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Clark Ashton Smith
Type: CD
Company: Cadabra Records
Release: 2016
Genre: Heavy/Extreme
Reviewer: Greg Watson
Fans of eldritch writings will be all over this and should be
Ahhh, those wonderful folks over at Cadabra Records are at it again. Having released a wonderful H.P. Lovecraft compilation in April of 2016, I was pretty excited to hear this one. Clark Ashton Smith was part of the "Lovecraft Circle" which was comprised of HPL (of course), Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long and Clark Ashton Smith, along with a few others that are recognized by some fans of the Cthulhu Mythos and not by others.

A little backstory on Clark Ashton Smith, he was a Californian who dabbled in sculpting, painting and poetry before trying his hand at fantasy/horror writing. He churned out a serious amount of fiction in a 6 year period from 1929-1935. Several of his stories were on the level of Lovecraft with the incredibly colorful and ornate vocabulary that Smith used. His stories were fairly dark but also painted a more intricate picture of the locales where the stories took place. Smith really took the time to describe the localities of his stories so the readers really felt as though they could see the trees, buildings and creatures that populated these places. Anyone looking to get in to his literary material should pick up a copy of "The Return of the Sorcerer: The Best of Clark Ashton Smith".

"Inferno" is a five poem compilation that features a very small sampling of Smith's prodigious poetic output. Read by S.T. Joshi, who is a literary scholar known for his study of H.P. Lovecraft and many other writers of the "Cthulhu Mythos" and other weird fiction, "Inferno" is a really intriguing listen but it left a little to be desired for me personally. The poetry featured on this recording are very solid poetic works and possess the same darkness and colorful vocabulary as Smith's stories do. Joshi's voice is cool, calm and forceful, really capturing the listener's attention and making the poems leap to gruesome vividness. One of the cool moments on this recording is hearing a poem Smith composed about and for his friend, H.P. Lovecraft.

The music on the recording is provided by Theologian and adds a great atmosphere to the poetic works and Joshi's voice. Cadabra have hit home runs with the materials they've released in this field thus far and while I personally would have liked to have seen some of Smith's stories featured rather than his poetry, this recording continues that trend. The atmosphere, subject matter, voice work and quality of "Inferno" lives up to the high standards that Cadabra Records have shown with the Lovecraft releases they've put out already. Fans of eldritch writings that recall lands lost to the eons of time, creatures more ancient than the world we occupy and those who love to have their imaginations tickled will be all over this and should be.

About this Writer:
Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.

Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.

All reviews for Clark Ashton Smith:
InfernoClark Ashton Smith
Greg Watson7/15/2016
The Muse of HyperboreaClark Ashton Smith
Greg Watson2/2/2017

All interviews for Clark Ashton Smith:

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