Cool Chair – HorrorShow EP

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Artist: Cool Chair

Release Title: HorrorShow

Cover Art: Tanner Wilson

Label: Independent

Release Date: 22 October 2021

Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA

Digital Price: 5 USD

Length: 20min 30s

The highly creative Indiana punk project named Cool Chair is here with an incredibly fun EP named HorrorShow. This debut EP comes with creative instrumentals – what you’re going to hear is not necessarily your ordinary, typical punk sound. Vocally we have occasional death growls, and guitarwork that’s unusual enough to give HorrorShow a musical style that’s not just punk – it’s progressive, too.

Punk fundamentals with influences from these other styles make this a much more interesting listen than your typical punk release these days, and that alone makes Cool Chair worth paying attention to. The performances on this album are primarily the work of Jordan Stoffel, who in addition to being the sound engineer, writer, and producer, also performed vocals, guitars, bass, keys, cellos, and accordions. Virtually every aspect of this EP was Stoffel’s handiwork, except for drums – which were performed well by Preston Schenkel. But the most important aspect of HorrorShow is not the instrumentals per se, but the contrast between the subject matter and the mood the music evokes.

For instance, Braindead is a well-selected opening track whose tone and vocals turn horrifying subject matter into some good old punk style fun. Lyrics about blood and puss dripping everywhere, faces melting, and festering wounds are accompanied by some joyful, almost nostalgic sounding vocals. Really, this is just such a perfectly selected opening track for HorrorShow EP, with bits and pieces of the musical and vocal elements of all the other tracks making an appearance before we dive deeper into them with later tracks.

It almost sounds like Stoffel reminiscing about the good old days, back when we had ‘undead houseguests behind the cellar door’ and having to deal with them via an ‘assortment of blades to cut down this horde.’ Immediately after the bridge, we have a brief, great little use of death growls – Stoffel singing from the perspective of the zombies for extra effect. Lyrically, I also like the mention of a black magic ritual starting it all. The idea of someone causing a zombie apocalypse by doing forbidden rituals in their basement, and then vowing to rid the world of them after they realise what they did. Despite all of that, this is still a positive song in its mood and so right from the start, you know exactly what you’re in for – what a great way to start off the EP.

The guitar work in LunkHead has a nice shredding feel about it, interrupted with the contrast of a tranquil interlude and a breakdown leading into increasingly suicidal lyrics. As with BrainDead, somehow the band managed to create a joyful, nostalgic sort of song about a person’s transformation into a horrific plant abomination. Some highly Lovecraftian vibes here, especially from stories like The Colour Out of Space. Any time an artist has some H.P. Lovecraft fundamentals, for this author that is inevitably a good thing, especially when there’s such an original presentation as there is in HorrorShow.

The atmosphere and mood in this album are just so great. There’s a very Fallout series vibe here. Players of oldschool games will remember the opening cinematic of Fallout 2, where a massacre of unarmed civilians by heavily armored soldiers, normally something horrifying to witness, is transformed into a lighthearted, almost funny scene by retro-futuristic visuals and contrast with Louis Armstrong music. Cool Chair have somehow achieved the same brilliant contrast, taking songs about the mass harvesting of human flesh by aliens, suicide, demonic slaughter, grizzy bear massacres and other dark topics and turning them into light-hearted, nostalgic romps. The slow descent of humanity into madness, destruction and despair is just as fun as ever with Cool Chair.

I hope you enjoy HorrorShow.

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