If the ongoing nightmare that’s been 2020 – filled with dread at the prevalence of an unseen entity while the world around you has taken on an unfamiliar hue – is giving you a sense of déjà vu, the chances are it’s because you’ve encountered the work of Rhode Island’s master of flesh-crawling horror, H.P. Lovecraft.
The early 20th-century author and creator of the Cthulhu mythos has slithered deeply into the metal consciousness, with Electric Wizard, Cradle Of Filth, Cathedral, The Great Old Ones and a host of other abyss-gazers quaking at the thought of ageless extra-dimensional, tentacled beings insinuating themselves into our clearly delectable mortal plane.
With the light at the end of the COVID tunnel starting to resemble the hallway in The Poltergeist, what better time to reacquaint ourselves with his singularly eldritch vision? Well, now we can, thanks to two of the most celebrated visual artists known to the extreme metal world.
Bergen-based illustrator Kim Diaz Holm has teamed up with Romanian artist and musician Costin Chioreanu to create an eye-popping, quite likely delirium-inducing short film based on Lovecraft’s prose-poem, and the introduction to the Cthulhu mythos, Nyarlathotep. Kim Diaz Holm is famed for his diabolically dynamic live renderings of black metal acts as well as his poster art and bleak otherworldly landscapes. Costin’s equally distinctive, woodcut style has made him one of the scene’s most sought-after talents, whether it be cover art for the likes of Napalm Death, Paradise Lost, At The Gates and many more, to live backdrop productions for Ihsahn and others and numerous animated videos.
Nyarlathotep is narrated by Kim – recorded by former Enslaved keyboard player/backing vocalist Herbrand Larsen at his Conclave-Earshot studio – and based on the more abstract end of artwork, his dense patterns created in meditative states while listening to Costin’ music. Mesmerising and discomforting in equal measure, it’s the first of three stories, yet unpublished, that have been performed as spoken word art and music performances at Grimposium at Heavy Montreal and Blastfest in Bergen, by Kim and a host of musicians.
“Lovecraft wrote the prose-poem in 1920, transcribing a nightmare as well as he could immediately upon waking,” says Kim. “I got drawn into the oppressively psychedelic imagery and new I had to try and capture it in ink. But when the world closed down at the start of 2020, suddenly the words haunted me with great immediacy. It felt as if Lovecraft was writing about our time. So when Costin volunteered to do music and video for my art, I knew we had something important.”
Nyarlathotep is a work for our times, and one likely to make you feel appropriately unmoored.
Visit Kim Diaz Holm's homepage (opens in new tab)
For more information about Costin Chioreanu, visit the Flying Fox Management artist page (opens in new tab)