It was a quiet day at the metaphorical (or fictional, take your pick) Cat on the Wall towers, ladies and gentlemen – I sat there in my similarly metaphorical red velvet chair, stroking my not quite so metaphorical white cat.
Then, there were sounds of groaning, thumping, black clouds gathering around what was previously a very clear sky. Lightening struck, a hideously pregnant silence surrounding the door of the precious webzine.
‘Beware‘, the wind seemed to groan, echoing through the letterbox of the aforementioned door, mist and fog curling around the opening…
A small package, in the shape of a jewel case, fell through the tight space. Romanian stamps surrounded the envelope, and blood seemed to pour from every opening and orifice.
‘Beware‘. The strange, disembodied voice once again rattled with the wind. ‘Beware…‘
The album was a new release from a band in the early stages of youth, Raizing Hell – the name? ‘Of Ghouls and Men‘. It is, as you will have no doubt guessed, another piece of horror punk/rock music, the sort that we do so love here at Cat on the Wall, but rather a special little piece that we’ve particularly enjoyed.
Fronted by a suspiciously youthful zombie, fittingly called Liv Decay, whom is joined by a big group of rowdies and possibly long-dead gentlemen – Oly ‘Sinnister’ Sinn, Mr. Zombie, and Demented Vlash.
I… Uh… What?
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is a band that’s truly… Um… different?
I fingered through the booklet of the album with great interest, only the occasional demonic message leaving the bloodstained pages as I did so, and only the minimal green bile spurting from the very pores of the heavily refined flesh the booklet was printed upon.
Despite all this, the album is quite a wonderful piece of work – a true sort of punk effort with the usual horror and B-movie references that keep me so continuously entertained. It paints pictures, dark, dirty, perhaps slightly rude pictures, which makes for exactly the sort of album I enjoy.
The entire piece feels very defiant, certainly, an example of punk rebellion, but what really makes the album so enjoyable is the full enthusiasm, the life, the activity it prides itself in. Despite having a series of members that may no longer be on this living plain, it produces a very entertaining, high-octane record. It is above all else a piece of rock and roll ethic.
Perhaps it’s the slight accent, perhaps it really is how Miss Decay ‘is’, but she comes across – for the majority – as very well spoken.
She sounds like a little less like a natural punk vocalist – she doesn’t really sound that rebellious. In fact, at some points, her vocals even come across as rather elegant. A properly ‘trained’ vocalist whom you could almost imagine doing these beautiful acoustic-and-strings records….she’s actually got a really pretty sort of voice.
Miss Decay, however, has two vocal styles – the one aforementioned and the one she unleashes a little more rarely – that carries an instant reminder of one of my very favourite ladies in punk, Wendy O’ Williams.
This one seems to spit blood and venom, and suddenly the punk ethic seems fuller than ever. It’s like Miss Decay is ready to snap – a new tension, a new presence is suddenly introduced, and it works beautifully!
Ultimately, though, my favourite thing about the vocals on this album is that Liv sounds like an utter femme fatale, perhaps a little flirtatious, and I have no doubt the band picks up male following with a click of the fingers on that front alone.
Combine this voice with catchy choruses, great riffs, fantastic solos, it’s music that strike up ideas of early 70s beach bum at some points and mid 80s hard rock at others, dirty old fashioned punk music leaking from every orifice. Add really fun lyrics and some great ideas and you’ve got, above all else, a really entertaining album.
A special tip of my eight inch top hat has to go towards the second track, ‘Thing for Murder‘, which is possibly one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. The simplicity is key here, and not only does it work, but it really, really works. Catchy riff, simple beat, clear vocals, simple chorus, lovely darkness in a high octane package. Particularly when we get that little bit of spoken word: seductive, dark, edgy and kind of creepy…A really old fashioned trick, perhaps, but it never loses effect. The music stops, everything goes relatively silent…
“I’m sorry, my darling, it’s…nothing personal…I just have this…uh…” music kicks back in, the spoken word transforms back into vocals…thing for murder, thing for murder, etc.
It’s little things like that, the tiniest little additions, the simple little extra bits that increase atmosphere, personality, texture – these little bits of music and idea that really show talent from a musician – when it’s properly placed, you get an absolute winning moment, something that sticks with you.
While it’s true this isn’t the most technical album or most complex piece of work, you can tell it’s a labour of love, and, frankly, I don’t think technicality is what makes good music. An attitude can give volumes, and here, there’s plain evidence that some really good old fashioned rock and roll, with a horror twist, sprinkle of nutmeg, it makes a really memorable combination.
This album isn’t here for you to really think about and analyse at every word, every sentence, it’s an album you put in, enjoy, and do that really embarrassing dance I know you do when you’re alone in your bedroom. I’ve seen you shaking those hips. I know.
Just be careful handling the disc. I hear that it can smell fear…
No sooner had I finished listening to the growling, quivering disc in my hands when storm clouds began to gather again.
The door fell.
In came a female, growling, hissing and leaving blood all over the carpet I had only just gotten clean since Doctor Caligari’s visit. I groaned as she sat upon the sofa. That would never wash off. I couldn’t tell if the blood was even her own…
It was none other than Liv Decay herself. I backed away slowly, intending to arm myself.
Then I realised that this was the perfect chance for an interview… I locked all the doors and windows. Sat down. And looked her in the eye…
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall! Why is it, every musician that comes to us has blood on their hands?! Anyway – please introduce yourself to our dear readers!
Liv Decay: Greetings, great to be here! Well, music can get bloody from time to time, and, between the shows, the song writing, the recording and hiding the bodies, who’s got the time to wash up?!
My name is Liv Decay, and I’m the rhythm guitarist, singer and songwriter of horror punk/rock’n’roll band Raizing Hell.
COTW: And what exactly is Raizing Hell? Who are Raizing Hell? …Do I smell burning?
LD: Raizing Hell is an unholy mix of punk rock, horror, depravity, B-rated movies, serial killers, zombies, rock’n’roll and heavy partying. We were formed in the autumn of 2010 in Bucharest, there’s Mr. Zombie on guitar, Demented Vlash on bass, Oly ‘Sinninster’ Sinn on drums and me on vocals/guitar.
The idea of starting a horror punk band caught shape around 2002, when me, and a few friends decided to start a band. The bad news was that neither of us really knew how to play an instrument. The good news was that we were all into The Misfits, Iggy, Danzig, all kinds of horror movies, especially old school and B rated ones, so, we started a Misfits and Iggy Pop cover band called Somewhat, and learned to play as we moved along!
Needless to say, we didn’t quite become rock stars, and, after two shows, the band broke up. But that experience felt very right and I started to play in other bands continuously from there, also taking the vocal duties where required.
Long story short, after being in a few bands, I realised that I couldn’t find the exact musical concept, or feeling, call it whatever, that I had in mind. Some bands were pretty close, but none had it all, or, at least, my idea of what that ‘all’ was…
And as I looked around, in the local music scene, I saw that some bands played punk, but they didn’t quite explore other related genres, and when they did, only in a song or two, some were more rock’n’roll, inclined, but lacked the harshness or attitude, others had horror elements to their live shows, but sort of lacked that tongue in your cheek B-horror movie attitude.
I wanted a little bit of everything, and that’s how Raizing Hell came to be, sort of like a rock’n’roll Frankenstein’s monster. The straightforwardness of Motorhead, the attitude of The Plasmatics, the energy of Joan Jett, and Iggy Pop, the guitars of Ramones and The Cramps, the stage image of The Misfits and The Creepshow, the hat of Alice Cooper, the lives of Ted Bundy and Ed Gein, the sleaziness found only in B rated movies, Ed Wood, throw in the mix a few undead things: zombies, ghouls and graveyards, and you’re getting the idea!
So, in 2010, I got a hold of Oly, Vlash and Mr. Zombie, I knew them as we’d played in bands together before, and they liked the idea a lot. We found a place to rehearse in the autumn of 2010, and the rest is history.
…Burning you say? That’s either from Demented Vlash’s not-so-secret laboratory, he’s always doing something involving burning or slashing something…or someone, or from our DIY pyrotechnics. But we did use those on stage once, and no one got (severely) hurt!
COTW: You’ve just released your first full length album. How would you describe it to somebody who has never taken a dip into your sort of music?
LD: Well, it’s pretty much a rock’n’roll road trip, we were set to show to the world and to ourselves who we are, what we can do, and most importantly, that we’re here to stay.
While we do define ourselves mainly as a horror punk/rock’n’roll band, the influences found in our music spread to others genres as well, along the lines of hard rock, rockabilly, psychobilly, post-punk, garage rock, blues or metal.
The things that make everything come together unitarily on the album, in my opinion, are the overall predominant punk rock riffs and the lyrical themes, mainly consisting of everything and anything horror, from the supernatural and fiction, to real life events, concerning serial killers and other gory deeds. We also write songs about hard core partying – we like that almost as much as we like horror!
COTW: How was the process recording your first album? Did you find it a very natural process, or was it all very precise and pre-planned? Anything that particularly sticks out in your mind..? Anything you’d rather forget?!
LD: It went well, all in all. It was easier because we had all played in bands and recorded things together before – we’d also recorded an EP in 2011 as Raizing Hell, so we knew what to expect.
It came naturally, we really like what we do, and we always have a great time at the studio, either recording, or having a beer, listening to what we’ve done.
Some of the songs underwent a few transformations, though, during the recording process, sometimes I just had ideas come to my head after I’d listen to what had been recorded! The solo for Thing for Murder, the guitar and bass themes for Rock’n’roll for the Dead, as well as some vocal parts for other songs were modified/created on the spot, as to accommodate the overall vibe, the way the whole album was starting to come together. There were also initially 13 songs on the album, the last one being a darker, slower song called Ballad on the Electric Chair; that, unfortunately didn’t make it on this album for many reasons. It might get on the next one though!
COTW: While listening to your record, we’ve picked up some serious vibes from punk, rock, metal, and basically from every corner of hard and heavy music. Rather than us jump to any conclusions – what are your personal inspirations from the music world?
LD: I grew up listening to old school rock’n’roll and hard rock, and, ever since I can remember, there was always a record being played at my folks’ house, usually stuff like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who, Pink Floyd, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival or Lynyrd Skynyrd, that sort of stuff, and I remember being a major Beatles and Creedence fan back in the day. I still love all that stuff, but I don’t really feel the need to listen to it anymore…I guess I’ve listened to them all so many times that they’re stuck in my head forever. Later on, I got acquainted with metal, heavier stuff like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Pantera or Iron Maiden, one of my biggest influences back then being Metallica, alongside Motorhead and Danzig.
During my early years in high-school, I started listening to a lot of punk, psychobilly, gothic rock, death rock, horror punk and all related genres, and I think I stuck with it ever since. Bands like The Sisters of Mercy, Nekromantix, Demented Are Go, Nick Cave, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Bauhaus, The Creepshow, The Cramps, Blitzkid and so many others. I also have a big thing for Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Nine Inch Nails.
I listen to a lot of music actually, from a lot of genres, but to quote my all-time influences, those would be The Misfits, Danzig, Motorhead, The Ramones, Wendy O. Williams &The Plasmatics, Blitzkid, The Creepshow, The Cramps, Joan Jett and Iggy Pop.
COTW: Of course, like many people in the surprisingly vast genre (subgenre?) of horror punk, you’ve got influences from the world of film, too…any favourites?
LD: There’re two categories of films I’m widely into – in the first one there are the serious, sharp-dressed and respectable horror movies such as Hellraiser (the first two films), Silence of the Lambs, Kubrick’s ‘Shining’, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, The Fly, Videodrome, The Brood(huge fan of David Cronenberg right here!), The Conjuring and many others, and in the second category there’s the old school B rated horror movies, sometimes so much better than the modern horror films, sometimes so bad they’re actually good.
It’s a bit hard to mention just a few from this one, as I feed on the things! But, if someone were to hold a gun to my head, my favourites would be Basket Case, Return of the Living Dead, Brain Damage, Motel Hell, Re-Animator, The Toxic Avenger, Dead Alive, A Bucket of Blood, Frankenhooker, and almost all Troma releases.
LD: I think it has to do with people’s ever-existing fascination with the dark side… Evil and the supernatural have enthralled the minds of men since forever, thus, all the legends and stories involving them. I also believe horror, for the purpose of entertainment, to be cathartic sometimes, for example, no matter how big the fascination with a particular serial killer, the safe thing to do for everyone involved would be not to try killing someone yourself to get to understand him more. But, you can always try to understand from a distance, write songs about him, write books or make movies inspired by him.
Horror inspires because it’s real. Real things always make a great source of inspiration. Some people choose to overlook this side of life, not because they don’t know it exists, but rather, because they don’t want to be forced to look the monster in the eye. Often, horror is created by the hand of man, and looking the other way is the more convenient thing to do. When it involves the supernatural, the usual fear of the unknown kicks in, and, again, they might look the other way.
But…I believe owning your fears is one of the most important things one should do in this lifetime.
COTW: We understand there are whispers of more than just music surrounding Raizing Hell. Care to shed some light on your potential plans…?
LD: Yes, sometime in the near future, we plan on making our own comic, based on our characters and on some real events that we encountered on the road, the rest is going to be fiction. We’d like to take our characters a bit deeper than just the on-stage image, to give them a background, and to have them being the centre of the unfolding stories.
Apart from the band, Mr. Zombie, myself, Oly, and another good friend also have a punk rock/psychobilly/rock’n’roll booking agency, called Trei Ceasuri Rele, that’s going to be pretty busy this year, and we host a weekly R’n’R/punk/all related genres party, down at our local punk bar. We’re thinking that given the fact that it’s us, the same people involved in the band, we might want to bring all these activities together under a bigger umbrella.
We’re also toying with the idea of starting our own label sometime in the future, but, right now, we want to focus on the tour, on our upcoming video, and on starting to work on our next album. We’re trying to stay focused, we’ve got so many things to do and we want to get them all done right, so we’ve got to be really good at prioritizing!
COTW: And any other big plans for the future?
LD: There’re always plans for the future, and they’re always big! For starters, we want to focus on touring this year – we have a national and east-European tour planned this spring, for promoting ‘Of Ghouls and Men’. We also want to do another tour in autumn. Meanwhile, we want to have our first video done by spring – we’ll see if we can stick to the deadline. And, next year, we’re starting to work on our second album, we already got the title and the visual concept laid out. There’s a lot of work involved in starting working on an album, let alone recording, post producing it and handle the artwork, so the sooner we get to it, the better!
COTW: Well, thank you very much for talking to us, Miss Decay! Please make sure you pick up all of your limbs on the way out…Are they your limbs?!
LD: Thank you for having me! Almost forgot about those, thanks! Yeah, they’re mine, we’re trying to stitch together a couple of roadies for the upcoming tour, and we need all the limbs we can get. Demented Vlash and the guys are working on it in the lab, we kind of need extra limbs because we want them to have extra hands, you wouldn’t imagine how many things we gotta carry around while touring, and it comes in ‘handy’, if you know what I mean!
I watched, maintaining my distance, as she left the room, wincing at the amount of arms tied to the piece of rope she was dragging behind her.
“I hope she likes the review.” I thought, as she disappeared into the mists.
“Maybe I should move. Just in case…”
Of Ghouls And Men was released on October 18, 2013. It’s heartily recommended, and I have to point out it has some of the finest design I’ve ever come face to face with on a physical disc. When you buy it, you’ll understand…
And you will buy it. Look at the pictures of the band. You don’t want them coming after you.