VON STROHEIM by Stephan Vercaemer
New Music

Top 10 Film Noir Movies to inspire the cinametic, heavy, gloomy tracks from VON STROHEIM

4 mins read

Founded in 2015 in Brussels, Belgium, von Stroheim is a heavy, thick riffed, psychedelia and sludge infused doom blues band that grabbed our attention instantly after submitting their latest release to our pages. Their third recording dubbed “The Beautiful, Not the Damned” was released last September through Navalorama Records (CD) and Off Records (digital), but the band just unveiled a massive follow up called “The Saturday Night Fever Sessions” and today we’re giving it a fair nod with some more details on their craft and their special list of top 10 of favourite film noirs movies, which served as a great source of inspiration for von Stroheim.

The Saturday Night Fever Sessions are live sessions recorded on the 18 and 19th of November 2021 – which are not Saturdays – and mixed in January 2022. “The songs were played as if we had stood in front of an audience, without any overdubs… just drums, one guitar, one voice and a few samples.” – comments the band.

The idea behind these live sessions is to have an accurate representation of what von Stroheim is today with our new drummer Joe ‘ReeDoo’ Parmentier. “When Joe joined the band around one year ago, we decided we would start afresh and revisit each song we had on our setlist with new ears.” – comments the band. “This led to some changes in the drumming and guitar playing, sometimes radical, sometimes subtle… and the addition of a few unreleased songs. After a residency at Magasin 4 in June 2021 and playing a few shows from which we got very good feedback, it seemed appropriate to properly record and share the new von Stroheim with the World.”

For fans of: Neurosis, Swans, Windhand, Chelsea Wolfe, PJ Harvey, BigBrave, Hexvessel, OM, Messa.

VON STROHEIM by Y. Collard
VON STROHEIM by Y. Collard

In the course of 2020, despite being stuck in semi-confinement, von Stroheim wrote and recorded about 1 hour of music. These recordings will be released throughout 2021 & 2022, in various formats. One of them is their impressive 4-tracker “The Beautiful, Not the Damned”.

The Beautiful, Not the Damned comprises 4 tracks stemming from recordings made in 2019-2020, which resulted in one hour of music. The EP’s title is the answer to the previous album’s name – Love? Who Gets Love? – which was released in 2019.

von Stroheim is a cinematic doom blues trio fronted by a female singer with a haunted voice. The lyrics are inspired by film noir from the 40’s and 50’s. The trio’s elegant post-metal compositions are enriched with film samples, as well as synths and theremin which give their work a truly cinematographic feel.

VON STROHEIM by Stephan Vercaemer
VON STROHEIM by Stephan Vercaemer

von Stroheim doesn’t have a bass player but uses a baritone guitar which allows for a wide sound spectrum. The trio has been described as PJ Harvey singing with Black Sabbath, Neurosis featuring Jarboe, “Amon Duul in salsa stoner”, and compared to OM and Hexvessel.

They’ve supported Big Brave, Enablers, Trepaneringsritualen, Morkobot, Wyatt E., Jucifer, OvO, Ronin, Le Singe Blanc, Martin Bisi, etc. von Stroheim was formed in 2014 by vocalist Dominique Van Cappellen-Waldock (Baby Fire, Keiki…) and Raphaël Rastelli (Keiki…). The band’s name was chosen as a tribute to the Austrian actor and director Erich von Stroheim.

VON STROHEIM by Stephan Vercaemer
VON STROHEIM by Stephan Vercaemer

von Stroheim reaffirms its particular songwriting style in which aggressiveness and heaviness contrast with more intimate moments.

Here is von Stroheim’s top 10 films noirs:

The Big Clock by John Farrow (1948)

A young journalist investigates the murder of his boss’ mistress. The building in which most of the action takes place can be considered as one of the characters. Its ultramodern interiors are cold and the size of the building is crushing. The film is an early and accurate depiction of the modern media industry.

9. The Seventh Victim by Mark Robson (1943).

Both a film noir and a horror film. A young woman goes searching for her missing sister and stumbles on an underground cult of devil worshippers. Rarely has a film succeeded so well in capturing the nocturnal menace of a large city, the terror underneath the everyday, the suggestion of hidden evil, and deemed it hauntingly oppressive.
Composer Roy Webb relies upon single chords and ominous strains of dissonance. It is possibly the only Hollywood film score of the period to end in a minor key.

8. The Crooked Way by Robert Florey (1949).

A war hero suffering from amnesia returns to Los Angeles, hoping that he might meet again the people who knew him and that they could help him fill in the blanks. He is recognized as a dangerous gangster gone missing, whose past behavior generates mistrust among the police and all those who knew him.

Here’s our video for the track ‘Cigarette Smoke’ made with footage from The Crooked Way:

7. Too Late for Tears by Byron Haskin (1949).

The husky-voiced Lizabeth Scott gives a finely tuned performance as the femme fatale who by chance comes into possession of a bag filled with cash, for which she kills her husband. Gangster Dan Duryea shows he doesn’t have as much stomach for his criminal mischief as does his lady accomplice.

6. Kiss Me Deadly by Robert Aldrich (1955).

A film noir with an unusual surreal touch. Private detective Mike Hammer is after a stolen briefcase. The people he encounters are all terrified and victim of some obscure technology that leaves their skin burnt. Several die in obscure circumstances and the police is as helpless as the detective.

5. Murder by Contract by Irving Lerner (1958).

A low budget film noir about a merciless killer hired to eliminate a witness. He becomes agitated when he finds out that the witness is a woman since in his opinion women are harder to kill than men because they are « unpredictable ». Cited by Martin Scorcese as « the film that has influenced (him) most ».

4. The Killers by Robert Siodmak (1946).

Based on a short story by Hemingway. Two killers hunt a former boxer working in a gas station, who doesn’t attempt to get away. One of film noir’s greatest classics and Burt Lancaster’s first leading role. With Ava Gardner as the femme fatale.

3. Sudden Fear by David Miller (1952).

After not being chosen for the leading role of a play, an actor decides to seduce and marry the playwright. Joan Crawford and Jack Palance form a most charismatic couple, and the latter excels in the role of a cold-blooded killer.

The video for von Stroheim’s track ‘Marry Me’ was made with footage from Sudden Fear:

2. Leave Her to Heaven by John M. Stahl (1946).

One of the best film noir ever made is … in colour. Gene Tierney is breathtakingly beautiful and jealous of everything and everyone that could get between her and her husband, including their child. She is pure evil.

Also with Cornel Wilde and Vincent Price. One of Martin Scorsese’s favorite films of all times.

1. Out of the Past by Jacques Tourneur (1947).

The characters are carefully crafted, with a realistic feel that is emphasized by real life settings. Robert Mitchum plays the self-assured private detective, Jane Greer the baby-faced, charming killer, and Kirk Douglas the believable gangster. Its complex, fatalistic storyline, dark cinematography, and classic femme fatale make it the quintessential film noir.

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