“DREAMS IN THE WITCH HOUSE: A LOVECRAFTIAN ROCK OPERA” (Music Review)News Brian Steward
Rock opera may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of H.P. Lovecraft’s writing, but the new album DREAMS INT HE WITCH HOUSE: A LOVECRAFTIAN ROCK OPERA manages to deliver the unexpected. The project, masterminded by executive producer Mike Dalager, is like the soundtrack to an elaborate stage production that may not exist, but seems like it should.
The album is, of course, based on Lovecraft’s famous short story and follows Walter Gilman and his nightly encounters with the witch, Keziah Mason, as told by a friend of his to a priest during confession.
It’s immediately apparent when unwrapping the CD (or LP depending on your format of choice) that this is a real labor of love. The packaging and artwork are top notch and not what one might expect from an independent release. The beautiful marbled violet 180 gram vinyl discs are sure to be a hit with record collectors and the level of production on this album is on par with any studio release. The sound effects and narrative moments between songs, as character Frank Elwood describes his friend Walter’s plight to the Priest, continuously build tension throughout the piece and serve to tie the different musical numbers together well. Some of the vocals on the album might not be what one would expect over a heavier brand of rock, but they successfully solidify each character and evoke powerful visual images.
Former KISS guitarist, Bruce Kulick and current W.A.S.P. guitarist Douglas Blair, each make appearances on the album, lending their personal styles to a couple of songs. With talent like this involved in the project, many fans will have a good idea of what type of sound to expect. Both Kulick tracks are very indicative of his time in KISS, specifically in the early 1990s, around the “Revenge” era. This is especially noticeable in the song “Signum Crucis,” where he seems to really channel something very reminiscent of his guitar work on the hit KISS tune “Unholy.” In the same vintage metal vein, those familiar with W.A.S.P.’s newer releases will feel right at home when hearing the tracks Douglas Blair was involved in. Which isn’t to say that the other musicians on the album are less than top notch, The Witch House Band, calling themselves “Brain Fever,” effortlessly carry the listener through a dark, evocative musical journey that never feels forced.
If you’re not familiar with what a rock opera is (think The Who’s TOMMY or Pink Floyd’s THE WALL), the narrative format it embraces may take some warming up to, but hard music fans and Lovecraft readers, as well as W.A.S.P. or KISS admirers, will likely find this album to be well worth their time.
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