Released by: Despotz Records
Release date: 25 September 2015
Anders Ljung (Space Age Baby Jane) – Vocals
Josephine Forsman (Sahara Hotnights) – Drums
Erik Almström (Bullet) – Guitar
Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper, Slash’s Snakepit ) – Guitar
Erik Stenemo (Melody Club) – Guitar
Mats Rubarth – Bass
01. Enter the mountains
03. This is Tomorrow
04. My Shadow out Of time
05. RE: Old Money
07. Name Rank Serial Killer
08. Miskatonic Graffiti
09. She Was the One
10. Exit the Mountains
H.P Lovecraft, legendary cult horror writer, has had his stories used many times in the music industry as the back drop for many songs and a handful of albums. Sometimes it has worked, and sometimes it hasn’t. I recently read or re-read his writings, revisiting some of the stories that helped shape the person I am today. I could never fathom being able to write anything as epic, powerful, or intelligent as even the simplest of Lovecraft’s tales. He is held in high regard not only for his imaginative storytelling abilities, but the sheer depth of intellect he infused to his oftentimes maddening works; which often prevented him from much mainstream recognition during his life. His style isn’t for everyone, but he truly created one of the most endearing and enduring characters in the horror realm with the advent of Cthulu and other assorted characters enveloped in the mythology of The Old Ones.
The band Casablanca took on the daunting task of infusing the Cthulu mythos into their conceptual idea. Without hearing a note of music from them I was instantly intrigued and curious to hear not only what they sounded like, but how they would tackle such a tremendous storyline using such a deep subject matter. Miskatonic Grafitti, the title of this sprawling album and their third release, is taken from the famed Miskatonic University, a central character and setting for many of the stories Lovecraft wrote, is taken from the perspective of The Original, human creatures that ruled the world prior to The Old Ones. Canonic followers of H.P. Lovecraft might bristle at this as The Old Ones, according to the mythos, were alien creatures entombed in the city of R’lyeh, and here before human inhabitants. For Casablanca’s story, The Old Ones wish to destroy the humans and rule the world once again, but The Original decides to warn civilization in hopes of thwarting them from doing just that. However, instead of the songs painting a picture of war and destruction, they are anthems of hope and the ever prevailing human spirit in a time of crisis. The Phantom is the pivotal character sent from The Original who creates Miskatonic University to educate and warn the humans of their impending doom. Without going into any further detail, the album actually does a magnificent job of following the story, a very deep and cerebral one, while at the same time providing some pretty amazing songs. Culling a sound that is equal parts Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ and D.A.D., as well as aspects of White Lion and later day Enuff Z’nuff,and hints of Cheap Trick, they’ve created very melodic hard rock that even with a terribly complicated backstory creates tight and memorable songs that draw the listener into the album with much ease. I was expecting either death metal or progressive rock (the only reason I offered to review this album was the Lovecraft connection alone) and was pleasantly surprised to hear such an intelligent album with such catchy songs like “My Shadow Out of Time,” “She Was the One,” and “RE: Old Money” as well as sprawling epics like the album opener “Enter the Mountains,” which could’ve been a deal breaker with the length (most melodic music fits into a certain amount of time) but only whetted my appetite for more.
I can’t say enough good things about Casablanca and their outstanding album Miskatonic Grafitti. Taking on such an ambitious concept and not only telling the story quite well but supplying such instantly memorable tunes, is a feat most bands would likely cringe at the thought of taking on. I’ve already spun it a couple of times in a row and I haven’t done that with an album in a while. Fans of the aforementioned bands should give this a shot, and fans of Lovecraft hungry for more stories in that dark and scary world might enjoy it as well.
Written by Chris Martin
Ratings: Chris 10/10