Wednesday, October 9, 2013

31 Days of Halloween: Spooky Album Review - CALABRESE – Born With A Scorpion’s Touch

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Calabrese. They have been putting out consistently great horror rock for (?) years now and became one of my favorite bands almost as soon as I first heard them. I’ve preordered the last two albums they put out and this new one was no different. I want their new stuff as soon as possible, but I am still stuck in the mindset where I need to hold the album in my hands. I’d rather wait a week for the disc than download something the day it comes out.
Fortunately I didn’t have to wait at all, as Born With A Scorpion’s Touch arrived in the mail several days before its October 1st release date (think about that next time Calabrese announces an album!). I got to talk about the album when I had Calabrese on the Needless Things podcast and I have to admit I was a little concerned when they discussed trying to do different things. I understand bands need to grow and evolve or risk getting stale or bored, but at the same time when you like a band it’s because they sound a certain way. Messing with that formula too much can result in horrible things like Load, Into the Unknown, and everything the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released since BloodSugarSexMagic
So I was excited about the new Calabrese album, but I was fearing the possibility of change. The whole time, though, I kept “Heart Possession” in mind. It’s a track off of the last album, Dayglo Necros. I did not like it. At first. It was a little slower and more melodic and I was all like, “Oh, no – what does this mean for the future of horror rock!?!”

Now I think it’s one of the best tracks on the album.

So with “Heart Possession” in mind, I’m going to take a look at the newest offering from… well, this guy says it best:

American Rebel Death Riders – The guys chose to open this one with a rousing, sped-up intro; Reverend Horton Heat style. This is the kind of track that kicks in your front door, pours whiskey down your throat, and says, “GET UP MOTHERFUCKER! IT’S TIME TO ROCK!” I love those kinds of tracks.

Born With A Scorpion’s Touch – It’s very important for the title track to make an impact if you decide to have one. It needs to set the overall tone for the album and be one of the standout tracks that you look forward to hearing every time you listen. Calabrese nailed it with this one. It has the Calabrese sound – there’s no denying who is performing this one – but it is also twangy and leans more towards rock n’ roll than punk (a line Calabrese has always walked skillfully – I would not categorize them as a punk band).

I wanna Be A Vigilante – This one is a slower tune and tends more towards pulp fiction sensibilities than horror. As a matter of fact, it’s probably the most different song on the album. I don’t love it, but I’m adjusting. I bet Bobby Nash would really dig it, though.

At Night I Am the Warmest – That newfound twang works its way into the classic Calabrese sound here. “At Night I Am the Warmest” probably could have been slipped into one of the last two albums without drawing too much attention. But here it feels like part of the different newness and I dig it.

Loner At Heart – Straight-up full bore punk rock. The placement of this track within the album is perfect, as it follows two songs that are very different from traditional Calabrese and reminds you that they still do their rapid-fire horror rock thing. Plenty of “whoa-a-o”s.

Danger – If the guys make a video for “Danger”, it had better feature a vintage Camaro driving full speed across a desert covered in flames and demons. Because that’s what this song makes me think of.

Mindwarp – I feel like “Mindwarp” has the most variety of the tracks on the album. It has a very catchy guitar part – definitely a signature riff. The vocals are a little more smooth and easygoing, but then there’s a jam-out part with Bobby (I think) screaming, “SATAN IS HERE”. This is a wacky track. In an odd way I could see it as the theme song for a TV show. A fucked up TV show, but it works.

Ride With the Living Dead – “It’s a riot in the burlesque tent, jaded women and degenerate men” is the opening line here and I fucking love it. Much of Born With a Scorpion’s Touch puts me in mind of vehicular mayhem; this track with “Ride” right there in the title is a bit more overt about it. Calabrese always makes for excellent road music, but I think this album in particular is going to be kickass on a journey.

Only the Dead Know My Name – Calabrese’s passion for horror is on display here. Gruesome lyrics blended with a deceptively upbeat and melodic tune. I had to listen to it a few times in a row the first time. I think this might be my favorite song from the album.

I Ride Alone – Okay, so the road trip theme is pretty apparent. This is the sort of kickass tune that would accompany Johnny Blaze in his travels across the USA. There’s sneering, a frantic pace, and this break towards the end that feels like nightfall.

There’s An Evil Inside – The closing track starts off sounding like the Stray Cats covering Danzig.

So just think about that for a minute.


Then it sounds like Elvis stepped in and took over vocals and told Brian Setzer he could just handle guitar this time around and the thing is so full of attitude and swagger and just pure rock that I bet this song gets the guys lots of pussy out on the road.


But “There’s An Evil Inside” actually clocks in at a healthy 2:44, about average for a rock song. It just has this build and pacing that gets you into it and just when it really has you, it’s over. I wish this song were three minutes longer.

I feel like Born With A Scorpion’s Touch was a major success in every way. Calabrese said they wanted to make something that was noticeably different and they have. But it is still undeniably their sound and a solid, kickass rock album. It goes into my Halloween playlist and fits in just fine, but in a weird way is going to be just as comfortable in regular rotation. It retains the cult and horror aesthetic of all of the previous albums, but somehow feels more accessible and less niche.

But still 666% a product of the Kings of Horror Rock.

5 out of 5

And believe me – I have listened to this thing many times to arrive at that score. In the car, at work, in the Phantom Zone at home. I’ve listened to it straight through and one song at a time. It’s the real deal.

I love all of Calabrese’s albums and I wouldn’t even say that this is my favorite, but I think if I had to recommend one of their albums to a newbie, this would be it. If you’re not already a fan, Born With A Scorpion’s Touch is the must-have. It should be in any rock n’ roll fan’s collection.

You can download it from all of the usual suspects, but I highly recommend you order it now from and get your hands on the real deal. You can pick up one of their awesome t-shirts while you’re there. I forgot to buy that damn Castlevania shirt at Dragon Con, so I need to make a purchase myself.

Phantom Troublemaker vs. 31 Days of Halloween

I’m changing the format a bit this year in order to more accurately portray SyFy’s schedule and also to preserve my sanity. I had the genius idea to cut and paste the schedule directly from SyFy’s page rather than typing it out in my own format. This has saved me an awful lot of time and also means that individual episodes are listed rather than blocks of programming like previous years. So what I’m going to do is provide commentary where I feel it is needed rather than posting next to every single entry. Don’t worry – you’re getting the same amount of hilarious, then kind of funny, then labored, then thoroughly disenchanted Phantom content. Just in a different way.
Like last year, I am covering the programming from the time this posts until the time of the next post. That means that on Fridays you are going to be treated to a shit-ton of this stuff.
Let’s do it!
Or not. You guys – I just can’t comment any further on these ghost shows. What more am I supposed to say? I know people out there love them, and I think that’s just super. But you know what I think night get me a little more interested?
Check this out:
Oct 9 11:00 AM Goat Mine, Season 2 Wandering Spirits
Oct 9 12:00 PM Goat Mine, Season 2 Goats Of The Geiser Grand
Oct 9 01:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 All Goats On Deck
Oct 9 02:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Goats From Hale
Oct 9 03:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Scream Park
Oct 9 04:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 The Goat Hasn't Left The Building
Oct 9 05:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Goat Friends Forever
Oct 9 06:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Vintage Spirits
Oct 9 07:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Hoover Damned
Oct 9 08:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Something In The Water
Oct 9 09:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Undying Love
Oct 9 10:00 PM Goat Mine, S2
Oct 9 11:00 PM Goat Hunters, Season 9 Undying Love
Oct 9 12:00 AM Goat Mine, S2
Fuck yeah! I would totally watch every bit of that programming above! Especially “Goat Friends Forever”!
Oct 9 01:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Witchville
Also look for the sequels Whereville, Whyville, Howville, and the Christmas special that wraps it all up, Whoville.
Oct 9 03:00 AM Syfy Original Movie Ghouls
If this was just about literal ghouls – people who eat the flesh of corpses – it would be really creepy. I bet it’s not about that.
Oct 9 05:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 10 06:00 AM Paid Programming
Oct 10 08:00 AM Ghost Whisperer No Safe Place
Oct 10 09:00 AM Ghost Whisperer Weight Of What Was
Oct 10 10:00 AM Ghost Whisperer Double Exposure
No, no, no – I will not defile the magical presence of Jennifer Love Hewitt by goating her show. Bless her and her sweet, sweet can.

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