Monday, December 23, 2013

Dreams in the Witch House: A Lovecraftian Rock Opera

Prologue - In keeping with the theme (kind of), I have set all the text here in purple-violet color. You'll see why.

Multidimensional, awesome "Mutated Trinity" cover art by Carlos Garcia Rivera.


Witch House Rocks!


Oh Lawdy. This is the awesomeness to end all awesomeness.


As you may know, I've been meaning to review this. I received this quite a while ago on a Friday. It was a bad day but this brightened it up. I meant to review it sooner but I never finished. I fear I have deferred it too long. The greatness of this masterpiece has been lying dormant on this site.


All the songs on here are amazing, beyond belief. Seriously, you cannot imagine the awesomeness of the music in here. These people pushed rock beyond the bounds of Heavy Metal (which is, naturally, appropriate - the story tells of inter-dimensional travel) and made it into a thing that feels unearthly in itself. It really is astounding. This goes through rock like the Yith travel through time. Or, perhaps more appropriately, like Keziah Mason and protagonist Walter Gilman travel through dimensions. The libretto is only eight pages, the album itself sixteen tracks, but still, it goes so deep into everything it does that you CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER HOW SHORT IT IS! I wish it was longer...but it is what it is. And what is it? AWESOME. Every single mind-shattering second of it!



The Violet Vinyl Collector's Version. Buy it or the CD here.

I have subsequently read H.P. Lovecraft's original manuscript (which is not one of his more popular short stories). The narrative - forgive me - was very convoluted and difficult. Lovecraft is a great writer, but he was very self critical. He knew the story was pretty bad, but he was shocked when friend August Derleth made clear his intense dislike of the tale - Lovecraft knew he wouldn't have liked it, but he didn't think that Derleth would have hated it as bad as he did. The story is very uneven, but lyricists Mike Dalager and Andrew Leman have adapted the tale suitably and making a wonderful thing out of it. I suppose it's the fact that the story spends a lot of pages on mathematics when people want to get to the action. Personally, I think it's a pretty awesome horror tale which did not deserve it's criticism. Stuart Gordon (famous for the Lovecraftian horror film Reanimator) directed a TV version of the tale.



Stuart Gordon, along with this and Reanimator, directed DagonFrom Beyond and Castle Freak, both loosely based on Lovecraftian tales. He was considering doing a Lovecraft Cycle with Jeffrey Combs as Roger Corman had done with Edgar Allan Poe and Vincent Price. Click on the titles of the films to buy them.

In my review of "Azathoth," the Gothic Daemon Sultan song, I've included a recording session that Jody Ashworth (the Crawling Chaos) did! Yay!

The Witch House team has a website - Witch House Rocks. Just thought you might like to know.


I am here to give a song-by-song review - a deeper analysis of the album than any other review has. Here we go! Hold onto your unholy Cthulhu idols because this is gonna be a rollercoaster ride...


Succumb onto the violet light! A great promo, by photographer Mathias Bloom and cover artist Carlos Garcia Rivera. Left - Chris Laney as Brown Jenkin. Middle - Mike Dalager as Walter Gilman. Right - Alaine Kashian as Keziah Mason.

ACT I

The Confession - Arkham Overture

This song opens with a dreary, sad piano melody and a male choir singing a melancholy church piece. Then sharp strings enter the mix...footsteps. A door opens.

Undoubtedly you are imagining a church at this point - obviously the title "The Confession" and the inclusion of a church choir is making it clear we are in a cathedral or church. Plus, the in the title (as you can see) there is a crucifix.

The priest Father Iwanicki (Sean Branney) enters into the confessional, where Frank Elwood (Andrew Leman) is waiting. The latter makes the Sign of the Cross and states the exact number of days, minutes, and seconds since his last confessional (while mournful strings play in the back).

Frank Elwood says how he has witnessed evil - true, eternal, and horrifically supernatural evil that has haunted him. He goes on to say that the evil has happened all around them - in Arkham...


It changes from the somber orchestra to a rock guitar. So begins the overture. It starts off in an incredibly creepy way and moves to a full-on heavy metal piece. At times, it has almost an Egyptian sound to it. I can imagine this onstage. It looks cool. This entire track is a particular high point. With it's Egyptiany guitar and what the darker side of your crazy imagination can provide you with, it is a perfect opening to the terrifying events that will unfold in Arkham.


The concept video they made isn't much of a video, more of images (including the "Mutated Trinity," which distorts and such). You can watch it here



Dreams in the Witch House

Elwood starts singing about a creaking house that has a devilish history in a haunted town (Arkham). Another stranger joins in (Mike Dalager). They speak of a woman who was put on trial for being a cultist or an atheist or whatever in 1670 something during the Arkham Witch Trials (yes, I meant Arkham). The woman (who goes by the name of Keziah Mason) was imprisoned, and, in the night, drew lines and curves on the walls in red, sticky fluid. The next morning, she had vanished without a trace. The woman (Alaine Kashian) joins in.
"Behind these slanting walls a lurking place!/Unbounded void transcending time and space!/Stay the night and leave no room for doubt - /You'll suffer fever dreams/In the Witch House..."
  - Keziah Mason ("Dreams in the Witch House")

Elwood tells Father Iwanicki how he and his friend, Walter Gilman (again, Mike Dalager), who were students at Miskatonic University, had moved to the fabled house in Arkham - the Witch House. It was there that the witch Keziah Mason (again, Alaine Kashian) had lived. Walter wanted to live there because of Keziah Mason's unholy experiments and slept in the very room (the attic) where she had done so. He was attempting to pair complex geometry and mathematics with folklore and magic and is on the verge of what seems to be a very big discovery...not necessarily a good one, but a big one, for sure! 

Okay, five seconds,I need to say something that was inevitable.. I am here to first review the songs. The astounding singers will be reviewed at the end, each in their respective parts. I have enough amazing things to say already.

Elwood explains that Gilman was always hearing a loud succession of noises, which he called the "Endless Cacophony." Elwood only hears the crazed prayers of close-to-fanatic neighbor Joe Mazurewicz (Stuart Ambrose).

This song was a great one. It is not my favorite on the album, but it was pretty awesome. Like The Confession, this track changes from somber end-of-the-world kind of stuff into the Heavy Metal that makes Witch House what it is.

Higher Fire - Breaking Me Down

Gilman here sings of how his mathematics are taking him "higher" towards his destination, while Mazurewicz sings of the unholy atmosphere in the Witch House and he has to "fight fire with fire." Hence the title "Higher Fire."

The percussion is the star here (I think I hear tambourines at some point), while the customary guitar plays in the background. It is a half-rock song, for we are not fully into the horrific. We are on the verge of it - that's why it's half-rock - but when we get into it, we have the full Heavy Metal.


"Breaking Me Down" is short (only one verse!) but it's pivotal - Gilman notes that the walls around him are kind of geometrical and very confusing, and wonders if Keziah had some insight to modern mathematics. Ignorant fool!



Bridge to the Stars

Towards the end of the previous track, Elwood says to the priest that he thought Gilman had made a deal with Satan, as he gained mathematical knowledge beyond comprehension. These theories greatly confuse Miskatonic's Professor Upham (Jesse Merlin).

Gilman demonstrates his beyond-reality theories in several equations which, in part, seem to encourage the possibility of multi-dimensional travel. Professor Upham is confused but finds a strange kind of plausibility in the crazy scientific experiments.

The song is like a pop song. Merlin has played the villain Carl Hill in Reanimator: the Musical, which is based on Stuart Gordon's cult classic film Reanimator, in turn (loosely) based on Lovecraft's Herbert West - Re-Animator. So a guy in a musical album based on a Lovecraft story has been in a musical based on a movie ALSO based on a Lovecraft story?

Ugh. That sentence was a mind-boggling as Gilman's theories.

Elwood says to Father Iwanicki that Gilman had been suffering horrible nightmares...

The Nightmare

Gilman flies through geometrical, monstrous, Lovecraftian, surreal, crazy, and insane labyrinths of multi-dimensional proportions.

In the middle of the song, we here (for the first time) the hateful, malevolent voice of Brown Jenkin (Swedish rock star Chris Laney). His voice is SCARY. I mean, it is SCARY. You hear hatred and sin in his raspy vocals.

As there is not much to note on the story here, I will talk about the music.

Like the Arkham Overture, this is a rock song with an Egyptian sound. It is one of the strongest pieces on the album. The music finally breaks through the chains binding it and transcends previous limitations. It is very atmospheric and essential to the tale.

The guitar is played by W.A.S.P. guitarist Douglas Blair Lucek.



No Turning Back

In a strange void in his dream, Gilman finds himself with Keziah Mason. She tries to seduce him (succubus!), but, when he resists, she angrily says...

"Oh, there's no turning back!/From all your sensual discoveries!/Oh, I can give you what you lack!/We'll consummate a new reality!/You'll see!"
 - Keziah Mason ("No Turning Back")

Thus speaks Keziah.

The music here turns from enticing to harsh. There is occasionally a chorale in the background. Kashian's performance is very strong here, but, again, I am here for the songs first, performances saved for last.

This stands out as rather different from the rest of the album. But it is by no means bad. It is, actually, one of the best. We also have them recording it! But in this recording (it's a rehearsal), they use acoustic guitar instead of electric (which is used when the above lines are sung). It also features the reprise. Click here!


Signum Crucis

Elwood relates a frightening account of Gilman's spiraling madness - he starts sleepwalking, there are screams in the darkness and...

...a violet light that seeps from under his door.

"Signum Crucis" is Latin for "Sign of the Cross." "Hyacinthus Lux" (Roughly "Violet Light") would've probably been a better title.

In the song, Elwood, Mazurewicz, and other tenant Desrochers (Seth Ayott) hear whispers and footsteps, all the while seeing the violet light. As you may have guessed, they are at the door of Gilman's attic apartment - or, rather, Keziah's...

Father Iwanicki sings here too, but only at the very beginning, speaking of how "virtuous sages" have spoken of a violet light and have tried to expel it on May Eve (Walpurgis Night or Saint George's Eve to us fellow Dracula buffs. In German, it's Walpurgisnacht!).

The music has a creepy, almost Gothic guitar basis, played by former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick. The music/singing gets pretty eerie - I get chills when I hear "There is a devil inside!"

They break in, and a huge rat-man is there - Brown Jenkin.

"Mankind fails to see the truth - /Your faith poorly misconceived!/Dare you step into the violet light/You'll see that you've been deceived!"

 - Brown Jenkin ("Signum Crucis")

Some people might call this sacrilegious or blasphemous - but is IS just a story, and, anyway, the Cthulhu Mythos and Brown Jenkin are all kinda sacrilegious. So what? Lovecraft is incredibly racist (he was a xenophobe. Horror at Red Hook, people!), but people still read his work. Poe was rather arrogant, but he's a genius. Poe wasn't really a bad person...just a little self-satisfied.

Like "The Confession/Arkham Overture," the concept video is not really a concept video - just eyes on a screen looking behind them again and again. But here it is.

Nothing I Can Do

The thing vanishes into the wall, leaving only bloody footprints. Mazurewicz says it was Brown Jenkin, Keziah's familiar (a familiar is a witch's animal/monster servant).

Apparently, Gilman returns. Here is what he says:

"Blistering, brilliantly/Glittering, gorgeously/Minarets and pinnacles,/As far as eyes can see/High above/Sky aflame/Vibrant hues/None the same/Far below,/A city glows/Beyond the balustrade..."
- Walter Gilman ("Nothing I Can Do")


Elwood, Gilman, Keziah, Brown Jenkin, Mazurewicz, and even Desrochers provide vocals. Elwood is losing faith, and doesn't think God can help him after the horrors he has seen. The music is sad, and dreary, but I call attention to one bit of the lyrics.

"Revelations he defends/Science proves!/While faith condemns!" 

"Revelations he defends": all.


"Science proves!": Keziah and Brown Jenkin.


"While faith condemns!": Elwood, Mazurewicz, Desrochers


("Nothing I Can Do")



The first line, as stated, is sung by the company; the second, by Keziah and Brown Jenkin; the third, by Elwood, Mazurewicz, and Desrochers. The harmony, music, and overall performance in the song provides an ultimately beautiful sound. Really. It sounds like angels (although the subject is about a man disputing their existence!).

The music has an acoustic basis provided by Bruce Kulick. While in "Signum Crucis" it was a stirring, creepy chord, we here have a sad series of notes. This is one of the true high points on the album. It was one of the songs that prompted me to ask for it...

OVERVIEW OF ACT I

Act I was a mood setter and contains many high points on the track. As I said, this one sets the scene for the horrific events unfolding around Gilman, but it is in Act II where true horror unfolds. We will hear the music of the Black Pharaoh, see a bit into Keziah's tragic past, feel the terror of Walter Gilman, all leading up to a fiery finale and what is, most likely, the best song on the entire album.

ACT II

Legends and Lore

Elwood talks to Father Iwanicki about how the house has always been cursed while a bright, happy flute plays a kind of "springtime" melody. Elwood and Iwanicki talk about how evil forces can draw the most innocent and corrupt them. Elwood wonders if Keziah was ever a good person...

By now, the flute has been accompanied by beautiful piano chords, creating a lovely melody. Take an okayish Disney princess song and multiply it by fifty. That's "Legends and Lore."

Keziah sings of how she was innocent and never really wanted to get into the dreadful stuff she did. When her first born child died, the suspicion amongst the villagers of Arkham was sealed and she was put on trial by Judge Hathorne (Ray Rochelle). [Just a note - Nathaniel Hawthorne was shamed by his ancestor, John Hathorne (the only judge in the Salem Witch Trials never to repent). That is why there is a w in Hawthorne.]

The song then changes to rock, but still retains the pretty melody retained before (although delivered in a somewhat harsher package). Hathorne tries, finds guilty, and sentences Keziah. He places her in a cell, but, in the night, something appears to her...


...the violet light.


Again, the piano chords that form the basis of the melody are very beautiful, assisted by the flute. The grand piano is played by Ulf Larsson, who is a good player, to say the least. Remember, this is a Swedish-American collaboration, which we'll get into at the end.



The Sleepwalker

A very short song played on the piano. It simply tells of Gilman sleepwalking in the night. I haven't much to say here; the song is only about 59 seconds. Dalager's performance here is good as usual.

Blessed Are the Faithful

Elwood and the neighbors become scared for Walter's safety. On Meadow Hill, revelers are preparing for the big event - May Eve, Saint George's Eve, Walpurgis Night - pick your poison. So Elwood, Mazurewicz, and the landlord, Dombrowski (Anders Ringman) go to help him.

Mazurewicz and Dombrowski give him advice - turn to God and stop involvin' yourself with dem crazy demons and debils an' all 'at. They present him with a crucifix blessed by Father Iwanicki (see, it's all connected!). Hell is gonna break loose soon, and, if you're not prepared, you're going to be swept along with it into dark, unfathomable abysses.

Dombrowski says that a two-year-old, Ladislas, vanished the previous night. Mazurewicz adds that he hears shrieking through Gilman's walls... 


At the end of the song, Dombrowski puts rat poison in the rat holes, and Gilman sleeps downstairs with Elwood. But this is not good - they talk about Keziah, Brown Jenkin, and interdimensional travel. But Elwood makes things even worse...


The song is pretty darn catchy, and has a large rock element to it. There is a weird Arabic instrument (played by Patrik Bonnet) called the oud. It sounds a lot like a banjo, which is what I thought it was at first.



Crawling Chaos

Elwood talks to Gilman about the emissary of all evil - Nyarlathotep (Jody Ashworth), the Black Man of the Witch Cult, the Black Pharaoh, the Crawling Chaos - whatever name you choose. And Elwood was just so tired, he fell asleep...

...leaving Walter alone with evil forces.

"Ia!/Nyarlathotep!/Sened!/Nyarlathotep!"
- Cultists ("Crawling Chaos")
  
Brown Jenkin and Keziah are conjured by Walter's mind (he starts thinking of interdimensional geometry and WHAM!). They tell him that he has to sign the Book of Azathoth in his blood. The Crawling Chaos appears to him. Walter breaks down and signs the book.

This song is classic, symphonic horror rock - Heavy Metal. But when one of Keziah's lines "And now, you see/With your own eyes/The power of Divinity!/Awake, like me,/To his command/Across gulfs of infinity!" are sung, the music is the perfect amounts of creepy yet good.


Definitely a good song, but this time, you have to be able to see the beauty in rock to enjoy it.



"Bow!/To the Chaos before you!/Vow!/Let his power restore you!"
 - Keziah Mason, ("Crawling Chaos")


Azathoth

The Crawling Chaos brings Gilman to the Blind Idiot God, Azathoth (doesn't sound too scary, but it is pretty terrifying). He commands Gilman to revel before it and worship it. Well, there's no turning back, 'cuz you signed the freakin' book in your own BLOOD and you aren't about to say "sorry, no thanks."

Gilman himself acknowledges this, and succumbs to Azathoth, who lives in the center of the universe on the throne of ultimate Chaos where one can hear the mindless piping of flutes played by monsters and aliens.

Wha...? Why - why did I write all that? Am I going crazy? You don't think I'm crazy, do you, know? Right? Right? My God, my typing voice has gone twenty octaves higher...!

This is an amazing song, and has a long-lasting, creepy melody that will undoubtedly stick in your mind. It is great, and has, as I said, a chilling melody. Jody Ashworth as is nothing short of scary and astounding - and can you believe his voice? I mean, there's not effects. That's his voice (I quote Mike Dalager from his interview). In fact, here's a recording session that Ashworth did!


Great! Good job, Jody!

Walter wakes up and screams, arousing the entire house. But there are worse things than signing the Book of Azathoth...

...well, not really. But May Eve is approaching, and something horrible is about to happen.


"Bow.../Before him, face the master of the night!/Now.../Behold the Daemon Sultan at his height!/Here you shall revel - /Succumb, pay homage/He is prime!/An ancient evil - /That lurks beyond all space and time - /Space and time!/Azathoth!/All appalling truths revealed/Azathoth!/Writhing madness unconcealed/Azathoth!/At the throne of Chaos, yield to/Azathoth!/Azathoth!"
 - The Crawling Chaos ("Azathoth"). These are all the lines he has in the entire work.


The Sacrifice - No Turning Back (Reprise)

"As night falls/And day ends/The veil drops/Our path bends/The stars turn - /Aligning - /Here dream and truth are intertwining!"
 - Keziah Mason ("The Sacrifice")

Keziah and Brown Jenkin materialize in Gilman's dreamscape. With them, they have the (unconscious) Ladislas, who is about to become their sacrifice to Azathoth.

[God, I've typed "Azathoth" so many times now that I think I'm going to go mad!]

Walter finally snaps. He has been taking this (excuse the expression) crap from the start and he can't go insane, sacrifice a child, and become a violet light working to destroy the world for a mindless monster at the center of the universe (see how I didn't say "Azathoth?" Oh - doh!).

He starts praying the Our Father, but Keziah and Brown Jenkin taunt him. Gilman wrestles the knife from Keziah and it clutters away into the dreamscape. He takes Mazurewicz's crucifix and strangles her with it.

As Keziah dies, she sings.

"Kill me and I will ascend.../And in my place, you'll descend.../There's no turning back...!/There's no turning back...!"
 - Keziah Mason ["No Turning Back (Reprise)]

She dies.

Brown Jenkin is really hateful now. He must have been really attached to her, because...

"Don't think that you'll prevail/As her breath exhales!/Soon, when I return.../Your soul will burn!"
 - Brown Jenkin ["No Turning Back (Reprise)"]

The music starts out with drums and rock ("The Sacrifice"), which is very catchy in itself. It is a great piece of music and is suitable to the scenario. It is dark, but not as dark as the others. And yet, it is a great final flair for Alaine Kashian, who goes out with "No Turning Back (Reprise)," more of a sound effect piece than the original at Track Six. Two very good songs.

Between Reality and Dreaming

Here we go. The fiery finale, followed by one of the awesomes.

Brown Jenkin bites through Ladislas' wrist and the sacrifice is complete. Walter failed. Father Iwanicki says it was all just a dream - no harm could be done - but Elwood makes the horrifying argument that the child vanished in real life as well.

Gilman was found on the floor of his room, horrified, and with both his eardrums ruptured. The doctors cannot explain how only Walter heard a sound that would have wakened and deafened the entire town of Arkham - no, not even that - the entire Miskatonic Valley. The horrific Endless Cacophony had reached it's highest point.

Elwood has lost faith entirely - but he isn't an atheist. He is horribly aware of Azathoth and Nyarlathotep, of Cthulhu, of the monsters in the dark. He will never sleep again.

That night, there is screaming from the attic. Walter is bloody, writhing, still alive - but in horrible pain. Brown Jenkin emerges from his chest - he has literally eaten Walter's heart out. He scuttles away.

"Between reality and dreaming!/Evil consumed his beating heart!/For me there's nothing that's redeeming!"
 - Frank Elwood ("Between Reality and Dreaming")

Poor Walter Gilman is finally dead, killed by the spiteful Brown Jenkin.

At the end, one can faintly hear...

"Bow.../Before him, face the master of the night..."
 - The Crawling Chaos ("Between Reality and Dreaming")

The music starts off with a steady, slow beat, and then turns into a full-on rock song. The guitar solos here can be likened to those in "Comfortably Numb" (from The Wall by Pink Floyd). It blows the mind. But, unlike "Comfortably Numb," "Between Reality and Dreaming" goes far from psychedelic rock and into horror rock.

A fitting conclusion. But we are not done.

One more song to go...

Madness is My Destiny (Epilogue)

As this is one of my favorites, I am including the entire lyrics of the song as it appears in the libretto. The only changes I have made is formatting; nothing more.

Madness is My Destiny

Gilman

Now the night is dawn, 
Darkness drifts away
Enlightenment shines, intervening
Life now conveyed 
A mere masquerade
Cloudless, my mind seeks the meaning

Spirit now withdrawn, 
This figure fades away
Vanquished, my soul cries out screaming

Condemned to a plight 
To terrorize the night
As a violet light faintly gleaming

The most merciful 
Thing in the world 
Is blindness towards reality!

False perception, deep deception led to my insanity
Dreams eternal - 
Life infernal!
Madness is my destiny!

And who was I to strive 
For more than men should know?
We're all oblivious souls 
In a cosmos that’s all aglow

In an everlasting state, 
The world I contemplate
Fear’s just of the flesh 
And it poisoned man long ago

The most purposeful
Shroud in the world,
Credence in the Trinity? 

False perception - 
Deep deception
Led to my insanity
Dreams eternal - 
Life infernal!
Madness is my destiny!

 Brown Jenkin

Madness is your destiny!

Gilman

False perception - 
Deep deception
Led to my insanity
Dreams eternal - 
Life infernal!
Madness is my destiny!
Madness is my destiny!
In black seas of infinity!  

Such a waste...such a tragic waste!


Study geometry and you end up like this, kids!

The music is, quite frankly, one of the catchiest things I have ever heard. It will stick in your head. Really. It also has an end-of-the-world feeling to it. It is mainly orchestra. It is soooooooo catchy. I really can't describe it, you have to listen to it yourself.


OVERVIEW OF ACT II

Act II is the better part of Witch House. It is darker, has catchier tunes than those in Act I, and the actors deliver stronger performances than they had previously done in the first act (though they were still amazing). Whether you like the beautiful "Legends and Lore;" the country-sounding-yet-still-dark "Blessed are the Faithful;" the horror rock "Crawling Chaos;" the creepy "Azathoth;" the dark and strange "The Sacrifice/No Turning Back (Reprise);" the fiery finale itself, "Between Reality and Dreaming;" or the sad-end-of-the-world song "Madness is My Destiny," this act has something for everyone. It's like a box of chocolates.

CAST - BAND APPRAISAL/FINAL OVERVIEW

But first, some photos!

The cast and band recording at Polar Studios in Stockholm. Note Alaine Kashian at the microphone.

Jesse Merlin (left), Chris Laney in his Brown Jenkin costume (middle), Alaine Kashian (right). They are backstage at the short concert tour of Witch House in Sweden, I think.

Left to right - Douglas Blair Lucek (I think), Chris Laney, Alaine Kashian, and Mike Dalager.

Violet Vinyl LP being tested.

The Violet Vinyl.

The Brown Jenkin costume for the tour, made by Miku Godfrey.

And now some videos!


You can view Alaine Kashian's interview here

You can view Mike Dalager's interview here.

First, the cast (in order of appearance).



Frank Elwood - Andrew Leman  
Father Iwanicki - Sean Branney
Walter Gilman - Mike Dalager
Keziah Mason - Alaine Kashian
Joe Mazurewicz - Stuart Ambrose
Professor Upham - Jesse Merlin
Brown Jenkin - Chris Laney
Desrochers - Seth Ayott
Judge Hathorne - Ray Rochelle      
Landlord Dombrowski - Anders Ringman
The Crawling Chaos - Jody Ashworth

Choir & Cultists - Mike Brown, Ulf Larsson, Conny Laxéll, Lisa McClenaham, Marc Thomas, Liny Wood

Starting with Frank Elwood and Father Iwanicki, whose conversation keeps the story moving. The ironic thing is that Andrew Leman (Frank Elwood) and Sean Branney are the managers of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, which co-produced the album. Both actors deliver an amazing performance in their roles - and that's important, as their dialogue drives the story and allows the reader to follow along. I would say that Leman is the better singer of the two, but only because he sings more (you don't have a chance to really appreciate Branney's singing voice). But, as actors, both are astounding.

And then there is Mike Dalager. Also a member of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society (HPLHS), Mike Dalager must be thanked, as he is really the creator of the rock opera. He spawned the idea to do it, he co-wrote the libretto, he starred in the title role - this thing is his. He's Mr. Dreams in the Witch House. He carries the protagonist's role very well, and is a very good singer. Particularly good in "Madness is My Destiny,"  Dalager is a true treat and I don't think anyone else could've played Gilman as good as he. He really gets into the role. He is a the most spirited of all the actors.

Mike Dalager modelling HPLHS's Miskatonic Collegiate Hoodie.

Alaine Kashian is next. She is just astounding. Her singing can change from enticing to commanding so seamlessly that you barely notice. She is an astounding singer - truly talented - amazing. Before I say more, here is a clipping from her website:

I am THE WITCH! The release date is October 12, 2013. This project has been an incredible experience and the end result is awesome. I will be in Stockholm for the official release of Dreams in the Witch House - a rock opera based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft. Produced by Mike Dalager, this thing is INCREDIBLE!

No words could have summed it up better. Kashian has powerful singing and truly steals the show. The best performer in the lot, she delivers a solid performance as Keziah. When I said I think no one could play Walter Gilman better for Mike Dalager, here, I know no one could deliver a better Keziah Mason. A truly outstanding actress.

Hm, who's next...Ah! Chris Laney (no, I'm not reviewing all of them, only the major characters).

Chris Laney (best known as a rock star) does an utterly creepy job as Brown Jenkin. He is the one who sounds most suited to rock - his hate-filled voice is nothing but pure Heavy Metal. Brown Jenkin must've been an interesting role to play - not to mention a difficult one - but Laney does it well, and also must be acknowledged as one of the composers - in fact, the MAIN composer. He also plays a few of the instruments in the band. Together with Dalager and Leman, he nurtured Dalager's child until it became the mind-shattering album it is.

I am not going to review the band. They are amazing artists, and they are great at what they do. I have nothing more to say - it's hard, at times, to distinguish who's playing what. And I tried listing them just know, but it messed up the format. So just scroll down here and find "Brain Fever - the Witch House Band." There are a lot of talented musicians. At that link, you can also find Mike Dalager's story on how the album was made.

Whew! That was a buttload of work, but it is worth it for the album. You can buy it here through HPLHS in the Violet Collector's Edition or CD. The former contains what seems to be like a libretto, two violet vinyl discs, large format art, and the CD. You can also buy this outstanding album on iTunes, but you should buy the disc or Collector's Edition. You cannot listen to just one song on this album, you must listen to the entire thing. I emailed a fan letter to Sean Branney, and that is how I sign off. Good day and happy Christmas.

Wow. You have succeeded in making your rock opera, Dreams in the Witch House, one of my favorite pieces of music. I love it so much I'm listening to it as I write this. You've also made the story my favorite Lovecraft tale.

You, Mike Dalager, Andrew Leman, Alaine Kashian, Chris Laney - all of you - have done an amazing job here. It's freakin' AWESOME. I only wish you guys could put it on or make a film of it, because I would love to see this.

I constantly visit your website, 'cause I'm a big fan. You guys have some of the best adaptations of any author's work. Whether it's a rock opera or piece of music, a radio show, a movie, book, or prop - you guys are the quintessential site for anything Lovecraftian. This and The Colour Out of Space are living proof of that (by the way, I'm anxiously awaiting Herbert West - Reanimator).

Ooooohhhhh my God. This is a really wonderful piece of music. I say this as the voice of Alaine Kashian sings "You'll suffer fever dreams/in the witch house!"

I just wanted to show my appreciation for you guys. Bravo, bravo.



Platform Studios, Polar Studios and the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society present

DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE - A LOVECRAFTIAN ROCK OPERA

Music by
Chris Laney  Anders Ringman  Lennart Östlund
Lyrics by
Mike Dalager  Andrew Leman
Book by
Sean Branney  Andrew Leman
Executive Producer
Mike Dalager
A concept album based on “The Dreams in the Witch House” (1933) by H.P. Lovecraft
























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Hello! Brian here.

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