14 Mar

Some bands man was not meant to listen to. The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets.

Posted by Bryan White | Sunday March 14, 2010 | Horror Rock

I need to be careful or pretty soon this is going to wind up an H.P. Lovecraft themed blog with a very misleading title. Lovecraft and rock music are no strangers. There was a psychedelic band in the 60′s named H.P. Lovecraft, Plenty of bands have done Lovecraft themed songs like Univers Zero’s song titled after The Music of Erich Zann, Metallica has that Call of Ktulu instrumental and a song called The Thing That Should Not Be (Cliff Burton was a Lovecraft fan), Gwar have a song about Yig. No one, to my knowledge, has ever dedicated the entirety of their band to Lovecraft. That is, no one aside from The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. The Thickets, with a few exceptions and an entire concept album unrelated to Lovecraft, have more or less written entire albums dedicated to The Mythos. Unfairly labelled Geek Rock by their considerably nerdy fanbase, thanks in part to their strict adherence to the rules of Lovecraft Country, certain band members’ associations with table top roleplaying games and an outspoken pair of fans in the form of the Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets are actually a fairly stoney band. Their latest full-length, The Shadow Out Of Tim, has some unbearably sweet riffs that sound as though they were lifted straight out of any given Ozzy-era Black Sabbath album. Except for Technical Ecstasy because that album fucking sucks.

Back in the early 90′s in British Columbia – that’s in Canada – three righteous dudes got together and wrote a bunch of songs about Cthulhu. Flash forward 18 years and they’re still at it only they’ve honed their craft to the point where they’re writing entire concept albums about The Shadow Out Of Time, entitled The Shadow Out Of Tim. What The Thickets do, though, is add a touch of humor to the lyrics inspired by some downright humorless storytelling. And they’re good at it! Really good, actually. Early recordings could easily be indentified as melodic punk but their more recent releases have a sound that seems clearly informed by bong rips. The Shadow Out Of Tim, in particular, is characterized by fuzz-box guitars, noodly leads and eighth note drum beats. Slow dirges about possession at the hands of a race of aliens reaching forward through time this is not, however. Each song, with the exception of a couple of weak spots on The Shadow Out Of Tim, is a series of righteous pop hooks and as a rock album, it’s a solid affair. Add the Lovecraftian narrative and you have a winner.

It doesn’t end there, though. While most of their catalog is a tongue in cheek tribute to Lovecraft, the band has branched out on occasion. Case in point, their album Spaceship Zero. The album, about a ship with a “Better Than Lightspeed” drive that causes the entire universe to collapse in on itself and then explode out again, coincides with a roleplaying game (that doesn’t seem to be in print anymore) of the same name by Thickets members Toren Atkinson and Warren Banks. The general outline spoofs 50′s and 60′s sci-fi. To compliment the release, the band toured wearing a series of space suits and jumpsuits. As a matter of fact, costuming, as evident in that image up and to the left, plays a large part in the live Darkest of the Hillside Thickets experience.

Take a few minutes to listen to their sweet tunes and then head over to their site to learn more and buy their stuff.

3 Comments 

  1. March 16, 2010 10:34 am

    Gargus

    For the sake of saying it since you mentioned Gwar. Watch the movie they made called Phallus In Wonderland. It has the cuttlefish of cthulhu in it and a couple other subtle cthulhu references. Aside from being a vehicle for some of their songs its actually a pretty fucked up and schlocky good time with that unique feel to it you dont find to often, reminds me of staying up late as a little kid watching stuff on late tv you shouldnt be watching.

  2. March 16, 2010 2:08 pm

    Bryan White

    Was that the one with The Morality Squad? I think that was one of the only GWAR home videos I never saw.

  3. April 12, 2010 10:57 pm

    castewar

    Spaceship Zero (the RPG) is still in print – I’ve seen it in finer gaming stores and Green Ronin (the publisher) still offers copies through their store.

    http://www.greenronin.com/store/product/grr1010.html

    Fun game system if you’re so inclined…


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