The combination of metal and horror films presents a challenge because you cannot have two strong forces without having one trigger the other. In Death Metal Zombies (1995) it was a recording send from an on-air contest; in The Lords of Salem director Rob “Zombie” Cummings features a terrifyingly enigmatic piece of music that, played over the radio, invokes demons. In Deathgasm, a downtrodden teenage metalhead in New Zealand uncovers an ancient hymn for summoning a dark deity, and launches (nearly) the end of the world.
As with all in the genre of New Zealand horror, Deathgasm features a tight integration of absurdist humor with its horror plot. Like reading Mad Magazine, watching this film requires the viewer to be attentive to background details for extra laughs, but there are also outright comedic lines delivered at pivotal points in the plot. Much like the best underground films of the 1980s, Deathgasm also serves as a revelation of society from a metalhead’s point of view: boring, pointless, disorganized, with people already possessed by ideas before the demons even get the glimmer of personality transubstantiation in their beady little eyes.
Once having accepted that the plot will revolve around a teenage metalhead, his band, and an ancient curse, the viewer can proceed to enjoy this film for what it delivers: buckets of gore, wry laughs, and an honest sense of terror for these characters caught in an absurd world gone even more nonsensical. Protagonist Brodie just wants to make it through high school and away from his horrible foster parents, maybe picking up axe-slinging sweetheart Medina along the way, but his world has collapsed… and then the demons arrive.
Tightly scripted, and filmed with an eye for the natural beauty of New Zealand as well as as a pervasive creepy suspense that makes ordinary settings look threatening and surreal, Deathgasm applies perhaps the lightest touch working metal into the film as both topic and soundtrack, immersing us in the world of the metalhead facing a demonic horror that, like the adult world around him, is both incomprehensible and threatening. Look for the classic metal tshirts and other details of the underground metal world.
Unlike many horror films, Deathgasm follows more of the adventure movie plot (think: Die Hard, the apex of the genre if you ask me, which you didn’t) in that it involves humans attempting to surmount disbelief and low self-confidence to take on supernatural forces. Its characters, while caricatures, also reveal some of the truth of our varied social roles in this wonderful modern society. Rising to the inevitable conclusion, this film spills buckets of blood and guts and makes its audience identify with the struggle for survival against forces beyond our control.
Adorned with the tagline “Produced by Metalheads,” death metal themed horror film Deathgasm will be showing at this year’s SXSW festival. The filmmakers have released a trailer which shows scenes from the film and their approach to horror movie making.
You may have read our previous coverage of Deathgasm, the metal-themed horror film that independent producer Jason Lei Howden of New Zealand intends to make. The film, which focuses on the story of two teenage boys who unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One, will begin shooting in another eight to ten weeks.
Deathgasm is able to be produced because its producers won funding from the Make My Horror Movie competition designed to foster higher quality independent horror films. “With some of the most inventive and shocking gore ever captured, Deathgasm will gush bodily fluids, rain limbs and tickle your funny bone, before tearing it out and giving you a stiff beating with it,” the film’s prospectus promised.
Funds in the form of $200,000 will enable the filmmakers to create the final movie. The film idea beat out 400 other entries and will be funded by Make My Movie, the NZ Film Commission, MPI Media USA and nzherald.co.nz. Director Jason Lei Howden is currently seeking death metal bands who would be willing to allow their songs to be used on the soundtrack, with a preference for underground acts.
A New Zealand director is campaigning to get his death metal themed horror film funded through a crowdsourced campaign. The film, named Deathgasm, will concern the adventures of social outcasts who discover music that can summon evil.
Written and to be directed by Jason Lei Howden, Deathgasm is designed as a throwback to the early 1980s budget splatter films and the Heavy Metal horror genre. The director promises that Deathgasm will have a soundtrack that “will be the bane of noise control officers the world over.”
The plot revolves around evil, antisocial behavior, Slayer lyrics and black magic, but ultimately turns on a plot point related to music itself. Deathgasm will thus be a themed film with death metal as an integral part of that outlook.
We got a few questions back from director Jason Lei Howden to give our readers more of a feel of where the film is going.
What’s your history with horror movies, and heavy metal?
I’ve been obsessed with horror since I was a kid, and was naturally attracted to the imagery and dark storytelling of Heavy Metal.
When I was really young, I remember seeing Motley Crue and Iron Maiden cassettes and thinking the contents must be the most insanely satanic shit. Which in hindsight seems absurd.
I quickly progressed towards Thrash and Death, those amazing years in the early 90’s, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deicide. Such a great time for Metal.
What are the connections between Deathgasm and heavy metal? What about death metal specifically?
The characters are teenage outcasts. Death Metal is their only form of release. They won’t be wearing Disturbed t-shirts or anything like that; these kids are pure death fans. They are social rejects but find strength in the music. I want to stress that we aren’t out to parody or make fun of Metal, it’s more of a salute to the genre.
I want heaps of references to the classic bands in there, but if we could get some up and coming Death Metal bands on the soundtrack it would be awesome.
There are some amazing Heavy Metal horror films, and Trick Or Treat is a big influence. But it’s a dormant genre and it’s about time to combine brutal sounds and gore again. Death Metal in particular has imagery with is extremely horror when you think of the album covers and lyrics.
There are also occult and satanic themes, they start to dabble in black music and get in over their heads.
In saying that, I want to clarify that you won’t need to be a Metal fan to enjoy Deathgasm, just like Metalocalypse appeals to a huge audience. Anyone who has felt like an outsider will relate to our characters, and fans of Evil Dead, Bad Taste or the Troma films will love the Deathgasm.
Do you think there’s a horror movie culture? What about a heavy metal, or death metal, culture?
New Zealand is so small it’s hard for me to gauge, but Metal culture seems to be far smaller than it used to be. Because there are so many sub-sub genres now, it’s more fragmented. Maybe Metal is better off being underground, whenever it gets too mainstream it de-fangs it a bit.
Horror seems to be still huge, seeing shows like “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story” on mainstream TV and getting Emmys is surreal.
Can you tell us about your history with film and horror film?
I went to film school and since then have finished a couple of fantasy/post-apocalyptic short films. It’s really hard to get horror funded here, our industry is based around small coming-of-age dramas.
But even if I don’t get funding, I’m adamant I’ll do a horror next. I work as a visual effects (VFX) artist, working up to 80 hours a week. I need to get outside and throw blood and guts around. We are really lucky to have the Make My Horror Movie Competition; it’s a great opportunity.
You’re launching a funding drive for Deathgasm right now. How close are you to what you need? When you get there, what happens?
The winners get $200,000. The project with the most Facebook “likes” gets into the top five. Right now we don’t have many votes compared to some other projects, but we only submitted recently. We would need a couple of thousand more Facebook “likes” to crack in to that threshold.
There is no sign up or spam, if people go to the page and just click the Facebook “like”, then maybe share it with friends it gets the project visibility and lets the judges know there is a market for a brutal Heavy Metal Horror film.
If we don’t win we may develop the idea more and do a Kickstarter campaign. I want it to be a community thing, with an awesome soundtrack and heaps of Death Metal in-jokes and references.
And gory as hell! The Evil Dead remake was shot in NZ and was pretty gory, but we can take it up a notch or two from that. We have some talented friends and contacts in the practical effects industry here, I don’t want to give too much away but we have some awesome death set-pieces planned. We want to keep it practical; VFX gore just doesn’t look right.
If all goes well-ish, meaning according to plan and accounting for life’s little glitches, when will we be able to see this movie? And where (theatres, Netflix)?
Dark Sky films is a partner, they distribute some great horror, recently Frankenstein’s Army and Hatchet 3. So a lot of people are going to see it. I’m unsure about a theatrical release, netflix would be pretty probable. Would be looking at a late 2014/early 2015 release I would say.
For more information, and to support Jason Howden in his quest to make Deathgasm a reality, please visit the funding page and show support for this project.
Kentucky death metal band Abominant recently released its tenth studio album, Onward to Annihilation, in a style of death metal we don’t see much anymore: fast, melodic and yet riff-based and chaotic. This band is well-known in the underground, having released albums in the 1990s on feral label Wild Rags and toured across the country.
Onward to Annihilation shows Abominant nurturing the style that kept them going back in the 1990s, which uses fast riffs in complex patterns but always returns to a triumphant chorus which outlines the purpose of each song. The trademark Slayer-ish fast guitars and Dark Angel-styled drum breaks are also present.
You can hear Onward to Annihilation below in an exclusive live stream provided by Clawhammer PR and Abominant. It takes just a few seconds of your time to sample and explore this dark work of twisted death metal. (Your browser will show only the OGG files if Firefox, but both sets if Opera, Chrome or IE.)
In a time when the music industry is in upheaval, and most bands are changing styles and outlooks in order to chase the trends of the day, it’s gratifying to see some bands remain constant and constantly improving themselves. We were lucky to have a few moments with bassist Mike May, who was able to fill us in on all things Abominant, including the past and plans for the future.
Stream Abominant Onward to Annihilation here
1. We Are Coming
2. Conquerors of Dust
Left to Rot
Onward to Annihilation
Hold Your Ground
Beside the Dying Flame
Legions of Hell
For starters, I had to do a double-take when I saw that Abominant is on your 10th album. How have you managed to stick together as a band, face adversity and still enjoy what you’re doing after all these years?
We just don’t know how to do anything else? We are all just fans and friends that love to play metal and love to do it together. Some guys work on cars or hunt or play fantasy sports. We write death metal songs, simple as that.
I don’t think anyone in the band has any delusions of being famous or changing the world musically. We just like to drink beer, have fun and play death metal.
Pretty much by choice we never miss a practice and if any of us do, our week just seems less fulfilled. Whether anyone likes us or not, or if we ever put out another CD, I think we’ll still be getting together to do what we do.
Can you tell us how Abominant formed and what your influences were at the time? In other words, what inspired you to become Abominant and
how did you come together?
From say 1990 to 1993 Tim and I were in a band called Sarcoma. Mike and Jim had a band called Cataclysm. Also ex-members Buck and Craig had a band called Effigy, which were all the death metal realm.
All of those bands eventually fell apart and the six of us were pretty much the diehards that wanted to keep it going.
Worked out for the best in the long run. Weed out the weak and whatnot…. I was a big fan of the other guys’ bands prior to hooking up with them as well.
Overall I’d say alot of our main influences are shared in the 1986-1990 transition from thrash metal to death metal. Bands like Possessed, DarkAngel, Sacrifice, Bloodfeast, Kreator and so on really were happening at the time most of us were learning to play and we all still listen to that stuff pretty religiously.
I will say that as time rolls on we still get influenced even up to today, and no secret that black metal has come into the fold much more since we got Jim in 2005. We all listen to alot of different styles of metal, and its not like we love EVERYTHING, but it is very cool to be have extended conversations about which era of Darkthrone is our favorite and ten minutes later we’re talking about the new Candlemass while we listen to old Scanner cds. Variety is the spice of life.
Is there a “Midwestern sound” to death metal?
As a fan, I’d almost relate it to the “Chicago” sound. Bands like Master, Cianide, Macabre, Deathstrike and some outside Chicago like Repulsion and Impetigo is what I think of when you talk about “Midwest” sound.
It seems kinda true that most metal comes more from the burbs and bored teenagers rebelling against the middle class life than coming from inner city areas where punk and hip hop seem to have deeper roots, so i guess maybe thats a factor.Both Mike and Jim are natives but I was raised in Denver and Tim was born in Thailand, so i think our location has very little to do with our sound.
Do you consider yourselves a death metal band, or have another take on it?
Personally, Yeah… I would call us death metal, although by “scene police” standards, we would be called more “black death” which is also fine. Since we started, it seems that the death metal name has been leaning more toward ultra brutal bands, which i think usually end up being heavy on the DEATH but light on the METAL, which is sad. But I mean younger bands were introduced to Cannibal Corpse/Suffocation as their starting point in the same way I evolved from KISS to Sabbath to Slayer, so i cant really even blame them, its a different time, you know? We were kind of using the term “Goat Metal” for the longest time to blur what exactly we were doing, but in the end as long as it includes the word METAL, I think we’re fine with whatever.
Your songs show wide-ranging influences from within the metal genre. Is this a deliberate attempt to include the whole genre, or is this the product of your many influences? How have those influences changed over the years?
As I said, we all go all over the map as far as listening to metal goes, and I feel that every genre has its merits, but it also seems every genre is cluttered with mediocrity too.
As far as writing different styles, we just don’t want all of our songs to be the same and variety is also one of the things that keep us going. Not everything always works but at least we try stuff and dont want to limit exactly how an Abominant song is supposed to sound.
If you’re talking mainly about “Hold your Ground” from the new album, we had been playing “The Mob Rules” live for about a year after Dio died and ended up recording it for “Battlescarred”. After having so much fun with it and feeling so natural about it, I think we all wanted to take a shot at a straight up “Heavy Metal” song. I think it came out terrific and think if we set our sights on it, we could do a whole album in that style.
We have a new song that is kinda similar although a little more Mercyful Fate in style and I love playing that one.
I will say that we all really love blasting and fast Slayer headbang parts so I dont see us playing traditional heavy metal full time, but it is alot of fun, especially live.
How do you like working with Evan and the DeathGasm Records crew? (Did you have to explain what a “DeathGasm” is to any family members…?)
Working with Evan has been great. He stepped up right after Wild Rags and I had known him long time before that. He’s always supported what we do. I think our first album together Ungodly (2000) was pretty “next level” both for us and for him as a label, and what a way to start out!
Evan has booked us shows in Marietta and we’ve stayed at his house, so it really is very much a friendship. He knows what we’re going for and even what other bands we like so we just really couldnt be much happier. I also like alot of the stuff he puts out like Nominon, Manticore, Avenger so its its a good fit for Abominant overall. We havent had alot of backlash from the label name…personally, I think it sounds cool.
When you recorded “Onward to Annihilation,” what technique did you use to get your guitar sound? Have you changed much in how you produce albums since the last nine?
I know most of the guitar was a PRS going through a brand new Peavey head, but aside from that , you’d have to ask Tim.
He gets new stuff just about every six months it seems, so I would be surprised if ANY of our albums used the exact same equipment.
After hooking up with Scott at Velocity things really have just become more laid back and also more practical for us. Scott is a death metal guy, a hell of a drummer and inspires to be a great studio guy, which I think he is.. but I imagine 10 years from now he will be a fucking guru. Nothing negative to say about working with him at all, wish he was doing this in 1996!
Are you going to tour for this album?
Naw, as we get older and have families, touring just doesn’t work for us. Responsibility is our downfall :)
I wanna say 2008 we did like 24 shows, and that was our most ever, but we normally like to play out only around 8 -10 times a year.
We are all kinda reclusive, and I personally hate hanging out in bars, so I don’t guess we’ll ever get to be road warriors, but I like to think we are pretty solid when we do play live.
If you’re fans of the old underground, does it still exist? Who’s keeping the flag flying these days? Bands, zines, labels, etc.
I like alot of the more METAL death metal bands like Sathanas, Gravehill, Ares Kingdom, Cardiac Arrest, Mausoleum and so on (old guys I guess!) but even locally I think most of black/death bands here are putting out releases in 2013 or just did in 2012. So there still is stuff going on, but I dont know if theres much of a fan base for it.
Some of my favorite records are the newest releases from Immolation, Asphyx, VoiVod , Absu, Darkthrone, Autopsy and so on, so I dont go by the “only stuff in early 90s” like some people do.
Hells headbangers seems to be doing quite well and releasing cool stuff, and I like most of what Dark Descent puts out as well.
Where do you think Abominant will be when album 15 rolls out?
We average about two years for a record, so I’m guessing we’ll all be pushing 55 by our 15th album!
As it seems now, doing this for another ten years seems pretty viable and realistic, and barring any tragedy and/or line up shifts, I for one am looking forward to it! You can purchase the album for $6.89 here!
Abominant make midwestern death metal which showcases its extensive and varied influences within the metal genre. Astute observers will note charging death metal like Afterlife, but simpler and more direct, mixed with heavily Iron Maiden influenced heavy metal.
Onward to Annihilation exhibits Abominant at the height of their powers, having been making metal for over two decades. The tempo changes are crisper, the riffs faster, and the vocals put the sore abraded throat sound of death metal singing to a powerful use. The lengthy fast and emotional bluesy solos are still rippling through the bridge riffs.
Songs are fundamentally riff salad wrapped around a verse-chorus construction like a DUI driver wraps her SUV around a light pole. Structures veer off the beaten path, but do so as a way of returning, and tend to go through a series of riffs from heavy metal and speed metal before returning to the death metal norm.
Abominant have improved on previous efforts by evening out the balance of melodic material to the rest, and keeping the intensity up by tossing out less intense riffs. This shows the band at their leanest and meanest, smashing their heavy metal-death metal fusion into the faces of an oblivious world.
Onward to Annihilation, Abominant’s 10th studio album, is out now on Deathgasm Records.
KING (Colombia) “Forged By Satan’s Doctrine” CD (DG-065)
AVENGER (Czech Republic) “Bohemian Dark Metal” DIGI CD (DG-066)
NOCTURNAL TORMENT (USA) “They Come At Night” CD (DG-067)
CIANIDE (USA) “The Dying Truth” CD reissue (DG-068)
Metal Maniacs / Metalhit.com Offer 11 New Songs for Download + Enter to Win a TEXTURES CD from Nuclear Blast
Metal Maniacs, America’s online source for underground metal and Metalhit.com, metal’s premiere digital download store, are offering up their newest installment of their free monthly metal compilation for download worldwide!
The latest compilation, available from August 15th – September 14th, includes free, as-of-yet unreleased, downloadable tracks from:
TEXTURES (Nuclear Blast)
ANTHRAX (Megaforce Records)
DIAMOND PLATE (Earache Records)
MORDBRAND (Deathgasm Records)
ANTERIOR (Metal Blade Records)
GHOST BRIGADE (Season of Mist)
ARKONA (Napalm Records)
NOCTURNAL FEAR (Moribund Records)
NIGHTBRINGER (Season of Mist)
THE BROWNING (Earache Records)
VAN CANTO (Napalm Records)
Visitors may also enter to win a free copy of TEXTURES “Dualism” CD, courtesy of Nuclear Blast Records.
To download the compilation and enter the contest, visit: http://www.metalhit.com/metal1st.htm
Check back in mid-September for a new set of free unreleased songs and a new contest!