Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sci-Fi Adventures: The Puppet Masters

Here's a good one, well, almost. If you've read sci-fi you've definitely heard the name Robert Heinlein. Dude was pretty damn prolific, and wrote some of the most memorable novels in the genre. He's usually pretty fresh, fun, and dense. Not for the average sci-fi reader at times, but he knew that, so some of his books were a little more focused on action, this being one of them. It actually has a lot of interesting history behind it too; lawsuits against movies that ripped it off, earlier changes to avoid Communist persecution, and an eventual 90s thriller film that came out pretty good. You won't really get that from reading it, but if you're a fan it's interesting to learn about. Anyway...

The Puppet Masters is one of Heinlein's earlier novels, though not the earliest, and sets the tempo for some of his more accessible works. Interestingly, it's in fact his only novel that features an alien invasion as the primary drive of the plot. He never did another one, which is kind of sad, because The Puppet Masters is a pretty solid work overall that perhaps could have led into other, more clever invasion tales. Still, it's not not without problems.

The interesting stuff is that the alien invasion takes place in the future where people take lots of weird drugs for pleasure and get around in flying cars (this is sadly absent from the 90s film adaptation). The agents have cool little gimmicks, too, like built-in phones in their heads called 'skull phones'. Sam, the main character, is part of an agency that deals with US intelligence matters and is so secret it reports directly the President. You never find out what they are, but it doesn't matter. What does is that the earth is being invaded by a slug-like creature that attaches to the spine of any intelligent creature (or fairly intelligent at least) and controls them like a puppet, hence the name of the book. That pretty much sums it all up, the story revolves around the agency, Sam, and his friends (including father), figuring out the mystery and how to stop the aliens. There are numerous twists in the plot, some revolving around the idea that they can take over memories and learn how to essentially act like people to a certain point, and the action is quite fast and often intense. Heinlein really doesn't waste too much time getting it moving, because in a few pages things start to fly and it doesn't really let up.

That is, however, until he begins to incorporate a ridiculous subplot revolving around Sam falling in love with another agent, who we find out later is actually connected to the aliens in this horribly-explained way. Apparently she was once part of this doomsday cult, grew up in it, and was taken away by the aliens, found in a state of amnesia and made an agent later on. It wouldn't be so bad if the love sections weren't so damn trite and formulaic. They're incredibly boring, the dialog is second-grade laughable, and they only serve to slow down an otherwise interesting story. Later, for example, Sam his alien love woman get married for some goddamn reason, and go off into his 'cabin in the mountains' without telling anyone for some other goddamn reason in the middle of an invasion, where, of course, they eventually are assaulted by an alien that rides in on a cat, totally reverting all of the training and skills you see them utilize throughout the rest of the book. Any point that this stupid love tale enters the story, it's really quite irritating and probably enough to make some people put it down. A real shame, because the rest of it is good. Overall, The Puppet Masters is an enjoyable read, but the love story made me put it down once before and almost did it again. I finished it this time around, but it was pretty grueling through those sections. Really should have eliminated them. Anyway, if you're looking for an early invasion story from the master himself, this is a good one, but it's definitely not his, or the genre's, best.

Monday, May 9, 2011

DOOM IN JUNE II Music Festival

Saturday, June 4th, 2011 At The Cheyenne Saloon In Las Vegas Full Lineup Confirmed Including Solitude Aeturnus, Wino And Dead Neon

Las Vegas, NV, May 9, 2011 -- The celebrated Doom In June festival returns for the second year in a row to pay homage to some of the most respected names in Doom and Stoner Rock. Event takes place on Saturday, June 4th, 2011 at The Cheyenne Saloon (3103 N. Rancho Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89130, Tel. 702-645-4139). Doors are at noon and advance tickets are on sale now
for $25.00 at

Last year's inaugural event was a tremendous success featuring great music and hordes of fans flocking to Las Vegas from all over the world. This year Salem Rose Music gives you another dose. Following a similar format Doom In June II kicks off the summer with a 17-band line-up which includes a mix of long established names as well as some of the brightest young talents on the scene.

Most anticipated artists confirmed for the festival this year include Solitude Aeturnus (vocalist Robert Lowe also fronts esteemed Swedish band Candlemass); Wino of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Shrinebuilder who will perform an acoustic set in support of his new album Adrift (Exile On Mainstream/Volcom Entertainment); Las Vegas locals Dead Neon.

The Fiesta Rancho Hotel/Casino (2400 N. Rancho Drive, North Las Vegas, NV 89130, Tel. 888-899-7770) is located very close to The Cheyenne Saloon and is recommended to festival goers in need of accommodations.

Doom in June is produced by Marco Barbieri and Salem Rose Music. Event sponsors include Doom Metal Alliance, All That Is Heavy Shop, Foundry of Doom Radio, Hellride Music and Fly PR.

Saturday, June 4th
The Cheyenne Saloon
at 3103 N. Rancho Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89130
Tel. 702-645-4139
doors at 12 noon // 21+
tickets $25 via
For festival information email [2]

Solitude Aeturnus
Wino (solo acoustic set)
Hooded Menace (Finland)
Iron Man
Stone Axe
Wo Fat
Dusted Angel
Leeches Of Lore
White Witch Canyon
Hallowed Engine
Meth Leppard
…Of The Horizon
Crowned By Fire
The Swamp Donkey
Dead Neon (Las Vegas)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

RUNHILD Gammelsæter Solo Album AMPLICON Out On Vinyl

RUNHILD Gammelsæter boasts an impressive resume of accomplishments, both musical and otherwise. At 17 years old, while a foreign exchange student, she formed the influential doom metal band THORR'S HAMMER. Since that time she has gone on to create music with a variety of collaborators, including the drone doom project KHLYST and SUNNO))). As if her musical accomplishments are not enough, Gammelsæter also holds a PhD in cell biology from the University of Oslo, is a Fulbright Scholar, a model, and a painter.

In 2008, she released her first solo record, Amplicon, on Utech Records. Now, thanks to Little Black Cloud Records, Amplicon is finally seeing a digital and vinyl release, both for the first time, and with new cover art done by Gammelsæterr herself.

The first pressing is limited to 100 copies on clear vinyl with a clear center label that must be impaled through a record player's spindle to puncture a hole in order to play it. Each of the first 100 LPs also comes hand-cocooned in soft cotton webbing with a handwritten lyric line and autograph by Runhild herself. A digital download card is included. Pre-order is now available on the Little Black Cloud Records website here.


Bazillion Points Books reveals that frontman Erik Danielsson of Sweden's black metallers WATAIN has contributed an impassioned foreword to the upcoming 744-page hardcover book METALION: The Slayer Mag Diaries, an anthology and memoir by Norway's extreme metal godfather Jon Kristiansen.

The Swedish Grammy-winning Danielsson previously contributed to Slayer XX, the final issue of the legendary Slayer Mag, released in 2010. The musician also appears in the METALION book's gallery of color portrait photographs shot by Kristiansen.

Says Danielsson: "The first issue I got was Slayer X, and it was a monumental experience of being thrust into the very depths of the mad universe that was the black/death metal underground... Dead or alive, Slayer Mag will stand as a synonym for that unnameable, bloodcurdling feeling of solemn secrecy and evil genius that this movement has bestowed upon us."

Years in the making, METALION includes over 600 reproduction pages from every issue of Slayer Mag, spanning from the early 1980s through 2010. In addition, author Jon Kristiansen recounts his life's story, from alienated outsider to central figure in Norwegian black metal to world-weary metal survivor. The book also features over 100 rare photographs, including two color sections and a portrait gallery of photographs taken by Kristiansen himself.

"The greatest heavy metal story ever told" will be available in June 2011, wherever books are sold, and is available for preorder now with two bonus limited patches from Bazillion Points Books, "America's smallest but heaviest book publisher."


Pulverised Records is proud to welcome the infamous Singaporean black death warmachine known as IMPIETY to their illustrious roster for their upcoming eighth studio album.

The band, which has a winding history that spans over two decades, is a champion of the underworld having released a host of crushing albums that consistently push the boundaries of extreme.

Commented founding bassist/vocalist Shyaithan of the signing: "The best of IMPIETY has yet to come! Writing the upcoming storm serves as a greater challenge to myself and all previous endeavors. One thing definitely to expect is that this new full-length album will hammer you ten times harder than all previous revelations. Blood and Chaos shall dominate but Lightning Death will be its ultimate crowning glory!

Added Pulverised Records A&R Manager Calvin Chiang: "IMPIETY, with their vibrant history as the first band to put Singapore on the extreme metal map, has grown rapidly in recent years with a fearsome reputation of being a no-holds-barred ferocious live act. And now it has come full circle; this formidable co-operation for the upcoming new full-length opus will prove once again that IMPIETY is truly at the top of their game, sitting proud and high at the blackened elite throne of blasphemy. Asian and Arrogant!"

Shyaithan - Vocals/Bass
Guh Lu - Guitars
Eskathon - Guitars
Atum - Drums



New Album West Due on August 16th!

Thrill Jockey is very pleased to announce that Wooden Shjips will record for the label. Formed in 2006, Ripley Johnson (guitar and vocals), Dusty Jermier (bass), Nash Whalen (organ), and Omar Ahsanuddin (drums), began with the simple drive to get their music heard. Their first 10" was available for free to anyone who wrote them an email requesting one. After a few albums, singles, and collections the band are leaders of the modern psychedelic movement.

West is their first album recorded in a studio (Lucky Cat Studios). The album was engineered by Phil Manley and was mastered by Sonic Boom at Blanker Unisinn, Brooklyn, with additional mastering by Heba Kadry at The Lodge in New York.

A world wide tour kicks off on the West Coast in August.