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Those Conspiracy Guys

“JET FUEL CAN’T MELT STEEL BEAMS!” may or may not be uttered during an episode of Those Conspiracy Guys, but it’ll be in an Irish accent, which makes everything better.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, Those Conspiracy Guys (hosted by Gordon Rochford and Paul Kelly of Ireland) is a conspiracy theory podcast. With topics ranging from 9\11 to Kurt Cobain to the Mothman, TCG covers all the tinfoil hatter’s favorites and a few that you may not have heard of. The latest release as of this review is a six and a half hour omnibus on Grimoires including H.P. Lovecraft and the Necronomicon.

The production value in the current season is comparable to many professional shows as far as audio quality goes, though this wasn’t the case early on. I’ve been listening to these folks go on about checking sources and allegedly alleging allegiance for a long time now, and I can happily say they have taken every step they could along the way to improve the show. From building a great website, to buying new microphones, to taking advice on how to improve the audio, TCG has spent every dime from their Patreon, and it seems every waking hour, either recording the show or improving the entire experience they provide.

If you know anything about conspiracy theories, you’ll probably be wondering why you should give TCG a chance. Fair enough, considering all the material out there already. What you get here is concise points with logic and laughs in between. It remains one of my greatest sources of both thought provoking theories and dick jokes in podcast form. If you have a sense of humor and intrigue, a love of mystery and masturbation goofs, this is for you.

The episode release schedule had been hit or miss during the first season, as many shows are, but after a few months off between season one and two TCG has been a reliable twice-a-month show. Season three, with its improved audio quality and longer episode lengths, seems to be the comfortable point for the show and I hope future seasons feel the same.

Some people may not like three to six hours of conspiracy talk at a time, and that’s fine. That’s what the pause button is for. For the rest of us, this long-form style of conversational inquisition is exactly what the internet has needed. Delving through all the meandering Youtube videos, blog posts, exposés, and docutainment so we don’t have to, TCG feels like the guys you meet at the pub and bullshit with for hours on end, yet never feel like you’ve wasted a minute.

The fifth element in TCG has got to be sincerity. The fact that Gordon and Paul, and any guests they have on, are honestly and truthfully discussing the topics without fear of reprisal or judgement leads to some great conversation. Sophomoric humor and outlandish theories aside, these guys are just great to listen to because they give true and honest thought to what they are saying, which is only made better by the fact that it’s sophomoric humor and outlandish theories. Whether you agree or disagree, you have to commend them on their sincere passion. Remember to check your sources, and get off the fence.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 8
Content\Originality:           8
Consistency:                     9
Likeability:                         7
5’th Element: Sincerity:         8

Final Score:                       8

You can find Those Conspiracy Guys on iTunes and their Website among other places.
If you love the show, consider supporting them via Patreon.

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The Black Tapes Podcast

Let me tell you about a podcast that changed the medium forever. What could be arguably held as the most immediately successful podcast since episodic audio via the internet became a thing. That show was called Serial.

With its fresh format mimicking TV magazine shows and indie documentaries, its subject matter, a true story of an accused and convicted murderer and the possibility of his actual innocence, Serial took the podcast world by storm.

Now let me tell you about a show that blatantly steals that format, replaces the subject matter with a story about an investigative journalist focusing on the paranormal, and captures the listening public’s attention in a way that hadn’t happened since Serial itself. That show is The Black Tapes Podcast.

True to it’s spiritual predecessor, The Black Tapes is a very highly produced and well written show. Season one is over now, and the entire run is available everywhere. When it was being published I never saw an episode go out late. The voice talent is very natural sounding for the most part. There was one moment where someone pronounced Nirvana “Nir-VAN-uh” when referencing the band, which took me out of the story for just a minute. That was early on, easily forgivable, and in my assumption due to the voice actor most likely being Canadian. Aside from that one admittedly minor and amusing hiccup I couldn’t find fault as the show went on. The acting sounds professional, and the talent truly commit to their characters making them eerily believable.

The horror factor for The Black Tapes comes in a very X-Files-ish way. With the main story arc playing through every episode there is a through-line that is easily followed, but there are also “Monster of the Week” episodes that restart the narrative from a different viewpoint. I won’t give away the end of season one except to say that the obvious conclusion of the various stories being connected is pursued and season two is all but announced. If there is no season two, this entire project falls flat no matter how good its setup was. That being said, the setup is exquisite and you should listen to it and hope for a future payoff.

I wish I could give this show a perfect 10. The fact that it does lean so heavily on the format of Serial takes away a fraction of a point, as obviously smart an idea as it was. The show does have its scary moments, but it’s less of a Horror factor and more of an underlying creepiness at work here. There isn’t “something for everyone”, but if you’re the one out of ten that isn’t at least marginally entertained by this show, go back to your 5 A.M. Farm report. These are the reasons I couldn’t give it a perfect 10, but I wanted to.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 10
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         9
5’th Element: Horror:         9

Final Score:                       9.4

Head to The Black Tapes Podcast Website for episodes and interaction

LORE

Time for the second review of podcasts to chill and entertain during Horror Month. This time I present Lore, “a bi-weekly podcast about true life scary stories.” Do you like Stuff You Should Know, but wish it was short and creepy? You’re in luck.

At first glance, with its short length (18-30 min) and simple titles, you may think that there couldn’t be anything worthwhile here. You’d be dead wrong. Lore is one of the best podcasts to come out this year, and that’s saying something. I’ve been recommending it since I found it a couple of months ago and I’ll continue to as long as it remains true to its tagline, “Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction.”.

The creator and sole voice of Lore is Author Aaron Mahnke. He has three novels for sale on the Lore website and I plan on buying one based solely on his work in this show. If his fiction is anywhere near the quality of this historical horror podcast It will be 16 dollars US well spent for an autographed paperback, and I’m a cheapskate.

The audio quality is beyond reproach, being professionally recorded and produced. There’s not much more I can say about that, it’s top of the heap status.

As for the content, it isn’t the most original subject matter within the horror genre, with subjects ranging from Vampires to the Jersey Devil. However, as the episodes move on the topics start to vary in a much more wide sweeping arc, focusing on more obscure legends that many may not have heard of, while still touching back to the more mainstream now and again. The simple fact that a werewolf episode could hold my attention for eighteen minutes is testament to the quality and original format of this gem.

Being a bi-weekly podcast that is at 16 episodes as of the time of this review I haven’t yet seen a single late release. I also have not seen any signs of cracks showing in the production, editing, or any other facet of the show. This beast is about as regular as it gets.

The overall likeability of Lore, for me, comes from its simple single story narrative. The one negative thing I could say about the show is that I wish it was twice, even three times the episode length. That being said, I know what it’s like producing a bi-weekly hour plus long show and it’s near impossible by yourself unless it’s your full time job.

The horror comes in the production here. The stories, of course, are ghoulish and ghastly, but for fans of the paranormal as a matter of real life fact or anthropological curiosity, they serve more as horizon broadening than heart skipping. The simplicity of the show, paired with Aaron’s expert choice in soundscapes and minor audio accents keeps a clean feel to it, which pulls you even deeper into the stories than you probably should allow. That is what brings the BOO. The fact that you can be caught off guard with your earbuds in at work because you’re not really at work, you’re in the story.

I could go on for a lot longer, but I’ll let the scores give the final say. Be sure to give this one a listen.

Ratings
Audio Quality\Production: 10
Content\Originality:           9
Consistency:                     10
Likeability:                         8
5’th Element: Horror:         8

Final Score:                       9

All of the Lore social media links, including donation pages, are Here in one easy place.

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