1. Where did your GBHBL moniker come from?
UnholyDarklotus originates from my Xbox live gamer tag. There isn’t really that interesting a story behind it. I am/was a fan of Horrorcore and classed myself as a Juggalo, though one without a caravan or a gun. Obviously this also meant I enjoyed (and still do enjoy) Insane Clown Posse so when I set up my first gamer tag, I put in all sorts of Juggalo related words including their other band, Dark Lotus. Xbox added the “Unholy” part and I was born.
2. What made you want to write?
Probably unlike most people who do write, I wouldn’t say I ever really wanted to or at least not in regards to reviews and things. I have always been interested in and took part in many different types of artistic media but only as ever as background hobbies. Things like sketching, designing, writing music and even poetry/song writing have all been things I have stepped in to at some point or another for fun. Some I was/am pretty good at and others, well I cringe at some of the lyrics to songs I tried to write when I was younger. I do remember a phase of wanting to write a short story and I still have the first 30 pages of it but real life interrupted it – maybe I will go back one day and finish it but aside from that, I only write now thanks to GBHBL. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy it, because I do, it just wasn’t ever an ambition I had considered when dabbling in other forms.
3. What area of GBHBL would you say is your strongest?
Two areas only – heavy metal and opinion pieces. While I am perfectly capable, I think, of writing in any of the areas, I just don’t watch enough abstract horror to be able to beat the other reviewers to it and I definitely don’t get nearly enough time to play the games I would like to. This usually means that either the game I am just starting was already reviewed a year ago or isn’t really relevant any more. I do, however, listen to heavy metal constantly so there are often new albums or songs worth writing about.
With metal, I know what I like and know what I want from bands and that makes the writing a lot quicker and easier. It is the same for opinion pieces. I haven’t written a huge amount of them but when I do, I find them the easiest to write as it is something you obviously feel strongly about thus why you have chosen to write it in the first place. I feel like I am reasonably able to get my points across well when writing my opinion too.
4. What would you like to see in terms of growth over the next few years?
The thing that makes you want to pick up the pen/mouse and write more and more is knowing your articles are being read and any feedback or acknowledgement the site received thanks to an article. These moments are the reasons why you do it. Not for a thanks or a well done, I am happy to be called a prick for what I wrote, it is just the fact that someone read it and a reaction was invoked that pleases. It is these moments we should be hoping for and to do that we need to keep growing the readers of the actual blog and finding a way to engage with them enough that they start commenting. It is all about readers, and that is how it should be. I would like to see our current growth of around 100% year on year continue and see no reason why it shouldn’t as long as the content keeps coming.
5. If you could add one new category to the site, what would it be?
I am bit reluctant to add anything else new as I feel like we already have a lot within our remit and there are some that need fattening out in regards to the amount of articles but if there was one that I would love to have more of, it would be interviews. The Daniel J Finch one was supremely interesting to read and I would love to have more like it. I think if we add many more categories, we will soon need to consider adding more writers.
6. What is your favourite memory in gaming? That moment that just made you go, wow?
I honestly do not think I have one. Probably not helped by my age but I can’t point out a single thing that I loved more than another with gaming. I remember being wowed the first time I played a game called Soleil on the Super Nintendo.
I remember the first time I played Nights on the Saturn and flew and it was awesome, I remember playing Shenmue on the Dreamcast and being blown away, I remember playing Halo online on the original Xbox and struggling to fathom I was playing against others around the world – there are so many.
7. What does the achievement system mean to you?
Lots and not a lot all at once. I think it is a fantastic idea and one that forces people to delve deeper and deeper into a game to areas that you may never have bothered with before there was an attached achievement. That is a good thing but achievements are only as good as the game developer’s decisions on what to add as achievements. Clever lists force a player to try things differently but there are just as many, if not more, lists which are lazy and consist of “collect 100 non story related items” or “beat the game on every single difficulty level”. The achievement system also brought with it completionists and if you are one of them, you will spend countless hours replaying the worst games just for an achievement when you could be experiencing a better game. I also think it gives some companies a free pass when releasing terrible games if it has easy achievements. The amount of copies of that Avatar game that sold purely because you could complete it in 5 minutes is wrong. That company, THQ, must have been laughing all the way to the bank at their sales when they should have been left kicking themselves for making such a bad game
8. Where do you see the future of gaming?
I think Virtual Reality will eventually be a big thing but for the next few years it will be more of an expensive gimmick. One of the things I think will come sooner though is the end of the majority of physical copies of games. I think, and agree, that the future is in online downloads. It just makes business sense for all console and game manufacturers to not need to have physical factories around the world printing and packaging games as well as doing away with all the costs of the associated supply chains to ship them all around the world. As well as being online games though, I think the subscription market will increase. For me, EA Access is a brilliant service and I would not be surprised to see more of the larger game houses offering similar services to this soon. You could end up with game subscriptions of over £100 a year to different developers/publishers but not having to ever buy a game again, or rarely. They will need to improve it and get their new releases on it quicker but I think this is the near future.
9. Single player or multi-player? Why?
Single player because of story. I do enjoy multiplayer too but usually after I have finished and enjoyed a games story first. Other than Titanfall, I have never bought a multiplayer only game. The problem with multiplayer games is the multiple players. While the idea of playing online with others sounds good, often there will be someone or many people who are purely there to try and wreck your experience and that can be really frustrating as you try to progress. Private multiplayer is enjoyable if you have a group of friends playing together without the general public but public multiplayer can drive you nuts, especially in games like Call of Duty where there is always some guy who just hangs out in a tree for 12 hours a day sniping everyone or another who is on your team and keeps flash banging his own team and laughing down the headset.
10. What has been the biggest step-back in gaming for you?
I don’t think there has been one for a while now. Gaming is definitely an industry which seems to be progressive and constant in its moves forward. That isn’t to say I like all the changes but there appears to be a constant and steady progression. At the end of the day, it is a business still and they are there to make money so a lot of the things I don’t like, I do understand. After all, if they don’t make money, they don’t make games. Some examples of these things I don’t like are paid DLC, free to play games when the real content costs a lot of money and the quick releases of “upgraded” versions of the console within a year or two of their life span.
11. Your favourite horror movie, what is it and why?
I was torn between The Evil Dead 2 and Hellraiser but think I will settle on Hellraiser. Not only is this a bloody good horror movie, filled with gore but also containing a solid story but it has arguably the coolest, most badass bad guy in horror in Pinhead.
The cenobites as a whole are scary, evil and awesome but Pinhead is something else. There are really disgusting moments within the movie as well and seeing Frank’s partially regenerated, flesh and muscle trying to drink blood off of the floor is truly disturbing.
12. What are your earliest memories regarding horror?
As kids, we were lucky that our parents didn’t care much for age restriction on movies so I have been watching horror from a very young age and have been lucky to see many great films but some of the things that have stuck with me the longest are the scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street where Nancy falls asleep in the bath and the razor gloved hand appears to come out of the plug hole. I remember taking baths when I was younger and having to stare at the plughole, just in case I had nodded off. There is also a scene in a film called Demons where one of the characters who is turning and has a cyst on their face turns to the camera and the cyst explodes. That was disgusting. Weirdly though, the thing that creeped me out the most when I was younger, and still does today, was in the original Fright Night. There is a scene where Charlie’s friend Evil, has been turned into a vampire, is in Charlie’s house and is wearing his mother’s clothes. He turns to Charlie, licks his lips and says “Your dinner, is in the oven”. The way he says that ruined me when I was younger and it still creeps me out to this day.
13. What frustrates you the most about the genre?
The lack of creativity and new ideas. So many announcements that come out now are for remakes or the latest unnecessary sequel. Remakes can fuck off – I know there is an argument for how it is good that the story is given to a new audience but that seems to forget that the original is still out there and watchable. The problem with remaking for a new audience is the filmmaker then decides to rewrite bits for the new generation thus breaking the flow or the point of the story like Evil Dead without Ash. Anyone who watches the new Evil Dead but hasn’t seen the originals is still not going to appreciate why a lot of people rave about the originals. As for sequels, and I mean sequels like Final Destination 5 or 6 and Paranormal Activity 4, who actually watches this shit? It is sad that the film industry is so scared of losing money that they wouldn’t even dare put out something new and original and instead stick to money-makers and popular franchises and churn out the same films over and over. A good example of this is the recent announcement of Saw 8.
14. What excites you the most about the genre?
I actually do like the idea of book conversions and there seems to be a lot of this in horror, maybe more so recently than in the past. I don’t usually expect a lot, which is good as they rarely work, but having read so many great horror stories, I do get excited to see that visual representation of what I have had to imagine. Being a fan of Stephen King helps with that too as it seems the film industry is hell bent on making every book he ever wrote into a film. God knows what they are going to do if he ever stops writing.
15. Where do you see the genre going in the next couple of years?
I feel that horror is going to be pushed more and more into the “tv series arena”. It is already happening with, Ash vs The Evil Dead and Scream being a Netflix Original as well as others like From Dusk til Dawn and now Outcast on Fox. I think things like The Walking Dead have shown horror writers that the television viewing public are more than okay with gore and shock and they are now moving in that direction. Unfortunately for cinema, I see very little at the moment outside of the remake and too many sequels as they aim to get bums in seats at theatres around the world. For that they need to be open to as many people as possible so expect a load of Rated 15 movies too.
16. What got you into metal?
Metallica did, I guess. Family got me into rock like Def Leppard, Lita Ford, Guns N Roses and the Black Album by Metallica. I still love that classic rock music though but when I was younger I wanted more and had to search around for it. My love of Metallica’s Black Album lead me to their back catalogue and from there to the world of thrash metal. Once I reached that point it was easy. Articles in magazines or just browsing the metal section in a store gave me access to this whole world of brilliance and rebellion and I never looked back. Buying my first of Metallica’s back catalogue which I think may have been Master of Puppets, was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I cannot imagine life not being a metaller. It must be horrible.
17. How much has your taste changed over the years? Is that a good thing or bad thing?
I think my taste changes yearly but only slightly in different directions. I have always preferred the heavier side of metal and veered more towards that then towards rock but I am very influenced by new releases. If Nightrage release a new album, I will probably find myself trying to find more and more melodic death metal bands thanks to that album inspiring me. Same as if it was Cradle of Filth, I often find myself then listening to and trying more and more black metal thanks to being inspired by that Cradle album. The only other thing that has changed is that I have become more and more convinced that the world outside of metal is full of garbage. I think that being older now, being exposed to it for longer and still not finding anything to fall in love with has convinced me that there is nothing left worth trying. I guess in regards to current music, I am comfortably and happily closed minded. The only other change I have noticed is that I have a much healthier appreciation of classic rock music from legends such as Bowie, Cash or The Who.
I am now able to appreciate, and love, a lot of their music without having that childish mind-set of “Metal only – Fuck everything else”. That mind-set now only exists for modern music.
18. The music industry is in trouble; it has been for a while. Why do you think that is? What would you do to change that?
Record labels and piracy are the blight of music. I do believe that labels inability to forecast future trends and move with the times has left the music scene in this state. People will always find a way to get music for free and while I don’t agree with it at all, I understand that it will probably always be the case but I do not believe that people download music illegally only for cost. Of course that is a factor for many but availability, speed and ease are others. It is quicker, cheaper and easier to download a file instantly than jump in your car, drive to a music store and buy a cd, if you can find it. If the music industry cannot compete with free (obviously) they at least need to be competitive on the others – ease, availability and speed. Whether we like it or not, streams and downloads are the future with maybe the ability to order a physical CD there should you wish. Labels need to get on board with this and rather than just trying to market their already printed CD’s more and more, they should be working hard to negotiate the best deals with people like Apple and Spotify for the band and maybe only print CD’s to order. Less waste and less overheads will equal more profit and more money for the band. Maybe the EA Access model is something they should consider? Imagine if a big music label like Nuclear Blast had an app where you paid a certain amount of month for complete access to their catalogue and new releases? I don’t know – something has to change though.
As for fans, they need to wake up quickly because if you don’t start giving a band your support, buying their music, promoting them and buying their official merch, they will disappear. You need to support the bands you love, especially in their infant years. Follow the band, buy things from their own stores, go to their shows, wear their tops and hats and buy their music. The band get nothing from you if you buy your shirt from a guy outside the venue for £5 and you pirate the album and don’t you want to give them money as a thanks for the music? Surely you do right?
19. What 3 bands (living only) are still at the top of your bucket list?
This is a surprisingly tough question as I am lucky to live in London where pretty much all the biggest names comes to tour and I have seen them all so the bands I haven’t seen are either dead, retired or smaller names from Europe. Oh actually, there is one, and I think I will get to tick it off next year. The almost original line up of Guns ‘n Roses is one. As they are touring the states now, I am certain I will get this chance and as so many of their songs were teenage anthems to me that I will pay what needs to be paid to see them. The next one is Nightrage who are big in the Scandinavian melodic death metal scene but barely known over here in the UK which is criminal.
I would love to see these guys live, the pit would be crazy. Finally, from a similar genre to Nightrage is Degradead. I genuinely think this band, with the right coverage, would be one of the biggest bands in metal. They are phenomenally talented but again, barely known in the UK so no signs of them planning to come over here at any point soon.
20. What is your favourite live music memory?
So many amazing moments have happened over my many years that picking one is hard. Seeing my childhood heroes, Metallica, play at the O2 in London with my other heroes, Machine Head, on the same bill was amazing but when James Hetfield came out and played Halo with Machine Head, it was mind blowing. Even recently, at a Blind Guardian gig with a relatively small crowd but seeing the fans sing The Bard’s Song with so much passion and enthusiasm and in perfect unison to the point where the singer just stepped back and admired was beautiful and represented the togetherness of a fanbase perfectly. Neither of these are it though – my one has to be, again in this year, An Evening With Machine Head and meeting the band before they came out followed by them playing a 2 and a half hour set. Meeting your heroes is daunting but they turned out to be really cool, chatty and friendly and standing there with them for pictures was dreamlike but to then stay in the venue and watch them throw out a 2 and a half hour long set full of songs I love made it probably my best ever night in heavy metal.
The great thing about heavy metal is that it is predominantly played out in a live environment and that is why so many of my greatest memories are as recent as there are so many tours each year. I know that this year, and next, there will be a load more shows and a load more “great” memories to come.