Monday, September 25, 2017

Live Video Review: WARBRINGER Remain Violent

Remain Violent
Performed live at The Forge, Joliet, Illinois USA September 20, 2017
Warbringer is accompanying Dark Tranquillity on their Septermber/October North American tour and samples of a recent Illinois appearance are uploaded at Frank Garcia’s Youtube channel. Garcia filmed a song from Warbringer, Dark Tranquillity and Withering Soul at a Joliet club called The Forge last September 20 (the Canadian band Striker is said to be sharing the bill, but there is no video of theirs if they took part in this show). Garcia is still consistently posting fan’s eye views of visiting bands playing in his home state, and there are many more recent clips to peruse at his channel. My first impression of Warbringer when they started playing Remain Violent, a selection from their latest full length CD Woe To The Vanquished, was that they must be Slayer fans. The opening strains with their drum accents and lead passages called Hell Awaits to mind, and to a certain point those impressions carried throughout. I heard some elements of old Exodus and D.R.I. too but fortunately the similarities don’t’ dominate their musicianship too much. They bring enough of them in to incite their audience to get into the spirit of things, and the strongest tactility they display is the common eagerness and devotion to thrash metal that bands with the most longevity exposed at their hungriest. Mind you, this one song is my first exposure to Warbringer and it would be best to listen to their new album in its entirety before forming an opinion. For fans of old school thrash it’s a suitable introduction to this band since their capacity of compelling the listener to become enthusiastic about what they’re hearing is quite palpable. Remain Violent is reportedly about Trump America, again a sensitive topic Americans are firmly divided on. But as we know thrash bands have long chosen their positions about such topics, something that was inspired by punk and hardcore when the first crossover bands appeared around 1985 and ’86. Garcia captures the band’s live essence to where you feel you’re present for their set. All this has generated an interest in hearing the song as it was recorded in the studio as well as the rest of the album. -Dave Wolff

Sunday, September 24, 2017

CD Review: EVIL SEX PARTY E.S.P.

E.S.P.
Independent
The simplest way to begin this review is by stating this musical project applies to those who can appreciate something so left-field that categories aren't enough to describe how contradictory their qualities are. The project is EVIL SEX PARTY and they're an ambient group than anything else, though this isn't a project one can passively listen to as muzak. If one attempts doing that they'll dislike it and lose concentration. This one has to voluntarily, actively absorb. It doesn't sound awfully fun but the benefits are rewarding. They fuse sounds together to create one unified whole. The key is not to focus on the whole but the pieces the whole is composed of. The album is titled 'E.S.P.' and consists of seven pieces. First track 'Commencement' is the lengthiest track and admittedly it took me long to comprehend the group. For the first two minutes I was listening to this conglomeration of odd machinery samples and waiting for something to actually kick in (Spoiler alert. It doesn't.). Indeed, one has to use their imagination to a degree to put themselves into the zone. Once you get past the fact that it's "noise" and sounds the same to unaccustomed ears you can disassociate from the experience by focusing on one sphere of the sonic field. In doing so it becomes a great deal more interesting. 'Tangle of Flesh' is, on passive-listening, another uneventful short interlude. On a vigilant scale it is full of activity and you can hear the first real introduction of an instrument. In the distance you can faintly hear electric-guitars but it is advised not to focus on it for too long because you'll find you have missed other happenings. One begins to encounter the most "musical" piece. In 'Liturgy' you can hear something not too short of a melody. It is electronically-driven, arpeggiated (or square-wave if you want to be fancy) synthesizer tones. 'The Body and the Blood' features the most diverse array of sounds though I couldn't quite recall it after listening to the record. 'Transmogrification' is a pretty number whereas 'Communion' is utterly terrifying and the peak of the album. I'm 99% sure this piece is based upon the group's name as the human moaning that penetrate one's eardrums are redolent of an "evil sex party". Respite and its sacred offerings have never been more appreciated upon hearing 'Retreat to Light', a track to alleviate the tension the listener experiences. It is indeed an experience I'd recommend. Seemingly minimalistic, but maybe not quite so in reality. All the layers unfold and it becomes apparent EVIL SEX PARTY is something, to quote the group, to "listen at your own peril." -Jaime Regadas

Track list:
1. Commencement
2. Tangle Of Flesh
3. Liturgy
4. The Body And The Blood
5. Transmogrification
6. Communion
7. Retreat To Light



Film Review: 28 Days Later by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Drama, Horror
Date of Release: November, 1, 2002
Director: Danny Boyle
Movie companies involved: DNA Films, UK Film Council
Produced by: Robert How as line producer, Andrew Macdonald as producer
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson, Ricci Harnett, Stuart McQuarrie, Noah Huntley
Plot: A group of animal rights activists break into a lab and release monkeys from their cages to rescue them, despite warnings from a scientist that the monkeys are contagious.
As a result of the animal rights activists' actions, a virus that the monkeys had contained rapidly spread across Great Britain and infects numerous people. Jim, who fell into a coma following a bicycle accident shortly before the virus was released, emerges from his coma and finds that London is deserted. He realizes that he is not alone, as within the city there are those that have been infected and those that have not. Jim manages to find more survivors and they head out to Manchester, where a group of British military personnel offer protection of any survivors from the infected. However, Jim and his colleagues have no idea what they're in for.
Review: The movie shows us that any unhealthy fanaticism towards whatever cause it is isn’t good. The foolishness of breaking free the monkeys and the infection afterwards is the proof.
In the movie you can appreciate the struggle of survival in a very hostile situation, the rage virus isn’t forgiving. It’s what I could call a perfect virus because it DOES NOT kill the host really but takes over, filling them with an out-of-this-world anger.
It’s a different take on zombies actually yes they eat your flesh but unlike others they don’t eat your brain nor are really zombies since technically they still are alive.
Hope, desperation, anger, loneliness and lack of mercy towards others.
Those feelings are explored on the film; some characters even represent them in my opinion.
It is a movie I liked watching and could actually relate to the characters, the acting is quite good, the suspense is done just right and the disgusting truth about the soldiers is well built-up, it’s a shame people resort to such measures regardless of circumstances.
There is a sequel for this movie, called 28 Months Later which is also quite good, a good movie that will keep you in suspense and eager to see what happens.
Sometimes the hope is indeed the last thing to be lost. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Film Review: Cloud Atlas by Roberta J. Downing

Drama, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Released: October 2012
Written and Directed by: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski
Produced by: Stefan Arndt, Grant Hill, Tom Tykwer, Lana and Lily Wachowski and many others.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Zhu Zhu, Keith David, and Susan Sarandon
A multifaceted web of how the actions and deeds of just one person can impact other people in the past, present and even the future. Ebbing and flowing from a single act of love and kindness can inspire others centuries later to start a uprising or how a man so full of greed can in another life time become one who gives all he has.
I have to say that I’m not often a fan of the flashing forward and backward in a movie however, in order to be able to tie the past to present and future this was necessary-ish. I honestly believe that the movements could have been done much smoothly than they were yet I did find myself drawn into the web of many lives the movie spanned.
This movie not only covers many lives but also many different issues such as slavery, racism and the proverbial evil being an ever constant battle. It goes to show that love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, death and rebirth are just different sides of the same coin. It also has aliens beings that seem to be stranded and viewed as different, almost God like with their technologies.
It was interesting, to say the least, watching how each actor played their parts for each era. There were times it was akin to watching Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde with the different transformations each character would undergo on another life time.
I do have to say that this film was especially long and there were times when I actually kept thinking that this is a good place to end the movie. Yes, there are some lulls in the film and I think most of that had to do with the flashing forward and back a multitude of times.
Lastly, I think all in all this was a very good movie but I do think that it might have been better perhaps a part one and part two. -Roberta J. Downing

Single Review: THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Matriarch

Matriarch
From their new full length Nightbringers to be released on Metal Blade October 6
Detroit, Michigan’s own The Black Dahlia Murder, named after the 1947 unsolved murder of Hollywood waitress Elizabeth Short, have gained unforeseen popularity since their debut full length Unhallowed was released in 2003. Like Cannibal Corpse, they have fans in their camp who assert their inability to release a disappointing album. Nightbringers is their latest effort which is due to come out next month, and things are reportedly shaping up in anticipation. Pre-orders for the album are being said to have sold the highest number of copies in the history of Metal Blade records. It appears the label has worked particularly hard to push the band, and from that alone those efforts are beginning to pay off. The band is likewise channeling huge amounts of energy to promote Matriarch before its release on several social media and streaming sites. There has also been web activity including an interview with vocalist Trevor Strnad on Metal Sucks where he demonstrates his vocal technique. This is a comedic interview and not exactly intended to teach vocalists about the discipline of extreme metal vocals like other instructors, but it’s good for levity if your day hasn’t gone well. Matriarch is the second preview from Nightbringers; the first was a promotional video for the title track released last August. That video was filmed at a show the band had recently played and demonstrated the tight heavy groove they perfected through the 2000s and 2010s. The lighting the video captured from that show was fitting for the lyrics that assailed the misuse of religion as a ‘convert through fear’ mechanism. The lyrics of Matriarch is a graphic description of a serial killer and the fate of his pregnant girlfriend. This is delivered in full on slasher film mode, utterly intended to shock and horrify. The less hardened listener will have to keep reminding themselves it’s only a song but if you’re attuned to gory lyrics this song is ideal for entertainment value. The breakneck pace, blast beats, time changes, meticulous guitars and lead solos sound of the natural progression the band is said to develop by. The musicianship continues to reach new heights and sounds close to impossible to play, but there is no evidence of the band attempting to showboat their abilities or become too grandiloquent in their accomplishments. Metal Blade pre-orders are available in several vinyl and CD formats you can choose from. October sees the band touring to promote Nightbringers with guests Suffocation, Decrepit Birth, Necrot, and Wormwitch. -Dave Wolff


Saturday, September 23, 2017

EP Review: ANTZAAT The Black Hand Of The Father

The Black Hand Of The Father
To be released September 25, 2017
I recently heard of Antzaat when Surtur of Immortal Frost mailed me an advance copy of their debut EP. By now I can count on this label for quality extreme metal, as past promo packages from them have included Doedsvangr, Oath, From The Vastland and Astral Winter. These bands and the others on IFP will convince many it’s a label worth taking heed of. The label’s latest promo package with Antzaat’s CD and another CD from Drawn Into Descent arrived unexpectedly, and I figured there wasn’t much to lose by checking it out. This is not the first time I’ve made this observation, but The Black Hand Of The Father instantly brought me to when black metal began to mature and grow around 1996 to 1998, and began to realize the potential of the early Norwegian and Swedish bands. More elaborate progressions, selective addition of atmosphere and the earliest inklings of the ‘epic’ exposition writers topically associate with the genre. I listened to The Black Hand Of The Father several times and each time it grew on me a little more. The EP is limited to five hundred copies on compact disc so I’d suggest ordering a copy as soon as it’s made available. It’s also being released in digital download format if you prefer listening on your computer. Either way there should be a demand for it once the favorable reviews start circulating. The Belgian band takes all the archetypal fundamentals of late 90s black metal, magnifying them to a magnificent potency. Atmospheric presence, sunless and clouded, is imbued into their musicianship with a meticulous process so The Black Hand Of The Father has enough of an ethereal ambience without making it sound too oversaturated. The band knows what they are doing in this department as they hint at the immenseness of the universe they create, giving you enough to use your imagination and showing how much potential they have to progress. Equally stunning is how they ride roughshod through their songs, striking without warning from the start. The fuzzy guitar, distorted bass and hammering drums equalize ambient black metal, symphonic black metal, war metal and depressive suicidal black metal. Fans of everyone from Bal Sagoth to Maniac Butcher will be conscious of Antzaat’s drawing power. I should mention the time changes written into these songs which are executed in a steady, unforced manner. Circle Of Leeches is a fine example of this and one point from which the band should continue to sharpen their skills. Visit the band on Facebook for updates on shows and events they will be participating in. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Disciples Of The Concrete Temple
2. Rite Of The New Dawn
3. Circle Of Leeches
4. Hierachy Of The Battered
5. The Black Hand Of The Father

Friday, September 22, 2017

CD Review: SINICLE Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
Independent
The long-awaited anticipation of SINICLE's new album, titled 'Angels & Demons' has finally reached its zenith as it has been officially released as of today. It is a real rollercoaster of dynamics and versatility as they strive to showcase the soft tones of melodic pop which is neatly embroidered in swarms of crushing heavy-rock passages. My first real introduction to the group was the song 'Damnation', the second song of this album. It featured an animated music video I distinctly remember being fascinated by due to its strange context. The notion I can take away from listening to the entire record is that they're a very unconventional group; forever coalescing harsh and raw musical offerings with polished bursts of neo-psychedelia. The real highlight for me is the title-track and its video; which is gripping both sonically and visually. It is a dark and brooding song in nature which evokes the feeling of a struggle with the self. It's one of the most professional videos I've ever seen by a group such as themselves who aren't getting nearly enough the attention they rightly deserve - and if you're on the off-chance hoping to see a fully-grown man drenched in black ink then you won't be disappointed. 'Death Coast' is definitely one of my favourites due to its reliance upon grooves. It features a mid-point section that wouldn't seem out of place in a COCTEAU TWINS record but primarily the song seems to showcase a death 'n roll inspired feel. 'Rabbit Hole' is a fast-paced ditty which I can only imagine to be a representation of the woodland creature protagonist on a sprint. 'Baltimore' is probably one of the album's focal point numbers due to how angst-ridden and aggressive it is. The group do have an experimental facet as they are keen to shock listeners with short instrumentals. To be even more precise they'd probably be considered "moments" above anything else due to how short and minimalistic in style these passages are. 'Esoteric' is fourteen-seconds long and consists solely of choppy guitar voicings which occur in rapid succession intermittently. 'DEER XING' is noise accompanied by phased harmonics whereas 'Miller Time' is a track I have a feeling is actually based upon an extended theme they originally wrote but had to shorten. It's an interesting piece but quickly disintegrates into the unknown. The final three numbers, 'Broken Silence', 'Free Like Me' and 'Operations Activate' are where the group seem at their most relaxed and focused. I think it's a strong record and would recommend anybody to give it a try because thereare moments that could virtually appeal to any type of listener. I'll be surprised if this isn't their breakthrough album. -Jaime Regadas

Track list:
1. DEER XING
2. Damnation
3. Death Coast
4. Angels & Demons
5. Miller Time
6. Rabbit Hole
7. Baltimore
8. Esoteric
9. Broken Silence
10. Free Like Me
11. Operations Activate

Film Review: The Terminator (1984) by Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Action, Sci-Fi
Date of Release: 26, October, 1984
Movie Company: Hemdale, Pacific Western, Euro Film Funding, Cinema ‘84/Greenberg Brothers partnership
Director: James Cameron
Produced by: John Daly as executive producer, Derek Gibson as executive producer, Gale Anne Hurd as producer/co-writer
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton
Plot: A machine sent from 2029 to 1984 to prevent humanity to raise up in the future so it can win the war of Humanity vs Machines. His main Target? Sarah Connor, the mother of the Resistance leader. Humanity sent a lone hero, Kyle Reese to protect Sarah, can they defeat… The Terminator?
Review:
A classic, a cult film that started a franchise which expanded along the years with a masterfully crafted lore and a estable development.
The movie’s pace is quite enjoyable the characters are well-built. The best part is how it’s clear it’s an old-school style of film, more specifically for using the method of stop motion & animatronics, today mostly it’s just CGI.
Personally I think this is one of the films that you must have in your films-to-see list, it’s epic and shows us old school ain’t bad always.
A must-see for any sci-fi fan, it has a sequel, Terminator 2 which is also highly recomendable. -Sophia Cynthia Cabral

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Single Review: CANNIBAL CORPSE Code Of The Slashers

Code Of The Slashers
From their upcoming album Red Before Black to be released on Metal Blade November 3, 2017
There seems to be a consensus among death metal fans that Cannibal Corpse is incapable of making a bad album. Twenty-nine years and fourteen studio efforts (including the monumental Eaten Back To Life, Vile, Gallery Of Suicide, Gore Obsessed and Kill) have gotten the band tremendous amounts of respect underground and aboveground. They have done so simply by sticking to their guns, touring ceaselessly and consistently setting new guidelines in the far-reaching world of extreme metal. Releasing the debut single from their next full length Red Before Black, they prove yet again a band can refine and better themselves while not losing sight of the brutality they want to infuse in their material and what their fans want to hear. Code Of The Slashers is guaranteed to please gore-soaked devotees of the band who expect nothing less than what they have routinely delivered since day one. Need I say more about this? The band also hope to share a bill with Slayer in the near future and I won’t be the least bit surprised if and when it happens. Again the band worked with noted producer Erik Rutan who helmed Kill, Evisceration Plague and Torture and his experience with them pays off here. The band made a promotional video for Code Of The Slashers that plays like a horror short, much like those independently produced and uploaded on Youtube channels. Those horror fans who like seeking out indie producers active on Youtube and those of you who saw Soylent Green will appreciate the imagination that went into the video, even if we instinctively know the turnout before it appears. It involves something of a dystopian future and a question of how to feed the brainwashed masses. The video was directed by Zev Deans of Panorama Programming, Christopher Raymond was director of photography and Beatrice Sniper did makeup and special effects. The band themselves intended the clip to be a tribute to Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot, Poltergeist, Freddy’s Nightmares, Tales From The Crypt) who passed away last August. Starting in the end of October Cannibal Corpse will be touring Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. You can order tickets for some of their tour dates through Metal Blade. -Dave Wolff

Single Review: UPON SHADOWS Fatal Stigma Of The Realist (feat. Matti Torro on drums)

Fatal Stigma Of The Realist (feat. Matti Torro on drums)
To be released independently October 18
Natalia Arocena and Tamara Picardo return again with a single due for release next month. I have covered this band extensively and can’t think of a single instance when I was let down. I’m pleased to report there is no compromise to be found in their new song Fatal Stigma Of The Realist; in fact their vision appears to be growing more horrific and nightmarish as they continue composing material. The production here is flawless and brings out the atmosphere and subtle nuances they intended for this piece. Mika Pohjola was in charge of mixing and mastering this single when it was recorded at Oulu, Finland’s Soundmix recording studio. His work on it was the first thing to make an impression on me, though it goes without saying Upon Shadows and the term “beauty in darkness” are inseparable by now. The guitars and keyboards work incredibly well together, going far beyond simply complementing one another. On this song they really send a cold frost up your spine traveling straight to your brain and transforming your sense of self-awareness into an endless plain of ice. The piano, atmospheric guitars and backing vocals supporting the musicianship add multiple layers of this penetrating frigidity in a way that the band hadn’t previously accomplished. The vocals are much creepier than I remember from their older compositions. If you thought the demonic voices in The Exorcist and The Exorcism Of Emily Rose were perturbing you really should listen to Tamara Picardo’s vocals. It sounds like centuries decayed fingernails tearing pieces out of your brain matter, one clump at a time. Picardo is backed by bassist Arocena and drummer Matti Torro who both contribute greatly to the single’s depth and atmosphere. The band’s approach to playing this song fits subject matter that results from an equally intensive process of thought. The lyrics explore their concept of what they call “the inevitability of foreboding” which can be loosely explained as experiencing disconsolateness as well as bliss. Knowing one can’t exist without the other and knowing how finite mortality is, you can be sure this song makes its point. Ricardo Arocena’s artwork designed for the cover and the presentation of the video made for the song is compared to Oscar Wilde's The Portrait of Dorian Gray, something for readers of philosophical horror literature. Besides this I would recommend checking out Picardo’s beautifully executed dark ambient EP Hidden Terror Of All Dreams which was released in 2016. -Dave Wolff