Archive for August, 2018

Update: 08/30/2018

Posted in Frank Coffman, Hippocampus Press, Morbidezza, My Bantam Black Fay, S.T. Joshi, Spectral Realms, Thalía, Thalia, Updates, Weird Poets Society with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Well, it seems that after a long wait, Spectral Reams #9, featuring my poem Thalía, is now available for ordering on the Hippocampus Press website. I am listed under my first and last name, Manuel Arenas. Initially, I had wanted to be known publicly by my full name, including middle name, but they didn’t use it for some odd reason. Being the superstitious sod that I am, I looked up the numerological significance of my full name as well as the abbreviated version and found that the shortened one totaled the number 12 which represents inspiration, creativity and self-expression, which are all good things so I decided to let it go. Perhaps that was the hand of Providence creating good energy flow for my writing efforts. Either way, the journal can be ordered on the Hippocampus Press website under journals>Spectral Realms then click on Spectral Realms no. 9. I would share the link, but it came up weird for me so I think this might be better.

After news of the journal came out I got a message from a fellow contributor, poet Frank Coffman, inviting me to join the Weird Poets Society. I am pretty new to it, so I cannot really say what it’s all about, but it seems to be a closed forum for published poets of the weird variety. As soon as I got onto the forum page I saw there was an anthology of member’s poetry in the works and they were taking submissions, so I sent in my poem My Bantam Black Fay. As of yet I haven’t heard anything on it but I will let you all know of any developments there. I also submitted my prose poem Morbidezza to Spectral Realms for issue #10. I will let you know of any developments there as well.

Update: 08/31/2018

Got a timely and courteous response from S.T. Joshi saying that he is always accepting submissions and will be happy to take a look at my poem when he has a chance. Fingers crossed…



Lucifer II

Posted in Doom Metal, Gaz Jennings, Johanna Sadonis, Lucifer (band), Scorpions (band) with tags , , , on August 25, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

After many months of chomping at the bit for any news on the follow up to their impressive 2015 debut album, the band Lucifer, brainchild of German Doom Queen Johanna Sadonis, has finally released their sophomore effort, Lucifer II, this past July. I have held off on reviewing the album for a bit because I wanted to live with it for a while before I passed any judgment upon it. In the three years since their previous album, a skillful admixture of Doom Metal and melodic old school hard rock, the line up has been almost entirely revamped, which has changed both the groups sound and overall vibe considerably. Most notably, the loss of guitarist Gaz Jennings has really altered the structure and sound of the songs. The new songs, which Sadonis penned with mutli-instrumentalsit Nicke Andersson, are a lot more straightforward and the occult vibe of Sadonis’ previous efforts has been watered down as well. Instead of all the esoteric references to numerology and magick or the Luciferian paeans, the new album abounds with power ballads and generic hard rock motifs. There is however a cover of the Rolling Stones voodoo song Dancing with Mr. D, which I think improves upon the original, and the one legitimate doom song on the album, Faux Pharoah is the only song which reprises some of the compositional complexity of the previous album. That being said, the lyrics feel a bit lackluster.

Lucifer II by Lucifer (2018, Century Media)

Before the album release Lucifer put out a 45 RPM single of then soon-to-be-released album opening track California Son, for which they also released a music video. As I believe I stated before in the review for the Faux Pharaoh digital download, the new vibe seems to be like late-70s Scorpions with biker gear and a slick European hard rock sound. To further cinch the comparison, they do a b-side cover of the Scorpions moody Evening Wind from their 1975 album In Trance. The 45 initially came with a digital download which was cool because even though I wanted the collectible 45, I need to replace my turntable, so I figured I would listen to the digital download until I was able to do so. Unfortunately, it seems someone decided they didn’t want to leave up the download and so it was taken down before I got a chance to use it. The contact for Electric Assault records, who pressed the 45, claimed it was the band. I don’t know for sure. So I have the 45, but have not heard it yet.

California Son 7″ single by Lucifer (2018, Electric Assault Records).

Shortly before the album release another video was released for the song Dreamer, a power ballad which actually is quite tuneful and has a nice heavy midsection that hints at the band’s doomy origins. The video is notable for featuring the three guitarist line-up of the touring band. It seems to me that in both videos, but especially Dreamer, the emphasis is on Sadonis. She is presented as a sort of romanticized rock & roll chanteuse, with soft focus and ethereal light on her golden head and many long shots of her leather and spandex clad figure. She looks great for sure, but if this is the direction the band will be going in I fear they may end up being brushed off as just another rock band with a pretty female singer, which I believe ultimately does Sadonis & co. a disservice.

In summation, I think the album is a big step in what may be a more commercially viable direction, but at the cost of their musical significance and integrity. Think of it as the difference between one of the classic Black Sabbath albums of the 70-73 era like Paranoid, or Vol. 4, and one of the last great Ozzy solo albums like Bark at the Moon. It’s still heavy, but not nearly as much as the previous effort, and its streamlined mainstream sound and has more in common with Power Pop than Doom Metal, in essence.

Afterthought: I heard both Sadonis and Andersson mention their mutual love of the occult-rock band Blue Öyster Cult in a recent online interview and there is some of that in there as well, but nothing so dark of heavy as on Lucifer I. Even so, I still hope to see them on tour and await their proximate album with much anticipation…and apprehension.

Update 08-18-2018: The Magic Lantern

Posted in Angela Carter, Marcel Schwob, Morbidezza, The Bloody Chamber (book), The Company of Wolves 1984, Vies imaginaires (1896) with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2018 by Manuel Paul Arenas

Last month I was pretty down in the mouth after having received a rejection for the last of the pieces I’d sent out that I was really hopeful of getting published. I still have a short story out which I submitted for a Clark Ashton Smith tribute, but I already expect it to be turned down so I haven’t given it much thought. That said, with an eye towards future submissions, I have recently begun writing some newer prose pieces which are mostly descriptive vignettes about macabre characters, sort of like Marcel Schwob’s Vies imaginaires, Imaginary Lives, where he wrote semi-biographical short stories about the lives of some historical villains (like Captain Kidd, Burke & Hare, etc), though instead mine are about Gothic monsters. I’m not sure if they would qualify as prose poems, but that’s what I am going for, brief poetic vignettes, with little or no dialogue written in a fairytale style. I am thinking of calling it “Magic Lantern”.

Vies imaginaires_1896

Vies imaginaires by Marcel Schwob 1st edition Charpentier & Fasquelle (1896).

The first one I wrote in the series is called Morbidezza. I am tempted to use her full name, Morbidezza Vesepertilio. She is a Venetian vampire in 18th century Germany who is taken captive by an infatuated young vampire hunter (who is the monster here?). It is at, last count, 667 words long, barely two pages, but it is succinct and IMHO beautiful.  Anyway, I have decided to hold off from posting it on here because I wish to try it out in some journals before releasing it to the world. I do however, have a scan of one of the working outline papers so you can see some of the myriad forms it took before it made it to its final draft.

Working draft for “Morbidezza”.

The next story is about a werewolf named Rosaire. Although I have set this story in Clark Ashton Smith’s Averoigne, it is not necessarily a Mythos tale. It is a traditional tale with all of the folkloric tropes from the original historical lycanthropy cases. Oddly enough, in my research for the tale, I began watching one of my old favorite werewolf films, “The Company of Wolves” (1984), by Neil Jordan, which features a script by Jordan and Angela Carter, largely based on her the relevant tales from her 1979 book “The Bloody Chamber”. After getting about 20 or so minutes into the movie, I decided to take a look at the source.

“The Bloody Chamber” is one of my all-time favorite books as you may well know, so I decided to take a quick look at some of the tales before I got into my “research”. I read The Erl-King, The Snow Child, and my favorite, The Lady of the House of Love. This last one is about a vampire girl, daughter of Vlad Dracula, who lives in a dilapidated castle in Transylvania. Her watcher, an old woman who sound much like nurse from Hammer’s “Countess Dracula, would lure young men to her lair where they would get a last supper before being drained by their waifish and preternaturally beautiful hostess. One day, a young British soldier on leave takes a bicycle tour of Romania and ends up in the vampire’s snare, but there’s a snag, she falls in love. I won’t ruin it for you but it is sublime and deftly told. It is baroque and Gothic but has a heart and wistful fairy tale wit about it. It is a masterful story which only Ms. Carter could write and it had a profound effect on me when I first read it sometime around 1995.

Dust-jacket for the Gollanncz 1st edition (1979) of “The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories” by Angela Carter.

Rereading it now, I see how much it has influenced my “Morbidezza” in subtle ways I couldn’t have imagined had I purposefully set out to write a piece à la Carter. I can never be quite the brilliant writer she was, but her work is the exemplary standard which I look to for guidance and inspiration. I cannot wait to share it with the world but shall try to be smart about when and where.