24 Jun 2021

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Horror Story - Album Review: Return of the Strange

29 Mar 2020 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Following 20 years of providing an essential service to the New Zealand Punk scene, Horror Story are back with fresh fruit for rotting ear holes. Return of the Strange is another hard, fast, and heavy zombie-stomp into the Horror Punk genre. Horror Story are surely the only New Zealand practitioners of this dark art. There really is nothing else like it here.

They’re one of the bands I regret not seeing live before the lockdown. Horror Story bring a spectacle and sideshow to gigs that is rarely seen on the local circuit. The intensity of their music brings exhausted catharsis to those in the mosh. That and broken necks. You can’t get that same feeling chained to the couch.

For those that haven’t had a chance to hear these New Plymouth punks, Horror Story are the undead spirit of Punk Rock. Their sound is like the soundtrack to one of those Ed Roth Hot Rod Monster pictures from the 60's, with an aesthetic that is a love letter to kitschy horror films of an even earlier era. Motörhead meets the Misfits on the set of The Munsters.

Horror Punk is quite a niche genre, with a pretty specific set of idiosyncrasies, Corpse Paint being the most obvious. Picture Danzig on stage with the mortal remains of the dead Ramones. Comparable to the subject matter of Goth Rock, Horror Punk’s depressed cousin, the songs revel in the macabre. But unlike Goth, which romanticises the darkness, Horror Punk is the darkness.

It is the muddy, gut soaked pants of the grave robber. It is the flesh sluicing of the zombie. All in psychedelic Technicolor. Where Goth can take itself deathly seriously, Horror Punk is all in good humour, albeit the darkest of humours. It’s more likely to hand you a cold beer in a dark alley, than eat your warm wet blood.

Though retaining the harnessed chaos of their influential Graverobbers From Outer Space, which deserves a place in the non-existent New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, the recording quality and mixing of Return of the Strange pushes this release one step above anything Horror Story have released previously.

The album is packed with what will be live set staples for years to come. While relatively short, as punk songs usually are, with the speed they play Horror Story pack a lot into each track, all of it necessary. There’s no meandering or pissing about. It’s all killer, no filler. After 20 years, Horror Story have their sound down. There’s no need for experimentation when you’ve got a good things going.

Hit pick: The Moon is Always Full. While all of the songs have an anthem like quality, which is always great for a live show, the refrain of The Moon is Always Full is the hook that stuck with me.

You can find Return of the Strange on Spotify, Tidal, Amazon and beyond.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Horror Story

In Jan 2000 members of New Zealand Punk/Metal bands Nefarious, Valhalla Crossroads, 1080 and Horror Business stitched together their ultimate Rock n Roll Monster! They called it Horror Story. Instantly becoming New Zealands premier Horror Punk band!

On Halloween that year the band recorded a 17 song Demo called Monsterpiece which was released in 2001 by the bands Demon Nation label. A limited edition of 1000 copies were snapped up by horror-hungry fiends! The albums werewolf sing-along 13 Moons also featured on Auckland label Puppykiller Records - Pick of the Litter compilation.

For Halloween 2002 the band (complete with new rhythm section) recorded 10 new songs and re-recorded 10 songs from Monsterpiece. Combined with a video for Tombstone (made in a local graveyard) and a full colour portrait of the band on its cover Graverobbers From Outer Space was released on Halloween 2003 by Demon Nation.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Horror Story


Unplugged 2
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Return of the Strange
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Devil May Care; Unplugged
Year: 2015
Type: Album
This Graveyard Earth
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Frankenskull AD
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Songs From The Devil's Jukebox
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Sons of Hell Island
Year: 2007
Type: EP
Bride Of The Monster
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Rock n Roll Frankenstein
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Graverobbers From Outer Space
Year: 2003
Type: Album
Making A Monster Horror
Year: 2002
Type: EP
Year: 2001
Type: Album

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