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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 10 Rock/Other Records Of 2012

Well since I listen to so many other types of music, I decided just to call this list "Rock or Other", didn't really know what else to call it. I didn't have any Hip-Hop records this year that were Top 10 worthy(although MellowHype came close), so I guess that name is actually appropriate. I haven't been listening to what people like to call Country these days in quite some time, so again, the list was safe. Had there been tons of Experimental or Hip-Hop or Country or Jazz or....well, you get the idea, I would have composed a third list. But with this list and the previous Metal list I feel quite happy. As I said previously, I know there will be titles that I completely spaced it on, and well, no skin off my dick. So here are the records that really got me off this year:

10. Scott Walker-Bish Bosch:
This record just made the list, as it only came out 3 weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, I have only listened to the entire record 3 times. I just didn't have time or energy for me, with it being so close to the end of the year. But I can also honestly tell you that I know that I will be listening to it a LOT more in the future. So I know I would have felt guilty had I not put it on the list. Scott's music makes me scared and uncomfortable. I think that is very important in music or art. I don't want everything that I listen to make me feel sunny or happy. Music is there to make one feel varied emotions, and fear is a valid emotion. Not enough music makes people scared, and not enough people like feeling or getting something entirely different out of music. Scott has been making records longer than most of us have been alive, he employs so many avant garde recording techniques that I can't begin to list them all. Equally hard would it be to try and list people that he has influenced, but for a shortlist, how is David Bowie, Nick Cave, and U2. If you haven't heard Scott before, I can't honestly recommend this record to you, because chances are you will hate it. But if you know what kind of stuff Scott brings to the table, and some new elements interest you, get Bish Bosch.

9.Beachwood Sparks-Tarnished Gold
This is another record that arrived very late in the year. I actually listened to this one a lot more than the Scott record though. The is the first BS record in 11 years, but it actually sounds like they were never away at all. That's a very strange thing, for a band to take that long of a sabbatical and not reinvent their sound in any way. The only difference in this record and prior records is this one sounds exactly like a long lost Byrds record, where the others sounded like a big mish/mash of the California/Laurel Canyon sound. BS sparks probably saw where TONS of bands like Fleet Foxes and many others were making bank off of a sound that they helped invent, and never got any accolades for. So kudos to the guys for dusting off their guitars and coming back with one hell of a record. This is one of those "Sunday afternoon" kind of records, as I like to call them, and I am sure you know what that entails. Every song sounds like a lost nugget of AM radio gold. So all you hip-kids who love Fleet Foxes and legions of similar bands, check out the band that was doing it when nobody cared about it.

8.Julie Doiron-So Many Days
Julie Doiron is a lifer! She has been in the scene so long, and much to my chagrin, nobody really knows who she is. Such a pity, because she is a top shelf songwriter whose discography is as large as it is varied. She started back in the late 80's as the bass player in Canadian Noise/Indie Rock band Eric's Trip(yes slick, that is a Sonic Youth song title).That band was signed to Sub-Pop and continued on through the late 90's. During that band Julie made solo records under the name Broken Girl, and had a side band with her boyfriend called Elevator to Hell. When they broke up she started making the solo records under her name, and it's impossible to count all of her releases because she does so many splits/cassettes/7'. But "So Many Days" is like her 10th full length release. Her songs are always poetic and usually beautiful, and usually a hybrid of Folk/Country, but it's not uncommon for her to insert Noise or Drone or just Rock & Roll into her sound. This record though, is just straight up Country/Folk, and every song sounds like it should be played on the radio. Too bad it came out in Winter, because it is such a Summery record. So throw it on when you gets the Winter blues and are pining for the sun and the Spring!

7.Guided By Voices-The Bears For Lunch
Nobody is happier about GBV's return than me. But they are a band that is and have always been, insanely prolific. This is their third record of 2012 alone, and by far the best. I was actually quite nervous when hearing the first two releases, because of course, they had a few genius songs. But they were not good, complete records by any means. I was thinking that perhaps that they had lost it? Robert Pollard's last few solo records were very patchy affairs too. But when I put on "The Bears For Lunch" I was completely blown away! They had indeed saved the best for last! By good, I mean "Alien Lanes" good, yes, and even "Bee Thousand" good! Doubt me? Check it out and see.

6.Father John Misty-Fear Fun
Joshua Tillman was the drummer for Fleet Foxes, so you would think with that band getting huge, he would sit back and enjoy the ride? Nope, first he started making sparingly beautiful and confessional solo records under the name J. Tillman. These records were always good, but they were anything but a "good time". They were the kind of records you listened to with a broken heart, or to get through an extremely rough Winter. He quit the Foxes for good, and put out this record that surprised the shit out of me, and I am sure a lot of others. I for sure didn't know he had this in him! The records is definitely not a "downer", in fact, it is a record that I put on and it instantly makes me happy!! I listened to it a lot this year, it's good like "Transistor Radio"-era M. Ward. The songs are stylistically all over the place, but never sound haphazard or thrown together. Josh knew what he was doing when he put this record together. For a man that drums are his primary instrument, he sure knows his way around many more. He deserves all the success he gets.

5.Advance Base-A Shut In's Prayer
Advance Base is the new vehicle for Owen who was previously known as Casiotone For The Painfully Alone. I was a fan of his previous work, but like many home recorders, his work sometimes seemed a little thrown together. Also, he always seemed to have like 3/4 brilliant songs on a record, and sometimes a lot of filler. With his new name comes a new vigor, because every song of this record is fucking classic. He always seems like his songs are written for an imaginary John Hughes film, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Owen has a really deep voice, not unlike Stephen Merrit from The Magnetic Fields, but way less dramatic. I listened to this record so mush this year, I left it on my Ipod for the whole year, and that is VERY hard for me to do. It is that good......you will listen to it over and over. Every song seems like a hit from some obscure 45 from years ago that you unearthed, and no one else has heard.

4.First Aid Kit-Lion's Roar
WOW......all I could say is WOW!! That was my reaction upon first hearing this record. These two Swedish sisters sing so lilting/beautiful together, they often bring me to tears. It's like the harmonies that they create together form these waves that creep inside you and make you feel warm/cozy and instantly make you happy. This record is the equivalent to that blanket/sweater/pillow that you have had forever that is so comfy that it makes you so instantly happy that you couldn't dare part with it. I've listened to this record so many times, I know every creak that the guitar necks make, and the plucks that the strings make. It is like the Civil Wars record from before, it deserves to be heard by many more people. Maybe Taylor Swift or someone else will hear First Aid Kit and take them out on the road, and they can become stars because NO ONE deserves it more than these two nightingales.

3.Ty Segall-Twins
I was late in the game on discovering Ty Segall. I'm not a hipster, so I don't always act like I have been a fan from the beginning if I haven't. Yes I was late to the Ty boat, but that is fine because now he has a plethora of releases for me to catch up on. To be fair, I did listen to one of his records a few years back, but at the time, it just didn't click. I have always known that time and conditions can ruin your enjoyment of a record. big time. So if I don't like something, and I know it is of quality, and something that is similar to what I would like, then I will always give it another chance. Boy am I glad I gave Ty Segall another chance! He is a Californian Garage Rocker, that makes songs that are just noisy enough, and just catchy enough to keep him on the fringe. The late Jay Reatard was a HUGE fan of Ty's, and I can hear a little of the late rockers style in "Twins". Ty is not just signed to one label, he is a free-agent that makes records for many labels. I am a huge fan of Drag City, so that was actually the reason that I picked up "Twins" and gave Ty that other chance. Have you given him one yet?
2.Swans-The Seer
HOLY FUCKING HELL! Nothing can prepare you for what "The Seer" has planned for you! It doesn't matter if you are a prior Swans fan, and you think you know what your getting. This record will blow your mind! It's a double disc masterpiece that have songs that sometimes stretch out to 26 minutes! Don't let that scare....no wait be afraid, be very afraid! Swans have mellowed with age, but their kind of mellow still blows away bands that are young and on fire. I can't say too much about the music, but you need to hear this.

1.Raymond Byron & The White Freighter-Little Death Shaker
Not just any record can be my Number 1, it has to mean many things to me. I have spent a long time with this record to be honest. Ray sent me a copy back in 2011, when it was first completed. You see Raymond Byron is the nom-de-plume of Raymond Raposa of Castanets, and back then the record was done, but I think Ray was in a "chrysalis" phase. After 10 years of doing Castanets, I think he was ready for a change. I would like to think that I am Castanets biggest fan. I've interviewed Ray, and the two of us have become friends, so it was beyond an honor to me, to receive the record so early. I would write him time to time and ask when the record was coming out, and there always seemed to be a delay. So I was blown away when I found out it was coming out, but it wasn't going to be a "Castanets" record! At first I was kind of hurt....I mean I fucking LOVED Castanets. But I realized it was just a name, and Ray is what was important, and somewhere inside, I knew it was too mature for a Castanets record. Little Death Shaker is a fucking barn burner!! There are no two ways around it. I am saddened to know that it isn't already a massive hit like it deserves to be! I really hoped that the name change, and the new band, would not only invigorate Ray, but drive the public to check out what might even be the record of the decade!! There are road songs, and Blues songs, beautiful heartbreaking Country songs, and even the trademark "Raposa noise freakouts" on this record. It flows so damned well, there is no doubt in my mind that God had a hand in sequencing it. This is one of those records that I want to make copies of and give to everyone that I know loves music, in hopes that someone will love it as much as I do. I reckon I might've listened to it 500 times already, and still not tired of it, to me that is a sign of a timeless record. Thank you Ray for bestowing that gift onto me, and making such a wonderful record that I know will be a part of my life for a long time to come!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top 10 Metal Records Of 2012

I do this list every year and it seems to get harder and harder to narrow it down to 10 releases. I listen to so much music, that it really is painful to pick only 10, and to be honest I don't have time to do 20 releases on both lists(I do a "rock" list as well. This year was no exception, there were so many fantastic releases, and I had to leave so many off that were good enough to be on the list(ie; Menace Ruine, Pig Destroyer, Anhedonist, Ghoulgotha, Revenge, and many more).But anyways, I am SURE that there is at least 2 records that I absolutely loved this year, that I just FORGOT to include. Like I said, when you listen to so much, it's hard to keep tabs. But here are the Ten that I remember, and I LOVED this year:

10.Liberteer-Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees:
This record was one that I listened to the whole year, and it stayed on my Ipod the whole time(one mean feat)! This record is sort of an anomaly to what I usually listen to, it's Grindcore, with military-styled cadences and horn sections. It sounds stranger than it is, and the effect is massive, and still very catchy(not in a "poppy" way, by any means). It is a side project of Matt from Cretin, and about a 1,000 other bands, check it out.


9.Circle Of Ouroborus-Abrahadabra:
Yes I know, that is also the name of the last Dimmu Borgir release. I really doubt that CoO knew this though. These 2 gentlemen live in their own universe, where all they do is make this other worldly music. I would almost hesitate to call them Metal, but I really don't know what else I would classify them as. They are extremely prolific, and no two records sound the same, which in my mind, is the main reason that the band is so relevant and mind blowing. If you haven't heard them, describing them is a very hard thing to do, but I like to call them "Ectoplasm Rock" because to me, if ghosts could make music, it would sound exactly like Circle Of Ouroborus!

8.Vassafor-Obsidian Codex
For some reason I was not that familiar with Vassafor before this release. It could be that most of their previous releases were either Demo or limited releases, or done on very small labels. Anyway, this new record is fan-fucking-tastic! It would be easy to dismiss them as part of this new dirty,super sludgy, evil Death Metal renaissance that has been going on the past few years, if it weren't for the fact that they were doing it before everyone else!! I would say that Vassafor has 3 main elements to their music: Death Metal/Doom Metal/ Black Metal....and you never know which style they are gonna pummel you with! Any true headbanger should do themselves a favor and go and pick up the Obsidian Codex now(or ask for it from Santa)!

7.Jute Gyte-Senescence
Jute Gyte is a very prolific Black Metal band from Missouri. It is made by one member, Adam Kalmbach, but don't dismiss this as your average USBM one man band project. This sounds absolutely NOTHING like Xasthur!! Adam also releases electronic music under the same name, so if you are not interested at all in that genre, you might wanna investigate before you get his music. His Black Metal is something that I cannot get enough of, it is so chaotic but has a way of sticking with you long after you've heard it. It's almost like the musical equivalent of being attack by a swarm of hornets and taking off running, then stepping on a broken soda bottle and having your foot cut to hell and back!! This shit is vicious! Adam has a Bandcamp page where you can buy his CD's(which are always housed in DVD cases) and the Black Metal ones are usually adorned with some amazing paintings. You can listen to them all, and he usually has a few that you can download totally free of charge!! Please stop by and support the guy. This is the kind of stuff that Southern Lord & Profound Lore need to be signing.

This oddly monikered band hail from San Fransisco, and if you judge your Metal bands on appearances then you will surely be calling them Hipsters. That is......until you play this record!! This shit will rip your face off! This is one of the best Black Metal records to come out of the US in quite some time! It sort of reminds me of the last Cobalt record(minus the interludes), yes it's that good. It just sucks that Metalheads have a horrible habit of listening with their eyes. It sucks because there are many fantastic bands slipping through the cracks because purists look at their short hair and non-Metal appearance, and instantly scream"Hipster", and then of course, they are blacklisted(pun intended)! I can totally understand the Liturgy thing, because that guy just talks too much!! I hope that the reason people hated them so, was that, and because he spends too much time writing thesis statements about Black Metal. But of course, it's probably because he wears flannel shirts and braids? So Metal brothers, grow up and drop the pretense, bands can look like what ever they want, as long as they produce quality music, that is what it says it is:Heavy Fucking Metal, in some shape or form!! Well, this tangent has gone on too long, pick up the new Bosse-De-Nage record, even though they have short hair, and don't wear spikes, because it will blow you away!!

5.Incantation-Vanquish In Vengeance:
It was definitely the right time for Incantation to come out of the shadows and releasing this fucking beast of an album! There are about 200 bands in the underground aping the classic Incantation sound, but there are only a few that do it right(and they will make appearances on this list). Incantation are not like many of the classic-era Death Metal bands, they have not broken up(they haven taken long breaks), and they have never made a bad record(they might have made some that needed better production). I know that I can always count on this band since the day I purchased Golgotha, they have not let me down. So not much more to say, Incantation has made a new record, and it's fantastic, go out and BUY it, don't download it.....they are on a small record label.

4.Aevangelist-De Masticatione Mortuorum In Tumulus:
No one is more surprised than I am that there is so much Death Metal on this list! I am usually not much of a DM fan. Don't get me wrong, as a Metal lifer in my 40's, I was there since the beginning, and I LOVE the CLASSIC, evil, rank, and atmospheric Death Metal sound. Just like so many metalheads, I got burnt out on the 1,000's of cookie-cutter DM bands that ruined the scene. But like always, younger guys have came along, and listened to the right records enough to know what true DM is supposed to sound like. Aevangelist are one of those bands, and is the side-project of Rueben of BM beasts, Benighted In Sodom. Influenced of course by Possessed(Seven Churches), Incantation(of course), the good Death records, and a dash of Portal to fuck things up in a good way! This goddamn record is amazing!! If you like sick as hell, festering DM......RUN and get this record, you're ears will be festering!

3.Father Befouled-Revulsion Of Seraphic Grace:
Holy Fucking Hell!! Another masterpiece of Death Metal!! 2012 will not be the end of the word, but it will be known as the year that Death Metal starting ruling again! FB is another band that look to Incantation for inspiration(they are the best at it, and probably the first of this current"scene"). Justin Stubbs also known as Ghoat has been in the scene since he was just a youngster making some hellish BM as Hills Of Sefiroth. I have known him for a long time, and he is a honest, sincere, brother that lives and breathes METAL!! While most people like to focus on his day job as a mortician, I don't think he gets his due as a vocalist and guitarist. The whole fucking band is phenomenal(especially the ubiquitous Wayne on drums, who is a beast), but Justin can bend a riff and twist it, and slow it down till it sounds like it was created by Satan himself, as music for his house parties! His vocals are so deep that they almost occupy a(sub)level of their own. Sometimes I cannot even hear them, but they rumble in my guts, and let me know the devil is serenading me. This is the best Father Befouled record so far, the songs are really memorable this time. According to my Ipod counts, this was my 2nd most listened record this year. Do I really need to tell you to go and get this?

2. Vampyric Blood-Ordo Dracul
The elitist in me still loves to find that underground band that not many have heard of, If you are a Metalhead, then you know that feeling. Vampyric Blood is a relatively new Black Metal band out of Finland(the home of many of the best BM bands these days), and Ordo Dracul is their debut record. With only one Demo, and one split(with Drowning The Light) to their credit, this is a young band to have such a great sound. I continue to call them a band, but in fact, it's a one man project, but definitely has the vibe of a full band. This record snuck up and got me real good(hence it's high position), and quite honestly, I can't quit listening to it. It is one of the rare records that I have came across that actually has the vibe and atmosphere of a classic Black Metal band. In fact, if you had this recorded on a cassette and passed it on to a BM fan, I am sure they would believe that it was recorded in 1993. Don't expect this to have a great, or "studio" sound, because it doesn't, it sounds cavernous and hollow, and like it was recorded on a 4-track. But like I said, the atmosphere is so thick & heavy, if you are a sucker for such, this record will obsess you as well. Like the name, the sound is very "Vampyric", I can definitely say that Black Funeral and Crimson Moon are big influences. Also, Emperor's "Wrath Of The Tyrant" demo is not a long shot when giving a reference point for this record. If this had been released back in 1993, it might not be that special, because everyone was releasing similar product, with similar vibes. But now, in 2012, where this record sticks out like a juggalo at a Klan Rally, and NO ONE is doing anything similar to this, I fucking love it!! Cult as Fuck, and you will know it if it's for you!!

WOW! How in the fuck did this happen? Didn't Panopticon top my Metal list last year? Absolutely! This band(again, just one gentleman) makes quality Black Metal. Well, to be fair, Black Metal is just a springboard for what he does. This record is a first of sorts, or least the first time I have heard Bluegrass being woven or used in Black Metal in any form. As strange as that might sound to your ears, the results are fantastic, and that is why Panopticon takes my top spot again this year. From my listening(which my Ipod says I listened to Kentucky more than any other record this year), Kentucky is a concept record about his home state, and the context in which coal mining simultaneously helped and destroyed the state. It is a debate which still goes on today, where some citizens still want the valuable resource mined from the hills, while others know the destruction that it does to the land, and miners which do it. Austin adds 3 traditional songs from that period, and it makes the record even more authentic. I have applaud his decision not to "Metalize" the cover songs, and to do them similar in style to the originals. The way that those songs contrast with the epic, Black Metal songs, is original and awe inspiring. This is one, if not the most, original Black Metal record I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. It's a shame not that many people have had the same chance. All of the"hip" labels need to pull their heads outta their asses and release some REAL music. In a perfect world, Metal labels would would have had a bidding war to release this masterpiece. But of course Southern Lord, Profound Lore, and many others just sat idly by, and let the record of the year(and possibly the Decade) through their slimy fingers. Listen up bros(and chickies) you DO NOT wanna miss out on this record, if you haven't heard it yet, let me stress this BIG TIME: GO OUT AND BY THIS FUCKING RECORD!! It will change your mindset, while it educates you. It's the most honest, heartfelt, and genuine records(despite the genre), I've heard in years. Guys will listen to many a record about Vikings prancing through the snow, and now we have bullshit like Pirate Metal(??), but here is a record that explores the roots of one of the richest heritages of a state in our own Country.....and YOU don't own it???

Sunday, September 23, 2012

New Horror on the big screen.

I have long since stopped going to the movie theatre. The magic that it once held has been erased by chattering idiots on cell phones, and people devouring 3 course meals while their children scream away. thankfully through the internet I don't really miss out on any films that really want to see. Here are 3 that I am really excited about;

Monday, July 30, 2012


If you have not seen the trailer above, then either your head has been in the sand, or you are not a Horror Movie fan. As you probably know, I am the latter. I have been obsessed with Horror Films since I was about 5 years old. I know that's a little young to start watching them, but as I am 40, and I haven't went ape shit crazy and killed people, I think I am OK. As most Horror junkies will attest to, after seeing so many of these films, we are desensitized to them. That doesn't mean we do not like them anymore, or we have to watch them less, it simply means that it takes a LOT more to get us excited, or to scare the shit out of us! This film, V/H/S, has me that excited!! I can't tell you exactly why either? I am not a huge fan of the found-footage sub genre, unless it is really great(The Poughkeepsie Tapes), or does something completely different. But something about when I see that trailer, the small hairs on my arms stick up, and I feel an aura of electricity around me. The same feeling I loved as a kid, when going to see Friday The 13th 4:The Final Chapter on opening night, you know what i mean. Of course, there are so many haters and armchair critics out in Internet land blasting the film already. That always cracks me up, especially when the film has not been released. I'm sure these dorks weren't blessed enough to receive a screener copy or anything? Any who? I am so fucking excited, I can't stand it, I want to see this movie BAD, and RIGHT NOW!! But, of course, like all new Horror Films, it is getting the shaft when it comes to releasing. It starts on VOD(Video On Demand) on August 31st, and then a small theatre release in early October. That means it will play in the 5 major cities in the US, and that's it, unless it does phenomenal numbers. Then it will be yanked off VOD with the quickness, and expanded theatrically. Anyone else not a hater, and actually excited about this aside from myself?/ Please leave a comment.


Hypothermia is a Black Metal band from Sweden. In most cases, you will see them labelled as Depressive Suicidal Black Metal, and as goofy as that term sounds it's pretty apt in this  case. The band was formed in 2003 by Kim Carlsson, who at the time was also in Lifelover, Kyla, & Life Is Pain. Since that year they have produced over 18 pieces of music, including LP's, EP's, Splits, and Singles. They are known for a few reasons, one reason that I love them is their ability to make very long songs(15-20 mins, is the average length), with only minimal chords in the songs(sometimes only 2 or 3 chords per song), and still make a very emotionally compelling and interesting song. Kim's vocals are definitely not for everyone, they sound like a lone banshee crying out in the night, in the most inhuman way possible. I have often wondered what state of mind he must work himself into, to be able to perform at such painful and excruciating levels? In the live setting he is known to cut himself deeply and many times, and his body is covered in a swash of scars that make him look like a tortured slave. As the years have gone by, Hypothermia have changed stylistically, and no longer have much Black Metal in their sound. The last few releases have been sans vocals, and have been very long minimal but building, guitar pieces. Almost sounding like past indie bands like The For Carnation, Slint, or The Sonora Pine. I personally hope that they keep this direction up, but still retain Kim's tortured howls, I think that would make for one of the most original sounds in the BM underground today. In case this kind of thing tickles your fancy, or sounds interesting, please check them out. Kim is not known for keeping bands together for very long, and Hypothermia is about to turn 10, so who knows, he might end it sometime soon?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Klaus Kinski

Klaus Kinski, where to begin? Probably one of the strangest actors to ever grace the Silver Screen. He looked very strange, and from the many stories I have heard, he acted even stranger. He was apparently not an easy man to work with, but I have always found him very fun to watch, and he played in one of my favorite Horror films of all time, Nosferatu(1979). The way he looked in that film scared me for years, and it seems that most people can agree that is best performance of all time. Recently on a podcast, someone mentioned Klaus, and I wanted to post pics and remind people of two slasher films he did in the 80's: Crawlspace and Schizoid. They are both great films for being slasher films, and I think his portrayal as the maniac in Crawlspace is a precursor to the Hannibal Lechter character. Crawlspace was released on MGM DVD, but is now out of print. Schizoid has never been released on DVD, but you can find VHS or a DVD-R copy of it, that one also features the great, Donna Wilkes.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jute Gyte-Ritenour's Earth(2012)

Most people do not think of black metal and or drone-doom when they think of Missouri. For all that I know it is so desolate and bleak that all Adam Kalmbach aka Jute Gyte has to do is be very prolific at these said genres. I have followed Jute Gyte since the beginning and I kind of like the fact that you do not know what kind of release that you will getting each time. He produces very calamatous black metal that doesn't sound like anyone else in the game today. He also does ambient, drone-doom, or whatever the hell you want to call it today? Ritenour's Earth falls under that latter category. I usually do not like this sort of thng unless it really stands out. I do not care for the ambient work of Burzum, nor most of the slo-mo bore-fest work of Sunn0))). But this record is another beast altogether, and a very listenable one at that. I can't recall when I listened to a release of this sort all the way through, let alone wanted to listen to it multiple times?

There are 2 shorter, and by that I mean under the ten minute mark, and 2 really long tracks on this release. All of them have different enough feelings as to where is doesn't sound like one continous song. I think this is why I want to listen to it many times. The centerpiece of the record is the second track, simply called "Night". It clocks in at a little over 23 minutes, and sounds very similar to some of the soundtracks to Italian horror filmmaker Dario Argento's fine works. The other epic track, "Day" is 33 minutes long, and while it does have some sinister elements, it is very "sunny", and deserves it's title very much. The other 2 tracks, the shorter ones called "The Crossing" and "The House" are excellent as well, and I have to wonder if Adam was making a soundtrack of his own with this release. If so, he has some very cool and cinematic thoughts going on in that disturbed mind of his. Here is to hoping that he never moves from Missouri, if that is where he is gaining his inspiration from. If you like this sort of thing, or just raw black metal, check out Jute Gyte, he definitely has something in his already vast catalog for all adventerous metalheads to check out.

Friday, April 20, 2012


     I am going to be going back and reviewing some of the most pivotal of the early Black Metal releases, and I figured no better place to start than the mighty Gorgoroth's masterpiece, "Antichrist". This record has been listed or called a full album, but a meager 24 minutes, and 6 tracks, I will only refer to it an EP. Most BM enthusiasts call "Pentagram" and "Under The Sign Of Hell" the best releases from Gorgoroth, and I have no problem with that. They both are fantastic records, but this one just captures the evil, Black Metal essence that I love. All true BM fans will tell you about the "atmosphere", and to most of us that is why we are attracted to the music in the first place. If you are not a fan, it would be hard to tell you what we mean. But the closest feeling to it would be that of a really scary and atmospheric Horror film that makes the hair on your neck stand on end. This is what proper BM does to us. An evil atmospheric aura that just pours out of the speaker and takes you over until the record is done. If it is a proper and fantastic atmospheric BM record, it might stick with you for days.

     So on to "Antichrist", since it is such a short record, I will discuss each song as to have a better understanding of this masterpiece. The first "track" , if you can call it that is just an intro of sorts."En Stram Lukt av Kristent Blod" is only 20 seconds of some eerie noise, and some screaming. You don't have much time to study it, or get a proper feeling from it, but you know something is about to blast you. That song is called "Bergtrollets Hevn" and is as close to a "hit" song as Gorgoroth will have. It is usually still played at their concerts to this day. It is a fast to mid tempo basher, that sounds a little like Bathory in parts, but when it hits the balls to the wall speed sections, it sounds like no one else. It is a battle song if there ever were one, and would be great in a film like 300 or Pathfinder. On this record there are 2 vocalists Hat and Pest. Hat(Norwegian for hate, so we will forgive him for that) was the original vocalist and left while they were recording it. So new singer Pest was recruited midway through and he sings on a few of the tracks, sad but they did not list who sings who? Most fans can tell though, as both singers(screechers) are pretty distinctive. The third track is named after themselves "Gorgoroth" and is one of my favorite songs by the band ever, it's a shame they never play it live, and most fans don't give it props.It is a slow and very atmospheric song, totally fucking eerie, the bass line also played by main man and guitarist Infernus is mournful, it stands out greatly in a genre that likes to bury the bass altogether. There is an amazing part where the music slows down, and Pest sings(yes, actually sings) very depressing and clean style, and it to this day gets to me. The last portion of this epic song speeds up a great deal, and there is an amazing solo, something else you don't hear to much of in BM. If people wanted to hear some real True Norwegian Black Metal, I would definitely play this track for them.

    Now on to side 2(I am reviewing from the vinyl release), and the last 3 songs. Next up is "Possessed(By Satan), it starts with a real simple 2 chord headbanging beat, and then to an awesome "gallop" drumbeat, so perfect for headbanging. People who think BM is white noise with no groove, should definitely check out this track. Another live staple to this day, so it has definitely held up. Drummer extraordinaire Frost(of Satyricon fame) provides the beats on this album and it helps it so much...total fucking back beat from Satan!! The 5th tack is called "Heavens Fall" and it is another galloping black-thrash beast! It is also an instrumental, which i don't usually like in Black metal, but this is such driving song, who could resist it? Also, Infernus does "heeeeyyyyyy, and an evil laugh' to break up the music. The final track is called "Sorg" and it is my personal favorite, not only Gorgoroth, but my favorite Black Metal song!! I've talked about atmosphere in BM, and boy does this song have it in bucket loads. At over 6 minutes it is an epic by Gorgoroth's standards. The songs starts with the sounds of heavy rain and thunder to lull you in. Then the music starts and it's very slow and heavy riff, with Hat screeching his heart out. The whole song plods(in a good way) along at a slower speed, and he also sings what almost sounds like the chanting you would hear the monks doing. If you close your eyes you can see a dark castle and the fog rolling in like a wall, or something like that, let your mind flow free. I would have to say that this fantastic song is the BM cousin to the song "Black Sabbath". Yes, it's that good! I guess some BM fans are put off by the clean singing in this song, but it only adds to the atmosphere. I guess some people only want blast beats and hyper-speed all the time, hey we have Marduk for that, don't we? I will be posting more classic BM reviews soon.                     Score 9/10

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Royal Trux:Bad Blood(A History of Genius)

     Royal Trux were(are) my favorite band of all time. Sure, there are many more whom I obsess over, but when it comes to bands that are absolute geniuses at their craft, none were bolder or more original than Jennifer Herrema and Neil Michael Hagerty. Now that the band has been broken up for more than 10 years, I figured it was time to refresh the brains of the uninitiated. True, it was very easy not to know who Royal Trux were, throughout their 15 year career. They were always under the radar, released almost all of their records on Chicago indie label Drag City, except for 2 released on Virgin Records, in what is surely the most bizarre story of an underground band being signed to major, and walking away with TONS of cash ever. They changed their music very often, usually producing a particular style in 3-album cycles. It was very sad, but if most people were familiar with the band if was for their famous heroin habits, that produced fabulous music, but caused the band tremendous troubles until they cleaned up around 1995( a little later for Herrema). People viewed the band as a glorified train wreck, would show up to shows to taunt and heckle them, usually resulting in Jennifer coming out into the crowd to take down a male 2 times her size! As sad as was, I guess the fault lied with Jennifer and Neil, as in the early days, they were very open about their drug habits, and played them up in interviews. They made up lies about brushes with the law, Jennifer being a prostitute to support their ravenous habits, and even spent a Matador recording advance on "the powder" and never delivered the goods. All of things did nothing to help the band out, but the loyal(myself included) ate it up by the spoonful, and bought anything with their name on it, because at the bottom of it all, they were the most important band to ever emerge from the indie scene.
      The two met in Washington D.C in 1987, while Neil was playing in local scuzz-rock heroes Pussy Galore. He was never "into" what PG was doing, and considered himself a hired gun because Jon Spencer was the de facto leader in that band. Although the coolest thing that PG ever did was at Neil's behest, a cassette only, song for song cover of the Rolling Stones masterpiece, Exile on Main Street. While still in the band, he was already cooking up his master plan about creating the hippest, coolest, and most dangerous motherfucking band in the world. Jennifer was still in High School, she used to watch Neil's prior band play when they did gigs, and she has often said it was love at first sight. She said he was the "weirdest fucker" she had ever met, so she knew that had to be together. The two started working on songs together, and playing out live, as soon as Neil quit Pussy Galore for the final time! The early shows must've scared the holy fuck out of audiences, as they were already experimenting with instrumentation, lineups, improvisation. Neil said that he formed the band to apply Ornette Colemans theory of musical harmolodics to classic music in the vein of Black Sabbath! They released their debut record, simply titled Royal Trux in 1988. This one was self-released as Drag City had yet to open it's doors. No one really paid attention to it, except an article in Spin where Gerald Cosloy of Matador Records, and uber-snob reviewer Christgau discussed it. Cosloy seemed to really like it, and somewhat understand it, while the snob totally dismissed it. Recently Cosloy has stated that Christgau didn't even listen to the record more than once. If I had to describe that first record(which really is a VERY hard thing to do) I would say it's a sort of drunken blues, psychobilly pastiche, jazz minded, no wave based, brilliant record that must be heard to be believed. The thing with Royal Trux, is that they are not an immediate gratification band, most of the early records you have to spend a lot of time with, in order to reap their rewards, and to soak in the brilliance. I am sure that casual music listeners heard unstructured noise.....and ran!!
     The duo packed up and left D.C. and moved to San Francisco, and around this time is when they started the infamous heroin habit. They worked and recorded a very long time for record # 2, and it, called Twin Infinitives, is the most (in)famous record in their whole discography. A sprawling drugged out haze of a double record, that chewed up minds and spit them back out, never to be the same. Many claim TI to be their crowning achievement, but I can't imagine that many people actually "got it" enough to make such a claim. The "music" is lie nothing ever heard or released before or since, especially on an indie record label. The most obvious comparison is Captain Beefheart's "Trout Mask Replica", but take that add the craziest of Jandek's material, throw in some Sun-Ra, and you might come close. Neil has said the "songs" were achieved by recording them on tapes, then taking the tapes, and cutting and splicing them into oblivion, and put them back together into some semblance of the avant-garde. On top of that you have Jennifer's brilliant snarl/rasp screeching out the lyrics like a possessed drill Sergeant. It was my first RT purchase, and of course, I hated it upon first listen. The more I listened, the more I thought I understood, and slowly began to "like" it. It wasn't until I had searched out the first record(it had not been reissued by DC yet), and spent some time with that one, that TI really clicked with me. I have heard many fans say that they can only listen to it very rarely, but I can throw it on anytime and enjoy it, and now wonder how myself, or anyone else for that matter, had such a problem with it. The Trux started touring around this period, and saw some of the most hostile audiences of their career. usually they just baited them and played along with it, like I said earlier, Jennifer would attack some of them, and they would exact audio revenge by playing the worst sounds known to man! After touring for a bit, they realized that they might want to write some songs that were easier to play onstage, and that audiences might be able to get into in a live setting. This led to album #3, again just called Royal Trux. Most fans call it Skulls(after the cover art), to avoid confusion with the 1st record. This time it was a completelyy different Trux on the record. Although Neil and Jennifer again recorded it themselves, the songs sounded like they could have been recorded by a whole band. They however did not lose their edge, they still had that spacey-dementia to their sound, and I can't imagine a normal "alternative" music fan digging this record, there are several songs that will surprise the fans that they had collected along the way. The sound was a bluesy-tinged swagger, and this is the first time that the ubiquitous Stones comparison came into play. A few of the songs displayed a Stones/early Aerosmith vibe that shocked fans expecting a Twin Infinitives part 2. On their 3rd record it was already becoming apparent that Royal Trux was not interested in repeating themselves or resting on their laurels. There was one song in particular, that shocked everyone! "Junkie Nurse" was the closest thing to a hit Royal Trux ever had. An acoustic ballad of sorts, sung by Neil instead of Jennifer, about meeting a nurse that could give him an endless fix. It's a fantastic song that still holds up to this day, and had the subject matter been different, it very well could have been a hit. Again they toured, they always hired different musicians to record and go on the road with them in order to keep things fresh, 2 records/tours with the same band was a record for them. The drug stories, and their reputations preceded them, it was mentioned in every magazine article, review, etc. Neil in particular was starting to get tired of it, and the junkie lifestyle in particular.

     As this article/story is going to be far longer than most I write, I can not even begin to touch on all of the 7" singles, EP's, and song contributions that RTX have done. I will say that oftentimes their best work is relegated to one of these formats, and Drag City released a 2 LP compilation in 1997 called Singles, Live 7 Unreleased with most of their stuff of this nature. It works as good or better than some of their records so if you are interested don't hesitate to pick that up, it's the only way to get all of that stuff. Ok, back to 1993, Neil has gotten clean, Jennifer has made steps, relapsed a few times, but she comes totally clean later in that year. So their 4th record, Cats & Dogs, again released by Drag City, is a surprising hit in the indie/alternative world. More musicians are used in the actual recording, so it's the first full-band recording of RTX. The songs are similar to Skulls, except they ROCK a lot harder, again, there are the obligatory spacey, creepy, and usual noisy Trux-styled material. But the Rock songs posses a Sabbath/Zeppelin vibe that immediately garner the duo a lot more fans. One of those fans was grunge posterboy, Kurt Cobain. in those days all it took was a mention that Kurt loved your record, and major labels were biting and pulling each others hair to sign you. That is exactly what happened to RTX! The world's most-unsignable band was signed to Virgin Records in 1994. Jennifer said they laid out all their stipulations such as; retain ALL creative control, a HUGE signing bonus, tour buses, and basically they could release what they want without any input from the label, and those silly fuckers actually signed them!! The 5th record, and 1st for Virgin was called "Thank You", and it surprised/pissed off a lot of RTX fans. I'm sure it gained them quite a few as well. As I said, I had been a fan since the 2nd record, and I had no problem with Thank You at all. In fact, I loved it, it brought out a whole new sound for the band. People should have known they were not going to stick to the same sound for very long. The new Trux, for lack of a better term, and one that they used frequently in that period was a "Boogie Band". Very amped up Southern Rock, that sounded like the Black Crowes played by gutter punks. They had a full band, complete with two drummers, one of them was the son of Lynard Skynards drummer. Jennifer & Neil had also bought a big house in rural Virginia, built their own studio in it, and Jennifer could be seen driving around the sticks in a new Jaguar. Thank You sold reasonably well, but not for major label standards, and the tour was also well attended, despite most of the "indie-elite" calling them sell-outs. Perhaps they had forgotten what attracted them to RTX in the first place? For me, it was the sense that they would do whatever the fuck they wanted to, whenever! Now those same people were bustin their balls for doing just that. Myself, I listened to Thank You everyday for that whole year, I was obsessed by it. The lyrics were printed for the first time, and I loved them, they were morbidly fantastic. If they were "selling out" nobody else knew it. Radio sure didn't play any of the record, and ANY one of the 11 tracks could be played on Rock radio....ANY of them.
     Well Virgin was not impressed in the less than stellar return results of their new investment.They started telling Jennifer & Neil that they needed a hit single, that they didn't wan't them to record at their new home studio, and last of all, that Virgin wanted to pick a high profile"hit-making" producer for the next record. Of course they had fucked themselves with the contract deal that they had given the band, so RTX did what they wanted. They released their 6th album entitled "Sweet Sixteen" with one of, if not THE grossest cover on a major label ever. A toilet filled with excrement, blood, frosting, and all sorts of other gross shit(pardon the pun), that was the first thing Virgin hated. Sweet Sixteen was an altogether different beast than Thank You had been. Sure, it was a ROCK record, in much the same way Ty had been, but that is where the similarities end. SS had strange keyboards, a totally different production, courtesy of the band themselves, and very strange lyrical concepts about conspiracies, FBI, dope farms, and many other things. In some ways SS is a very difficult record, not in the same way that Twin Infinitives was, but there was something most fans couldn't put their fingers on. Even though I like the record quite a bit, I would have to say that it's my least favorite out of their discography. Again, like TY there are songs that would've went to radio, not nearly as many, but I've always said that "Morphic Resident" would've been a hug hit. The band toured on a smaller scale, and the crowds were not nearly as large on this tour, so the band immediately started working on the next record. Virgin asked to hear it, and the band said no, so they just dropped them from the label. They got to keep the completed record.On top of all of the other money they had received from the label, in addition to the record and the studio, the band walked away with a cool million in publishing rights. It is most surely the biggest fuck off that an Indie band has ever given a major label.

     RTX walked back to Drag City like the conquering heroes that they were. The record that was completed and intended for release by Virgin, was called "Accelerator" and was immediately released by DC. Many people loved this record, and I though it was a very good & catchy ROCK record again, but I guess the fact that they were back on DC made the hipsters come around again. That's cool, because like I said it's a great record, the songs are (mostly) very short, verse chorus chorus, POP songs done in a very Hard Rock vein. Perhaps like Cats & Dogs without the experimentation? They went back out on tour, and I saw them on this tour. They were very tight and good, but the crowds seems to be smaller than they had been in years. I am sure that has to suck for a band that has being touring for years? Very shortly after that, they cranked out another record, this one called Veterans Of Disorder. Another fantastic record, very similar to Accelerator aside from a couple of songs in the experimental vein that had not been there since Cats & Dogs was released. I personally was very excited about this, as I love any version of RTX I can get, I like when they have a balance of good and catchy rock, and some seriously brain damaged, fucked up tunes. That was after all, what made me fall for them many years ago. I saw them again for the last time on this tour, and I said to a friend, "Jennifer looks fucked up". Maybe she wasn't, part of me wanted her to be, for the sake of the music, but most of me didn't want to see her go back to that life, and to hurt Neil. In another quick succession, the last Royal Trux record, Pound for Pound came out in 2000. It hung closely to the template of the last two records. amazing rock songs, and again some really spacey experimental songs. From what I have heard, the band started the tour, and did a few shows, and then cancelled the tour, and broke up. I had indeed been right, Jennifer was getting fucked up! She offered some excuses, like her Dad was ill, but she still broke their bond of nott getting fucked up!! She wanted to separate, take some time away from Neil and the band, and try to get it together. Neil said no, and I can't blame him. She then asked if they could keep the band, and the couple break up, again he said no, and that was all they wrote! I guess it's hard when a married couple are in a band together? It just sucks for all the fans that they couldn't keep it together. Neil, in a recent interview, said that he would NEVER do a RTX reunion, and that statement broke a small part of my heart. But at least we get two bands out of that one great one. After the break-up, Jennifer continued on as RTX(not Royal Trux, just the abbreviation), she got a new band, and carried on in the very Hard Rock period of the band. Some of it, in fact, is what you would call Cock-Rock, but handled with the usual Jennifer sleaze, it comes out great. She is also very clean now, although I do think she drinks, so that is a great thing. After 3 albums as RTX, she has just changed the name to Black Bananas. It's a mix of RTX, and very danceable funk sound, kind of like a sleazed up Sleigh Bells. I am digging it very much, indeed. Neil released 3 records under his own name, Neil Michael Hagerty, and then assembled a band and called it The Howling Hex. It is very challenging stuff, and holds true to the arty side of Royal Trux. I guess you can say Jennifer took the rock side, and Neil took the experimental side? The Howling Hex has several records under their belt, very prolific, and I think they have about 7 records already!! Well, it has been fun going over their history, and the romantic in me hopes that one day they will get back together, and fall in love, and make some of the most fucked up music that ever ruined my eardrums.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1989

The last installment in image experiment for the 80's, ends on the Full Moon classic Puppet Master. I've always liked Full Moon pictures, they are fun and cheesy, and are our generations version of Hammer films.They always put out very fun and cheesy stuff, and most of the franchises that they have produced are really good. I myself, preferred the Subspecies series, but Puppet Master was always fun stuff! The little characters for the puppets were very original, and I always liked that girl that spit the leeches, can't recall the name? This original film, I haven't seen since that year(1989), so I can't say a lot about it. I remember that it covered the origin of the puppet master, and how they came to be, so I am sure this is the most important one. I need to revisit this one, and the whole series in fact, because as I said, they really are a fun time! Well, this experiment has been really fun for me, I don't know if anyone read these, but I had fun. I am thinking about doing another decade? Should I do the 70's or the 90's....got any input??

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1988

This has been the most surprising result of the experiment so far. There are many reasons for this, the main one being that The Vanishing is NOT a Horror film. I suppose that many people would call it that, much in the same way that they call The Silence Of The Lambs one as well. Sometimes the suspense in these types film is so nerve-wracking that it feels more scary than most films being labelled as Horror. Another reason this is a surprise is because this is the original version of the film from the Netherlands, not the Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock American remake. Lastly, and shamefully, I have never seen this version of the film! I would really love to, especially that nice Criterion Collection version that was released. So I can't really comment any further about this film. I did see that aforementioned remake, but usually American remakes are stupid, so I will not use that as a model for discussion. If someone is reading this(Ha Ha), and have seen the original, please let us know about it, and why maybe this would be listed as a Horror film?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1987

Another surprise here for 1987! Although it had some really cool poster/video art, this is one stinker of a movie. By 1987, the Slasher movie boom had petered itself almost all of the way out. This was sad for me, and many other genre fans who preferred Slashers instead of the more cerebral kinds of Horror that was becoming popular in the late 80's. So when this came out, I was immediately excited. I do remember that this one came to my local theatre, but I tried to go on the second week, and guess what? It wasn't held over a second week! in fact, I remember that theatre Manager telling my friend and I that they pulled the plug on it after 4 days, when 6 people total for all the shows is all that had paid to see it. Yes.....this really was proof something was happening to Horror. So when New World Video put it out, i immediately rented it. Too bad, this really is such a mess of a movie. Despite having some washed up stars, and some soon to be stars(Maureen McCormack & George Clooney), the film just couldn't decide what it wanted to be. Usually I can find something redeeming about a Slasher film, but not this one. In fact, after seeing it for the first time, I couldn't really recall anything at all about the movie, except it has some sort of "fake ending" in it. So as usual, years later when Anchor Bay dug it up, and put it out on DVD, I was excited to revisit it. Sometimes I do this with a film that I didn't initially care for, and I actually end up liking it(Slaughter High, Evil Laugh). But NO....there is still nothing good about this shit-pickle!! I know this one has some fans, and I've never been able to understand that. So if you are a fan and reading this....please leave a comment and explain why you are one? Thank you so much.

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1986

Wow, this is one of the surprises that you get from doing this sort of experiment and writing on it. This has been more fun writing than I've had in a long time. I am sure that no one is reading it, but it sure is fun to write it. Troll is not really a Horror film, but it has been labelled as such because of it's affiliation with Charles Band. This was before the uber-bad sequel, and the reputation the films have garnered. I do not know if Troll ever had a theatre release in that States, but I am sure if it did, it was very small and Regional. Like most people, I was introduced to this cheeze-fest via Vestron Video. I was 14 or 15 when it was released and my little sister and I were at the video store perusing the Horror section as we always did. I thought it looked original, and when I saw that it had a PG rating(maybe a PG-13), I got excited because I could watch it with Becky without scaring the piss out of her! It has a great cast of B-movie royalty like my favorite Michael Moriarity. It also features ex-Charlie's Angel, Shelley Hack, and of course....Sonny Bono!! This is in no way a "good" movie, but it damn sure a fun one! I have heard people call it boring, but it's really more like a kid's Horror film, and there is nothing wrong with that. The Potter family move into an apartment building, and very quickly their bratty little girl Wendy is possessed by a centuries old Troll. There is an old lady upstairs that is a good witch that teaches young Harry to fight of the forces of evil that the Trolls possess. I really like the special effects myself, they look sort of claymation-like, and very influenced by Harryhausen. I am pretty sure that future Director John Carl Beauchler did the effects? Well, I am sure that most folks have seen Troll, so I won't rattle on forever about plot lines, etc. What I like about it, is that it reminds of a time when movies were more fun and more simple. Nothing could be made like this film, now....it would be a CGI fest for sure. For years, there has been a remake in the works, and I am pretty sure that it is already in the can. But, for some reason, it's still not released, probably so bad that no one wants it to see the light of day. When will they learn not to remake the classics?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1985

Another film that I have fond memories of. I didn't really know how I would approach each of these when I started this little blog experiment. But as they go on, and I see the films that I saw in the theatre back then, the memories come flooding back. These films are the easiest to write about, because I think people like to hear about the experiences of seeing these classics on the big screen. Especially all of the Horror fiends that were born after the classic era, and have only seen them on DVD. So these films I can easily relay the experiences of what was going on in that time period. Back then, I was too young to see these film by myself, although many times, after my parents would drop me off, I would purchase a ticket for a Disney film, and sneak into the Horror film. It's funny that no one ever seem to notice little me, sitting in the back eating popcorn, and immersing myself into a nightmare world. I remember around the same time, the Spanish film Pieces was released in the states at theatres. I talked my cousin into going with me. We purchased tickets for the film Footloose, and snuck in. What was strange was this film was Unrated, and NO ONE under 17 was supposed to be admitted. But we went in a few minutes after it started, a claimed seats in the back, and was shocked to death at what we saw. My cousin was more scared that we would get caught, so he spent the majority of the film, eyeing the doors to see if anyone was coming to arrest us...LOL!! But when that didn't happen, I talked my Dad into taking me too see any Horror that I could. I figured it was the least he could do after he had made me see every western film that came out in the 70's. But out of all of these films that I forced him to see, there were only two that I remember that he really enjoyed, and those were Fright Night, and Return Of The Living Dead. So looking back, I guess he only liked Horror with comedic elements? Those were not my favorites, as I liked to be scared to death, not laugh! We both liked Fright Night a lot, I was excited by how big the vampire's mouths would get, especially Amanda Bearse's character. The image of that huge mouth full of vampire teeth stuck with me for a long time afterwards......this one is for you Dad.

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1984

The initial installment of the Elm Street series, the only one that really matters, in my opinion. The second one might be novel for all of it's gaiety's, but when we are talking about the fear that a real Horror film can instill, this one is the only one. I remember when it came out, and there was no hoopla about Freddy, we nothing about it, it was such a different time. I saw this film at my town's Grindhouse, The Triple, I still remember how sticky the floors were. The mosaic tile pattern in the restroom, and the small but cavernous third screening room that all of the Horror films were always shown in. The same room I saw such classics as The House By The Cemetery, The Return Of The Living Dead, Friday The 13th, Silent Madness, The Mutilator,  and many more. Of course, if the film was successful enough, like this one, it was moved into the first screening room, that was so big, you couldn't even see the front if you were standing in the back! Anyway, we all know what this one was about, but back then, we were so scared, and it left such an impression that we talked about it for days. We wondered if a killer could really reach us through our sleep. Yeah, it's funny now, but we were 14 years old. Too bad this great film had to spawn so many bad sequels and taint how cool and original Wes Craven's masterpiece really was and is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1983

Finally one that I can get a little excited about!! I just watched this film again the other night. It makes a better watch now that I have became friends with one of the stars, the beautiful, Lesleh Donaldson. Although Curtains was a very troubled production, surprisingly it still came out very coherent, scary, and watchable. It also has always been lumped into the Slasher movie movement, when in reality, it is a very taught suspense film. I think part of it's bad reputation indeed comes from that reason. Younger genre fans who didn't see the film when it came out, search this one out, looking for a bloody bodycount movie, and that's definitely not what it is. The story is a about a sleazy movie director(John Vernon), who is directing a very anticipated blockbuster called "Audra". Samantha Eggar is his ex-lover, and dwindling ex-movie star, who has been promised the role of Audra, since it became an idea. She decides to check herself into a mental institution to prepare for the role of the mentally deranged Audra. The director, decides to lock her in the for a long period of time, against her will, and recast the role. He holes away in his mansion in the Canadian wilderness to try out a group of 5 actresses. Samantha escapes from the mental facility and also shows up vying for the role. The director starts sleeping with the girls, and mentally manipulating them, and someone starts picking off the girls one by one. Like I said it really is a mystery movie, and there is not a lot of blood, or hacking. There is one scene that sticks with all genre fans who are enamored with this film(myself, included). Lesleh, who is the youngest of the actress hopefuls, and actually just an ice skater trying to get into film, after the director has got into her pants. She decides to go for an early morning skate on a frozen lake out in the woods. She brings along her boom-box(hey, it was the 80's, remember) and starts playing her music, and skating away, after a few moments the music inexplicably stops, and Lesleh skates over to see what happened. She see a small hand poking out of a snow drift, and pulls out one of the creepiest dolls you have ever seen. After staring and being freaked out by the doll for a few moments, she hears a sound and looks over her shoulder, to see a figure in black skating fastly towards her. Now you really have to see the scene to understand why it has struck fear in so many viewers. The killer is wearing a mask that has come to be known as the "old hag" mask. A very old, female face, with vacant eyes, and stringy hair, and she is brandishing a scythe as she now skates in slo-mo vision towards the petrified young actress. Needless to say, the dear Lesleh meets her demise in this scene, but we are left to wait and find out who is killing these actresses off? Is it the director, is it the now crazy famous actress Eggar, or one of the hopefuls? Looks like you will have to watch it and see. Sadly it is only available on a cheapie DVD, although Netflix has it for streaming, and sometimes AMC and IFC will run it. Please check it out.

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1982

1982.....Cat People, to be honest, this is one that I haven't seen since it originally was released. Well actually, upon it's first run on HBO. I was a kid fully immersed in Slasher films, and something called Cat People didn't interest me that much. Still doesn't to this day to tell the truth. The only things I can recall about the film are, Natassia Kinski licking her own menstrual blood, Malcolm McDowell, and someone in a zoo getting their arm ripped off by a black panther. That's not a whole lot, I know, but I think there was too much sexual subtext for my 11 year old mind to wrap around. Any fans here??

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1981

Alright then, when I started this, I said that I would use the first image that pops up for that year, so I suppose that I should stick to that rule.Which makes 1981 hard, because not only have I never seen The Loch Ness Horror, I have never heard of it either. I have to admit, the poster is pretty amazing, and I would love to own and frame that beast! A cursory glance at IMDB tells me that it has a 2.3 rating, and that only 154 people have seen and rated it. The few reviews that are on there, are horrible, and I see many mentions of bad acting, horrible locations, and bad scripting. BUT, they all seem to agree that the robotic Nessie creature looks pretty cool! As all of you know, I live for bad movies, so all of this has me foaming at the mouth! I will now be on a search for The Loch Ness Horror. It has never been released on DVD(imagine that), so if any of you guys have a copy, know where I can get one, or if you have actually seen this film, please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you?

The Horror Movie Image Experiment:1980

I decided to do a fun little experiment, and post it to the blog. We all know that you can get some crazy results when you do image searches on Yahoo. So I decided that I would do this for every year of the 80's(the best decade for Horror, IMO). I type in Horror movie images and the year, and I use the first one that pops up, even if it didn't technically come out that year, and say something about it. I'm sure there will be some that I am ecstatic about, and want to ramble endlessly about, and some that I loathe, and might say two sentences about. So let's see how this turns out.........
Prom Night is definitely not one of my favorite Horror films, and I would have never chose to write about it otherwise, so this might be cool. A lot of my friends, and people on the message boards that I frequent, absolutely LOVE this film! I have never been able to understand all of the hype on this bloodless slasher film. It opens great, and I absolutely love the scene with the kids playing the game, and the little girl falling out of the window. If the film had kept up this pace, it definitely would be one of my favorites. I actually like several of the characters as well, although Jamie Leigh is very wooden in this one. I guess my complaints are, like I said, it is bloodless, there is absolutely no gore in this film, if released today, it would definitely qualify for a PG-13. It's really more of a murder-mystery than a Slasher, which is fine, if it hadn't been promoted all over as a Slasher film. Another reason, is that it is a very dark film(no, I am not talking about tone/content), it's actually very hard to see what's going on. But, I will say that I don't absolutely hate the film, even though I have listed a ton of negative aspects about it. It's OK for a time waster, and I watch it every 5 years or so. Also, it spawned some very cheezy, but fun sequels(which have nothing at all to do with the original film), that are great fun to watch if you can find them. Lastly, I am sure all of you have seen this film, so I won't worry about spoilers*, the kid that plays Alex, the killer, is so horrible, and I think most of my negativity towards this film, lies in his hands. C'mon fans, leave some comments, and convince me otherwise. I would love to hear your thoughts on the film, pro or con, and also on this experiment. If it is fun, I might do the 70's and the 90's as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cloud Nothings-Attack On Memory(2012)

"Attack On Memory" is the last kind of record that I could foresee on my end of the year Top 10, but that is exactly where I am sure it will be. We are now embroiled in a major 90's nostalgia music swing. In the past year there has been some really good bands that have came out of this movement, like The Vaccines and Yuck. But there are too many bad ones to name, and most of the offenders were still in their diapers when Kurt & Courtney were all over the papers! Cloud Nothings are embracing a very interesting part of the 90's, and one that I am sure will not become a trend. They have lots of elements in their sound, without ever sounding derivative of anyone or just the Naughties, per se. I can hear elements of Drive Like Jehu, Unwound, Tar, Seam, or just about anyone that was on Touch & Go or Amphetamine Reptile in their heyday. Also, remember for a short period in the 90's when Sonic Youth seemed that they were gonna be a household name? A lot of labels(majors included) were signing unknown noisy bands, in hopes of having the next Sonic Youth on their roster. Bands like Magic Dirt, Blinker The Star, Smile, and Boss Hog, were signed and then discarded when their records didn't sell more than 2,000 copies. Cloud Nothings could have easily came from that period. But none of this is a diss against their sound, as I really love this record. There are the noisy type songs, and then there are very catchy, almost jangle-pop, type songs. It really is a record that was created to be played on College Rock radio(remember when that existed?), and every song on the record, could find a home on any of those stations. The songs have tons of hooks, and you will find them going round and round through your head, even after the first time listening. I actually downloaded the record the week that it came out, just because of the pre-buzz and hype that was being thrown around for it. After listening to it 2 times, I was so enamored with it, that I purchased it on vinyl.....and that hardly ever happens with me, with an unknown band! So don't let the hype turn you off about this band, which is something that I always do, because in this case, it is totally worth it!! If you want a record that reminds you of the rocking days in College, when there was some noisy but really catchy good records coming out every week? Then totally throw down the bones and check out the Cloud Nothings, I truly don't think that you will be disappointed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

100 Tears(2007)

As a rule, I usually hate SOV(Shot On Video) movies. They look like a Soap Opera, and the acting is usually bottom of the barrel dreck. And the gore, is usually nothing but fake blood poured all over the actors body. But every once in a while a SOV film will come along, and get these things right, and I will love it. 100 Tears is one of those films.
First of all, I HATE clowns, they scare the living shit out of me! It, Clownhouse, and Amusement have all petrified me with the use of some scary ass clowns!! The Clown Killer in 100 Tears isn't really as scary as the others mentioned, but the grue that he leaves behind is super gory! I have NEVER seen gore this good in a SOV film. In the beginning of the film, the clown takes out at least 15 people in less than 5 minutes....that has to be a record of some sort??
The clown has been killing people as the "teardrop killer" for the last 20 years. When someone else starts killing people by slitting throats and claiming that he is the teardrop killer, the clown comes out of the semi-retirement he is in. There is a pretty good back-story involved, as for the reason that the lovesick clown is indeed killing people, but I don't want to spoil it, in case a few of you want to check it out? There are a couple of journalists who write for an Enquirer-type paper, who are following the case, to try and break into serious journalism. These two are really good actors for this calibre of a film, and make it even more enjoyable to watch.
But as I said, the true star of the film, is the special effects guy!! The first killing in the halfway-house at the beginning of the film is so gory, I had to look away(and I never do that)!!It's not an Oscar winner by any means, but just a good, gory, fun, SOV slasher film. Do yourself a favor and check it out!!


If you can't tell by reading my reviews, aatmosphere is the most important element to me in a Horror/Slasher film. Many shortcomings such as bad acting, lack of gore, lack of character development, can all be made up for by superior atmosphere. By atmosphere, I also include a great set and/or shooting locale. Malevolence has a few of these shortcomings, not many really, but atmosphere oozes off of the screen in this little indie flick. The suspense is done so well, that in many(more than 5) scenes, I was so scared that I was tempted to turn the lights on!
The film starts out by explaining that in rural Pennsylvania, there have been children and young girls going missing for years now. In 1989, a young boy at the age of 6 is kidnapped by this killer, and is made to watch him kill these young girls. Cue to modern day, and we see a small band of criminals in the preparations of robbing a bank. One of the men doesn't want to rob the bank at all, but has a big debt owed to a loan shark, and his girlfriend convinces him this is the only way to get out of the debt. The girlfriend's brother is the one planning the robbery, and he has been in and out of prison, for more than half of his life. There is one more participant in the robbery as well. During the robbery, the brother is shot, and dies from the injury. The other man has the money from the robbery, and the couple must meet him at a house in the country to divide up the money. The man with the money has car trouble, and car-jacks a van, along with a little girl and her mother to take him to the house.
It doesn't take long after arriving to the house, that we see a hooded killer and he takes out the bandit with the money. The hood that he wears is one of the scariest disguises that I have seen in a Horror film. Even though it looks like the one that Jason wears in Part 2, and the one from The Town That Dreaded Sundown, it is a look that has not been done to death, and is very effective. The rest of the film is spent by the mother and daughter, and the reluctant criminal trying to escape the murderer. We are led to believe that this is the same killer that has been killing and kidnapping in this countryside for years, although there is a twist, but not one that comes out of left field. The rural countryside, and the houses and factories that the film were shot in, are fantastic. The production designer definitely did a fantastic job on this film. Also, many scenes of the hooded killer stalking through the foggy night are SO eerie. He is a silent stalker, and that makes it all the more effective. I have always thought so, don't you think?
This film is definitely an homage to all of the great Slasher films of the 80's, and I definitely can't understand the low rating(5.0) and the bad reviews on IMDB. But who really pays attention to the armchair critics on that site anyway? If you are a fan of atmosphere and ambiance in your Slasher films, I cannot recommend Malevolence enough! It is a little light on the bloodshed, but I don't think that the film would be bettered by making it more bloodier anyway. The original TCM is not a bloody film at all, but people still love it anyway, that's because of the atmosphere and the location! Please give Malevolence and shot, and let me know what you think?