CTHULHU STRIKES BACK
THE DARKEST OF THE HILLSIDE THICKETS
Cthulhu is cool, and so are The darkest of the Hillside Thickets. In fact, this 4 piece horror-rock combo is my all-time favourite band from Chilliwack, and yes, that includes the early ’80s corporate rock atrocity that bore that British Columbia towns’ name.
For some reason I’ve been having a hard time describing DHST’s sound. I liked them as soon as I heard one of their indie cassettes a couple of years ago; there’s something just sort of satisfying about it. Basically this is ROCK, and yes, that’s all caps. There are elements of ’70s metal, elements of hardcore, but there are elements of opera and heroic ballads too. Not exactly an intuitive mix, but it works and works well.
What’s up with the title? Well, DHST have this fascination with H. P. Lovecraft, the Sci-Fi/Horror writer. Seems old H. P. came up with a pretty well developed alter-universe o’ horror, peopled (monstered?) with the likes of Yog-Sothoth, The Deep Ones, and of course Cthulhu, a rubbery dimension-hopping cephalopodic lump of chaos. Remote, inbred villages in New England, strange disappearances, demonic possesions and black magic; the whole deal. Many, but not all of DHST’s songs refer to various aspects of this ‘Cthulhu Mythos’.
Well, I was sceptical. I mean, monsters? Can anybody say Star Trek Convention? Might as well write songs about your Dungeons and Dragons characters. But this just didn’t sound like Sci-Fi nerdlet cult music, so I investigated further. I started off by asking band member Toren Atkinson some very pointed questions about his own, and his fellow Thickets’ potential nerdiness. He was very forthright in is answers, seemed to be in control of his more important faculties and even claimed that women sometimes came to their shows. I felt heartened. I got extreme and actually read an H. P. Lovecraft book, and by golly, it wasn’t bad. Some of the bands’ lyrics even started making more sense. I was reassured.
But the main point is that the music stands on its own. You can enjoy it without belonging to the Loyal Legions, or whatever. I guess that the CD’s dedication – to “H. P. Lovecraft, without whom we’d be singing lame love songs”- sums it up. These certainly aren’t love songs and they’re a long way from lame. So pack up your Shogoths and go get yourself a copy today.
Tom Hayden (Big Joe Mufferaw), Beaver Country Radio show, LA