Dim the lights. Make popcorn. Enjoy the wind scraping branches against your window — that noise is just branches, right? Turn on Labara’s new EP, Labara333, a four-song metal-grunge exploration of horror themes that lives up to Dustin Labara’s description of “DIY bedroom gloom.”
It’s witty in a way that makes me go “ouch!” (or, in line with the 333 motif as half of 666, “heck! darn!”) — there’s a homage to a famous grunge riff of my Gen X youth that works brilliantly as a fanfare for ancient evils, because after all, 1991 is 30 years ago now.
Part of the deal with horror, though, is going “ouch!” in a fun way. The fun rolled up in this EP had me browsing JSTOR for articles on “horror as cathartic,” and you’re going to be spared all that because I decided the music said it better and more succinctly.
Let’s bolt the doors, lock the windows, and settle in for a track-by-track. Make sure your phone is charged in case the killer outside cuts the electricity! (Or a tree takes down the wires. Those noises are just a tree, right?) Drop down to the LISTEN heading for a Spotify embed, or do the artist-friendly thing and buy on Bandcamp.
Guitar like a buzzsaw signals not to get comfortable with the hard rock/metal sound, which is roughly what would happen if Jimmy Page and Lars Ulrich went on a songwriting retreat in Hell and wrote the score for a teen slasher movie. (This is a compliment.)
Lyrically, it’s the Stalker Nice Guy Manifesto, or so it seems — until it picks up a screenwriter’s self-awareness at the bridge. The contrast of the bridge, and the way it shifts the mood in the final verse — well, there’s your Act 1 of the flick.
My first thought was “homage to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’” with that initial riff — or is it meant to evoke “Enter Sandman”? Where the lyrics go seems, superficially, to make the latter the better fit, but if “it’s time for them to rise to the light” equates the teens of SLTS with yearning demons, that’s funnier. (Both. Both is good.)
This is my favorite track on the EP, both for the mood of yearning dread and the way it evokes a long trail of generational evil. Take it as an ancient curse, take it as a trail of secrets and legacies, play it over the hypothetical 2050 revival of Supernatural (follow the next generation of hunters) and pay the nice artist royalties.
This is your favorite party song of the grunge era performed by demons.
See You Smile
The power of “horror” signaling on the first three songs mean that when the cheerful reggae lilt comes in, low-fi like the memory of a 1960s beach movie, I don’t trust it. I side-eye every gently psychedelic distortion. Is this a happy ending or is it the hope spot before the story hits its peak of scariness? Or something more terrifying? You gotta listen to the whole song to find out.