Tag: Lovecraftian

O Trawlerman. O Judge

The Silt Verses review

Production company – Rusty Quill

Rating –

The Silt Verses logo

I usually have some idea of what I’m getting myself into when I subscribe to a podcast. It’ll be recommended by a friend, or I’ll hear an interview on another podcast. I went into this one completely blind. The name sounded interesting, but I honestly don’t remember hearing anything about it at all. This made for a rather interesting experience, and I’ll tell you all about it here.

So what’s it about?

The Silt Verses is a rather “folk horrory” series. At first it seems to be set in an indeterminate country in an indeterminate timeline. At a guess, it’s America at some point in an alternate present or future. I’m only guessing that because of the voice actors, and the fact that they have modern tech like mobile phones. These are details that are almost irrelevant though. The point of the story is the sheer weirdness of the events. There are strange religions, odd people and sinister antagonists. Did I mention strange religions? There are LOTS of strange religions.

The story follows pilgrim Carpenter and her young partner Faulkner. They follow the faith of The Trawlerman, a river god of water and silt. Carpenter’s grandmother was highly regarded in the faith, and Carpenter has that same ego so beloved of people who trace a lineage back to something important. 

As their voyage continues they meet many allies and enemies. There are strange symbols carved everywhere, and horrific creatures lurking in places both magical and mundane.

The pagan ways of the populace are pitched against followers of The Saint Electric and similar deities, truly modern gods for the technological age. Everywhere they go they meet people who follow different gods, and there are gods of everything.

Is it any good?

On the whole, yes. There are a few niggles here and there that stop it being a true “five brainer”. My main problem is that whilst the acting is top notch on the whole, there are a few cast members who let the rest down. There are also parts of the story where it is obvious the cast were recording at different times, and on different equipment. You can hear the cuts in the audio and this really distracts, particularly on headphones.

As the first series progresses, I found myself enjoying the exposition episodes more than the main thread. Don’t get me wrong, the main story is great, but there’s only so much bickering I can take. I get it, the young one thinks the old one is out of touch and the old one thinks the young one is an idiot. That’s life. The backstories though are so brilliantly written, particularly Paige’s corporate history. That is like an episode of Black Mirror.

As I have said in past reviews, the term “Lovecraftian” gets bandied about a lot nowadays, and is a badge usually hung on anything that is a bit weird. I think this podcast truly is Lovecraftian though. The whole thing has a dreamlike quality that is simply delightful, due in part to the ambiguity of the setting. The only thing we have to go on as far as dating is that it takes place “after the last great religious war”. I also loved the episode about the god of hunger. That was a nice, ambiguous concept that offered a nice (albeit no less gruesome) contrast to the more physical horrors encountered in the story.

Final thoughts

When I first started this review many months ago, it was a three brain show. At that point it was nothing more than a title and a rating. I recently revisited it to refresh my memory as to why I gave such a low rating and decided it was worth five brains. Taking everything into consideration though, it is a solid four.

If you like Neil Gaiman, H.P. Lovecraft, or Charlie Brooker, then you will love this show.

You can get The Silt Verses here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts

Fae Dougie, Lee & John the dug

A Scottish Podcast review

Rating –

A Scottish Podcast logo

This has been a long time coming. Despite winning one of my coveted (purely imaginary) podcast geek trophies in December, I have never got around to writing a review. While other, newer podcasts jumped to the front of the queue, this one has always been waiting, like me waiting to be picked for school teams in PE. Today is that day though, A Scottish Podcast gets reviewed!

The first time I heard of this podcast was an interview with the creator Matthew McLean on The Good Friends Of Jackson Elias. His self-deprecating style and sense of humour immediately impressed me. With Scott Dorward waxing lyrical about it, It struck me as something I needed to listen to forthwith, so I did.

So what’s it about?

Some might say that ex radio DJ Lee Power is unemployable. That isn’t strictly true. Lots of people have employed him, it’s keeping a job that is the problem. After his most recent sacking, Lee decides to start a paranormal podcast. After the genesis of “The Terror Files”, he decides he needs a hand to run things. He teams up with reluctant friend Dougie (Dougie would probably despute the term “friend”), a musician recently returned from London.

Soon we are introduced to a wide range of insane locals, gangsters, and all manner of Lovecraftian horrors that lurk in the forgotten catacombs and windswept remote islands of Scotland.

The storylines themselves range from impromptu urbex under the streets of Edinburgh, to derelict military facilities to… well, I’m not saying any more than that. You’ll just have to listen.

Is it any good?

This is one of the funniest podcasts I’ve ever listened to. As I type this I am listening to all the series for the fourth time. Honestly, it’s still just as funny as the first. This goes to show the talent of Matthew McLean as a writer, as well as the brilliant voice talent for bringing the characters to irreverent life.

Talking of voice talent, series one features the legendary (in my book anyway) David Ault as Councillor Byers. His deadpan delivery suits the corrupt politician perfectly. An honourable mention also needs to be given to Jim Balfour as retired footballer and crude Francis Begbie-alike George. I think he probably has more of the classic lines than any character. Even though I know what he’s going to say, I’ll still laugh out loud as he says them.

The series really comes out swinging. Lee’s first story recounting his meeting with a werewolf to media students setting the gloriously crude style of the rest of the podcast. The first epsidoe also ingtroduces the weird meta style of McLeans writing. Lee frequently references real podcasts such as The Black Tapes, and later on Lee and Dougie reveal that they know they are only characters in someone elses podcast. Again, thats just another great detail that makes me love this show.

The later series release schedule has been “relaxed” to say the least, sometimes only a handful of episodes in a year. While the storylines may go on hiatus, there will be a few random posts of poems McLean has written. These are also very good, the one for his brother was outstanding, and really heartbreaking. These offer a great contrast to the silliness of the main story and show that he is far from a one trick pony.

Final thoughts

Most people think that anything to do with horror, and particularly the work of H.P. Lovecraft has to be serious, stuffy and usually not very scary. However, I think it lends itself more to humour. Maybe that’s just me, but podcasts like this, Wormwood, The Lovecraft Tapes, or Ain’t Slayed Nobody are much more entertaining (and yes, those last two are roleplaying podcasts, but they play how I like to, so they get a mention).

As I think I’ve made clear already, I love this podcast. The only caveat I would give any prospective listener is that the language is VERY coarse. If you have a disposition that gets upset at swear words and euphemisms of an incredibly inventive nature, then “Turn the tape off now, this is not a pop album” (as Ice T once said). I happen to think that swearing is very funny, but that’s just me…

You can get A Scottish Podcast here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts 

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Last Known Position review

Production company – QCode

Rating –

Last Known Position Logo

As I said at the end of last week’s review, it seems that the term “Lovecraftian” gets bandied about a lot. I’d go so far as to say that it is this decade’s “found footage” particularly in the audio drama field. It’s a style that is either done well with poor production values, or done poorly with good production values.

Here we have though, a story that really is Lovecraftian, and well made to boot. I enjoyed it immensely, and I think you will too.

What’s it about?

It all starts innocuously enough (as it always does). The wife and daughter of billionaire businessman William Cavanaugh are on a flight to meet him as a surprise. When the plane encounters a freak storm and disappears, the grieving businessman launches a no expenses spared mission to find the wreckage. He assembles a crew of experts to aid in the search aboard his state of the art boat, and they set off to the last known position of the plane.

Expert submersible pilot Mikaela Soto gets a job on Cavanaugh’s boat after a position comes up. She soon discovers all is not what it seems though, and things soon take a very dark and mysterious turn. Secrets are uncovered, people can’t be trusted, and ulterior motives threaten to quite literally destroy everything.

There are two main threads to this story. The “public” side, that is the reason the crew are assembled to hunt for the downed plane, and the private side. This is the real reason for the search. The two dovetail nicely as the series progresses and offer a nice reveal that is worthy of any of Lovecraft’s stories, albeit in a modern setting.

Is it any good?

It is good. The claustrophobic setting of the boat really comes across thanks to the excellent sound design. You really get a feeling of paranoia and being in situations that are out of your control. The tension builds nicely as the episodes tick by, and the final episode is a suitable grand crescendo.

The voice acting is top notch, despite James Purefoy managing to hit “maximum Purefoy” in his role (if you know his other work, you’ll know what I mean when you listen to this series). Mikaela Soto as a character is cocky without being irritating. In fact, the only character I didn’t really like was the security officer, a stereotypical veteran who was overly clichéd as a brusque jobsworth with an overly threatening presence. If this character had been a man, he’d have been played by Bill Paxton in full Pvt. Hudson style.

Speaking of clichés, there are a few humdingers that make themselves known as the series progresses. I won’t say what they are because they are rather important plot points, and as much as it’s funny, I don’t want to spoil anything.

Final thoughts

This was a very enjoyable series. Short enough to get through without getting bored, long enough to tie up all the loose ends plot-wise. There is scope for a second series, but I really hope they leave it as it is. Sorry QCode, but I think the way possible next adventures were teased, it will become cliché rather quickly.

It seems that people think that in order to be “Lovecraftian”, you need lots of monsters with names that resemble bad Scrabble racks, or hordes of fanatical cultists. This is where the point is missed. For me, a truly Lovecraftian story is one that is bleak. Puny humans pit themselves against an ambivalent universe. People get out of their depth trying to defeat an impossible enemy. This is what makes this a good story that would make the “Old Man of Providence” proud. 

You can get Last Known Position here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you go down to the woods today…

Old Gods Of Appalachia review

Production company – DeepNerd Media/Rusty Quill

Rating –

old gods of appalachia logo

This is another series that got snapped up for distribution by the brilliant boffins at Rusty Quill. I’ve been a fan of this series for ages now. It’s also proof that those spooky algorithms that apps use for recommendations really do work (sometimes). To be honest, if it wasn’t for those pesky queue jumper posts that I rush to publish, you’d have been reading this a long time ago. So read on family, here is my Old Gods Of Appalachia review.

What’s it all about then?

Old Gods Of Appalachia is a weekly Lovecraftian/folk horror podcast, covering a huge timeline from the 17th to the early 20th century. This is all about dark impenetrable forests, witches, demons and the unstoppable push of industrialization. Each series consists of one or two main story arcs, with a few shorter spin-off tales thrown in to fill out this strange alternate reality.

As each series progresses, the story follows different sets of characters that despite their adventures seem very believable. Whilst each of these story arcs seem separate, they slowly merge to become some epic horrifying saga that spans many years and affects many people.

One thing you’ll notice from the outset is that the stories here are all about powerful women. The male characters are usually flawed, or weak, or both. This is something that may get the Joe Rogan fans and other insecure “alpha males” all red faced, but it’s not done in a “woke” (shudder) manner. It just so happens that the women in the stories are all strong and independent, and are usually fed up with the way they’ve been treated in the past. The fact that they also have knowledge of ancient and arcane powers obviously helps somewhat.

Is it any good?

Absolutely. I would recommend it to any true horror fan. The stories swing from action packed, to horrific, to poignant. The world inhabited by the characters feels bleak, hard and uncaring. The poor are downtrodden, and the rich above the law. It seems very “real” despite the strange and heavily occult overtones. 

Each episode is narrated with real emotion by Steve Shell. There are some podcasts and audiobooks that I can listen to in bed to send me to sleep, not so with this one. Steve’s voice acting is so good and impassioned that it would keep me awake (not that I’d really want to go to sleep and miss any second of the stories he tells). For the most part, the stories are solo narrations by Steve, but the voice actors that do appear in the episodes are also very talented. Too many podcasts have been let down by a single poorly acted character. Not so here though. I could probably count on one hand podcasts with production values as consistently high as this.

The story is unbelievably well written. Whilst Steve Shell and Cam Collins both have previous form in the podcast business. I don’t think they’ve written any other series like this (forgive me if I’m wrong). It was really surprising for a podcast like this to just emerge from the aether so perfectly formed. Especially when there are more well known companies who can’t produce series half as good as this.

From the very first episode, you get dragged into the rich mythos and history of the Appalachians. You can imagine some of these stories being told by “mamaws and papaws” in candle light or by the fireside, but it soon takes that vertical roller coaster like drop into very dark territory indeed.

Final thoughts

“Lovecraftian” seems to be a bit of a buzzword over the last few years. Many people have tried to make Lovecraftian podcasts and many have failed. This one does feel truly Lovecraftian though, and not just because of the era that it’s set in. The inhabitants of this world are for the most part, powerless against the supernatural forces they encounter. Things can be held at bay, but not destroyed. The seductive nature of this power also easily corrupts those who would try to harness it for their own gain, and the weak willed are at the mercy of the darker forces. Time means nothing to these beings, and some plucky human with the right skills is only a temporary problem. One day someone will  forget and then the door will open.

I have a real soft spot in my heart for this series. This wasn’t one that needed a few episodes to warm up, or took a while for the writers to figure stuff out. It started great and just got better, and darker, and bigger. Like the 80’s horror films where the stormclouds bloom over the unsuspecting town, the darkness of this series spreads quickly. Give it a listen. You’ll love it.

You can get Old Gods Of Appalachia here:


Or wherever you get your podcasts

It’s not you, it’s me

The White Vault review

Production company – Fool & Scholar

Rating –

White Vault logo

This has been a hard one for me. It’s really not often that I give up on a series, but unfortunately I can’t go on with this one. I like to think that I’m a patient man, or maybe a cross between a pushover and a glutton for punishment. I’ll listen and watch most things, so it really takes something special to make me quit. Read on though and I’ll explain.

What’s it all about?

The White Vault is a Lovecraftian horror series. Its format is almost found footage in nature. Each episode has a brief introduction and recap, and then the main story begins. It’s mostly told in the form of recordings made by the team. “What team?” I hear you ask. Well read on and I’ll tell you.

Seasons 1 and 2 followed a team of engineers sent to outpost Fristed in Svalbard, the far north of Norway. The team of scientists who live at the outpost have broken contact and the rescue team get sent in to see what went wrong. Just as they arrive, a massive storm blows up and strands them there. That however, is the least of their worries.

Seasons 3 and 4 sees more snowy horror, but this time at the other end of the earth, in Patagonia. 

Season 5 returns to Svalbard, and that’s all I’m telling you!

But is it any good?

That’s a tough one really. This series frequently pops up when people ask for recommendations for podcasts on the various horror groups on Facebook, in fact that’s how I discovered it. There are certainly good elements here, and the production value is very high. Unfortunately, expensive special effects alone do not a good podcast make.

My main problem with this show is the voice acting. There are very few really good performances here. The actor who plays the main character Graham Casner sounds like he is doing a bad (circa fistful of dollars era) Clint Eastwood impression. I heard him being interviewed and it does seem to be his actual voice, which is unfortunate. As you will no doubt remember from my review of The Storage Papers, one thing that really bugs me is a flat delivery, especially when the actor is supposed to be in the action, rather than just telling a story. One thing that is guaranteed to drain all emotion from a performance is being a tough guy, and Graham Casner is a tough guy.

Final thoughts

Four years is quite a run, and producing five series in that time is no mean feat. I feel that the premise has been stretched to breaking point. There is nothing in season five that couldn’t have been included in an earlier season. 

As I finish writing this review, I have eight episodes of this series languishing in my “unplayed” list. Every time I open my podcast app it crosses my mind to listen to one, but I have so many others I’d rather listen to that this number will just get higher. Strangely enough though I can’t bring myself to unsubscribe. I guess that’s just the hoarder in me.

According to the credits on the series’ website. David Ault is on the cast. After my waxing lyrical about him previously, it goes to show how forgettable it is that I can’t remember him appearing in it.

Sometimes there is a real benefit for enthusiasm over experience, and there are plenty of podcasts that prove it. This however, isn’t one. I’ve made it all the way through to the fifth season, but I’m bowing out. As I said, it’s not you, it’s me.

You can find The White Vault here (should you want to):


Or wherever you get your podcasts.


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