Wooden Stake
Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades

The combination of heavy metal and horror is usually a successful one when both aspects share similarities in subject matter and atmosphere. While it’s often attempted, many times the outcome falls short of being memorable. Thankfully, Razorback bands tend not to let listeners down in this area, with Wooden Stake being no exception. And although the format in which Wooden Stake’s music is presented may be a little different than what you’d expect from the label — a haunting doom duo consisting of Razorback co-owner Vanessa Nocera on vocals and bass (Scaremaker, Skeletal Spectre, Loathsome) and Wayne Sarantopoulos (Decrepitaph, Encoffination, among others) on guitar and drums — the group’s execution of Razorback’s ideals is spot on.

Wooden Stake is adept at merging horror and metal for a myriad of reasons, but it is undoubtedly the atmosphere created within and hovering around Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades that gives its songs credibility. Images of candlelit corridors laced with ancient webs, black mass candle wax curdled on warped mantelpieces, and shackled skeletons rotting against dripping dungeon walls are conjured. Yes, the common horror themes (witches, vampires, etc.) are portrayed here, but they’re put forth in such a way that their tendrils actually reach and sink into the pulp of their subject matter. In other words, the tunes of Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades are not merely shallow vessels shellacked with horror imagery — they are genuine creations of creepiness, the embodiment of terror, and evidence of total immersion in the macabre.

Tracks are brought to life (or back from the dead) by warm, ominous guitar tones, the eerily sultry voice of Nocera (whose vocals run the gamut from Stevie Nicks possessed to vomit-sputtering demons), and a pervading sense of dread that’s subtly masked by electric mysticism. “Salem, 1692,” with its groovy, grainy quality and mesmerizing vocals, effectively conveys the lurking fear probably felt by outcasts of the Salem witch trial era. “Tortured Into Eternal Repose” and “Die Rache Der Hexen” both truly emanate an air of oppression with ritualistic vibes and bass lines strong as Frankenstein’s crushing footfalls. And it feels safe to say that the origin of “Anguished Atonement” could be the result of some dark marriage of the sensually evil musical presence behind 1970s Christopher Lee vampire flicks and a pound of weed.

Those in the mood for hack-and-slash goregrind need not wander here, for the work of Wooden Stake is far more sinister and serious. Dungeon Prayers and Tombyard Serenades is the soundtrack of bloodletting under the full moon, muffled shrieks in the mist, and a thousand terrors only briefly glimpsed in the dark recesses of a madman’s thoughts. Its beauty is both inviting and terrifying. So take it all in, exhale deeply, and let your mind traipse about in the abyss that Wooden Stake has created.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
May 5th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this sounds shit-hot. have to look into it.

  2. Commented by: shaden

    got this awhile back,not too bad.theres better.

  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    yes sir, I like it.

  4. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    I listened to some of this. And it’s absolutely righteous. I’ll probably get it.

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