“It’s the end of the world. Who gives a damn?”
Back when the world of Youtube opened to me its ever-blossoming flower of cool-ass data, I discovered, among other things, the horror punk sub-subgenre, over which I have already frequently gushed (here and here). One of the first such outfits I came upon was this literal band of brothers.
Their eighth and latest release, 2019’s Flee the Light features the above cover art (do we still call it that?) featuring a bare-chested dude in black cape and full goat’s head mask (let’s hope it’s just a mask) standing before a backdrop splotched with psychedelic purples and dayglogreens. One instantly gets that feel of a 70s horror film such as The Dunwich Horror. Occult rituals involving doomed (prolly nekkid) damsels and incomprehensible demons must surely lie ahead.
Those of us already familiar with the Phoenix-based trio know to take this dark descent with tongues well-in-cheek. This is horror rock country. We’re here to have some fearsome fun, as prompted by the scratchy thunder peel that prepends the first track, “He Who Flees the Light.”
Vocalist/guitarist JimmyCalabrese always sounds polished, and never less than passionate. This track is as powerful a showcase for his talents as anything before or since, with the possible exception of my personal favorite Calabrese track, the mesmerizing “Born with a Scorpion’s Touch.” It’s a good kick-off, evoking that weird pride we dark outsiders feel whenever we’re validated by our freak family”Let Doom Overtake Us” is next. It bears the apocalyptic feel its title suggests, with a foreboding pace and terrifyingly poetic lyrics. Potent and even soulful, the boys take us on a journey through an ever-worsening landscape of suffering.
Blackened wings are raised
To shadow the earth
Breed human disease
Crawlin’ through filth
Funeral cities burn
Then “King Prowler” slides, snake-like, into the very familiar horror punk theme of boy-stalks/captures/torments girl. After another spooky intro, all instruments attack, behind lyrics that seem to reference some true crime case, yet are too vague to be verified as such. That it could be some nameless maniac’s POV somehow makes it that much scarier. The solos, simple and unrelenting, leave you breathless – like a long night spent fleeing a killer would.
Track no. 3 -“Demonspitter”- is very much a speed metal number, and a great one at that. It’s one of those “I am” songs, a staple of metal and punk, in which the character proclaims his terrible destiny or power in a series of spooky metaphors. Quick and dirty, it’s a lot of fun, and I imagine a real crowd pleaser.
I am the madness terror
Spit death in your eyes
I am the heart inside the demon in the night
Why settle for “ride or die” when you can do both?
It’s fast and brutal, exactly what you want from your horror punk.
Track 4 “Pleasures of Evil” makes good on the cover art’s threat, conjuring images of Satanic sacrifice and/or possession with synth and guitar working in perfect dark union.
This occultic atmosphere is carried over for the brief fifth track, an instrumental called “Maleficis Visibilis” which serves as intro to “Hallucinitory Void” in which the synth and guitar tandem get another workout. It’s another tune from the perspective a serial killer, I guess? Lyrically, it’s poeticism to the point of sacrificing storytelling elements. Vocals are especially strong here. You can picture the brothers, underlit by campfire, eyes narrowed, taking turns filling young campers’ heads with spooky imagery and energy that has them huddling together.
“And in The End” is another metal track, characterized by fantastic and bleak lyrics, which I interpret as a devil worshiper’s POV, as she or he learns the hard way, that there is no devil, and thus no dark reward waiting — only endless emptiness.
Thirteen skulls upon the altar of my heart
Black crosses in the the night
We worship no one
“All the Devils in Hell” is yet another ode to a fleeing victim, though tempered with an unusually comforting promise:
Death is a gentle ride
Into the endless void
Hearing this one, I started to get the impressionFlee the Lightwas meant as a sort of loose concept album, focusing on what it means to be both killer and victim under a pall of satanic influence that in the end, is empty. Am I right? Let’s proceed.
“End Time at the Gates of Hell” bears some contemplation. Potent lyrics suggest a deadly plague, perhaps the original Black Death, accompanied by a ritualistic raising of demons — but to what end?
“Invisible Witches” opens with a soundbyte from the 1972 film “Season of The Witch” if I’m not mistaken, followed by doomy bell tolls.
We end the song and the album with the eerie howl of a bleak, endless wind – the void, perhaps, that awaits the album’s three thematic archetypes: Killer, Victim, and Devil Worshiper.
Another satisfying spook show experience that provides the exact experience you have come to seek from Calabrese. I will be digging deeply into their catalogue.