated the horrible accidents, ghastly incidents over and over through all eternity!
This was it! This was the sickness, the cumulative negative energy, suffering, sickness and death that after every nightmarish event, now haunted, thrived in the house on Crowley Street!
"You!" A tall dark figure rushed from out of the corridor, fists balled in rage and shrieking in anger, pointed an accusing finger at me, bellowing,
"Damn you! Damn you all to hell!! My God--has forsaken me!" Jeremiah fell to his knees, pounding his fists upon the floors, the sound like thunder within my ears!
With wild dark and staring eyes, his pale, gaunt face twisted within bloodied and embittered rage, he wailed,
"My wife and children lay bleeding and dying! And all you offer me are false prayers, empty hopes which fall upon the deaf ears of an unmerciful God! Well I renounce God, I renounce the word and I damn you all! Be gone from this house before I kill you all with my bare hands!"
I trembled like a child before his seething and endless rage, attempting to climb from the chair and escape this madman's wrath, but could not!
And then from behind him they came! His wife, her sorrow filled face and white gown bloodied by the sickness! The children pale and deathly, a crimson mass, following in the shadows behind her!
"Death and damnation to all who enter this Godless place!" Jeremiah howled in defiance, throwing his arms and gaze into the heavens within judgement, he cried out,
"Damn you to hell! Death and damnation to all who dare enter into this place! This accursed pit--where my children drown and die in their own blood!"
Cringing as a sudden shadow storm began to rage all about me, I witnessed the Larson woman as shrieking with madness, she mercilessly drowned her children before hanging herself!
Their pale and bloated faces, bulging eyes and shrieks of terror burning into my memory!
Jeremiah stood tall in the darkness, a minstrel to the choir of hell that now played all around me in the form of death and disaster! His endless rage, fueling each horror more cruel than the last!
I saw his shadowy figure frighten young Angela Thornton as tumbling down the basement steps, a moment later she lay dead at the bottom. Her wide eyed staring gaze ripping through my soul as drifting within a crimson lake, the life ran, flowing from out of her!
The shadows wailed, the winds of Hell churned, icy, biting into my flesh and soul! There, amongst those churning mists did I witness six year old, Amanda McMurtry as a shadowy figure peered out from behind one of the ancient trees! It's evil reaching out, touching, panicking the child as she rode her bicycle out and directly behind her father's car!
"Nooooo! Stop!" I screamed as the car backed out and I sought to warn the poor soul!
"For the love of God! Stop--she's behind you!"
Helpless, did I stare in terror as my call's fell upon long dead and deaf ears! I watched in horror as the vehicle rolled back, the tire and heavy car rolling over, pinning and crushing the life from out of her little body!
The storm became filled with the screams of pain and anguish of both parents and victims alike! The sounds of which now drove me to certain madness! Above it all, booming like thunder came the voice of Jeremiah himself,
"Damn you! Damn you all to Hell! Death and damnation to all who dare enter into this place! This accursed pit where my children drown and die in their own blood!"
Helplessly I watched as that very same shadow hung above the choking form of poor old Carl Niemeyer. As lying in bed, terrified beyond his wits, his heart choked, sputtered and failed!
The storm howled with the mournful, eternal suffering voices of the dead! Black and churning, twisting as Jeremiah's cold, hateful stare turned upon me and pointing a long, bony finger, he wailed,
"Death and damnation to all who dare enter into this place!"
There was no escape! The only way out of the house was through that corridor to the front door!
I would not dare attempting to rush through the kitchen, down into the basement and out through the root cellar doors!
In a moment of sheer terror, I decided to make one last, desperate effort and within a burst of adrenaline, stormed the doorway! Barely slipping past the nightmarish things that now pursued me through the blackened corridor toward the front door!
The white veiled woman appeared before the doors with bloodied, outstretched arms, she shrieked while blocking my escape!
I spun to look back as they came! Oh my God! They were crawling, slithering and wailing as they slid through a thick mire of blackened, putrefaction as they came at me!
But there were so many, so many more! None of which had anything to do with the house itself? All the forms of children throughout an age and time unknown! How old and for how long had these grounds been cursed?
I turned to look upward and to the stairs as an enormous shadow of a man stood there. Tall, gaunt, grimacing and foul were the lines of which etched deeply within that face, were written by hate and timeless, unspeakable evil!
The master of the house, the monster responsible for the deaths of all the damned whose tormented souls eternally haunted this accursed place!
His pale face shone like the moon within twilight's end! Eyes blacker than night, he shrieked, his voice booming like thunder as he cried out,
"Damn you to Hell!"
It was then and there that I knew! Yes, I finally realized that this was by no means any man! But the very incarnation of the evil that had always presided over the place, having finally manifested within the house on Crowley Street!
Throwing myself backward, I cast my gaze away from the beast, praying, crying out aloud,
"Dear God in heaven! Have mercy--save me!"
That foul thing towered, a demon upon the steps, now bellowed, cursing, moving downward as it came for me! The ghastly, slithering and creeping death that gathered in the darkness all about me closing the circle!
Ever closer they reached out, clutching, clawing, hissing! Merely inches from me the oozing filth closed in all about me! The shadows blocking all light as into darkness did I now fall!
Suddenly as all hope failed, the front door burst open upon the powerful wind's of an electrical storm! And there within the light stood my sister as within her spring of youth! Shining with vitality, her wild eyes bright within the lightning she extended a hand toward me, crying out,
"Andrew! Take my hand!"
The hordes of Hell shrieking within that brilliant light, drew backward as within that fleeting moment, gathering what courage and strength remained to me, burst forth! Reaching outward and taking her hand, I was drawn out and cast from out of that blackened pit!
Veronica vanished into the light as rushing outward, I stumbled, falling down the front steps! Fighting for breath, I gasped, clambering to my feet and slipping downward, dropped to my knees!
There was a scream and I heard my name as through the brightness of day a figure approached! Grasping me tightly as within that moment, I looked into Keiko's wide and tear filled eyes as the darkness took me....


I had awakened in hospital suffering from only minor injuries. The doctor's had informed Keiko that under extreme duress I had suffered another minor cardiac event. Delusional at the end, if not for her swift actions within pulling me away from the place. I might have also fallen victim to the unexplained blaze that had utterly consumed the old house on Crowley Street.
Though the fire department had sifted the wreckage, they found neither sign of arson nor evidence of the original source of the fire. The final verdict in the cause was delegated as lightning and under an insurance clause, simply referred to as, an act of God.
The lot still stands empty today and though insurance paid for the loss, I retain ownership of the property. Surrounded now by a steel ten foot fence. The ground's within my mind, both condemned and damned, bare a certain, darkness within.
Standing with bowed head before my sister's grave my burden is lightened. As placing down the pink carnations that our mother had so dearly loved, I know that they now rest peacefully, together.
In those final moments before the world had faded, I knew within my heart that though we may not have been close in this world. In the end, love forgives and family is forever...

Friday, November 17, 2017

Full Length Review: SOLFERNUS Neoantichrist

Release Date: October 13, 2017
Co-release with MurdHer Records
Solfernus, originating in the Czech Republic, started out in 2002. It would take until 2007 when I was finally introduced to their album Hysteria In Coma. As a lover of Black Metal, I was instantly taken with this band and their unique sound. Some tracks on the album I reviewed, Neoantichrist, even have a Spanish guitar feel to them. The album's track list transitions well and the entire album was pleasing to the ear. Of the tracks, my personal favorites were Between Two Deaths, Neoantichrist, and Stone In A River. Ever the fan of Satanath Records, I've actually grown the collection of bands I love by using Solfernus as a reference for new artists to obsess over. Paul Dread's drumming style is phenomenal, I've always admired a fantastic drummer. I'm convinced that Neoantichrist is my favorite Solfernus album yet. So, all in all, I absolutely loved the album, the percussion, and the artist as a whole! -Astrid Viridian

Track list
1. Ignis ~ Dominion
2. Glorifired
3. Mistresserpent
4. Pray For Chaos!
5. That One Night
6. Between Two Deaths
7. Once Upon A Time In The East
8. My Aurorae
9. Neoantichrist
10. Stone In A River

Full Length Review: JASON AARON WOOD Emanations

To be released November 24, 2017
This is the sixth solo album of this one man band, and is due for release on November 24, 2017. The 8-string guitar is phenomenal! And Jason's voice and amazing guitar work go hand in hand. This album is raw. It is loud. It is in your face! The melodic lyrics, the deep growls, and mind blowing guitar solos are a perfect balance. Jason Aaron Wood is a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and music educator, As well as being an accomplished solo artist, Jason is currently guitarist of Ol Sonuf and Tonesboden. From the Washington DC Metro area, he began his journey with guitar at age twelve, inspired by classic metal and classical composers. As for me, I am inspired to listen to Jason's previous works, and own Emanations when it is released. -Deanna Revis

Track list:
1. Emanations
2. Enchanter, Destroyer
3. Hero's Plight
4. Identity
5. The 7th Tower
6. The Great Pestilence

Full Length Review: AD PATRES Scorn Aesthetics

Scorn Aesthetics
Release Date: September 3, 2012
I very much enjoyed this album as well as the group. I particularly liked how their sound is reminiscent of older metal stylings while still being current and complex. -Astrid Viridian

Track list:
1. ...
2. The Lock
3. Scars of Compromise
4. Circles of Red
5. To the Fathers
6. Scorn Aesthetics
7. In Vivo
8. Emphasize Nihility
9. Anti
10. All that Remains

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Article: Safe Space Isn't About Consent by Karin Webb

Safe Space Isn't About Consent
Article by Karin Webb

If we intend on creating safe spaces (especially for women and minority people) to explore our sexualities openly, we have a lot of work to do. When I say “we” I mean everyone, but I especially mean all men, people who aren’t minorities, and those who have more privilege within their minority communities than the people they are sharing space with.
Everyone loves sex and kink and parties, right? It feels so good! A room full of oxytocin, adrenaline, and dopamine gets only more intoxicating the more people are added to the mix! And of course you have thought ahead, of course you have considered who to invite and not invite, you’ve written your party rules and sent them out for all to see. Consensual play is one of them, in fact you have it BOLDED in the email sent out to everyone: CONSENT IS SEXY — CONSENT OR GO HOME — CONSENT OR BANISHMENT FROM THE FOLD!!!
But do you mean it?
Do you? Are you willing to put your body and this idea between predators — especially those predators who are people you know well — and the victims and/or survivors who they have harmed?
As mastermind of this environment, as host/co-host/producer/involved friend/moderator/Dungeon Master/partygoer… are you willing to involve yourself (maybe painfully) in the processes of teaching friends, keeping in check, mediating, cutting ties, working towards remediating those people who fuck up, being supportive and attentive to those who’ve been harmed in your space, and choosing between close friends who you’ll completely and unequivocally support? Are you willing to put the notion out there that your group/party/event stands up for and gives resources first and foremost to people who deserved to maintain their autonomy, and consider a violation of that tantamount to violation of the event itself and your own reputation? Are you ready to not only kick out, but detain and question those who have abused your open space and vulnerable friends? Are you willing to be vocal about your commitment to survivors of assault and their needs over the reputation of your event or a perpetrator’s privacy? These questions are ones you should not just kneejerk say “of course” to.
Close your eyes and imagine throwing your best friend out of your house and having to mediate clearly and firmly their ban on your events because they molested someone at the party — someone, perhaps, you don’t even know, or someone who you don’t personally like that much, someone who you think is loud and obnoxious, or overly sensitive in general. Now try again, this time run through your mind what it will be like having to do these things with someone who is very useful to you, someone who is a good client, who has given your community many resources, who owns the property you’re using, who pays your rent, who has some type of power over you in the non-party world. Are you sure you have the stomach to act steadfast in honor of a victim in your safe space still?
Safe space isn’t about consent, it’s about the shape and resilience of the container itself.
It is unfortunate that to experience our sexualities and sensualities we often need protection and safeguards in place to allow us, for just a moment, to let go of the walls we’ve built up over the years and past abuses. It is only honest to acknowledge that at the moment we do let go we are vulnerable. We are vulnerable to people without boundaries, without socialization surrounding sexual boundaries, without clear thinking, and without respect. Vulnerable to people who drink too much, who are on drugs, who have decided to drug someone else. We are vulnerable to peer pressure, to bullying, to force, to surprise attack. We are vulnerable to grabbing, staring, and invasion of personal space by people who don’t think casual touch is worth asking about. We are vulnerable to a slew of things we haven’t considered possible, much less the ones we knowingly brace ourselves against. If you want to create safe space for this vulnerable and fragile process of letting go, you must also be actively involved in the aftermath when molestation (unfortunately too frequently) occurs.
How do we do this?
Let’s talk about that.
Safe space is about listening. Let’s look at that from the ground up for a minute. It is because we do not listen to our victims that we become predators. Perhaps we have not been listened to ourselves, and so that practice has become a habit we perpetrate on others. Perhaps we aren’t listening because we have blocked our sensibilities with the unbalancing reality of inebriants. Perhaps a million other reasons, it doesn’t matter what they are in the end. It is because there is a dearth of listening that we have gotten to this place of frequent abuse to begin with.
The perpetrator of an assault is not listening to their victim. We, as community and responders to the situation, must first and foremost be willing to listen to victims and survivors. This, of course, means we need to listen to women. We need to listen to black and brown people and others who aren’t white skinned. We must listen to queers, transgender folk, and to sex workers. We must listen to people who are in shock, angry, tearful, overtly emotional, quiet, afraid, reactionary, and confused. We must to listen to them about what they’ve experienced and their needs, and we must learn to action around their words first.
This means we must be quiet. We must be willing to sit in a corner and hear what is being said, and we must learn to untangle our own fears, personal triggers, “yeah, buts”, and agendas from what we’re being told is needed in any given moment. We must not decide that because we’ve been through this before that we know what to do. We can let those experiences inform us, but we must listen to the people in the moment that is happening right now in order to be present enough for responsible action and actual help.
This scratches the surface about how to create a safe space for open sexuality, but it’s the most important tool we can learn to use I think. Also:
• Have an experienced sober Dungeon Master or two committed to being present where there is play.
• Have Moderators or Party Officials who are introduced at the beginning of the party and available to be pulled aside at any point to be talked to if someone is feeling uncomfortable or if something that needs to be dealt with happens.
• Have an opening circle where participants introduce themselves quickly, or at least have the host address everyone and lay out the rules and expectations of the event.
• Consider having a cut-off time for arrivals. This works great if you have an opening circle as everyone can be expected to participate. Even if you don’t though, closing the door and sealing the space from outsiders, intruders, or people who are coming late and possibly inebriated helps control the space itself.
• Make your parties sober and commit to throwing out anyone suspected of being under the influence, or have a “If you’re too inebriated to drive, you’re too inebriated to consent” rule.
• Have “no play” zones where no play is happening (the kitchen or wherever food is is great for this) so that people who are feeling uncomfortable or triggered or needing a time out or to escape someone’s attention in a play space can comfortably exist without question about why they aren’t playing.
• Have a plan clearly in place about what to do if something happens. Know how the situation will be dealt with, and who is commited to deal with it.
• Have a buddy system in place where everyone at the party comes with another person, with the understanding that if your buddy gets thrown out you do too no matter what is going on. This helps create accountability in terms of people only inviting people they think will be responsible, but it also ensures that if someone is kicked out for being drunk hopefully their buddy isn’t. Ask that people check in with their buddies throughout the night…
• Have a committed designated driver or sober crew at the party who can bring people home or to safety or simply be more aware when they see odd behavior.
• Have people at the party who are trained in how to deal with an assault when one occurs.
• Have a follow-up plan for victims and perpetrators already in place.
These are only a few suggestions.
Consent can only happen once someone has deigned to ask for it and decided to listen. Consent is a popular word and an important practice which feels like a row of shining stars: THIS PERSON IS SUPER CONSENSUAL, A+++! It is not, however, what creates safe space alone. Of course, we must get positive enthusiastic consent to play. But first we have to ask questions, we have to listen, we have to be willing to accept responsibility for what is happening around us. We must listen to people we aren’t used to listening to. We must learn.

This article can also be read at The ABC’s Of Kink, credited to Creature. Reposted with permission. -DW

Full Length Review: THE CRUCIFIER Voices In My Head

Voices In My Head
Punishment 18 Records
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Voices In My Head is an album I would have listened to regularly if it had been released in 1986. If anything for the stamp The Crucifier places on the thrash genre. It reflects the time when no two bands sounded alike and each had a distinct approach. Looking up their influences on Facebook I found Razor, Sacrifice, Rotting Corpse, Aggression, Exodus, Exhorder, Dark Angel, Blood Feast, Vio-Lence, Sacred Reich, Metallica and Slayer among a few others. Listening to the album I found no indications of this band copying the formulas those bands established in the 80s; rather reinterpreting and conveying it their own way. The curse of generic thrash has missed The Crucifier completely, and you can hear this for yourself. As the band is based in Athens, Greece they write and compose without the additional pressure of trying to measure up in the American market. Voices In My Head is their first full length since Cursed Cross was released in 2006 (their debut full length was Merciless Conviction released in 2002). Following it was a series of compilations and splits: Thrash Metal Blitzkrieg Vol. 3 with Violent Attack, Disaster and Crimson Steel, the split compilation Two Shots Of Thrash Metal with Bywar, a split EP with Hate Your Fate (reviewed this past March by Reggae) and a split CD with Wanton Decay where they re-released Cursed Cross. Voices In My Head is likewise the first full length they released that I got to listen to, even if I am a latecomer I can say the band’s handling of the sound, attitude, fortitude and stamina of classic thrash is impeccable. Unlike 90s retro thrash and the current thrash resurgence, Voices In My Head sounds like it was done by a young band setting out to blaze the trail for bands to follow. It could easily have been one of the many albums I acquired through cassette trading. I appreciate how the album starts with no preliminaries or introductory track, just a brief drum fill before Within Insanity is underway. The closest The Crucifier come to sounding like Slayer in any noticeable way is the subsequent drum fills, along with the fadeout solo, but again they don’t rely on simulating the exact scales, chops or chord progressions of any other band you’ve listened to for years. The production has a compressed quality, especially in the machine gun riffs delivered by the guitars and the cadenced lead and backing vocals, that does much to put the energy contained in their songwriting across. This is most effective in Open Your Eyes, Happy Face Man, Forgive And Don't Forget. Born To Be A Slave, Imaginary God and the title track. I urge thrash fans everywhere to acquire a copy as soon as possible. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Within Insanity
2. Open Your Eyes
3. Problems
4. Happy Face Man
5. Forgive And Don't Forget
6. Born To Be A Slave
7. Imaginary God
8. Fake Truth
9. Voices In My Head

Monday, November 13, 2017

Serialization: A Darkness Within by Alexander Z. Kautz (Chapter Four)

A Darkness Within
Fiction by Alexander Z. Kautz

Chapter Four

Having cleaned up the fragments of my broken tea glass and made another, I once more seated myself, tending to my notes and organizing my thoughts.
It was now my firm belief that evil as we knew it, was not so much that which existed within a single act, but that which through the illusion of time committed numerous crimes again humanity.
In this sense, the house on Crowley Street like so many others like it, were guilty of unspeakable evils, going almost unnoticed through the facade of time.
Who, having only lived a single lifetime would suspect, or by any other means, even take notice of these events, unless accidentally falling upon recorded incidents?
These thoughts and many others did I include within my notes, careful to change names, dates and details in order to avoid others stumbling upon the old place.
Maybe this had all been within my sister's design of things? She had always known that I had a passion for Victorian homes and an endless love of folklore and the occult.
Perhaps, in some way, unable to do much more than safe-guard the place and making all the information readily available through her own records. Knowing fully that I would inquire, she had left the responsibility upon me?
So many questions, doubts, fears of the unknown. Maybe this place, this sepulcher of suffering, sadness and death. Also held secrets, answers?
If nothing else, it would become the story that I had always dreamed of writing. A tale as within the autumn of my years, all the pain, loss and suffering of a lifetime would open a portal into the past. A revelation of evil and finally, redemption within doing so.
It was while doing the final editing, that I glanced up, noticing the dawn's gray arrival through the large kitchen windows. My head swam and eyes burned. A dizzying haze of nausea over-coming me as I moved from my seat, wandering into the living room. And remember, nothing more...
I awoke on the couch from a morning of dark and disturbing dreams, feeling as though I had not slept in days. It was day five within the old place and I was beginning to feel as though I had already been there a lieftime.
It was another rainy and dark afternoon as groaning and rubbing at a stiff neck, I crawled from off the sofa and clambering to my feet, stumbled into the kitchen.
Washing my face in the sink and filling a glass with water, I fumbled through a cupboard, half blindly, finding and taking my heart medication.
It was later than usual, but at least I had remembered. Making tea and taking a seat at the table, my attention soon returned to the notes of the previous evening.
"Okay, first thing's first." I thought aloud, sniffing at myself and wincing, said,
"But right now? You need a shower and some clean clothes."
Without having realized it, this had been the first time since taking over the house that I had actually showered?
I had been using the main floor facilities for quick wash up's, but somehow and over the course of events, failed to attend to even the most basic of needs?
The shower on the second floor was beautiful. A large tub with lion's feet. The brass faucet’s rising from out of a swan's body, the pipe forming the neck and the open mouthed head becoming the shower spout.
The hot water had done me a world of good and as the steam wrose all about me, I felt as though I could remain in there forever.
For a few brief moments I had been carried away, becoming part of a dream in some other reality.
The warm mist enveloping me as held within the shower curtain, the world blurred into a flowing and pleasant, soap scented fog.
Closing my eyes I leaned into the gentle, warm spray, my every sense relaxing.
A sudden and nauseating stench caused me to step back, retching and throwing a hand before my face. It was not uncommon for old plumbing to harbor some nasty little clog of one kind or another.
And so, opening my eyes, I intended to lean down to have a look? The blackened and rotting thing stood before me in the tub, Pale, thick worms and maggots wriggling from out of its rotting flesh!
Caught within the sheer horror I gawked as it moved toward me, putrid, green, decaying filth pouring from its every orifice into the tub at my feet!
The very breath caught within my lungs as gasping and drawing nothing, I choked! Before I could even raise an arm within defense, the shower spigot plugged, then suddenly began vomiting black, rotting, filth all over me!
Shrieking, I fell backwards, ripping down the shower curtain and screaming like I had never done before!
A moment later it had all vanished and I lay within the tub, shivering uncontrollably!
Covered by the torn shower curtain, I struggled to one side, staring wildly into the late afternoon shadow's! It had happened again... Caught somewhere between that state between waking and dreaming, something had found me in the cold twilight....
The late afternoon rain came down in little more than a drizzle as tightly gripping my umbrella in the chill gust, I paused to glance up into the dismal, cloud filled heavens.
Halting only momentarily, I pulled up my collar and slipping into black leather gloves, slowly made my way across the grounds of the old house.
The lot was listed as having been just under four acres. Though my sister had maintained the forward landscaping and lawns, the rear of the property was densely brushed. Much of which had been claimed by long thorny, blackberry bushes, becoming almost entirely inaccessible.
In any event, I cautiously followed the property line back, scrutinizing the earth for any evidence of possible burial or markers.
The trees had grown close together as the creeping vines, though having lost most of their leaves, still bore long, wicked thorns.
The earth was damp, moss having crept into some of the darker places. And as I walked, weaving and stepping over and around obstacles. I had the growing sense that from somewhere within that deep thicket, someone or some thing was now watching...
Pausing to nervously look back, I became aware that I had traveled deep enough into the dense brush that I could no longer see the pathway out. Or would anyone from outside be able to see me...
Squinting in the bitter cold, I turned once more while slowly making my way further inward and ever deeper.
The air was heavy with the scent of both cedar and decaying vegetation as struggling through a particularly dense area, my leg became ensnared within those damned blackberry vines!
Helpless, I fell to the ground. Cursing and muddied, I slowly moved to get up. Becoming absolutely still as laying there, caught a glimpse of an old and moldering piece of wood resting just beneath the bush?
Reaching outward, I clutched it tightly and after a brief struggle, managed to pull if free from beneath the vines where it had been concealed!
"My God...." I held what was most certainly the decaying remnants of an old grave marker. The inscriptions of which, had long rotted, fading away into little more than a white smear.
Placing it down, I retrieved a long stick and poking through the thicket, soon discovered the moss covered remains of several others, cursing while saying,
"Sweet Jesus--Linda. It's true. They're all still buried back here..."
After having showered once again, much more quickly than before, I was soon dressed and back downstairs just in time to catch the phone!
It was Keiko, our conversation brief, I explained that I had been resting and that all was well.
I told her with some slight amusement, that I had begun doing some writing. Having taken advantage of that silly nightmare to create something worth maybe a laugh or two?
She seemed relieved, even pleased to know that I was safely preoccupied. I had not lied to her but simply refrained from disclosing any upsetting detail's.
I had full intention of telling her everything once we were together again.
After saying good night, she once more offered to return home on the next available flight. I had explained that it was unnecessary and that I would see her shortly, regardless.
We had parted on better terms as hanging up, I hurried back to my writing.
Still unnerved about having my back to that hallway, I moved into the kitchen. Preparing a pot of Jasmine tea and using the notes, committed both events, thoughts and nightmares into their proper perspective.
It had all come together so quickly, easily falling into place far faster than I would ever have imagined? My thoughts raced, heart sank as writing within memory of my dear sister's final passing.
Though I had regretted not having been there. The doctor's had assured me that what had remained of her at the end, would have been unaware of my presence or that of any other.
Still, the thought of her alone in that hospital room tore at my heart. Tears filled my eyes as I wrote and wondered if, through some merciful act, she had found peace and forgiven me?
As the words fell so did the tears, staining both pad and heart within those last moments. Thunder boomed in the distance and the lights flickered within the old house. A lump forming in my throat as I now considered the possibility of the power failing and being trapped there, within utter blackness...
"That storm is getting a little too close for comfort." I sipped at my tea, looking out the window and into the pouring rain, thought aloud as I often did when alone, saying,
"You’d better be ready old boy, or you'll be sitting here alone--in the dark..."
Hurriedly retrieving candles from a kitchen drawer, I prepared a large ten stem candelabra that I had found on an end table in the living room. Placing it upon the kitchen table, I wasted no time within lighting them!
There was a sudden, brilliant flash of lightning that seemed to engulf the house! A moment later and the power had failed as all fell into utter darkness.
"Oh no...." The words came in a whisper from my now dry and parched throat as within memory, I said.
"The breaker box is in the basement... And, there is no damn way, that I am setting foot down there, especially right now..."
Moving from the table, I took the candelabra while making my way back to the safety of my chair before the hearth. Tossing several logs upon the fire, I trembled while gazing into the blackness all around me.
The place now took on a sinister life all of it's own. The trees being swept in a strong wind, scraped and clawed at the roof and window's.
Cold gusts moaned down the chimney as long shadows crept from all corners!
I would be lying if I claimed to have not been terrified at that moment. For no sooner had I turned the chair, dreading having my back to that dark opening in the corridor, than did I sense a movement within that blackness?
Ever so slowly did I turn, holding the candelabrum high while looking back over my shoulder into that pitch black hallway.
As I did this my eyes froze as did my entire body! The breath catching in my lungs and stopping dead. For there, standing in the entranceway was the tall figure of a woman dressed in blood soaked, streaming veils of white!
A pale blue mist traveling all about her, she drifted from without a dream! Arms extended, grasping fingers! From the face of death did she now smile, staring through blackened and empty sockets!
I wailed in horror as she flew across the room at me! In a moment of mindless, sheer terror, I flung the candelabrum at the shape!
The heavy brass candle holder passing through the ghastly phantom before crashing heavily to the floor! The candles breaking and extinguished through the violent effort!
Left alone with only the light of the hearth between myself and the blackness, I dared not go into the kitchen to look for a flash light! Instead, huddled near the hearth, I stared, silent and wide eyed into the surrounding blackness!
Though I could not see anything, I could feel them.... Those things, waiting somewhere in that blackness, waiting for the fire to slowly fade!
Dear God! I had forgotten to stock more wood for the hearth!
Panicking, I desperately searched, fumbling around the hearth for something to burn! Finally pulling the small end table closer and smashing it against the floor, immediately shoved the broken peices into the fire!
Not enough! That's not going to last! I needed light! More light! But no, it was too dangerous to try to reach out for anything else! All the furniture was too far from the fire's protective glow! The light, I had to stay in the light! They could come no closer, dared not!
Then I heard it, that familiar clicking, grinding, creeping, crawling, coming from somewhere within the darkness of that corridor...
Oh dear God! They were coming! They knew I was there! Knew that I was trapped and helpless! The fire, it was slowly going down and would soon be little more than embers... Oh God, it would not be light yet for hours!
Slowly, that cold blue mist crept from out of the corridor just as it had within the nightmare! The sounds of groaning, whispering, growing louder as the shadows moved just beyond sight!
I could make out the shapes, yes, the shapes of that shambling, crawling, seething mass of death and decay!
The children, dear God have mercy they were coming for me!
Shrieking loud and long I fought against that blackness! The ice cold touch of eternity, chilling, freezing the flesh from my bones!
I struggled, crashing heavily to the floor from where I had fallen asleep in my chair by the now cold and dark hearth.
Gawking, gasping as I crawled around in the pitch black house, the storm having caused a power outage as I had slept.
I scrambled blindly into the kitchen, fumbling through a drawer and finding a flashlight, switched it on!
"Oh my God..." Clutching a hand to my breast and feeling the pounding of my racing heart, I fought to catch my breath. Speaking quietly while attempting to calm myself, said,
"Calm down it was just a nightmare. Whoaaaa. The last thing that we need right now is another heart attack.”
Breathing slowly and deeply a new fear wrose within me. As feeling that familiar pressure within my chest and shortness of breath. A sharp pain began biting from somewhere in my left arm.
I knew that somehow, I had to calm down or possibly become the next victim of the old place. And then I suddenly realized it!
"My medication. Oh, dear God! I fell asleep and forgot about it again?" The words left my lips as turning, I stumbled while making my way into the kitchen. Hurriedly filling a glass with water and struggling, choked back the pills.
Time seemed to stand still as waiting there within the blackness, I leaned against the counter while listening to the fearful pounding of my heart.
"Easy old boy--you're going to be fine, just breathe." I spoke in little more than a whisper, closing my eyes and attempting to force all other things from my mind, said,
"Everything is just fine now..."
Thunder cracked, booming from high above the house as shaking the very foundations, the lighting flashed, shattering the darkness and blinding me within it's force!
The sound of torrential rains battered against the old structure, creating stream's that covered window's, rivers flowing from out the drains!
It was as though nature's full fury now rained down upon that dark and sinister place! And yet, as it had once stood for so many years did it now stand oblivious against natures force!
With it's jutting peaks cutting like dagger's into the night! Strong, dark and defiant unto all things stood the house on Crowley Street!
Was I housed safely within it's blackened walls? Or merely as Jonah had been trapped within the belly of the beast!
Stop this! Stop it! You’re driving yourself over the edge! It was just a few bad dreams and stories of the unfortunates who had once occupied the place! Andrew, get a grip man! Your heart--can't you feel it flutter, choke, becoming feint under the pressure? You must-- stop it now!
"No more! Stop it--stop it-stop it!" I cried out! Falling to my knees as I threw my hands over my ears, squeezing my eyes tightly closed and attempting to block out both senses and all thoughts!
I have no idea of just how long I had remained in that manner, but when finally I had removed my hands from upon my ears and opened my eyes, the storm had passed.
Only the darkness, the stillness of the night and nothing more... With my heart having calmed, I crawled across the floor upon hands and knees climbing into the soft cushion's of the couch as the silence took me....