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About The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets

Vancouver-based the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets have a rather unusual history from several standpoints. The first of these ways is that since they are a band based on an assumed background, there can actually be two biographies of the group: one real and one fictional. Since the fictional history is definitely more fun and simpler to address, it will be presented here first. From that point of view, the group is really a collection of cultists who become various creatures on-stage. All of it is done with a definite sense of humor and a solid nod to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, the author not the band.

When you look at the actual history of the group, the second unusual factor comes into view. The single strand that seems to have pulled them together was actual fantasy gaming, even more than music. The main person behind the group is Toren Atkinson. Besides being a founding member of the group, Atkinson is also an artist, having done work for such games as Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, and Mythos. He put the band together in February of 1992 to pull together two of his interests: fantasy (especially the writings of H.P. Lovecraft) and rock music. He pulled together several others, mostly from his role-playing group, to form the band. Those other musicians were Merrick Atkinson, Bob Fugger, Warren Banks, and Jordan Pratt.

The group's first releases were demo tapes. The first of these was entitled Gurgle Gurgle Gurgle. Of the three songs on this early demo, two ("Cthulhu Dreams" and "Digging Up the World") would show up on their CDs. The second tape was called Hurts Like Hell! It included nine songs, one of them being a re-recording of "Digging Up the World." The majority of these songs would later surface on the CD Great Old Ones. The final demo tape the group did was called Cthulhuriffomania. All of the songs from that demo also wound up on their second CD. By the time this last tape was released, songs by the band had begun appearing on various compilations. The group's next effort was their first CD, Cthulhu Strikes Back. More appearances on compilations were to follow that release. When they did their second CD, Great Old Ones, the group used it to re-release a lot of material from their previous tapes. They also included two live tracks and three brand new ones. One of those new tracks was a cover of the Police's "Walking on the Moon." The latest release by the band is 2000's Spaceship Zero Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. ~ Gary Hill

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