Sunday, August 1, 2021

Full Length Review: Dungeon Serpent "World of Sorrows" (Nameless Grave Records) by Reggae

Band: Dungeon Serpent
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Country: Canada
Genre: Melodic death metal
Full Length: World of Sorrows
Format: Digital album, limited edition CDs
Label: Nameless Grave Records (USA)
Release date: July 16, 2021
This is some seriously underground metal. From the outset, it’s pretty much flat-out black / thrash / war / grind metal. But don't let that fool you. After the initial onslaught, some more varied influences start to appear. It's a little more difficult to pigeonhole these guys as it sits somewhere between Blasphemy, Terrorizer (old) and maybe old Incantation, Sarcofago, Bolt Thrower and a couple of Aussie bands like Abominator and Bestial Warlust... you get the idea.
The recording is grim and underproduced, but on closer listen these guys are really quite skilled. Dungeon Serpent combines a few genres of extreme metal into one unholy package. I don't tend to review individual songs but after the initial barrage of noise / extremity on the first track some really tasty black metal riffs kick in.... with some Slayer-esque solos. This isn't just stock standard war metal either, the lads have railed in influences from different genres of metal to create something at really stands apart from its peers. As it goes on some rather tuneful solos appear but the heavy as f--k riffage is a constant. These guys are brutal!
Guttural vocals and absolutely hammering drums. Some wicked double kicks that pepper the whole release from start to finish. The alternate picking present on this album is nothing short of brutal. If you like this stuff then I can only implore you to give this a fair listen. To the lads, I hope you guys get a lot of plays and a lot of sales on this, this is a short but sweet release, and one of the more extreme releases I've heard in a while. I know this is supposed to be grim disturbing black metal, but I have to say it really brightened my Sunday! Basically, I’m kicking back with a beer and reveling in the extremity and classic brutal riffage this release has brought. It actually makes me happy there are still people making music like this. -Reggae

Arawn: Guitars, vocals, bass, compositions

Track list:
1. Necroscope
2. Decay
3. Immortal Incubation
4. Cosmic Sorcery
5. World of Sorrows (Instrumental)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Film Review: Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (New Horizons Picture, 2014) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (2014 TV movie)
Directed by Kevin O'Neill
Written by Matt Yamashita
Starring Wilhem Abreu, Keisha Shadè Akinyemi and Lorena Alemany
Produced by New Horizons Picture
Do you enjoy movies where the CGI is so bad it is almost like you are watching an episode of Reboot in the 90s? How about acting that is dreadfully terrible and a script that is absolutely deplorable? If this type of thing interests you…I suggest checking out Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda.
Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda is the second film in this series, following the original film “Sharktopus” in 2010. The plot is kind of patchy and there is a lot of this that doesn’t make much sense, so instead of giving you an overview of the film I will just suggest checking it out for yourself. Although the movie is one of the cheesiest things I have ever seen, there is lots of blood and action…and even though the low budget is quite evident, Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda was actually “kind of” entertaining.
There are elements of humor in the film, and Conan O’Brien even made a short cameo (his first movie cameo in his career).
The main reason I watched this movie was because it was produced by Roger Corman, the mastermind behind the Carnosaur series (which is actually one of my favorite movie franchises of all time) and a slew of other lower budget films. Just like the Carnosaur series, Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda stretches the limits of what is visually acceptable in a film…yet I couldn’t stop watching.
After Sharktopus Vs. Pteracuda, a third movie was filmed in 2015 called “Sharktopus Vs. Whalewolf”. I’m sure it is just as crap-tacular as this one. Will I watch it? Only time will tell! Syfy films are known to sometimes be less than amazing…but then again, some are actually pretty damn good. And you won’t know until you sit down and watch them.
Now please excuse me as I stick my head beneath my kitchen tap to try and wash my last existing brain cell…at this point, the poor little bastard is holding on by a thread! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Film Review: Gremlins (Warner Bros., 1984) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Gremlins (1984)
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Chris Columbus
Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Hoyt Axton
Produced by Amblin Entertainment
Presented by Warner Bros.
Ah, late night television. There is normally never anything good on, but around one in the morning I was watching TV, and after a movie my mother was watching ended…Gremlins came on. Now, I didn’t get to watch the entire film before I went to bed, but as I have watched this movie a hundred times over I figured I would give it a review. Actually, I find it strange that I haven’t reviewed this film in the past. It is a monumental movie from my childhood, and I thoroughly enjoy it every time I watch it.
I don’t imagine I need to say what this film is about. It is right in the title! Gremlins (Wikipedia states that they are “folkloric mischievous creatures” that cause malfunctions within the British Royal Airforce) are let loose on a small town on Christmas Eve and all hell breaks out (we will leave it at that).
The story of Gremlins was thought up by Chris Columbus. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer and the film was produced by Michael Finnel. It was released by Warner Bros. and had outstanding success both critically and commercially. I am just finding out as I write this the movie Gremlins was the reason behind the PG-13 rating, due to the violent sequences which are dispersed throughout the film. The film’s score was done by none other than Jerry Goldsmith, and it has proven to be entirely monumental. He also wrote “Gizmo’s Song”!
Another thing that I have learned about this film is that Howie Mandel did the voice of Gizmo the mogwai (the lovable creature that “births” the gremlins in the first place). In my opinion, Howie did an amazing job on the voice acting and Gizmo’s voice has since been burned into my brain forever. He is an absolute movie legend!
Gremlins is a wonderful movie that blends horror and comedy perfectly and I would honestly suggest it to pretty much anyone. Due to the PG-13 rating and the “somewhat family friendly” vibe of the film, I suggest that it is a great film to help introduce younger viewers to horror…but again, I say that it could be enjoyed by anybody.
Gremlins has a sequel, “Gremlins: The New Batch”, which is also highly enjoyable. A third film is currently in production and I cannot wait to see if it holds up to the first two. These films were absolutely legendary! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Film Review: Creature (Trans World Entertainment, 1985) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Creature (1985)
Directed by William Malone Writing Credits
Written by William Malone and Alan Reed
Produced by Moshe Diamant (executive producer) and William G. Dunn Jr. (producer)
Starring Stan Ivar, Wendy Schaal and Lyman Ward
Trans World Entertainment
While browsing TubiTV I stumbled upon the 1985 cult movie “Creature”, also known as “Titan Find” or “The Titan Find”. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but after watching the film, I only really have a few things to say.
First off, this movie is fucking cheesy. Maybe it is because it is so absolutely dated, but it features some of the worst acting and effects ever. If you want a movie that is full to the brim with astounding effects and movie magic wizardry, this is for sure not the movie you are looking for. Again, it came out in 1985 so we need to cut it some slack…but this is literally a “man in a rubber suit” type deal.
Secondly, at first glance I would have said this was a clear Aliens rip-off (the creature looks remarkably similar to a Xenomorph), but after doing some mild research I found out that there was work done on this film by Robert and Dennis Skotak, who actually went on to work on Aliens…so I guess that the similarities between the creatures are forgivable.
Creature was nominated for Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (I don’t see how) by the Academy of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Horror Films at the 12th Saturn Awards, but lost on both accounts to Gremlins. (Which honestly makes a lot of sense, because Gremlins is far superior of a film in my opinion).
Directed by William Malone, this film is supposedly a “cult classic”…but I’m not sure if I will be watching it again. I did enjoy viewing this, but in my opinion it is a one-watch-wonder and I can see why it was on Tubi as opposed to Netflix or some of the other providers. Do you want to get a laugh at poor effects and rubber aliens? Sure. Give this one a go. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…this is B- at best. –Devin Joseph Meaney

Full Length Review: Omen "The Curse" (Metal Blade) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Omen
Location: Los Angeles, California
Country: USA
Genre: Power metal
Full length: The Curse
Format: Vinyl, cassette
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: October 1986
I spent some time away from writing reviews, and honestly I needed the break. But this did not last long and I soon made my way back to the realms of the thrashing and the heavy. In a fit of nostalgia, I made my way to the album “The Curse” by Omen. According to Wikipedia, this is the third full-length album from the band, and it was originally released on Metal Blade.
This album was pretty monumental in my childhood. It was one of the first albums I owned on cassette, and I completely wore out the original tape from years of use. Most of the albums by Omen are pretty amazing, but this is the one that has stuck to my heart, and recently I have had it pretty much on repeat. It’s that damn good!
It also states on Wikipedia that this is the final studio album by Omen with the original lineup. I mean, I guess it isn’t uncommon for bands to go through a slew of different members, but I am glad I was indoctrinated to Omen with the original cast of characters. (J.D.Kimball, Kenny Powell, Steve Wittig, and Jody Henry).
I would try to pick a favorite track, but this is something that is really hard to do. All of the songs are pretty amazing and are all of the same heaviness and quality. With ten tracks, this album is standard length for an 80s thrash album. (Though the 1996 re-issue includes six bonus tracks from the Nightmares EP).
So, In conclusion, if you like that 80s rasp, heavy and intricate guitars, pounding drums, and a bass that just doesn’t quit…I suggest checking this album out. Fans of metal new and old are sure to dig what is offered on this release…or at the very least, I did. (And still do). –Devin Joseph Meaney

J.D. Kimball (R.I.P. 2003): Vocals
Kenny Powell: Guitars
Jody Henry: Bass
Steve Wittig: Drums

Track list:
1. The Curse
2. Kill on Sight
3. Holy Martyr
4. Eye of the Storm
5. S.R.B.
6. Teeth of the Hydra
7. At All Cost
8. Destiny
9. Bounty Hunter
10. The Larch

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Full Length Review: Angel Witch "Angel Witch" (Bronze Records) by Devin Joseph Meaney

Band: Angel Witch
Location: London
Country: England
Genre: Heavy metal, NWOBHM
Full Length: Angel Witch
Format: Vinyl
Label: Bronze Records
Release date: December 1980
On my usual YouTube music escapades, I came upon “Angel Witch”, the self-titled album by the British heavy metal band of the same name “Angel Witch”. This is the first album from the band. I had vaguely heard of these guys, but never spent much time looking in to them. As it turns out, I really enjoy this album and I have a feeling it will grace my future playlists for a long time to come.
The album was released in 1980 through Bronze Records, and has had four re-releases since. The album over the years has gained mostly positive reception. Supposedly, this album has made Angel Witch one of the “key bands” in the new wave of British heavy metal.
Featuring the talent of Kevin Heybourne, Kevin Riddles, and Dave Hogg, I can imagine that fans of old-school metal all over the globe would highly enjoy sinking their teeth into this one. Apparently Angel Witch are already widely known, but as they are “mostly” new to me I plan to spend some time digging a bit deeper within their output and history.
The original release of the album featured ten tracks (and these are the ten that I have reviewed) but various re-releases and re-issues have various different bonus tracks, so I will make a point to check them out as well.
I guess when it comes down to it, I am really trying to push this band on you. Fans of Black Sabbath and acts such as Megadeth are sure to enjoy this one. I read in one negative review that the production was not the greatest, but personally, this type of production is exactly what I am looking for. Old-school and grainy, it manages to transport you to the atmosphere of a seedy pub or bar…and even though I haven’t touched alcohol in forever…that is always highly enjoyable, isn’t it? Listen to this album! –Devin Joseph Meaney

Kevin Heybourne: Vocals, guitars
Kevin "Skids" Riddles: Bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Dave Hogg: Drums, percussion

Track list:
1. Angel Witch
2. Atlantis
3. White Witch
4. Confused
5. Sorcerers
6. Gorgon
7. Sweet Danger
8. Free Man
9. Angel of Death
10. Devil's Tower

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Full Length Review: Leila Abdul-Rauf "Phantasiai" (Cyclic Law, Cloister Recordings) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Leila Abdul-Rauf
Location: Oakland, California
Country: USA
Genre: Ambient, neoclassical
Full Length: Phantasiai
Format: Digital album, CD, vinyl
Label: Cyclic Law (France), Cloister Recordings (USA)
Release date: July 16, 2021
Oakland, California, USA-based multi-instrumental composer Leila Abdul-Rauf is becoming known for basing concept albums on the kind of human experiences we all face in our lifetimes. These include times we when can’t seem to fall asleep at night and the inevitable moment when life itself expires. She presents the deep thought she gives each subject of her recordings as a bottomless abyss, one that is inescapable because it exists inside all our minds. Dark, unnerving, and beautiful, Abdul-Rauf’s albums compel us to look closer at the darkness in our own souls, the fear and wonder waiting to be experienced by every one of us.
Her music is somewhere between the ambient instrumentals of Burzum, the operatic work of Diamanda Galas and the earthy tones of Serpentine Arborvitae. But these similarities I perceived can’t completely describe the profound magnificence she reveals in herself and her musicianship, or in the depth of her imagination. Her latest recording “Phantasiai” is a waking nightmare from which there is no escape, based on a Greek word meaning imagination and the Greek verb “phainomai” meaning “I appear”. The connection between these refers to the psychological capacity to receive and interpret ideas and sensory input from without.
Sensation is needed for there to be phantasia, and phantasia is needed for there to be thought, as was generally stated by Greek philosophers. Our imagination processes the input presented to us. Abdul-Rauf puts across the idea that music and art emerge from the place in our minds between sense and thought, and in many cases, music and art can express what words cannot. This notion is where the appeal of her work lies and explains why “Phantasiai” is such a deeply profound experience.
With a bare minimum of instruments, Abdul-Rauf creates what she calls her coldest and most sinister work to date. She encourages her listeners to use their imagination and create their own narratives while listening. Her own narrative, presented in two suites of four movements each, is of a character seduced by an addictive, powerful phantasy that slowly consumes the body, mind and spirit to the point of complete destruction. From there the former self is vaporized, purged of pain, only to be reorganized physically and spiritually. The abyss this character falls into is as disorienting as it is inescapable, and reality is reduced to a question.
Along with this album’s atmosphere and production, Abdul-Rauf’s musicianship and vocals chill you to the bone, overpowering your senses and getting right into your head. I strongly recommend you give this and her past recordings a chance as they lead you to examine your perception and the stimulus you absorb every day. It takes you to a place of total darkness and eventually returns you to the physical world with more of an understanding of what makes you what you are. The journey is complex, intense and perturbing, but as you’re inexorably drawn into the bottomless chasm you still suspect you’re reaching a light at the tunnel’s end. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Distortions in Phantasy I: Lure
2. Distortions in Phantasy II: Consumption
3. Distortions in Phantasy III: Suspension
4. Distortions in Phanstasy IV: Disembodiment
5. The I Emerges I: Rebirth
6. The I Emerges II: In and Out of Being
7. The I Emerges III: Imago and Mirror
8. The I Emerges IV: Cell

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

EP Review: Weston Super Maim "180-Degree Murder" (Dark Trail Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Weston Super Maim
Country: Transatlantic
Genre: Extreme progressive tech metal
EP: 180-Degree Murder
Format: Digital, vinyl
Label: Dark Trail Records
Release date: July 16, 2021
Writing a two song EP about a man scapegoated with the world’s collective hate, negativity and inhumanity, and being inadvertently made the catalyst of global Armageddon when he returns it to those who heaped it on him, Weston Super Maim founder Tom Stevens would have to write music as heavy as possible. On “180-Degree Murder” he does so while making it fresh and inventive. If it was too much of a task to see it through to releasing the completed product, Seth Detrick was welcomed in to provide vocals channeling this bleak tale of vengeance and unforeseen destruction with sufficient intensity to equal the musicianship the lyrics are set to. “180-Degree Murder” is their debut EP following “The Neglected Works” a collection of unreleased songs recorded over more than a decade. They seemed aware this first impression had to be special; to fulfill this they spawned an EP that makes the likes of Crowbar, Godflesh and Acid Bath sound domesticated by comparison. Bringing in other elements, maybe not to soften the blow but to demonstrate the talent they can display alongside all the ire and wrath prevalent on the EP, they allow melody to grow organically from these two songs while furnishing them with off-beat time signatures in the vein of Meshuggah, Fear Factory and Gojira. Add emotional depth and introspection by the epic themes brought in and you have an EP that’s much more than mindless Neanderthal brutality if you care to look for it. Not that difficult to find if you’re open to the sense of lost or stolen humanity evident in the lyrics: “I have seen your nightmares, trotted through your empty homes, I have showered in your bile, slipping on your fat.” What’s impressive is how this sense builds as steadily as the ire and wrath hinted at before, until “180-Degree Murder” became bigger than Stevens and Detrick had expected at the outset. If you have the fortitude to experience this EP in its entirety you can hear it at Bandcamp and Spotify. –Dave Wolff

Tom Stevens: Guitar, bass, drums
Seth Detrick: Vocals

1. 180-Degree Murder
2. We Need to Talk About Heaven

Full Length Review: Interstitia "Hermes Slips The Trap" (Pax Aeternum Digital) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Interstitia
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Country: USA
Genre: Electronic, ambient, techno, downtempo
Full Length: Hermes Slips The Trap
Format: Digital album
Label: Pax Aeternum Digital
Release date: July 16, 2021
You know something I find pretty underrated is the need, the want, the passion for creativity!
Not many people want to be creative or should I say not many people want to push the boundaries and this is for obvious reasons they don’t want to look foolish, they don’t want their sales to dwindle, they don’t want a new sound that their current listeners may hate to the core, they don’t want to ruin the good thing going for them and probably most importantly they can’t be bothered switching up a change in lane because when the lane that you’re in is doing fine ‘don’t fix something that isn’t broken’ is the expression.
What we see here is a rare instance of pretty much someone going ‘screw it let’s go balls to the walls’ and that is the main quality I love about this album because unlike the other albums that I’ve covered this doesn’t have any vocals, it’s just a wonderfully mixed electronic fusion of all kinds of sounds.
Whether you are you talking about experimental, whether you’re talking about rave, whether you’re talking about hard bass, whether you’re talking about classic techno or whether you’re talking about house there’s elements of everything in here! But what makes it special is that each song represents its own different layout of the electronic world (so to speak).
Over the six tracks including the final track which is a 15 minute Magnum Opus we have such a variety of textures such an exploration of colours sound and vibrant textiles, sonic textiles that help represent the fabric of what a creative person or persons can do when given the opportunity to reinvent themselves!
Now to be fair this is the first album I’ve heard of them maybe in their past discography they do this kinda stuff all the time but to me this is colourful, this is vibrant, this is as I said a deep exploration into the world of electronic music!!
It may not seem like it, thanks to my reviews that I am a fan of electronic music but I really am (when it’s done right)!
To me this album sounds like a combination of early Deadmau5 mixed with Death Grips mixed with a little bit of Steve Aioki and even a little touch of classic early David Guetta!
You can even find earlier influences of synthpop in here as well such as your classic or you’re Yellow Magic Orchestra (straight from Japan).
This group uses fundamental sounds and combine them together to make a not so traditional mix of all the brightest sounds and colours of the world that is electronic and I really appreciate that!
It was a fun listen, each song represents its own sub style and altogether comes for a really great really forward thinking and really Boundary pushing album and I highly recommend that you all give it a try because although this has no vocals in more than makes up for it in production! –Corban Skipwith

Graham Scala: Sounds, art, mixing, and mastering

Track list:
1. Ekstasis
2. Monument Eternal
3. Rye Wolves
4. Axis Mundi
5. Marzeah
6. The Truly Angelic Must Instill Fear

Full Length Review: Strings Of Distorted Doom "Doom Trials" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Band: Strings Of Distorted Doom
Location: New York
Country: USA
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Doom Trials
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Label: Independent
Release date: July 4, 2021
Strings Of Distorted Doom (S.O.D.D.) is a black metal band from New York, USA, the brainchild of Daniel Ryan who published Transylvanian Forest E-zine in the 2000s. Ryan released a handful of demos and EPs and appeared on some split releases in the early 2010s, then went on a hiatus that ended with an advance EP of “Doom Trials” this year.
This is not a band playing anything even remotely polished or progressive, but one that’s headed in the opposite direction as black metal bands refine their songwriting and build on the musicianship displayed by the likes of Cradle of Filth. You can liken them to Darkness Enshroud, Black Funeral, Vrolok, and Leviathan in terms of grittiness and haunting atmosphere, but S.O.D.D. can’t be lumped in with them as Ryan presents ideas that haven’t been attempted by other musicians.
When I reviewed their advance EP last month, on which there were three tracks, I compared it to a soundtrack to sanity dying. As I listen to the album I think it more apt to say it’s a soundtrack to sanity being slowly unraveled at the seams and scattered on the ground. “Doom Trials” not only appeals to love of black metal but attacks your subconscious, making you question reality and your place in the scheme of things, if you dare dive as deeply into horror and insanity as the band does.
The ten songs comprising “Doom Trials” seem to be chapters in a macabre tale inspired by The Shining, The Evil Dead, Hellraiser and The Blair Witch Project, calling impressions of creeping evil from the deepest parts of your mind. Those places that resonate with the darkest horrors most people don’t dare drag into the light. Things you’d rather keep buried for being too dark and negative to face in yourself. Ryan and his band keep enough control of their faculties to retrieve at least some of it, challenging your ability to cope with it. Ironically, this is partly where love of horror comes from. But while you usually know you’re safe watching a movie, the abrasive production and unnerving atmosphere of “Doom Trials” leads you to question how safe you really are.
Another album I’m reminded of was released by the Japanese black/avant garde metal band Sigh in 1997 “Hail Horror Hail.” This album is one of the most original and inventive released by a metal band in the late 90s, and demonstrated the black metal genre’s potential for growth. Described as a “celluloid phantasmagoria”, it brought visual images into the music so you could imagine a movie in your head while listening. S.O.D.D. takes similar license with “Doom Trials”; the visuals of entering an abandoned cabin in the midst of unspoken evil is apparent from the start. These effects are vital to the album as they breathe macabre life into it as it becomes darker and more bizarre with each song.
“Doom Trials” is available in digital, compact disc and vinyl format, and other merchandise is available at the link provided above. -Dave Wolff

Dan: Vocals, lyrics, mastering, music composing
Chad: Backing vocals, bass, guitars
Die: Drums

Track lst:
1. Cabin In The Woods
2. Buried In Blood
3. Dark Souls
4. The Attic
5. My Last Rites
6. Alone In The Dark
7. Der Gefallene Engel
8. Witch Craft
9. Dead Lights
10. The Cellar