Heavy Literary Material: The Hound of the Baskervilles

Metal has many well-established musical traits: the distortion, heavy riffs, epic or screaming vocals, and ruthless rhythm arrangements. But what purpose do these elements serve? What sort of images come to mind through the lyrical and sonic qualities of the music? In this sense, perhaps we can derive a non-musical aesthetic from metal that puts it in line with other forms of art. The illustrations of Gustav Dore and gothic and horror films immediately come to mind.

But what about literature? There’s a wealth of material from Dante, Henry James and Bram Stoker, to H.P. Lovecraft, Milton and Edgar Allen Poe that hits the same dark, brooding and ominous notes as many of our favorite bands. But Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories contain a wealth of spooky material as well (though the spookiness tends to be uncovered as a ruse in the end anyway). This reality seems to be catching on in some sectors of the metalverse, as a promo landed in my inbox this week for Cadabra Records’ release of The Hound of the Baskervilles:

““They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” …and the audience shudders at the suggestion – a giant, demonic devil-dog that stalks the mysterious and desolate terrain of the vast moor where the tale is set, enacting a centuries-old blood curse on the Baskerville family. In many ways, it’s the perfect Sherlock Holmes story, and certainly the most well-known, having been adapted for stage and screen countless times (and in as many languages) since its first appearance as a Strand Magazine serialization in 1901.”

Sounds pretty metal to me.

“The ingredients are perfect for an evening of thrills and terror… There is an unexplained death, a spooky old house that is drenched in the legacy of its own bloody history, strange sounds and lights in the night, an escaped inmate from a mental asylum loose upon the moor, and the piece-de-resistance: the Hound itself – a fierce, glowing supernatural presence that is horrific and bloodthirsty.”

I remember reading the story for summer reading back in elementary school, and was probably unprepared for the level of sophistication in the language. Still, even my not-fully-developed literary mind couldn’t help but brace in excited at the scene where Holmes confronts the hound (no, not that hound).

But this production is not just a simple audiobook! It’s a full performance featuring music and effects. So for those who want to mix up the routine of putting on the latest brutal record on for the evening, The Hound of the Baskervilles comes out via Cadabra Records on August 11th. Good for a rainy evening with a glass of scotch.