By Mike Baron (WordFire Press; 2016)
The idea of a satanically endowed rock band isn’t new, but in the hands of author Mike Baron (of 2013’s SKORPIO) it assumes a terrifically pulpy grandeur. BANSHEES has an epic world-spanning scope that incorporates black magic, vampirism, zombies, and, perhaps most horrifying of all, an entirely convincing portrayal of the corporate rock scene (the author also spends a fair amount of ink pitching one of his previous novels, 2012’s HELMET HEAD, which in BANSHEES’ universe is in production as a Hollywood movie).
Burned-out rocker Ian St. James is a self-proclaimed “pimple on the ass of pop music.” He’s also the son of Oaian St. James, the late drummer for the notorious heavy metal band the Banshees. While stuck in Prague one night Ian is quite stunned to find that the Banshees are playing a local nightclub–an especially surprising development considering the Banshees’ members all died in a plane crash back in 1975!
The band’s new appearance naturally causes an uproar, with Ian contacting the Banshees’ onetime agent Melchior, who naturally assumes this new incarnation is a tribute band and tries to shut them down. Ian also meets the eccentric Professor Klapp, who believes the band’s reappearance heralds a “new Dark Age,” and initiates a tentative romance with Connie, a fetching young magazine reporter.
As the Banshees’ new incarnation grows increasingly popular many people connected with the band are killed in horrific fashion. All the while Ian and Connie follow the Banshees on their tour across the US, and eventually score an interview with the band, who confirm what everyone had long suspected: that the Banshees are truly in league with the Big S, who is using them to consolidate his power over humanity. It should be added here that the Devil represented in these pages is not the familiar Judeo-Christian personage we’ve come to expect, but rather a remorseless Lovecraftian entity–or, as Professor Klapp puts it, “a malignant, ambitious intelligence that had existed since before the dawn of civilization patiently waiting for the apes to evolve into humans so it could do its work.”
Mike Baron’s funky and profane prose, which is quite frank in its descriptions of grue, has been likened to “Quentin Tarantino on paper.” The whole thing is related in short, pointed chapters with a cliffhanger at the end of each, resulting in an absorbing and satisfying novel with the flow and sensation of a good movie–in fact, BANSHEES may even be better than a movie.