"City of The Living Nightmare"


You can't have too much horror doom soundtracks in your life can you. Just when you thought the nightmare was over, here comes another one for your ghastly pleasure. Blizaro is made up two Oroduin members, John Gallo - guitars, keyboards, vocals and Mike Puleo on drums. John is also from Crucifist, Night Conquers Day and Necrochasm. I find it amusing that on the advertisement you see here they make a point of mentioning this has "Real Analog Synths." It seems like somehow has become a vital selling point behind this music these days but all jokes aside, they can sound wonderfully creepy. Blizaro" has been a side project of John's for several years and has released a few great demos and an amazing 7" split with Orne just last year. The tune on that, "One Step Into Oblivion" was pretty much a teaser for this full length which has finally been released on the (Who Else ?) Razorback Records label. Like a sick and twisted blend of Black Sabbath and Italian horror-doom soundtrack pioneers Goblin, this album has the creepy suspense and ghoulish vibe you would expect from such a mangling of styles. While Hooded Menace and Acid Witch do the horror-death doom thing in a fairly predictable way, Blizaro are simply quirky and off the wall in their approach. The album is split into two halves, the first half being "Physical" and the second half, "Mental." Musically there is not much difference between the two as this album and its concept is totally off-kilter anyway.

The opening 8 minute title track is a prog-doom rock monster that is full of suspense, creepy synthesized sounds and menacing riffing. Right from the start, it is filled with sickly moans, creaky organ passages and a hypnotic drugged out atmosphere. The guitar solo work is amazing and it is no secret what a killer axeman John really is but he really extends his playing techniques on this album. The album is full of haunting melodies that are infectious but they are incredibly nightmarish and eerie while the overall effect is pure cinematic and theatrical. What is great about this is - even though you have 14 songs stretching the album way past an hour, it never gets tired as it is diverse with different styles and feels to each song. After the proggish opening track, you get engaging material like the psych-rock of "Midnight Lurkers" to a cover of Goblin's theme to "Suspira." You get into total space-rock ambience in the tune "Violet Cosmos." with 70's sci-fi synths and tracks like "Catacomb Man", "Portallucinations" and "Ceremonial Bone Ritual" are pure Sabbathian symphonies. As you can see, they also have great song-titles, "Eyes in the Caskets" being another one of them and if you think that song-title conjures up some spooky imagery, wait till you hear the song !

Blizaro play doom-rock but it is very progressive, very hypnotic and psychedelic in many respects but still with heavy doses of old-school doom metal riffing. If Witchfinder General were from the prog-rock world and were better musicians, then "Death Penalty" could have sounded like this instead of becoming the pure Sabbath clones like they were in the early 80's. Same could be said for early Pentagram, Blizaro have all those elements, even the production but it is mixed with off-the-wall horror-prog rock passages. The guitar sound is fuzzy in a Blue Cheer kind of way while the vocals are from another world completely especially when they are whispered in a menacing tone. I must also mention that John Gallo is one of the most underrated musicians to emerge in the doom scene and Orodruin is one of the most underrated bands, the "Epicurean Mass" album by them is still a masterpiece and one song (not on that album), "Claw Tower" has one of the greatest riffs ever created. So I had no doubts that John would do something special with "City of the Living Nightmare" but I wasn't expecting it to be this good. If you love the classic doom of Witchfinder General, Paul Chain, Black Sabbath and prog-rock excursions that Cathedral sometimes venture into, you will love this and of course, if you dig 70's horror soundtracks then you dig the creepy vibes of Blizaro."......9/10

Aquarius Records

Experience the chilling terror of.... BLIZARO! Thrill to the nightmarish sensation that is... BLIZARO! Enjoy the lovely melodies of... BLIZARO! Space out to the swirling sizzling synths of... BLIZARO! Puzzle at the schizophrenic doom-prog-metal-soundscapes conjured by... BLIZARO! Oh yeah, we've been waiting for this one for a while! Keen readers of the AQ list might recall mention of Blizaro in our review of the debut Crucifist release on Profound Lore, earlier this year. We mentioned that the guitarist from that blackened death-thrash entity, John Gallo (also of true doomsters Orodruin), had an awesome, eccentric synth-based side project called Blizaro, whom we'd experienced via some self-released cd-r's. Thus we were looking forward to Blizaro's upcoming full-length cd, and at long last, it's finally here! Like a mad scientist's lo-fi, DIY mashup of Goblin and Black Sabbath, Blizaro is right up our dark and creepy alley. Yours too we might imagine. It almost makes up for that Tony Tears album having gone out of print. There's definitely plenty of metal bands who have taken inspiration from the classic Italian horror/suspense "giallo" cinema (and soundtracks), we're thinking Necrophagist, Hooded Menace, Cathedral, Moss, Acid Witch... and of course other musicians too, recent good examples being Zombi, Majeure, Magda, and Umberto. (Oh, and NightSatan, whose album we should soon have, too.) But Blizaro kind of take it to another, weirder level of worship. Blizaro is bizarro, yes that's for sure. Their sinister synthesis of Goblin/Sabbath has some off-kilter, confusional, sorta Sun City Girlish elements to it as well. It never really gets very metal, actually, but also stays away from the disco thing too. Divided into two halves, one "Physical" and one "Mental", this disc offers up a deranged range of strangeness, from the fuzzed out Sabbathy psych riffage of "Midnight Lurkers" to the purely synthesized spacey suspensefulness of "Violet Cosmos". The eight minute opening epic, title track "City Of Living Nightmare", is a progged out tour de force of both gentle, eerie melodies and jagged martial metal riffage. It certainly sets the stage for what follows... cinematic symphonics, whispered vocal incantations, organ drones, monkish moans, sickly grooves, acid guitar soloing, druggy atmospheres... with song titles like "Eyes In The Caskets", "Catacomb Man", "Portallucinations", and "Ceremonial Bone Ritual". And then, at the opposite end of the album, as if to give credit where credit is due, Blizaro wind up the disc with a spot-on cover of Goblin's theme to Suspira! Almost unnecessary, after what's come before, but a nice touch nonetheless. Quite recommended, especially to those who dig, say, both Osanna and Witchfinder General, or Fabio Frizzi and Paul Chain (all artists, among many others, that Blizaro cite as influences). Man, if only this were an actual soundtrack to an obscure old giallo, in the tradition of Argento and Fulci, we'd sure love to see that movie!! So, people, if you dare, feel the embrace of the purple-hued, witch-haunted horror that is... BLIZARO!

"Horror Rock"

By Janet Willis of Hellride Music

Ever since I’ve admitted publicly to my love of most thing prog and kraut and also discovered a motherload of amazing horror/prog/doom acts the stuff just keeps gushing out from the metal underground like a flood of audio gold and I can’t scoop it up fast enough. As of lately I’ve been proghappy and swimming in Hammond organ streams, showered in analog Moog synth, and having audio experiences that can only be appropriately illustrated by a Salvador Dali painting so nothing could be more perfectly timed than a new dark prog find for my ears.

It never fails that someone hones in on my addictions and delivers to me something irresistible, so go ahead and continually exploit my weakness for good tunes, it’s not like I want to spend time and money and anything else anyway (I really don’t). Some of you may know of this project already, it’s yet another great contribution of John Gallo to us all and nothing less than what we’d expect. Massive thanks to John for contacting me about this new found gem and keep an eye out for an interview with him for this project as well. Turn off the lights, close your eyes, sit back, and prepare for one hell of an incredible evening trip.

On “Sea of Darkness/Interlude/The Beyond” I immediately hear an essence of Eloy, their darker moments as heard on Inside, possibly because that’s what I’ve been listening to all week, but these guys definitely managed to capture the purest vintage sounds as do Pagan Altar, yet the recordings are current. I’m rapidly becoming a prog fanatic overnight and it’s stuff like Blizaro that is to blame for my newest growing obsession.

“Solar Drone” comes off as an authentic krauty cluster experiment with the synth-like playfulness that I want to think is a guitar jamming with Moog synth, but am not too sure at this moment as it’s just really fuzzy and trippy to the max as it echoes and almost talks to me through the speaker.

“Opening Death” is an analog synth wash of classic Giallo film suspense scenes, especially the various scenes in which the girl is viewed walking along a street completely unaware of her “stalker”. This track brings to mind Bava’s Blood and Black Lace, as the sounds allude to the dire circumstances to come for the young maiden.

“Call to Graves” perfectly recaptures the almost campy giallo soundtracks with an incredible prog doom thunder and tone that rumbles you through a struggle between perp and victim. There’s some amazing guitar noodling simmered in deep progland and then throbbed into submission by the amazing doom bass buzz.

“Cadaverous” brings us to another opening scene of some “killer” film. The main keyboard melody leads you down the treacherous path as the keyboard style theatrical high hat build up brings you closer to a suspenseful climax of quaint yet subtlely devious synth chords and percussion. If I didn’t know better I’d convinced that this was the real deal, in that I mean, one of the original soundtracks and not a modern day project based off of a very great and well-loved influence.

Although this being the first installment of this project, and consisting of tracks based more off of the idea of being an instrumental soundtrack to a classic slasher or murder mystery, there is definite direction and flow throughout the tracks that really pops out at you like a “knife in the water”. I’m really looking forward to hearing the other releases and seeing what shadows they will lead me into. At times Blizaro is playful and goes deeply prog and I get a whiff of Comus even, as the album draws to a close with the folk guitar melody of “it’s in the Lighthouse”.

So hey folks, whether you’re an evolving prog nerd like myself, dig the horror prog sounds of Jacula/Antonius Rex, like the experimental and interesting side of kraut rock, or just dig those damn movies as much as I do, you’ll want to check this act out. I used to watch old silent horror films with a symphonic and atmospheric black metal stream and it was fucking wicked, now I will revisit my: Venus in Furs, Deep Red, Seven Bloodstained Orchids and others to a Blizaro backdrop.

"Blue Tape"

By Janet Willis of Hellride Music

Where the debut Horror Rock saw the Blizaro project going in the classic horror prog moog based soundtrack route, Blue Tape brings in the doom aspects and creates something that screams “Paul Chain’s Violet Theatre” as a greater influence on here.

The brief opener “Entrance” brings in some bluesy 70’s proto metal/doom guitar shredding and riffs amidst the moog to sort of appetize your ears for the remainder of the album. Especially getting you ready for the highly rhythmic and inescapable pull of “Sphere 1 (The Mirror)”.

“Sphere 1 (The Mirror)” is an absolute heavy prog/doom/rock homage. The fucking hooks are soooo classic and heavy blues kissed with the warmth of analog effects. Honestly there’s a definite High Tide/Atomic Rooster sense here, but the music also has it’s own quality. The sound is big too, HUGE actually, as it rolls out the ultra heavy riff leaded grooves, and the result is sooooo infectious that unless you like this sort of stuff you’d be well advised to avoid hearing this track as it’ll be stuck in your head for some lengthy spell of time afterward.

“Sphere 2 (Shifting To Trapezoidal Vessel)” comes in with a killer Moog intro that brings to mind old sci-fi flicks from the 60’s and 70’s. This is a 2 ½ minute krauty space psyche sort of thing, abbreviated, and Klaus Schulze and the Cosmic Jokers come to the front of my mind.

“Implosive Corridor (System-1 Nerve Induction)” brings back the heavy blues rock and doom tone, but there’s also a heavy kraut vibe present as well. There’s something/s all too familiar in the sound that make you want to pry open that lid and when you do the jar in full of nothing but Blizaro. The sound here is completely Blizaro regardless of similarities to anything else as it seems to blend all of the styles and influences together into a heavy and thick stew of low end bass rumble and some bit of Sabbath aroma. The riffs almost seem to be walking along and brings to mind the image of a girl walking as she’s being stalked in a classic horror film.

“Driving Back the Senses” is a classic moog short that helps to tie two tracks that it’s centered in between, sort of like a transition between scenes, but the moog lines are very bassy and rumbling that adds the doom edge that is heard in the next track.

“X Sphere 4 (Doom Monuments) / X Sphere 4B (Nostalgic)” definitely is a Paul Chain doom inspired track. The tightly woven Black Sabbath doom guitar elements intertwining with a proggy synth and an acoustic folksy guitar piece toward the later half of the track definitely fit in really well again as a soundtrack to one of the classic giallo films. The whistling during the folksy bit is courtesy of Peter Vicar, whose daughter does the trippy backward speech at the very end of the track.

“The End Commence (Beyond Protocol, No Return)” is an epic and cinematic closer to the album. Some doom rumble is found here and is nicely distorted with supernatural chants coming in about halfway through and then some church bells ring and the chants fade out with the sound of winds to end the album properly.

When really looking at this album thoroughly it’s still pretty much a soundtrack to an old Italian horror film, although this time it has more doom in it than the other releases and is very much reminiscent of Paul Chain’s Violet Theatre where the hard rock is spaced out (literally) with the more atmospheric and prog notes. Nothing is out of place or unnecessary and the continual narrative and flow throughout the album is solid and consistent. John really takes the time to perfectly place the tracks and make those connections that really sew it up cleanly and flawlessly. I also am impressed at how classic these tracks are and yet they sound as if they are Blizaro and not an exact replica of anyone or anything else, this music has its own voice and it’s definitely heard loud and clear.