Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Total Skull: Helvete, Gospel,Swell-Looking Babe, Hamartia, Christmas Ghosts

Things that brought me delight in December, 2018:

Helvete: A Journal of Black Metal Theory, Issue 1: Incipit
The essays I've read from the para-academic world of black metal theory have been hit or miss, but the value here is less in the sharp delineation of ideas and more in the rupturing atmosphere the best of these pieces exude. 

Opera IX, The Gospel
Opera IX's theatrical, orchestral black metal still delivers the pomp and satanic circumstance on The Gospel. The orchestration does more work than the riffs, which honestly is a nice change of pace of this style of black metal. Bandcamp link.

Jim Thompson, A Swell-Looking Babe
You're in luck, we did an entire podcast episode about this book here just for your edification.

 November's Doom, Hamartia
November's Doom is death-doom that always weighted their work heavier on the death side of the equation, until Hamartia. Hamartia still has moments of ferocious strength, but that is more of a moody balancing act throughout.

The Valancourt Book of Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, 
Volume Two

I'm not sure I ever really see myself getting sick of Victorian Christmas ghost tales. There is a glorious alternative here: you don't need to be bah humbug about the holiday--you can delight in the specters and murders and murderous specters it brings instead.

Helllight, As We Slowly Fade
Imagine a mouth opening in anguish, the words emerging only as frost caught on the wind-bitten air. That's the kind of funereal doom that Helllight serves up on As We Slowly Fade--a kind of apocalypse that feels as personal as it does cosmic. Bandcamp link.

Brandon Graham, Multiple Warheads book 2: Ghostown
"Raiding the wizard's tower" is the barest of cliches, but even the most shopworn of concepts cannot escape become unfathomably something else when it comes into contact with Brandon Graham's Multiple Warheads.

Neurosis & Jarboe, s/t
The sound of the chora entering the lingual stage through shrieks and expressive rage against the abjection to come. Bandcamp link.

Kentaro Miura, Berserk vol. 23 and 24
December arrives just in time for a fight with snowmen! But really, this bit of the story feels like a meditation on Wilde's thesis that each man kills the thing he loves.

Octave Mirbeau, The Death of Balzac
Hagiographies are frequently uninteresting, but this one is. "Balzac did not pay his dues. He only paid in masterpieces: coin that was not legal tender in the Academie."

Not exactly a Christmas Eve tradition yet, but maybe it should be.


  1. Pathologic is down to $1.30 on GOG. Might be up your alley

  2. Russian game, originally came out in 2005 but got a re-release with an updated translation in 2015. Survival Horror, with an emphasis on "survival". Manage your meters while trying to complete missions on a strict time limit and avoiding getting sick.

    You play as one of three healers: the Bachelor of Medicine, The Haruspex, or the Changeling. They have been tasked with defeating a plague on a russian town on the steppe over the course of 12 days (each day is roughly 2 hours game time). However, each character is mostly antagonistic to each other and refuse to work together. As such, the game's three routes roughly coincide with one another, giving an interesting look at what each character is doing in the same span of time. An example would be how, in the Bachelor's scenario, at one point you find out that the Haruspex murdered a character who you had sworn to assist and stole their organs to get you a fresh infected tissue sample. Meanwhile, over in the Haruspex scenario, you need to find the Bachelor his tissue samples, and your choices are an infected woman walking in a dark alley or a six foot tall butcher on the outskirts of town with two buddies. It's very interesting.

    Sul Matul has a pretty good let's play of all three of the characters on youtube if you want to dip your toe in first.