By: TJ Fowler
Available: February 5th, 2016
Label: Cadabra Records/EARSPLIT
H.P. Lovecraft and heavy metal go together like Cthulhu Butter and Shoggoth Jelly. That is to say the works of Lovecraft has been an important if a little eccentric part of the heavy metal genre since almost the beginning. With bands like Iron Maiden having quotes from Lovecraft stories on their album covers to multitudes of bands using Lovecraft’s stories for subjects of songs themselves. Even I, when I tried to play guitar many years ago, wrote several songs inspired by the stories of Lovecraft. So it is no surprise that a heavy metal PR company, EARSPLIT PR, picks up promoting a vinyl release of two of Lovecraft’s stories of ‘The Hound’ and ‘The Music of Erich Zann’.
Being a big Lovecraft fan myself I was very eager to hear these tales in audio form. While I have always been a fan of Lovecraft, personally I have never been able to get into audio books themselves but was willing to really give this a try due to the subject matter being presented. I am happy to say I was glad I did so as one of these tales, ‘The Music of Erich Zann’ is one of my favorite Lovecraft tales.
I think the best way to review something like this is to evaluate how well an audio form or Lovecraft’s work is able to draw a listener into the story and the challenges that come with that. One of the challenges audio books has always failed to overcome for me personally is that I am hearing a ‘voice’ of someone else reading a story and not my own voice inside my head which sometimes made it hard to relate to the stories being told. With the Lovecraft stories, we have Andrew Leeman who is a member of the H.P. Lovecraft Society reading the two tales. Leeman has a voice that is both clear, distinct and has a bit of an old world tone to it and even has a bit of a frantic or anxiety tone that helps fit the mood of the stories presented. Leeman I think does best with ‘The Hound’ as I think the tale presents itself better in detailing the exploits of two grave robbers who travel to Holland and end up digging up something more than dusty bones.
It is something about ‘The Hound’ that conveys some of the best qualities of Lovecraft’s stories. An isolation, a dismal outlook on one’s future or survival and a macabre sense of curiosity that defies human reason.
While I am a fan of ‘The Music of Erich Zann’ in written form it was ‘The Hound’ out of the tow in audio form that really fascinated me and drew me in.
‘The Music of Erich Zann’ was also done well and Leeman does a good job of also conveying the descriptive nature of Lovecraft’s writing I just feel ‘The Hound’ is the better of the two tales here.
If I had to list any negatives it would be not with the presentation of the stories themselves but with Lovecraft’s writing style. For anyone familiar with Lovecraft, most would agree he can be a bit verbose and wordy in his writings. Unless you have a very rich vocabulary yourself or enjoy a way speaking from another time your mind might tend to wonder when listening to the stories as they will sometimes ‘ramble’ a bit.
Overall I was very impressed with the audio presentation of ‘The Hound’ and ‘The Music of Erich Zann’ and commend both Cadabra Records and EARSPLIT PR for introducing these two tales to the world via vinyl records and giving the metal community something cool to listen to other than just the musical form of things. Of course this wouldn’t be complete without it being a super limited release of 500 pressings to make it a very collectible piece of Lovecraftian lore for all you fiendish ghouls out there. So if you want to get your cult worshiping hands on this you better pray really hard to Cthuhu and hope he will deliver this to your doorstep instead of some unspeakable terror.