I'll be honest at the start. I don't get the fascination some people have with H.P. Lovecraft. Attempting to read his stories, I've never been able to finish one. He's simply too verbose, the very definition of literary hyperbole, using every adjective or adverb in the English language to describe something or emotion. Or as the late great crime fiction writer, Elmore Leonard, once said about reading Tolstoy, "Too many words." But that's just me. Lovecraft and his mystical and mythical cosmology has been some fascination with bands, from hard rock to heavy metal to progressive metal, for sometime. Think early Metallica. But then again horror, fantasy, and sci-fi themes have always been the staple of the same for years.
So here's Infinite Spectrum and their second album, Haunter Of The Dark, based on a Lovecraft (rather) short story of the same name about weird tales writer Robert Blake's fascination with a mysterious, and forbidden, church in his town of Providence, Rhode Island. (You can read the plot summary from Wikipedia below.)
The challenges with a musical adaptation of a literary piece are manifold. Get the storyline right. In other words, tell the tale the author told, not the one you "think" he's telling. Give the people within the story a proper voice. Draw from the description and dialogue for your lyrics. And perhaps of most importance: somehow communicate, by example, character emotion, suspense of a scene, the drama of conflict, and so on.
Well, Infinite Spectrum pretty much nails all these things. They stuck to the story, drew heavily upon the text to tell the musical tale, and crafted music to generate appropriate atmosphere and direction. Some examples then.
The centerpiece of the album is likely the song, in five parts, The Church, where our protagonist begins exploring the creepy place. In the center with The Ascent, climbing up, there's an obvious sense emotion, both wonder and dread. Both in the music and vocals is restless and quick in the ascent and anticipation. Yet it levels off at the end in a long instrumental. Part four follows with The Shining Trapezohedron, a song about the cultic demon summoning device. Here the music has a nearly chaotic, prog metal meets jazz fusion swirl, as our hero examines the arcane object. For another example, consider the title track, Haunter Of The Dark, wherein the release of the demon is given musical treatment with heavier prog metal, spiked with drama and dread, as the beast is upon us. With the following Fear, the suspense of impending horror and the agitated state that fear can cause is developed through the rumble of equally agitated rhythm and drumming.
Suffice to say, one could elaborate on everything here, but I think you get the sense of what's happening. But none of this would work as well as it does without vocalist Will Severin's both melodic and convincing style giving voice to the emotions of the principal actor in the story. Additionally, speaking generally of Infinite Spectrum's music: this is very good progressive rock and metal with a strong keyboard presence and an abundance of guitar solos. In the end, what the band and this album reminded me of is what would happen if Leftoverture era Kansas went gothic and a bit darker, indeed exploring Lovecraft themselves. It's an odd comparison, but I think it fits. Bottom line: Infinite Spectrum's Haunter Of The Dark is massive and engaging, and a very significant accomplishment for the band. If you dig progressive metal both musically creative and intellectually viable, you need to check out this album.
BTW: Sorry, there's no video of a song to share with you.
Haunter Of The Dark Plot Summary
The story (which is based on the diaries of its protagonist) is set in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft's hometown and a favorite locale for his fiction. The protagonist, Robert Blake - a young man with an interest in the occult (he is a writer of weird stories and a painter of fantastic paintings) - becomes fascinated by a large disused church set on Federal Hill in Providence's west - the Italian and migrant quarter - which he can see from his lodgings in Providence's Upper East side. His researches reveal that the church has a sinister history involving a cult called the Church of Starry Wisdom and is dreaded by the local inhabitants as being haunted by a primeval evil. Blake explores the neighborhood and eventually locates the church, in spite of discouragement by the inhabitants of the district. He gains access to the crypt via a window and ascends the tower, where he discovers an ancient artifact known as the "Shining Trapezohedron" - described in the story as a "crazily angled stone" and a "nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces" - which has the property of being able to summon a terrible being from the depths of time and space. It also provides various visions of other locales in time and space. The trapezohedron rests in a metal box with a hinged lid; the box is incised with designs representing living but distinctly alien creatures. The whole sits atop a column which is also incised with alien designs or characters. Blake's interference inadvertently arouses or summons the malign being of the title, and he leaves the church aware that he has caused some mischief. As implied by the title, the being can only go abroad in darkness, and is hence constrained to the tower at night by the presence of the lights of the city. During a severe thunderstorm, electric power to the city becomes erratic. The local people, terrified by the sounds coming from the church, call on their Catholic priests to lead prayers against the demon. Blake, aware of what he has let loose, is also terrified and prays for the power to remain on. However, eventually it fails altogether and the city is plunged into darkness. Blake is subsequently found dead, staring out of his window at the church with a look of horror on his face. His last words refer to his perception of the approaching being. "I see it-- coming here-- hell-wind-- titan-blur-- black wings-- Yog-Sothoth save me-- the three-lobed burning eye..." The story makes numerous references to significant entities from the Cthulhu Mythos, including Yog-Sothoth (above) and Nyarlathotep.
Infinite Spectrum's Haunter Of The Dark is massive and engaging, and a very significant accomplishment for the band. If you dig progressive metal both musically creative and intellectually viable, you need to check out this album.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]