Saturday, 18 May 2013

H.P. Lovecraft - Rejuvenator

I must apologize for the dreadful punning title of this post but it goes some way in describing the profound effect the stories of Howard Phillips Lovecraft have on me. Whenever I feel my love of Horror is flagging I turn to one of Lovecraft's anthologies to recharge the batteries. I'm currently re-reading Penguin's excellent Lovecraft collection The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories and it's always a case of one-more-story before I'm forced to put the book away and attend to other things. The majority of Lovecraft's work is now almost a century old but he continues to exert a huge influence over writers, film makers, artists, musicians and game designers. Films as disparate as Horror Express, Dead & Buried, The ThingPan's Labyrinth and The Prestige all feature unmistakable echoes of Lovecraft's work. Stephen King who famously described Lovecraft as the "dark and baroque prince" of 20th century Horror paid homage to him with The Mist and The Tommyknockers. And should one desire a musical companion on their journey to the mountains of madness, seek out Lustmord's 1994 album The Place Where Black Stars Hang, a collection of brooding isolationist pieces which perfectly capture the mood of the far flung desolate and alien landscapes found in Lovecraft's stories.


Above, artist Michael Whelan's Lovecraft's Nightmare, from 1982, partly used for the cover of H.P. Lovecraft anthology The Tomb and Other Tales. The artwork is now more well known as the cover of Obituary's 1990 death metal classic Cause of Death.

Penguin's three Lovecraft books (which also include The Thing on the Doorstep and The Dreams in the Witch House) are highly recommended for Lovecraft beginners, the collections are curated by Lovecraft's finest biographer S. T. Joshi and include near-definitive texts, and excellent, insightful introductions and explanatory notes.

5 comments:

  1. One of my favorite Lustmord albums, actually, and a perfect soundtrack to Lovecraft. I used to listen to this album a lot about 8 years ago when I was working on scripts, etc. It really does help clear your mind and lets you tap into the dark current of the universe.

    I had that same collection myself, but ended up giving it away. Luckily you get copies of his works fairly cheap now, so it wasn't a big deal. I wasn't aware of that 'Cause of Death' artwork being originally used for a Lovecraft Anthology! One of my favorite death metal albums from the 90's. You learn something new every day...

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  2. Yep, Cause of Death really is fantastic and one of a handful of Death metal records I regularly return to. I got out of the death metal scene when I was 17 or 18 so it’s very much a sound absolutely associated with the early 90’s – I wouldn’t know any bands or albums after say 93, 94, so there's a powerful nostalgic thing going on there, but I’d still listen to Napalm Death’s Scum, Carcass' Symphonies of Sickness, Autopsy's Severed Survival, Dark Throne's A Blaze In the Northern Sky, Cathedral's Forest of Equilibrium... If nothing else Death Metal records always came in great sleeves - fantastic logos and incredible artwork, especially the Dan Seagrave stuff. Very Lovecraftian I think...

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    1. That's an excellent collection of classic albums you just named, there. Fully agreed on the golden age of death metal album covers, too. Not sure if you are an old-school doom fan, but I just saw St Vitus are playing in Dublin in October! The day before Halloween, in fact...

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    2. I think Cathedral was my only brush with the Doom scene, although it's probably not the same thing, but I'm a huge sunnO))) fan. I was just listening to a bit of St Vitus on youtube there, and you can sense the long arm of early Black Sabbath. But not bad at all. What were they like on the night ? Another good band is Electric Wizard - terrible name for a band, but they're crushingly heavy and sludgy...

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    3. Cathedral are great, and yup, St Vitus took what Sabbath started and carried on with it through the 80's, adding more misery and pessimism. The Wizard are actually one of my favorite bands, seen em live a few times now. Needless to say, they are skull-rattling live. And funnily enough, I happen to think the name suits them well, especially as they go for that psychedelic 70's imagery on their albums, etc.

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