METAL ON ICE – TALES FROM CANADA’S HARD ROCK AND HEAVY METAL HEROES BY SEAN KELLY – DUNDURN
Metal On Ice deploys the old device of deploying hockey in a cold and frost-covered land as a metaphor for Canada to tell personal and professional stories about ‘hard rock’ and ‘heavy metal’ in the Great White North. Sean Kelly, a fan and a musician who operated a band called Crash Kelly, weaves his own personal story with those of bands, musicians, acquaintances and names fans the world over would recognize to give Canada’s HR/HM history coverage.
Firstly, the man comes across as sincere, congenial and rather sentimental. His work and endeavour seems to come from the right place. Secondly, the subject-matter could have used a treatment, any treatment, and Kelly gives it 200 pages. While metal admittedly is a universal movement Canada has not had an outlet to shine a light on its bands. Thirdly, however, and yes here it comes, the man is somewhat confused and garbled. There is a devil’s horn on the cover and the words “hard rock” and “heavy metal,” but no one on earth can convince this reader that the band Toronto or Brighton Rock (say) are remotely either of those styles. For heaven’s sake, most Duran Duran songs are faster and heavier than Brighton Rock. That band’s song We Came To Rock or, another offender, Haywire’s Bad Bad Boys make Rick Springfield seem brutal in comparison. Those songs are used as examples because of their titles. Even with such titles those acts could not muster a single metal chord. Heck, Brighton Rock’s style is in the monicker. Rush, which barely gets a mention in this book, crushes these candy coated wussy dance bands dead. The whole thing rings even more hollow because the man himself was touring with Nelly Furtado. Enough Said really except, to say that bands like Helix, Voivod, Sacrifice, Kick Axe are in the book as well so it is not all false. The potential reader needs to know what he or she is about to get however.
Self-awareness is not a strong suit. The author takes time and space to notice and note that Canadian media and infrastructure have always lacked an edge, which is so very true, and then he himself propagates the problem with his inclusions. If Kim Mitchell had never released a song that alone would have made the world music scene 3% heavier over the course of history. Lee Aaron thinks her old label Roadrunner was in Belgium and Kelly spells Kreator with a ‘C,’ but there is much to admire here as well.
The book certainly features legitimate hard rock and metal bands and does have a few thoughtful moments, as well as several cool anecdotes, moments of levity and factoids. Kelly grew up in North Bay and gravitated towards the harder sounds. His travel through childhood, adolescence, the local hockey arena and more to Toronto are documented. Then come stories about Helix, Honeymoon Suite, Killer Dwarfs, Razor and others. Good old Canadian inferiority complex vis-a-vis the US is both acknowledged indirectly and discussed. So many subjects of the book love Canada, et cetra et cetra bla bla, but moved to the US. Makes one admire bands like Razor and Sacrifice even more who stayed and … hold on, even those guys had US-bound members so never mind. Page 32 offers definitions for all instruments and band positions that is not exclusive to Canada and universal and, in the process, gives the best description for drum solos one could ever read. The author’s sense of humour is an asset to the book. Unfortunately, there is an obligatory chapter about women in metal (rock?) and how they were dressed in the ’80s. It is depicted as a bad thing, but Lee Aaron (for whom Kelly also played) should admit that she would not have a career without the sex, her looks, her topless magazine pictorial and all that. Doubtful she would ever admit the obvious, but the rest of us know that she called her album Metal Queen, and not Metal Person, and even if she was coerced into that one then someone needs to explain to me how she herself co-wrote a song called Watcha Do To My Body off her Bodyrock album next. Evidently, males were not dressing sexually at that time! The phenomenon was exclusive to women. Sarcasm aside, even more pertinently, it is written like it was a bad thing. Sex is natural. Like milk. That point aside, the book obviously covers universal topics and not just Canadian matters.
The book is a quick read, features band photographs and benefits from Kelly himself being a working musician and having both the requisite contacts to interview and knowledge of the industry from within to put things into context and explain them to the rest of us. – Ali “The Metallian”
SATANATH/STRIBORG – PRISONERS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM – GRIMMDISTRIBUTION
This is a split release of the two one-man band projects. Satanath is the work of Alexey Korolyov of the label of the same name (and others including GrimmDistribution). Striborg is the Australian Russell Menzies aka Sin Nanna. Prisoners Of The Solar System is five songs of the former and six of the latter at nearly 80 minutes. In this split the two are indulging their talents into creating dark, ambient, (post) apocalyptic and horror themes using synthesizer sounds and effects and little else. Some may call Satanath’s part in this darksynth as the listener is immersed into the sounds that have no beginning or end and the songs meld into another. Striborg takes a more electronic, even New Wave approach. Titles like Interdimensional Transcendence allude to the theme and the voices interspersed in the songs provide a dark feeling. The sounds or music do speed up as in The Burden Of Existence but it is all dominated by the darker and electronic sounds. The CD ends with its shortest track and a pseudo title track called We Are All Prisoners. – Anna Tergel
HATEVÖMIT – NUNSLAUGHTER – Split – GRIMMDISTRIBUTION
This is a short four-track disc featuring a Turkish and an American band sharing the disc equally. The music is great and worth hearing for underground black/death metal bands, but the release has more value than the music alone.
Musically, the Turkish duo specializes in the type of pounding death that fans of Asphyx or Autopsy likely enjoy. The deep growls sit atop of a ritualistic battering ram. The band does speed up on Necro Future, which sounds promising. Nunslaughter picks up the speed on its Fuck The Bastard track. The vocals are hoarse and bestial. Satanic Slut ends the album with a track Nunslaughter fans have surely heard before by now. The riffing is superior and has a crushing blow to it. Too bad about the drum production however.
The album’s insert features lyrics by Nunslaughter, but none by Hatevömit. It is not that the Turks are worried about offending that country’s religious government or sensibilities. Look at the drenched in red cover artwork. It features two Baphometic goats – one representing Hatevömit and the other Nunslaugther – with knives to the throats of a Christian monk and a Muslim Imam.
This cannot end well, after all it is a necro future, but then again it might. To verify hit replay on the CD player. – Ali “The Metallian”
BLACK KNIGHT – RITCHIE BLACKMORE by JERRY BLOOM – OMNIBUS PRESS
Ritchie Blackmore is a talented moody bastard.
That is the gist of it. Who does not know about and of Ritchie Blackmore, the guitarist for Deep Purple, Rainbow and Blackmore’s Night? Well, reportedly there was a hermit in West Virginia, but ignoring him everyone is familiar with everything from the Deep Purple cover of Hush to the anti-war song that is Child in Time to the massive chord of Smoke The Water and the Russ Ballard penned I Surrender, which Rainbow recorded in 1980 for 1981’s Difficult To Cure.
Ritchie Blackmore (Richard Hugh Blackmore) is indeed famous, but given the number of years of his activity and his introverted ways not as much is known about him as his output and history merits. Enter Black Knight Ritchie Blackmore by long-time fan, and now author, Jerry Bloom. The book was released in 2008 and covers everything from the guitarist/composer’s childhood, fledgling music career beginning 1962 to Deep Purple, Rainbow and Blackmore’s Night featuring his latest and fourth wife Candace. The book walks the reader chronologically through the years, bands and albums and does a good job of covering the albums, the tours and notable incidents without sinking into too much detail. There are only so many minutes and pages, but it is clear sometimes whom the author has interviewed (Joe Lynn Turner) and whom he has not (Ronnie James Dio). Where an interview is missing, the author uses old interviews, articles and third person reports. The book relies on well-known facts, interviews and conversations with the man himself to introduce the guitarist better to the readers. The famous ‘Smoke On The Water’ incident is covered next to more unique stories around the band’s formation, choice of monicker and intra-band clashes. Turns out Blackmore is fastidious regarding his art, a practical joker and an unfeeling and ruthless hirer and firer of men. Despite that the book is unauthorized and probably, as such, more objective regarding what happened and vis-à-vis the music. The grammar is fine perhaps except the dubious sentence, “An Unauthorized Biography That Looks Beyond The Myth And The Rumours Of The Most Charismatic But Misunderstood Of Rock Guitarists.” Safe to assume that sentence was placed there by staff from Omnibus Press, although the description is as apt as any for the book. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – RUSSIAN DEATH METAL VOL. 5 – DARKNAGAR
Firstly, there is a note on the last page of the extensive booklet for this CD informing us that “Russian Death Metal” is a registered trademark of… What? Some guy was actually allowed to trademark a description? All hail predatory capitalism!
Past that piece of corporatism there is nothing mainstream or capitalistic about the eighteen bands and tracks collected on this iteration of this compilation. In fact, the material is good enough for me to seek out the previous iterations of this sampler. A servant was just dispatched from Metallian Towers to take care of this. Each band is actually a bona fide death metal one and represented by an introductory page of its own inclusive of membership, contact information and a photograph.
Several bands and their respective tracks stand out of course, but let us get the overarching negative out of the way. So many bands here – and elsewhere recently – use drum machines and it is a shame. It is unemotional, anti-music and obviously lazy. Stop it! True to its description this disc is an effective way to discover many a Russia-based death metal band. First off is The Mutilator with the track Decent Elimination. The lead work is quite impressive, but why mix death metal with music from Prince Of Persia? Brainteasers stands out not only because the brother and sister are wearing pink T-shirts, but also because despite mother’s advice they called their contribution Little Fucker Factor (yup Putin gets name checked). Cain Will Rise has a haunting track, but here comes the Oriental melody again. Embodied Deception’s singer Anton is clearly influenced by Carcass, while Corvus Lives Again highlights speed and heaviness and vomitous vocals. The Faceless Hunter contributes a song with lyrics in Russian. Marble Carrion shows up somewhere mid-disc and has a frenzied offering perhaps because it is one of the few bands with full cadre of five musicians. The disc closes with its longest track, The Storm Is Coming and yes for once the ‘prog death metal’ tag may be apt.
It is a tribute to Russia that there are so many death metal bands and, at least on this disc, so few waste our time with K&F (Keyboards & Female vocals). – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – WITCHERY FLAMES OF UNDERGROUND LUST – METAL SCRAP
Almost no one buys compilation albums. It is rather sad that no one is sampling bands from discs like this any longer, but convenience and reality being what they are it is likely that CDs like this are more bonus fodder and given away freely as promotional tools. Either way, this disc – which seems to have derived its title from an amalgamation of multiple underground bands – features seventeen songs by seventeen bands.
It showcases a diverse set of metal and pseudo-metal acts on the Ukraine-based label. There is the Sepultura, the My Dying Bride and there is also Helloween. There is even the confused band, which is both Dimmu Borgir and Pantera on the same song. Yes, everyone guessed that band is Druknroll. Several bands have committed the mistake of including tracks where half the song is an intro or a dub or whatever thus not taking full advantage of their space. That is silly.
There are several personal favourites on this disc and they are Estate, Dark Morok and Xpus and its incantation influenced pounding death metal.
With all of that said, fans can sample many, but not all of the, bands on this underground label and find a dedicated column inside the jacket for each band. – Ali “The Metallian”
I NEED A DODGE! JOE STRUMMER ON THE RUN (DVD) – CADIZ MUSIC
This movie or documentary centers on a specific event or period in Joe Strummer’s life, Strummer being the main man behind the ’70s and ’80s punk band The Clash. The plot here almost qualifies it as a niche story. It is about Strummer’s escape to Granada, Spain to clear his mind after the near collapse and changes in the band – which led to the band disbanding later in 1986 anyway. Subsequently, he has return to London to witness the birth of his daughter Lola, he parks his Dodge and rushes back to England, but he never finds his car again and in a 1997 radio interview puts out an appeal to find his long lost Dodge. The tale takes the viewers back to Spain with interviews with those who met Strummer in Spain and warmly welcomed him to their city; others re-tell the state of The Clash that led the man to escape London. The documentary tends to stray to tell the story of The Clash itself and the story of Spain through the Spanish interviewees but it is amusing that no one seems to remember the colour of the main subject of the film. It is also worth noting that while there he helped a local band, 091 and produced their album. The members of the Granada based quintet tell of their meetings and impressions and paint the clearest picture of the man for I Need A Dodge!
Naturally many of the interviews are in Spanish but English subtitles are provided. I Need A Dodge is certainly one of the strangest topics to follow up on, however filmmaker Nick Hall has managed to string together an interesting footnote into an hour-plus film. Concert footage is included on few occasions and as is natural for the era is grainy and of poor quality. The bonus material includes more extensive interviews and the DVD comes with a cassette tape (yes cassette tape!) of the 1997 radio interview, a post card and a brief history booklet, which highlights Strummer’s deep connection to Spain. – Anna Tergel
SALAD DAYS: A DECADE OF PUNK IN WASHINGTON DC (1980-90) DVD – MVD VISUAL
Salad Days is not the first documentary to look at the Washington DC punk scene with the Positive Force DVD being at least one other. This DVD starts out pointing out that the quality of music (and other art too) that used to come out of Washington DC was in spite of the situation in the US capital at the time. This was the era when there was an assassination attempt (Reagan in 1981) and Marion Barry, the then mayor, was to be engulfed in a drugs scandal in a bankrupt and violent city. Interviews with the likes of then Washington resident Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi) and many others emphasize that in the very early days the outcast image was often a source of trouble on the streets. However in clubs the bands, local or otherwise, created a sense of awe and fascination for those watching and later emulating. A band like Bad Brains also added to the non-establishment feel of the scene in the back drop of Reagan era conservatism. Images and grainy footage are interspersed as usual with lots about the scene, labels and audio of the very low budget recordings. The most influence is credited to the Dischord label which was founded by Ian MacKaye. The struggle to arrange All Ages shows is interesting and the creative solution to allow every teenager to listen and attend a positive move for the spread of the message and music. Minor Threat’s Straight Edge song, which in itself became a big source of contention and debate, is portrayed as one turning point and later a split of sorts is documented where bands eventually divided into those who strayed to political activism and others who would become something resembling emo. All this while the shows themselves became a source of violence and detached from the music. A brief look at women in the (punk) scene sheds some light on the acceptance of the women, or lack thereof, in some circles. The main conclusion reached by Salad Days however is to credit the influence and success of bands like Fugazi, their place in the punk era and contribution and setting the stage for the 90s grunge’s success too. The extras include extended footage and interviews. – Anna Tergel
GG ALLIN UNCENSORED LIVE 1993 (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This DVD contains footage from four mid-1993 shows in New Orleans, Houston, Chicago and Detroit. In the first GG lays down the American flag, defecates on it and sets the whole thing on fire. All the while plastic glasses are being thrown from the audience and all the while his band just go on playing the songs as if nothing is happening. A small pile of his tools is on stage and they apparently include small fireworks as he later uses those too. Then he curses and jumps off stage to clash with the audience who sometimes respond in kind. At the end of the song, fire extinguishers are needed to clean up the burning debris on stage. Later the clashes escalate and even the bouncers or security guards intervene. It is notable that a mini barrier of sorts had been set up between the stage and the watching few, everything looks very predictable but tongue in cheek too. There is not much more to say about GG Allin, his shows or his punk music in particular. One of the more bizarre characters, GG died within weeks of these shows. He left behind a head-scratching array of incidents and performances some of which can be seen here. However, it requires a bit too much curiosity to be truly interested. – Anna Tergel
CLOCKWORK ORANGE COUNTY: THE RISE OF THE WEST COAST PUNK ROCK (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This DVD takes a look at the California punk scene that rose in the late ’70s. The focus is on a small club, the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, California. Various new interviews and older footage make up the story of the club and the scene. The style of the time is described as slam dancing. Recognizable names like Henry Rollins, then of Black Flag, and Keith Morris of Circle Jerks recall the crazy spot in the middle of an otherwise middle class Southern California region. Other names like Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) maintain that the focus was to just have fun outside of the surrounding norm and that the scene rose in defiance to the more mainstream sounds and looks of the times. Jerry Roach, the club’s owner, tells the story of how he got the bar in place of commission in a real estate deal and then had to fight at town council and in courts to keep this odd place – with an odd looking stage and stage background – open. Many reminisce about the bands that got a start at the Cuckoo’s Nest and people who managed to get in even when under 18. Some of the footage seen here is taken from the 1981 documentary Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest. These include Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, T.S.O.L. (True Sounds Of Liberty), Iggy Pop and many others. Unsurprisingly the footage audio is sometimes poor and the visual often grainy but the accounts of the times make for more fascinating viewing anyway. Slam Dancing is explained by the same cast as an early form of moshing with bodies and punches being thrown around. The story moves forward with the music turning more violent and punk turning into hardcore. The bands playing seemed to become secondary to the mosh pit and the crime outside. The DVD ends with more recent punk bands and asks where they stand in respect to the first or early generation of punk rock. – Anna Tergel
POSITIVE FORCE: MORE THAN A WITNESS 30 YEARS OF PUNK POLITICS IN ACTION (DVD) – PM PRESS
Positive Force, born out of a crowd funding campaign, is the story of a youth volunteer activist group of the same name that sprang up in the mid-’80s Reagan years in Washington DC. Punk rock and benefit shows were a central part of the activism and the basic goal was to live with better values at the footsteps of a corrupt government. The DVD as a documentary takes the bold step of using a Karl Marx image and a quote it attributes to him within its first four minutes. Mark Andersen, the Positive Force co-founder uses “Revolution has to begin in the ruthless criticism of everything existing”, as an explanation for the “politics of punk”. Interviews with influencers and figures of the time like Penny Rimbaud, co-founder of the English band Crass, are interspersed with images, comics, flyers, editorial cartoons and footage of the times. It is said that Crass’ form of anti-establishment punk formed the basis and made its way across the Atlantic. Interviews and thoughts by the likes of Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Skeeter Thompson of Scream who each recall the meetings, the protests, the causes and the disagreements on how to act. Bands like Beefeater, Fugazi, Bikini Girl are seen playing and spreading the word. There is also an interview with Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame where he shares his thoughts on the music scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s and what it could have possibly achieved and still achieve. The documentary goes on to reveal the differences that developed within the scene as MTV took notice. The question was asked if it was ok to work with and be seen on the mainstream and if the causes were compromised with the smallest hints of popularity. Positive Force exists to this day and it is arguably mainly a local Washington DC organization working on issues like housing. The extras include more live footage from Fugazi, Seven Seconds, Anti-Flag, Soulside, The Evens, Beefeater and Chumbawamba and further in-depth profiles and interviews discussing issues such voting and if it still matters at all. – Anna Tergel
RYE COALITION – THE STORY OF THE HARD LUCK 5 (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This DVD tracks the decade long rise of the New Jersey “emo” band. Formed in 1994 there is little to indicate emo in the early noisy rock or punk sounds. The Jesus Lizards is mentioned as an influence but all in all these teenagers just made noise early on. The slow rise from local popularity is seen in – new and old – interviews and footage that included tongue in cheek clashes and interaction with audience members in small venues. Friends and family members reminisce about what the band meant and how they grew and lived. The bands members themselves talk about jobs they had while in the band and in between shows. These included tutoring Algebra and walking dogs! Eventually the band decides to tour more, quit day jobs and via van breakdowns, bad hotel beds and CMJ charts the band reaches the heights of the short lived Dreamworks Records and Dave Grohl of Nirvana fame producing.
The theme, as the DVD title suggests, seems to a tale bad luck for a band that went through so much to get to a big label for it to crash soon after. It is up to the viewer to decide if this is an atypical story or a just an all too common one. – Anna Tergel
THE SEX PISTOLS ON TV (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This documentary style compilation on the history of the seminal punk band of the ’70s is interesting and fascinating. Early interviews and TV features starting in 1976 show the band defiant but strangely quiet, or perhaps only so during interviews. The bleeps are needed often but questions are often answered in an almost childlike manner. The contrast to the stage show seems evident yet surprising. The early theme is of the band being banned from radio and banned from playing with the authorities trying to control the obscene. With Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee in the background the notoriety made Sex Pistols even more popular in 1977. Fans imitating the look and the lifestyle are shown and interviewed, sometimes even the police seem curious. By 1978 the punk scene has made its way to the top of the charts and publications like Melody Maker are benefiting from it. Sex Pistols make their way to the US and the reaction there is similar, both curious
and fascinated. By 1979 the band has split and Sid Vicious is dead. Archive footage of the trials and tribulations highlight the state of punk and Sex Pistols in particular. The timeline moves to other post Sex Pistols projects, more censored words, more politicians complaining and inevitably Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon declaring his disinterest and walking out from interviews too. The focus moves to punk clothes and the role of fashion in punk and the DVD turns into a Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren profile. Other punk and post punk names are interviewed with Sex Pistols mostly moved into the background or used as distant reference points only. The numerous reunions are given some attention with the fans and audience sometimes looking wilder than the ageing punk rockers themselves. Plenty of old and newer interviews on drugs, society and the band makes The Sex Pistols On TV a good and rather comprehensive viewing. The bonus is a 20 minute preview of an upcoming Sid Vicious documentary. – Anna Tergel
PUNK IN AFRICA – THREE CHORDS THREE COUNTRIES ONE REVOLUTION … (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
The DVD starts with a quote attributed to the late Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti that goes “In Africa music cannot be for entertainment it must be for revolution.” A very brief history of the African struggle paves the way for what punk (and its predecessors like Ska and Reggae) stood for and meant in Africa and elsewhere. For the purposes of this DVD the story spans South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The story of late ’70s Durban, South Africa-based Wild Youth is told via band members and the strange scene of white members playing a street gig outdoors in the middle of city among blacks is seen as fascinating. The theme is mainly that of the depression of the time and the struggles and fears of being watched by the state police. A similar story is told about and by Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria-based bands and in particular the multiracial band of the same era National Wake and Warrick Sony’s Kalahari Surfers. The scene shifts to Mozambique but to a band, 340ml, that was and is based in South Africa. Similarly, The Rudimentals is a mix of South African and Zimbabwean members who tell a different but same story of struggle that is probably not wholly unique to Africa but more unique to living under oppression and legacy of colonialism. The film ends with a glimpse of bands based elsewhere in Africa like Kenya and Cape Verde.
Punk In Africa can be viewed in English, German, Spanish or Portuguese. Bonus material is comprised of music by most of the bands featured in the film. – Anna Tergel
DRAGON CITY – PUNK ROCK IN CHINA (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
Dubbing itself the “first punk rock movie ever produced in the People’s Republic of China” Dragon City is the story of Chinese punk band No Name living in a post-apocalyptic world where money and gold caused the “big mistake” and left the world in ruins. They journey in wastelands – or what looks like abandoned places in China – and evade flesh eaters in search of meaning and purpose. They meet an American, speaking in a Southern accent, who offers them a way and tells them about Dragon City. They are led to a place ‘far removed from the desolation’ seen before and the quartet starts playing on a modern looking stage and slowly the crowds gather… . Musically the band is standard punk with simple screams and fast and straight forward riffs.
The movie itself is 37 minutes long but the extras are more than double that. The bonus material include director’s, Darryl Pestilence, commentary where he tells story of how he get to know the band in 2009, directed their music videos and got the idea for this film and he goes on to admit to numerous continuity errors in the film! Also available are a few music videos, live footage and other short segments made by the same director. Where necessary English subtitles are used. – Anna Tergel
D.O.A. – TO HELL ‘N BACK (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
D.O.A. the punk band from Vancouver, Canada have been around since the punk heydays in the ’70s and had a farewell tour during 2013. The farewell was at least partly due to main man Joe ‘Shithead’ Keithley wanting to pursue a career in politics. This DVD is made up of footage of four separate shows recorded during that tour and a previous one. Songs featured are from shows in Vancouver, Calgary and Canmore, Alberta in 2011 and again Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theater in 2013. There are a total of 30 songs across the four shows with titles like Police Brutality, General Strike, Riot, Class War, Fuck You and I Hate You exemplifying the punk attitude and style of music that often accompanies it. The quality is good but the crowds though familiar with the band seem a bit less energetic than one might expect. Bonus material includes an interview and recording session’s footage. This DVD release includes an extra bonus, the full audio CD of D.O.A.’s last studio album, 2012’s We Come In Peace. The album features 14 songs. – Anna Tergel
’83 US FESTIVAL: DAYS 1-3 (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
The 1983 version of the Us (the pronoun not the initials) Festival was the second (first was the labour day weekend the previous year) long weekend festival that occurred on memorial day weekend at Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, North of Los Angeles. The three – plus fourth day the following weekend – day event was set up by Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer fame. He describes the event in the opening montage simply as his wanting to throw a big party and explicitly mentions high Apple shares as a catalyst. The first day, May 28th, featured Divinyls, INXS, The English Beat, Stray Cats, Men At Work and The Clash. Others that performed but are not featured on this DVD were A Flock of Seagulls, Oingo Boingo and Wall of Voodoo. The third day, May 30, featured Berlin, Quarterflash, U2, Missing Persons and Stevie Nicks. David Bowie, The Pretenders and Los Lobos were others that were there but are not seen here.
The second or metal day features Judas Priest with Breakin The Law and You Got Another Thing Coming; Triumph with Lay It On The Line, Fight The Good Fight and A World Of Fantasy; and Scorpions with The Zoo and Can’t Get Enough. Van Halen, Ozzy and Quiet Riot round off some of the names not seen.
Filmmaker Glenn Aveni has added some documentary features that include brief audience snapshots, interviews with band members and other trivia and commentary by Mark Goodman of MTV fame and Wozniak himself. Attendance over the four days was pegged to top 2 million with the metal day attracting a good chuck of it and having the local mayor fearing riots. Wozniak had also taken the chance to showcase software at the event and there are claims that water sprays or ‘outdoor rain’ – to cool the audience in the intense California heat – really took off or even debuted at the Us Festival. This DVD clocks in at 135 minutes but the rolling credits seem to take too long and take away a bit more of that time that one might expect! – Anna Tergel
LAST SHOP STANDING: THE RISE, FALL AND REBIRTH OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP (DVD) – CONVEXE
This is an interview filled documentary based on the book by Graham Jones. It takes a look at the rise and rapid fall of independent record stores in the UK. It features around 20 stores whose owners, young and old but mostly old, reminisce about the rise of the vinyl and LP. One of the early stories is of one owner talking about first seeing an advance version of an Elvis album and expecting it to be just ‘another’ American country singer. The interviews are mostly restricted to store owners and the emphasis is on the role of the physical store in the booming past and its fall in the digital, big business age. Another of the more interesting trivia is store owners recalling how their sales were used to compile sales charts and how those were nudged or manipulated by pushing specific albums. The fall of the independents is mostly attributed to the introduction of the CD – its marketing that included claims of ‘unbreakability’ – the Napster phenomenon and non-music stores or supermarkets deciding to stock and sell music. The final segment is about a resurgence or revival of sorts, of both vinyl and brick and mortar stores, with the surviving stores adapting to the times, benefiting from new demand, selling not just records but any music related item and using the internet to find new music and promoting themselves.
The main film is 50 minutes long but Last Shop Standing is complemented with over 70 minutes of extras expanding on the same topics with extended interviews with the likes of Johnny Marr, Billy Bragg and others. – Anna Tergel
BRICK AND MORTAR AND LOVE (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This is a limited budget documentary that was partially funded by an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign. It is made by Scott Shuffitt who takes an inside look at the recent years of the X-tacy independent record store in Louisville, USA. After 25 years of selling albums the business is looking not so rosy but it manages to stay open. The tagline of the documentary, Indie Record Stores Are Not Just A Place To Buy A CD, tries to paint a picture of the importance of X-tacy, and other stores like it, to their community. It features interviews with its owner, John Timmons, and others in an attempt to paint a picture of the state of the small record store in America. Musicians, local people and employees are featured trying to do their part in rescuing the store and talk about what has gone wrong with the music and retail industry. The inevitable mini-revival optimistic story becomes a theme with tales of record stores staying afloat, even if barely so. However, this 70-minute film is mostly focusing on the business struggles of X-tacy and while it does offer some insight on the general state of the industry it has a somewhat limited scope. It struggles to be anything more than a singular story of one store with a unique place in its community. – Anna Tergel
ALL ACCESS EDITION: HARD CORE LOGO INCLUDES HARD CORE LOGO 2 (Blu-ray) – VSC
Hard Core Logo starts with a brief German introduction during the opening credits. Made by Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald, Hard Core Logo is the story of Joe Dick and his band Hard Core Logo setting up a reunion tour and benefit concert for the shot punk rocker, the legendary Bucky Haight. The band tours across Canada and travels to Haight’s home to find out he was never shot and this was only a reunion attempt by Dick. The somewhat predictable trials and tribulations of young men doing drugs, drinking and fighting are all seen in a pseudo-documentary style. The final scenes included in the film by the ‘sole decision’ of McDonald show Dick shooting himself in front of the camera at the very end of the reunion tour.
Hard Core Logo 2, this time starting with a Japanese intro, is wholly different. This is probably what a script looks like when written while on some acid journey or something like that. Early impressions while watching this ‘really not a sequel’ are that one is not really clear what this movie is or where it is really going. Bruce McDonald – as not himself but a fictionalized somewhat successful filmmaker – travels to meet Care Failure singer of Toronto punk band Die Mannequin, who claims to be channeling the spirit of his old friend Joe Dick. McDonald becomes involved in the story and attempted last chance for success of Die Mannequin, more than anything to do with Dick’s spirit. After ingesting a mushroom McDonald eventually finds his way to an ice cave where a fox starts talking to him – via Dick – and telling him to ditch ‘Jesus tv’ and start making films like he used to. This somehow leads him to the fear that Care Failure might be contemplating suicide much the same way Dick did, in front of a camera. A surprise ending awaits the viewer.
As a film this is the definition of unorthodox, probably very apt for a punk rock themed one. Each film comes with special features like audio commentary, music videos, trailers and other bonus features. – Anna Tergel
BEIJING PUNK (DVD) – MVD
This DVD was filmed on the eve of the 2008 Olympics with the intention of looking for something other than the games. Beijing Punk is an attempt by Australian filmmaker Shaun Jefford to search for an underground scene, if it exists at all, in Beijing. A brief search around Beijing shops yields little until he stumbles upon a club, the D-22, owned not by a Chinese but by Michael Pettis, an American! Even the booking (and record label) manager is not a Chinese national. This oddity runs counter to the perception that foreigners, nevermind nationals, are highly restricted and scrutinized by local officials. Several bands, Demerit, The Gar and Mi San Dao just to name a few, are featured with random concert footage. All lyrics sung during the footage are captioned and/or translated to English to provide a good deal of context and reference. Interviews with Demerit and Mi San Dao form the main part of this DVD and it features the ‘leader’/singer of the latter, Lei Jun, most. His English is better than one might expect and he is a very candid, self proclaimed skin head who is not afraid to talk about all aspects of life. In many ways he is very much a stereotypical punk, drinks questionable ‘syrups’ often, has two bulldogs, often watches bootleg Motorhead videos and reveals some, let’s just say unusual, opinions about Hitler. The aforementioned record label, Maybe Mars, supports bands like Demerit who claim to be real punk, have no interest in working and are from a bad area, a war zone as they call it, where sound of gunshots seem common.
Trials and tribulations of being in a band and not bothering with the rules is the main theme of Beijing Punk. It features surprising – in both similarities and dissimilarities to western life – imagery of young bands, young men and occasionally their female fans, all living outside and against the system.
Club D-22 has since closed after almost six years in existence. – Anna Tergel
CIRCLE JERKS – MY CAREER AS A JERK (DVD) – MVD
Film maker/director David Markey created this documentary about the late 70’s, 80’s and hiatus, fight and death interrupted later years California punk band. Circle Jerks were formed by ex-Black Flag members and others. The early and latter story is told by members with some rather odd unexplained trivia like how a band of this style would be allowed to rehearse in a church, as was the case in their early days. Interviews, some very detailed, talk about the band evolving, getting banned from clubs, changing members and include many other lesser known tidbits. Footage of crazy concerts with pits and stage dives and images of the same are thrown in to provide context. One obvious thing is that Circle Jerks concert footage is not rare at all as it is liberally used here. Some other funny and fun facts are guitarist Greg Hetson retelling the story of a concert where the audience threw watermelons and pieces of chicken at the band, the band calling their fifth album VI just for the fun of it and the band adding seconds to their songs just to make them seem longer. Lots more interesting trivia are told by others including Keith Morris, Lucky Lehrer, Earl Liberty and Zender Schloss. This is not just for punk fans and My Career As A Jerk is worth a watch. Circle Jerks were featured on the Decline Of The Western Civilization film. – Anna Tergel
PUPPETS WHO KILL: THE BEST OF SEASON 3 AND 4 (2DVD) – VSC
Puppets Who Kill’s original run ended in 2006, this ‘the best of’ is a reminder or revisit for many who may have long forgotten about the series. The story of four puppets or dolls (Cuddles “created to help people with problems … now he is the problem” the comfort doll, Buttons the bear, Bill the ventriloquist dummy and Rocko the dog) who live in a halfway house “in a last desperate stab at rehabilitation” with owner Dan Barlow (played by Comedian Dan Redican) is an often profanity-laced, sometimes witty story of the weirdness that the four and other myriad characters are involved in. Naturally each doll has its or his own nuttier side, be it the aforementioned profanity fetish, the overactive sexual drive, the psychopathic behaviour or just simply aggressive nature. The comedic standard is not always the highest and as such it sometimes fails to keep viewer interest, especially when a ‘best of’ in itself is near 290 minutes. However, there are high moments including one where at a corporate presentation Rocko the dog, along with Bill the ventriloquist dummy, advices a board meeting – chaired by Canadian actor Gord Robertson – by declaring that “Based on my lengthy experience in prison here are my tips on how to improve efficiency of an organization; One, it pays to lie like a bastard…”
Thirteen episodes and extras make up this, not properly chaptered, double DVD. Episode titles include Buttons And The Make A Wish Foundation and The CBC Is Killing Again. The extras are mainly made up of writer and director commentary, John Pattison and Shawn Alex Thompson in this case. – Anna Tergel
SISTER SMILE – THE TRAGIC TALE OF THE SINGING NUN (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
Sister Smile is the story of Soeur Sourire also known as the Singing Nun, a Belgian nun here played by Ginevra Colonna. She gained mainstream success in 1963 with a single called “Dominique.” This Italian language film tracks her youth from taking up the guitar and joining a convent to her eventual lesbian relationship and eventual death. We see her having nightmares of being plunged into hell and dreams of singing with guitar in hand. At one point she leaves the convent, without warning, and rumours soon spread that she has joined a satanic cult. Instead she joins the ‘Hope House’ where she meets the counselor, played by Simona Caparrini, whom she falls in love with. We see her unusual behaviour such as placing a tape on her mouth and drawing lipstick over it or drawing on her chest while in front of a mirror. The director tries to draw a picture of an unstable person who suddenly runs to her father but returns to her lover soon after. The film showcases the darker side of Sister Smile’s life and with the short-lived success barely given a place. This is director and screenwriter Roger Deutsch’s take on a real life story, sometimes powerful sometimes confusing and underwhelming.
Two short films by the director, Dead People and Mario Makes A Movie make up the bonus material. Italian with English subtitles. – Anna Tergel
SPOKANARCHY – WHERE WERE YOU IN ’82? (DVD) – CARNAGE & ROUGE
SpokAnarchy is a documentary about the early 80’s punk rock scene in the city of Spokane, USA. It starts with a brief history of the city where it is called the ‘biggest hick town’. Jack Kendall, a vintage clothing storeowner from the area described as a destination for ‘youth with the outsider culture’, talks a bit about the times. Jan Gregor of Sweet Madness, an early punk band of the era, gives his thoughts too so does Charlie Schmidt, a graphic artist. Many characters continue to give their take on the situation and atmosphere back then, these include Francois ‘one of the first punk rockers in Spokane’ Haraldson, Mikal Vollmer who published a zine back then and other natives or those who happened to live at or near the scene such as Erica K. Schisler who is now a Director of Product Development in Adobe Dynamic Media engineering! Sometimes bizarre scenes, sights and sounds are interspersed with sometimes lengthy interviews with the above-mentioned characters and others. There is nothing in here that is widely famous or known outside of the area, perhaps Vampire Lezbos is an exception but otherwise this is a tale of odd, underground art and fashion and not just music. Bonus material include photo galleries of flyers and zines of the time and short films with one titled Go F*ck Yourself which features the aforementioned Mikal Vollmer showing off his paintings including one called Monsters Fucking Kids. – Anna Tergel
GG ALLIN & THE MURDER JUNKIES – BLOOD, SHIT, AND FEARS (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This DVD features three shows from 1991 (at the Antenna Club, Fuped Duck and Orpheus Theater) and two from 1993 (at the Penguin Pub, The Metro), all scattered throughout the US. The late GG Allin, the pseudo-cult figure, is in full view here. Full view as in sometimes almost – and other times fully – nude while performing his brand of punk. Trashing venue tables, chairs and other things around him and audience members too! Not to mention hanging from ceilings, injuring himself and defecating on stage. His acts are enough to make the audience and people hanging around protect themselves or back off from the man and the stage. These shows are transferred from VHS recordings but the quality is not necessarily very poor, however the rest of the band and music are clearly and certainly secondary here. GG Allin dying as a result of an overdose in 1993 is surely one of the least surprising events to ever occur, one can not envisage much different while reading about him or watching Blood, Shit, And Fears. Also little surprise that a tattoo on his arm reads simply that life sucks. Near two hours and 37 songs in total this is not for the faint of heart…but not for the reasons you might be thinking. – Anna Tergel
DOLLA MORTE (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
This is a re-release from an original 2006 production. An extended disclaimer, somewhat funny and somewhat lame, featuring a King Diamond doll greets the viewer. Dolla Morte does to dolls what would be shocking to do to humans or real live actors. That’s what Bill Zebub, the moviemaker, wants to make sure the viewer understands any way. Dolla Morte is basically a bunch of dolls abused and mutilated.
Dolla Morte begins with a search party looking for someone and finding a raped female, several beheaded and bloodied ones and then a bunch impaled with sticks. All dolls one must remember. The next scenes feature George W. Bush reacting to a plane hitting a building by wanting to attack the Ottoman Empire and praying to Jesus, a suicide bomber blowing up a train and a bearded doll railing against Christians. Up next a bunch of naked women, errrr dolls, are seen crucified and then molested. Bush is back again wanting a return to witch burnings to uphold values. The Pope and Christ dolls make appearances and do unholy things naturally. We also see Hitler on board the SS Enterprise in space planning some sort of return and attack. It goes on and on, Dolla Morte is a mix of American style machoism, offensive acts and political commentary. The viewer might hope the patriotic in the plot is satire but is anybody really sure? All in all this is 70 minutes of what could loosely be termed a movie. And yes there is a soundtrack here too, not all metal, and therefore a disappointing one. – Anna Tergel
THE ELECTRIC CHAIR (DVD) – MVD VISUAL
The Electric Chair was originally available in 1985 (or is it 1986?) but was never widely released. It stars the late Victor Argo who had roles in such movies as Taxi Driver. This black and white feature is certainly an odd one and is about a stand up comedian who seems lost in life. He goes to a gig at a bar, which seems busy. When he enters a singer is on stage but is not getting much attention. The movie flashes back and forth to scenes of a desolate neighborhood with a first person point of view and no one else around. He is introduced by the bar owner to minimum applause and starts his set with a song but hums some of the lyrics. One liner jokes are up next. The few seated audience offer little reaction and the comic’s material turns to sarcasm and bitterness. After a while an electric chair appears on stage, while he is wondering out loud what the chair is doing there a person seated beside the stage asks him not to go near it. In the meanwhile the set continues with a dance and is then back to jokes again. One table’s occupants keep having ice cream, a Rabbi occasionally plays the saxophone, the electric chair warning is said again, a couple start kissing and having sex and another patron starts reading. Finally the comic proceeds to sit in the chair but gets up and tells more jokes before sitting on it again. The repeated electric chair warnings lead to some anger before more scenes from the aforementioned desolate place with some dialogue about life and love. Just as The Electric Chair ends the comic does seem to actually die in the electric chair.
It is anybody’s guess what The Electric Chair is really about, it is certainly one about the meaninglessness of life but probably something more in the mind of its writer (director and producer) Mark Eisenstein. The extras, which include a commentary, provide (only) some of the answers but are full of New York and film school anecdotes. Among the secrets revealed is that Harvey Keitel was close to being cast for the role of the comic. – Anna Tergel
GUITAR TONE: PURSUING THE ULTIMATE GUITAR SOUND by MITCH GALLAGHER – CENGAGE LEARNING
This reference and technical book attempts to teach and provide tools for the guitar player. It tries to give a feel as to what a great tone should be and how best to achieve it without downright telling the guitar player what to do precisely. It goes through gear options and distinguishes fact and myth.
The first part is about tools, starting with solid and hollow body and neck construction. It then explores wood and material used to build the guitar and devotes some pages to frets and pickups while delving deeper into different construction techniques. Electronics are next with some words on volume and tone control, switches and more. By the time chapter six arrives it is time for amplifiers, vacuum tubes and speakers. Their enclosures and cabinets are discussed and then a few volume myths and facts are attended to. A lot of pages on effects are followed by a section on software.
Most of the fun for the non-technical reader is left to the latter pages with sections on iconic guitars such as Les Paul, Gibson, the Flying V and others and iconic amplifiers such as Fender, Marshall and others. The second part of the book profiles famous guitarists and their tools. These include Jeff Beck, Larry Carlton, Eric Clapton, The Edge, Robben Ford, David Gilmour, Warren Haynes, Jimi Hendrix, Allen Holdsworth, Eric Johnson, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Brad Paisley, Eddie Van Halen and Stevie Ray Vaughan. – Anna Tergel
THE GUITARIST’S GUIDE TO SONAR by CRAIG ANDERTON – CENGAGE LEARNING
This is a book for the modern musician and guitarist. Its concentration is on software techniques and Cakewalk’s SONAR, a PC and Mac recording software. Thirty six chapters and almost 300 well illustrated pages go through using the software to achieve a realistic sound or analog-like sounds that are not as easy to capture now. There are chapters on the advantages of software based recording, how to interface or connect a guitar for the recording process and a useful guide on audio cables, ports, cards and interfaces. The use of the SONAR software itself is described in detail showing which preferences and settings are best for guitar recording. A good many chapters on effects and plugins follow with a look into their use within SONAR. The chapter on generating tablature is sure to be even more popular. Finally, Craig Anderton takes the user and musician into advanced settings and possibilities devoting pages to multiband processing, loopers and finishing touches such as adding backing tracks and backing up SONAR projects. A good read for the aspiring professional. – Anna Tergel
RECORDING TECHNIQUES OF THE GUITAR MASTERS by BRIAN TARQUIN – CENGAGE LEARNING
Using examples like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde, Billy Sheehan – and others totaling 30 guitarists – and through interviews a lot of secrets and useful facts are collected into this instructional yet not so structured book. Besides the aforementioned names questions are answered by Flemming Rasmussen on recording Ride The Lightning, Ted Nugent on guitar tone and Chris Poland on ‘Megadeth torque,’ just to name a few. These are filled with advice on the recording process. Further sections talk about recording gear with notes on preamps, recording amps, tuning guitars, harmonizers, effect pedals and pickups. The same musicians and producers offer brief advice on how to get the right mix in the studio and there are additional pages for choosing the best microphones. Appendices include web references, best of guitar videos on youtube, a trade magazines listing, a guitar and tool manufacturer directory and another list featuring the top 10 guitar sites to check online. – Anna Tergel
X – THE UNHEARD MUSIC (DVD) – MVDVISUAL
X, the LA quartet that originated in the 70’s is considered one of the early and legendary punk bands. The band earned a reputation as one of the better and unusual live bands of the time. This quarter century old movie/concert has been re-released and despite the 70’s punk feel and music style the theme of the DVD certainly seems more relevant to its original 1986 release date. The DVD starts with the statement to ‘Play this film loud’ and throughout features images like the Hollywood sign being blown up and others decrying money, major labels, the mainstream music scene, capitalism, business and society in general. Interviews – both biographical and fun – on life, music, lyrics, poetry writing, influences and other home movie type footage are interspersed with live and video clips. The music segments are almost (intentionally) pushed to the background to emphasis that The Unheard Music is first and foremost a film. X, sometimes compared to The Ramones, have achieved cult status rather than any form of commercial success which they never enjoyed or perhaps even wanted and not surprisingly have also toured in recent years.
The extras or bonus material feature newer interviews with bassist/singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka and others like director W.T.Morgan. A ‘live outtake’ of Some Other Time, original trailer for the film and a song book or photo gallery of the band’s work too. – Anna Tergel
HE (DVD) – MVDVISUAL
This 70-minute movie ranks high on the, you guessed it, creepy factor. That’s about one of the few promises kept, otherwise this strangely produced and written piece lacks direction and doesn’t seem to want to bother explaining anything. ‘He’ (played by Creep Creepersin) is the husband and ‘she’ (played by Ariauna Albright) is the wife. They live together but they really don’t. The wife wants to kill the husband and is angry at him for not making her pregnant and he just wanders through his days. He doesn’t have a job but maybe he does because he does wake up and go out in the mornings – the movie keeps us in the dark. He, the movie, begins with a note being dropped into the couple’s post box. He later opens it and notices it contains one piece of paper with “Proceed” written on it. The story moves from there to exchanges with his wife about the aforementioned job issue, pregnancy issue and other dialogue that further emphasizes the aimless plot. She is seen holding a knife, he hallucinates that a younger woman is sitting across the kitchen table and on the toilet, among other places, and also someone seems to be watching his moves outside. Somewhere along the way, some hitmen seem to be on him and ask for money because his house looks ‘rich.’ He then becomes paranoid and watches those watching him with a binocular and so on. The bonus extras include interviews with actors and others and strangely enough everytime one of them mentions what is presumably Creep’s real name they are blipped.
Weird. – Anna Tergel
V/A – ANTHROSPHERE VOLUME II – ANTHROPIC
The compilation at hand is the second installment of the Pennsylvania-based record label’s sampler of local extreme bands. Unfortunately, it is not all metal, as ambient, punk, hardcore and metal amass on one disc of nine tracks, but there is a certain underground feeling that pervades the whole disc and gives it that veneer of unison. There are several songs that veer towards the bland, but Distress Signal’s Untitled stands out for its largely instrumental ambiance, while Vulcan’s Stranger In Black makes the best impression for being tradition power/thrash. Other bands on the disc include Dirt Worshipper (a hymn to Capitalists??), Bubonic Bear and The Green Evening Requiem of course. Visit www.anthropicrecords.com. – Ali “The Metallian”
THE WALKING DEAD GIRLS (DVD) – CHEEZY FLICKS
This is a 70-minute story or documentary about the zombie phenomenon and in particular zombie girls – women posing for calendars in zombie make-up – or zimbies as they are called, at least here. The DVD starts somewhat unexpectedly with a brief George Romero interview, the ‘inventor’ of the zombie genre as it were, conducted by Luna Moon where he is asked general questions starting with his earlier days in the business. He insists that the idea of zombies was basically a means of poking fun at the stupidity of humans. He also reminds the viewers that the term zombie is a more recent phenomenon and he actually didn’t use it himself. The main part of the DVD follows with behind the scenes looks and interviews featuring the zimbies. Other figures of the genre make appearances too. They include Lloyd Kaufman – who counts as his Yale classmates George W. Bush and Oliver Stone – Bruce Campbell, ladies of the Evil Dead movie (Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly aka Sarah York and Ellen Sandweiss), John Amplas, Terry Alexander among others. Naturally the questions vary from the insightful and serious to the less so. For example besides trying to explain the cultural appeal of zombies and the difference between zombies and vampires Lloyd Kaufman delves into the serious side with thoughts on the influence of politics and lessened regulations on the industry in general. The Walking Dead Girls is a sometimes fascinating look in to the world of the mostly B-movie industry. – Anna Tergel
THE ADVENTURES OF ELECTRA ELF (4 DVD) – MVD VISUAL
It is best to start off with the back cover text, it goes like this: “By day Electra Elf is Jennifer Swallows, a mild mannered reporter for Art Star Scene magazine (A.S.S) and Fluffer is Boobie, a chihuahua clothes model, but when danger calls, the two put on stylish leotards and kick butt…” That says it all really. Electra Elf’s character is a take on superheroes and her powers include freezing villains and Boobie’s include burning feet with radioactive pee. The first of 20 episodes sees a group of hard rockers, led by Luciferia, steal from an orphanage to finance a demo, which they hope will make the German charts! Electra Elf, played by Reverend Jen Miller in pink lycra and sporting elf ears and Fluffer are summoned and using their powers foil the plot.
Nick Zedd using a public access show type budget, read zero, for special effects and questionable, if any, acting has created something that somehow managed 20 half hour runs on…you guessed it, a public access channel in New York. Episodes like Maggot On A Hot Tin Roof, Old Man And The Sea Monkey, Of Lice And Men, No Plague Like Home, Hollow Be Thy Name and Gone With The Mind have the makings of classic cheese and they mostly succeed. Most of the underlying plots run somewhat deeper though and this is perhaps not surprising knowing Zedd’s background. Fighting corruption and saving the environment are just two of the issues present in the The Adventures Of Electra Elf. – Anna Tergel
THE MONSTER AND THE APE (2 DVD) – CHEEZY FLICKS
The Monster And The Ape was a Columbia Pictures serial from the mid 1940s or 1945 and 1946 to be exact. In the late pre-TV days The Monster And The Ape was shown in 15 Saturday matinees in theaters. The plot follows the creation of a robot, named Metalogen Man, at the Bainbridge Research Foundation. This invention was to, presumably, usher an era of easier living because the robot is shown to make easy job of lifting objects and other hard-to-manage tasks. Things, however, go wrong when the first prototype unit is stolen and three of the scientists working on it are killed by an ape. Professor Franklin Arnold, the lead scientist, his daughter and Ken Morgan, a representative of the company due to mass produce the robots spend 15 episodes trying to recover the unit and get to the bottom of the matter. The acting is sketchy even though The Monster And The Ape does feature at least one notable name. George Macready playing the bad guy (Professor Ernst) here would years later be seen in Stanley Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory. The plot is dreary and is not helped by the use of Willie Best as a character that makes you, the viewer, wonder if it was written for a civil war, Gone With The Wind type role. Best does everything from assisting to cleaning and is often (comically) scared of the robot. This is one role that can best be used in a cinema history class as a prime example of racism in Hollywood and America.
All in all The Monster And The Ape has little effect on a 21st century audience. One gets the impression that it even had the same non-effect on those watching back in the ’40s. It indeed comes off as repetitive and even mundane when watching it in the present day. The implied cheesy attribution is apt and the picture quality while not bad is certainly not great. Note that the DVD case has this running at 450 minutes but the actual running time is close to 300 minutes! – Anna Tergel
BLACK SABBATH FAQ by MARTIN POPOFF – BACKBEAT BOOKS
Starting off with a foreword by Diamond Head’s Braian Tatler Black Sabbath FAQ is a mostly ‘fanboy’ perspective based book which nevertheless tries to present as many as facts as can be crammed into its almost 400 pages. These are presented through interviews interspersed with trivia. Earliest stories start in the late ’60s of course and are gleamed from such people as Olav Wyper, a record executive in those years. He of Vertigo Records reminisces about the state of business in that era and his part in making Black Sabbath, a band which he stumbled across rather accidentally at a pub in Birmingham. The theme of discovering or being the first heavy metal band is prominent with most conclusions leading to the notion that it wasn’t seen as a big deal early on and that early blues and jazz influences morphed into the Sabbath sound over a short period of time. Early manager Jim Simpson says that things basically “fell into place”. There is also varying notions as to how hard it was to get a record deal with such a band name and the images that it may have conjured up. The image is also an issue and is dismissed as not malicious or evil and perhaps influenced by horror films viewed by Tony Iommi et al at the time.
Some pages are devoted to the various people that have played with Sabbath for a session, a show and so on. Rob Halford’s name does pop up here. A bit on how Black Widow, the band, were confused with Black Sabbath and the band’s cult and satanic image was enhanced as a result. Many pages are devoted to a very laboured defense of late Ozzy era Black Sabbath where they were overshadowed by the then young Van Halen and how a famous feud with Blue Oyster Cult was really not so much…or perhaps it was. Martin Popoff’s aforementioned fanboy perspective comes out in these instances as the author seems obliged to defend the band at every turn. The book then jumps to the time a tired Bill Ward leaves Sabbath while not flying with the band during his final days on tour. Facts aplenty about recording locations, apparently some conveniently chosen because of ease of drug delivery (ie Florida). Sandy Pearlman the long time Blue Oyster Cult and relatively brief Black Sabbath manager is featured once again with his thoughts about heavy metal and the music of Black Sabbath and its roots in not only horror but, as he contends, classical music such as Austria’s Bruckner.
Towards the end the author proceeds to rate the albums by sound, cover and other criteria and gathers some ‘praise’ for Sabbath from the likes of Pete Steele. There are sometimes funny notes about ‘cameos’ on Sabbath albums including Ozzy’s use of stink bombs to make Yes, the band, leave an adjacent studio and then the band proceeding to recruit Yes keyboardist, Rick Wakeman, for a recording session.
Late chapters devote pages to Heaven And Hell, the band, and there is also few compelling pages on Black Sabbath’s ‘Early Demos’. For Black Sabbath fans this is one book packed with lots to read and enjoy. More generally Black Sabbath FAQ is recommended for all music and heavy metal fans. – Anna Tergel
FAN OF THE DEAD (DVD) – CHEEZY FLICKS
Many albums or videos are labelled ‘strictly for die-hard fans’ or something to that effect, but this one is absolutely and exactly that. Fan Of The Dead is the product of a Frenchman called Nicolas Garreau who takes his love of the George Romero zombie series and camera to the United States from France in order to retrace the locales, sites and shooting locations for Romero’s cult movies, 1968’s Night Of The Living Dead, 1978’s Dawn Of The Dead and 1985’s Day Of The Dead. If there were any doubts about how popular the zombie trilogy was Fan Of The Dead should definitively answer that question. Garreau manages to meet many of the films’ actors, go to the filming locations, participate in a walking tour by some of the zombie-actors and uncover a few unknown extras en route. It is a safe bet that Garreau, and the viewers, know more now than Romero would recall in the present.
Fan Of The Dead does not track down any other actors or crew and is rather short, but fans would clearly love this DVD. Not sure about the fans’ reaction to Garreau’s amateurish poses or the French-to-English voice-overs which dominate the film. The DVD does come with some extras, yet their connection or relevance is difficult to understand.
Thanks for sharing your travel video, Nicolas. – Ali “The Metallian”
VAMP VIXENS (DVD) – BROOKLAND BROTHERS
Vamp Vixens is hardly a movie. Rather, it is a collection of less than half a dozen shorts featuring straight softcore sex (i.e. no actual frontal nudity or penetration) with the most minimal of story lines. That in itself is fine. A narrator provides context before the viewer is sent into an orgasmic softcore scene. One of two common themes is that all participants are vampires as exclusively demonstrated by the overgrown fangs and nothing else. This is why the movies’ tagline is “Hot Vampire Sex From The Underworld.” A lack of movement, plot or characters means the whole thing must have an equally minimal budget.
On a personal note, however, the depiction of women with tattoos is an unadulterated turnoff. In tattoo parlour/whorehouse/white trash circles tattoos might be deemed attractive, but in this world women with tattoos are seen as cheap, ugly, dirty and definitely repulsive. In this context, Vamp Vixens is reminiscent of I Am Virgin, another movie that wasted all its shots on uber-ugly women. No wonder, since the films share the female actresses. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – AFTER PARTY MASSACRE – IBEX MOON
What this CD exactly is remains a bit of a mystery even after multiple listens. The disc is a compilation of bands on the Ibex Moon roster, but my copy at least, only features some 30 seconds of music from each band. That is enough to tell me that the label has some very choice bands, that Fatalist sounds like Dismember, Feral clones Entombed and that Gravehill would have not done y-e-t a-n-o-t-h-e-r cover version had the members any brains, but why are the only snippets of songs here? Is it a promotional disc thing? Sounds good and the melding of horror and metal can only infuse fresh blood into the genres. At least, the songs are marked as being exclusive to this compilation, which makes them more valuable.
The CD is a “deathfest exclusive” yet no one at Metallian Tower attended this show. The movie After Party Massacre features bands like Asphyx and Goreaphobia, but not every band is featured here. The “enhanced CD” also features pictures and videos where none of the babes are fat. Oh, so realistic of America! Nonetheless, even the clips easily prove there is plenty of life left in death! – Ali “The Metallian”
ROSA AND THE EXECUTIONER OF THE FIEND (DVD) – LATIN JAZZ
This film’s tagline is “to execute one of the greatest fiends the world has ever known.” May I change that to “to watch one of the most dull movies the world has ever known”?
Who was thinking what when releasing this film? It is sordidly bad, tired in its lack of story, colour and pace and its title, the most elaborate piece of the whole production, really makes no sense.
Rosa, a Jewish widow, lives across from the United Nations and is taken hostage by a would-be assassin of Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader is about to speak at the United Nations and the Cuban orphan – all grown up and angry – needs a vantage point to take the Communist out. So, Rosa mistakes him for her regular deliveryman and lets the assassin in. Apparently, Castro will exit his car outside on the street or somewhere in view of the surrounding apartments. Castro is a bad bad man because he is shown alternately with shots of Yasser Arafat of Palestine. Never mind that the footage and the textures are completely different. Castro also likes to change clothes while en route from the UN entrance to the General Assembly. Unluckily for Castro, the Secret Service guys who inspect Rosa’s apartment twice do not bother to actually search Rosa’s apartment. They only ask questions. For some reason Rosa opens the door, lets the Secret Service in and has no reason at all to let them in on how she is taken hostage.
Then the movie gets worse. Banal conversation, slow pace, offbeat colour and sophomoric logic combine to make as much sense as smoking something other than genuine Cuban Cigar in a café in downtown Havana. Naturally, Rosa and the would-be assassin Amaury become fast friends by the end of the film and the Cuban rewards the Jewish Holocaust survivor by making sure she stays immobile and abandoned in her apartment with no means of subsistence. She loves him for it. The End.
Rosa And The Executioner Of The Fiend – now that is a title that belongs on a heavy metal website – is a definitive slap in the face of critics who slam Hollywood calling its productions commercial, jaded, cliché and dumb. Shame on me. At least in Hollywood they master their movies so the annoying Spanish music is not two levels higher than the dialogue. Where is a good Adam Sandler film when you need one? – Ali “The Metallian”
ORLOK THE VAMPIRE IN 3D (DVD) – QUALITY CHEESE
Watching the silent film Orlok The Vampire was a puzzling experience. There were several incongruent anomalies, but first let us delve into the film itself. Orlok is a rerelease of a 1922 German Vampire knock-off or inspiration that was reportedly deleted after being the subject of an infringement lawsuit by the widow of the author of the original Dracula book, Bram Stoker. The film has now been rediscovered and reissued and packs a scary wallop some 90 years later.
The story revolves around the desire of the vampire – or Orlok of Transylvania – to move to the West and procure a house in the city. A naïve real-estate agent employee is sent to cater to the whims of the fanged creature and facilitate the sale. Little does he know that he will be haunted and his wife targeted upon return – all the while laughing at the simple country folk’s superstitions the closer he gets to his destination. Orlok is different from modern day vampires. There is nothing debonair about his outward appearance He is gross and repulsive. His move to the city coincides with the prevalence of evil and the bewicthment of the unfair maiden who is the wife of the said agent, who now have the misfortune to be the neighbours to the Dracula.
With many outdoor shots the film has a realistic look. The grimness, the make-up and acting lend it a quality rarely approached this century, whch brings one to the incongruity of it all. Originally a German production, this DVD comes with English titles woven through the footage. The music, as well, must have been added later if not for this specific DVD release. The shots, whether in day or night, are exceptionally clear. Speaking of which, the DVD contains two versions of which one is a 3D rendeing, which is amazing for a restored 1922 film. The package not only has TV tuning and calibration advice for those who wish to watch the film in 3D – not being a fan this was not me – but also two pairs of 3D glasses. Quite amazing really and an obvious sign that Quality Cheese has invested time to create a bona fide restoration of the release as opposed to throwing a product into the marketplace without any care. That is why the production company’s name is a misnomer as related to this film. This film is serious in intent. Incidentally, a new introduction by a Lloyd Kaufman, the creator of Toxic Avenger, is hilarious. Hear the laughter in the background and on film for proof.
Orlok is entertaining to watch, forbidding in its own right and a salute to the early filmmakers who were willing to undertake scuh a project. The film is directed by F.W. Murnau (Faust, Phantom, etc.) and features the ugly Max Schreck whose name ‘Max Terror’ says it all. – Ali “The Metallian”
I AM VIRGIN – CHEEZY FLICKS (DVD)
This movie is not going to deserve more than twenty points from this reviewer. It does have its advantages however. Do read on.
I Am Virgin is an obviously cheesy take-off on 2007’s I Am Legend. The world is hit with a virus that has wiped out most of the world’s population, but a core group of sex crazed ugly tattooed women have survived. The film begins insinuating that there are no men left for these vampired women, but men begin appearing… although the ugly trashy women with fake breasts refuse to disappear in equal proportions. Our hero, the virgin, needs to dock and flee these sex-starved women, suffering the guilt bestowed upon him by his deceased strict parents, yet halfway into the film he gets bored of doing so, drops his shot gun and decides he can just reason with these ladies. Denying the women sex ends up not even costing him a bite or a fang. Perhaps the advice that Ron Jeremy gives him at the latter’s house is sound. Then again, there was no advice in this regard. Not quite confused enough? Think about the implications of a virus that kills off all naturally beautiful women, leaves the trashy ones alive fearing the sunshine, but not artificial light. These women have a voracious sexual appetite of the lesbian kind, but one does have a man in one scene while the others rather ignore the males emerging in the film’s second half. Oh, and incidentally, some ‘normal people’ seem to have survived and be alive somewhere up north. The screenwriter – no wonder the cover does not list one – must be a regular Philip K. Dick. One wonders if the hero’s dog, Billy the Basset Hound, is artificial.
Speaking of which, twenty points are accorded to the film for two reasons. Firstly, Billy is (the only) cute (thing in the movie). Secondly, this terrible exercise in illogicality just kept ten dollars in my pocket. It killed any chance or appetite in me of ever watching I Am Legend. – Ali “The Metallian”
SUPERVAN (DVD) – CHEEZY FLICKS
Rescued out of the garbage heap of 1977 history by the folks at Cheezy Flicks, Supervan has arrived on DVD to collide, smash and crash the screen with a Smokey And The Bandit-meets-KITT Two Thousand gone middle-age atmosphere!
This old film revolves around the story of a mad scientist seeking fame and a young driver seeking fortune by entering Vandora, the laser beam shooting dream custom van, into a “non-national” contest for custom vans called Freakout. Enter cheesy graphics, cheesier interior carpeting schemes, absolutely non-cheesy and welcome wet T-shirt contests, hapless smokeys i.e. pigs, a crooked businessman with oil connections and some futuristic musings about solar power and laser beams. As much as the fondue boils continuously from start to finish in Supervan the film is not exactly superbad. It is a time capsule and, at a guess, somehow or the other sponsored by the van graphics and decoration industry of the time. The viewer will get loads of funny CB radio talking hee-haw and 10-4 type language, which a character hilariously calls ‘van jive,’ but also loads of mainstream ’70s AOR. In fact, the sound track must have taken as much effort to put together as the whole film given the breadth of material being played.
There is absolutely nothing here that one would regard as art or cinematic. Rather, Supervan lives off its ’70s aura, specific niche and unintentionally hilarious moments that one could miss as easily as honesty in Richard Nixon or Henry Kissinger. Now your (sic) getting the idea as the back cover of the DVD would say. – Ali “The Metallian”
BANSHEE !!! (DVD) – SYNTHETIC CINEMA INTERNATIONAL
This 86-minute movie takes a stab at a myth and at times manages to add hilarity to it. The story is an ‘updated’ version of the legend which claims a woman or female spirit appears to foretell a death. Banshee !!! turns this woman into a Predator-esque type of creature who manipulates sound waves to not only induce hallucinations but to kill as well. The movie has a respectable number of gory scenes but some questionable acting and the plot itself do not help them. Julianna Bansley, the character played by Kerry McGann, is a particularly strange case of bad acting and bad dubbing. One is not entirely sure what the movie makers are up to and this is proven towards the end of the movie where the aforementioned hilarity crashes in. Rocker played by David McCarthy decides to show off his limited guitar skills outdoors to repel – much like a MÖtley Crüe concert except it is against the creature instead of the crowd – the banshee! The scene is one to watch, never mind trying to explain it in the context of the plot. – Anna Tergel
PENANCE (DVD) – INDEPENDENT MEDIA DISTRIBUTION
This movie had gone through a title change before its release to make it less of a “B-movie-esque moniker”. That is readily admitted on the accompanying press release. If indeed this is something Penance is trying to avoid being then for starters someone on the crew should have noticed the spelling error in the movie’s epilogue. Plot-wise Penance is a story of a single mother who while trying to land a make-over prize and turn around her life stumbles into and becomes a stripper and through bad luck gets mistaken for another stripper which then lands her into a torture house to be ‘purified’. The whole story is seen through the lens of hand held digital camcorders, which somehow seem to be available to everybody, even those imprisoned and tortured. The unrated version includes a couple of scenes that won’t be seen in mainstream movies but otherwise this is neither scary nor overly violent.
Oh and by the way the movie was originally called The Devil’s Dungeon. – Anna Tergel
ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE (DVD) – CHEEZY FLICKS ENTERTAINMENT
This 167 minute DVD is 12 parts of the Republic Pictures serial of the 1950s. Serials were short films usually shown along side a feature film once weekly at theatres around the US. Zombies Of The Stratosphere is low budget at its best. Cheap jetpack, rockets firing on wires and even recycled footage. They are all here. This could easily have kept the interest of viewers of its time as marvels of moving pictures, the (very) little fear of aliens it perhaps created and of course, a hero that somehow saved the planet from destruction. The story revolves around a plot by Martians – and one human – to blast Earth out of its orbit but our hero, Larry Martin, and his ‘rocket patrol’ save the day. The offering results in near three hours of nostalgia in the Plan 9 From Outer Space vein, although the flying jetpack footage and other outdoor scenes were probably very impressive for their time and don’t seem as low budget as advertised or perceived when first watching it. Zombies Of The Stratosphere is broadly comparable to the Flash Gordon series of the same era. Don’t forget to watch for Spock (Leonard Nimoy) as a Martian but where are the zombies?! – Anna Tergel
EVILUTION DVD – BRINK/MVD
What would be your first reaction when a DVD of a movie called Evilution falls into your lap? Mine, was “oh my, what a cliché name.” A perfunctory search on the net yields thousands of returns with many of them being actual titles. Two other, admittedly small, problems are the cover caption notifying the viewer that, “once it’s unleashed, it can never be stopped” and the artwork. Giving away the plot so conclusively cannot be too smart, can it? As for the cover artwork, which seems to make this out to be a war movie one wonders again. They do illustrate syringe and strands of DNA at least, which are more indicative of the film.
Two viewings later and Evilution is pretty much an impressive zombie sci-fi flick. It is obvious that the producer and the director were working with a small budget, but not that small, and what they did have is put to great use. In fact, past some of the early jerky camera action, which has become so tired, the film keeps a steady grip on the material, throws in some good action, special effects, a sub-plot or two and just enough romance to keep the thing moving with evil haste. And, oh, minimal humour. So important. Sick of the obligatory humour gobbledygook. Evilution keeps it all serious.
Evilution is a good mash-up of science fiction, the zombie genre and a little tales from the hood and for my money a damn sight better than many other bigger budget films. Uwe Boll was not allowed within 2,500 kilometres of this film’s shooting location. – Anna Tergel
GOTHKILL (DVD) – 2009
This so-called horror movie is about Nick Dread, played by New York based artist Flambeaux, a catholic priest who is burned at the stake for claiming that some witches are innocent. He subsequently makes a deal with Satan to turn over hundred thousand souls over to Satan in return for future rule over hell. Onward to the present and just when Dread is ready to begin delivering the promised souls things go wrong and he is transformed into the body of a woman. And the rest is history!
What the viewer is dealing with here is a low budget movie with a plot that is perhaps not the strongest. This is reflected in many other aspects of the film, from the acting to the special effects, as well. Gothkill is really only for the curious and also features Eve Blackwater, and Mistress Juliya aka Juliya Chernetsky of Fuse TV (formerly MuchMusicUSA). – Anna Tergel
V/A – PAGAN FIRE – NUCLEAR BLAST
This compilation is clearly catered to a trend as there is no reason to call it Pagan Fire other than someone’s imagined grouping of the bands featured in it. Bathory’s Song To Hall Up High, from Hammerheart, is a spoken word kind of intro bettered by Sabbat on The Beginning Of The End. Enslaved’s Isa sometimes sounds like a cross between Fear Factory and Satyricon. Unleashed’s The Longships Are Coming, from Sworn Allegiance, is a kind of Swedish Crowbar and Pro-Pain with typically short lyrics courtesy of Johnny Hedlund. Amon Amarth with Victorious March does what they do best, presenting an effective mix of the heavy and the relatively melodic. Wintersun do a poorly produced version of Children Of Bodom with Winter Madness. Finntroll’s Nedgång, from Ur Jordens Djup, is just a mish mash. Equilibrium, while possibly a tad heavier, are like a cross between the previous two with Blut Im Auge. Moonsorrow’s Kylän Päässä can just be dismissed, way too much of the non-metal here. The Irish Primordial, sometimes called Celtic or black metal, do Empire Falls from To The Nameless Dead. Eluveitie, on the other hand, call themselves the new wave of folk metal and are an eight piece, enough said there. Korpiklaani need no introduction, Tapporauta from Korven Kuningas is featured here. Ensiferum with the promisingly titled Deathbringer From The Sky present something of a pure German sounding heavy metal mixed with some folk extras. Falkenbach’s Laeknishendr is more raw black metal with the unfortunate folk influence, but this could be a lot worse as this is actually mostly catchy and speedy at the same time. Thyrfing with HÖst seem to be trying to be heavy but don’t try hard enough. Turisas’ Battle Metal is too jolly sounding and uses too many extras to be convincingly battle themed. Bal-Sagoth is Shackled To The Trilithon Of Kutulu and is forced to present a Cradle Of Filth inspired mess. – Anna Tergel
MUMAKIL, OBTUSE, THIRD DEGREE – THE SICK, THE DEAD, THE ROTTEN PT. II (3 WAY SPLIT) – THE SPEW RECORDS
This is a second in a series of splits by The Spew Records and starts off with Mumakil from Switzerland whose nine tracks are simply named I to IX. The longest of the nine songs is just over a minute and a half and it is therefore not too difficult to guess the style. Mumakil are grindcore with guttural and screaming vocals and use a fair share of death metal and a few thrashy riffs as well. Fast drumming and all that is required is here and Mumakil deliver. Next up is the Dutch quartet Obtuse and unlike Mumakil the lyrics are included and it is a good thing because after the heavy Recognition Is Contemporary and its social commentary comes Bob Ross with lines like “Bob Ross never tried to force his ways up on us” and “It’s so obvious it’s boring me” and the band take to poking fun at the now deceased painter best known for his show on public television in the US. Next is Away with a dose of suicidal lyrics. That Mirryll has an almost gory feel. The Day That Started Wrong is less than a minute long and starts off with “I farted, it’s wet and it don’t wanna move”, not much more to say there. I Thought That R&B Shit Would Be Over By Now starts off with an actual sample of a R&B song but soon jumps into the grind and yet again the lyrics explain it all with the likes of “Started in the local church choir…Your Christian values soon depraved with porn” and “Vocal lines from high to low that would even make Ronny James Dio Growl.” Musically, Obtuse are not pure grind as there are instances of the doomy, sludgy and thrashy in the six songs featured here. Third Degree is the third and last band featured here and take a mostly hardcore-ish route with angry and screaming vocals entwined with dark segments in Gorilla Fight, Death To The Villagers, Ether Mary and Values Without Values. – Anna Tergel
V/A – ANTHROSPHERE VOLUME 1 – ANTHROPIC
Anthropic Records is the new imprint of Evan from The Green Evening Requiem, a band whose demo previously appeared in the hollowed pages of Metallian. That a label would draw first breath by releasing a compilation is risky, but not unusual. The production costs are lower, the publicity potential higher and the label will dip its toes into the market to see what works and what does not. Sadly, music has been cheapened to such an extent that compilations simply do not sell. Whether a big budget sampler or an underground attack like this music compilations are dead in the water. Hence the risky adjective and the bigger surprise that Evan has dubbed this disc Volume 1 portending more. Mal sehen, as the Germans would say.
Most importantly, what about the music? The bands here must have been cherry picked very carefully and one at a time. The styles range from Death metal to black metal and Opeth and progressive, but one thing that does not change is the quality of the bands. Surprisingly, every single song on this disc showcases a band that can have a serious career in front of it. To be precise about the potential on this disc let us agree to refrain from the need to single the acts out. Sil Veth, Lethean, The Green Evening Requiem, Woe, Monolith and Bereavement play to impress. If underground mavens buy one album this or next year then Anthrosphere needs to be it. Hell it is cheaper than the value of any word out of Stephen Harper’s mouth, which for the sake of this argument we will value at $2. It is available through www.anthropicrecords.com. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – ALL FOR METAL (DVD+CD) – LOCOMOTIVE
The DVD features 24 promo video clips and six bonus live songs. A first look at the track listing and this seems a very poor roster or collection of bands, watching and listening this the assumption is mostly confirmed. Even UDO’s opening song, The Wrong Side Of Midnight, is disappointing, at least by his standards. Destruction’s The Alliance Of Hellhoundz is a very cool and original video however, and features many guest appearances, and along with Tankard’s The Beauty And The Beast is a highlight and one to watch. But it’s mostly downhill from there, Masterplan, The Poodles, Elvenking, Magica, Absolute, Doro, Kotipelto, Evidence One, Shakra, Lions Share, Heavenly, Nostradameus, Jorn, Edguy, Debauchery, Eisbrecher, Theatre Of Tragedy, Perzonal War, The Traceelords, Annihilator, and Tarantula all tackle several styles, sometimes non-metal ones. The live portion, where Krokus, Circle II Circle, Silent Force, Ross The Boss, Dionysus and Shaman can be seen with one song each does not fare much better.
The accompanying CD features 18 songs that are much the same as the DVD in that there isn’t too much here. Made Of Hate open with Bullet In Your Head and a decent heavy metal attempt. What follows is mostly either female vocals and keyboard oriented (Axxis), techno-industrial, (X-World/5) or rather ordinary (see list below). At least Headhunter, Dezperadoz and Black Messiah provide some welcome comic relief in Parody Of Life, Rawhide and Moskau respectively.
The interesting songs are Paradox’s Infested, Rob Rock’s Garden Of Chaos, Helstar’s The Kind Is Dead. Other bands heard here are Jon Oliva’s Pain, Eden’s Curse, At Vance, Crystal Ball, Mekong Delta, President Evil, Almah, Beautiful Sin, and Michelle Darkness. – Anna Tergel
V/A – METALMANIA 2007 (DVD + CD) – METAL MIND PRODUCTIONS
The latest in the series of Metal Mind DVDs is the recording for the 2007 edition of the Metalmania festival. The very first thing that catches the eye is in the inclusion of Benediction on the ‘side stage’ CD (perhaps at the expense of Crystal Abyss?) No matter the reasoning for including the band, with at least some recognition, there it must be disturbing to the Brits to be there and not join the presumed bigger names. That is not to say that the ‘main stage’ and first DVD is all good. Witness the opening act, Korpiklaani. How playing violin and bagpipes and banging heads go there is up to the band and their followers to explain. Three regrettable songs later the aforementioned face-painted Crystal Abyss have been given the honour of one annoying keyboard-laden song. Darzamat follow with two almost equally forgettable performances in Labyrinth Of Anxiety and The Burning Times. Zyklon injects some much-needed life into the proceedings with three of their own. Vital Remains do a bit more too but their stage presence borders on the silly. Entombed is heavy and fast but their image belies the time when they abandoned death metal. Destruction offers nothing new but what they do offer is thrash metal the heavy and traditional way. Blaze Bayley’s three songs are in the Manowar, Ozzy and Iron Maiden mould and are somewhat out of place, but not ineffective nonetheless. Sepultura with False, Convicted In Life and Dead Embryonic Cells are full of energy. It is telling that Paradise Lost have only one song featured. Testament close out the first DVD and Chuck Billy, Alex Skolnick and co. do not disappoint. The bonus CD features 11 songs by bands no one has ever heard of, and oh of course Benediction. – Anna Tergel
V/A – PAGAN FIRE – NUCLEAR BLAST
Pagan Fire, with its depiction of Viking rituals, is Nuclear Blast’s sampler of “of the best Folk, Pagan and Viking Metal acts around.” Aside from how Bathory which kicks off the CD with Song To Hall Up High (at a guess) is not really around this compilation is probably the label’s scheme for introducing some of its own bands among the sub-genres’ better-known bands. Groups like Eluvietie and Bal-Sagoth (since dropped) are sandwiched between names like Unleashed, Enslaved and Amon Amarth.
Barely anyone listens to a band for its lyric (unless the act’s name is something like Bob Dylan or Joan Baez perhaps) and so the grouping of bands here features a number of diverse styles with the folk category obviously being all ridiculously wimpy crap and the Viking/pagan cadre needing assessment on an individual basis. In general, the opening line-up of the disc featuring the more established bands strikes a metallic chord before a slew of silliness sets in featuring harp, flute, synthesizers, accordion and ghastly shrieks from bands whose name need not be mentioned on a metal web site. The package features a DVD supplement with video from groups like Helheim and Wintersun. Sixty points for the metal bands and included bonus DVD and a fat ‘please go get a burial at sea’ for all the hoarse drunken yelling by the wimpy bands that not coincidentally also likely have either a bloke playing accordion or carrying a violin! – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – NUCLEAR BLAST ALLSTARS OUT OF THE DARK – NUCLEAR BLAST
Here is the second instalment in the 20 Years Nuclear Blast vanity series and one is seriously beginning to wonder whether the label has peeked and will survive given the quality of the featured bands. This edition is meant to represent the band’s underground or extreme side, but all one gets instead is a bunch of generic and pedestrian offering that hardly even touch the extremeness end of the spectrum. Admittedly, the songs are all composed by former Soilwork man Peter Wichers in his downtime and are not expected to be of a high quality, but still…
Featured current and former Nuclear Blasters are Anders Friden of In Flames, Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy, Speed Strid of Soilwork and more. The song Devotion featuring Jari Mäenpää of Wintersun could have been lifted off a Strapping Young Lad album. My Name Is Fate featuring Mark Osegueda of Death Angel sounds like a sleazy hard rock song – apparently, no one noticed – while Closer To The Edge is a mallcore affair not worth a dime. The sole redeeming moment comes ironically courtesy of John Bush, the man who was dropped by Anthrax and consequently is not in the Nuclear Blast camp any longer. Paper Trail is a good song because of Bush’s voice.
The rest of the album is generica maxima courtesy of lame teenage pop crooners from joke bands like Scar Symmetry or Sonic Syndicate. This future is bleak. Fans will find a bonus ‘best of’ CD attached to this at stores. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – NUCLEAR BLAST ALLSTARS INTO THE LIGHT – NUCLEAR BLAST
Subtitled 20 Years Nuclear Blast this CD serves to celebrate the successful label’s twentieth anniversary via a number of new songs written and arranged by Rage personnel Victor Smolski and Peavey Wagner. In turn, Nuclear Blast has recruited some of its most successful artists to individually guest on individual tracks and add their voice to the celebration. Notable guests include current and former Nuclear Blast-ites like Marcel Schmier of Destruction and former Nightwisher Tarja Turunen to staples like Tobias Sammet and Hansi Kürsch and Marco Hietala. The ten tracks included strike a pedestrian pose and the fact that NB makes the point this album features the label’s ‘lighter’ side is of little consolation . This is the issue here. Rarely ever before, have so many artists gathered in the metal and produced such an inoffensive and safe music. If this is the state of metal, we should all ready for another takeover by punk or rap because middle-of-the-road is primed for being run over. The production has as much to answer for here as the middling songs.
On another front, one cannot help but get a feeling of me-tooism for this compilation. Could anyone not wonder whether Nuclear Blast was inspired by the release of the Roadrunner United CD and concert two years ago? Both projects reek of vanity, but one would at least hope for something wilder and relatively exciting as opposed to an ersatz effort. This double-disc features songs from Nuclear Blast bands like Threshold, Helloween and Hammerfall on disc number two. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – THE HEAVY METAL BOX – RHINO
OK, admittedly there is nothing special here for a metal girl who owns it all because this “A 12-track sampler” of the four-disc/70-song compilation of hard rock and heavy metal songs of the last four decades features tuneage I already own and bang my head to. After all, some of the most gorgeous longhaired stars of metal have been in bands like Queensrÿche, Iron Maiden, Whitesnake and Megadeth. Why this compilation is so good is the sheer number of bands and songs included with the obvious like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Slayer, the surprising Michael Schenker Group, Rose Tattoo and Tygers Of Pan Tang as well as the ridiculous like Living Colour and Spinal Tap making it onto the box set.
Like I said, any metal fan worth his long mane already owns every single one of the songs on these discs, but for the new, newer or newish or those you want to introduce to metal this is a very good compilation. I can’t get over how good Klaus Meine’s voice has been or how someone decided to include Blue Cheer on the sampler. – Sheila Wes Det
V/A – REGAIN RECORDS – MUSIC WITH IMPACT (DVD) – REGAIN RECORDS
This compilation is one of all the bands that constitute Regain Records and actually contains several note-worthy and classic bands that take the viewer back to the early days of the label in the late ’90s. Featuring 23 videos including Arch Enemy’s Bury Me An Angel and Deranged’s Eroti(kill) this DVD spans the earliest all the way to the likes of Marduk’s Throne Of Rats and Necrophobic’s Blinded by Light Enlightened By Darkness to name just two of the highlights. Besides the aforementioned the DVD starts with Sahg’s Godless Faith, and also includes videos by Dimension Zero, Embraced, Defleshed, Bronx Casket Co., Samael, Tenebre, Total Javla Morker, Nightmare, Death SS, Dark Funeral, Dismember, Mustasch and Sargatanas Reign and two each by Vader and Behemoth. There are enough good bands and songs here to make this collection worthy viewing. – Anna Tergel
LUCTUS/ARGHARUS – SONITUS CAELI ARDENTIS Split CD – LEDO TAKAS
I feel like such an ignoramus writing a review on two bands whose names and album title means nothing to me. The groups sharing this disc hail from Lithuania and play evil death metal. Luctus is a one-man project, while Argharus features four individuals. Neither band is directly comparable to the bigger names of the scene as far as sound or style in concerned. While both bands have all the ingredients that are necessary, evil vocals, speedy tempos, rapid rhythm changes and more, the fans will not be pointing at a song or passage as being copied from other groups. Certainly, names like Gorgoroth, early Borknagar or Marduk are relevant, but strictly as a genre.
Like many bands from Eastern Europe Luctus sings of war, nationalism and all that. The band also seems to use drum machines for obvious reasons. Argharus and its lyrics will remain a mystery to me, and anybody else, who has less than a commanding mastery of Lithuanian. Argharus’ side ends with a rare bass solo.
Both bands are intense and completely capable. The black metal cult has fresh blood. – Anna Tergel
V/A – GIGANTOUR (2CD) – IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
This double CD version accompanying the DVD release of the festival includes two songs not found on the DVD format in Anthrax’s Caught In a Mosh and I Am The Law, in addition to songs from Dream Theater, Life Of Agony, Dry Kill Logic, Bobaflex, Megadeth, Fear Factory, Nevermore and Symphony X. The production quality of the songs is good but certainly not the best heard from a live release. Bands like Nevermore stand out in the energy level they provide but mostly one gets the usual interaction with the audience like ‘thank you for coming out’, ‘come on’ and so forth. The point where this release fails is in terms of presenting anything more than just a sampling of the bands. If this is meant to promote any of the bands involved it doesn’t do enough and if it is meant to provide extra income on the back of the live shows then it hasn’t quite captured the live feeling one is entitled to expect from a heavy metal festival. – Anna Tergel
V/A – GIGANTOUR (DVD) – IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
Curiously, the CD version of this release features something not available on the DVD version in two Anthrax songs. That rare oddity aside this is not much more than a sampler released in hopes of raising or maintaining the profiles of the bands which, while may still be successful, are not growing in terms of commercial success. Better Than Me and Medicine from Bobaflex, Lost and Paper Tiger from Dry Kill Logic, Inferno (Unleash The Fire) and Of Sins And Shadows from Symphony X and The Day He Died and Love To Let You Down from Life Of Agony are the opening songs and bands of this Gigantour and do not inspire and often sound rather listless in the big arena setting in Montreal. Nevermore do a better job at using the small stage space provided to them and Warrel Dane and co. belt out solid heavy metal with Born and Enemies Of Reality. Transgression and Archetype by Fear Factory, Panic Attack and The Glass Prison by Dream Theater, and She-Wolf, A Tout Le Monde and Kick The Chair by Megadeth, are all featured performing relatively newer songs none of which are ground breaking nor fresh to those familiar with the headliners. At least Anthrax, on the aforementioned CD version, play Caught In A Mosh and I Am The Law. The mandatory bonus DVD features much of the expected in backstage life, pranks and antics plus footage where Dave Mustaine gives us a glimpse into the daily stress of going through the business and security aspects of the tour. – Anna Tergel
V/A – HEAVY KARAOKE – HITS OF IRON MAIDEN (DVD) – KSF
This is fifteen Iron Maiden songs on a multi track DVD, each audio track features different mixes with different instruments. The songs are played by a cover band called Mauron Maiden as obviously an independent label will always find it difficult to secure the rights of the actual Iron Maiden songs. The tracks included are Run To The Hills, Aces high, Number Of The Beast, The Trooper, Can I Play With Madness, The Evil That Men Do, Fear Of The Dark, Iron Maiden, Hallowed Be Thy Name, Phantom Of The Opera, Wrathchild, Wildest Dreams, Holy Smoke and Wasted years. One made for a niche market but certainly fun for those who are into karaoke. – Anna Tergel
V/A – HEAVY KARAOKE – HITS FROM SPINEFARM RECORDS (DVD) – KSF
As opposed to most of the other releases on the Heavy Karaoke series this DVD features songs performed by the actual bands. It also features some images of the bands involved, but most are just hand held home video style footage. The listeners can sing, and maybe play, along to three from Nightwish, one each from Sonata Arctica, Ensiferum, Norther, Charon, Twilightning, To/Die/For, Entwine, Kiuas, and The Machete and end the fun with three more from Children Of Bodom, all for a total of 15 chances to make a fool of oneself. – Anna Tergel
V/A – HEAVY KARAOKE – HITS OF PANTERA (DVD) – BANDOKE
Does the world really need metal karaoke DVDs? It obviously does, since we have one right here. The DVD features 15 songs “in the style of Pantera”, which means that they are not played by the original band. Still, the music is very close to the originals, and the singer is actually better than Phil Anselmo ever was – at least technically. The songs include popular tracks like Cemetery Gates, Cowboys From Hell, I’m Broken, Five Minutes Alone, Walk, and Mouth For War. Users can choose between various different playing modes: “Without vocals” and a) no guitar, b) no bass or c) drums only. The options for “with vocals” are a) no guitar, b) no bass, c) drums and vocals or d) full band version. The DVD operates a bit slowly, and the loading pause befor a song starts is too long. During the songs, the screen shows the corresponding part of the song (like intro, verse 1, chorus, etc.), the lyrics with changing colors according to the timing of the vocals, the key of the guitar parts (like D), and the chords (if there are any, like C#5). A rippled line with changing color indicates the speed of the guitar track. This DVD is clearly intended for musicians, and singers can use it right away. Guitarists and bassists are lost without the song transcriptions, though. It is impossible to play a solo by only knowing the key, for example. Many guitarists prefer playing along to a CD by a band to not have visual distractions. But who knows, some people might be interested in this DVD, especially if they play in a Pantera cover band or if they already own some Pantera songbooks. – Andreas Herzog
V/A – THE REALM OF NAPALM RECORDS – NAPALM
It really says a lot about Napalm Records if this DVD, plus the included bonus CD, is a true representation of their roster. Judging by this compilation Napalm Records is a repository for all things folk and gothic with the term metal being only loosely attached and even then to a few of their bands. It is somehow interesting that Atrocity’s directionless but trendy Cold Black Days starts the proceedings, Battlelore can at least claim to a concept in Storm Of The Blades and Journey To Undying Lands. Beseech, Darkwell and Elis seem to prod along in the midst of a trend tide. The thrashy Hurtlocker suddenly stand out, but that is not much of an achievement considering the former bands and the three Korpiklaani videos that follow. Lacrimas Profundere brings variety but only in gothic form. Leaves’ Eyes, Sinamore, Tyr and Visions Of Atlantis only serve to confirm the opening two sentences of this review. The live portion of the DVD starts with the second band that definitely does not belong here, Enthroned’s Hellgium Messiah is raw black metal and is sure to disrupt the monotonous barrage of non-metal around it. Salatio Mortis and Midnatsol add another six live songs. Along with the aforementioned bonus audio CD the DVD contains a bonus Leaves’ Eyes special following the band on tour. The other extra belongs to the guys forming Wig Wam and they will make you forget all about the folk and gothic with their brand of, surely intentional, cheesy Poison-like glam. – Anna Tergel
V/A – AKOMPILATION VOL.2 – AKOM
Italy’s Akom Production is back with a new compilation, which like the one before features bands of several different genres like metal, punk, hardcore and even rock. Unlike the predecessor though volume two has gone further afield and brought together several groups from outside Italy. The majority of the disc is comprised of Italian bands however and many of them sing in their native tongue. The bands are not limited to independent bands either. The disc presents songs from several rival labels. The label starts with music for metal fans – the band is called Last Rites – but soon drifts into everything else. G-Zero raps, Serpent tries to be Cradle Of Filth, Runt is just sucky and Effigy (one of 50 Effigys out there that is) sounds like music my college station plays. Overall, the disc is for the more open-minded and adventurous fan and might soon become a collector’s item as most of these bands will never be heard (of) again. The label might be looking at signing some of these bands so cast a vote if you have or are getting the disc. – Anna Tergel
V/A – METALMANIA 2005 – METAL MIND
This DVD and CD double release consists of over four hours of material. The DVD from the big stage of Poland’s main metal festival features multiple songs from the likes of Amon Amarth, Dark Funeral, The Haunted, Napalm Death and several other less known and mostly forgettable performances by Dies Irae, Arcturus, Darzamat, ANJ, Pain, Turbo, and Apocalyptica. The big stage and apparent lack of extras is both good and bad as it showcases the bands without distraction but doesn’t offer much to look at when some decide to use cellos for example. The CD features some material from the lesser-known names that participated at the festival. One that stands out from that group is Pyorrhoea, who in Suicidal Masturbation, as the title suggests, offer a brutal grinding style that doesn’t disappoint. All in all just another showcase of a compilation that only serves to provide more exposure to the festival organizers. – Anna Tergel
V/A – HOLLYWOOD HAIRSPRAY VOL.5 – PERRIS
You have to love the Hollywood Hairspray series. Not only is the music water for the parched lips of every single hard rocking glam and sleaze fan but also Perris Records serves notice that the scene is alive and well. A friend recently told me that glam metal makes as much sense as SUVs nowadays. If that’s true then who is buying or playing this stuff? This is the place to discover new boys (and girls – who’s that on the cover?) with long hair, great dress-up and music that sends shiver up and down the spines. Volume five has a couple of rock cuts, many sleaze numbers and several hard rock tracks. The disappointments are Dirty Rig (featuring Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke), Jack Viper’s Merry Go Around and Nice ‘N’ Sleezy from UK. Chris Laney rocks as usual, Bastardz, The Deadthings and Sweet Cheater provide the listener with three glammed-to-the-max numbers that beg for repeat listen and Brazil’s Snow probably takes the cake with a song called Razorblade Kiss!! Wasn’t Quiet Riot called Snow once?
Come on babbbby, try some Hollywood Hairspray. It looks good on you! – Sheila Wes Det
LEVIATHAN/SAPTHURAN Split CD – BATTLE KOMMAND
Are we staring at a new trend? It seems that Metallian’s been receiving split CDs by two American black metal featuring black and white covers (often re-releases by one-man acts) on a weekly basis for a few months now. The sound is always inspired by Darkthrone, as is the presentation obviously. Having said that the cover has suffered so much in the printing process as to be almost veiled out of sight.
Of the two bands here Sapthuran has the more conventional sound. The production is also cleaner, yet do not mistake that for mainstream appeal. This stuff is as dark, grim and misanthropic as the day Jehovah created this damnation bowl. Sapthuran offers three tracks, two songs and more than 15 minutes of music. The man’s growls and shrieks would have lesser demons scurrying back to hell.
Leviathan, the better known of the two, is less obvious and noisier. This portion of the disc begins with noise, samples, percussion and so much distortion that the story of the world seems lucid in comparison. The man’s demonic howls are only topped by has barking and howling on Crushing The Prolapsed Oviducts Of Virtue. Leviathan does slow down every so often for an intro or for atmospheric effect, but the sound is there to hurl damnation not recreate the mind of a ballerina like dimwit bunny or whatever the pop band is called. The fine guitar picking on the aforementioned Crushing The Prolapsed… track is appreciated, as is the same on Sapthuran’s And Autumn Sheds Its Final Tear.
Shrouded in fogs of mysticism, these bands will rise, surround and choke the listener. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – METAL=LIFE – HOPELESS RECORDS
Metal=Life is a charity compilation featuring two CDs and one DVD in co-operation with The Hot Topic Foundation and Sub City charities for music and arts. Totalling 33 songs and 18 videos on the DVD there is no doubt that this is one extensive compilation. However, this is nowhere near an exclusively metal package and no matter what the title implies bands like Horse The Band, Fight Paris and Giving Chase are anything but metal. As I Lay Dying and Thine Eyes Bleed rescue the CD and DVD, but then again no one should be buying this expecting to be blown away by the bands contained within it. Nevertheless some charities may benefit from this and some fun is there to be had with odd but original videos like Horse The Band’s A Million Exploding Stars. – Anna Tergel
V/A – THE LUGBURZ COMPILATION III – LUGUBURZ
The boys over at Lugburz Towers do a fine job of promoting their national metal scene. It must be tough running a label based on the quantity of bands calling a country the size of a typical Wal-Mart (where finding good taste is as rare as morals in the US government) home, but the game is about quality and not quantity. What must be even more difficult is finding enough black metal bands willing to appear on your compilation in a country the size of Belgium. Well, Lugburz has pulled it off unless one considers the disc dumped in an envelope with a cardboard instead of an actual jacket serving as the packaging for the disc.
Like any other compilation the musical and sound quality of the represented bands vary. The first band on the sampler, the unpronounceable Aguynguerran, has a weak sound, but great music. Others bands might have a weak sound including tinny drums, while others pull it together rather well. A couple of bands from Lugburz’s own roster also appear here. What makes this compilation work rather well is the shortage of poser K&F (keyboards & female vocals) bands. Instead, the bands and the label concentrate on the genuine article. Still, a joke/cartoon band called Lemuria caters to the kiddy market. Ignoring that band, the better bands here are the aforementioned Aguynguerran, Iconoclasm and the raging Shores Of Madness, Stormkraai and Histoire Noire whose torturous song Folter would sound a lot better with an actual production. On the flip side – here comes the obligatory kerrap – is Lemuria and a band called Satyrus which makes Def Leppard sound uncompromisingly brutal in comparison.
There is not a better way of familiarizing oneself with the black metal scene over in Belgium than this compilation. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – ARMAGEDDON OVER WACKEN (LIVE 2004) – MAGICK RECORDS
A three-CD set of the 2004 Wacken festival, this compilation showcases a variety of the bands that appeared that year. Featuring a total of 39 bands playing 46 songs one gets a good sampling of how big a festival or concert Wacken really is. From Dio and Anthrax to Hobbs Angel Of Death and Cannibal Corpse many varieties of metal are covered here, although not unexpectedly many of the bands are not metal at all and some are even lesser known in most parts of the world. A band called Dr. Rock and another called Bal Sagoth on the same CD somehow just doesn’t make too much sense either but that is the nature of Wacken or any other big show.
Basically a sampling of live material, none of which is terribly too exciting. And someone care to explain the choice of Wacken’s Texas Bull logo? – Anna Tergel
V/A – WORLDEATER VS NOT COMMON – WORLDEATER/NOT COMMON
This 26-song/71-minute long compilation disc arrived at Metallian Towers in the same package as the self-titled The Green Evening Requiem demo. What the connection between the band and the disc/labels might be is not immediately clear, but the myriad of bands on the sampler once again remind us that the downfall of most compilations is how crappy bands overwhelm the worthwhile few. There are many bands on the disc covering styles from alternative to punk to grindcore to doom and heavy metal, but only a couple of the songs are actually worth investing time in. Hellblock 6, Progeny Of Ruin and Raising Kubrick are several of the stimulating bands. In contrast, utter crap like Northern Liberties, Syzslak or Kiss Kiss Kill first need to learn how to play their instruments before we on the critique side of the table can begin to judge their music. Independent DIY music is praiseworthy if and only if the music is good. Starting a garage band and recording before having proper songs or skill is only adding to the acute glut of bands on this planet. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – 12 COMMANDMENTS IN METAL – ROADRUNNER
The 1985 compilation album, 12 Commandments In Metal, compiled by Aardschok’s Metal Mike is one of the best ways to grasp how the metal scene sounded like in its best days and simultaneously freshen the ears with some vintage and rare heavy metal. Getting one’s hands on this LP might be difficult, but search and you will find.
The sampler kicks off in fine form with Bitches Sin and the song Ain’t Life A Bitch. This is rough and ready bash metal with justifiably bitter lyrics. The guitar work is near perfect for the rhythms and solos are wild and capable while the drums keep a steady pace. This is thoroughly metal.
One of the best heavy metal songs ever, and certainly Hellion’s best, is up next and it is called Run For Your Life. Ann Boleyn and her California-based band perform their song with hard riffing, throaty vocals, glorious solos and action-packed lyrics. The locomotive drumming hits all the right notes for this urgent song (“my timing was all wrong…”) which demands to be played loudly.
Where we had a bitch several minutes earlier we now have Whore by the band Warhead. This particular whore is a standard frolic through the red light district of Venom with infernal screams added as a bonus. The singer belts out his incomprehensible lines while the whipping bruises the listener.
Fever is a red hot song from Tokyo Blade. One of the bands that started off much better than it ended up becoming, the NWOBHMers’ song is designed for fans of the movement and comes with superb soloing a la Iron Maiden.
Tyson Dog’s T.W.A.T., courtesy of Neat Records, is up next and is basically a frenzied romp of hardcore punk with noisy guitars. This band was dismissed as noisecore early in its career and has unceasing pounding drums. It sounds like these canines had gathered a choir of mice to assist in the recording. Either way, believe it or not, Tyson Dog makes the other bands on this compilation sound well-mannered in comparison.
Japan’s Earthshaker was the contemporary of Loudness and sounded close to that band without the services of guitar god Akira Takasaki obviously. The live version of the song More is a classy and powerful presentation of the typical early Japanese metal sound sung in the band’s native tongue – magnificent!
Side Two begins with the pentagram of blood holding the jackal’s truth and a band which needs no introduction. Slayer’s The Anticrist (sic) appears here in the live (in the studio) format. No explanation is needed regarding this song given how everyone probably owns this song elsewhere which is probably not the case with the other tunes on 12 Commandments.
The, until recently, rare Weapon song Set The Stage Alight follows Slayer and is a testament to the band’s capability and talent that stands up well on its own. It might be tame compared to The Antichrist, but this song drips with such NWOBHM class and power that it will simply not be denied. Set The Stage Alight is a fist-pumping and jaw-dropping song with rowdy vocals and attitude to spare. This compilation is worth disinterring just for Weapon if you are an NWOBHM aficionado. Weapon’s lack of success is one of the scene’s biggest shames. Just listen to the marvelous rhythm section performance.
Compared to the other bands here Anthrax’s Soldiers Of Metal is mediocre and all the more hollow sounding knowing that the band went on to reinvent itself alternately as either hardcore or rap. Ross The Boss produced this. Who cares?
The oft-copied (including on this LP) Venom is up next. The gods of black metal complete the ‘bitch’ and ‘whore’ triumvirate by contributing a Voyeur. Venom, like Slayer, really needs no introduction.
Speaking of black metal, Satan appears next in the guise of a classy and melodic NWOBHM band with a song called Oppression. The song has not aged all these years. The melodic dual guitars, story line and commanding vocals were the recipe for a great band that fell victim to line-up changes and not believing in itself. Satan never repeated the performance it gave on its debut album from which this song is taken.
Omen ends the album with one of its select admirable songs. The masochists contribute Torture Me which is timely. It allows the listener to get a prime example of the US metal sound from the sampler as well. It is a shame that this band reformed recently for how could they match the glory of songs like this?
12 Commandments In Metal is an excellent time-piece of a sampler featuring a couple of unsigned bands and oddly no bands directly signed to Roadrunner. Never mind though, the LP is crammed with one gem after the other. – Ali “The Metallian”
V/A – CALIBAN VS. HEAVEN SHALL BURN THE SPLIT PROGRAM II – LIFEFORCE
Apparently Caliban and Heaven Shall Burn have agreed to make releasing split CDs a mutual tradition for the two shared a disc in 2000. The band have moved on from Lifeforce, but that has not stopped them from returning to the German label for another split album. A few things have changed for the bands musically however., They are both less hardcore. It is remarkable how much the Gothenburg has influenced the hardcore and crossover scenes. Both bands show traces of the Swedish sound. Heaven Shall Burn mixes these metal influences with a sound that comes near newer Satyricon. Caliban is relatively more straightforward, yet uses a lot of melody and even harmony. A Summer Dream is a great song. In fact, there are not any songs here that could not be characterized as strong within their own genres. The only problem is the isolated use of clean vocals by Caliban.
There is a problem here though and it lies in the overall value of the disc. Heaven Shall Burn offers up two cover songs on its side, while Caliban has a total of four older songs on offer here. It does not sound like they cared much for this split after all, does it? – Anna Tergel
V/A – HOLLYWOOD ROCKS! – DEADLINE/CLEOPATRA
Hollywood Rocks! is exactly the type of sampler that the world needs so badly right now. The nice folks at Cleopatra Records have spent a lot of time and effort putting together this sampler of four discs and eighty hard rocking, hair teasing, nerve titillating tunes to remind the world what it felt like when men shook their bodies and long manes to the tune of loud music. These bands had the feel, the vibe and the groove and it was all about nothing but a good time. The discs present both underground songs like Xciter’s Sleepless Nites (featuring George Lynch) to tunes by unknown glamsters like Saigon Saloon to the bigger bands like Keel, Jetboy and Quiet Riot. They are all here! What’s more these songs are either live, demo or alternate versions that no one has heard in a long long time. Never mind though, the songs thrill like electricity and bring back the glory days. If you like te-RIFF-ic tunes, sweeping vocals and dynamic guitars then it’s all here. You and I just got to got to got to have this box set. – Sheila Wes Det
V/A – ALONE IN THE DARK – NUCLEAR BLAST
This is a 2-CD compilation of “music from and inspired by the original motion picture” Alone In the Dark. To have 36 songs inspired by a movie released long after some of the songs were written and released is as interesting as having Nuclear Blast releasing a compilation for a movie starring two actors struggling to keep their places in Hollywood by accepting roles in this thriller, in Christian Slater and Tara Reid. Having said that the 36 songs cover a rather broad spectrum, from the non-metal of Samael and Lacuna Coil to the much more bearable Dew-Scented and Suffocation. Along the way one can get a dose of In Flames, Nightwish and Hypocrisy. Most other big names of the scene are included as well, anybody picking up this CD can happily enjoy (or not) Arch Enemy, Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, and one must not forget the likes of Dark Tranquility, Soilwork and Shadows Falls. They are all here. – Anna Tergel
V/A – APOCALYPSE, LIVRE 66, CHAPITRE PREMIER – SEASON OF MIST
Another day, another label releasing a compilation, a double CD in this case, only one of which has been made available for review. The 17-track CD starts off with Penumbra, in the vein The Gathering with some middle-eastern sounding passages. The Dead Old Tree is next and We Cry As One is perhaps a more commercial version of what preceded it. The Crest’s Butterflies And Dragons lacks anything remotely heavy metal and belongs to a new wave or gothic compilation. Green Carnation also provides little in the way of metal in Boy In The Attic (radio edit). At least My Insanity make use of electric guitars even if Cosmic Orgasm is reminiscent of Rammstien. Dawn Of Relic provides much needed relief sounding better than it would be if listened to on its own, Masquerade Of Sickness perhaps not too surprisingly reminds one of the likes of Insomnium and other similar Finnish bands. Blood Duster’s two tracks are even more welcome at this point, especially the grinding Idi. Mezzerschmitt’s industrial sounds afford some variation to the compilation. Skjend Hans Lik is Carpathian Forest’s entry showcasing their version of black metal. Macabre give us their brand of Murder Metal in You’re Dying To Be With Me. Council Of The Fallen’s mix of thrash, black and death metal is probably the highlight on this compilation, Longing For Clarity is a recommended listen. Mayhem’s You Must Fall is a mix of blasting drums accompanied by some strange sounding guitar riffs and effects typical of the band. Formed by ex-Voivod member, E-Force is next with the very much Voivod influenced Satanic Rituals. Nattefrost play traditional black metal as the Sluts Of Hell title would suggest. Defiled reminds one of the early ’90s blasting sounds of Napalm Death and many others of that era. Macabre Minstrels round off the CD with an acoustic ‘morbid campfire song’ about convicted killer Tom Dooley who’s headed for a hanging. – Anna Tergel
V/A – THE FIRST 20 YEARS – AUBURN RECORDS
This disc either might be a complimentary compilation or a free promotional album, but that does not detract from the worth of The First 20 Years Auburn Records 1984 – 2004. This label has harboured several underrated bands over the years and the inclusion of these notable Cleveland-area acts makes this CD well worthwhile. Shok Paris (pure molten US metal), Destructor (Anthrax in studs) and Breaker (top-notch hard ‘ n heavy) kick off the album in fine style. Why none of these bands made it is a cause for bewilderment. Purgatory is also good and, while not as impressive as the first three bands, further shows Auburn’s A&R as impressive. The disc starts going downhill beginning with Wretch and on to Manimals, Black Death and others though. To the best of my recollection these bands were not signed and the recording quality resembles that of the demo variety. Even if these were once Auburn bands they clearly don’t attain the same levels as Shok Paris or Destructor and are bound to disappoint. The disc ends with Jag Panzer’s 1987 song Chain Of Command. If recent reports that Jag Panzer was not allowed to re-release the original albums due to a contractual hindrance by its old guitarist is correct then this compilation is the only place where one can officially hear this song nowadays. Furthermore, this track serves another purpose. On a continuous play mode the next song is Shok Paris’ Go Down Fighting which by virtue of being so superior to Jag Panzer shows the injustice in the music world. After all, Jag Panzer is still releasing album, while Shok Paris is merely an underground name from years gone by. – Ali “The Metallian”