Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse Review – Dark Faith: Invocations

Back when I was the managing editor for Fear & Trembling I was contacted for an interview by Lea Lawrynowicz who was writing an article for Rue Morgue titled “Divinity in Darkiness: The Rise of Christian Horror.” That article appeared in Issue 87 (March 2009). One of my quotes that made it into the article was “Regardless, it’s here to stay and other subgenres may branch out because of it. Who knows? We may be reading Buddhist horror one day.”

Three years later (an interesting number there) my prediction comes true with Dark Faith: Invocations, edited by Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon. Both in the general sense in that this anthology of short stories can be more broadly defined as Spiritual horror or Religious horror than just Christian horror, and also in the specific sense with Elizabeth Twist’s story, “Kill the Buddha.”

The writers in the anthology are practically a who’s who list of short speculative fiction authors—like Jay Lake, Lavie Tidhar, Mike Resnik, Nisi Shawl, Tim Waggoner, and Lucy A. Snyder—as well as up and comers like Michael Ehart and Lashawn M. Wanak. The writers, both new and seasoned and in between, are among the best of the best. And the stories in the anthology show it, too.

While all the stories are spiritually themed and revolve around faith this isn’t your kiderized horror, whether it borrows from Christianity, Paganism, or Buddhism. And a lot of literary and slipstream elements can be found among the stories as well, like Jay Lake’s “The Cancer Catechism” or Tom Piccirilli’s “Subletting God’s Head.” Every story keeps you reading, makes you feel for the characters, and a few throw some excellent plot twists your way. As anthologies go, this one is far above average.

Not only do I highly recommend this anthology, I also think it should be required reading in theology and religion classes the world over. But, then again, I’m crazy that way.

Best read while listening to: there’s so much diversity here that there’s no way that mentioning one or two song artists could do the whole antho justice. So go with your gut instinct and listen to what feels right for each story. Just don’t let it be the Veggie Tales theme song.

October 8, 2012 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review: Epica – The Divine Conspiracy

When Epica came out and said their new CD would be the heaviest yet, they weren’t joking. The music is much heavier than before, and the sound darker. Trust me, you haven’t heard organ music until you’ve heard it done with the Metal attitude. And its not just the music that’s heavier, but the lyrics, also, are harder hitting and more unapologetic.

Like all their CDs The Divine Conspiracy resembles a musical score for a blockbuster film. The thirteen songs are divided into an instrumental prologue (“Indigo”) and three acts. Act One contains the songs, “The Obsessive Devotion,” “Menace of Vanity,” “Chasing the Dragon,” and “Never Enough.” Act Two continues “The Embrace That Smothers” mini-concept of which parts four through six were in their 2003 CD, The Phantom Agony. The middle part is the heaviest part in the entire CD with “La’petach Chatat Rovetz (The Last Embrace),” “Death of a Dream (The Embrace That Smothers – Part VII),” “Living a Lie ( – Part VIII),” and “Fools of Damnation ( – Part IX).” The final act slows down a bit with “Beyond Belief,” “Safeguard to Paradise,” and “Sancta Terra,” then ending the CD with a 14-minute explosion of symphony and metal titled “The Divine Conspiracy.”

Moreso than in the last CD, the beauty of Simone’s voice enhances the music. Indeed, her voice can make the most mediocre songs sound like masterpieces, and the lyrics are of a quality to match her singing. As an example from “Chasing the Dragon”:

“Let my eyes take in,
The beauty that’s here,
That’s left on this earth,
My ears long to hear,
A melody.”

The philosophy behind The Divine Conspiracy is based off an interesting “what if” scenario. What if all the religions came from God? What if he gave pieces of the truth to each race and culture as a test to see what they would do with such truths? Would they learn from each other, or would some use (and possibly pervert) the knowledge for the sake of personal power over others? And how, after centuries (or even millenia) of distortions can people seperate truth from half-truth and find the knowledge God gave us? An interesting theory and perhaps closer to the truth than most people, regardless of each’s religious views, may be willing to admit.

The only way to know is to just keep searching, each in the ways we know how while acknowledging our similarities, and accepting our differences as a part of what makes humanity such a wondrous creation.

[Review first written in Sept. 2007, but never published until today]

September 10, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment