Sunday, 18 October 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Nusquam

Dark Ambient Review: Nusquam

Review by Casey Douglass


Nusquam

One of my favourite films is Alien. I like it for a number of reasons, but one element that I really enjoy is the duplicity of Ash the synthetic. As if it’s not enough to have to worry about the strange acid-bleeding alien, the crew of the Nostromo also have to contend with a malicious product of human ingenuity too. Nusquam is a dark ambient album from Aegri Somnia, and it delves into the feelings and notions of transhumanism and the interfaces between our technological and biological selves. When I listened to it, it brought about the same kinds of mixed feelings that Ash did in me, especially about how amazing technological advances might lead to evil. Although Ash is a robot that mimics being a human, I’d imagine the ability to create such a robot would be part of the wider tale of transhumanism in general. That’s my thinking at least.

Nusquam creates this same feeling of unease by mixing sounds that you might not think of mixing. Many of the tracks feature rain or dripping water, but also the sounds of machinery that seems to have a life support function: beeping heartbeats and sighing breathing apparatus. I guess it’s the difference between imagining a patient in a state of the art, clean hospital, and one in an underground tunnel with flickering lights above and water pouring down the walls. I must admit it brought out a kind of Frankenstein’s monster notion in my mind, some kind of clandestine, immoral experiment being conducted at the fringe of society and dooming us all.

The opening track Throne encapsulates this feeling nicely. Crackling and signal-sweeps meet dripping water and scraping. A drone fills the soundscape with ominous threat and a sound like a warped dot-matrix printer rises and falls. A little later some beeps can be heard that sound like a heart rate monitor, with snaps and hisses that might just be electricity dancing through newly awakened muscles and synapses. Other tracks create this feeling too, in their own way. I particularly enjoyed the ones that seemed to contain a breathing analogue, maybe rasping hisses or prolonged exhalations that seem to permeate the soundscape.

One of my favourite tracks is Antithesis. It opens in a bassy space, with rustling wind and a kind of “opening out” feeling. A faint heartbeat-like rhythm emerges, and what sounds like deep, tech-assisted breathing, but prolonged and hissing. Later comes a gentle, tickling puttering sound, a little like cockroaches scurrying around. Near the end of the track, a crackling egg-shell type sound can be heard, with a few sounds that just might be swallowing. The images created in my mind by this track were of a new form of technologically enhanced human, wandering the night-time streets of a large metropolis, finding, and dragging off, a sleeping hobo, to delve metal fingers into the unfortunate’s brain.

Many of the tracks caused this kind of imagery to float through my mind, dark and brooding, with the augmented brushing up against the “normal”. A track that stood out as being a little different was Archetype of Fraud. This track felt a little trippy, like someone being caught in a digital house of mirrors, the data and impressions falling past their eyes, feeding into each other in a destructive feedback loop. The sounds seem warped, and have a power-building dynamo aesthetic. Maybe the newly augmented human is stuck in a software error, or maybe its creator is trying to shut it down before it kills again. Who knows? It’s fun to think about though.

Nusquam feels metallic, wet and ominous, and paints an emotive atmosphere that could well be the soundtrack to humans being the creators of their own obsolescence. This is another impression that I really enjoy, and it also gels with my opening thoughts about Alien and the greedy corporation-led technological future it plays out in. It’s a dark ambient album full of clanking metal, data-transmission squeals and biological functioning, and it’s a fantastic, brooding listening experience.

Visit the Nusquam page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out Throne below:



I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: Nusquam

Album Artist: Aegri Somnia

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 22 Sept 2020

Friday, 16 October 2020

Dark Fiction: Parched

Dark Fiction: Parched

By Casey Douglass


Parched

The day they drained the big reservoir behind my house, I was standing on my patio, enjoying the warm summer breeze. I saw the workers moving around like ants in the distance, the clanks and bangings of their yellow machinery sounding like a distant war stepping into motion.

The reservoir is an oval shape, about three miles across the longest part. It was a novel sight, when the water level began to drop. I thought it would be slow and hard to notice at first, but it only took around thirty minutes. From beauty spot to silty mud fest in less time than it takes to cook a nice roast. Then the police swarmed in.

I watched these for awhile too, bulky figures in waterproofs wading out into the centre of the newly revealed depths. There were a cluster of massive boulders in what you could call the middle. I guess they served some kind of wildlife purpose, or maybe they protected important machinery. I never did find out. It was when the squelching figures reached these boulders that the activity really kicked up a notch. Shovels and buckets were rushed out, and a strange vehicle chugged its way out to them with a big container on the back.

By evening they’d found all of the bodies. Three women and one man, assaulted, battered and apparently weighted down with blocks. They dubbed them “The Bikini Murders” because they all had their hands and feet tied with shredded bikinis. They never did catch who did it, and I have no idea how whoever killed those people managed it. The reservoir has houses around ninety percent of its circumference. It’s also a busy water-sport location. Even during the night there are often many lights skudding around on its waves.

It’s now three years on, and the reservoir still hasn't been refilled. I don't know why, the bones and everything else were bagged up long ago. The air is arid and dry, and even in the most pleasant of summers, the landscape feels like it’s leeching the moisture from any living thing silly enough to be near it.

You get the odd tourist, someone who has come to have a look at the parched ground of the reservoir, to traipse around and kick up the dust. Dry, cracked, pale earth peeling back in the glare of the sun. How interesting. They never stay long, unless they happen to be a metal detectorist or similar, doing something that takes a lot of time. We get a fair few out here. I’m not sure what they expect to find. I recently discovered that the whole base of the reservoir is artificial for around ten metres, and then it is metres of concrete below that. Maybe they hope people threw some coins in and made a wish? Or they fancy they will find some grizzly evidence missed in the murder investigation. All I know is that they are out there a lot, and I can’t stand to be, because of the thirst.

I always feel so fucking thirsty! Always! It doesn't matter how much I drink, or what I eat, my throat feels like sandpaper, and my body feels like it’s withering away. I’ve tried to sell my house, to move to somewhere, anywhere else, but The Bikini Murders are still too closely in recent memory. I'm stuck here, doomed to die and shrivel in the baking sun. Even the birds have left, which is an eerie thing to notice. You can’t unnotice how quiet it is. Thirst makes your brain strange, makes it get locked into ruminations and dark thoughts. It wasn’t long after I noticed that the birds had fled that I wondered if this was even the landscape I was used to, if I’d not been popped into some new, warped reality. I didn’t seriously think so, but the thought kept spinning.

One thing I discovered a few days ago though, one grizzly thing, is that there is something that helps the thirst. I discovered it by accident when I was eating. For some reason I chewed my food in a silly way and bit my tongue. It bled quite forcefully, filling my mouth with blood. I coughed and spluttered as I rushed to the sink to spit it out, but on impulse, I swallowed it before I got there. It wasn’t until later that evening, with a throbbing tongue and a buzzing head, that I realised it was the first time in years that I didn’t feel thirsty.

I don't know what this means, and I don't like the avenues my mind is going down. I find myself wondering if any blood will do? Will animal blood help? Is another human’s blood better? Will I ever get desperate enough to kill someone, just because I'm thirsty? Is that why the killer who committed The Bikini Murders killed? Maybe this dryness doesn't relate to the reservoir, maybe it seeps out of the environment in some other way. I just don’t know.

I’m sipping a little cow blood from a shot-glass as I write this. I have a friend who works in the meat industry and who was able to get me some. I didn’t lie about why I wanted it, I thought the truth would sound less fantastical than any lie I could come up with. It also reassures me that someone else knows how I’m feeling. Someone who I can trust and who might see any signs of my urge advancing down those other fearful avenues before even I do.

Maybe I’ve read too many vampire stories. Time will tell. The cow blood doesn't taste unpleasant, but knowing what it is keeps making my gorge rise. If it will work in the same way as my own blood, I just don’t know. I hope it does. I’ve got to try.

THE END

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Book Review: Predator: If It Bleeds

Book Review: Predator: If It Bleeds

Review Written by Casey Douglass


Predator: If It Bleeds

I found myself in the mood for some Yautja-fueled, violent entertainment a few weeks ago, so when Titan Books’ Predator: If It Bleeds was suggested in my Amazon recommendations, it didn’t take much for me to buy it. It’s a collection of sixteen stories from some of the authors you’ll already likely be familiar with if you’ve read any of the various Alien/Predator comics and novels over the years, authors such as Tim Lebbon, John Shirley, Kevin J. Anderson, S.D Perry and Steve Perry.

Many of the tales in Predator: If It Bleeds drop the Yautja into a novel period of human history, pitting the humans of that time against the alien hunter. Other stories are set in the harsh, sci-fi future that I personally prefer, but that’s not to say that the historical ones weren’t fun. The best of these, in my opinion, came from Larry Correia and is called Three Sparks. It is set in Samurai era Japan, and it answers the question: How would a samurai fare against a Yautja warrior? I think what makes this one particularly enjoyable is the craftiness of the main character, the stubborn prejudices of the people in charge, and the way that the skirmishes with the Yautja play-out.

Another tale that stands out for me is Drug War by Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Holly Roberds. It reacquaints us with two of the characters from Predator 2: Mike Harrigan and Garber (Adam Baldwin’s left-hand-man to Gary Busey’s Peter Keys). It takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some years after the events of the second film. I felt it was really nice to see Harrigan and Garber cross paths again, especially in such a different setting when compared to L.A. As you might expect, another guest pops-up in their reunion, causing them both to have to face the monster of their past once again.

Of the tales set in the future, I think Jonathan Maberry’s Gameworld is my favourite. Set among “the rocks”, the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, Gameworld is a place where all kinds sketchy things can take place. In the words of the story: “If you wanted to bet on it, have sex with it, eat it, or kill it, Chiba could set it up.” (Chiba being the mastermind trillionaire who created it). The main thing Chiba has a penchant for, is fights between all manner of creatures, human, animal, and transgenic mixtures of the two. A tiger with snake jaws and puffer fish toxin being just one example. I’m sure you can guess who, or what, the hapless protagonist (not Chiba) of this tale ends up having to face. This story was such good fun.

Another future-based tale that I found a lot of enjoyment in was Kevin J. Anderson’s Indigenous Species. Set on a colony planet racked with hardship, that happens to be called Hardscrabble, the story sees the settlers struggling against the local environment and the local giant, vicious beasts called gruzzlys. These creatures are a menace to the colonists and their livestock, and, wouldn’t you know it, a certain mask-wearing, cloaking race of aliens think that the creatures make for excellent trophies. This doesn’t necessarily solve the colonists’ problem, but gives them one more thing to worry about. I loved the other-worldly setting of this story, and the double dose of being alone on a strange planet on the one hand, and alone, against various threats on top of this. A double heap of trouble, you might say.

Even though I’ve only mentioned four stories in any depth, the others were all well worth a read. The only ones that I didn’t really click with were those in settings that didn’t really interest me, but even these often managed to have something to keep me reading. I also enjoyed the stories that made good use of switching between the human and Yautja points of view, such as Steve Perry’s Rematch and S.D Perry’s Skeld’s Keep. This gives the reader an excellent insight into what’s going on in the Yautja’s alien brain, when plans go wrong, or they find themselves facing a heavy defeat.

If you fancy reading some short Predator-based tales, stories that flit through history and set some of the human world’s various warriors against the stealthy hunters, Predator: If it Bleeds is a collection of stories that you should definitely take a look at.


Book Title: Predator: If It Bleeds

Book Author: Anthology

Publisher: Titan Books

Released: 17 Oct 2017

ISBN: 9781785655401

Current Price: £7.39 (paperback) / £3.99 (Kindle) (As of Amazon.co.uk on 12th Oct 2020)


Saturday, 10 October 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Spirits of Rhea

Dark Ambient Review: Spirits of Rhea

Review by Casey Douglass


Spirits of Rhea

Saturn is a sexy planet, there’s just no getting away from it. Spirits of Rhea is a dark ambient album from Phelios, and its theme is pretty much all things Saturn, from its rings to its moons, and the planet itself. In a loving nod to reality, the album even incorporates radio emissions from the NASA CASSINI mission that visited Saturn. This lends it that extra enjoyment factor, in my opinion, just like how a Hollywood film that featured a real alien might.

As a whole, the tracks on Spirits of Rhea make great use of smoothly flowing and ebbing tones. Many of them open with a slow swelling of drone which fades again to a quieter space, and then re-emerges again. They also play with the expectations this creates in the listener, giving some gradual overlapping and occasional discordant tones that reorient the listener’s attention. A good number of the tracks feature the blipping, sweeping tones of signals too, which adds extra flavour to the often quite isolating soundscapes.

The feeling of isolation and awe is wonderfully created by pretty much every track on Spirits of Rhea. If ever there was an album to contemplate the immenseness of space and how it might feel to be adrift around a different star or planet, this is it. It is also an album that plays well with a feeling of discovery. A prime example is the track Saturn Emissions. The tones and drones of this track gave me the impression of what it might be like to be scanning for a signal, minutes passing of getting nothing but background noise. Then, a ‘squelchy’ signal starts to sound, and the other tones that emerge, a chime-like impact and a resonance that tickles the air, create a feeling of wonder and hollow dread at the same time.

Another track that creates both a sense of wonder and the otherworldly is The Deep Sea. It opens with the lapping of sea waves, but ones that sound somehow vaporous as the track continues. There are high tones that almost sound a little like wolf howls and later, a shimmery quality to the track makes it feel a little unsettling. I guess it’s the aural equivalent to waking up at the beach and then slowly realising that the sea is the wrong colour, and that the sky looks strange!

Other tracks seem to incorporate a sense of whimsy and the otherworldly in a different style, most notably Through the Gates of the Silver Key and Signal. The former, and to some degree, that latter, has a kind of distant signal fuzz and shimmer, that create the feeling of a ‘whistley’ mirage. I know we are talking about a space-themed album here, but they are the kind of tones that had me thinking of Pan’s Labyrinth as much as 2001: A Space Odyssey. I really enjoyed this after the more cold, bleaker feeling, of some of the other tracks.

Spirits of Rhea is a truly stunning album. It taps into those big feelings of vast distances and cold realities, while mixing in a hint of the unknown and the otherworldly. It manages to do this smoothly and calmly, by recognising the power of the subtle to captivate and insinuate, and feels all the more powerful for it. If you like dark ambient / space ambient that makes you feel isolated and exposed, yet does it in a non-threatening manner, Spirits of Rhea is well worth checking out.

Visit the Spirits of Rhea page on Bandcamp for more information. You can check out a snippet of Spirits of Rhea below:


I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: Spirits of Rhea

Album Artist: Phelios

Released: 07 August, 2020

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Book Review: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Book Review: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Review Written by Casey Douglass


Halloween Horror: Volume 2

It’s that time of the year again, that time when Halloween decorations and sweets are the only thing stopping the stores going all out “Christmas manic.” I actually would prefer it if Halloween was a far bigger deal, and Christmas went and “did one”, but that’s just me. If you are a fan of spooks, pumpkins and people meeting messy ends, this book review might just hint at something nice to put into your treat bag. Just don’t let the chocolates melt onto it. DBND Publishing’s Halloween Horror: Volume 2 is an anthology of 22 tales that feature many of the elements that Halloween is known for: chocolates and sweets, tricks, and strange creatures visiting our plane of existence.

Some tales feature sinister games that end up containing a hint of truth. Others feature strange trick or treaters that aren’t quite like the others that knock on your door. Yet others feature strange time loops, ghosts, and cookies with a sinister secret. Each story is told very well and all of them set the scene in such a way that it’s clear how much the authors love Halloween. If you think the reader must surely end up with pumpkin fatigue or “trick or treat-itus”, it’s not something that I noticed myself. Even stories that may share a few elements use them to their own ends. This was great to see.

As I do with most of my reviews, I’ll highlight three or four stories that I particularly enjoyed. The first is Last Treat of the Night by Cullen Monk. Two young children return from a night of trick or treating. Their parents are preoccupied with getting them to bed before “the final one arrives”. It is then discovered that they aren’t ready for this mysterious guest, and a sequence of events results in the children being home alone, just at the moment that this ominous visitor pounds upon the door. I enjoyed this tale as it leaves a fair bit to the imagination, and it did a great job of giving me the creeps.

Trick’r Treats Himself by Daniel Hale is the next story that I loved. It features Jack reforming in his grave, returning from the Hallowed Realm to see how things are going on Halloween night. He is concerned that the “air should be frigid with goblins about their wicked work.” Things are strangely silent. His investigations lead him to find that a darker threat has settled over the nearby homes, and he decides to get to the bottom of things. This tale was enjoyable for being from the point of view of a Halloween creature, and also for the way it melded Halloween with more mundane, everyday evil. I also liked the descriptions of the goblins and what they got up to.

The Other Kids by Patrick Moody starts is as a traditional trick or treating tale but one with a nasty outcome. It opens with news clippings and statements, but when the story proper begins, it starts with some young kids, The Hilltop Crew, planning their trick or treating route for maximum efficiency. They are also preoccupied with beating “the other kids”, their mortal enemies, the kids who don't even live in the area but get brought in by cars and buses to take advantage of the sugary bounty nearby. The trouble is, this year, there are some very strange other kids around, and these aren't just a threat to the chocolate food chain, but to the lives of the people on Hilltop too. My main enjoyment from this tale came from the unsettling qualities of the “other, other kids”, and also the psychological effects that this event clearly has one of the characters.

The last story I want to mention specifically, is Final Halloween by Scott McGregor. It’s about Simon, a boy who loves Halloween, but is possibly getting a little too old to go trick or treating. He decides to visit somewhere called Orchid Woods View, a richer neighbourhood that his father always skipped when they went out in previous years. This year, Simon decides to visit, and he gets stuck in a confusing series of exchanges with the residents, the real truth of what is happening only being revealed fully at the end of the tale. I enjoyed this story for that very reason, it was a bit mind-bending but also did a great job of conveying Simon’s confusion and anger at what he thought was going on.

Halloween Horror: Volume 2 is a very enjoyable jaunt through the mental landscapes of Halloween. There are jack-o'-lanterns, costumes and candy. There is also the undead, blood and nasty tricks. It didn’t awaken in me a desire to go trick or treating, I’m not sure anything could do that. What it did do though, is leave me looking forward to Halloween this year. It has also tickled my appetite for more ghoulish Halloween horror, which I think is a fine outcome.

You can buy Halloween Horror: Volume 2 on Amazon. You can also visit DBND Publishing to see their other books. I previously reviewed Ghost Stories for Starless Nights and really enjoyed that one too.


I was given a review copy of this book.


Book Title: Halloween Horror: Volume 2

Book Author: Anthology

Publisher: DBND Publishing

Released: 04 Oct 2020

ISBN: 979-8687076371

Current Price: $13.99 (paperback) / $5.00 (Kindle) (As of Amazon.com on 7th Oct 2020)

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Shadows of Forgotten Legends

Dark Ambient Review: Shadows of Forgotten Legends

Review by Casey Douglass



Shadows of Forgotten Legends

At the beginning of 2020, Shadows of Forgotten Legends released, a dark ambient album that takes the colossal Kraken as its muse, weaving a collection of watery soundscapes around the creature’s mythology. The album is the work of three dark ambient artists: Alphaxone, ProtoU and Onasander, and belatedly, this is my review.

As you might imagine of an album based around a sea creature, there is a very nautical flavour to most of the tracks it contains. When you aren’t treated to the sounds of lapping waves, you might hear the clanking of bells, or snippets of voices distorted by radio interference. There are also many tones that seem to embody certain briny atmospheres, some might take on the mantle of a radar ping, others the hissing of a steam-powered boiler.

The first two tracks, Beneath the Dark Night and Below the Thunders of the Deep, are probably my favourites. This is mainly due to the strong imagery they created in my mind. The first opens with the sound of the sea lapping against something. To me, this suggested some kind of metal submersible, floating on the surface, all potholes and rivets. The low drone and electronic radar-like plinking tone made it feel like night had fallen. As the track progresses, a feeling of submergence takes place, the lights of the thing shinning down into the shifting darkness of the abyss below.

The second track seemed to carry on where the first ended, but with a short time shift to where things had gone horribly wrong. A deep warbly drone, complete with crackles and a sigh of air create an atmosphere of isolation. The atmosphere feels like being trapped and at a high pressure. A high, metallic tone made me feel like strange, ghostly things might be afoot. For me, this track created a metal room, bathed in the red of emergency lighting. It made me think that the submersible hinted at above, was stranded at the bottom of a deep trench, all the other rooms and compartments flooding except this one. Tense, but very nice too, in a dark way.

The other track that really stood out to me was Scourge of the Seas. This track opens with the aforementioned clanking of bells, making me think of a buoy being jostled on the undulating sea. A buffeting wind and a deep bassy impact soon appear, with plucked notes and an uneasy tension in the air. A metallic clinking impact sounds as the soundscape gives the impression of things stilling. I felt the sea was calming rather than getting choppier. It crossed my mind that maybe, just as birds might fall silent when a certain predator is about, maybe the sea waves vanish to avoid a Kraken? This track, for me, was of a Kraken passing by, not really being seen or felt, but just setting nature into a state of breathless fear.

Shadows of Forgotten Legends gives the listener a relaxing trip into the dark realms of the sea. The hints of the Kraken are subtle and by insinuation, which creates a peaceful, yet tension-filled listening experience. The field-recorded sounds and crackling, sometimes echoing spaces, are a great place to escape to when you need a break from the idiocy in the world today.

If you are interested in some more sea-themed dark ambient, you might like to check out my reviews of Cthulhu, Hydromancy and Abysmal.

Visit the Shadows of Forgotten Legends page on Bandcamp for more information. Check out Beneath the Dark Night below:


I was given a review copy of this album.


Album Title: Shadows of Forgotten Legends

Album Artists: Alphaxone, ProtoU, Onasander

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 28 January, 2020

Friday, 2 October 2020

Book Review: Feeling Great

Book Review: Feeling Great

Review Written by Casey Douglass


Feeling Great

I was first exposed to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) when I was getting treatment for a horrific bout of OCD in my teens. During a recent period of depression, I heard about Dr David Burns’ original book: Feeling Good. It was old enough that I worried it might be quite dated, but I bought the workbook based upon it after seeing it recommended in some relatively recent Youtube videos. It was mostly the CBT I’d read and practised, but Dr Burns’ variety of CBT does have a few elements that seem to set it apart from the others. Feeling Great is Dr Burns’ newest book, an update to Feeling Good that injects all he has learned in the many years since his first book was released. I purchased it at release, and here are my thoughts about it.

Feeling Great doesn’t take long to get into the meat of what Dr Burns teaches. It boils down to three things that underpin cognitive therapy: 1. Your thoughts drive how you feel. 2. Your upsetting negative thoughts are nearly always distorted. 3. If you change the way you think, you change the way you feel. Dr Burns then provides his TEAM-CBT framework to help you achieve this change.

A key element in TEAM-CBT is the patient filling out a Daily Mood Journal. This is a form where they record certain details of their feelings and emotions, their thoughts about a particular event, how much they believe them, and a little later, this where they analyse the cognitive distortions present in each thought. Cognitive distortions are ways that we twist our thinking; they make our thoughts appear to be something they really aren't. An example is Magnification, where we blow up the importance or seriousness of something that really doesn’t warrant it. Another is All or Nothing thinking, such as “If I’m not a winner, I’m a loser!”. There is no room for grey areas with that kind of outlook. There are ten common cognitive distortions, and some thoughts may have traces of all of them!

I’ve come across the concept of cognitive distortions before, in countless CBT and OCD related books. I find it very helpful to think about these distortions, and the more of them that I find in a certain thought, the easier it is to feel more certain that it’s a twisted thought. One thing that I don’t remember encountering before though, is positive re-framing. A very important element of Dr Burns’ treatment method is that he asks the patient: “What does having this thought or feeling show that’s really awesome about you?” As an example, most people want to get rid of their anxiety. It feels awful. If you stop and think about it though, feeling anxious about something, maybe an upcoming exam, actually says something about you. For a start, it shows that you care about doing well. This anxiety may have motivated you in the past to achieve things, and it also shows that you have high standards. It’s strange, but sitting and finding the good qualities in something that feels wholly negative, you find yourself in the position of not wanting to get rid of the anxiety in total, but maybe just reducing it so that you don't miss out on the good stuff it provides. In one of Dr Burn’s podcasts, he says something along the lines of “The therapist actually ends up saying to the patient: “If you get all these good things from your anxiety, why would you want to give it up?”. Paradoxically, this seems to lower any resistance to change, and makes the methods Dr Burns teaches even more effective.

Dr Burns gives the reader 50 tools to help them crush their negative thoughts, some of which work better on thoughts with certain distortions than others. The charm of having so many techniques is that it doesn't take long to work your way through some likely ones until you find the one that seems to do the trick. What’s more, Dr Burns often mentions on his podcast something he calls “fractal psychotherapy”. He believes that dealing with one specific moment, and the thoughts related to it, helps us to deal with the repeating cognitive patterns and issues that underlie most of our problems. This often means that “putting the lie” to one negative thought on your Daily Mood Journal often means you can swiftly work your way down the others, once you’ve found that one of the methods begins to shift your thinking. I’ve experienced this myself on countless occasions. Sure, you get some thoughts that might need extra work or multiple sessions, but for the most part, when one domino falls, the others fall quite easily.

I already feel that this review is getting a little too long, so I will briefly touch on other topics Dr Burns writes about in Feeling Great. He describes the 5 Secrets of Effective Communication, and how they can help relationship issues. He spends one section of the book talking about the philosophical idea of the self, if we really have one and the role it plays in feeling worthy or unworthy. He describes relapse prevention techniques for when you trip and stumble, as will inevitably happen with life's ups and downs. Dr Burns often says that “We are entitled to an average of five happy days a week and two lousy days.” I quite like this as it flies against the usual bullshit often seen in the media, that if you aren't happy all of the time, there's something wrong with you. The book also ends with a chapter written by Dr Mark Noble, who looks at the neuroscience behind why TEAM-CBT seems to be so effective.

Feeling Great is a lovely update to Dr Burns’ earlier body of work. It puts all of the newer advice that he so often shares in his podcast, and the things he has learned over the years, into a handy reference book that is written with humour and plenty of examples of real people’s struggles. A few of the tables/charts didn’t display very well on the Kindle edition that I bought, but that’s such a common issue across countless Kindle books I own, I don’t really mind. Using Dr Burns’ techniques helped me to get out of a severe depression a few months before this book released, and while most of the stuff in Feeling Great was already known to me, by way of his Feeling Good Workbook and his podcast, I am still very pleased with having it expanded upon and freshened up in this new book.

Visit Dr Burns at his website for more information and to find your way to his podcast.


Book Title: FeelingGreat - The Revolutionary New Treatment for Depression and Anxiety

Book Author: Dr David Burns MD

Publisher: PESI Publishing & Media

Released: 15 Sept 2020

ISBN: 9781683732884

Current Price: £17.79 (hardcover) / £10.34 (Kindle) (As of Amazon UK on 1st Oct 2020)