Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Music for the Master: The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

If you were curious about the chanting which opened up our most recent episode, the answer lies before you-- you have been serenaded by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. Don't let the costumes fool you. This band is no gimmick. For over fifteen years, they have been pumping out the most talented geek-oriented music I've heard.

In that time, fueled by the creative energies of their front man Toren Atkinson, they have been included with WotC's d20 Call of Cthulhu, toured with mainstream acts such as GWAR, They Might Be Giants and Bad Brains, written their own RPG published by Green Ronin, and had a song distributed for Rock Band. Toren also has professionally illustrated for WotC and other top tier gaming producers. So, yeah, definitely NOT a gimmick band.

If I had the brains, here's what I'd do
Build a time door and visit my youth
This cigar burn is for effect
In the future you won't forget
When you're trapped in that airtight room
Flick the red switch but not the blue

I have listened faithfully to the Thickets since the late '90s. They're my favorite band of all time, and thus a great inaugural entry for this series. The music is very accessible hard rock almost exclusively with geek-oriented themes, largely relating to the Cthulhu Mythos, often with tongue in cheek. They are talented musicians and the lyrics display a lot of wit.

In the city where the people dwell
Winds from out at sea sweep in a horrid smell
It's been a million years since they have smelled it last
They cannot realize the danger creeping fast

The Thickets have a long history of music production, but you can cover the greatest majority of it with four releases: Cthulhu Strikes Back, Great Old Ones, Spaceship Zero, and their latest and, in my opinion, greatest, the Shadow Out of Tim narrative concept album, retelling the classic H.P. Lovecraft story the Shadow Out of Time.

How long have I been gone, tucked down inside this limbo while My dreams are crushing me? Enormous gulfs enormous glyphs enormous galleries. Fragmented visions of a Nightmare city full of cone-shaped beings and me I knew a thing or two until the time Strange outer forces wasted my tiny mind. I could not stop it


  1. I've been a "die hard" fan ever since you introduced me to their music. It's definitely *not* a gimmick band, they play their own instruments and write their own geek-infused lyrics...and they do both very well.

    It's probably the only time I've ever been inspired enough to build a terrain set for the tabletop based solely on a song I heard.

    "Piping their powers from black basalt towers, they loom like Colossi, I'm under their sway..."

  2. Thanks to Rue Morgue Radio you can download a free track from The Thickets ("Shhh...." is the track, the one you can play on Rock Band the video game) for 2 months.

  3. Thanks for the tip, after playing it on Rock Band it's nice to officially add it to the iPod, and thanks for stopping by.

    Me: "Hey, firstborn daughter, guess what?"
    Her: "What?"

    Me: "The lead singer of the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets just left a comment on the podcast blog."
    Her: "You mean he actually visits your blog?"

    Me: "Yeah, apparently!"
    Her: [eyes wide] "Wow!" [eyes narrow, followed by an incredulous] "Wait, let me see..."

  4. Dude, we're big in Canada.