Jutze 52 #11 – The Bittersweet Progressive Rock Opera (Part 1)

This is one of those tunes that would never see the light of day if I weren’t forcing myself to post a song every week this year. I put this one together while I was in Norway (under the influence of Wobbler and Änglagard). It’s all digital instruments, 100% programmed, blatantly defying the traditional prog approach. Am I satisfied with the “song”? Nope. The one thing that “rescued” the track was actually the title. I know where the second part will be headed (conceptually) and I hope it will make the dilettantism at least a tiny bit ironic. Anyway, I found it terribly difficult to fit all the different moods into just 52 seconds. No wonder there’s so few single-length progressive rock tracks out there.

#11 The Bittersweet Progressive Rock Opera (Part 1)

Jag skulle vilja spela i en progressiv rock band

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #10 – Fugue

This is indeed a fugue! The second and the third voice play pretty much the same melody as the first voice. I had to transpose a couple of notes to make it sound smoother, plus the ending is what it is. And I might have made a mistake at one point. Once I had finished the MIDI version, I thought it would be fun to play the whole thing on guitar and melodica for the video. It wasn’t fun, but the outcome sound rather nice in my opinion.

#10 Fugue

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #9 – 32 Jahre

Die untenstehende Aufnahme hat ein anderes Ende als das Video. Geschrieben habe ich das Stück so auf der Gitarre. Den Orgelklängen wollte ich jedoch lieber ein freundliches Ende bereiten.

#9 32 Jahre

Alles Gute zum 32. äh 27. Geburtstag!
Dass mir dein Alter gerade nicht auf Anhieb einfiel, ist wohl etwas, das an meinem Sturz lag
Ich bin ja neulich von der Leiter gefallen
Und tat mit dem Kopf auf dem Boden aufprallen
Doch das ist kein Grund, dir nicht zu gratulieren, meine Liebe
Alles Gute wünsche ich dir!

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #8 – Milk

This is a perfect example for songs produced under pressure. I wrote the song last weekend. It’s a little bit absurd. The recording became much more absurd because my external sound card stopped working. I just recorded the vocals in a hotel room in Hamburg, whispering into my laptop’s built-in microphone. Unfortunately (?), I won’t have time to improve the vocals over the next few days, so I’ll just put this tune out there.

#8 Milk

Honey, I’m home and I had a hard night
I know I should have called but I’m not feeling all right
A had some tequila and several beers
A bottle of whisky I drank with my peers

Now there is no reason for you to raise hell
Because in an hour or two I won’t be feeling too well
But from tomorrow on I will be a better man
No, I won’t make the same mistakes again
So I will drink a glass of milk
And if that is not enough
I’ll have another glass of milk
And I won’t need to pretend I’m tough
I will drink a glass of milk
And if that is not enough
I’ll have another glass of milk
And I’ll be home in time, my love

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Squirrel

The challenge of the third round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a song with long run-on sentences. It took me a while to get a vague idea what the challenge was about. Loooong sentences are rather common in German, but there was no way I could communicate a German song to the (mostly English-speaking) SpinTunes audience and, in particular, the judges. I was stumped. But hey, what if I sang about German(y)? Could this be a topic worth rambling about? I wasn’t sure. I still don’t know. My only alternative idea was a detailed description of the pain of getting a part of your body pierced (while trying to impress your latest flame that talked you into it). I didn’t want to focus on pain and negative emotions (even in a comical way), so I began writing about my home country. Writing a song about an specific idea/concept is usually work and this song was no exception. Thankfully, I never ran out of inspiration. Most of the lyrics were written in the order I sing them. I only updated a couple of parts before I recorded the vocals.

I began composing the music when I had the first few verses and a rough idea where the refrain was headed. At first I found myself resorting to the chords and melody of a German traditional song (“Der Mönch im Nonnenkloster“) but eventually I found a sufficiently original approach, a catchy chorus, a chorus after the chorus (with lots of room for me to butcher the pronunciation of squirrel), and also a quick bridge to make it all more dynamic. I considered inserting the melody of the Germany national hymn between verses, but the song was already getting long. (I even shortened the second chorus.)

I consider the lyrics to be just a few looong sentences. I added two more parts with free-style rambling just to be sure that my entry would be run-on enough. The middle-part allowed me to address the issue of sarcasm. I felt this was necessary, because the initial lyrics came across almost serious. I mean, lines like “Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night” might go unnoticed. Finally, I have no idea what people who don’t understand German think of the line “their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long”. Maybe one of the judges remarks on it. Anyway, I was thinking of making a video for the song; I won’t have time for that any time soon, though. Meanwhile, here’s the music/lyrics:

Squirrel

When it comes to building cars, Germany’s the best
And Germans on the Autobahn drive faster than the rest
With the pedal to the metal and reckless as can be
Just like Michael Schumacher racing down the street
Nothing that can stop us on and off the road
Be it truck or airplane, be it bicycle or boat

And with regard to soccer, I’m sure that you all know
The Germans won the World Cup while England had to go
And while we don’t like to admit it, our country makes us proud
‘Cos Germans are the greatest – there is really no doubt
Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night
And if there’s something broken, we can fix it all right
Yes, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Germans built the wall and they tore it down again
And they still miss the Deutschmark every now and then
For example when it’s time to pay at the Oktoberfest
Where schnitzel, wurst and sauerkraut are easy to digest
As long as there is order, as long as there is beer
With Merkel on our side, there is nothing to fear

German maids are beautiful and German men are strong
And their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long
And all the Black Forest cuckoo’s clocks are never running late
So why not book a trip and come to see the Brandenburg Gate
Enjoy some German music: Rammstein, Volksmusik
We rock you like a hurricane until you agree
That there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Anyway, Germans are always on time, sticking to the rules, very talented and charming, fantastic singers – like me, for example – builders, engineers, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, Friedrich Nietzsche, you know, and Dirk Nowitzki, Pope Benedict, Beethoven, Wagner, Nena, handsome German people each and every one of them, big fans of discipline, yes, that’s us, and when we use sarcasm, it’s always 100% obvious, smart, efficient, never making any mistakes – and most of all we are very modest!

Ja, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as someone who grew up in this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Why couldn’t they just call it “Eichhörnchen”? I mean, they took so many German words for the English language like Rucksack or Kindergarten and we also took some words from them like Handy or like Public Viewing – okay, we misused them*, but anyway, it’s so weird and I can’t pronounce it; it’s a tongue twister and, ah, it’s driving me crazy and did you know that Chip an’ Dale are called Ahörnchen and Behörnchen in German?

* Handy = mobile/cell phone, Public Viewing = broadcast of soccer games in public places

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

SpinTunes 10, Round #3 According to Jutze

Once again, I wrote down my thoughts while listening to the recent SpinTunes round (the third of SpinTunes 10). The challenge allowed us to play “our” style for the most part. So it was interesting to see, how clearly the long sentences stood out in each entry. Once again, my rating are purely subjective. All songs met the challenge in my opinion, so I won’t point this out for every song. (Check out the next post for a song bio of my entry.)

Adam Sakellarides – Too Verbose: The rhythm does remind me of the Weird Al example. The song nicely picks up the challenge and uses it as a starting point for its plot. The upbeat rhythm is partially successful in compensating for the monotone verse vocals. Not that the vocals are bad, but well, they *are* rather verbose. The chorus is good. The ending, however, is a bit irritating in my opinion; I’d have cut off the song before the final refrain. Maybe add some fire noise. Sirens. Honestly, I couldn’t really make out the words to the backing vocals in the chorus. They could have been more prominent in the mix. 7/10

Governing Dynamics – Recursion: Finally a challenge that isn’t at odds with the Governing Dynamics style. The verses and the chorus sound a bit too similar. The words successfully indicate the chorus but the music (including the vocal melody) remains a bit tame. 5/10

Kolton H. – Muse of the Machine: Tough stuff; I mean, I can barely make out the vocals. The songs seems ok. I read the lyrics beforehand and liked them quite a lot. Still, the final outcome is a tad too much soundtrack and not enough song for my taste. 3/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Homosocksual: The contrast between the sinister mood and the pun is fun! A sock-eating monster in the washing machine could have been the cherry on top of the cake. The vocals are off-key every now and then. Jus tlike with Governing Dynamics’ entry, the chorus could stand out a bit more. The final reverb hints at the possibilities. The mandolin (?) works nicely. 4/10

Megalodon – You Need to Know: Real drums, nice. It takes the song 30 seconds to get going. There’s a progressive rock feeling to the tune that should appeal to me, but where is the standout chorus? The instrumental side is more convincing than the vocals. In fact, I struggle to make out anything. Is this the song about Minecraft? Mh, not that I know anything about that. Or do I need to know about it? The fancy break in the middle is fun; the ending spices things up, but the lyrics are just too repetitive. 3/10

Jurek Mika – Yagi: This song might just work after drinking one beer too many. The challenge is met headon, I can’t argue about that. Sadly, the whole thing becomes too repetitive too fast. The middle eight doesn’t help – unless illegal psychoactive substances come into play, I guess. The instrumental outro could have brought some air into the song if it had been put in the middle of the song. 2/10

Zoe Gray – When the Rain Falls: The mood is a nice change compared to the previous song. However, it’s rather monotonous. This seems to be a side effect of this challenge. Maybe the judges will even reward it. The arrangement could have put some air after the refrain, before the subsequent verses. 3/10

Charlie McCarron – The Animal Song: The sarcastic lyrics are fun – and the music doesn’t get in their way. The rhythm changes provide the necessary possibility to breathe. My ears applaud this approach! I feel bad for the plethora of animals mistreated in the lyrics. Being the second longest song this round, it could have been edited a bit, I guess (maybe sacrificing the A-Z gimmick). Those were my initial thoughts. After watching the video clip, I love this song. The chorus is great (“Screw you!”), the animation is spot on. I’m glad I’m not an official judge, because the video might bias me. 8/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Love You: I can’t do this song justice like Sammy Kablan certainly can. Did you guys ressurrect Roy Orbison? The atmosphere is surreal; I might just pretend this is about the afterlife. The vocals have way too much vibrato for my taste. 4/10

Edric Haleen – The Land of No Punctuation: 100% Edric. Excellent. I tried to figure out the meter but gave up halfway through. The lyrics are fab – and unlike some of the other entries in this round, the song takes a (much needed?) break just when the run-on sentence reaches the limits of my patience (after a quick detour to the Land of No Inflection). The middle part itself is pleasantly soothing. The ending is cool. While not a song I’ll listen to on repeat, it will certainly put a smile on my face every time I hear it. 9/10

Atom & EV – Conspiracy Theory: High ranking for idea, low ranking for execution. Similarities to Bob Dylan and Billy Joel are obvious. I like the lyrics, but yeah, the production could be way better. 3/10

James Young at the Bottom of a Well – How Was Your Day?: The vocals are drowned in the backing track. I have no idea how to describe the character of this song. It could rob a bank and I wouldn’t be able to pick from a line-up. There is a mood, but again, unable to make out the lyrics I struggle with this one. 2/10

Jailhouse Payback – Reflections in My Eggs: The music runs on and on like the lyrics, I guess. The guitar solo brightens things up. Sadly, I can’t get a grip on the story/on the song. 2/10
The rat says: Sounds quite good.

Pete Murphy – Liars: Starts out like a Deep Purple song. The vocals start out great but become repetitive. I know, that’s a run-on sentence in each verse. If I were a judge this might make me rank this song near the top. Personally, I’d love to hear a few more hooks in between. Hats off for the organic, clear production. 4/10

Ross Durand – Catch Me: I must confess that I recently watched a Ross Durand live video on his homepage. And now I can’t help but wonder if the song would sound more dynamic, more gripping if it were only acoustic guitar (picked?) and vocals. Only a few moments stand out – I wish I would have listened to this one first to appreciate it more. 5/10

Dr. Lyndike – No Time for Dreams: Another confession: I always imagine Dr. Lyndike as Dave hammering away on his keyboard in the basement (?), because that’s how I first saw him when he played some Jonathan Coulton songs. So now I’m irritated by the band arrangement. I mean, where does the band come from? Why are there tons of guitarists with harmonicas in front of them, but no piano players with harmonicas? I like the approach of the song; the mood suits the lyrics. Packing a whole lifetime into the song was ambitious but they pulled it off. 7/10

Ben Taggart – How Was Your Day? (Shadow): The music is (too) repetitive, but the lyrical approach is fine. 2.6/10

Ominous Ride – After Happily Ever After (Shadow): Again, the music is (too) repetitive. The song sounds a bit boring. No, wait it’s hypnotic. And also a bit boring. And hypnotic. 3/10

Jutze 52 #7 – Alone in Space

This is me experimenting with my new travel MIDI keyboard. It’s a filler if you ask me. Not an unpleasant one, mind you. It might provide a short, quiet intermission. I don’t know. The title was attached as an afterthought given the character of the harmony and the science fiction books I recently read. Hopefully I can add a video, soon. Again, it’s not going to be anything fancy.

#7 Alone in Space

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #6 – Glück

Noch ein Lied zum Thema Körperwechsel. Dabei entstand dieses Lied vor “Being Edric Haleen”.

#6 Glück

Zum Glück bin ich nicht Hannes Wader
Zum Glück bin ich nicht Reinhard Mey
Sonst müsste ich jetzt 13 Strophen schreiben
Und die müssten sich auch alle ganz toll reimen
Zum Glück bin ich nicht Bob Dylan
Sonst müsste ich jetzt nuscheln und Harmonika spielen

Zum Glück bin ich nicht Hannes Wader
Zum Glück bin ich Johannes Schult
(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Being Edric Haleen

The challenge of the second round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a horror song. This reminded of the hate song challenge in a previous edition of SpinTunes. I could have easily written about a madman and his victim. I just don’t see how this makes the world a better, or at least a more interesting place. Also, I listened to Devil Doll‘s “Dies Irae” album for inspiration, which is horror music in perfection. No way I could rival such a masterpiece. So instead, I went looking for something different. And soon enough I found fellow SpinTunes musician Edric Haleen. Edric has a place in my music folder (as well as in my heart) ever since his excellent take on “It All Makes Sense at the End“. My hope was that I could a certain amount of horror while also being entertaining.

I began writing the lyrics the day the challenge was announced. Two days later most of the lyrics were in place. I had some preliminary melodies in my head, as well. The original plan, however, was to play expressive chords on the keyboard and adapt the lyrics to fit the piano extravaganza. The only problem was that I didn’t have a keyboard. Mine had broken a couple of months earlier and I hadn’t gotten a replacement. So I frantically ordered a new one at my formerly local dealer, hoping it’d arrive in time. It didn’t. Thursday evening I turned to Plan B, which involved composing the verse and bridge (and intro) on guitar. Friday found me returning to the initial refrain melody in my head and piecing together some chords to fit it. By chance, I got up rather early on Saturday and started programming the whole thing. Looking back, I’m not sure I could have produced the song faster with a keyboard. I guess the fills would have been more dynamic and weirder. The tempo changes throughout the song, so I kept building it from intro to outro, part by part, note by note. There are a few things I would change in hindsight, like the transition to the second chorus, the unnecessary repetition of the “seen” rhyme in the third chorus, the bars after “heavy metal connection” (with ascending three-note fills instead), and the jolly intermission after the third chorus (which I only included because I thought I should add something I played ad lib on my MacBook’s keyboard).

Recording the vocals was fun (but not for my throat). I cited some of Edric’s songs and alluded to his rather long entry in the previous round. I also included a couple of bars of the German national hymn (switched to a minor key) after the word “Germany”. I’m aware that the mathematical stuff in my lyrics is statistical stuff. The trouble with song writing contests is that there’s never enough time to research anything properly. I was tempted to interview Edric beforehand – or even invite him to play on the song. In the end, I wanted to keep the surprise. Also, he was probably busy with his entry (or his dog). And did I mention that there’s never enough time?

Being Edric Haleen

There was a little door behind my office desk
I was just curious when I looked inside
What happened next felt rather Kafkaesque
A metaphysical roller coaster ride to the other side

I woke up in a body that wasn’t mine
In a bedroom in a house that wasn’t mine
At least I had retained some of my volition
So I looked for a mirror to examine my condition
It was weirder than anything I had ever seen
I was trapped inside the body of Edric Haleen

Aaaah!

I was no longer bald and I had a beard
Maybe this wasn’t as bad as I had feared
I looked down at my/his trembling hands
But I did not dare to peek into those pants
At least I hadn’t turned into Charlie Sheen
But it felt scary being trapped inside Edric Haleen

A woman I’d never seen came in and tried to kiss me
She said that I should hurry or else the kids would miss me
Did this mean that we had kids? Or that I was a teacher?
I really didn’t know the standard operating procedure
I ran out onto a street I’d never seen
And still I was trapped inside Edric Haleen

I just want to go back home to Germany
But now that I’m Edric – what if he’s me?
Will he go out and trade my heavy metal collection
For Billy Joel, Elton John, Barry White, Elvis Costello and the Attraction?
What have I done? What does it mean?
I’m trapped inside the body of Edric Haleen

I want to be Jutze again – I’ve had enough
But now I feel the urge to sing about mathematical stuff (…99999999999…)
The variance of a binary variable is p times (1 – p)
Why the heck does this dog keep barking at me?
This song must be at least 6 minutes 15
Oh the horror of being trapped inside Edric Haleen
It all makes sense at the end – but I’m stuck in between
Will I ever find a way out of Edric Haleen?
Just let me out!

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

SpinTunes #10, Round 2 According to Jutze

Here are my impressions from the second round of SpinTunes #10 (listen here!) – written and presented in the order in which I listened to the entries. This time around, my ratings reflect my personal taste (Do I like the song?) more than the successful induction of horror (Is it scary?). Why? Well, the first song I heard made me adopt this rule.

Dr. Lindyke – Happy Anniversary My Darling (shadow): Wonderful mood. Maybe a bit too much sadness, not enough horror. Of course, knowing that the song can be considered to be based on a true story, it is rather scary. The vocals become a bit too operatic as the dynamics rise. A little bit. Lots of bits here. Mh. I like the piano, I like the vocals. The “twist” at the end is rather disgusting than horrific. (Or should I have more empathy with the deceased?) Oh, screw the “low ratings for songs that don’t meet the challenge head on” attitude: 7/10

Dr. Lindyke – Howl in the Family: Mh, the happy country mood is not horrific at all. To be honest, I like both – Country and Western. So I really enjoy this song. But does it explore the horror genre musically? Thankfully, it’s a shadow, so I just refrain from rating it while I bop along. -/10

Kolton H. – Insanity’s Requiem: I’m not much of a techno fan. (Or whatever else this style should be called). I know I should elaborate how this song makes me feel. The problem is that there’s a void in my emotional core when I listen to this. The production is solid and the lyrics seem creepy. It’s me, not you. 2/10

Pete Murphy: Mellotron sounds in the background? The lyrics are rather sick. The slow built and the lush instrumentation prevent them from becoming too creepy. I really like the production of this one. The song could have been shorter as the lyrics don’t really go anywhere after the first third. I want to have a Mellotron! Mh, I really should look for some nice samples, at least. 4/10

Charlie McCarron – Knock at Your Door: Nick Cave? Tom Waits after rehab? Is this horrific? It’s a bit irritating. The lyrics could stand out a bit more. Listening to this, I feel uneasy. So bonus points for this. 4/10

Ross Durand – Lullaby?: Rock! Rock! Rock! Travis shouldn’t have mentioned Rob Zombie, I guess. I didn’t think Ross could rock like this. The song reaches a good conclusion around 1:11. Stupid 2 minute minimum rule. Dr. Lindyke wrote in their song bio that horror lyrics should be subtle. Ross isn’t subtle. I like Ross’s song. He should sell it to Alice Cooper. 6/10

The Masked Stranger – Oh So  Under Zyvytehliahtysrecht: This is madness! Nice grind core touch. No subtlety here, either. I can’t make out the lyrics; I have no clear memory of what they were about. Who cares? Evil voice at the very end, ha! 2/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Schnipp Schnapp: Finally, some music that is clearly in the tradition of horror movie soundtracks. The (male) vocals seem a bit childish. Which is good for the song. I’m just glad I didn’t follow my own “Schnipp Schnapp” idea. Overall, the song might be too quiet. An “Ouch” every now and then could have spiced things up. Do I like the song? No, it’s way too scary. So how the hell do I rate it given it’s the most spot on realization of the challenge? 5/10

Jurek Mika – Scream Funk (Screaming): This sounds horrific – and not in a horror challenge-meeting way. Sorry. The brutality I make out is appalling. The challenge was met, but I still give 1/10

James Young – She’s a Monster: Ah, the challenge was to write a smooth, relaxed song for the dance floor. No, wait. This turns into a rock song. Pop rock. Midnight Oil? Anyhow, this is groovy and laid back. The lyrics play around with love/hate feelings – they could as well be about your typical AOR topics. The music is nice. My rating isn’t (despite the good production). 3/10

Ben and the Angel Fish – Slaughterhouse of Mercy: Weird title. Weird intro. The lyrics are dark. Darkness is difficult if you’re not the Sisters of Mercy (see what I did here?). The music remains slow; it could have been a bit more engaging, I guess. No, I don’t exactly know what I mean by that. The harmonies are great for this challenge. As several previous entries, it’s difficult to discern the individual parts. Is there a refrain? Is there a climax? Is there a twist? I don’t know. 4/10

David J –  Sleep Child Sleep: Time for an autobiographical note: I’m very good at falling asleep. So this flood of lullabies sounds a bit pointless to me. It feels a bit as if you’re playing it safe. Which is okay. I’d rather have this than a song called “Oh So  Under Zyvytehliahtysrecht”. There is some kind of outburst in the middle of this song, but for the most part it doesn’t stand out (just like the previous song). 3/10

Edric Haleen – Sweet Dreams (2): What, no song about math test anxiety? I’m disappointed. Just kidding. Several people had remarked that the challenge was similar to the nightmare challenge from SpinTunes #4. Writing a sequel seems like a natural choice. The song turned out way too quiet, though. The non-piano instruments could have used more space to enhance the atmosphere, I guess. I’m thinking of chromatic lines and sudden outbursts here. I add a point because I’d certainly be more open to the approach if I hadn’t already heard several similar songs in this round. 4/10

Gorbzilla and the Gorbzookies – Tea Party: Finally, a song that deviates from the lullaby theme. I wish the lyrics wouldn’t be so buried in the distortion. Fortunately, I’ve read them beforehand. And now I feel the horror. Musically, this entry leave to be desired. And it could have been shorter. Still, I very much applaud the approach! 4/10

Atom & EV: The Demon Rig: The guitar needs more twang! I wish the playing was tighter. The narrative in the verses is wonderful. The melody line in the chorus is, mh, not so good. I can relate to suboptimal vocal talents. I can recommend triple-tracking the vocals – one voice in the middle along with one (slightly quieter) track on the left and one on the right. The story is scary enough and it doesn’t turn me off. Good! 5/10

Jailhouse Payback – The Doomed Guitar: More Country & Western? That’s fine with me – but again I get the feeling that it doesn’t really meet the challenge. The chords sound sad rather than creepy; the lyrics tend to support this notion. If I were a judge I’d give a lower rating but I enjoy listening to this one, so it’s 5/10.

Governing Dynamics – To the Honorable Charles W. Yancy, From Your Admirers: I want a SpinTunes edition with solely sad, melancholic, introverted indie rock songs. And I want Travis to win that competition. Meanwhile, here is an overlong song about I don’t know what. It breaks my heart to not find this more than okay-ish. 3/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Uninvited Guest: The voices in Tom’s head caught on tape? Weird? Yes. Scary? Sort of. Hilarious? Possibly. Once again, I feel uneasy. Bonus points for that. 3/10

Domingo – 4 Madrigals for Lilith: I had liked the lyrics when I read them online earlier. The choir approach sounds impressive. Making it four parts is a good way to avoid too much repetition. One note around 1:58 seems off key and the following transition takes away some of the atmosphere. Still, it’s a tense composition and each part is different enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Good work! 7/10

Army Defense – Asylum Nights: Another choir song? No, more pop rock. The production sounds good; the drums have a 70s vibe. Good vocals. Not a lot of horror here. Sure, the lyrics are not happy-go-lucky. Still, from a challenge point of view there is not much here. Nevertheless, I enjoy listening to the track. Here’s 6/10

“BucketHat” Bobby – Back from Hell: Hell’s a place where the singers are French, right? The music has a sad touch whereas the vocals bring some insanity to the song. It’s more a song than a horror movie soundtrack. So it could have been way more horrific. Still, one of the better songs this round in my opinion. 5/10

Megalodon – Daddy Daughter Day: Horror jazz? Well, I’ve heard worse jazz tunes. Ah, metal intermission with mad lyrics that totally destroy the song. I’m glad the song returns to the light jazz. The child’s vocals are irritating in this context. More metal. I better turn down the volume. Now the guitars play lullaby melodies. What an irritating track. This should rank high on most challenge criteria, although I don’t think it’s a “good” song. 2/10

Emperor Gum – Express: The background track is wonderfully creepy. The artifical hihat is slightly annoying. I know, I’m complaining a lot – earlier I said some songs were too quiet. Now I wish the initial mood would prevail. Instead, it’s time to rock. The melodies are weird. This might be good for the challenge. However, I find it hard to focus after the intro. Mayhem. Chaos. Almost done. Mh. 2/10 (which just shows that this is certainly not a unidimensional measurement, because this song is totally different from Megalodon’s, which got the same rating.)

Adam Sakellarides – For Sale: Lyrically, a traditional haunted house story. Sadly, the character of the ghost remains vague. The music is hesitant and not really creepy. Otherwise I might haven given more than 2/10

Zoe Gray – Grave: Yet another quiet song. A solid entry that could have been shorter, I guess. The sparse instrumentation makes it easier to digest, but it lacks some horror elements. 4/10
(The rat says: One of the better ones. Not that it is creepy. I don’t feel afraid. Anyway, nice melody, nice voice.)

Omnious Ride – White Rose (shadow): Interesting intro. Could be part of a creepy musical. The drums at 1:30 temporarily destroy some of the atmosphere. A few other parts could be shortened, as well. I think. The vocals need to make the story clearer. Make some central words/phrases stand out. Repeat them if necessary. 5/10

Melissa Leona –  Come With Me: The horror of having a rehearsal space with thin walls. The singer is trying to sing some nice melodies but noises intrude from all around. And then she can’t get the reverb out of the PA. What do you mean, this interpretation wasn’t intended? Well, I like it, thus: 4/10

Caleb Hines – Buried Alive (shadow): Ah, finally, some true horror music. Excellent choice of instruments. Spooky harmonies. Caleb manages to weave various creepy melodies into a tense atmosphere. No rock drums interrupt the flow. Instead, the pace quickens around 1:30 only to return to the initial state of suspense. And that return isn’t a discernible switch but a steady progression towards the core of my fears. Good albeit haunting work. 10/10