Reviewed: November 2003
Released: 2003, Koch Records
I wish I would of gotten this earlier in October in order to have it covered in advance of one of the best “holidays” of the year – Halloween! Unfortunately, I got this in late October and I didn’t have time to properly get it covered in time for Halloween. Anyway, better late than not at all.
Despite Halloween being over, this album is something that I will listen to without it being Halloween since it’s done so well. When most think of Halloween albums, they think of those silly sound effects CD’s with cackling laughter, screams, rattling chains, moaning, etc… This is NOT one of those cheesy albums at all. Finally we have a REAL tribute to the true spirit of Halloween envisioned by Twisted Sister lead vocalist, and horror movie aficionado, Dee Snider. Van Helsing’s Curse is an instrumental album, there are no real vocals and as mentioned no silly “sound effects” to try and be spooky. Most songs combine musical themes and sections from other works ranging from the classical, horror movie themes, and some metal moments. For example: Mike Oldfield’s TUBULAR BELLS from The Exorcist, AVE SATANI from the OMEN, and Beethoven\’s MOONLIGHT SONATA. Dee doesn’t sing a note on here and is only the narrator. Perhaps it would have been cool to have at least one or two songs on here with his vocals, but perhaps that would not fit with the flow of the album.
The album begins with the spoken intro to “Tubular Hell”. This leads into the section “Tubular Bells” from THE EXORCIST. About ½ way through some choirs and chanting type vocals come in over it. Unlike “Tubular Bells” this one has a full-blown metal band after the intro bringing this music to new heights in my books. “All Fall Down” has some creepy sounding orchestration that avoids sounding cheesy. The slow/doomy “Let Me Prey” again has the spoken intro as this is how the story is told. It also has violin, heavy guitars, and a choir. The violin and lead guitar playoff is the best part of this song once it picks up in tempo part way though. At the 3:25 mark there is a Rhapsody-esque choir section. “The Child” starts with a Type O Negative feel then monk-ish chants ensue over some cool orchestration with slight hints of Conan. “Revenge” contains the most different orchestration bringing to mind some classic movie soundtrack or TV theme in sections. The last track on here I’ll mention is perhaps the best on the album because “Let The Pain Begin” contains part of Black Sabbath’s theme song “Black Sabbath” like you’ve never heard it.
Dee Snider did the storyline and concept for this album, and he is joined by a long list of guests. The one guest that stood out the most for me personally was metal violinist, Mark Wood who I haven’t heard a peep from since his brief brush with popularity with the album MONKEY BATS. For a complete list of all the musicians that took part in this recording, drop by www.vanhelsingscurse.com. So who would like this album? Naturally fans of horror movies and the music and themes contained therein should give this a listen, even if they are not totally into heavy metal or orchestrated rock. Even though this is not gloomy goth-metal, fans of Type O Negative might like this. Even though this is not classical-metal a la Trans Siberian Orchestra, their fans might dig a lot of this. And lastly, even though this is hardly “Epic Symphonic Power Metal”, fans of Luca Turilli and Rhapsody will find some of this interesting.
It’s not over.
It’s never over.
Good may have won this battle, but evil is eternal.”
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