Terence Hannum is the singer and synth wizard for the avant-metal band Locrian as well as a member of the synthpop group, The Holy Circle. The immensely talented Hannum has also started his own privately-run label, called Anathemata Editions, in which he releases the material from The Holy Circle as well as his artworks and his writing. The Amalgam was given the opportunity to review Terence’s writing debut, a 76-page novella entitled, Beneath the Remains.
SYNOPSIS: After their parents’ acrimonious divorce brothers Galen and Spencer are moved to South-West Florida by their mother and new stepdad. It is the early 1990s and the brothers were told of a land of sunshine and a fresh start that they quickly discover rests on a weak foundation. When death-metal obsessed brother Spencer goes missing, what Galen finds alone on his BMX as he sulks and searches, for himself as much as his missing brother, is a landscape darker and more bleak than he expected. In Galen’s new city something primordial seethes beneath the surface of planned housing developments, evangelical churches, bored teenagers, shopping malls, retirees, and white-sand beaches. Something as dark as the secret Galen cannot share.
What immediately stands out in Beneath the Remains, is the vibrant imagery that paints mental depictions of the story that Hannum tells. From the smells of abandoned homes and cul-de-sacs to the different shades of black and gray that comprise the night skies and storm drains, the murky swamplands of Florida and its not-so-scenic recesses are brought to life amongst the pages of the novella. In one instance, Galen describes a sunset: “I could still see the elements of the air separate, occluded by faint clouds in the daily rendition of the sublime. There was a part where a transition from the menagerie of golds and pinks to the deeper hues of the eventide ended at the line flat earth.” Simply one example, but it marks the beautiful descriptors that are used throughout.
As vibrant as the imagery is, the story of Beneath the Remains plays out as a disparaging noir. Florida was not the paradise it was believed to be. Numerous homeless children and adults alike are described to live behind a Home Depot. Floridians in a local church grapple with the notion of death and cling to the idea of resurrection. Many times, the story switches between Galen’s memories of his time with Spencer and current occurrences with his friends Aaron and Zach, as well as other fleeting or recurring characters that appear. Both timelines become increasingly darker as Galen’s flashbacks of Spencer become angrier, tense, and on occasion, perverse, as they chronicle the brothers’ move to Florida. Meanwhile, his mother and stepfather outwardly struggle with Spencer’s absence and the police begin to step up their involvement in the missing person case.
In addition to a wildly vivid and well-detailed story, the continuous heavy metal theme throughout the novella was a nice touch for a metal fan like myself. Mentions of classic Cannibal Corpse lyrics and Obituary works do much to show the haven that Metal can offer to those in times of change or exclusion. With each flashback comes a mention of a different band t-shirt, tape, or poster. The novella itself shares a namesake with an early 90’s Sepultura album, which makes an appearance in the final third of the book.
Terence’s literary debut is riveting and enthralling. In just 76 pages, Hannum crafts a magnificently bleak and twisted story of inner conflict, dysfunction, and moral ambiguity that makes it impossible to put down. The paralleling stories of Galen and Spencer’s life together in Virginia and Florida adjacent to the story of Galen’s struggle following Spencer’s disappearance are handled remarkably well. He has set the bar quite high for his future writing endeavors after reading Beneath the Remains. This strong showing in conjunction with all of Terence’s musical success truly showcases how great of an artist he is. Beneath the Remains is now available through many outlets, including his aforementioned label, Anathemata Editions. Do yourself the pleasure and purchase a copy of it.