Happy October, boys and ghouls. To celebrate the season, I decided to review Lights Out by the horror punk band Murderland, but first a few disclaimers:
First: Murderland play the brand of horror punk that is cheesy. There are songs about making out in pumpkin patches, kissing blood-soaked lips, throwing on straight-jackets, eating brains and hacking up the citizens of Never Never Land with an army of cartoon rats and ducks at your side. If you want anything more highbrow than what has been mentioned here, you will not find it.
Second: The Misfits worship is obvious. Lead singer Mike Murder rocks a devilock and their bass player is known as Jerry Also (which I actually find pretty funny). Also, Mike Murder sometimes dabbles in a Danzig-esque croon that easily morphs into a Michael Graves sneer. If you don't like Misfits worship, this band is not for you.
Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I have to say that I really enjoy this EP. The first song, "Die Screaming" is a breakneck punk rock track. With a nice shout-along chorus of "You're going to die screaming. SCREAMING!", you immediately get hooked into the song and the EP. The energy from the band really leaps out of the speakers and grabs your attention.
The EP loses a little steam with the next two tracks sounding like the Misfits mixed with Teenage Bottlerocket. I love both of those bands, and these songs are not bad, but I don't feel that they play to Murderland's strengths, which is playing a more aggressive style of punk that addresses hacking up your girlfriend versus trying to make out with her as her decomposing flesh falls off of her face.
The EP finishes out with "13 Jack O' Lanterns," "Cartoon Casualty" (there are those damn Misfits again, providing inspiration for one of the best tracks on the album), "Transylvania Vacation" (which has a nice rockabilly/surf feel to it) and "October Sky." With plenty of metal riffs, "whoa"s and even a bass solo, the songwriting, musicianship and memorable hooks of these tracks really help Murderland stand out from the rest of the horror punk crowd.
Murderland are certainly not reinventing the wheel here, but for those of us who miss the Misfits or the feel of the All Hallows-era AFI, Murderland provide a solid 18 minutes of pure EC Comics blood-soaked bliss that you'll be singing along to in no time at all.