The unholy Gothenburg quartet known as Vampire have emerged as one of the most impressive death metal acts currently running game out of Sweden, a country whose extreme musical lineage and legendary cult pedigree have been well documented by critics and heavy metal historians.
Yet Vampire's self-titled debut-released earlier this year by Century Media records-has managed to inject a vibrant 'n vital shot of life into the "old is new again" style of vintage, burly Swedish death metal. The band takes the raw and simplistic attack of prime Nihilist and Grave, combining it with memorably dark guitar melodies and a morbid atmosphere culled from the band's passionate devotion to classic horror films.
The band's drummer and vocalist "Hand of Doom" was only too happy to talk horror shop, revealing, "I'm a long-time horror fan, yet it’s difficult to say what the attraction is, really. Sometimes after experiencing a good piece of horror fiction, I get the feeling of having seen a glimpse of how things actually work behind the paper walls of culture and reason. Good horror fiction should say something about yourself, and shed light on a complex of emotions you couldn’t express yourself. Needless to say, many horror films fail in this department. The parts I tend to enjoy the most are right before the scary stuff starts to happen, when you merely realize something is wrong – and will get worse soon."
He continues, "In the wake of the Japanese horror boom, I was traveling in South-East Asia and bought piles of cheap DVDs in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok; scary stuff with long-haired undead girls was available everywhere. Soon enough, I discovered that the films that were really worth seeing soon made it to our part of the world without my personal effort. This is a pattern I can recognize in most vivid horror film cultures. I have waded through pools of gritty Italian zombie/cannibal flicks, only to discover that the stuff you could find at the video shop where I grew up was already the only things you really need to see."
My impression is that horror fans are generally even more tolerant to crap than metal fans, but I know what they are after, and the feeling of finding a forgotten gem that terrifies you in just the right way is exclusively wonderful.
The lost art of the film soundtrack is another essential piece of the horror film puzzle for the Hand of Doom; that all important feeling of atmosphere and dread which is so expertly executed by such famed composers as Fabio Frizzi (Zombie), John Carpenter (Halloween) and Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen). These sentiments are echoed by Vampire themselves on such dark 'n dreadful album highlights as "Howl From the Coffin" and "At Midnight I'll Possess Your Corpse," a song inspired by the legendary Brazilian films from director and icon Jose Mojica Marins, a.k.a. "Coffin Joe."
"One thing I discovered relatively late in life is that good horror films often depend on the music. In my experience, it’s hard to name one very good horror film that has a weak soundtrack. Thus, from the top of my head – five horror movies with great music in them..."
- Ju-On (first three Japanese films and first American one). "Probably the crowning achievement of the Japanese horror boom of the early 2000’s, with confusing chronology, comfortingly low pace and eerie atmosphere. The American remake is not bad at all, which I think goes for Ringu as well."
- Let’s Scare Jessica to Death "Amazing low budget flick, with a seriously haunting soundtrack, that makes you want to go sightseeing on the American countryside. I discovered this one after learning it is the scariest film Killjoy in Necrophagia has ever seen, which probably says it all, even though I find it difficult to fully agree."
- The Beyond "The death metal cliché of all death metal clichés, but there is no way around the sheer sentimental impact of the storyline, soundtrack and ending. Some people dislike the fragmented line of events and general lack of logic, but I would argue it adds to the nightmarish atmosphere. Apparently the whole zombie thing was something they threw in at last minute due to a rising zombie trend in Germany while making the film. It makes this one a kind of 'best of' Italian horror cinema."
- Jenifer "Sexually disturbing with a perverse yet melancholic twist, this is rather a TV series episode than a movie, as part of the generally less than thrilling Masters of Horror. The cool circle composition in the good old comic book tradition makes sense when you consider the fact that it is based on an old comic strip (which actually made it to Sweden in the early 90’s in the short-lived action/sci-fi/horror comic Thriller)."
- A Tale of Two Sisters "Very confusing first time you see it. Grows on you and appears to be one of the most well-crafted horror films of the decade at second and third run. A Tale of Two Sisters builds on the gothic tradition of blurring borders between genres, which makes it difficult to say where the psychological horror ends and the haunted house/ghost story stuff begins.
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