"The keyboard hums nervously to calm itself as it stumbles through haunted catacombs; hopelessly lost in the dank, abondoned dark. The guitar dabbles in the art of of voodoo mind control as the bass slits the throat of a wealthy relative, her will curiously re-worded only days ago. The vocals drift hauntingly from the spires of a dark, overgrown castle in the dark and isolated forests by the sea. The album progresses like a grave robber through a cursed tomb - first in soaring rapture of the treasures found, then crushed by despair as the doorway seals behind him forever."
Promotional blurb on Rusty Axe Records (2009)
Ужасы Чёрного Музея
Last August (2020), I was interviewed for Doom Horror Cult, a cool Russian blog on Yandex, about how horror films influence Doom Metal bands. Aleksey asked me a few questions like what movies did we base a song on, what attracted us to these movies, what aspects did we want to reflect in your songs and our favourite parts... I sent him this track-by-track movie/song analysis in return and he published the text in Russian, with various trailers.
"Our very first song, 'Men Of The Future', was inspired by the monologue at the end of "The Incredible Shrinking Man". 'Meia Noite' was our tribute to Jose Mojica Marins, aka Coffin Joe, who passed away very recently... 'Deadbeat At Dawn' cam from a Jim Van Bebber film and 'The Quiet Earth' was based on this excellent and very surreal end-of-the-world movie.
The album didn't have literal movie adaptations as such but drew heavily, concept-wise, from Pulp comics/short stories, the EC/Warren library and as a whole, written in a 'feverish Lovecraftian nightmare' style."
"It was the first song JC wrote after the Space Patrol split. It had become an habit of mine already to turn old SF movies into songs so I carried on in that fashion. I don’t know if you remember the end of “The Incredible Shrinking Man” where it really gets cosmic as the main character keeps getting smaller and smaller and prepares to reach new worlds on the subatomic level. It really blew my mind the first time I saw it. I don’t know why but this theme popped up in my head when I sat down to write the lyrics and “We are men of the future/ At one with the electron god/ Headfirst in the genetic pool/ We dive” was the first thing that I jotted down. This demo never came out officially but I still like this song a lot. One of the first we played as a four-piece too."
"This 1985 movie from New Zealand is one of the greatest end of the world movies out there! It’s got a very uncommon atmosphere and some really striking visuals. Plus the end is a fucking mindblower! I only wish the goddamn POSTER ART wouldn’t spoil it the way it does, haha.
So we wanted a last-man-on-earth kind of vibe for this song (a common theme in my lyrics, for some strange reason) and as we were big fans of this movie, it all clicked together."
"Another of our early songs, heavily influenced by the nightmare-fueled hellish visions of Jose Mojica Marins, AKA “Coffin Joe”, Brazil’s most consistant purveyor of satanic terror! He passed away very recently, unfortunately, but it’s never too late to delve into his fascinating work. I remember first hearing about him in the early 90s, in the days of bootleg VHS, probably in a fanzine or through some American mail-order catalogs like Sinister Cinema (the only way to get rare and obscure movies from different parts of the world, before the DVD explosion of the early 00s). One of his films really caught my attention, called “At Midnight I’ll Catch Your Soul” (A Meia Noite Levarei Sua Alma), and this is where the song came from. I think the whole movie is on YouTube now. Creepy hallucinogenic visuals and a pretty evil atmosphere. I especially like how un-sympathetic the main character is!"
"This demo has three tracks based on different movies. I think JC came up with this one, he’s the one who sampled it if I remember correctly. It’s a very violent late 80s revenge movie, the first directorial effort of Jim Van Bebber, the guy who’d become famous later on for “My Sweet Satan” and his take on “The Manson Family”. I must say, lyrically-wise, it’s probably the song which is the furthest removed from its source material. I didn’t really follow the movie but rather got inspired by its oozing menace, urban decay and gritty characters… I wanted to write a suicide song and literally stopped at the title. What it means to be “deadbeat at dawn”, at the end of your rope, just waiting to end it all."
Before I find the nerve to fire up the few remaining working synapses left in my brains and tell the whole story that led to us forming this sorta kinda semi-cult doom band, here's a rather in-depth interview I found that Chris of Hellride did with us sometime in 2006-ish.
Chris: First off, I'm a big fan of your 2006 demo. I'm of the opinion that it is exceptionally creative, inspired material. It has the elements of Doom Metal, but you guys take a truly unique musical path that I have not encountered before. I'd like to start off by asking how you guys came about creating your sound? Were you actually trying to come up with something unique, or did it just evolve on it's own?
Max : First and foremost, please accept our deepest thanks for the incredible exposure you've offered us, Chris. Horrors Of The Black Museum was created back in 2002, right after Space Patrol split up, initially as a three-piece with Tristan, our previous drummer, who's been MIA somewhere in the states since then. We really wanted to play something different from the very start, less guitar-based than other bands around, and doomier than the rest with no sludge))) influences or whatever passes for doom these days. Our initial influences were the mighty Paul Chain, St Vitus, Count Raven and countless others. What made a profound difference was when we became a two-piece band, around 2003, when JC started building his own studio... The man is a genius, and the twisted sounds he's inventing are nothing but the horns of apocalypse, mark my words!
How's that for making sure you won't get fired from your own band?
Chris: Let's talk about your sound a little bit more - I honestly can't figure out if it's incredibly distorted guitar, or bass or incredibly distorted Moog, or if you guys are cutting out the middle-man altogether, and going direct to the source by channeling demons. Give us the secret to the HotBM sound. Does it include alcohol, drugs or other libations? Candles, pentagrams, etc?
Max : There are no guitars in our sounds, only layers after layers of the thickest bass sounds possible... You guessed right, there are also some moog and synth touches here and there. The demon-channelling parts only come after the virgins are sacrificed on the altar of Yog-Sothoth (not mentioning the thousand-goat thing). Did I mention booze too ?
JC : You just did... Well, it's not really a matter of "layers", there can be one bass at the time, as there can be 3... or 4, all with distortion.
About the synth thing, yes, there ARE synth parts, and there will always be. You were asking about our influences, they also include composers like Claudio Simonetti, Fabio Frizzi, Riz Ortolani among others...
Chris: Of course, I recognize Max's vocals from your late, great former band, Space Patrol. I always thought Max had a great voice for the stoner-oriented stuff you did with SP, but it also turns out his voice fits perfectly in the much darker sonic explorations of HotBM. Why did you guys decide not to carry on with Space Patrol and where does Max feel most comfortable as a vocalist and why?
Max : Back in Space Patrol I was pretty much ashamed of my vocal limitations, so I always tried to hide behind 'gruff' sounding vocals which never really suited my tastes, to tell you the truth. 'Varakathi', the last song on Space Patrol's 2000 album, showcases what I wanted to sound like back then. Nowadays I'm happier with the way I sound, although I still have a long way to go. About the Space Patrol split-up, things got a bit tense between us in the end, around 2002. We were writing new songs way too fast, worrying more about quantity than quality and then our guitar players decided to leave. Guess you could call it the post-debut album blues. We're all good friends now, and we even rejoined last year for a secret heavy-metal project, in the veins of the late great French heavy metal acts back in the 80s like Blaspheme, Satan Jokers, Sortilege, Demon Eyes and the like.
JC : another thing about the Space Patrol split-up is that the other guys in the band were naturally playing faster and faster, and I wanted to play slower...
Man... I was the one drinking and they were the ones sounding like Tankard!
Chris: You guys tackle some dark material lyrically - what do you guys count as inspiration? I know you also have an epic-length dirge based on HP Lovecraft's "Dagon" in the works... is Lovecraft a big lyrical inspiration for you guys?
Max : It all comes down to our name, Horrors of the Black Museum. Think about a crumbling, abandoned building in an ageless city buried in sand and time. That place is the depository of every horror story ever conceived by man. Each room tells a story, and each song we write tells the story inside that room, as if you were wandering through these desolate halls and popping your head inside to see - and hear - what's going on. The stories may come from obscure horror flicks, cheap 50s pulp literature, forgotten comic books, or from the twisted minds of writers like Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and countless others... Of course, it all comes down to a misspent youth, immersed in bizarre readings and weird cinema, and how you can turn all that into a creative act, retelling the stories you've enjoyed for another audience... As for the new song you've mentioned, it's almost finished now and will be available for free on our website, so everyone can hear where we're going. It's got all the key ingredients of our sound, with a much better production and more complex arrangements. Oh, it's called 'Gold From The Sea' and is indeed loosely based on HPL's 'Dagon'.
Chris: There are two of you in the band... but there are more instruments than people. How do you guys play out live? Or do you?
Max : Actually, we don't and probably won't until we sort out how to recreate our sound in a live environment with proper atmosphere and adequate visuals. HotBM once was a 5-piece band, with the guys currently playing in Eibon, but the experience didn't work out very well and we reverted to the initial line-up.
JC : Yes, it's gonna be quite difficult, I mean, maybe we'll be able to play live once or twice for some special occasion, but about touring... I'm not sure we can manage to bring 3 bass amplifiers and all the synth shit on the road...
Chris: You have the demo out currently, but is there any plans to record a full-length album or even an EP? Any label interest so far?
Max : As far as new songs are concerned, apart from the one coming soon on our website, we'll also have another new track appearing on Paradise Noise Records's 'Drowning Into Sorrow Vol. 2' sampler CD. The song is called 'Dead Men Shed No Tears'. Paradise Noise Rds is a young and very small label into DIY releases like our demo and I would like to extend our gratitude for their support. Regarding other labels, we're still on the lookout. Guess some people have been taken aback by our strange combination of sounds, but I'm anxiously waiting for their response to our newer material.
JC: The demo you got is more a "best of" displaying what we've been doing the last few years.
Next one's gonna be more coherent (at least I hope so) and, as said above, with a better production!
Chris: France has a growing dark music scene it seems like - do you guys hang out with band like Rising Dust or Northwinds? What other bands from France should we know about? What is your take on the heavy music scene in France? Do you see it growing?
Max : We know the good people in Rising Dust and I’m in contact with Thomas of Northwinds, both very talented bands. Back in the Space Patrol days, we also shared the stage with good stoner bands. There seems to be a few new bands doing their own thing nowadays, which is always a good sign : Eibon, Hangman's Chair, Ataraxie/Funeralium. They may not be my cup of doom, but these bands are still worth checking out... Northwinds are my all-time favorite though, and their new album should be on everyone's shopping lists. Wonderful 70s vibes, awesome songs, great lyrics and they're on Black Widow!
Chris: Guys, thanks a million for the interview, I really appreciate the time. You're on to something really unique, so please keep it up. Any last words you'd like to leave us with?
Max : All modesty aside, I think we're on to something too, though God knows what it is. As for parting words: remember that doom is not only about being the slowest or the heaviest, it’s also about soul and meaning. Thanks for this cool interview, Chris, and keep on doing your wonderful job at Hellride! We wish you and your staff the absolute best. And, oh, check out this weird band from France called Horrors Of The Black Museum!
JC : Thanks a lot, Chris. By the way we still have something like 20 Space Patrol CDs to sell, so if anyone is interested, please contact us directly and not Water Dragon or some affiliate site or seller... The guy ripped us off without mercy and I don't want to have anything to do with him!
This review appeared on a merchant website called Crucial Blast. I forgot who was running it.
"Sure to withstand the test of time"? Hmm.