About Me

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Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a seasoned music and film journalist, having written for venues such as Blabbermouth.net, The Big Takeover.com, Fangoria.com, Noisecreep, About.com, Horror News.net, Metal Maniacs, AMP, Dee Snider's House of Hair Online, Pit, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained, Impose, DVD Review, Music Dish and others. His blog The Metal Minute won Metal Hammer's Best Personal Blog Award in 2009. Ray is the host of "Comic Books" at ReadWave and is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut. Ray has been a local beat reporter and photographer for newspapers and journals such as Metromix, an affiliate of the Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine and The Northern News. Ray is the winner of Quantum Muse's short fiction contest for 1999 and his original character superhero stories were collected in the paperback anthology "Playing Solitaire." In 2013, Ray published fiction stories at New Noise Magazine and Akashic Books and he appears in the horror anthology, "Axes of Evil." He recently contributed work to Neil Daniels' Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

"NOT the Last Dance With Mary Jane," by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

Now trending at ReadWave Comic Books, my latest post, "NOT the Last Dance With Mary Jane."

Link up here and thanks for your patronage!


               Listenin' to:  Long Distance Calling - Satellite Bay

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ray Interviewed by Adrian Harte of the FNM 2.0 Site About the New Faith No More Album, Sol Invictus

Following my 10 out of 10 review of the new Faith No More album Sol Invictus for Blabbermouth, I was approached by Adrian Harte from the FNM 2.0 site for an interview about the album and other topics related to the band plus my thoughts about music journalism.  Adrian asked some very cool questions and I had plenty to say.  Hey, when you write for a forum called Blabbermouth, right?

Have a go here:


                   Listenin' to:  Zombi - The Zombi Anthology

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"My Playlist for the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Soundtrack," by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

One of the reasons the Guardians of the Galaxy movie last year was such a success had to do with Star Lord's "Awesome Mix Vol. 1" songs spread across the film.  As that movie alludes to not only a sequel, but a second mixtape left to Star Lord by his cancer-stricken mother, it drove me out my skull wondering what songs were contained on Vol. 2.  So I had fun and created my own playlist, then submitted it to Marvel Comics.  Hey, you never know.

Over at ReadWave Comic Books is my proposed mixtape selections for Guardians 2.  Link up here and tell me how I did:


                      Listenin' to:  American Hustle soundtrack

Saturday, March 28, 2015

"Betty or Veronica? The Age-Old Question Still Lingers," by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

Since becoming suckered by the recent Afterlife With Archie series, I've been dabbling with my Archie archives and reading the more recent Archie:  The Married Life, plus Archie Meets Kiss.  Then writer Alex De Campi has the makings of a gonzo mash coming in the very near future as Archie and Predator, of all things, square off.

Still, what it all boils down to, if you're a fan of the ginger gigolo, is whether you root from Camp Betty or Camp Veronica.  It's been the mother of all rivalries and still unsettled after nearly eight decades.  Here's a little piece I wrote on this timeless two-timing affair that still stands the test of time.


                      Listenin' to:  The Psychedelic Furs - s/t

Friday, March 20, 2015

20 Favorite Moments as a Music Journalist

I've been in this racket more than a few years.  I've been in it long enough to see bands come and bands go.  I've sat in the presence of artists who used to adorn my bedroom walls as a teenager, such as Geoff Tate, former vocalist of Queensyche, as you can see above.  I've made many friends in the music industry from the bands to the record labels to publicity firms.  I've had a lot of joy traveling on the road covering music, hanging backstage, hanging on tour buses and enjoying philosophical conversations with artists and their fans in secretive parking lots.  I've been given more than a beer or two from my interview guests who've generously turned the tables and welcomed me into their circles.  I've been invited to showcases and all the amenities that come within.  I've even been treated like royalty at a few venues, smiling with whispers of "Holy shit, it's Ray from Blabbermouth in the house!" floating behind my ears.

For every bit of happiness I've known being a music journalist, there is, of course, the flipside.  While my negative experiences are outnumbered by the good five to one, I'm not going to lie; this past year has presented me with much to mull over.  Bad enough I, like many of my peers in the industry, have been victimized by the Great Digital Kill-Off, as a I call it.  I once wrote for multiple print magazines and of course a bunch of websites simultaneously.  I felt incredibly alive in that period of time.  It wasn't just the money that was coming in after I'd paid my dues doing the freebies to build my rep.  It was the honor of seeing my work in printed circulation that got me off.  Of course, only a select few of the mass population can truly appreciate what that means to a writer since most folks are obtuse to not only writers, but reading beyond a small handful of electronic paragraphs.

I'm not going to waste too much time bellyaching, but a handful of people have inadvertently shown me the light, in their own rude ways, just why I think it's time to evaluate my life in this business.  I've strived for professionalism my entire career and pride myself on having interviewed more than 300 artists and written more than a thousand reviews.  I've lent a helping hand to newcomers to the writing scene and I've done all the solids a respectable journalist could do for his clients.  I expect nothing in return but courtesy and return professionalism.  While that still occurs at least 90% of the time, it's the recent actions of that minority 10% which gives me pause to reflect that maybe, just maybe I've been in this game too long. 

In a few cases, I was downright shocked by their disrespectful conduct, but I've opted to take a moment and reflect upon the fun moments, the cool things like getting goofed on by a very young All That Remains, pictured above.  That moment was a riot, and a damned good backstage interview.  ATR was opening for Gwar, of all bands, and I finished my night in the company of two ladies (show buddies, mind you) where we were all drenched in stage blood shot from the Gwar cannons onstage.  Ahhhhhh...good times.

So that being said, I thought I'd share with you readers twenty of my favorite moments as a music journalist, in no particular order...

1.  Iron Maiden will always be my favorite heavy metal band of all-time.  There's no point arguing for Sabbath or Zeppelin.  Masters of their own right and I love them dearly as well, for me it's Maiden, Maiden Maiden.  The time I got to interview Nicko McBrain was a dream come true for me.  As I've mentioned in the past, my room as a teen was filled with heavy metal bands, Iron Maiden being the biggest go-getter on the walls.  Nicko was a freaking scream to interview and when we were finished, he apparently enjoyed my company enough to tell me to get on the band's guest list for their tour in support of A Matter of Life and Death.  Sure enough, I was on the list for a photo shoot, dead freakin' center, arena-ville, baby.  I've done plenty of arena gigs, but this was the most meaningful to me for obvious reasons.

2.  I once battled Metallica's Master of Puppets against Megadeth's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying and had the stones to argue my way for Megadeth as the winner.  Some people thought I was insane, others congratulated me.  It was a spontaneous post I wrote in a fever pitch one night and it ended up being read by the editors of the illustrious Metal Maniacs magazine, who promptly offered me a freelancing position.

3.  Winning "Best Personal Blog" from industry-renowned Metal Hammer magazine in 2009 for my blogsite, The Metal Minute was the most flattering form of validation I've ever experienced in my career.  My traffic there spiked triple.  Thank you, Metal Hammer, mad love.

4.  Doro Pesch.  I only need say the name and if you know it, you get it.  Spend one minute in this classy woman's presence, you'll find her to be the most sincere person in the business, regardless of genre.  I've interviewed Doro more times than any artist I've come into contact with and she's made me melt every time.  Hanging with her and Trans-Siberian Orchestra/Savatage guitarist Chris Caffery (an awesome dude too) on Doro's bus in Virginia was an amazing time, especially having traveled from New York City the night prior on assignment covering Skinny Puppy.  Double mad love for Doro.

5.  There was the time I interviewed Alex Skolnick and Greg Christian of Testament (another one of those back-to-back interstate weekends) in a hotel bar and the waitress asked me if I was in the band.  Alex and Greg nodded at me and told her I was.  Moments before, I'd caught Chuck Billy in the hotel lobby and he froze upon me spotting him.  He gave me a look that said "Dude, don't bust me," so I gave him a low-end horns flick and he returned it back with grateful nod.  \m/

6.  Back to Gwar a moment, I had an interview with the late Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, on the band's bus at the Sounds of the Underground festival in 2006.  Dave was out of his costume but still in character as he gave me the most ridiculous interview of all-time, where he offered to sodomize me and laced out every profane word in the dictionary.  He wound his hand at me to keep going after I was busy cracking up, knowing he was going to go off-course from my questions.  I shot from the hip and it was the funniest interview I've ever conducted.  After I shut my tape off, Dave invited me to stay for barbecue.  I hung out with Gwar's stage minions (who happened to be area guitarists on the side) and chowed down!  Sidebar:  thanks to In Flames for giving me water earlier in the day when I was on their bus interviewing.  On a summer festival tour at four bucks a pop for water, that meant everything!

7.  I was at a Naked Raygun reunion show and went up to the pit to photograph modern punk legends Paint it Black.  I'd long since stopped moshing and stagediving, but I took a huge beating from the pit to get one of the personal best live photo shoots in my portfolio.  Example above. 

8.  Rob Halford, KK Downing and Glenn Tipton.  All gentlemen, all kings who don't know they wear crowns.  Getting to interview one member of Judas Priest was thrilling enough.  Three?  Jesus wept.  Halford was especially wonderful, and I'll never forget him telling me about his niece who had a chamber recital he was attending the following day.  He sounded so proud!  I told him, "Imagine what pressure that child must feel with the Metal God in the audience!"  He roared.

9.  Most people who know me know I tried my hand at a digital music magazine, Retaliate.  That was one of the most invigorating and painful moments of time in my life.  You can read more about it here at The Crash Pad.  My guests were just astonishing for a debut issue:  Slayer, Black Label Society, Drowning Pool, Lamb of God,  Papa Roach, Filter, Mick Garris, Adam Green...and of course, Marky Ramone.  As the Ramones are my all-around favorite band, I need not say what interviewing Marky meant to me.

10.  Nina Blackwood, what a wonderful woman.  Made me proud to grow up in the eighties as MTV first launched.  She patiently waited for me to slug my way through bad traffic after she finished her DJ slot with Sirius radio.  Being off-the-air 45 minutes, she still gave me an hour-long interview and was so kind.  God bless ya, Nina.  I still want my MTV and you on it...the way it used to be.

11.  Halloween night, years ago.  Lizzy Borden.  How could it not be awesome?  Another of my personal-best live photo shoots, Lizzy put on a hell of a performance and smeared stage blood all over me and other folks in the front row.  I'd interviewed Lizzy a few days prior to the gig and he remembered me after the show.  We talked again a few minutes and then I made friends with his bassist Marten Andersson.

12.  Interviewing Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna while he was shooting pool.  It was during a period when he was out of the band and we yakked a long while.  He gave me a few more interviews afterwards until he rejoined Anthrax.  Happy for ya, Joey!

13.  The night after George W. Bush won office the second time, I was at The Black Cat in Washington, DC interviewing Every Time I Die singer Keith Buckley.  The city was ghostly after the election and you could sense the anger from Bush haters in town.  It was game-on time, as Buckley went on the rant of all anti-political rants and I only published a sliver of it so as not to hang the dude publicly.  Afterwards, Every Time I Die and Dillinger Escape Plan ripped that club apart!

14.   I once interviewed Bobby Blotzer of Ratt in his hotel room and we hit it off rather well.  Afterwards, he asked me for a ride to get some food before the gig.  We drove around northern Virginia in search of grub and talking about life off-the-record.  Awesome sauce.

15.  I've interviewed half of System of a Down and it was the ultra-intelligent Serj Tankian who really won me over.  I had a small audience in attendance and they were likewise impressed.  Afterwards, Serj's press rep emailed me back to say Serj thought well of my questions and he asked for my response to his own question.  That remains between us.

16.  The opening phone exchange between Sebastian Bach and I:  Sabs:  "Heyyyyyyy, honey, it's Sebastian!"  Me:  "Heyyyyyy, Sebastian, I'm a dude!"  Sabs:  "Aww, shit!"  It was still a great interview, though we killed half our allotted time talking about comic books.

17.  Alice Cooper's the best.  What a hell of a cool guy.  We only got 15 minutes together, but he filled it up with detailed answers that are a journalist's best friend.  I don't ask my guests for much  other than photos, but Uncle Alice nicely recorded a special message for my friend Matt, who's been a lifelong diehard.

18.  Speaking of photos, here's what I call "3 Dude Selfie," taken by country/cowpunk legend, Hank Williams, III, aka Hank3.  Next to us is my friend and Hank's guitarist David McElfresh, who had me down for the show and a long hangout with the band on the bus.  I'm happy to have also made friends with drummer Phil Cancilla during this brodown.

19.  I've had two interviews with Killing Joke vocalist Jaz Coleman.  Both were long, intriguing and frankly, intense, just like the band's music.  Jaz is for real, folks, and it was our second interview backstage at Union Transfer in Philadelphia where I was flat-out humbled.  We got on famously and Jaz gave me a slew of compliments to my questions.  He then invited me to stay longer and he produced his personal writings for me.  I don't think I've ever been more flattered in my life. 

20.  Karyn Crisis and the Crisis band.  One of the fiercest singers of our time, Karyn Crisis is one of the most delightful, pensive intellect-artistes I've ever had the privilege of knowing.  We've had wonderful interviews and even better private conversations.  I became friends with her and the defunct Crisis band after a hilarious misunderstanding.  Let's just say I was confused with an asshole groper who'd accosted  Karyn and I was challenged by the band to a duke.  Karyn defended me by pointing out the real offender and we've been laughing about it ever since.  The conversations I've enjoyed with Karyn, Jwyanza and Afzaal about civil rights will always stick with me.

All photos  (c) Ray Van Horn, Jr.

                        Listenin' to:  Opeth  - Blackwater Park

Monday, February 9, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Kirby

44, eh? That's MY age and if anything, I'm just getting my second wind. Future greatness, it's ON. With gratitude to the iconic and always-inspiring Jack Kirby.

                              Listenin' to:  Neu!  - Neu! 75

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Lament for My Long-Lost G.I. Joe # 2," by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

Another little ditty about comics, this time what I went through in 1982 to snag this sought-after collector's prize, then lost it.



            Listenin' to:  LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out

Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Favorite Comics-to-Films...to This Point" by Ray over at ReadWave Comic Books

The superhero film season is right around the corner!  Over at ReadWave Comic Books, I take a look at my favorites flicks bred from comic books.


Link up here:


                          Listenin' to:  Callisto - Secret Youth

Saturday, January 17, 2015

More Reviews By Ray at Blabbermouth

Up at Blabbermouth, more of my reviews targeting the latest from Yob, the Melvins, Nick Oliveri's Uncontrollable, Steel Prophet, Ion Vein and from my hometown of Baltimore, Charm City Devils. Also up is my review of Scott Ian's often hilarious spoken word DVD, Swearing Words in Glasgow.

Listenin' to:  Adrenalin O.D. - The Wacky Hi-Jinks of Adrenalin O.D.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

                           Listenin' to:  Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

We All Have Our Vices

Pick your shameless vice:  booze, pot, chocolate, soda, gerbils up your bum.  This one's mine.

            Listenin' to:  (a-duh)  Saturday Night Fever soundtrack

Monday, January 5, 2015

Ray's Current Reviews Posted at Blabbermouth

Now running at Blabbermouth, my reviews of the latest from Emigrate, Venom, Blind Guardian,36 Crazyfists, Sweet & Lynch and Sinister. 

             Listenin' to:  Mott the Hoople - All the Young Dudes

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Comics in 2015 I'm Already Geeking About, a New Post by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

Happy New Year, readers!

In keeping with the situation, here's a new post I have at ReadWave citing new comic series that have either recently started or will be coming up in 2015.

Thanks as always for your support!  Let's all make this year a positive one!

Link up:


                           Listenin' to:  Emigrate - Silent So Long

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Favorite Christmas Greeting From the Record Labels This Year

I get my share of cool Christmas greetings from friends, family and of course, the music industry.  Top honor from the latter goes to Germany's Kozmik Artifactz for this retro 1950's platter pool.  Love.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Listenin' to:  Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack

Monday, December 22, 2014

Bad Santa in Spider Land, Circa 1986, a Post by Ray at ReadWave Comic Books

Over at my forum with ReadWave Comic Books, a holiday-themed look at what the genre could get away with in 1986.

Link up here:


      Listenin' to:  Brian Setzer Orchestra - Boogie Woogie Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Triple Play (Christmas Edition) - 12/21/14

It's been awhile since I've done a Triple Play here and frankly I've missed that.  However, I have a few minutes between cranking out album reviews for Blabbermouth and thought I'd post three of my favorite, offbeat Christmas jams.   No explanations needed, just cue 'em up, enjoy and look toward having a Merry Christmas, one and all.

Reverend Horton Heat - "What Child is This"

The Ramones - "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)"

King Diamond - "No Presents for Christmas"

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Guest Writer: The Dream Diaries of Clive Barker, by Beth Kelly

As a first here at The Crash Pad, I'm pleased to present a guest writer, Beth Kelly, who recently approached me about horror films and writing.  Beth's enthusiasm for Clive Barker, one of the greats of modern terror lore, prompted me to invite her to pen her thoughts about Barker's works, namely those that have enjoyed commercial success as translated into the cinema and comics realms.

Please give Beth a hearty welcome!

The Dream Diaries of Clive Barker

Clive Barker transitioned from an unassuming English schoolboy who dabbled in theatre and story writing to one of horror's most prolific storytellers. As an accomplished author, illustrator and filmmaker, Barker has transcended tired macabre themes and erected an empire of fantastical sadomasochistic gore. Once referred to by Stephen King as "the future of horror," Barker's take on terror would turn the genre on its head.


After finding success as an author of gruesome literature, Barker decided to try his hand at filmmaking in his directorial debut, 1987's Hellraiser.  Based upon his novella "The Hellbound Heart," the film focuses on an innocuous puzzle box that opens the door to the Netherworld. In an era crowded with movie killers and monsters, Barker managed to be truly original. Unlike Carpenter's rugged style, or Craven's over the top maniacs, Barker's Cenobites presented a new take on terror rooted in religious mythology.

Starkly pale and visibly tortured, the Cenobites are contorted and elaborately decked out for assuming their backwards Christian personas. Their purpose is to dole out the punishments of Hell in a terrifying combination of pleasure and pain, a common theme in Clive Barker's work, along with a healthy dose of "paying for your sins." Pinhead, the lead Cenobite, is a Jesus-esque figure, complete with crucifixion imagery that holds the keys to eternity and a "just reward." The human victims are subjected to a nightmare of gore and brutality that sets this film far apart from its counterparts, yet is still classier and scarier than today's torture porn movies, of which Hellraiser was an obvious influence.


Barker's gravitation toward the visual aspects of terror continued in his cult classic, Nightbreed. Inspired both by H.P. Lovecraft and pop cultural references, Barker created a realm of vampiric undead.  In post-production, however, much of the original film was edited outside Barker’s wises. As a result, Nightbreed was initially released to critical disdain and commercial failure, but in the years since, the film has garnered greater respect from horror fans.  It has an established loyal cult following and can be watched online or even streamed on Amazon.

Based on Barker's novella, "Cabal," Nightbreed is a story caught between perceived reality and the forces of an underworld of creatures where a mentally ill man finds himself a member of the secret society of ghoulish outcasts. Though the things of nightmares, the monsters, interestingly enough, are not who the audience is meant to fear.  In the end, the bad guys are the decidedly creepy humans, while the nightmarish monsters still frighten, but come out the rightful winners.


Candyman could have been a simple ghost story about a woman suffering a haunting, but in the capable hands of the director Bernard Rose, this film became anything but that. Based on Barker's story, "The Forbidden," the film in an urban legend come to life. The "Candyman" is summoned by a woman who is from then on plagued by death after death. The story's genius is that it is unclear whether or not the "Candyman" actually exists: he could be just a ghost, a figment of the imagination, or a clever ploy by the woman to cover her own killing spree. Chicago’s old Cabrini-Green housing projects, where the majority of the film’s action takes place, provide a perfectly chilling backdrop. Considered one of the most original takes on the urban legend theme, Candyman questions the idea of perception and belief, another nod to religion.

In recent years, Barker's influence on horror has become more apparent. There have been many imitations and aspirations to reach Barker's level, but few have attained the raw, gritty feel of his work. Barker's legacy is one that elicits cold sweats and chilled bones, not with cheap frights, but with a horror that is honest, pure, and profound in its respect for what is truly worth fearing: the subconscious.

(c) 2014 Beth Kelly

                  (Ray is ) Listenin' to: Def Leppard - High 'n Dry

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Up at Blabbermouth, my reviews of new digs by AC/DC, Sister Sin, Machine Head, Sanctuary, Bloodbath, Threshold and Krokodil.

    Listenin' to:  AC/DC - For Those About to Rock, We Salute You

Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 Comic Titles That Rocked My 2014

Over at ReadWave Comic Books, my picks for the rockinest comic titles of the year.



 Listenin' to: Between the Buried and Me:  The Parallax II:  Future Sequence

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Stand by...

Hang in there, readers!  More stuff coming atcha very shortly.

The holidays are in full swing, which has me on the run, but the bigger news is I've been invited to submit a novel I'm nearly finished writing titled "Watching Me Fall," so I'm devoting much of my extra time getting that completed for the prospective publisher.  It'd be a great way for me to ring out 2014 and kick off the new year.

In the meantime, I have reviews of the latest from Slipknot, Machine Head, Sanctuary, Mr. Big, Orange Goblin, Sodom and the expanded edition of Soulbender's debut album over at Blabbermouth.  I'm about to drop a review of the new AC/DC album, Rock or Bust very shortly, so keep dropping over there as you faithfully do here at The Crash Pad.

Cheers, yuletide and otherwise....

                          Listenin' to:  Radiohead - The Bends