Autumn leaves, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin pie. A chill in the air, a thrilling annual encounter with black cats, witches, and vampires. Indeed, October is underway and the haunting holiday approaches. This Halloween we can anticipate a release from Sound of Cancer, the collaborative music project of recording artists, Alexx Calise and Dennis Morehouse.
Layered with hauntingly beautiful melodies, dysphonic distortion, and elaborate choral harmonies woven around ominous soundscapes, Sound of Cancer’s debut, ‘No Vampires in Gilroy’ combines Calise’s love of blues, jazz and grunge, and Morehouse’s penchant for all things dark and disturbing.
This concept album has been three years in the making, recorded in between Calise’s and Morehouse’s rigorous touring/ recording schedules. Individually, they each have several achievements of which to boast. Singer/ songwriter/ guitarist, Alexx Calise has appeared in major publications such as Blender magazine, Guitar World, and the how-to/method book, “How to Succeed as a Female Musician.” Calise’s 2010 sophomore album, ‘In Avanti’ is a “rocktronica” collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer, Luigie Gonzalez. Meanwhile, drummer/ songwriter Dennis Morehouse has played with such notable acts as Triple Seven, Dear Damien, Diatribe, 16 Volt, Brain Pudding, and Marc Ford’s Fuzz Machine. Currently, Morehouse is playing drums for Gilby Clarke (Guns ‘n’ Roses, Rockstar Supernova), Braw (which features Norwood Fisher of Fisbone), and of course Sound of Cancer. Collectively, Calise and Morehouse’s works have appeared in numerous TV shows including “Next,” “One Tree Hill,” “1-800-Missing,” and “Wanted,” and in major feature films such as “88 Minutes,” “Eight Legged Freaks” and “Big Fat Liar.”
With a title taken after the annual Halloween festival in the garlic capital of Gilroy, CA, ‘No Vampires in Gilroy’ begins with the frightfully charming “Darkarnival.” Admitedly, this reviewer loathes anything remotely resembling carnival rock. All gypsy rockers should take note however: Sound of Cancer somehow does it right! Chilling yet entertaining, this song forgoes dizzying swirls of creepy chaos and instead exudes powerful blasts of terror.
SOC then sends you into “Abyss of Your Kiss,” a romantic rocktronica track with vixen-love lyrics, “You’re no good but I am no angel/ Your poison is so sickly sweet.” And while on the topic of that famous four-letter word, SOC hits the subject head-on with “Love.” Calise’s gorgeous bluesy harmonies resonate in this reflective piece which admits, “It’s what I’ve always wanted/ It’s what I’m running from.”
Bass lines groove under the claim-you-as-mine outcries of “Vamp.” Then enters “Confusion” where high hesitant vocals warn, “With confusion as your mentor, love can fall from grace.” Blips of sound here act as an audio strobe, presenting reality in segmented flashes, thus enhancing the mood. The “spinning out of control” uncertainty in “Say” is also well supported as the chorus presents itself like an autumn leaf riding one last chilly breeze before alighting on its final resting place. In that tragic vein, SOC follows up with the intensely beautiful mourning/ raging of “Need Someone.”
Edgy guitar riffs groove again, this time against stomping drums in “Stripped Me.” This song does an excellent job of slowing to highlight the all-too-familiar sentiment, “Someday I will practice what I preach and realize that the real one to blame is me.”
The tantalizing “Tasting You” is Sound of Cancer’s last allure before letting go with the sorrowful “Now That You’re Gone.” Dark and compelling, soulful and reflective, ‘No Vampires in Gilroy’ is an incredibly fitting release for autumn.