We are a 'Hard Alternative Gothic Soul Band'
Al Green Meets Pantera or Maxwell Meets Marilyn Manson.
the Earth, Wind & Fire of Goth!
Hasidic Horror Story – the Scroll Tablet Magazine
Girls in the Hasidic community of Crown Heights are vanishing mysteriously, turning up weeks later turned to clay, stone, or salt. Oddly, none of the families of these girls have mezuzahs on their front doors. But Hannah Shemlov, another girl from the same school, is safe—thanks to the small golden mezuzah dangling from a heavy chain around her neck.
No, it’s not an old wives’ tale told to Jewish children to keep them on the straight and narrow. It’s the plot of The HarlequinX, a supernatural horror novel set in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox enclave.
“The mezuzah is really elemental—a lot of Jews have them on their door,” said Forrest Thinner, 53, the novel’s author. It’s a staple for Jews around the world, he explained, which is what makes it a good device for a horror story. Thinner also has a mezuzah on his door, which he grazes with kissed fingertips every time he leaves his Pelham Parkway home in the Bronx.
But Thinner isn’t Jewish. He’s African American, was raised Baptist Christian, and has a horn-shaped piercing protruding from his lower lip that points toward his wiry salt-and-pepper goatee.
Thinner’s relationship with Judaism began around a decade ago, when he lived in Crown Heights and worked as a van driver. He would be hired to pick up children from school or drive families to Monsey for vacation. Word of Thinner’s reliable and affordable service spread through the community and before long he found himself booked for whole days at a time to ferry prestigious rabbis and visiting scholars between engagements in the city.
“I just kind of became Jewish for a little while,” he said.
Thinner became so well-known in Crown Heights that he’s on first-name terms with several of the community’s leaders, one of whom—Rabbi Abba Revson, who runs the gravesite of the Lubavitcher rebbe—gave Thinner his mezuzah.
“Lubavitch is in my blood,” Thinner explained. “One rabbi said to me, ‘You’ve been around us so long it’s like being on the first floor of Macy’s—even if you don’t buy anything, the smell of the perfume goes into the fabric of your clothes.’”
It wasn’t until his immersion in the Jewish community, with its strong sense of history and penchant for a well-told tale, that Thinner was able to find the plot line for the scary story ideas swirling around in his mind.
“I’m totally black American, but these people, they’re my people,” he said. “They gave me a really nice sense of the future, a good sense of community.”
These values shape The HarlequinX, which Thinner co-wrote with CJ Cassidy and Hector Valle.
The HarlequinX, which the main character Hannah Shemlov can summon by holding in a doorway the protective mezuzah that hangs around her neck, is a being that dates back to the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt—a Jewish court jester named Seth Yerushalayim. Unwilling to risk another devastating plague upon his people but unhappy about losing his enslaved workforce, Pharaoh curses Yerushalayim, whose maimed and mangled demon body gets unwittingly carried out of Egypt by the fleeing Jews, hidden in the burial casket of the preserved bones of Joseph.
Meanwhile, back in modern-day Crown Heights, gruesome murders are plaguing the community because a vengeful teacher has called upon Lilith, the Jewish goddess said to be Adam’s first wife, “who devours women and children.”
As more characters get swept up in the merciless melee, the powers of Lilith and the HarlequinX are pitched against each other, culminating in a fiery battle between the first wife of Adam and the last plague of Egypt. “Both were created by God but neither had his blessing,” the book explains.
Although Thinner is no longer a daily fixture in Crown Heights, he still feels closely connected to the Jewish community. He continues to speak to his Hasidic friends, and he’s working on the next installments of the horror story, which he hopes will one day be The Five Books of the HarlequinX. He even prays at the gravesite of the Lubavitcher rebbe on December 31 each year.
And, of course, there’s always the mezuzah on his door.
Lauren Davidson has written for the Wall Street Journal, The Times (of London), The Tower Magazine and The Huffington Post, among others. Follow her on Twitter
Goth Night Review – Le Professeur Gothique
BlkVampires can only be described as a wonderful mix of their own thing, Fishbone, Ministry, old school punk rock, New Orleans jazz and soul, and pure adrenaline. They classify themselves as "Alternative Soul Gothic," (on the flyer it says "Gothic Soul Rock") but Ed and I have decided that they are more Voodoo Punk. They are loud, raw and visually fantastic! Their sound and presence on stage were both incredibly powerful and well-rehearsed, and they are a must see. Support these guys anyway you can from buying their music to coming out to gigs! And after their set they took the time to hang out with the other bands and show goers ... and I have to say, they are damned nice guys!
blkVampires – DOKTORJOHN
The last time we attended NYC’s famous Goth music revue, Incantation, we arrived too late to hear the BlkVampires, who were just breaking down after their performance. Something special about them struck us. It may have been the gruesome costumes of the band members or possibly their stunning female entourage who helped them collect themselves after the show. Most likely, though, our fascination sprung from the fact that they were the first and only all-black Goth band we had ever come across. The fusion of black musical styles with gothic-industrial seemed to hold great potential. So when we received the announcement that BlkVampires would be performing at Dingbatz in Clifton, we made it our business to put together a small band of fans and critics to check them out.
Opening that night was the Trailer Park Mafia, a worthy heavy metal trio fronted by a powerful, bandana-sporting vocalist with a body-builder physique to match his muscular sound and a classic 80s metal style that fit Dingbatz perfectly.
BlkVampires began their set with an unusual performance-art piece in which frontman Forrest Thinner came on stage in grinning, white-face make-up and played menacingly with live fire during a hard-core piece called “Ventriloquist.” Next came a blend of R & B vocals mingled with doomsday metal to tell the tale of a control freak in “Ringmaster.” Subsequent songs ranged from almost-mainstream rhythm and blues to the truly grotesque, suitable for horror-movie soundtracks. Themes ranged from criminality in the hood to the cryogenic freezing of bodies for purposes of future resurrection. Another macabre theme was the longing a vampire feels for a girl whom he can’t reach because she inhabits the daylight. We were even treated to a reggae version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
Guitarist Randy Blu managed his riffs wearing a terrifyingly realistic skull mask. Capable bassist Ray had viewers doing a double take with his medieval-fetish, leather-strapped-up face, whereas drummer Ramsey wore more conventional attire.
Last month’s issue of Fangoria, the horror movie mag, did a feature on them. BlkVampires normally consists of six musicians, but was pared down to a quartet for this show. One wonders how much more impressive this versatile and entertaining band’s performance may be in full sextet presentation. Go to blkVampires.net to find out more about the band and where they are appearing next.
blkVampires 'Frightful Funk'. – FANGORIA / editor, C Alexander
Watching horror spread its spindly
tendrils into all realms of pop culture
is always a pleasure, especially
when it works. That’s why NYC band
blkVampires are so notable. Formed three
years ago by frontman Forrest Thinner, the
band blends Goth industrial, deep soul and
metal together in a mad cocktail of macabre
music that is akin to Sam Cooke meets
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins by way of Fishbone,
with more than a dash of Coffin Joe Grand
Guignol tossed in for good measure.
“Horror movies are my shit,” says the
energetic Thinner. “And to me, that’s what
makes blkVampires hot. It’s the element that
makes people gasp. When I see a horror
film, I look to see who did the
score, because even if you’re blind,
you should always be able to feel a
good horror movie. Just hearing it
should make you jump; sometimes that’s
even more effective than seeing it.”
On stage, the band is like a scaled-down
Parliament, with the mad musicians hammering
away on all manner of instruments while
the top-hat-wearing, ghoul-faced Thinner holds
court like a Flava Flav by way of Barnabas
Collins. The music rocks hard, and the demented
visual aesthetic (not to mention Thinner’s
bizarre lyrics) tie up their sonics with creepy
bravado. Their new five-track EP The Devil’s
Music is as good as rock ’n’ roll gets.
“The Devil’s Music has everything,” Thinner
says, “from jack-in-the-boxes to witch
cackles, laser beams, jailbird inmate screams,
boxing-ring bells and growls, all slammed
into the mix along with an incredible guitar
balance of shredder leads, Cap’n Crunch
power chords and soulful rhythms and leads.
The drums and bass are fiercely sick with
their rhythm and awkward timing, the samples
sabotage the atmosphere entirely and
the vocal range is all over the place. It’s like a
monster just found out what melody is.”
If you want to bite deeper into their
world, visit www.blkVampires.net.
Ghetto Metal In Review – the SOURCE
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LoginUsername Password Search MUSIC+CULTURE+POLITICS & BUSINESS+SPORTS+NEWS+ENTERTAINMENT+PHOTOS+MOBILE+FORUMSHOME+SOURCE TV+BUYER'S GUIDE+SOURCE RADIO+ARCHIVESGhetto Metal In Review
Posted: Feb 17, 2011 by Selamawit "Sully" Mulugeta
The Source is putting you on to a new era in the Hip-Hop experience. This concert series is like nothing we’ve ever presented before, and it’s only the beginning. Be sure to check us out every month at SOBs for the best and latest in the Ghetto Metal movement.
Here are some highlights from last week's show, as narrarated by Saigon and Dead Prez.
The stand out performance by Blk Vampires was as entertaining as it was frightening. Beyond the obvious allusion to the brothas in their goth get-up, the heavy funk and haunting dub undertones were completely unexpected. The crowd’s reaction was instant, and newbies didn’t know what to do – dance, jump, mosh, or…some other convulsion. Though completely unintentional, there was something definitely S&M about it. In a “Maxwell meets Marilyn Manson” kinda way. Pure rage never had more sex appeal.
Yes, we said it.
13 Questions for Forrest Thinner – Death Rattle