More to come but a quickie update and sneak peek of the newest merchandise. Just in time for Mother’s Day and just in time for a new release tomorrow. Keep your eyes on our website for more of your favorite logo on all the things!
Maxwell I. Gold writes prose poetry and short stories in weird and cosmic fiction. He is a regular contributor to Spectral Realms, edited by Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi and his work has also appeared in Weirdbook Magazine, Space and Time Magazine, Startling Stories, Baffling Magazine and many others.Find out more about Max in the next issue of House of Stitched Magazine, and follow him on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Maxwell-I.-Gold
His upcoming book from CRYSTAL LAKE PUBLISHING will release around the same time as our new issue so keep your eyes peeled!
We are thrilled to announce House of Stitched will be interviewing Dacre Stoker!
Dacre Stoker is the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker and the international best-selling co-author of Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton, 2009), the official Stoker family endorsed sequel to Dracula. Dacre is also the co-editor (with Elizabeth Miller) of The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker: The Dublin Years (Robson Press, 2012). His latest novel, Dracul, a prequel to Dracula, released in October 2018 co-authored with JD Barker, has been sold to Putnam in North America, Penguin Random House in the UK, and additional publishers in France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Brazil, Serbia, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Portugal, and Poland with film rights purchased by Paramount Studios.A native of Montreal, Canada, Dacre taught Physical Education and Sciences for twenty-two years, in both Canada and the U.S. He has participated in the sport of Modern Pentathlon as an athlete and a coach at the international and Olympic levels for Canada for 12 years. He is also an avid player and coach of the unique game of Real Tennis. In May of 2016 an athlete he has been coaching for the past 4 years, Camden Riviere, won the World Championships of Court Tennis. He currently lives in Aiken, SC, together with his wife Jenne they manage the Bram Stoker Estate.
Get your copy today. Don’t forget, every purchase of the print copy earns you a free digital copy so you don’t have to wait!
Click here to be taken to Magcloud
Welcome back friends!
At least, I hope you’re returning after the terrifying journey into madness the last album I shared with you should have taken you on. If you missed it I hope you’ll check out my review of Doom II by Witness after this second chapter of Dark Inspiration. While I will not be bringing you deep, dark doom every week, I thought since we’re still getting to know each other, I’d share with you an album that has inspired me more than almost any other. This album has not only inspired the dark thoughts I pour out onto the page but also inspires me to continue tapping away at the keyboard daily.
So strap on those headphones… Today let’s take a journey into possibly my favorite album ever written, Yob’s 2014 opus, Clearing The Path To Ascend.
There may be nothing I love more in this life than discovering new art, falling in love with it, and having my thoughts explode in directions I never knew they could. Whether that art takes the form of a painting, a sculpture, a movie, a book, or a song/album makes no difference at all. What matters is, does this piece of art touch my soul in some way?
I began writing in 2012 (at 39 years young) and that is also when I put a major effort into searching for new music that would take my mind to “that space”. The space where, not only did the words flow out of me, but it also forced my mind to go on wonderful adventures. I was becoming an artist for the first time in my life. I say that meekly and humbly. I am not comparing myself to the greats nor claiming to be a great artist. However, I do the best I can. So now, with the stage set, let’s dive into what, for me, is one the greatest albums ever made.
Clearing The Path To Ascend is the seventh full length album from Eugene, Oregon’s ultimate doom trio of mastermind, lyricist, guitarist, and vocalist Mike Scheidt along with drummer Travis Foster and bassist Aaron Reiseberg. I consider this album to be an absolute masterpiece so I’ll do my best to hold my gushing adjectives to a minimum. Yes, I am a completely biased reviewer on this and, probably, every review I ever offer you here. This was actually my first Yob album but I’ve since acquired their entire catalog of music, something you’ll do as well if this album touches you as it has me.
The opening track, In Our Blood, had me hooked before the first note ever played. It begins with a sample that simply states, “It’s time to wake up.” You would expect an explosion of sound after such an opening proclamation but instead you hear a somber quiet guitar riff from Scheidt that sets the tone and the mood that carries throughout the album. When Foster and Reiseberg finally burst in you are well on your way through a hypnotic journey that will last for over an hour with just four songs!
When Scheidt’s vocals finally kick in after three minutes of aural assault they are ghostly as though calling out from the great beyond. Scheidt’s lyrical poetry is driven home as he bounces between spectral crooning and harsh growls that only serve to draw you further in. If you read through the lyrics you see, that beyond the hypnotic nature of the music, they are quite spiritual. This point is emphasized with another sample from British philosopher Alan Watts about three quarters of the way through the song. It is a beautiful and simple thought, “What is reality? Obviously, no one can say because it isn’t words. It isn’t material, that’s just an idea. It isn’t spiritual – that’s also an idea. Time to wake up!” The sample ends with a bang heightened by a soul shaking roar from Scheidt as the song bursts back to life.
I have an admission to make here. By this point of the album, before the nearly seventeen minute opening track ends, I am often so immersed in the music I don’t even notice when In Our Blood ends and Nothing To Win begins. This generally continues through Unmask The Spectre until Marrow begins which is the final song on the album.
This has nothing to do with the quality of the middle two tracks. In fact they are outstanding. It’s the hypnotic effect this album has on me. Nothing To Win is a powerful song that blazes with a speed you don’t expect out of a doom album. It, along with Unmask The Spectre have an almost psychedelic effect that has me swaying along plus I’m often writing to this album which causes it to drift to the background. When I hear Marrow begin and I’m like, “Oh shit, did I listen to the whole thing already?!” The answer is always, “Yes, idiot. Yes, you did.” Hence, I’ll skip to album closer and one of my favorite songs of all-time, Marrow.
I’ve heard Mike Scheidt say he wrote this song for his daughter and it somehow made an already beautiful song even more beautiful to me. Marrow is a song about searching for the meaning of your individual life and life collectively. I think we’ve all asked ourselves at some point if all that we do and have done is worth it. We search for a deeper meaning to our lives as we get older. We dig deep into the marrow but is there an even a deeper meaning to it all for us to find? Makes you think doesn’t it? When we get to the end of our lives time doesn’t stop. It simply goes on without us. Scheidt sings, “Time will crawl to the sea / Time will fall inside the dream.” Quite a beautiful way to look at it if you ask me.
I think it’s what draws me to this song, to this album and to Yob. It makes me think . . . no, forces me to think. Isn’t that what good art is supposed to do? Great art is different for all of us. The things that make you think are different from what does it for me. Maybe you are inspired by Madonna or something. And, you know what? That’s okay. Don’t ever let someone tell you your art has no value. If it moves you then it is valuable. Clearing The Path To Ascend and the entirety of Yob’s musical catalog move me and inspire me. So, if you’ve never listened to them I hope I’ve encouraged you to do so now.
If you’re not into the fuzzed out sound of doom then I’ve got a special treat for you. Here is an acoustic version of Marrow that I absolutely love.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a little about me today and, more importantly, I hope I’ve helped you discover one of the best bands on the planet. I’ve written more with this album as my soundtrack than just about any other album in my collection. It is my hope it can inspire some dark art out of you as well. Feel free to share, your art is important too.
And finally… Stay Positive & Make Good Art.
Forgive me a short introduction since most (Okay, probably all) reading this will have no idea who I am or what I’m doing here. First, my name is Feind Gottes. No, that is not misspelled, nor the name my mother gave me. I am a published horror author with works appearing in over a dozen anthologies, one gruesome novella, and [I’m]patiently awaiting the release of my first novel while I work on the next one. I am also a bit of an audiophile hence why I have been invited to share some music reviews with you over the coming weeks, months, years (?) or possibly decades? How about we go with “until I’m rich and famous” which, on the likelihood of human events, means that you better settle back and get [edited for explicit content but starts with F] used to seeing me here.
Here’s the deal: I write terrible things all written to, inspired by, and while listening to gratuitous amounts of music, mostly in a heavy metal vein, though not all. I have thousands of albums in my collection and I’m always acquiring more, both new and old. I have been asked a million times what music I like. All I can tell you is my music collection contains everything from Johnny Cash to Cannibal Corpse and so very much more. Also, if you don’t recognize either of those artists? We cannot, and will not, ever be friends.
Finally, what can you look forward to seeing from me here? I have been given a few loose guidelines which are pretty easy to adhere to. But since House of Stitch Magazine is not some run of the mill music site and something I’d guess tends to be visited by fellow writers and readers, like myself, these will not be average, everyday reviews you can easily find elsewhere at sites dedicated to music. These will be much more personal. Everything I have written so far-and will be written in the future-is intricately tied to music. Every story I’ve written shares a title with the music that, at least partially, inspired it. I’m not sure how these “reviews” will go but I hope you enjoy the journey with me.
The first album I’ve selected is a real doozy! I encourage you to listen while you read… I am.
Today I want to share with you one of my top albums of 2020. It’s one I’m 99.9% sure no one reading this has probably ever heard of unless you follow me on Facebook where I’ve shared it a few times.
The first bit of Dark Inspiration I will introduce to you is the album Doom II by Witnesses!
Witnesses is essentially a one man band who I would love to say I discovered on my own but the truth is an old friend advised me to check out. I’m glad I did. Doom II is an album that sounds like the soundtrack to a book born out of a collaboration between Lovecraft and Melville. Seem like an unlikely duo? It should. Just imagine the nautically themed horror this collaboration could have produced. As it turns out you don’t have to imagine it, simply hit play and let the journey begin.
I’ve found Doom II to be an album best listened to by slapping on your favorite headphones, laying back, and escaping into the intricately woven story. Cinematic is not a genre of music though if it were it would be the category this album falls into. Close your eyes and the scene will play itself in your mind.
Right from the first track, On This Black Ocean, the feeling of dread permeates your soul. As the music sucks you in, the first verse sets the tone of a doomed ship, crew, and its passengers. Greg Schwan conveys such emotion with his voice a chill will run down your spine. You’ll want more, and want it to end in equal measure. The lyrics gives hope then dashes that hope away as quickly as it came. You see a light on a distant shore but you’ll never make it, something won’t let you.
The entire album brings dread to the forefront of your mind. It pokes with precision into its depths driving you toward madness.
What is that scratching at the hull?
What is waiting, lurking out in the dark waters?
Will it devour all? Or will you make it safely to shore?
Then, wait… what is waiting on shore? Doom II is unrelenting in its drive toward stealing every last drop of your sanity yet you hunger for more the whole way down. Into a black abyss where either the leviathan awaits with gaping jaws. Ready to devour you whole or you’re simply driven completely insane, lost forever in your own glorious torment.
I have written thousands of words with Doom II as the soundtrack. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this album because I lost count months ago. It is both beautiful and horrible at the same time, like a story by Poe being given new life as a grisly musical from Hell. For those who do not care for the death growls of extreme heavy metal, fret not, for you will find none of them here. Schwan’s beautiful clean vocals are powerful yet light as air.
According to the vocalist this isn’t because he doesn’t like harsh vocals. It’s because he isn’t able to do them (his opinion not mine).
There are a million ideas I will likely steal from this album for future works. Among them is the title of my favorite track from the album, I Hope Their Prayers Aren’t Answered, and I don’t even have to feel bad about it since Mr. Schwan assured me that he stole that line himself.
Doom II is not simply music or some random album, it is art. It was made with passion and the passion pours out in every single note. I do not know all of what inspired this album, however, I do know that it inspires me every time I listen to it. I seem to be strongly drawn to progressive-type doom metal these days and there may be no better example of it than Doom II (pretty damn appropriate title) by Witnesses.
At the present moment I am working on my second novel which is intended to be the first book of an epic trilogy. It is an album like Doom II that inspires me to create my own dark works. Nothing in my present work is anything like Doom II thematically but I do take inspiration from the feelings of dread, doom, and hopelessness it elicits. Hope lies just over the horizon but no matter how fast you run you can never reach it. This album manages to invoke all these emotions without feeling bleak or draining the light from your soul. It is an amazing accomplishment. When the album concludes you should feel empty inside, hollow, yet you don’t or, at least, I don’t. When I listen to this album I feel empowered and excited to create my own art which I can only pray affects someone else in a similar fashion.
Good art takes many forms. I know some will listen to this album, hate it, and wonder if Old Man Feind is off his damn rocker. However, I know you reading this. Yes, you. You’re here because you like the dark places, the dark things, the things that make you question your own art, perhaps your own sanity. Come bathe in the abysmal waters of a murky place like Doom II takes you. See if, like me, you don’t emerge full of life and light, ready to create your own dark place. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply enjoy the musical journey . . . which is perfectly fine too.
Well, hopefully you enjoyed this first installment of Dark Inspiration, with an album in a battle for my best of what has been one crazy year. If you are a fellow creator I hope Doom II brings you some fresh inspiration. If not? I hope you enjoyed some insanely good music. I’ll close with my personal motto. Feel free to steal it…
Stay Positive & Make Good Art.
Review by Jason Pitts
Anything For Jackson is a Shudder Original horror film. It stars Julian Richings and Shiela McCarthy as Henry and Audrey Walsh.
The Walshes are in their golden years, dealing with the loss of their daughter, and even more painful, their grandson, Jackson. In their grief, they turned to forces they don’t understand, and get way in over their head trying to bring Jackson back to life.
The film is shot artistically, including a beautiful 4 minute wide opening scene, establishing the uneasiness of the film. Almost every shot is slightly moving, and has spectacular lighting.
The acting is top notch, especially from Julian Richings, who is probably best known as Death from the Supernatural tv show. Konstantina Mantelos also puts in a strong performance.
As the film goes on, things get more and more intense, involving demons, ghosts, and possession. The practical special effects are fantastic, and the scares are well done.
Anything For Jackson is a must see for horror fans. 4/5 stars.
This topic of conversation comes up often and circles into debate after debate. I’d like to settle it with civility for those who do not understand dark fiction and art.
Dark art is associated with the occult or Satanism thanks to Hollywood…but that’s not a bad thing. Hollywood used dark imagery the same way artists and authors do: to convey an emotion or a complaint, to express dread or fear. In times of repression, dark art was used to express freedom of thought through images when freedom of speech was an unavailable tool.
Delving into shades of black allows artists to play with light in surreal, mysterious ways. They can hide things while illuminating others, and the painters of the era took advantage of this new theory to expose painful experiences of their time, making them contemporary artists.
While the dark art movement can be used as a tool to address modern issues, it can also be used for issues of the macabre like death, or mental illness.
In the Middle Ages, images were used to represent death and punishment for sins to remind everyone of their daily duty. And because most low-born, or common folk, could not read these images would burn the messages in their mind.
The controversy of dark art is that it can provoke, or invoke, feelings from the viewer. Art is subjective. What you see is what you’ve interpreted from the images laid out before you. While the artist’s intent is there, the eyes that behold the scene will interpret and process the scene in their own way. If the scene has religious connotations, the viewer may feel their beliefs are being attacked and decide the message is blasphemous. The beauty of dark art is the freedom and ability to use art as a medium to expose thought, feelings, memories, and experiences with others.
With regards to dark fiction, the same rules apply. Approaching a dark subject matter allows allegory expression of pain, complaint, opinion, repression, fear, and more. Dark fiction feeds off the doubt and fear we have against all things “pure” because it’s a natural way of life. There is a season for everything. A season for living, for dying, for loving, for loss… there is always an equal and opposing reaction. If light is beautiful, then so is darkness. Just as light can be blinding, darkness can take away sight.
We are born from darkness into light, and return to its embrace. Fear is a learned behavior.
So is dark art/fiction considered horror? The short answer is this: horror is considered dark art/fiction but not all dark art/fiction is horror.
While this is not a comprehensive essay on so things “Dark Art/Fiction” I hope it helped give you a starting point to explore without fear.
With the first issue of House of Stitched done there was a release. A release of breath, a release of tension, a release of excitement. All this was followed by a coming down as the rush of adrenaline and anxiety ebbed with a special kind of relief because we did it. We succeeded at giving life to a new Stitched Smile Publications creation.
Writing of any kind is hard work. To write well is even harder work. I don’t mean hard as in physical labor, but it can, and does, take a mental toll. Add in the time for research, and in the case of this publication interviews, it can be a roller coaster ride complete with all the ups, downs, twists, and turns. However, in the end it was worth it to those of us driven to create with words. It’s exhausting, yet exhilerating.
One quote I had taken to heart years ago, and still keep close to the surface of memory is when Stephen King said, “Writers don’t like writing; they like having written.” Let that sink in. It is not so much the process of pulling words from the vault in our minds, whether they be for fiction or non-fiction, and putting them to paper in the dance writers know as writing, rewriting, and editing we find fun. The process can be grueling or bothersome, especially when the muse decides to take a nap.
However, when it’s done, woo baby, happy dance time. That is how we felt at SSP when we declared the first issue of House of Stitched ready for the world. And with that we are in a “rinse and repeat” cycle.
Work is already in progress for our second issue set to be released in January, but for now I’ll say …
I’ll see you on the next page.
Donelle Pardee Whiting
What happens when you put two unholy entities together?
House of Stitched Magazine is excited to chat with both in our upcoming issue. Want to know more? Follow us on Facebook for updates and more!