All posts by Dom Calzola

MUSIC REVIEW: Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom – Another Confession (2017)

Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom / Fair use doctrine.
Another Confession / Company: Ukulele Horror Records
  1. 1. Dance With The Devil
  2. 2. Wolfman Chuck
  3. 3. They Pray, My Prey
  4. 4. When You Die
  5. 5. Another Confession
  6. 6. Gore To The Whore
  7. 7. Rotten Pumpkins
  8. 8. Lucille
  9. 9. Ballad Of Ronnie
  10. 10. Yup, It's Rape Again!!!
Promoter, host and musician are just some of the words used to describe the Massachusetts based Wolfman Chuck. Whether leading his band of Brimstone Boys or working solo, this genre staple has made a career out of crafting music based around his morbid sense of humor. Chuck has previously unleashed two full length albums and a slew of split EPs on his label Ukulele Horror Records. With the Brimstone Boys, Chuck focuses his sound on a heavy punk and metal feel, but with the “spookalele” he tends to stick closer to love songs filtered out through his twisted mind. Chuck spent most of 2016 working to unleash The Brimstone Boys, his full band project, with Dave Sage and Zack Zombie, to the world but managed to find time to write and record his best effort to date. Titled Another Confession, Wolfman Chuck and the Spookalele of Doom bring 10 haunting, dark tracks to the table in an album that entertains from start to finish.
The disc opens with “Dance With The Devil” a track that helps set the album’s overall darker tone. In a conversation regarding the writing process, Wolfman Chuck explained that this album would contain more personal tracks than in previous recordings and, from the start, there’s a noticeable difference. Continuing with the theme established on the previous song, Chuck segues into “Wolfman Chuck”. With a nod to the Brimstone Boys and boastful lyrics about his preference of women, alive or dead, Chuck portrays himself as a repulsive and diabolical deviant through a hauntingly mellow track ripe with his standard gore and violence.
Track three, “They Pray, My Prey” sticks out as a song that expresses Chuck’s ability to add depth and layers to music consisting only of a man, his beard, and his ukulele. A uniquely haunting and distant opening riff leads into a mid-tempo track about the sinister woodsman toying with his victims in lyrics like, “You can cry all you want, but you’re mine.” Track four is the most outright hostile track on the disc as the Wolfman barks lyrics like, “what you see is what you get, I’m not a fake motherfucker like you” and “I’ll be there when you die. No angels gonna cry." "When You Die" is a comfortable norm for longtime fans of Chuck, poppy, friendly riffs with aggressive punk vocals. Tracks like this prove the Wolfman can be a well versed artist while maintaining loyalty to what got him immediately recognized. The macabre mountain man is a master at his craft, successfully fusing the stark contrasts of violent lyrics over the top of a happy and upbeat ukulele. The album’s title track, “Another Confession” is the standout of the bunch. Packed with emotion and a long build up to an incredible chorus, this is the best Chuck has sounded all around in vocals, playing, and writing. On my one hundredth play through, I still get goosebumps as he segues into the songs hook “What was wrong with you is now right with me and your dead and buried.” If you know nothing of his extensive musical history, this track is a perfect starting point and the highlight of an album full of incredible songs. It's not uncommon to see fans of the genre bypass acoustic acts as nothing more then an artist doing less than others, but those with that elitist mentality generally miss the creative genius of artists like Chuck. The album’s title track alone would be perfect for showing what acoustic solo artists have to offer.
With “Another Confession” being as powerful and moving as it is, I would’ve been satisfied if the record ended there. Fortunately, the second half of the album is as equally enticing as the first. Track six, “Gore To The Whore”, shows Chuck flexing the romantic muscle he’s know for with a song of death, blood, and guts crooned sweetly over a track fit for any make-out point rendezvous. If I haven’t brought attention to it before, it’s important to note how well Chuck wrote these songs and fit them together to keep a mood flowing from track to track without breaking its hold. The next song, “Rotten Pumpkins”, features Brimstone Boys bassist Dave Sage lending a backing vocal track. While the majority of the disc is a more honest form of horror expressed in a way Chuck pulls off convincingly, "Rotten Pumpkins" is a return to a more fun form of horror. The track was originally released in 2016 as a single recorded with the Brimstone Boys and is, as the majority of the album, one of the strongest songs penned by the bearded butcher. Without breaking the streak, the album continues on to another recognizable track, “Lucille”. Yes, a track written about the blood drinking bat swung into the skulls of his victims by Negan in Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead comic books and the AMC TV series of the same name. A fitting topic for a man destined to offend everyone to some extent, Chuck portrays the violence of the show in a spoiler-ridden track too good to skip. Just like “Rotten Pumpkins”, “Lucille” can be heard with The Brimstone Boys backing, but to garner the true essence and malice of the song, the version from this album is more fitting.
“Ballad Of Ronnie” is the ninth entry on the disc and another showcasing Wolfman’s ability to write a catchy hook. Most notable about this track is the almost western feel injected into the playing - a fresh turn if you found yourself of the minority needing a change of pace. Chuck croons about Ronnie, a street walking transgender meeting her demise at the hands of a violent John. The song strums along as Chuck delivers lyrics in the form of a tall-tale fit for the most macabre. Chuck has remained adamant that his music is written because he enjoys it and it's not penned for snowflakes, and "Ballad of Ronnie" is a strong example of just how little he cares about offending listeners. The disc closes with the song “Yup, It’s Rape Again”. Premise, title, and delivery of this track display what Chuck is most noted for bringing to the scene. He garners the ability to spew out violent offensive lyrics with no difficulty over riffs that, in the hands of anyone less sinister, would be coated in happy and uplifting words. As a finale, this song wraps up Another Confession in a neat bow. Complete with memorable hook and all, Another Confession ends on a strong note.
Clocking in at just short of 30 minutes and available with full color art for only $5 from the label’s Big Cartel page, the disc is worth the time and money spent. Described by Chuck as being “less campy but still fucked”, Another Confession is a audible splatter-fest that assaults the senses and calms the nerves. Aggressive, offensive, and fun as hell, Wolfman Chuck has been an artist I’ve enjoyed watching evolve. If you’re a fan of home grown and unique acoustic horror, this album is a must. This is entirely my take on the music this album has to offer. I wanted to briefly touch base with Chuck to see what his thought process was going into this and what he foresees himself doing next.
House of Tortured Souls: To start off, could you describe your music in general and what you would like your listeners to get from hearing you?
Wolfman Chuck: I play a ukulele. My play style sometimes sounds punk, rock & roll and a little traditional uke sound, this is all I've been told in feedback. I really don't know how to describe it... I just play what I feel. As for what I would like my listerners to get from my music... well, nothing. I make music as a release. If someone like it then... OK, right on, glad they dig it... if not, I don't really care. I make music for me. It's my therapy.
HoTS: I bring up The Brimstone Boys, could you describe that band? How does it differ from your work with the spookalele?
WC: With the Brimstone Boys I don't play my spookalele at all. I am the front man, throwing blood and tossing body parts and fetus's while singing my spookalele tunes as a well as originals to the band. Wolfman and the Brimstone Boys is another release but this time I share the stage with friends of like mind.
HoTS: As a solo artist and with a backing band, you've perfected the art of taboo themes. Have you ever worried that your content would scare away potential fans?
WC: I don't do what I do for fans, no, nope.
HoTS: I honestly hope it stays that way. Moving onto your new album, the record in total has a different vibe. The same content and the same old Wolfman. Could you explain the different approach, if any, you took in crafting this disc?
WC: Writing this album I was in a dark place for a while. I feel it tells with the lyrics and tone. I have also been listening more to some folkish bands lately. I'm sure that influence shows through as well. I feel it has more of a serious feel and is less campy, yet I still have my dark humor.
HoTS: Of the 10 songs on this album each one seems to show you writing at the top of your game. Do you have a favorite song from this record or at least one that you feel would be the most widely accepted by your fans?
WC: Nope, can't say that I do.
HoTS: We talked before about the use of different ukuleles on this record, can you explain how that benefited this disc?
WC: I have many ukuleles and they all have their different tone and personality. When I use a certain one to write a song it is created with that ukulele. Feel, tone and soul. So to use a different ukulele for a song that was written on another... you just lose the songs essence.
HoTS: Is that a technique you've used on your other albums?
WC: Yes. My other two albums, I use the one uke I wrote the songs with. It's just this time I used more then one uke.
HoTS: Do you have plans for what you're going to do next?
WC: I have been tossing the thought around about maybe forming a full band again. This time with me fronting ON the ukulele... Wolfman and the Hounds of Hell... we will see.
HoTS: And in conclusion, Chuck you've written an incredible record, easily one of my favorite releases. You've got plans for the future, anything else you'd like to say to the readers?
WC: Glad you dig it, and I would like to conclude with telling the readers to get out there to the local clubs and support local music. Don't just go to shows with national acts. So many good bands to be discovered. Get out there!!! Also check out Ukulele Horror Records, my label. It supports lots of great local acts.
If you found the foul-mouthed, ukulele-wielding mountain man to be entertaining, then be sure to follow him on Facebook and pick up a copy of his latest CD Another Confession at the Ukulele Horror Records web store.

MUSIC REVIEW: Ratbatspider – Night Of The Sharksquatch (2014)

  • 1. ...And I'm All Out Of Bubblegum
  • 2. Inward Skeleton
  • 3. Last One Out Close The Coffin Lid
  • 4. Dead Girls Don't Say No
  • 5. Night of the Sharksquatch
Sometime in the latter half of 2015, I was first introduced to the Martian rock monsters Ratbatspider. Hailing from the angry red planet but currently residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this horror punk outfit blends the obvious standard scene influences of The Misfits, Glenn Danzig, etc., with a heavier, more metal-influenced style that’s rare to see with bands who identify as Horror Punk. The four piece machine features vocalist Ryan Remains, bassist Chris Rat, guitarist Jack Bat, and drummer Doug Spider. The first impression this band made on me was in form of their 2014 release, Night of the Sharksquatch. The album cover shows a hulking Sasquatch with a shark’s head superimposed on it. Between the cover art, album title, and band name, I had no idea what to expect from the group and went in with zero expectations.
From the start of the album, it was obvious this was a group willing to pave their own way in a genre over-saturated with copy artists trying to emulate groups that came before them. The first track “...And I'm All Out Of Bubblegum” opens with the Rodney Piper quip from They Live where he threatens the alien invaders and then tears right into the music. Front man, Ryan Remains’ aggressive vocal track soars to drummer Doug Spider’s blasting beat as he shouts about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The track ends with a shotgun blast before the album’s second song, “Inward Skeleton”, begins. The group slows down slightly for this track and falls into a tighter groove while Remains demonstrates his capable vocal abilities as he jumps back and forth between a croon and shouting.
The third track is the disc’s longest play, coming in at 3:13. “Last One Out Close The Coffin Lid” has the characters playing a game of Russian roulette. Chris Rat’s bass line prominently carries this track as Remains barks the lyrics like, “one is six chance I’ll wind up dead, paint the room with insides of my head”. Overall, this was my favorite listen on the album. The fourth track “Dead Girls Don’t Say No” starts with Jack Bat playing a thrash-style introduction before Doug Spider starts in with another breakneck pace drum beat. This track showcases the groups plethora of influences as collectively they sound like something straight out the late 80s thrash metal scene. The band works at double time as Remains’ vocals change shape again into a more powerful howl.
The album closes with the title track, “Night of the Sharksquatch” a powerful and heavy closer centered around a Kaiju-style beast created when toxic waste fuses the infamous Sasquatch and a shark together. The light-hearted song premise shows a band that can have fun and still write incredible, gripping, and powerful music. Ratbatspider has proven time and again on each of their more current releases that they are a band with confidence in the direction they are going and the raw talent to get them there.
Follow Ratbatspider on their Facebook page.
And check out more from them at their Bandcamp site.