Have We Reached Peak Cthulhu?


Cthulhu the plushie. Cthulhu the board game. Cthulhu the Tiki mug. Cthulhu the slipper. Cthulhu the My Little Pony. Cthulhu the electric guitar. Cthulhu the leggings. Cthulhu the Christmas ornament. Cthulhu the air freshener. Cthulhu the inflatable arm for weeaboos. Cthulhu the battle jacket patch.  Cthulhu the cropped hoodie. Cthulhu the earrings. Cthulhu the bumper sticker. Cthulhu the flask. Cthulhu the pinky ring. Cthulhu the satchel. Cthulhu the bell. Cthulhu the useless currency. And now, Cthulhu the Lovecraftian surfer metal guitarist?

Spaceballs the post title

Friends, this is too much Cthulhu. Surely this is not the nihilistic, amoral vision of Great Old One conquest Lovecraft imagined when he first penned The Call of Cthulhu in 1926, but here we are. If there’s anything we as Americans love, it’s pointless commercialized kitsch to drive the capitalism machine. Merchandising, it would seem, is an insatiable elder being far mightier than even old Cthulhu himself, and not even metal can escape the grasp of the great green tentacle of greed. Don’t believe me? Just take a stroll down to your local mall’s Hot Topic (and grab an Orange Julius and an Auntie Anne’s pretzel while you’re at it, you consumer whore) and count the number of all-over print tees featuring some cephalopod monstrosity and band name. I’m certain the number is greater than one.

It would seem metal bands are not content to simply name themselves after Lovecraft’s eldritch horrors or to invoke their extradimensional powers in bizarre, angular riffs. No, the self-titled album from Stars Eat Worlds proves that in the end all things must be subsumed in the gooey brandability of Cthulhu’s surprisingly marketable visage. The 2014 release, however, bills itself as not just another Lovecraft-themed metal band, but rather a Lovecraftian Surfer Metal band. By my count that seems like one too many gimmicks for a single band. How well does it deliver on that premise?

1. Lovecraftian – The riffs in this album aren’t particularly strange or angular, the two qualities I associate most frequently with the term Lovecraftian. That said, the first two tracks, particularly “That Is Not Dead,” feature some nebular tremolo riffs that bleed down from the processed emptiness of the machine-like drum patterns like a color out of space, and paired with the Great Old One’s goofy mug adorning the cover, the music does a decent enough job living up to the apellation.

2. Surfer – The surf riffs don’t really pop up until third track “And With Strange Aeons,” and though Cthulhu certainly is no Dick Dale, the evil, jangly chords work well enough when they’re employed with that steady beach rhythm. Stick with Howls of Ebb or Grey Heaven Fall if you really want your absurd, inhuman beach riffs.

3. Metal – Some of the tremolo riffs are actually pretty cool, but the stock drum patterns and lack of vocals are a distraction. The emphasis here is clearly on the guitar, so if you like instrumental black metal, you may dig this. You can do worse than Name Your Price too.

To answer the question posed in the headline, yes. Yes we have. With all the excellent, weird, unorthodox, and engaging metal being made today, this odd little EP from 2014 seems both a garish blend of disparate elements and a bit of a soulless cash grab. Stars Eat Worlds sets out ostensibly to tie a few gimmicks together to create a unique experience, but it ultimately just feels like a knowing wink and nod at the gullibility of some metalheads to plonk down cold cash for anything marketably outré. But hey, I’m the sucker who clicked play, so I guess the branding strategy worked. Well played, Cthulhu. Well played.

If you dig what you hear, you can purchase the EP for any price on Bandcamp.

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  • Lacertilian

    Sounds like we need a Cthulu verification system. Someone should take one for the team by volunteering to wear an octopus on their face and arbitrarily deeming things worthy/unworthy of The Great Old One tag.
    Still deciding whether to crucify my wallet by starting a discogs account to get this beast.

    • Scrimm

      Not a bad idea, should be someone that hates almost everything

    • Howard Dean



  • Waynecro

    Yeah, Cthulhu is OK, but I’m more of an Azathoth guy myself. I’ll never understand why a blind idiot god who hangs out at the center of ultimate chaos isn’t more popular.

    • Dubbbz

      Cuz he’s an idiot.

      • Waynecro

        But people love a good idiot. *insert political joke here*

        • Pierre Generic

          “Unlike my opponent, Lying Cthulhu, my tentacules are YUUUUUGE, believe me!”

    • brokensnow

      Always enjoyed Natharlotep. Void.

  • Joaquin Stick

    Amazing, I was given that exact inflatable cthulhu arm as a joke gift at some office party thing. I used it to get a paper airplane out of a tree, then never saw it again.

  • related/notrealted, kinda? sorta sorry/notsorry


  • IronLawnmower

    Everything is Cthuhlu AKA why I’m trying to pay homage to lesser known elements of the mythos in my lyrics and even making up my own shit because fuck that tentacled bastard Bzlah-ech’ya needs his time to shine.

    • Dubbbz

      I actually like what the game Eternal Darkness did. The developers just came up with their own Elder gods and fleshed them out in game.

      Also, I prefer Lovecraft’s pre-mythos stories the best.

      • Hans Gruber

        Eternal Darkness >>>>>

  • Not gonna lie. The surf metal is hot-rocking!


  • Howard Dean
    • Dubbbz

      Upvote from me. This was my running song in high school.

    • Only the S&M version is real 😉

  • Brock Samson
    • brokensnow

      Great album.

  • JWEG


    And yes, I will admit I backed it.

    Sometimes in moments of extreme weakness I don’t take the threat of destruction from beneath the sea as seriously as I should…

  • This is a thing I about which I would say I like that thing. Also, LOL at their bandcamp picture.

  • BobLoblaw

    All the Great Old Ones that havent been appropriated as a trend>>>>>


  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Arguably, Cthulhu went south about when Derleth starting on him. And I seem to recall even ol’ HP himself being pretty hokey at times. So at a personal level I don’t mind all the Cthulhu kitsch. And this band sounds kinda neato to me. But I totally get the problem.Personally I’d like to see other mythology get more time to shine, or bands inventing their own.

    • Dubbbz

      Derleth at least introduced a morality/alignment that was pretty weird to impose on amoral beings. But yes, I enjoy it when entities (bands, game developers, etc.) invent their own fantastical worlds to explore different themes. Not everyone is that creative, though.

      • Scrimm

        I get bummed about people slagging Derleth. Say what you will about his additions, who wouldn’t add their own touch to something, but without him Lovecraft would have likely faded into obscurity. But yeah, a little overdone(as we are getting ready to release a recording with a healthy dose of Ole H.P. and plan on writing an ep based on Innsmouth next)

        • Dubbbz

          I agree. As much as Derleth’s additions were unfitting, he did essentially preserve the legacy of these stories.

  • Cthulu – nice guy, just misunderstood.

  • OldMetalHead

    Thought this episode was brilliant.

  • “but it ultimately just feels like a knowing wink and nod at the gullibility of some metalheads to plonk down cold cash for anything marketably outré.”

    Your words. They caress me like molten wax. Like molten wax.

  • brokensnow

    Lovecraftesque Art and entertainment started to jump the shark back when I was in high school. Jack rabbit slims with messenger bags, playing DDR and quoting Evildead 2/Clerks were that group of guys. ahhhh the early 2000’s….

  • Hans Gruber
  • Major Zim

    I’m honestly shocked there isn’t more love for Sulphur Aeon on this site. Gateway to the Antisphere was probably my favorite Death Metal album of 2015. Dirty and punchy enough to scratch my Dead Congregation itch, massive and groovy enough to scratch my Bolt Thrower itch, and riffy enough to scratch my Death In Fire-era Amon Amarth itch, all with a Lovecraft angle that is god damn subtle by metal standards? This is one of the most underrated albums of the decade in my never humble opinion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmKJ9ORXvNM