Kat Bjelland, frontwoman for post-punk, pre-grrrl band Babes in Toyland, will transform
herself into a comic-book heroine next week with the release of the multi-artist CD
Songs of the Witchblade, the first-ever soundtrack to set a popular comic-book
fable to music.
Joined by a cast featuring heavy-metal rockers Megadeth and industrial-rockers Chris
Vrenna and Steve Dudas of Nine Inch Nails, Bjelland sings the part of "Witchblade"
heroine Sara Pezzini, the bad-ass, big-boobed New York detective who -- as the story
goes -- involuntarily embodies an ancient, alien Witchblade weapon that sends her on
sensual and dangerous missions.
"She's a tough girl that kicks butt and gets to wear cool clothes," Bjelland said of the
comic-book heroine, a role she's embraced while Babes in Toyland take a rest.
Bjelland debuts as her cartoon alter ego Sept. 8, when DreamWorks Records will
release the musical tale, narrated by Eric Bogosian, the actor and playwright known for
his film "Talk Radio."
According to the soundtrack's producers, Songs of the Witchblade offers 13
riveting musical cuts that shadow the storyline of the popular "Witchblade" series over
several issues. Amid the diversity of its performers, the CD manages to capture the
fantastical feel of the comic-book genre -- both musically and lyrically -- as it explores the
Witchblade-possessed Sara's outrageous trials and tribulations.
Bjelland was the driving force and lead producer behind the new musical concept, a
project that began when DreamWorks A&R executive Tim Carr brought Bjelland a stack
of the "Witchblade" comic books for her birthday in December 1996. "At first, I was like,
'Why are you giving me this Heavy Metal sh--?' " Bjelland recalled. "But then, they were
on my nightstand, staring me in the face. So I started reading them, and I just got
As an added bonus, producing and performing on Songs of the Witchblade
fulfilled one of Bjelland's childhood dreams. "When I was little, I started telling my dad I
wanted to do movie soundtracks to horror films," Bjelland said last week from her
Minneapolis home. "I thought this would be pretty close. And I think it works on its own -- I
don't think you have to have the comic book to understand the story."
Also on the CD are Megadeth's revenge anthem "I'll Get Even," Screamin' Jay Hawkins'
"I Put a Spell on You" and, as the ultimate finale, a rendition of the Eagles' "Witchy
Woman," featuring members of the electro-hardcore band Boys Against Girls.
Bjelland's sweet-sounding, Minnesota-accented speaking voice doesn't even hint at its
shrill, piercing singing potential, which is alternately explored and restrained to the fullest
extent on Songs of the Witchblade. On "Bruxaria" (Portuguese for "witchcraft"),
she keeps to primarily to a purr, while "Mater Dolorosa" is propelled by the straight-up
punk sass she's shown us for years with Babes in Toyland. Elsewhere, as on the erratic
"Saraphrenia" (programmed by Nine Inch Nails' Vrenna) she alternates between both
Internet-active fans of the "Witchblade" comic book expressed both excitement and
skepticism over the soundtrack. "I think it's a great idea!" Chris Rattray, 25, wrote in an
e-mail. Rattray, who runs the "Disciples of the Blade" website out of Perth, Western
Australia, said he's been eagerly awaiting the soundtrack's release and feels that the
"tangible atmosphere" of the comic book will translate well musically. "I'm a sucker for
concept albums, like Pink Floyd's The Wall. It'll be really interesting to see how
the comic will be interpreted musically and whether a story will be able to be conveyed
Bjelland said she trusts the soundtrack will turn fans on to the comic book and vice versa.
Plans are currently in the works to make "Witchblade" into a television movie and a
live-action series, she said.
In addition to the aforementioned appearances by Megadeth and members of Nine Inch
Nails, Songs of the Witchblade features a slew of other underground rock names,
many of whom portray "Witchblade" characters on the soundtrack.
King Buzzo (born Buzz Osborne), of the seminal hardcore group the Melvins, plays The
Darkness, while Peter Steele, frontman for the gothadelic outfit Type O Negative, is "the
evil assassin." Featured backup musicians include Babes in Toyland drummer Lori
Barbero and original bassist Michelle Leon. The musical version of the comic also
features industrial godfather J.G. (Jim) Thirwell of Foetus; no-wave pioneer and former
Lounge Lizards co-founder Arto Lindsay; Hahn Rowe and Mimi Goese, former
bandmates in the mood-rock band Hugo Largo; solo singer/songwriter Kim Fox; and
Among the many standout tracks is "Blue Valiant," the chorus of which features vocals by
Bjelland's co-producer, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, formerly of the electronic noise-core group
"I had this song that I was writing about my husband's car," Bjelland said, adding that
most of the songs on the album have at least three subjects or meanings. "I couldn't get
the chorus, and Dave came up with it, and it worked so well. I usually wouldn't be open
to something like that -- him just coming into the song like that."