Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gray Matter: AFitD Explores the Dark Mind of Rocky Gray

Rocky Gray is a name pretty well known in musical circles -- particularly if those circles are grinding around the floor at a Living Sacrifice or Soul Embraced concert. A musician and producer with several projects under his belt, Gray has recently turned his musical ear toward another passion: horror. His new album, "Accursed," dropped Tuesday, and has been described as the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist. He's been working in the meantime on a couple of other projects as well. Rocky took the time out of his increasingly busy schedule to talk about what he's been up to.

A Flame in the Dark: So, between Living Sacrifice, Soul Embraced, your more recent bands like Even Devil’s Die and Solus Deus, and what is it, 15 other bands you’re actually in right now?

Rocky Gray: Creep Carnival and my solo project are the only other ones besides what you mentioned (haha). I've calmed down on the projects in my old age.

AFitD: So anyway, between ALL of that, plus being an in-demand producer and session musician, you’ve composed and released this new album, Accursed. Because you were bored, or…?
RG: I had been wanting to do an instrumental horror record for 2 years, and I finally had the time so I took advantage.

AFitD: In the vein of Midnight Syndicate, Accursed is an instrumental, with individual tracks each reminding very much of a film score. Was that the goal going into it?

RG: For sure. It's the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist anywhere but in your imagination. The idea of that has always been exciting to me.

AFitD: Between the theme of the new album, and lyrical content from other projects -- most notably the Solus Deus -- you seem to have a particular affinity to horror themes. In fact, we didn’t mention this earlier, but you’re currently scoring two horror films! Not to run off on TOO large a tangent, how did you get involved with those?

RG: Yes, there's definitely a horror theme in pretty much all the projects I’m involved with to some degree. I started scoring soundtracks a while back with a movie that's still in post production, a comedy in fact. I felt right at home with composing music for film so I wanted to start doing more of that and when I saw Eric Stanze whom I had known for a few years was in the early stages of his new movie IN MEMORY OF, I hit him up and we made it happen. With THE BARN I had seen their killer poster art and looked into it a bit more and saw that they were still in production and I had just finished mixing and mastering Accursed so I sent that over to them with a message to get back with me if they needed some music done and they did.

AFitD: Working as much as you do with faith-based groups, and obviously a strong element of Christianity among your fanbase, do you find yourself having to explain or justify using that imagery in your writing and with your bands?

RG: I use to think I had to explain stuff, and sometimes I'll do that if I really need to. But most of the time, I just put it out there and have it be interpreted however the viewer [or] listener want to. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don't.

AFitD: That’ll bring us to what is often the crux of what we deal with here at A Flame in the Dark: Do you view horror imagery as a good way to express your own faith and philosophies? If so, how so?

RG: Dark imagery is definitely how i express creatively. The early days of Soul Embraced were more dark biblical themes than in the later records such as Mythos, which was more of a focus on the luciferian elites. With music most of the time I'm just being real with you; I'm not trying to preach or any of that. I'm just like, "here's what's on my mind take it or leave it I'm just putting it out there."

AFitD: So "Accursed" is out right now. Available digitally through iTunes. And the CD is available where?
RG: Its at all the usual sites -- CdBaby, iTunes, Amazon, BigCartel etc.

AFitD: Meanwhile, you’re working on a new EP with Solus Deus and, if I’m not mistaken, you and a Wretched (of Grave Robber) have been dealing with a side project called Creep Carnival. So what can fans expect as far as new material on those fronts?

RG: "The Bloodtrail" from Solus deus is out now. It's pretty in-your-face death metal. And Creep Carnival are hoping to have a single out before Halloween.That is a fun project that is straight rock and roll with a bit of a surf rock edge to it.

AFitD: And your experience with Accursed? Can we expect more instrumental albums in the future?

RG: Absolutely. Accursed was so much fun to make, as long as I have the time to do it I'll keep putting them out.

Thank you, Rocky, for taking the time to speak with A Flame in the Dark. We're looking forward to hearing what you have coming out next!

To get the details on everything Rocky's got going on, check out his website!

IV: Ways to Celebrate 46 Years of Night Of The Living Dead

Today in 1968, film history was made with the release of George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead. If you're like us, you'll probably want to celebrate appropriately. We can help.

1. Watch The Movie!!
 Let's get the most obvious celebration out of the way right now. You can pick it up on Netflix, at the dollar store, or, since it's in the public domain, on YouTube. Aww, heck. Here you go.

2. Check Out Birth Of The Living Dead
The definitive "Making Of" documentary is available right now on Netflix. If you want to take a look at the lasting impact NotLD has made on our culture, you can also find Doc of the Dead (content warning: nudity and, obviously, graphic violence).

3. Take a look at Joe Kane's loving tribute
Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever is a great look at what went into the making and marketing of the film, beginning with a brief history of zombie movies in general. The real find here is the original NotLD screenplay! You can find my review of the book on Amazon.

4. LISTEN to it.
Did you know you can listen to Night of the Living Dead as an "audio movie" on Spotify? Well, you can. It's like a radio drama, or watching the movie with your eyes closed.

Celebrate zOctober, the online event! Get to know authors and others in the zombie genre, and just hang out with people who share your interest! Get started with zOctober at the Facebook page!

Monday, September 29, 2014

New Short Fiction Collection from The Crossover Alliance

We reported a few months ago on a new collective called The Crossover Alliance, a group founded to bring attention to authors writing edgier fiction from a Christian worldview. 

Not content to just sit there having a neat-looking website, TCA has gone and put together their first anthology of darker works of Christian Fiction. Called, innocuously enough, The Crossover Alliance Anthology - Volume 1, the book collects works from Mark Carver ("Age of Apollyon" Trilogy), David Alderman ("Expired Reality" series) and others.

Check out the book on Amazon or read Alderman's explanation of how they put the volume together and get yourself a chance to win a paperback copy!

Rocky Gray & The Soundtrack To My Nightmares

Rocky Gray, of Living Sacrifice, Soul Embraced, and Solus Deus, a producer and in-demand session
musician with more projects due in a week than most high school Freshman have all year, evidently had some spare time to pursue another passion. Or rather, a blend of passions.

Gray's new solo project, out tomorrow, is an instrumental in the vein of Midnight Syndicate, in which he pays tribute to his favorite genre: horror. "Accursed," of which two tracks are currently available via YouTube, has been described (by as "the best soundtrack to a movie that never was.

Check out the two released (and awesomely creepy) tracks below, and be sure to watch for the new album to drop tomorrow!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bits & Pieces 09.15.14 - Readers' Favorite Zombie

Book site has released their 2014 Book Awards. Pauline Creeden took home gold in the YA Horror category with her alien zombie thriller Sanctuary. In celebration, Pauline has also released a new, creepier cover for the book. Sanctuary is available in paperback and as an ebook.

Author Jason Cross has announced plans to adapt his short story, "Promises," into a short, animated film, to be directed by his wife Lydia Cross. "Promises" is available as a free ebook from Smashwords.

The Telling author Mike Duran got himself a quick mention in This Is Horror Magazine for his recent blog post, "Is 'Christian Horror' Alive and Well?" In it, Duran uses the upcoming film The Remaining to examine the state of Christian horror and its acceptance among both believers and non-believers.

A Flame in the Dark is always on the look-out for horror news of interest to Christian fans. If you have a tip, email!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bigger Things for Big Foot: An Interview With Eric S. Brown

Eric S. Brown, a sci-fi and horror writer with a love for zombies set out, not long ago, to create a new kind of apocalypse. Little did he know just how big his Bigfoot War series was going to get. As of tomorrow, Bigfoot Wars will hit the big screen, as a feature film starring Judd Nelson and C. Thomas Howell. The movie is available in stores starting September 2.

Eric took the time out of preparing for tomorrow's Red Carpet event to talk faith, fiction, and bringing mythology to life.

A Flame in the Dark: So, Bigfoot Wars: The Movie. That’s pretty exciting -- as an author, I mean.
Eric S. Brown:  Yes it is!  It's crazy for me right now.  My life almost feels surreal. I am running around doing photo shoots and interviews to the point of where it's even hard to find time to write.

AFitD: Tell us about Bigfoot. How did you get into that as a concept -- particularly the idea of a large-scale battle for survival?
ESB:  I have always loved apocalyptic fiction.  I wanted to do something that was end-of-the-world, but a different kind of monster than the zombies I had spent so much time writing before Bigfoot War. Growing up in the south, I was terrified of Bigfoot. I channeled that fear into the first book of the series and by the grace of God it became a huge hit. And even now, years later, the series is still going strong. The latest book, Bigfoot Wars: Redneck Apocalypse, is due out August 21st.

AFitD: You also write about zombies and kaiju (giant monsters) -- both of which, the latter in particular, tend to be relegated to film as opposed to literature. Do you write them that way, too -- more cinematically, as if you’re seeing them on the big screen?

ESB:  Yes.  My style has always had a cinematic feel to it. My work focuses on being fun and entertaining above everything else. It's also usually heavy on action, too, because I learned to write reading David Drake (the King of Military SF).

AFitD: So you’re a horror writer, and you’ve also been pretty outspoken about your Christian faith. Have you found it hard to reconcile those two positions personally?

ESB:  Somewhere around 2009/2010, I gave my work over to God. I stopped cursing in it and had never done sex stuff anyway. It was also around that time that my career took off. I went from being a totally indie guy to working with publishers as large as Simon and Schuster (who came to me, I didn't submit to them). And things have just kept growing from there -- movie deal, TV stuff, etc. I try to treat everyone with love and respect but I do try to witness to folks whenever the chance arises. Jesus not only saved my life, but through prayer as much as hard work, I ended up with a real writing career, despite being a high school dropout. So no, it's not hard for me personally to reconcile the two. I am only using whatever talent God gave me.   

AFitD: What about the people you deal with on a day-to-day basis: fans, publishers, editors, etc. Do THEY have a tough time reconciling your faith and your chosen genre?

ESB:  Sometimes. As I said, I try to treat everyone with love and respect. I have however been attacked before for my faith and a lot of folks just don't "get it". I can only be who I am, though.  

AFitD: How do you deal with the criticism, if any, about the gore, language -- heck, just the genre itself -- from others?

ESB:  Language in my books (even most of the co-written ones) is pretty toned down.  I just don't see the point of it.  I think some writers think you have to swear for "realism" or to be cool but that's simply not true.  You can tell a very engaging and powerful tale without resorting to cursing.  As to gore, well, the Bible itself has a lot of gore.  No issue there.

AFitD: As a Christian, how does your worldview inform what you write?

ESB:  It varies book to book. World War of the Dead may be a zombie apocalypse novel, but at its core, it's really a story about the power of God and one man's salvation. Other books, it's not really intentional like with that; but my characters often do pray, etc.

AFitD: So what's next? And what's on the horizon?

ESB:  Well, Bigfoot Wars: Redneck Apocalypse and a brand new Kaiju book from me are due out soon.  Later in the year, Great Old Ones Publishing will also be releasing an insect apocalypse novella that I co-wrote with a good friend of mine, entitled "Crawlers." I am currently at work on Murder World II: Kaiju Dusk with Jason Cordova and finishing my last book for Great Lake Films, who signed me to a five book deal to adapt their indie films and concepts to book form last year. Beyond that, we'll just have to see where God leads.

Thank you to Eric for taking the time to talk to us. Hit the links above to check out some of Eric's work, and don't forget to look for Bigfoot Wars in a movie section near you. And, why not check out the trailer, since you're here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Remaining: Biblical Apocalypse With Teeth

Coming in September from Affirm Films (Sony), The Remaining is an apocalyptic horror purportedly based upon the book of Revelation. It's already getting a bit of negative press, largely for being a Christian movie about the End Times (and, I suspect, its relationship in both timing and content to the new Left Behind movie). You can read an interview with writer/director Casey La Scala (producer, Donnie Darko) over at Christian Cinema or check out the official Sony page (Affirm's website, as of this writing, has nothing to offer).

The first trailer seems to offer a genuinely new take on the Rapture, and some other novelties. In style and tone, it's pretty reminiscent of other films in the genre, but overall the whole thing looks pretty promising amid the crop of already-released End Times thrillers.

The Remaining hits theaters on September 5. More info at The Remaining's official Facebook page.