Merrill’s Musical Musings : Giants on the Horizon

Merrill’s Musical Musings – Giant Monsters on the Horizon 

We’ve made it through August, Horror Addicts, and I hope this post does not find you in pieces. I’m preparing to transition into a new teaching job while supporting a high schooler and a new college student through uncertain educational times. It’s wild out there, so take a minute to sink into the slick sounds of this month’s new-to-me artist. 

Giant Monsters on the Horizon, a duo out of St. Louis,  recently released a new album of dark-wave deliciousness, Live from Night City. The album was written during a dark time for the band and elements of despair can be experienced in their sound for sure. There’s an emptiness in tracks like “Oxygen,” and “Android Hellscape” that clearly resonates with all of us still sheltering in place. Through the synthesizers and soothing low-key vocals, you can find a welcome place to zone out. Night City, the setting of this collection of songs, is a stark and drastic place, but GMOTH does an admirable job of filling that space with energizing songs that make you recall why we need and crave music in our lives. 

“Tetra Chroma” and “Del Ctrl & Esc” are standout tracks that will engage your attention and have you up and dancing. The band has a Xymox feel with a side of Camouflage and the moody feel of current alternative bands like PVRIS. I’ll definitely be following them on Spotify for more. It was nice to see on their social media a strong activist presence including participation in fundraisers through Bandcamp. Live From Night City is an excellent collection of songs that fans of electronica and dark-wave will definitely dig. I wish them well with this latest release and their future endeavors. 

That’s it for this edition of Merrill’s Musical Musings. Feel free to check out my Rock ‘n’ Romance blog for more about my books and adventures. I also host other author guests talking about their novels in a feature called Music Behind The Story. Stay creepy, Horror Addicts! 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs for August

Ro’s Recs – Musical Departures

Greetings from Sweaty California! As I’m writing this I’m in major danger of melting. I hope you’re hanging in there and listening to some great music. Today I want to talk about bands that go rogue…and it works. I was a huge fan of MTV Unplugged from way back, and I admire when bands step away from their usual sound and take a chance, whether it’s a remix or a brand new sound. This pandemic has brought out a decidedly experimental side of many of my favorite artists. They’ve released songs that are outside their usual wheelhouse, and they are wickedly entertaining. Check out this list of recs and open your mind to some experimental sounds.

  1. Motionless in White released new versions of two of their songs. “Eternally Yours” and “Another Life” were two outstanding tracks from Disguise and these melodic versions are incredibly beautiful. Chris Motionless’s vocals are so vulnerable and ethereal. I love the songs in their original arrangements, but the fact that the band stepped out of their comfort zone and showed a different side to their music makes me love the songs even more. 
  2. Metallica was one of the first metal bands to perform with a symphony, which when you think about it, there’s not too much of a stretch between metal and symphonic music. There’s a similar passion and frenetic energy in both performances. So when Metallica joined the San Francisco Symphony again this year and released this version of expectations were high. I love the balance of quiet musings followed by growly declarations from Hetfield. It’s a moody tune that is expertly crafted by the masters of metal. We trust them to carry us through, and so when they diverge from their usual heavy path, we know they’re going to deliver the goods. The album comes out August 28th and I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.
  3. Korn is no stranger to cover songs. One of my favorites they’ve done was “Word Up” from the 80s band Cameo. But this summer they blew me away with a cover of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” featuring one of my absolute favorite artists, Yelawolf. The single was posted on Bandcamp as a fundraiser for AwakeningYouth.org—an organization that supports youth who have lost a parent to addiction or suicide—and a way to celebrate the life of the original singer, Charlie Daniels. You gotta give this classic tune a listen. Yelawolf and Jonathan Davis trading vocals on this tune gave me so many feels! And when you’re done, definitely take a deep dive into the music catalog from both Korn and Yelawolf, especially his video for “Shadows.” The song itself is a haunting childhood nightmare, but it’s also filmed at his childhood home. He had to trespass in the now-abandoned house to film.  You won’t be disappointed. 
  4. Corey Taylor, frontman of the legendary Slipknot and the hard-rocking Stone Sour, has released two singles from his upcoming solo album. The first two songs are complete departures from his previous music. “CMFT Must Be Stopped” is a rap-rock tune with guests Tech N9ne, who Taylor has previously collaborated with, and Kid Bookie, a London rapper who I’ll definitely be checking out more from. And for those who like to watch videos, you will be entertained by Corey’s wife’s dance troop (they like to play with fire) and several cameos from Corey’s friends. It’s a fun tune about his big mouth and bigger attitude. The tune “Black Eyes Blue” is a straight pop-rocker with a catchy riff and a feel-good melody. 
  5. Marilyn Manson has put out some incredible music over the past few years, but this new track, “We Are Chaos” is surprisingly full of 70s glam goodness along with Manson’s trademark dark lyrics. I’m looking forward to the rest of this album, which comes out later this year. 

That’s it for this month’s Ro’s Recs. I hope you find a new jam in this collection to help lift your spirits. Dark times are upon us and we need all of the mood boosters we can get. I’m happy to be your guide on a musical journey. If you love music and stories about music, my upcoming novel Brains, and Brawn: Summer of Hush Book Two is out August 24th and it’s my love letter to the years of Warped Tour music festivals. Check it out on Amazon if you’re looking for a pick-me-up romance. Take care of you and yours, comment and share some of your favorite musical departures from your favorite artists, and Stay Tuned for more Merrill’s Musical Musings and Ro’s Recs. 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ice Nine Kills

Greetings and salutations HorrorAddicts! I know it’s been a wild and crazy summer and we’ve all just wanted to get away. Well, today’s review is a special treat. I’ve mentioned the band Ice Nine Kills before, but they just put out a killer EP called Undead and Unplugged: Live From The Overlook Hotel. This is, like, a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to go to the hotel, I’m a sucker for acoustic sets, and I absolutely love that all of these songs are about our favorite horror flicks! 

Ice Nine Kills is a Boston-based band founded by Spencer Charnas, Justin DeBlieck, and Justin Morrow. Frontman Spencer is a horror fanatic from back in his Blockbuster Movie rental days and even recorded some of the vocals on The Silver Scream from famous locations including the houses used for A Nightmare on Elm Street and the original Halloween. I’ve watched his Instagram live broadcasts including one where Spencer and Jose Mangin from SiriusXM Octane go to visit the Nightmare house. Spencer truly knows his horror, which is part of what makes The Silver Scream so delectable. 

The new EP, which you can stream on Spotify, features acoustic versions of songs from the Merrill’s Musical Musings July 2020

ir album The Silver Scream, which originally came out in 2018 and includes the following tracks:

Savages: Inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Thank God It’s Friday: Inspired by Friday the 13th

A Grave Mistake: Inspired by The Crow

Love Bites: Inspired by An American Werewolf in London

Enjoy Your Slay: Inspired by The Shining (Live video from The Stanley Hotel)

Someday I will visit The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. There have been a few romance book conventions there and sadly, they never quite worked out for me to attend. But someday! I’d love to hear from you what are some of the horror-inspired places you’ve been or want to go to or share with me your favorite acoustic sets from bands. I hope you Enjoyed Your Slay today on Merrill’s Musical Musings and Stay Tuned for Ro’s Recs coming later this month…

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Spank The Nun

Spank the Nun 

Hello music lovers and greetings from sunny California. At least that’s one perk about living here during this crazy time when the only option I have for entertainment is my own backyard. I’ve been looking out my window at my car longingly for the past 18 days as our country experiences pandemic panic and potty paper paranoia. These are dark times, for sure, but one of the most important ways we survive the challenges life throws our way is through music and art. The music community has stepped up tremendously to meet the needs of their fans, and in return, their fans are giving back in new ways such as virtual tip jars on Venmo. As tours are canceled or postponed, artists are looking for new ways to raise funds for themselves and their crews as well as supporting efforts to combat the COVID19 virus. Livestreaming “living room concerts” has become the norm. Each day there seems to be a new artist participating. I enjoyed watching the Luck Reunion show on Twitch the first week we were home and I’ve even been participating in an online songwriting experiment with former Sick Puppies singer/songwriter Shimon Moore. Hear the fruits of our group’s labor here and support Shim’s page on Facebook. We gotta do whatever we can to stay sane during this unprecedented event.

 

“Here’s the chance to raise merry hell.” This month I’m reviewing industrial/electro darkwave artist Spank The Nun whose self-deprecating sense of humor is appreciated as we head into a new month of sheltering-in-place. The artist describes their music as “uneasy listening,” and when listing band members on their Facebook page responds with “Does it really matter?” You’re not getting uplifting tunes with this band, but the steady beat and the doom-filled lyrics are perfect for those days you need some dark background music to complete your, well, dark tasks. Hearing samples from favorites like the film Misery makes listening to their latest album, Initial Decay Control, a treat. I’m betting the artist was like that kid in high school I used to like sitting next to in the back of the room because they always had an odd and inappropriate commentary running for my twisted enjoyment. The sinister whisperings on tracks like “Rotting Meat” are creepy enough to make you look behind you while working alone in your home office. The song “Swallow” contains this quote, which I feel describes our current situation: “We all know when this ends, there will be no winners, only survivors.”  Spankthenun is an entertaining listen well suited for our peculiar predicament. 

 

Stay tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…

 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs April / In This Moment

Ro’s Recs April In This Moment Review 

What better way to spend our time on lockdown but by discovering new music? Artists all over the world have been doing live streams, living room concerts, and performing special acoustic tunes. I’ve found some amazing new artists like Tami Neilson, Devon Gilfillian, and Ida Mae as well as hearing some of my old favorites playing some incredible music like this collab between Machine Gun Kelly and Travis Barker covering Paramore’s Misery’s Business and Tyler Glenn from Neon Trees (http://www.instagram.com/tylerinacoma) doing his regular Songs from the Red Chair performances on his Instagram Live. Metallica is even streaming concert performances on YouTube and Facebook Monday nights. Let some good music into your lives and I promise it will make you feel better. 

Releasing a new piece of art during this unprecedented time is a scary proposition. I released a new book Friday, March 13th, just before most of California went into a mandatory shelter-in-place. Thankfully, my family is doing okay, but for musicians who have lost revenue from touring, releasing an album could be the only way for them to stay financially afloat. As artists, many of us are giving away our creations for free or at a discounted rate to keep shut-in folks entertained, but for musicians, losing money from canceled or postponed tours means taking a huge hit. SiriusXM is streaming FREE for this month, which is a HUGE opportunity for you to discover new music and I encourage you to get out there and support your favorite musicians however you can! Recommend their music, stream their albums on a platform like Spotify or Apple, and buy merch from their websites including CDs and vinyl if you have machines with which to play them. 

In This Moment, a phenomenal female-fronted metal band from Las Vegas, Nevada released their latest album Mother at the end of March and it is a deliciously decadent mix of original and cover songs. You’ve never heard “Fly Like An Eagle” performed quite so sensually as when Maria Brink stretches out those lyrics. Their last album, 2017’s Ritual, was filled with ruminations on witchcraft and dark elements, and that theme continues on the new record. Mother promises to be just as addictive as their previous material. Already I’m repeat-playing “Holy Man,” “God is She,” “Hunting Ground,” and the title track. So listen to the album, several times if you will, and then make sure you add a notification through Bandsintown or whatever source you get your live music recommendations from because you will NEED to see Maria Brink and Co. the next time they come through your town. They are one of the most exciting live acts on the road today. I’ve seen them at least three times and the theatrics Brink and her maidens bring to the stage, as well as the power and excellent musicianship the band exudes will provide a show like you’ve never seen before. Don’t believe me? Check out this live clip from the Loudwire Music Awards. HorrorAddicts, you will fall under the spell of In This Moment, I guarantee. 

That’s it for now, but I promise to bring you more of Ro’s Recs and reviews to keep your soul satisfied. Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings… 

Merrill’s Musical Musings : Ro’s Recs

Ro’s Recs

Many great albums were released in 2019, and while I’m not a big list maker, I thought I’d share a few of them here. Some bands have been with us for decades like Slipknot and Korn and others were new to me. Bands like Papa Roach, Sleeping with Sirens, Volbeat, and Bring Me The Horizon took big risks on a new sound that paid off well. We lost Vinnie Paul from Hellyeah, but the band gave him a beautiful sendoff with Welcome Home. Motionless in White and New Year’s Day put out powerful albums that cemented their status in the rock community as artists that have fought long and hard to be there. Baroness returned from a harrowing tragedy to put out a strong album. I Prevail had a fairytale beginning with a cover of Taylor Swift and this year they’ve been nominated for a Grammy! And lastly, The Hu, Fever333 and Bad Wolves were all new bands to me that I am glad I took a chance on. I hope you will too. 

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust?

Hellyeah – Welcome Home

Motionless in White – Disguise

New Year’s Day – Unbreakable

Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Korn – The Nothing

The Hu – Gereg

Baroness – Gold and Grey

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.

Fever333 – Strength in Numb333rs

Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost

I Prevail – Trauma 

There’s a wide variety on this list, a little something for everyone, so as we prepare for a new year of music, give some of these a listen.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know what music I should be looking out for in 2020. And with that, Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…

Merril’s Musical Musings: Her Despair and Best of 2019

Her Despair and Best of 2019

Greetings and Salutations for a brand new year and decade that I am confident will be filled with amazing music. I’m Ro, your musical tour guide, and today I want to share with you some of my favorites from the past year and introduce you to a Goth rock outfit from the UK called Her Despair. Their music will take you right back to those 80s afternoons sitting in your bedroom listening to cassettes—or perhaps your vinyl collection—waiting for the night to fall and bring with it the creepy darkness where anything can happen and life is just a little more interesting.

Her Despair melds together sounds of Peter Murphy and Sisters of Mercy as well as current artists like Nightwish and HIM. Their latest release, Exorcisms of Eroticism, was released in summer 2019 and contains melodic jams like “Pandaemonium” and “The Exorcism,” which has an appropriately dark music video to go along with it. “In That Moment” is my favorite track on the EP. The haunting, romantic vocals dance over the dichotomy of the synthesizers and guitars, giving it a nostalgic sound, but you could also expect to hear it on a modern-day alternative rock station. “Like a Crucifixion” is another excellent example of their sound. A steady rock beat with powerful lyrics make for an enjoyable combination and will have you slipping into Her Despair like a comfortable pair of black fishnets…or a worn pair of Doc Martens. 

For more on Her Despair, check them out at the links below. 

The Exorcism” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clqrj6rftJA 

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair/

https://www.instagram.com/herdespairband/?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVZhKFjVsq1Wpbruy-dryuw/featured

 

Ro’s Recs

Many great albums were released in 2019, and while I’m not a big list maker, I thought I’d share a few of them here. Some bands have been with us for decades like Slipknot and Korn and others were new to me. Bands like Papa Roach, Sleeping with Sirens, Volbeat, and Bring Me The Horizon took big risks on a new sound that paid off well. We lost Vinnie Paul from Hellyeah, but the band gave him a beautiful sendoff with Welcome Home. Motionless in White and New Year’s Day put out powerful albums that cemented their status in the rock community as artists that have fought long and hard to be there. Baroness returned from a harrowing tragedy to put out a strong album. I Prevail had a fairytale beginning with a cover of Taylor Swift and this year they’ve been nominated for a Grammy! And lastly, The Hu, Fever333 and Bad Wolves were all new bands to me that I am glad I took a chance on. I hope you will too. 

Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Bring Me The Horizon – Amo

Papa Roach – Who Do You Trust?

Hellyeah – Welcome Home

Motionless in White – Disguise

New Year’s Day – Unbreakable

Volbeat – Rewind, Replay, Rebound

Korn – The Nothing

The Hu – Gereg

Baroness – Gold and Grey

Bad Wolves – N.A.T.I.O.N.

Fever333 – Strength in Numb333rs

Sleeping With Sirens – How It Feels To Be Lost

I Prevail – Trauma 

There’s a wide variety on this list, a little something for everyone, so as we prepare for a new year of music, give some of these a listen.

What are you looking forward to in 2020? Leave a comment and let me know what music I should be looking out for in 2020. And with that, Stay Tuned for more of Merrill’s Musical Musings…