'Van Helsing's Curse'
(Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI - October 29th, 2004)
'VAN HELSING'S CURSE', the classical/rock music brainchild of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, brought its spectral horror-inspired ambience to the Royal Oak Music Theatre stage last night ... and left knowing that it had made its hellish mark on the community.
The troupe's debut album, Oculus Infernum (Latin for “Eye of Hell”), released via KOCH Records, employs an 18-piece orchestra and a prophetic choir and is the instrumental tale of a struggle between an evil entity that destroys a village and a child out to avenge the dead.
As the quite magical performance got under way, it was notable that early on during Snider's chillingly-apt narration that some high-pitched electronic whistle bugs were still in the machinery. But, as quickly as they had surfaced, they were dealt with and for the rest of the 47 minutes there wasn't a foot put out of place.
Comprised of instrumental tracks interspersed with Snider’s creepy live-action voice-over's, the highly effective dueling music between violin and guitar is breathtaking at times, samey at others. But aided by superb production values under the sure guidance of drummer and sound designer Joe Franco, never boring!
The standard of musicianship is top-notch, seamlessly blending together the hard rock standards of drum, bass and guitar with string orchestras and haunting gothic choirs. I simply cannot speak highly enough of the music that was presented on this tour. And, if you like hard rock with gothic overtones – but with melody too – then you could do a whole lot worse than picking up a copy of this fantastic, pulse-pounding Halloween CD of theirs.
'VAN HELSING'S CURSE', together with it's terrifying original compositions and clever re-workings of such memorable classic pieces as Mike Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells' (made famous by "The Exorcist" film), Grieg's 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King', 'Dies Irae', Jerry Goldsmith's 'Ave Satani' (from "The Omen" films), and amongst others, Holst's 'Mars, The Bringer Of War' is the kind of show that begs the question: Why have we not seen something like this before for this hallowed of all holidays?!
Well, thank God, and quite possibly even the Devil, for Dee Snider!!
Review by Russell A. Trunk