Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Celluloid crimes

Dust Devil
I read about this one in an issue of Fangoria where some critic said that this movie was like Tarkovsky on acid. It isn’t. It doesn’t even come close to the power of the Russian. Still, it’s got it’s own style, it’s got some truly WTF moments, some terrific scenes and the myriad African accents are damn trippy. The story is incidental and the opening and closing shots seem like a tribute to High Plains Drifter but the movie’s worth watching at least once if you’re a horror fan.

Lord of War
Another movie that I read great reviews for. It’s a black comedy with Nicolas Cage as a Ukrainian immigrant in New York who makes his career in arms dealing, mostly illegally. It’s plays out like a more hardcore version of Thank You For Smoking with Cage taking the viewer on a tour of his life from helping out at his parent’s restaurant to becoming the Lord Of War. Ethan Hawke drops in every now and then as an Interpol agent on the trail and he’s as irritating as ever. While things do slow down in the middle, I loved the end. Surprisingly good and exceeded expectations.

The New York Ripper
I don’t like The Beyond. Now that that’s out of the way, this was yet another movie that I’d read about for a long time. It was supposed to be nasty, misogynistic and bloody. Well it’s all three. It’s a dark, cynical, angry film with no real redeeming qualities. There’s a serial killer, killing young women, there’s a sexually repressed woman who’s desperate for it, there’s lots of nudity, blood and gore and an ending that seems like an afterthought. Not all of it makes sense either. Works more as horror than a crime thriller.

The Gravedancers
3 friends dance on 3 graves and unleash 3 ghosts from the past. One for each of them. This low budget indie was supposedly a big hit at horror festivals and it has a terrific first half with some good tension build ups. It’s derivative of everything from The Grudge to Poltergeist and plays out every haunted house cliché but is still good fun. Then the paranormal investigators turn up and the movie just looses steam. Plus some really hokey effects come into the picture and the special effects in the climax are ridiculous. Could have been a much better movie.

10,000 BC
I don’t know why I went to the theatre to watch this. Luckily it was in Rex. We didn’t last the whole movie and left at the interval. This movie was so bad it made me angry. What the fuck were these people thinking? We’ll dress a few people up in furs, put dreadlocks on them, make them talk English with a vague Arabic/ Jamaican/ European accent and make believe it’s 10,000 BC. Let’s also make sure there are some landscape shots for that epic feel. The cherry on top though was the narrator. He sounded like Sean Connery being butt-raped and was incredibly irritating. Rubbish from start to interval. I hope it flops and Roland Emmerich won’t be able to make a movie ever again.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

On my playlist

Sunday at Devil Dirt is the second album to come from the collaboration of Scottish songstress Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan who used to sing for the Screaming Trees. These two musicians first came together in 2006 for the good if overlong Ballad Of Broken Seas. This one sees them taking a much darker approach to songwriting and Lanegan’s whiskey and Marlboro voice sounds more and more like a somber Nick Cave. Still in the same folk music playground and I wish Isobel would sing a bit more but for now this one’s better than Ballad and a full review should be up shortly.

Puscifer’s V For Vagina seems a bit same throughout. Maynard James Keenan's vocals are very laidback and the music is a mild trip hop meets later NIN. Some good songs but also a little bleh. I had zero expectations from the new Meshuggah but obZen is proving to be quite kickass. It sounds like an interesting progression for the band. I like this. I’m also listening to some Red Harvest. Haven’t heard anything by this band but they got universal praise for their last album “A Greater Darkness” and it’s some more good extreme metal. Sounds like what might have happened if mid period Gorefest had found electronics instead of hard rock.

Type O Negative has been releasing quality albums for a while now. Last year’s Dead Again is a terrific follow up to Life Is Killing Me. They’ve shed most of the Goth rock trappings and are making music that sits somewhere between symphonic doom, Black Sabbath and The Misfits. This one might actually turn out to be better than both Life Is Killing Me and World Coming Down which is saying a lot.

Friday, March 07, 2008

the highway called

Don’t ask me how and don’t ask me why but last weekend I drove down to Suratkal with some friends to judge a rock competition in the engineering college there. It was a terrific holiday and surprisingly we saw a few good bands.

Slain won Strawberry Fields this year. I missed them there but heard they were this young band doing some really kickass hard rock. They were just that. Energetic, talented and very tight. The vocalist could sing and guitarist played some mean leads. Good stuff overall and then found out the drummer was in the 10th and the guitarist was in PU. The other kickass band was Fall Of Reason. They played a couple of own songs and covered Blood and Thunder by Mastodon. They were very heavy and the drummer was fucking mad. The vocalist impressed me with his energy but couldn’t hear the bass at all.

Might seem a tad unfair but we tied the bands to win. Metchul rules after all.

Another pretty cool band I saw was Theorized. Not sure were they were from but good stuff. Old school death metal with another good vocalist. Pappu’s New T-Shirt was pretty good fun as well in a power-prog way but let down a little by the guitarist’s refusal to play a solo.

The rest of the bands were varying degrees of shit.

I saw Bhoomi after ages at Rock Ethos and I was quite impressed with how tight they were with the new drummer. They played a few covers and moved away from the all original set-list of Rock Ethos but were good all the same.

We stayed there two nights and almost 3 days and didn’t go to the beach once. We did gorge on the seafood though. Anjal is such an easy fish to eat and these guys really know how to cook it. I swear the Anjal Rava Fry was heavenly. There was also some awesome Squid happening. All in all, terrific food.

Then there’s the place itself. It’s so laidback and peaceful that you can’t help feeling the same way when you’re there. The vibe I get here is better than any other place I’ve been to.

In other news I got the first mix of the Myndsnare album. Sounds pretty good and somewhere along the way KP’s found groove. Sandesh is playing some good shit too and the sound overall is pretty damn good. Myndsnare’s debut album. About damn time!

I finally got broadband btw. Funny thing is, I was getting more new music when I didn’t have broadband and simply burnt stuff from friends. Haven’t heard anything new in ages and currently tripping on Anathema, Ministry and Marduk.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

2007 and extreme metal

2006, I thought was a terrific year for metal. 2007 turned out even better. This then is my top 50 from last year in order of preference. There is one dominant theme here. A lot of my favourite albums this year came from bands that had been releasing consistent quality albums but who then chose to up the ante this year and release their best work.

Orange Goblin – Healing Through Fire

I loved Thieving from the House Of God but Healing Through Fire tops that by a long way. Orange Goblin is poised to join the ranks of CoC and Clutch. They’re still stoner friendly but they’ve managed to transcend the genre to become a bit special.

High On Fire – Death Is This Communion

An incredibly powerful metal album and another case of an already great band just upping the ante to new levels. Like Slayer colliding with Black Sabbath, Death Is This Communion is epic powerful and incredibly heavy.
Neurosis – Given To The Rising

The founding fathers of a suddenly overcrowded genre, Neurosis sound like a band with a point to prove and Given to the Rising is a crushing testament to the power and dark passion of this band. Incredible.

Sigh – Hangman’s Hymn

After the slight disappointment of Gallows Gallery I wasn’t expecting much from Sigh but this one is brilliant. Mixing German classical music with German thrash metal ala early Sodom and Destruction sounds like a horrible idea but Sigh make it work. This is unique, memorable and completely over the top.

Earth – Hibernaculum
Reinterpretations of songs recorded previously, HIbernaculum sees the Earth sound at its most minimalist. Inspired by and going for the same feel as the soundtrack to Spaghetti westerns, this may not be for everybody but if you ever stood in front of the mirror and pretended to be “the man with no name” then you should check this out.

Monstrosity – Spiritual Apocalypse
Rise to Power was pretty awesome but again a case of a band taking the existing format and pushing all levels to overdrive. The death metal album of the year. Awesome.

Antimatter – Leaving Eden
Beautiful melancholic doom rock that echoes Anathema, Nick Drake and Pink Floyd and does it superbly. Mick Moss has become one of my favourite singer songwriter types and Leaving Eden will tell you exactly why.

Marduk – Rom 512
Sweden’s Marduk has been around for ages now and have always been a favourite. Rom 512 is the band’s best ever. It charts a new course for the band into slower, heavier and darker territory and surprised me quite a bit. If you like extreme metal and don’t mind the odd black metal band, then check this out.

The Ocean – Precambrian
Occasionally heavy, sometimes dense, mostly layered and always quite captivating. This is an album that’s grown on me with every listen and there’s so much stuff happening here that it’s a stoner’s dream. I think this band is going to be huge in a year’s time. Lets see.

Trouble – Simple Mind Condition
Trouble came back. The doom metal of yore was replaced by a rocking 70s stoner vibe and Eric Wagner sang his heart out to make Simple Mind Condition an album that’s been on my playlist all year round.

Hellborg, Johansson,Johansson, Eklundh – Art Metal
I don’t know how to describe this but it’s like four virtuosos playing rock music carnatic classical style. Sublime.

Immolation – Shadows In The Light
Any other year this would be a lot higher on the list. No other band sounds like Immolation and Shadows In The Light is another incredible exercise in sonic ass kicking.

Hidden Hand – The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote
Scott "Wino" Weinrich is still at it after all these years and The Ressurection of Whiskey Foote is a worthy addition to his ever growing legacy in the stoner doom genre.

Alabama Thunderpussy – Open Fire

Southern fried stoner rock meets British heavy metal. Open Fire is heavy, melodic, catchy and rocks your socks off.

Rotting Christ – Theogonia
The Greeks have been quietly releasing quality albums for a while now and Theogonia is the distillation of everything that makes Rotting Christ such a terrific extreme metal band.
Electric Wizard – Witchcult Today
Finally, Jus Oborne has come up with a worthy companion piece to Dopethrone. The sound has been tweaked just a little and the music’s become a bit more accessible The band sound the better for it.

Anaal Nathrakh – Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here / Mistress – The Glory Bitches of Doghead

It's been a terrific year for Mike Kenny and Dave Hunt as they had two terrific extreme metal releases. Firstly with the doom gone grindcore sounds of Mistress and then with the quasi black metal of Anaal Nathraakh. Awesome stuff.

Pelican – City Of Echoes

Another band that's been around for a while now and releasing instrumental rock albums but City Of Echoes just takes the existing format, tweaks it, distills it and comes out completely sublime. Awesome stoner friendly fare.

Middian – Age Eternal
Dark, incredibly dense doom metal. I don't know if there will be another Middian album but this band deserves your support. Awesome stuff.

Pro-Pain Age Of Tyranny - The Tenth Crusade

Gary Meskil and co. have been around for ages and just seem to get better and better. While not coming close to the career highpoint of Contents Under Pressure, this is still quality Pro-Pain.

Clutch From Beale Street To Oblivion

This is probably my least favourite of the last three Clutch albums but it still rocks out.

Deathspell Omega Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum

Complicated, intense and quite disconcerting at times, this band went from being a pet hate to complete ownage with their latest album.

sHeavy The Machine That Won The War

sHeavy does the whole retro rock vibe better than most bands and it helps that the vocalist sounds like a young and healthy Ozzy.

Alchemist Tripsis

Another band thats never been a big favourite but Tripsis was quite tripped out. Good stuff

Wolves In The Throne Room Two Hunters

Hippie black metal anyone ? This is lush wonderfully arranged black metal that's very stoner friendly. Much better than the over hyped Diadem Of 12 Stars, Wolves... will hopefully be around for a long while.

Boris / Merzbow Rock Dreams

I love these Japanese loonies. Last year had Boris teaming up with Sun O))) and this year it's a live collaboration with Japanese noise God Merzbow. Complete free flowing art.

Project: Failing Flesh - The Conjoined

Schizophrenic technical extreme metal with some awesome riffing and grooves. Another band that deserves some attention

Weedeater God Luck and Good Speed

Terrific stoner metal and the album title of the year.

Prong Return Of The Damager

Now this album should have been the follow up to Rude Awakening and not that Scorpio Sleeping album. Kickass return to form for Tommy Victor.

November's Doom The Novella Reservoir

Very impressive extreme metal band from America that just seems to get better and better.

Akercocke Antichrist

This is the band's best album yet and any other year would have been a lot higher on my list. Superb stuff.

Om Pilgrimage

The other half of Sleep turned in a terrific drum n bass doom album. Light a fatty, switch of the lights and go on this Pilgrimage.

Lesbian Power Hor

I don't know where these guys came from or even what they do but Power Hor is a terrific stoner doom album that has the ability to meld completely crushing doom metal with some intricate psychedelic rock.

Pig Destroyer Phantom Limb

This one's the list simply because it reminds me so much of Enemy Soil. There isn;t a lot new on this album but when it comes to face ripping grindcore there are few bands that do it better than Pig Destroyer these days.

Gorefest Rise To Ruin

A band that just refused to follow trends and did whatever they felt like, Gorefest was a sentimental favourite of mine and although their comeback La Muerte didn't do too much, this one was quite awesome.

Portal Outre

Wierdo Aussie extreme metal band that mixes some Celtic Frost and death metal with a really strong black metal vibe. Captivating stuff.

Blotted Science The Machinations Of Dementia

Instrumental metal trio who completely slay. This is awesome technical stuff from Ron Jarzombeck (Watchtower) Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse) and Charlie Zelany.

Abscess Horrorhammer

Old school bitch. Chris Riefert and Danny Coralles came back with this death metal album that was raw, sick and a whole lot of fun.

Aeon Rise To Dominate

Rise To Dominate kicks ass. That's all you really need to know.

Desaster 666 Satan's Soldiers Syndicate

Desaster has released their best album since Hellfire's Dominion and quite probably the best album of their career. The black thrash blueprint stays the same but the awesome headbanging grooves of Hellfire's Dominion are back. Stan's Soldiers indeed.

Dublin Death Patrol DDP For Life

Bay Area supergroup of sorts, this one has Chuck Billy and Steve Souza trading vocals and if you grew up with the whole Bay Area thrash thing then that is the stuff that wet dreams are made off.

Machine Head The Blackening

Machien Head finally made an album that could stand next to Burn My Eyes. A little trendy but these songs rocked. Can't wait for them to hit Bangalore.

Cephalic Carnage Xenosapien

All over the place tech-grind that went from irritating the fuck out of me to actually

Gallhammer Ill Innocence

3 piece all girl band from Japan that mixes crust punk with doom and comes across like all three of them are high on Corex and Spasmos. Fucked up but quite brilliant.

Dew Scented Incinerate

This one just rocks. Nothing new about it but every song has a killer riff and the whole death thrash ala The Haunted just completely appealed to me.

Sun O))) Oracle

Like Earth's ugly deformed brother.

Unsane Visqueen

Noise rock ala Helmet and Prong but with the band's own originality and some killer grooves. Comes across like a stoned Slayer at times so may not be for everybody.

Blood Red Throne Come Death

Tchort does the whole Floridan death metal thing to terrific effect. Not as crushing as Altered Genesis but more varied and all the better for it.