Feature: Cemetery Confidential, Part 1 (2023)

Our walk through cemeteries in southern California begins this time in Hollywood.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Every time I go to California – or anywhere, really – I always visit nearby cemeteries. Everything about them is fascinating. The history of the people who lived in area is revealed on the markers, the grounds and monuments are compelling testaments to the memories of the deceased, and the peace I feel whenever I am there cannot be recreated in any other setting. I love cemeteries, so I want to tell everyone I can about them.

What I plan to do with this series is wander around southern California (and eventually elsewhere) and tell readers a little bit about the cemeteries I visit so they can decide whether to make the trip themselves. I will be going to famous places, but also lesser-known spots. This first installment is a get-to-know-you highlight of four of my favorite stops I made on my most recent in January 2023.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery is on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. This is the first cemetery I went to in LA, all those years ago. It features beautiful grounds and a large and stable population of peacocks to keep everybody in line. Now and then, they will show a movie outside at night, and that is an experience you really cannot get any place else.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Forest Lawn Memorial Parks is a massive cemetery complex in the Hollywood Hills (and other locations). It is probably has the most national name recognition of them all in LA. It is reference in countless books and movies, and Alice Cooper brought it up in his song “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)” on his From The Inside (1978) album. I went there looking for a specific memorial in a one of the columbaria for a book I am working on, and I was overcome by the size and grandeur of the place.

Forest Lawn Memorial Park

Westwood Village Memorial Park in Westwood is the smallest of this group, and it is a little hard to find, even with the GPS programs on your phone. It is in the middle of Westwood, downtown, and to get to it you think you are driving down an alley toward a loading dock. Once inside, however, it is peaceful and serene. It also houses the remains of some of the most famous people in the history of Hollywood.

Westwood Village Memorial Park

I wanted to go see Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier because it describes itself as the largest cemetery in the US. It is enormous, with many chapels for remembrance and sweeping views of the area. You can see downtown LA in the far distance from the top of the hill. In fact, it was when we were driving to the highest spot in the memorial park to gain the best view of the surrounding landscape that we came across, quite by accident, the amazing Buddhist Memorial Columbarium, near the top of Rose Hills. It is a spectacular place with a main building that includes a shrine and places for the remains of the departed in the building and on the adjoining grounds.

Buddhist Memorial Columbarium

I could go on and on, and I will in future articles. In Part 2, I will focus on gone but never forgotten heavy metal icons. Until then, visit cemeteries whenever you can. You know I will.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

© Wayne Edwards


Hollywood Forever Cemetery, https://hollywoodforever.com/cemetery/

Forest Lawn Memorial Parks, https://forestlawn.com/parks/hollywood-hills/

Westwood Village Memorial Park, https://www.dignitymemorial.com/funeral-homes/los-angeles-ca/pierce-brothers-westwood-village-memorial-park-and-mortuary/4798

Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary, https://www.rosehills.com/

Buddhist Memorial Columbarium, http://www.hsilai.org/pl/ch/index.html

Feature: Cemetery Confidential, Part 1 (2023)

Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Progressive blackened death metal band Ashen Horde summon essences from the beyond for their fourth long-player, Antimony.

Initially, Ashen Horde was a one-man band, but since its beginning the line-up has expanded to Trevor Portz (guitar, clean vocals), Stevie Boiser (harsh vocals), Robin Stone (drums), and Igor Panasewicz (bass). With at least seven EPs and three previous long-players in their catalogue, the band has a lot to offer. The new record expands and deepens the musicians’ legacy, moving them closer to the vanguard of contemporary metal.

After a short intro, “The Throes of Agony” is the ice breaker. At the beginning, the music feels like a battering from a rock hammer – on the pointy end. The weight of the metal accelerated by the swing assists in the deep penetration of the probing end. The lead guitar break is surprisingly lyrical, and the riffs have an underhanded hookiness to them. The vocals are half-hissed. When the elements are brought together this way, the blast beats enter easily and the gruff vocals, when they arrive, are perfectly in place. Excellent. “The Consort” brings its own introduction, which distracts from the cliff you are walking toward. The music reminds me of a dark carnival in many places. But then in the second half, there is a long guitar break that brings on nostalgia for metal from the past. The dueted vocals are a surprise.

Not counting the intro bit and the short “bonus” track at the end, there are eight longish songs on the album. Each is a combination of different genre lanes, assembled carefully for impact and consistency. Listening to the entire album is an unusual experience because, despite the angular differences in the pieces – both within and between – it all fits and flows so nicely together. “The Barrister” is an excellent example of this by itself. There is not much dissonance, although you will find it in places, like on “The Neophyte.” Overall, this is a great metal album that will have a broader appeal than I at first imagined. Recommended.

Antimony is out on Friday, January 27th through Transcending Obscurity Records. Tons of great merch and format variants are available for this release through the links below.


Bandcamp, https://ashenhordeband.bandcamp.com/album/antimony-black-death-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AshenHorde

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Ashen Horde, Antimony (Transcending Obscurity 2023)

Slog, Divination (Morbid and Miserable 2023)

Los Angeles doom duo Slog render dark rituals and bring forth a bleak harvest on their second album, Divination.

Slog is Nicholas Turner (strings) and Jared Moran (drums, vocals). These two prolific musicians created the Graves album in 2021 as the first instantiation of Slog. Grim tidings that one was, and no mistake. They return now with disturbing music to menace your waking moments and trouble your dreams.

“Illuminated Expansion” begins like a dark lullaby, quiet and creepy. The music twists increasingly as the bars pass, souring, metastasizing. Two minutes in the doom droops like a cloudburst. The creepy tones continue, and the vocals are a grating groan from the pits of the netherworld. The song continues, and transforms – it speeds up, infuses a lead break, and takes new ground, ultimately ending on a screaming crescendo. Next, we hear “Synthesis Sequencer,” and it starts off completely differently, choosing an all-guns-blazing entrance and flesh-raking riffs. Doom does hit in this track, but the tempo never slows to the level of the opener. “Creeping Flora” takes us down a different path, offering black metal at the doorstep and a heavy press thereafter, underpinned by a knowing clomp. The way heavy styles are mixed and integrated in these songs accentuate a delightful musical wickedness.

More enchantments await as the set continues. Each song breeds new interest and engages a broad range of ideas demonstrating over and again the immediacy and pliancy these compositions embrace. The journey is inveigling in a way, as it always finds an avenue that is irresistible. “Theurgy Equinox” stands out for its ethereal guitar and haunting vocals while “Labyrinth Amulet” is a straight-up terrorizer. “Eucharistic Purification” is the final word and the longest track on the album. It might also be the most schizophrenic. The extended quiet closing moments work an hypnotic effect. Recommended.

Divination is out on Friday, January 13th through Morbid and Miserable Records and Transylvanian Recordings. Have a look for yourself at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://morbidandmiserable.bandcamp.com/album/divination

Morbid and Miserable Records, https://morbidandmiserable.storenvy.com/

Transylvanian Recordings, https://transylvaniantapes.bandcamp.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Slog, Divination (Morbid and Miserable 2023)

Vitskär Süden, The Faceless King (Ripple 2022)

Los Angeles doom tripper foursome Vitskär Süden unleash their new album, The Faceless King.

Vitskär Süden create a measured kind of progressive rock that is encompassing and immersive. You can feel that on their first album, but on the new one the effect is far stronger. I will talk about it a little here, but truly you must listen to it to know what it is. The band is Martin Garner (bass, vocals), Julian Goldberger (guitar, keys), Christopher Martin (drums), and T. J. Webber (guitar).

The saga begins with “The Way,” told in two parts. Imagine a renaissance fair and think about what might be going on around the edges of it. The dark edges. The risky edges. The misty edges. Slow to middling in pace, with a beating heart propelled by, well, we cannot be sure. Quiet with an underlying expansive power. Thrumming, pulsing. At the wrap you are pretty sure it is not truly over. Next is “Archdiocese Of Worms,” which is louder and more directly menacing. It is more upfront about the threat, you might say, than the earlier movements. The whispering is still there, the quiet singing, yet here it takes a more determined stance. “Voices From Beyond The Wall” is positively dreamy by comparison.

“Shepherds On The Roadside” is a long song, a solid bridge. The bigger story to me from side two is the shorter next song. “Bonedust And Dark” rests on evil, dark whispers and a beautiful Floydesque guitar opening. My favorite track on the album, its resonance is more than aural and physical. Sit with the lyrics for a minute, these words that are spoken as the music begins … “Enveloped by nebulous shadow of sin / Flame and avarice spat from a serpentine tongue / Now lost to the endless dunescape of bonedust and dark / Allow these whispers, these incantations / To usher this dying ember back from The Deep / Back to the world of men.”

“The Broken Crown” brings the story to a close, places the body down and lets it be. And again, here again, it does not seem like the end. This is music you get lost in, not in the sense that you do not know where you are but in the manner of being integrated into its presence while you listen. This kind of thing does not happen with most music. Recommended.

The Faceless King is out now through Ripple Music. Listen.


Vitskär Süden website, http://vitskarsuden.com/

Bandcamp, https://vitskarsuden.bandcamp.com/album/the-faceless-king-2

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/vitskarsuden

Ripple Music, https://music.ripple-music.com/landing

© Wayne Edwards

Vitskär Süden, The Faceless King (Ripple 2022)

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Regathering after more than a decade, Black Math Horseman release a new album.

Black Math Horseman is a band from LA comprised of the musicians Sera Timms (bass, vocals), Ian Barry (guitar), Bryan Tulao (guitar), and Sasha Popovic (drums). They originally got together in 2007 and released a demo. More importantly, their debut album, Wyllt, came out in 2009 and cast an entirely different light on the heavy music scene with the way it created hypnotic expressions in such a chaotic space. A few years later, they parted.

In 2020 the group came back together. Sera Timms says about the re-meeting, “At first, the conversation was about how we were all in different places now, and could we even go back to being that band that we were? … Maybe we’d write completely different music now—and we were all open to that.” Instead, “When we started jamming again, we didn’t sound any different. We discovered that the music that comes from us four together is something that we have no control over. It just happens. It’s a recipe that’s beyond us.”

Fans know what to expect from this new album. It is composed as a single musical piece. Although it is split into four parts, it is meant to be heard all at once. It does work best that way. “The essence of the album is overcoming a great enemy, a great adversarial force, and reaching a place of harmony that has never been found before,” Timms says. “You go to a dark place and destroy relationships that you love, all based on ego. Eventually, you have nothing. And when you have nothing, you have to find a new way of doing things. That’s where we’re at now as a band and family, and that’s also the theme of the record.”

The four movements are “Black Math Horseman,” “Boar Domane,” “The Bough,” and “Cypher.” As described by Timms, this is indeed a journey. The music is trance-inducing post-rock, and it has a clear ritual feel to it at times. I hear elements of black metal come through, especially in the lead guitar passages, while the vocals are beautifully lyrical. The coexistence of these near-opposites is an important aspect of the music and its achievements.

The entire cycle runs about twenty-five minutes, and while the separate movements do have their own feel and structure, you are missing something if you do not listen to it all straight through from the beginning. Let the music envelope you and get lost in the story and emotion. Recommended.

Black Math Horsman is out on Friday, October 21st through Profound Lore Records.

Band photo by Travis Shinn.


Bandcamp, https://blackmathhorseman.bandcamp.com/album/black-math-horseman

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063492333782

Profound Lore Records, http://profoundlorerecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Black Math Horseman, Black Math Horseman (Profound Lore 2022)

Mantic Ritual, Heart Set Stone (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The new EP from Pittsburgh originals Mantic Ritual has three new songs and three covers: Heart Set Stone.

Mantic Ritual began in Pittsburgh in 2005, operating for the first couple of years as Meltdown. They play thrash in a fundamental form, observing the integrity of the past while sharpening their methods for the world of today. The full-length album Executioner came out in 2009 and things have been on the quiet side since then, recording-wise. The band split for a while, but they are back at it now. The line-up is Dan Wetmore (vocals, guitar), Jeff Potts (guitar), Ben Mottsman (bass), and Carlos Cruz (drums).

There are three new songs on the EP and three covers. Let’s start with the new ones. “Life as Usual” is a blazingly speedy attack that chargers directly at you. At times clippy, and at other times whirling, the riffs are energetic and intrusive. The lead break is deadly effective. “Crusader,” released earlier as a single, is a longer piece compared to the opening smash-and-grab track. What you get is more time for execution along a similar primary theme. The extra attention to guitar work pays off in a big way. The third original is the title track, a breathless testing of all surrounding waters. There is a lot going on with this song; they mopped every corner. The performance fulfills any thrash expectation. It’s a big ride.

The covers are “Race Against Time,” a G.B.H. tune, the Mercyful Fate standard “Black Funeral,” and Razor’s “Cross Me Fool.” That’s a punk hit, a dark metal classic, and a speed metal rager. In each case we hear an impressive run at the style and substance of the original creators, making the homage all the more poignant. I particularly liked the Mercyful Fate take. Good stuff, this record. Recommended.

Heart Set Stone is out on Friday, September 2nd through M-Theory Audio.


Bandcamp, https://manticritualthrash.bandcamp.com/album/heart-set-stone

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/manticritual

M-Theory Audio, https://m-theoryaudio.com/store

© Wayne Edwards

Mantic Ritual, Heart Set Stone (M-Theory Audio 2022)

The Interrupters, Into The Wild (Hellcat Records 2022)

The fourth album from LA ska-punk band The Interrupters is out now: Into The Wild.

Breaking ground in 2011, Los Angeles ska band The Interrupters is comprised of Aimee Interrupter (vocals), Kevin Bivona (guitar), Justin Bivona (bass), and Jesse Bivona (drums). Their first album was self-titled and released in 2014, and was followed in two-year jumps by Say It Out Loud and Fight The Good Fight. The new one is pretty much on schedule, adjusting for the pandemic, and it is right on the mark as far as the band’s fans will be concerned.

“Anything Was Better” gets things going and has a decidedly Celtic punk structure, feel, and cadence to it, and that is one of the things I like most about the song. There is a catchy chorus, a snappy little lead guitar jam, and Aimee Interrupter’s fantastic voice. “As We Live” carries a Squirrel Nut Zippers vibe, and “Raised By Wolves” matches a light-hearted beat to a serious story. What a great beginning.

“In The Mirror” was the lead single, and its two million taps on Spotify testify to its popularity. It is one of the most California ska-ish tunes on the record, and appeals directly to the band’s multitude of fans. Then “Kiss The Ground” takes a hard turn into pop reggae, tilting the musical mirror in a corollary direction. That mirror gets smashed on the next one, “Jailbird,” an up-tempo clipper with a rousingly-singable chorus.

Throughout the fourteen song journey on the new album you can, in many ways, make what you want from the music. It is imminently enjoyable on the surface, so you can listen casually and be enormously entertained. If you want to dive a little deeper, listen more carefully and you will find meaning in the songs that seem to relate directly to you. However you want to take it, a dose of The Interrupters is good for what ails you.

I was hooked the first time I heard the band play a few years back. Since then I have been waiting for new music to hit the street and now it has. This is a great album. Recommended.

Into The Wild is out now through Hellcat/Epitaph Records. You can hear it at all the streaming services and pick up the physicals at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://theinterrupters.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/wearetheinterrupters

Hellcat Records, https://kingsroadmerch.com/hellcat-records/

Band shop, https://theinterrupters.store/

© Wayne Edwards

The Interrupters, Into The Wild (Hellcat Records 2022)

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 2022)

Los Angeles metal band Behold! The Monolith have created a doom-laden masterpiece with their new album From The Fathomless Deep.

Behold! The Monolith have gone through some changes since their inception fifteen years ago. They have released an EP and three previous long-players prior to the latest album. The band has shifted and reshaped since the sudden loss of vocalist and bassist Kevin McDade in a car accident in 2009. Reorienting to a trio on the new album, Menno Verbaten plays bass and sings, Matt Price is on guitar, and Chase Manhattan, drums. This latest music is some of their heaviest to date.

There are six tracks on From The Fathomless Deep. “Crown/The Immeasurable Void” opens the set and establishes a weighty foundation. All instruments, including voice, hit on the first note laying out a heavy front of doom. Slow and monstrous, you can feel the behemoth getting closer as the song moves along. The tension grows throughout and, when you hear a quiet passage, it is positively ominous. “Psychlopean Dread” has a mysterious beginning and melancholy lead work. Verbaten’s gruff vocals churn primordial forces to create meaning from the mist. “Spirit Taker” picks the pace up, and then some. The stabbing guitar riff and rapid-fire percussion catch you off guard and hit all the harder for it. It’s a rager.

Side two leads with “The Wailing Blade,” a song that has a less ominous but more directly threatening tone. It is short and cracking. “The Seams of Pangaea” is a fascinating title when you think of the implications it carries, and the music delivers a full-on expression of the possibilities. The overlayed lead guitar work is exceptional, and the Pink Floydian movement is an experience. The album closes on the eleven-minute epic “Stormbreaker Suite.” This piece has some of the most progressive segments on the record, to my ear, anyway. Over the course of the song, an ambitious array of ideas is explored, and the answers are found.

The is album is very heavy, and it is one of my favorites, not just from Behold! The Monolith, but among the all the albums I have heard so far this year. Highly recommended.

From The Fathomless Deep is out now through Ripple Music. Secure your treasures at the label’s site, or at Bandcamp, like I did.


Band website, https://beholdthemonolith.com/home

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-fathomless-deep

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/beholdthemonolith

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

© Wayne Edwards

Behold! The Monolith, From The Fathomless Deep (Ripple Music 2022)

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Motor Sister is back with a dozen original tracks on the band’s second album, Get Off.

If you haven’t heard who Motor Sister is yet, this line-up will be an eye-opener: Jim Wilson (vocals, guitar), Scott Ian (guitar), Pearl Aday (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), and John Tempesta (drums). Name those bands! Originally formed as a tribute band playing a special set of Mother Superior music, they released an album of just such covers in 2015 called Ride. The band sometimes calls the music they play “no bullshit hard rock and roll” and that label does indeed fit. The new album follows this course with twelve original tracks and one cover to put a bow on it.

Most of the songs are up-tempo rushes that will flush your face with nostalgia. Witness the opener, “Can’t Get High Enough.” That one goes right along with the cover art, doesn’t it? Charging guitar, great hooks, and the incredible pairing of two fantastic rock voices is a recipe for success. You can tear another one of those off for me any time and I will be ready to listen to it. “Coming For You” follows hot on its heels, and it is a blood boiling fever maker. There is speed and energy here, more than enough to go around; enough to spare.

There is a ballad on the album, “Sooner Or Later,” in the frame hard rock bands used to make them in. And there is an introspective song, “Pain.” Slower pieces are more than balanced with ragers, like “Excuse Me, Your Life Is Exposed” and “Bulletproof.” And anyway, who wants an album that sounds all the same. There is a compelling variety of compositions on the record, all of it sounding like an unearthed treasure trove of music you have never heard before that fits like a glove. The only question I have is: When does the tour start? Recommended.

You can get your hands on Get Off starting Friday, May 6th from Metal Blade Records. Examine your options at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://motorsister.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/motorsister

Metal Blade Records, https://metalblade.com/motorsister/

© Wayne Edwards

Motor Sister, Get Off (Metal Blade 2022)

Insineratehymn, Disembodied (Blood Harvest 2022)

Los Angeles death metal band Insineratehymn put forth their second long-player, Disembodied.

The history of the early days of Insineratehymn is a bit murky. In the past few years, they have put together two albums. The first was 2018’s A Moment In A Vision, which was quite well received. The new album shows some refinements in composition and execution without extinguishing the original dark spark. The Metal Archives reports the band members to be Miguel Martinez (bass), Abraham Garcia (drums), Demitree Rivera (guitar), Frank Montero (guitar, vocals), and Nico Poblete (bass).

The opening track of Disembodied, “Perpetual Anguish,” has beautiful instrumentation and very creepy voices and vocals. It puts you in the right mood. “Visceral Ignominy” throws the first lump of meat on the floor with pummeling rhythm and slicing guitar. The singing is a cross between is deep growl and a foul croak. The music seems to be designed to press the breath right out of you. The lead guitar work emanates from the pitch-black netherworld, promoting an unseen, surely sinister, agenda.

This is fundamental death metal, pumping in a 90s vein and traipsing the unhallowed earth with unfettered disregard for order. “Proliferation Of The Deceased” has an exceptional doom vibe while following along the defined agenda of set-up, excursion, and delivery. In a similar stance of divergence and coordination, “Immolated Ascension” marches off in the direction of chaos in order to hold a black mirror up to new delights. My favorite song is “Bitter Loss” as it maintains the essential facets of the declared musical paradigm and excels in the individual pieces, especially the vocals. This album is a dark delight. Recommended.

Disembodied is out now. Blood Harvest Records and Rotted Life conspire to bring CD, digital, vinyl, and cassette formats to life for the choosing. Investigate the possibilities at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/album/disembodied

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/insineratehymnofficial

Blood Harvest Records, http://www.bloodharvest.se/

Insineratehymn, Disembodied (Blood Harvest 2022)