The Devil’s Carnival has released their soundtrack. I was fortunate enough to nab it yesterday before iTunes crashed and had the divine pleasure of listening to it for most of last night while my friends and I did some artwork.
First off, let me begin by explaining how excited I am for this movie…
I’m REALLY FUCKING EXCITED for this movie. I’m so excited that I am building a costume inspired by it. That’s more excited than I got for almost any other movie that’s been released in the past few years.
A girlfriend of mine introduced me to Repo! The Genetic Opera a few years ago, and it has become a staple for movie nights in my house. Repo! was like nothing we’ve seen since Rocky Horror. Every time I watch it, I get shades of Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s musical episode, but that might just be because of Anthony Stewart Head’s role in the film, and the vocals in the song “Zydrate Anatomy”.
I found out about The Devil’s Carnival on twitter. Actually, to be totally honest, I found out about it through an offhand comment made by Sean Patrick Flanery on twitter that was “retweeted” by someone else. This then led me on a search to see exactly what they were talking about.
My interest was immediately nabbed. A new musical from the guys who did Repo! starring one of the actors from my all-time favorite movie? (Boondock Saints is my all-time favorite movie, for the record, followed closely by Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pulp Fiction.) How could this possibly go wrong?
There is so little information being released as we wait for the movie. It’s a very good marketing ploy because in all honesty, I am completely hooked by the concept. I can’t wait to see how these sinners will be made to atone for their sins, or if they’ll all be damned. The marketing guy who came up with this is a genius. And of course, I follow The Devil’s Carnival on twitter. Why wouldn’t I?
A few weeks ago, they released a video of one of the songs from the album, “In all My Dreams I Drown.” Again, hooked me instantly. I had to share it with everyone. I don’t think anyone but my girlfriend who introduced me to Repo! is anywhere near as excited as I am.
So now that I have The Devil’s Carnival soundtrack firmly plugged in to my mp3 player, and have learned the lyrics to both “In All my Dreams I Drown” and “Penny for a Tale” (and am working on the lyrics to “Grief”) I can write my review. Song. By. Song.
However, with no context of the film to give me the story of each of these songs, I may be a little too harsh in judging them. Forgive me, if I’m wrong on my opinions.
Track 1: Heaven’s All Around
The album starts with a song that sounds like it has been ripped right from a classic black and white film. They even seem to have added the scratch record kind of feedback on top of the music. This is a super solid track to start the album off right. From what I understand, Paul Sorvino (who is singing in this track) plays God, literally. I was thrilled to hear this, it was honestly not what I was expecting to start the album with based on what I’d seen in the trailers.
Track 2: Devil’s Carnival
Well, it’s the title track. The essence of the song is that we’re all being welcomed into the carnival and are being given a short tour from the scary as hell (literally) carnies. I like this track because it really gives Alexa Vega a good outlet for her unique vocals. My favorite line is “and daughters, if you got ’em are a lot of fun!” I laughed outright the first time I heard this line, so cheesy and horrible and it plays with your imagination in all the best and worst ways. The song is perfectly fitting for an introduction to the carnival itself and has me on the edge of my seat salivating and anticipating what comes next.
Track 3: In All My Dreams I Drown
This is the song that had me hooked. It was the first thing we heard in its entirety when they released the video. The tune is simplistic, played on a violin by plucking, rather than bowing. There is a faint waves against the shore noise throughout the entire track and the deep mournful sound of the cello accentuates Terrence Zdunich’s deep vocals. Combining his deep, soulful voice with the beautiful tones of Jessica Lowndes’s voice and the sad lyrics makes this one of the top three songs on the album. I hope there’s a story behind this song that leads up to it in the film.
Track 4: 666
To me, this was the most disappointing song on the whole album. This is the song that was played in the previews and was sampled in the 11 minute Painted Doll teaser. But there wasn’t much more to it than the hook of “six-hund-red-sixty-six” (yes, that’s how it’s said) and the suggestion of rules and punishment. Maybe I’m taking this one out of context but until I have something to go on, I’m chalking it up as one of the two weak links in the chain.
Track 5: Kiss the Girls
This is the other one that disappointed me a little bit. Having said that, I really do like the creepy children’s rhyme that is the basis of this song. Based on the lyrics, I’m assuming that this is where we are first introduced to the character John. Or maybe I’m totally wrong. Again, without the context of the film I can’t make a very good judgement on it. I do love the creepiness and childishness of it, and I love the way it is all played together. An intriguing song, if not the strongest.
Track 6: Beautiful Stranger
I’m not sure where to start with this one. It’s Ogre singing with a girl. The concept of the song seems to be a Russian Roulette game of some sort and culminates with the line “don’t pussyfoot, shoot!” and a gun going off. The contrast of Ogre’s strange accent and the female vocalist – Briana Evigan – sets the mood nicely with the love/hate relationship these two characters seem to have going on. The line “and the knife in my back reminds me of you” is another example of great lyrics and great storytelling.
Track 7: Penny for a Tale
This is one of the contenders for ‘strongest song on the album’. An Aesop’s fable wrapped in a song. The vocals of Ivan Moody make this song. I have listened to this song the second most on the entire album thus far, and have learned (most of) the lyrics as of this writing. I am completely smitten with the concept and plan to use this song at every event I physically can where donations are accepted. (Ha ha, we’ll see if this actually happens, but wouldn’t that be a cool way to open a show?) I was hooked from the very first line, “Let me tell you a tale for a penny” and was completely sold in the middle when the lyrics “Lord, Lord, that greed it’ll kill ya. Lord, Lord, go on pass the hat will ya’?” filled my ears. By far one of the strongest tracks on the album and I am in love with Ivan Moody’s voice now. I’ve never heard any of his work before now and this song is enough to make me go look up his band. (Five Finger Death Punch.)
Track 8: Trust Me
Okay, this song makes my flesh crawl every time I listen to it. It is intriguing and scary and creepy all at the same time. With no context my imagination fills in all the horrible things our singer could be doing to the girl he’s singing to. From the previews, it looks like she is chained to a bull’s eye and he is throwing knives at her while singing. But still. With lyrics that speak of an obsession and a tainted love song, this song is one I skip if only to avoid the creepy sensation it gives me. Still, a very good song, I can’t wait to see the context of it.
Track 9: Prick! Goes the Scorpion’s Tail
Another Aesop’s fable. Yay! While I have never heard any of Emilie Autumn’s work before now, I have to admit that it was a new experience. Her vocals are stunning – and I am not usually one to listen to a lot of female vocalists. The ways he sings the lyrics make them sound raw and lustful and dirty and sexy. The opening of the song is to die for (pun not intended) and the context has so much potential.
Track 10: Grief
This review is probably going to be the longest of the 12. Why? Because this is the song I had waited patiently for. I didn’t skip ahead, I wanted the full experience of the album. I will admit that I am a fan of Sean Patrick Flanery. Have been for years. The only reason I knew about this film was because of him. (As I mentioned at the beginning of this article.) And I don’t mind admitting that. I had to listen to this song several times before I could make a decision on it. I had, at first, a bit of trouble setting my fan girl aside to actually listen to the song. Mr. Flanery, if you ever read this, yes, I am a huge fan, always will be and I want you, Mr. Flanery, and everyone else to know that this song blew my mind. It was not what I was expecting. At all. For me, hearing Sean Patrick Flanery sing – and his voice being absolutely NOTHING like I’d expected – was jarring at first. And yes, Sean Patrick Flanery can sing. The best way to describe it is like when Anthony Steward Head sings in Repo! as Nathan, and then drastically changes his voice to be the RepoMan and stuns you. That is the exact reaction I had to this song the first time I listened to it. The lyrics make it sound like the character, John, is slipping into madness (please, let that assumption be correct) and is contemplating suicide. The lyrics are heartbreaking and mournful and I honestly wanted to cry when I actually listened to the lyrics. And then, they go on to suggest that John is supremely bad. I am trying very hard not to gush over this song, because in my opinion it is not one of the strongest songs on the album (though it’s much stronger than Devil’s Carnival, 666 and Kiss the Girls) and I don’t want to sound like a fan girl, but the delivery of this song, and the lyrics and the creepy laugh Sean does in the middle of the song – it all comes together to create this amazing thing. I was cooking at the time when I heard this song the first time, didn’t know which song it was, and in all honesty, my knees buckled at the end of this song and left me wanting more. Then I found out which song it was, had a fan girl moment and did a double-take. Lyrically, the story is amazing in this song and I want to see how it plays out the most of all.
Track 11: Grace for Sale
Okay, this might be the strongest song on the album. (It’s still a hard call between this one, In All my Dreams I Drown, and Penny for a Tale.) Terrance Zdunich’s vocals are amazing. I have always loved Grave Robber and “Zydrate Anatomy” in Repo! and to see him again, and hear him again singing these songs are just perfection. His deep, smooth, melodic voice is the perfect match to the lyrics. This song is my girlfriend’s favorite, she’d waited the longest for this song and it did not disappoint her. And if we’re being honest, it didn’t disappoint me either. This song indicates a great amount of research done into Christian theology (I am loathe to use the word ‘mythology’ here.) The idea that there is a chance of salvation and redemption within the lyrics makes me giddy. The theology behind it, the references to Lucifer’s fall, and his silver tongue all blend together and just deliver exactly what we were hoping for. The piano accompaniment is a strong feature to this song, too. “Tongues, tongues, slither into Psalms, that’s how a carnival grows, my son” is one of the best lines. Very catchy, very poetic.
Track 12: Off to Hell we Go
I didn’t even notice that this was it’s own track. It just blended perfectly with Grace for Sale, I had to go back and listen to it on it’s own. There’s isn’t much to say about this one. It’s the last track on the album and it suggests that we all end up trotting merrily along to our eternal damnation and no one is saved in the end. Kind of disappointing when you look at it that way. But not disappointing enough to deter me from seeing this film when it becomes available.
What a solid album! I don’t think that I have ever heard an album from any other artist in recent memory that is so well put-together, and that carries such a dynamic and unique theme throughout. Every song is unique but carries the theme of the album with it. With a great balance of dark and light and creepy, I can’t recommend this album enough. Even without the context of the movie, I am intrigued and will be listening to this album over and over.
I give it 4 out of 5 only because I have no idea about the back story and context of a few of the songs.
Kai Kiriyama is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter. She can sing but can’t write her own music to save her life. She’s also REALLY opinionated. Kai hates the term ‘fan girl’ and gets offended when anyone else uses it to describe her. She lives in Canada with her laptop and pet snake.
You can find Kai on twitter, her username is @thekiriyamaheir
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