Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Google search result for "heavy metal 2014."

It’s that time of year, where I face a legitimate heavy metal Sophie’s Choice and somehow narrow all of the extreme releases I’ve enjoyed this year down to 50. 2014 treated me beautifully, with my very first screenplay sale, a continuing dream gig at Decibel Magazine, my own column dedicated to independent bands at About Heavy Metal, and several other projects I’ll discuss in more detail soon. I KNOW YOU CAN’T WAIT. But for now, it’s time to celebrate the end of the year the way journalists and critics know best: LISTS.

There are a slew of truly solid albums not listed here, and honestly, my rankings have fluctuated nearly every day for the past two months since I handed in my initial Top 40 list to the editors at Decibel Magazine. I have no doubt that if I look at this list in another year or decade, hell, even another week, the rankings could shift and shuffle depending on my mood, the cereal I eat, how crowded the subway is that morning, etc. Feel free to inform me how lousy my selections are, how overrated band A is, how album B is obviously the top selection of the year, and how I’ve terribly under-represented genre C.

2014 Top 50 Metal Albums of the Year

1.   YAITW – When Life Comes to Death
2.   Horrendous – Ecdysis
3.   Drunk Dad – Ripper Killer
4.   Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden
5.   Morbus Chron – Sweven
6.   Thou – Heathen
7.   YOB – Clearing the Path to Ascend
8.   Nux Vomica – S/T
9.    Cripple Bastards – Nero in Metastasi
10.  Bastard Feast – Osculum Inflame
11.  Black Anvil – Hail Death
12.  Septicflesh – Titan
13.  Midnight – No Mercy for Mayhem
14.  Vallenfyre – Splinters
15.  Giant Squid – Minoans
16.  Coffin Dust – The Cemetery, My Kingdom
17.  Down – IV: Part Two
18.  Atriarch – An Unending Pathway
19.  The Skull – For Those Which Are Asleep
20.  Wo Fat – The Conjuring
21.  Eyehategod – S/T
22.  Sea of Bones – The Earth Wants Us Dead
23.  Trap Them – Blissfucker
24.  Incantation – Dirges of Elysium
25.  Orange Goblin – Back From the Abyss
26.  Triptykon – Melana Chasmata
27.  Anguish – Mountain
28.  Baptists – Bloodmines
29.  Tombs – Savage Gold
30.  Opeth – Pale Communion
31.  Torch Runner – Endless Nothing
32.  Couch Slut – My Life as a Woman
33.  Funerary – Starless Aeons
34.  Wild Throne – Blood Maker
35.  Mutilation Rites – Harbinger
36.  Bongripper – Miserable
37.  Gatecreeper – S/T
38.  Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall
39.  The Oath – S/T
40.  Secret Cutter – S/T
41.  Cult Leader – Nothing For Us Here
42.  Godflesh – A World Lit Only by Fire
43.  At the Gates – At War with Reality
44.  Gurt – Horrendosaurus
45.  Drawers – S/T
46.  Atta – S/T
47.  The Atlas Moth – The Old Believer
48.  Vampire – S/T
49.  Agalloch – The Serpent and the Sphere
50.  1349 – Massive Cauldron of Chaos

If you haven’t checked it out yet, go buy issue #123 of Decibel Magazine, where the whole staff selects the Top 40 Extreme Albums of the Year.

You can also check out a few of my other picks for the year listed on the 2014 Heavy Metal Awards at About Heavy Metal.

Check out all the other lists popping up around this time also and feel free to send Tweets about my questionable metal taste over to @MisterGrowl.

Monday, July 7, 2014


In my element: Splattered with pig blood.

So it’s been, um, MONTHS since I last updated Mister Growl. The absence was necessary, I swear. This site was originally hatched to be little more than a portfolio of musings about extreme music and a chance to gush about my favorite albums of the day/week/month/millennium. Now that I’m able to cover great bands in Decibel Magazine each month (and with About.com and Girls and Corpses Magazine, when time allows), this site will cover my various writing projects and absolutely reek of shameless self-promotion. But, you know, reek in a good way.

Back in February I agreed to option my screenplay The Post-Ironic Hipster Massacre with an ambitious new production company based in the UK. The script had ranked in the top 100 entries at Scriptapalooza and after discussions with the producers I agreed to re-write the script, changing the setting from Brooklyn to London. The project is still in pre-production, but with the talent currently attached I feel great about the future of my silly, bloody, satirical slasher film.

I also recently finished the rough draft of a “heavy metal coloring book” illustrated by the unfairly talented Ellie Shvaiko. Without giving too much away, it’s a gruesome version of a popular fairy tale complete with monsters, warriors, and a plague that makes buttholes explode and turn inside-out. The title: 130 Dead Kids. More on that soon.

On the screenwriting front, I am nearing completion of drafts for two horror scripts I’m co-writing with awesome collaborators. My brother and I are working together on a haunted house/possession/zombie script tentatively called Appraising the Dead. I’m obviously biased, but it absolutely blows The Conjuring and its ilk out of the water in terms of creativity and kills. I’m also collaborating with screenwriter/playwright/actor Scott Langer on an exciting new project. The Last Birthday (working title) is a story split into halves: Mr. Langer sets up an intriguing premise with gritty humor and sharp dialogue, and I tear the world apart with surreal horror and gore.

Apart from pieces in Decibel Magazine, I also have a selection of poetry lined up for the next issue of Kung-Fu Breakfast. The issue - named “Beyond the Nude” - will focus on perceptions of nudity, sexuality, and the human form. My poems are based on my experiences as a patron of exotic dance establishments, and the collection is called “Dance With a Thousand Names.”

Lots more on the way, including the possibility of a short story collection and a better-late-than-never review of Maryland Deathfest for Girls and Corpses Magazine with my inebriated and uncensored thoughts on the event. Enjoy yourselves, fellow scumbags.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The last time I heard from Bill Robinson it was a pleasant message of appreciation for reviewing an album by his other band from Chattanooga, Oxxen. Now snarling and blasting out dangerous feedback with Red Necklace as well, Robinson and Patrick Wilkey - who provides drums and “hellfire,” according to Facebook - carve out four songs from forty minutes of thick riffage and thundering drums.

Starting with the glacial crawl of  “Repression of the Snake,” Red Necklace’s eponymous debut album fuses the swampy danger of Primitive Man and the bombastic noise of Behoover, then covers it all with a wintery mix of muddy slush and ice. It’s entirely possible that I’m projecting my own brutal New York February onto these songs, but they possess glacial qualities, in my frostbitten mind. When it comes to doom duos, there’s usually an enormous responsibility on the drummer to punctuate riffs that, without percussive accompaniment, risk feeling like distortion swelling and flickering as a freeform passage. Wilkey particularly shines on “The Swarm,” guiding the song down smoky corridors in some frigid basement labyrinth with confident fills while strengthening structural integrity.

But doom’s success is eventually determined by the mood and attitude of its riffs. Red Necklace grazes various subgenres (Sleep’s bouncy, bong-worshipping stoner doom; the texture of Evoken’s foggy, funereal epics; the grimy sludge of NOLA’s various musical outlaws), but emerges from the album with their own stamp on a genre, matching impressive kineticism with riffs that never feel derivative. The songs occasionally thaw during gentler moments of morose tones and shimmering cymbals, but it’s really just spilled blood momentarily melting the ice. Robinson’s rasp and blackened blues riffs transform 40 minutes into an experience that builds upon well-known metallic foundations (hell, parts of “Repression of the Snake” even feel like “Enter Sandman” at times, if the Sandman was dressed in fresh pelts) and stomps forward with a black boot.

Check out Red Necklace over on their Facebook page, then pre-order their album over on Bandcamp: http://rednecklace.bandcamp.com/

Better yet, order the cassette from Failed Recordings and Inherent Records here: http://failedrecordings.storenvy.com/products/5439073-red-necklace-s-t-cassette

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


So, Mister Growl wasn’t updated for a while, and this is why: Writing assignments from Decibel Magazine, Kung Fu Breakfast, About.com Heavy Metal, and Girls & Corpses Magazine were all released in the last 2 weeks. Here are two issues of Kung Fu Breakfast with great material from their roster of inspired, unstable artists:


First of all, look at that amazing cover. That’s the sort of art that makes it easy to admit I was an obsessive Star Wars fan through about ninth grade, when I stumbled into Suffocation, Skinless, and Cannibal Corpse. I have a love sonnet written from the point of Salacious Crumb, Jabba’s cackling enslaved jester, along with a little drawing of the same character. There’s great stuff in this issue, especially for sci-fi fans. Does include nudity. Hopefully that makes you want to download it more.

You can download the issue for FREE here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/683205


I was concerned I wouldn’t have much inspiration for this one (being an American with ties to only Scottish and Irish ancestry that are several generations past), but I wrote a story of the tragic life of a prison tattoo artist called “Ouroboros.” There’s a beautiful featured piece from Jess Towne, as well as superlative work from Jay Kantor, Caitlin Anne, and Robert Gullie, in his KFB debut. I must warn that there’s nudity and fetish photography included, because it bothers some people to be surprised by that stuff.

Download this issue for FREE here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/692113

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Hey, strangers! Decibel Magazine issue #112 has been out for a few weeks, and #113 will ship out to subscribers in 7-10 days. All you really need to know is this: LEMMY. J. Bennett does an amazing feature on the iconic frontman, and learns us all something important about blueberries -- there is such a thing as too many. Along with the “20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014,” a Hall of Fame piece on Opeth’s Blackwater Park, and a great “Call & Response” from Mogwai vocalist Stuart Braithewaite. After all that, I have a few pieces in there cluttering the pages as well:

Page 32: Satan’s Wrath - Aeon’s of Satan’s Reign profile. Stamos and Danazaglou gave me awesomely intense answers in an interview that skewered modern metal, ultra-serious metal minions, and flip-flops. The album’s fun as hell, even though it’s “the same shit” as Galloping Blasphemy, according to Danazaglou.

Page 83: Grave - Morbid Ascent review. An EP for completists, it still has some great, filthy death metal. Sliced off a few points for a mediocre cover of Satyricon’s “Possessed,” but overall this should fulfill the blood lust of rabid fans of the Swedish death merchants.  I gave it 8/10.

Page 83: Great Falls - Accidents Grotesque review. A challenging, noisy, and ultimately invigorating release. If you like Dillinger Escape Plan and Jesus Lizard, give this menace a shot. Plus, Decibel scribe Shane Mehling plays bass, and he runs the crucial “Needle Exchange” column, making it a mandatory feature in each issue. I gave it 7/10.

Go over here to subscribe to Decibel Magazine. At $29.95 for a whole year this is one of the biggest bargains out there. The editors and writing staff are fantastic, and the design is sleek and filled with trippy illustrations. Definitely worth your money:  http://store.decibelmagazine.com/collections/subscriptions-renewals