Scorching the Retinas – Tackling the Wrong Turn Franchise

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
wrong turn 2 cover art
Writers – Turi Meyer, Alfredo Septien, Alan B McElroy
Director – Joe Lynch
Runtime – 97 minutes
20th Century Fox, Summit Entertainment, Constantin Film Production

Sure, why not start in the middle rather than at the beginning? Well, I did and here I am. Cult is away again, probably sleeping already. He’s on vacation and he’s stuck with his young un’ at home, and let me tell you, she’s a spirited one. If she ain’t singing “Let it Go” or “Into the Unknown” she’s storming around like a Princess, with an attitude to fit. But getting back on track; I’ve got the reins now with snippets of that Slayer Comp still ragin’ through my ears.
So what say we get started.

(trailer courtesy of Movie Clips Classic Trailers)

“Wrong Turn 2” was made back in 2007 and it doesn’t take long to realize this. Cell phones are flip things, and earpieces are akin to those unsightly slabs of metal worn on “Star Trek” (the early series with good old Shat not the newer ones).

wrong turn 2 opening kill

Breast or Thigh? …It doesn’t matter!

Anyhows,  this chick, in the opening scene, is belligerent, screaming at her agent about one thing or another then she plows this poor chap down.  and wouldn’t you know it the poor bugga’ scratched up her Stang. Now rather than being somewhat pissed, who wouldn’t he scratched up the Stang’, she’s unsure, hysterical. However, this doesn’t last long. Some logger type looking chap makes his way outta the woods and cuts her in Twain. Downwards (“Terrifier” style), not across and this movie is off to a great start with perhaps one of the finest kill scenes to open up a movie ever. And my popcorn has suddenly found itself with extra butter (or a liquid which looks strangely close).

Wrong turn 2 Henry Rollins

End scene. Enter Mr. Black Flag, Henry (motherfkn’) Rollins, and an introduction to a reality game show of sorts with six contestants (five now, or seven. All depending on how one looks at it) and a theme centered around the Apocalypse (at this point we should all be taking notes and making time to rewatch the “Mad Max” franchise). Naturally, all of the contestants are young, nubile, hot to trot and bursting with enthusiasm.
A quick look behind the scenes shows the competition heating up and a producer wearing a “Battle Royal” shirt which is rather fitting (if you haven’t seen it, drop whatcha’ doing and prepare to forget Hollywood’s take on it; which is often referred to as “The Hunger Games” franchise).

wrong turn 2 i wanna play

Peek a boo!

The games begin, the rules are explained and it’s clear from the get-go who’s present for the money and who for the prestige of competing. Mr. Rollins does a great job of emulating the drill Sergeant from “The Frighteners” and “Full Metal Jacket” (R. Lee Ermey) and there’s another stand out scene in the books. But it ain’t all fun and games. There’s something uninvited in the woods which wants to join in but with rules of it’s own choosing.

“Holy shit, the whole family’s deformed” about describes the way the remainder of the movie goes. Powered by “The Hills Have Eyes” and general Slasher movie mayhem on bathsalts the kills come fast and furious, unflinching, just like Daddy likes them and uncompromising to boot. Seriously folks, this has more guts in its first half than most reputable Cult Cannibal flicks and a shotgun which would put many cannons to shame.

wrong turn 2 Boom

BOOM!

The pace here is remarkable, fluid and feverish throughout, enough to spike anyone’s adrenaline and the characters varied enough to bring forth opinions ranging from instant I don’t care if you perish hatred to I wish you’re the one who survives to repopulate the world adoration. The acting isn’t horrid enough to deter from the story, which is somewhat minimal, but it matters not when the screen is drenched in this much grue.
The finale looms, there’s enough blood and body parts scattered to give Dahmer a boner and the cast is significantly smaller in size, but more widespread,(that’s a pun), than when the movie commenced. But the action remains slick and sticky (nope, this isn’t another filling every available orifice extravaganza flick) two teams face off and…
Well that’s where I’m going to leave my blow-by-blow (enough of the double entendres already) commentary.

wrong turn 2 lunch

This is strange. I can see my spleen.

To cut this short, for it’s about my bedtime, Joe Lynch has far surpassed himself here. A homage to a wide swath of slasher flicks doused with a generous dollop of dark humor and enough glorious FX to sate the most depraved of penchants I’m pleased to state that this brings to the table more crimson goodies than any “Friday the 13th” flick and an overall viewing experience I would somewhat liken to (one of Cults favorites) “Dead Alive”.

chillerama

“Wrong Turn 2” is frenetic, unflinching, graphic, splattered with antagonists which appear immortal (though most certainly don’t live like it) and dotted with characters one wants to root for. The effects are abundant, grisly and executed with attention to detail (that explosion. Wow!) The directing is top notch, again huge props to the mind behind one of the sickest segments within “Chillerama”, and there’s seriously not a complaint here. Boobs, blood, guts, an inbred fellow who looks like he was plucked from a John Hughes film, tons of pitch humor and a final scene which puts Tobe Hoopers “The Mangler” to shame. This is my kind of film. Did I mention Henry Rollins is in this? I did, well shit I’ll say it again, cus’ he deserves another mention. Go get em’ Rambo (whoops!)
Do whatever you have to be able to set the eyes upon this. I much prefer this over any of the “Friday the 13th” films. Don’t @ me, I don’t care. I don’t have any allegiances, I like whatever puts a stoopid grin on my face. And now I’ve said my part. I’m out!
Shit. I Nearly forgot, Cult likes ‘ratings’ now. If it needs one, fuk, I guess a 9.5 will suffice.

The wrong turn collection

Here’s hoping I get the chance to lay words on the others in the franchise. If they’re anything like this I’m happy to oblige. Naturally I’ve plucked the wrong image from the internet to show the others in the series. This one shows the regular (British) versions, I’ll be diving into the uncut versions whenever I can find them, and the time, and access to Cult’s keyboard in order that I can diarrhea my thoughts all lover his site. Until then.

Scorching the Retinas – Avalanche of Indy
Necrosis (2009)

Necrosis movie

Writers – Robert Michael Ryan and Jason Stephens
Director – Jason Stephens
Runtime – 77 minutes
Unknown Productions Incorporated
Brink DVD

With a synopsis which sounds a little like “Dead Snow”, minus the location and Nazis, this also finds a small collective deep in the Nevada wilderness; the Sierra mountains to be more precise. Tiffany (yes, the pop star from way back) heads the cast. Thankfully, she doesn’t sing but strangely she does show her acting prowess to be some of the least annoying here. Michael (I was in “The Hills Have Eyes”) Berryman makes an appearance along with a warning which our “happy campers” (roughin’ it in a fully stocked and electric powered cabin) choose to ignore.

(trailer courtesy of HOrrors)

The movie progresses, night falls but not quite as intensely as the storm. And the snow, as it so often does, becomes a major issue. Hallucinations plague a few within the collective and around the same time a body is found. A frozen dead body (obviously, as this wouldn’t be nearly as exciting a story as promised on the box art). But it gets better yet. Nightmares occur and become increasingly more vivid as the film progresses. And consumption of copious amounts of wine leads to a pair of strangers teasing each other to the point of ‘blue balls’ possibly being added to this film’s description. Cut to various flashbacks of the Donner Party Massacre (which took part in the same hills as featured here only about a hundred years previous) folders overflowing with clippings based on the same and this features predictability factor leaps into stratospheric heights.

michael berryman in necrosis

A cabin. In the woods. you say?

Although predictable the film displays a somewhat promising nature. The atmosphere is plentiful, the surroundings picturesque, the cinematography top notch and the soundtrack effectively sinister. The films location adds to its desperation/isolation aura pulling the viewer in much like, but not nearly as effectively, as Kubrick’s “The Shining”.
Paranoia, anxiety and obsession drench the second half of the films narrative and divide the isolated cast, eventually  bringing secrets to the surface (admittedly assorted details which probably should have been divulged before the excursion into no-man’s land was planned). The films finale pits the mechanics of a 65′ Mustang against a 67′ and a fractured psyche against the determination of an enigmatic…

Necrosis and Penny vitale

Penny Vital plugs one of George Stults’ many holes

Yea. I’m not going to ruin it.
In conclusion and sans dropping more spoilers than I already have Necrosis isn’t actually that shabby. But, it could he better. It isn’t original, it often bears a made for TV vibe and dives into undeniably predictable depths. Furthermore, it has a string of loose ends which need tidying up. The gore quotient is minimal. The words ‘uncut and unrated’ are front and center on the features cover which obviously invites interest (for those viewers like myself who adore plenty of grisly stuff) though also eliciting controversy as IMDB quotes the running time as (80 minutes) which is considerably longer than displayed here (77 minutes).

necrosis alternate cover #2

one of many alternate covers and titles available

one of many alternate covers and titles available
Among the films finer points are the inclusion of Tiffany as part of the cast (am I alone in wondering what happened to her? Probably) and the utilization of the delectable Penny Vital as Megan. Naturally a spot of random nekkidness helps and the surroundings are captured wonderfully, but all in all this is missing that certain something which might propel it into more remarkable realms. Necrosis is a prime example of a feature which tries but unfortunately doesn’t quite succeed, even though it was lauded with numerous awards upon the festival circuit.
5
Cult

Attack of the Compilation – Fckn’ Slayer!

a tribute to Slayer Antichrist mag
Antichrist Magazine and Ground Sounds Promotion presents A Tribute to Slayer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCBierffU-4

Well, Well. Cult has apparently left his laptop open again. But this time rather than setting eyes upon all manner of naked flesh writhing in ecstasy the main screen displays a Bandcamp address with the words “Slayer” front and center. Suffice to say I can’t ignore such a sight. Apparently, he’s been struggling getting this off the ground. Family, work and assorted other things are warranting his attention at present. In actuality he struggles with a bunch of things. But that’s another story. And my penchant for chasing four-legged delicacies will have to wait. So, what is it exactly that we have here? In short; Twenty -six bands from around the world giving their audio tribute to tracks which have undoubtably formed the extreme world of audio as we know it today. Fair enough. I’m curious. What say we dive in?

Slayer-Original-Logo

Expect to see this word more than a few times in the near future

What grabs the attention first is the fact that there are twenty-six acts (and tracks) on offer here. That’s huge and so is this. This runs close to a whopping two hours in length. If it weren’t for the fact that Slayer is what’s on offer here, and there’s somewhat of a supposed Pandeamonic (yea, I know I spelt it wrong but it sounds infinitely better this way) spreading across the globe I‘d say sod this and go back to the mischievous activities I so love to take part in. But fck it, I’m curious and always up for a bit of Slayer. Perusing the track listing (which again “is huge”. Imagine a nubile youth saying that on her knees. Sorry, I got distracted) it appears that the material on offer is somewhat in chronological order, that is to say in the same order as the originals were released (I could be mistaken so don’t quote me). But enough of such details I’m imagining you’re as curious as I to get this thing started. However, Before I impart my thoughts, I’d like to drop the track listing along with the countries each act is from (this is truly a global affair much like the current Black Plague sweeping its way past Kanye West in Google searches. Notice how the majority of the acts are relatively unknown (is this just me? Do I have to swat up on my knowledge of the scene some before I continue?) With this in mind I’m considering this an ‘underground compilation’ a fact which only makes me more curious still.

tankist logo

1 – Tankist (Estonia) Evil Has no Boundaries

2 – Aeons Abyss (Australia) Die by the Sword

3 – Hateful Agony (Germany) Black Magic

4 – Serpents Kiss (United Kingdom) Tormentor

5 – Lone Hunter (Brazil) Crionics

Intrepid logo

6 – Intrepid (Estonia) Chemical Warfare

7 – Myrholt – (Norway) Kill Again

8 – Hamvak (Germany) At Dawn They Sleep

9 – Beltane (New Zealand) Angel of Death

10 – EigenstateZero (Sweden) Piece by Piece

11 – Grand Demise of Civilization (USA) Raining Blood

12 – Mindwars (International) Criminally Insane

Frijgard

13 – Frijgard (Switzerland) South of Heaven

14 – Unto the Wolves (USA) Silent Scream

15 – Hellming (Brazil) Mandatory Suicide

16 – Day 40 (United Kingdom) Ghosts of War

17 – Zvijer (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Cleanse the Soul

18 – SavageZ (Brazil) War Ensemble

19 – Macabre Decay (Sweden) Expendable Youth

20 – Hicsos (Brazil) Dead Skin Mask

Imminent Reaper

21 – Imminent Reaper (Mexico) Skeletons of Society

22 – Killrape (Brazil) Born of Fire

23 – Injector (Spain) Dittohead

24 – Domination Inc. (Greece) Disciple

25 – Jumpscare (Italy) Bloodline

26 – Outis (Ireland) Jihad

(Damn, it’s a long list, my digits are tired!)

Hitting play, it’s easy to decipher that each act has their own spin on the track they’ve chosen to ‘tackle’, some more so and often times even a little experimental in tone than others. Styles are diverse and range across the metal spectrum obviously Black, Death and Thrash take the lead (is this even a race?) whilst Power, Epic, Symphonic, Atmospheric and Speed are tossed in to show the transition in another genre (sometimes using a few in one track) can actually be pulled off to good effect. And boy can it, in some instances I’m literally bouncing off the walls with excitement. As is customary in times like these I have a ratings system designed for such this purpose (note that it’s a tad spicier than Cult’s attempt at the same);

confued Orc

Abysmal.

Not in the good way. Toss this in the ocean and punch the nearest passerby to let out the frustration of spending money on schiite such as this. Jesus might like this. But I still believe it has the potential to do naught but line the birds cage. Jesus loves everything, which in my opinion is rather silly. Jesus you’re a prat!

Hrrrrrhhhhh-!

Better, this shows potential. Much like, I’d imagine, your mother on a first date. But it still leaves me wanting. And she needs more training; those French fries weren’t free dammit!

The Goblin are going crazy!

Admittedly the annoying green bastid’ like most things and get excited at the drop of a turd but occasionally they have a suggestion which turns heads. And if the whole collective, much like an obnoxious stench-ridden green tide, agrees there must be something worth giving, at least, a cursory glance towards.

Time for a Crimson Splattered Moshpit!

Now this is worth sharing, break out the goblets, the fiery liquid, the unwilling, let’s break some limbs and party till the Dark Lord yells at us to get back to work!

All Mine!

I’m a selfish bastid’. And this is too fkn’ good to share. It’s all mine. Just try to take it!!

Slayer - Show No Mercy

Where it all began

To sate the curious types, those who have zero patience, I’d give this a “Time for a Crimson Splattered Moshpit“ rating. This collection shines with blistering pace, boils over with talent and offers a myriad of alternate visions of tracks which should already be ingrained upon the senses for those willing to open the mind. But for those who have yet to set ears upon the almighty Slayer (I can’t for the life of me wonder why this is the case) I seriously have no words. Before you continue please set your ears upon the classics, then if you wish to return please do so in order to discover a slew of acts with a great deal of passion on offer. Within such a compilation such as this they are naturally a number of tracks and acts (and styles) which garnered my attention to a dangerous degree, there are some which I could do without (but taking into account differing tastes… Nope not doing it! I’m not pandering to the easily offended, fuck this. This is my article and I won’t apologize for my preferences) and others which had such an effect on me that makes me wish I could bottle their very essence. Without further preamble and in order of appearance (as sometimes I’m OCD like that!)…

here are a few which especially perked my interests
tankist
Tankist – Evil Has no Boundaries

https://tankist.bandcamp.com/

A fantastic start. Raw, blunt and thrashy. Slayer I believe would approve! This is Just what one needs to get into the mood. Surprisingly good production aids this in spiking the adrenaline levels.

Aeons Abyss – Die by the Sword

https://aeonsabyss.bandcamp.com/

This track lends an early brutal edge to this compilation. Although the sound is a tad off (turn this track up for full effect) this still manages to deliver. Rasping vocals accompany a sludgy blackened feel bursting with subterranean groove elements. Heavy drums accentuate the allure of this one although it might take a few listens to fully appreciate.

EigenstateZero

EigenstateZero – Piece by Piece

https://eigenstatezero.com/

This is one of those experimental tracks of which I was talking. A tad industrial, a little progressive and a whole lot different but it all somehow comes together and works. There’s enough atmosphere in here to make a fanatic of the fantasy realm sit up and take note. Buried in the mix it takes a little while to decipher but it there’s and adds another layer to a track which is beyond intriguing. Did I mention this was silly fast? Nope. Well it is. An odd track for sure with its fair fare of unique brutal but it grows on you like the most lovable of enigmatic fungi.

Grand Demise of Civilization- Raining Blood

https://granddemiseofcivilization.bandcamp.com/

A fantastic twist on a true classic. Adding significant Gothic elements, pitch darkness and varied tempo transformations works wonders. There’s just enough uniqueness here for it to become memorable though not an abundance as to make the track far from instantly recognizable as homage. The maniacal elements are top notch as well the atmospheric into and outro.

mindwars

Mindwars – Criminally Insane

https://dissonanceproductions.bandcamp.com/album/do-unto-others

It’s hard to ignore this track. It isn’t far off the tone and feel of the original but with the added emphasis on the drums and a tad more oomph in the percussion its infectious to dangerous levels. I’m keeping an eye out for these guys in the future.

Day 40 – Ghosts of War

https://www.facebook.com/dayforty/

This is an excellent rendition of admittedly one of my fave Slayer tracks. An intriguing introduction, very Thrash metal circa late 80’s, leads into heavily accented vocals, head nodding Thrash with hints of Hardcore. Nuff said but simply put this is a banger!

zvijer

Zvijer – Cleanse the Soul

https://zvijer.bandcamp.com/

Blistering, precise and often raw with a gravelly vocal approach which fits perfectly. This track seethes with a remarkable quality and gets to the point quick.

Savagez – War Ensemble

https://savagez.bandcamp.com/releases

I’m a sucker for feral female vox (it appears Cult is too, which explains his recent obsession with Asarhaddon). Although this track takes liberties with the original’s arrangement, and wavers from brutal Thrash to more a more relaxed tone, it still manages to hit the spot. Admittedly not on its first try but it gets closer each time it’s played.

Imminent Reaper – Skeletons of Society

https://www.facebook.com/ImminentReaperGDL/

Another heavily accented Thrash attack. Not sure what it is about accents, they often add another level of viciousness to the accompanied percussion, in this case that’s the case (did I say “case” enough here?) There’s a little more passion here than in the original but it works. Another great addition to a collection which is fast becoming damn impressive!

Domination Inc.

Domination Inc. – Disciple

https://dominationinc.bandcamp.com/

I’m not sure what it is about this track. At first it didn’t do a damn thing for me. Somehow that changed. This isn’t traditional Thrash, this isn’t traditional Hardcore, it isn’t truly Crossover but a mix of all three topped off with East Coast angst (which is strange as this isn’t from New York, rather Greece better known for its Black and Thrash).

And the following are those which had me twitching spastically, like one possessed.
Intrepid – Chemical Warfare

https://intrepidest.bandcamp.com/

Old school groove, old school brutality, growls of the variety to entice a smirk to alight across the chops and a production tone to match. Clear the floor, if this doesn’t make you want to bounce from one wall to the next there’s something certainly amiss. I could play this all day and not get bored of it, reminds me of the good ole days I used to attend concerts in dank cavernous dive bars.

Myrholt

Myrholt – Kill Again

https://www.facebook.com/olealexandermyrholt/

Vocals with venomous spite, an archaic rawness, but also effective atmosphere tossed in to mess with how one might assume this will play out. The aura fits, what more can I say this has me nodding my head and thinking of all manner of glorious diabolical acts.

Hamvak – At Dawn They Sleep

https://hamvak.bandcamp.com/releases

This has a Speckmann/Master vibe thing going for it. A primitive nature combined with a thick dirge quality which is highly effective. Huge bass adds a tribal feel of sorts and it works!

Beltane

Beltane – Angel of Death

https://beltane.bandcamp.com/

What can I say about this track? It’s another example of if it wasn’t executed to a certain degree, I would have tossed this whole comp no matter the remainder of the quality on offer admittedly. Seriously, Slayer’s most infamous track. It has to be treated with respect and given justice. In this case. Fuck! Be prepared. The percussion is tight, on point. The tracks maniacal nature is added to with a wicked somewhat psychedelic twist. But it’s the vocals which tear the flesh from the bone. Feral female vox are my weakness (I’ve said that before) but this is ridiculous! It’s as if the owner of the throat in this instance is possessed. Like openly urinating whilst explaining the virtues of good parenting at church type behavior. I’m adding seeing a rendition of this in a live setting to my bucket list. Who am I kidding, making it to the land of Peter Jackson (New Zealand) is high up there too. One day, one day. I only wonder if they’d mind if I took along a four-legged friend as a travelling companion?  I hate peanuts and pretzels only make me wish I had mustard.

Frijgard – South of Heaven

https://frijgard.bandcamp.com/

There’s a strangeness to this track. Much like the original it has an undeniable sinister tone, though in this case the percussion has an added eeriness and the vocals an edge as if a Viking is in cahoots with a band tinkering with Post properties. This is a little different and I’m of the belief this is a controversial take but I’m loving the shit outta it. It could well perhaps be my choice for the ‘pallet cleanser’ of this collection.

untothewolves

Unto the Wolves – Silent Scream

https://www.facebook.com/untothewolves/

Define industrial vibes on display here. Machine gun riffs coupled with inhumanely tight drums. But it has a wickedness which is hard to pinpoint and I’m liking the chaos which abruptly breaks the precise nature. Turn this up and introduce the neighbors to the pleasures of Slayer!

Killrape – Born of Fire

https://www.facebook.com/killrapeband/

Raw and blistering. This is straight for the jugular, no nonsense, Thrash with production values which add to its malicious intent. Need I say more? Nope, this is a winner, crank it!

injector

Injector – Dittohead

https://injector.bandcamp.com/

I’m incredibly thankful that someone did this track justice. Admittedly, it’s a riot starter and I would’ve left pissed if it was included and not up to standards. Thankfully it is and it appears I have to complain elsewhere. Kudos Injector for pulling this off!

And this is cut and pasted from the article which accompanies the audio on YouTube, it seems appropriate.

Prepared and released by Antichrist magazine.

Follow SLAYER: https://www.facebook.com/slayer/

Follow Nuclear Blast: https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblast

Follow Grand Sounds PR: https://www.facebook.com/grandsounds/

Follow Brave Words: https://www.facebook.com/bravewords/

Subscribe to Antichrist magazine for latest updates: http://bit.ly/2hNi0gr

Visit our magazine: http://antichristmagazine.com

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Antichrist mag tribute to Slayer

And that’s it. This is a fantastic slab of worship which demands ears upon it (though I can’t say I’m not disappointed that “Necrophiliac” wasn’t covered). Perhaps one day this collection will appear on Bandcamp? Until then flood the YouTube channel in which it appears and be sure to thank the minds and talent behind it.

Support the artists, support the genre and hell, why not support me? I’m always up for spending money on crap.

Your loyal misshapen acolyte of most things extreme,

B

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Eight

black metal gif

Tis perilous and uncertain times in which we live. Most things have become uncertain, we are reminded to wash our hands on a constant basis (seriously who doesn’t do this anyway?) and give a six-foot berth to those we are unsure of. Isn’t this behavior dictated by manners alone. Regardless with all that’s transpiring we still have distractions. Thankfully metal is still one of them and artists are still busy composing, creating and carving that which makes out senses tingle in excitement. I’d like to dedicate this installment to them and their tireless, ceaseless dedication. Thank you! I cannot seriously cannot write those words in a large enough font. It goes without saying therefore to support your local artists and those who continue to brighten your day with the eventual realization and maturation of their endeavors.

Without further ado may I drop you abruptly into grammar atrocious as IO attempt to put into words my appreciation of that which has delighted my senses in the last week.

February Releases

Angellore

Angellore (France) – Rein ne Devait Mourir
https://thevinyldivision.bandcamp.com/album/rien-ne-devait-mourir-2
Release- February/14/2020
Finisterian Dead End/The Vinyl Division

ARTWORK- 91

A touch of Gothic, a touch of SM and a flourish of Avant Garde. Just what is it I’m letting myself in for? Regardless this is a stunning image with makes the mind wander.

FIRST TRACK- 94

A twenty-minute opener. Yes, you read that right. And this isn’t Doom. Well it is, but there’s infinitely so much more on offer that it can’t be classed as merely that. Atmosphere aplenty, Gregorian chants, a smorgasbord of vocal approaches, strings and the occasional dip into Black waters make this an audio landscape one can truly get lost within. Think early Theatre of Tragedy but amp up the emotion and classical elements, only then will you be somewhat close. Outstanding doesn’t even come close.

INITIAL LISTEN- 94

Whoa. This collection of Tracks runs quite the extensive gamut. In one instance symphonic majesty in another an uptempo Gothic rock outing of sufficient godliness to place a smile on Pete Steel’s face, in others yet a folk vibe is unmistakable. Often landscapes are drenched in melancholy and the emotion produced takes the listeners to depths rarely attained, no matter the genre. Although this is hard to truly categorize the quality on offer is far superior to that I would ever think possible in a release which exhibits as much varied influence as this. The composition is sublime, the flow exquisite and the arrangements breath-taking. This is quite the achievement, one which I can only image will be celebrated for years to come setting the bar for others to strive for. The minutes will fly when this envelops the senses, bathe in the glory of Angellore.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic throughout.

FFO; Moonspell, Theater of Tragedy, HIM.

March Releases

Shadowkillers

Shadowkiller (USA)- Dark Awakenings
https://shadowkiller.bandcamp.com/album/dark-awakening
Release- March/3/2020
Stormspell Records

ARTWORK- 88

Flinging open the doors a Dark Elf sees carnage and readies him(her)self for conflict. Awesomeness. An epic fantasy image hinting at audio of the same nature. Is it too early to say I’m sold?

FIRST TRACK- 90

A fantastical introduction and an Epic/Power metal style minus the falsetto vocals I was expecting. Top notch arrangements and a lyrical narrative I’m wholly intrigued by. I believe I’ve found a rarity here, but only time will tell…

INITIAL LISTEN- 91

Admittedly, this is the first I’ve heard of the band. The genre really isn’t my go to audio arena of choice. However, with that being said this offers a great deal to pique my interest. A stunning blend of Epic/Power/Speed and traditional Heavy Metal and lyrics basted in a fantasy vibe which only makes me wish I’d have tried harder at penning fiction of the same ilk. Shit, it even contains keyboard passages reminiscent of vintage Dio fronted Rainbow (my weakness). The vocals are thankfully more gravelly than falsetto though still firmly rooted in the traditional and are easily decipherable to the point of drawing the listener into the story which unfolds as the album progresses. The arrangements here are superb, complete with cinematic atmosphere which only adds depth to the albums lyrical concept. Rhythms and riffs are fluid and convey a wide variety of emotions effectively. I never thought I’d say this but I believe I’ve found an album in this arena I can preach about, honestly the first since Riot’s “Thundersteel”. If the genres mentioned above are to your liking you cannot allow yourself to miss out on this! As a non-genre fan, I’m loving it. I can’t imagine how much of an impact it’ll make on one whose penchants run to more the melodic and epic than extreme.

Favorite Tracks; Hypnotic and enchanting from the first to the last

FFO; Magnum, Iron Maiden, Rhapsody, Ancient Empire, Primal Fear, Savatage, Blind Guardian.

dopelord

Dopelord (Poland)- Sign of the Devil
https://dopelord.bandcamp.com/album/sign-of-the-devil
Release March/10/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 85

A gloriously archaic/medieval styled image depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse but dressed in their everyday garb sans disguise.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dangerously infectious Doom with Cathedral, Trouble and obviously Sabbath undertones. Drenched wickedly in classical horror themes this gives off a delicious vintage aura. I’m hooked where’s my Lazeboy at?

INITIAL LISTEN- 87

Pulsating, throbbing riffs with seemingly a life of their own, fuzz dripping, spesker shaking distortion and a smidgen of psychedelia. Sounds like most Doom releases, right? It does, but this is surprisingly varied in its approach whilst still hanging onto traditional parameters. Ranging from melodic, to synth laden to a track with a somewhat industrial motif and saturated in occult themes this has a great deal to offer both the Doom aficionado, newcomer and casual listener alike. I’m not typically a fan of the doom genre this however is heavy in my playlist rotation.

Favorite Tracks; infectious and varied throughout.

FFO; CoC, Cathedral, Black Sabbath.

Venator

Venator (Austria) – Paradiser EP
https://venatorsteelcity.bandcamp.com/releases
Release-March/19/2020
Independent

ARTWORK- 76

Just me or does the cover have a slight Quiet Riot struck by lightning vibe? Or Iron Giant (inhuman form) going slightly bonkers? This screams late 70’s early 80’s without any doubts whatsoever

FIRST TRACK- 89

Hard rock meets NWOBHM meets mid- era Judas Priest. This is addictively melodic with some wicked twitch the limbs riffs. But let’s not forget the delicious production which lends this a nostalgic edge.

INITIAL LISTEN- 89

This checks all the boxes I would hope for in a release slathered in vintage values. The rhythms on offer are ungodly infectious, the instruments clear, the leads and solos passionate but not overly so and the vocal style has just a hint of falsetto (in the right places, to mynliking anyhow) without going into overly dramatic realms and without losing any of its manly bravado. The tracks are offer we a fantastic taster for what’s to come, hinting at both fantastical lyric narratives and other themes which are more easily identifiable to those of us without a unicorn parked in the shed or a tattered DnD rulebook close at hand.

Favorite Tracks; Paradiser, Blind Ambition.

FFO; Judas Priest, Blitzkrieg, Tank, Dokken.

Virocracy

Virocracy (Germany) – Irradiation
https://virocracy.bandcamp.com/album/irradiation
Release- March/20/2020
Black Sunset/MDD

ARTWORK- 84

Strange that the sky and landscape are the same color. Chem trails, Pesticides, is that a mushroom cloud, or slightly perturbed smiley faces ? Insert your theory here but there’s definitely something afoot in this vivid apocalyptic themed image.

FIRST TRACK- 77

A typical of the genre ominous intro opens this album then it’s into familiar waters. Atmosphere and melody collide along with a progressive aura and rhythms ala Arch Enemy (this also sports impressive feral female vocals). Moving with dynamic twists and turns sans repetitive chuggery this track bodes for an impressive collection of Tracks in store. an impressive start.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

The intro to “Rane” is an album highlight, sounds as if lifted from a ‘moneyshot’ scene in a Sci-Fi film and is, in part, eerily topical. The remainder of the album cannot truly be comfortably pigeonholed. It runs with a Progressive nature, arrangements which transform constantly to aid a concept narrative. The style also dips into Thrash realms and occasionally into Tech and Djent arenas based on its not relying on typical chuggery but rather melodies which are dynamic, exciting and rarely stagnant. Give this a shot, it’s a fantastic debut and bodes well for an act starting to find their niche.

Favorite Tracks; Rane, Solitude, Void of Heart.

FFO; Angela era Arch Enemy, mid era Death.

black phantom

Black Phantom (Italy) -The End is Near
https://blackphantom.bigcartel.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgaySL5pP9M
Release- March/20/2020
Punishment 18 Records

ARTWORK- 78

A fantastical sludge-like monstrosity is depicted against a background drenched in an ominous nature (yellows and greens of a hue which brings to mind imminent doom). A vintage hourglass in the foreground, in the creature’s grasp, adds weight to the album’s title. Is he the Grim Reaper or merely a “Stranger in a Strange Land” without a battery-operated torch? Perhaps the music will help to answer these questions? Perhaps not. But I’m hitting play regardless.

FIRST TRACK- 81

Galloping rhythms, a traditional NWOBHM aura and a style which brings to mind both vintage Maiden and Wolfsbane. Add to that a vocal style akin to that which Bruce Dickinson boasts and you you have the start of a release which is promising indeed. Though might turn some off based on its approach.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Distinct bass, a familiar vocal style pulled off with significant ant range and an aura which screams Iron Maiden worship, but also that of others making waves around the same time. Dynamic rhythms, soaring leads, solos and undeniable fluidity throughout. At times Maiden esque, in others more akin to Dickinson’s solo material in feel, in others yet more a hard rock rather than a traditional metal approach. Whatever the case; this delivers. It shows creativity in its composition (this is familiar yet not to point of riff for riff plagiarism), sports intelligence in its lyrics and is sure to make an impression for those yearning for audio of undeniable quality with a distinct Maiden ‘edge’ (did I say Maiden enough here?)

In closing, I find it somewhat strange that an Italian act would make a German version of a track featured in the album but this seriously only adds to the intrigue this album sports. Did I mention I’ve listened to thus six times already? Nope? Well, it’s good. Discover it for yourself and tell me your thoughts.

Favorite Tracks; Redemption, Hordes of Destruction, The Road, Either You or Me, Hands of Time.

FFO; Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson (solo material), Iced Earth.

Graceless

Graceless (The Netherlands) – Where Vultures Know Your Name
https://rawskullrecordz.bandcamp.com/album/where-vultures-know-your-name
Release- March/27/2020
Raw Skull Recordz

ARTWORK- 78

This has an archaic apocalyptic vibe, Pompeii perhaps? And brings to mind Immolation (for one reason or another) complete with a smoldering lava aura the image invokes both despair, destruction and desolation. I’m left intrigued… hitting play.

FIRST TRACK- 86

The introduction seethes with a tribal and readying for war tone which soon transforms into a pulsing dirge. However, veins of melody and effective atmosphere add considerable depth to make this different than most. An intriguing start which although in tone is familiar is also oddly a mixture of influences making it quite unique.

INITIAL LISTEN- 93

It would be simple to merely label this as Bolt Thrower-esque material and be done with it; the unmistakable aura is there, the tone, the war motif. But this is slightly different and that’s what separates it from the herd (who apparently all seem to be riding the same coat tails). There’s undeniable presence (love that word!) here, a depth which only a rare few have managed to effectively capture. An epic nature only occasionally experienced in audio of this nature. And it’s the ease of execution which captures the senses, this doesn’t seem forced. Familiar, strangely so in some instances, yet flowing with a life of its own. And there’s even a spot of diversity, passages of groove, amidst a track designed to shake things up, to send the limbs a twitching. Prefer mid-tempo to face searing speed? Like a little sludge with your growling? It honestly doesn’t get much better than what’s on offer here. Sink in, allow this time and you might find it difficult to eject it from the playlist. You have been warned!

Favorite Tracks; Much like spending a distracted moment in quicksand this will eventually swallow your being. Nope. I can’t pick one, two or even, three tracks as favorites; this whole album rips!

FFO; Bolt Thrower, Vital Remains, Deicide, Memoriam, Hail of Bullets, Vallenfyre, mid era Slayer.

perdition temple

Perdition Temple – Sacraments of Descension
https://perditiontemple.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/27/2020
Hell’s Headbangers Records

ARTWORK- 89

I don’t think this is a meeting of the minds so much as a weekly event. A tabletop RPG convention of sorts perhaps or the Underworld Book Club? I’m only left wondering who’s left looking after the wee cherubs.

FIRST TRACK- 93

This track goes straight for the jugular, no glitter intros no atmospheric submergence into cinematic realms this hits hard, aims for the nearest major artery and grabs the attention instantly. Writhing rhythms complemented by bestial vocals and evolving galloping passages topped off by abrupt dousings of diabolical essence but my words don’t come anywhere near to doing this justice. Strap yourself in folks this is gonna be a bumpy ride!

INITIAL LISTEN- 96

Churning riffs and a mischievous diabolical nature sees one initially think vintage Morbid Angel worship slathered in an Incantation aura yet it isn’t just that and it isn’t quite that simple. Vicious intent rhythms put one in mind of Vader whereas maniacal solos and leads bring to mind early Slayer, vintage Witchery, as well the undeniable influence mentioned above, a prancing impish maniacal nature is injected throughout to the point that when playing this you can literally smell Sulphur and hear the tippy tap of cloven hoofs on hard packed dirt. An air of cloying menace blankets the experience and its one the listener will only want to punish their senses with again and again. This is top notch archaic elevator music (naturally it’s nothing like the drone elevator tunage most of us are accustomed to) wicked, unrelenting, maniacal and instantly appreciable this could well be the soundtrack to the decent into the office of the ‘Horned One’ himself. Honestly, this is hands down my favorite release of the year so far, each time this plays my torso is sent into spastic movements, which isn’t a pretty sight in the slightest.

Favorite Tracks; Blistering throughout this will not disappoint!

FFO; Incantation, Hate Eternal, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Goatwhore, Gravehill, Vader.

Left over from 19’

Remission

Remission (Australia)– The Tether’s End
https://remissionband.bandcamp.com/
Release – November/15/2019
Self-Released

ARTWORK – 68

I’m honestly not sure if that’s the Earth (I’m not sure how it could be) or the Moon in the Hangman’s noose, regardless it tells a great deal of what the band wish to convey. A primitive image which makes one think though doesn’t necessarily give much away in relation to the type of audio within.

FIRST TRACK – 81

Zero introduction here, this commences with rocket fuel propulsion straight from the gate. Wicked infectious rhythms coupled with melodic breakdowns and vocals typical of the ‘thrash drenched in death sensibilities’ genre. On its description alone this sounds similar to what the remainder of the genre offers though it has a certain something, a blistering and well-executed riff meets technicality element, which elevates it from the masses. A great start!

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Think Thrash meets Death balanced precariously on the Deathcore border and you’ll be close to what this offers. Aggressive blistering rhythms, technical phrasing within dynamic arrangements which any fan of the genre is likely to fall ‘ass over tit’ for in appreciation. Complex and tight are key elements here although this is only partly Technical it hints at a style which could well transform that way completely at any given moment (in the future perhaps?) Flourishes of other styles are evident throughout this album also; Djent rears its head, Crossover influence pops up via gang vocals choruses as well Post (whatever that in fact is). Another element is the albums atmosphere, which is plentiful, alongside the other mentioned factors as well the fitting though strangely discernable vocal style it makes a fantastic companion to the albums (Thrash) foundation. Overall, and although this style isn’t really anything new the band have obviously done their homework for this delivers what fans of the genre demand; it has excitement, unpredictability, expertly-placed breakdowns and passages of abrupt whirlwind ferocity one can lose their shit too. This does more than entertain, it makes a bold statement (especially based on the fact it’s the band’s first full-length outing) Remission aren’t fukin’ around. Sit up and take note as if they progress in this fashion these guys might well be the next big thing.

Favorite Tracks; Mother War, Temples, Black Scorched Earth, The Tether’s End, Transcending Chaos, Forced Entropy,

FFO; Sylosis, Black Dahlia Murder, Trivium, Psycroptic.

And Now for Something Slightly Different

Rodrigo Y Gabriella

I’m not usually into acoustic music. However, after experiencing the first track listed here, I was of the mind that I should write a few words in appreciation.

Rodrigo Y Gabriella – Mettal (Ep)
https://rodrigoygabriela.bandcamp.com/album/the-mettal-ep
Track listing;
Battery (Metallica)

Undistorted acoustic guitars can indeed be heavy and this proves it. Add a little Latin flavor, plucking, picking, fretboard manipulation godliness and a little creativity and this classic now has the presence to appeal to a new audience, one that possibly would’ve never heard this track otherwise. The perfect timing, phrasing and arrangement is what holds the attention here but it’s the talent and ingenuity (which more than make up for the absence of vocals) which makes this mesmerizing. An outstanding homage to the original though strangely with added oomph.

megadeth holy wars

Holy Wars (Megadeth)

Intricate, passionate and overflowing with energy whilst still remaining faithful to the original. I’m not sure how the pairing did it but this seems infinitely more grandiose than the original, this shines with an added sheen, a depth, a western aura but also a frenetic nature adding to the Tracks narrative (for those familiar, for those not do much it’s easy to figure out as the caliber showcased here invokes vivid tableaus) which is altogether hypnotic. Words fail me. Much like the ‘source material’ this demands discovery and showers of praise.

slayer seasons in the abyss

Seasons in the Abyss (Slayer)

It appears that I’m mentioning this more than I thought I would, however this is again an amazing example of the presence, power, depth and emotion one can bring to an already established track with only using acoustic instruments. In this case the air of sinister and ominous is palpable. As well as using traditional means the musicians here implement hands on the body of the guitar for added weight and boy does it work invoking images of dimly lit subterranean passages, flickering candles and archaic ceremonies (obviously “South of Heaven” in tone but I’ve always thought this track reminded me of that album). Again, there’s a certain Latin flavor here but it adds flair and bite making for another track which is undeniably astounding.

This three track EP showcases the brilliance and awe-inspiring adaptability of two seasoned musicians. In somewhat adapting (minutely to be fair) the three Tracks on offer they’ve undoubtedly introduced a whole new generation to acts they might never have heard otherwise and reminded long-time fans why the tracks chosen are so important to the genre. I honestly can’t say good things about the audio on offer here, I’m enthralled and can’t help but sing along. Admittedly it’s the first I’ve heard of the dueling guitar duo but it won’t be the last. Apparently, there’s more to discover, and I’m up for the challenge.

Animal - music is meant for sharing

Becus’ great music is meant to be shared!!

And that concludes another foray into the extreme audio realm. Stay safe out there folks. As always feel free to comment, share and/or suggest anything you think I might be interested in covering.

Yours, virus free (for now)

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – Avalanche of Indy 2020

Avalanche of Indy 2020 Part the First

Welcome reader, may I present another foray into the Independent film realm. An arena where all manner of things simultaneously assault and please the senses. Features whose budgets are dwarfed by Hollywood blockbusters catering bills, in some cases individual valet’s tips, but whose ingenuity and imagination in face of such adversity is beyond remarkable. Unfortunately, a landscape ignored by many and promoted by only the brave willing to step outside of the Hollywood comfort zone. Without further ado here are my thoughts on a pair of films which have been nestled in my Inbox for some time but have only recently been permitted the time and attention they deserve.

Wakefield-project

A Wakefield Project (2019)
Canada/USA
Writer – Lindsay Seim
Director- L.A Lopes
Runtime – 88 minutes
High Octane Pictures

 

A pair of close friends blow their life savings on an Inn. That’s not so bad, this isn’t “Money Pit” after all. But wouldn’t you know, the place is haunted. Toss in a myriad of solar flares, a power cut, a mass murderer, a clairvoyant, snippets of a soundtrack plucked from a smorgasbord of classic genre flicks and…

Well, to make this short. This could have been worse. The camera work is far from horrid, the acting is competent. In actuality this has a surprising number of elements going for it. However, it’s the story and writing which let it down. The films pacing is a tad screwy and the films direction appears unsure of where it’s headed. Does it want to be a “See no Evil” clone, a Sci-Fi film, a ghost story, a homage to a Fulci classic (with listless undead with blood pouring from the eyeballs)

fulci city of the living dead

Does that come in a vegan option?

or another zombie film to add to the already mountainous pile? There’s seriously not much reasoning or explanation as to either direction. The dialogue admittedly runs the gamut of horrid through amusing. But again, this isn’t the worst film I’ve witnessed. It shows promise in some aspects although is tainted with a few scenes which appear confusing and a myriad of plot devices which make little dense overall it suffers from a story which needs tidying up some.

(trailer courtesy of The Movie Waffler)

Highlights are few and far between but include the films overactive soundtrack, an undeniable homage to a slew of genre favorites, an abattoir stage which could well be utilized to better effect and Reese; an instantly likable character (played by The Strain’s Dennis Andres) who spouts one liners and raunchy lines aplenty.

4

Watch this at your own risk. Hell, give this a few years and it’s sure to show as part of a bargain priced collection roster.

echoes of fear film

Echoes of Fear (2018)
USA
Writer – Brian Avenet-Bradley
Director – Brain Avenet-Bradley, Laurence Avenet-Bradley.
Runtime – 90 minutes
Black Butterflies, LLC

 

When a college students grandfather dies (in mysterious circumstances) she is left with his house. Caught in a little of a bind she decides to move in until she can tidy it up enough to be able to put it up for sale on the market. Her first night is restless. Awoken by strange noises and things that go bump in the night, but being the adventurous daring type, she decides to investigate (which is considerably more than I ever would).

echoes of fear - crawspace

Knock down a wall or two and voila’ you find a creepy crawlspace. But where’s Klaus?

The ‘happenings’ increase in intensity as Alicia (played convincingly by Trista Robinson) slowly unwraps the houses secrets. But will her boyfriend allow her to remain in the house long enough to unravel the enigma? Does he have ulterior motives? Just who or what is causing the disturbances and acting like such a nuisance? Why does the house have more crawlspace and hidden areas than most? Does Alicia need a Ghostbuster, an exorcist or a Handyman? And just what is up with her obsession with rodents?

These are all questions which slither through the annoying part of the brain which finds it difficult to relax as this plays out. However, I’m pleased to announce these are all overridden by the undeniable fact that this film delivers. And does it! An excellent soundtrack/score heightens the tension considerably whilst the camera provides plenty of misdirection within a setting (fun fact; the house depicted is owned by the writer/director) blanketed by shadows and objects which move seemingly of their own accord. A story which provides more than one could initially imagine provide a riveting, often palpably harrowing viewing experience (I watched this in the dark with headphones and jumped like a silly goose several times).

Echoes of Fear (2019)

As much as you try to close your eyes you’re “compelled” to watch

The films pace rarely let’s up. Alicia is stretched far beyond the point of which many others would decide to call it quits. Her tenacity, resourcefulness and bravery (I can see many calling it stupidity as they yell “oh hell, no” at the screen) is inspiring and takes the film into a different direction than others with a much similar theme. Her performance throughout is outstanding lending a credible edge to a feature which, honestly, only builds in its hypnotic nature as it progresses. Apparently, she’s cut of the rare cloth whose main characteristics include resilience to the Nth degree, eye- widening determination and not folding under pressure, no matter its origin. Based on the caliber of this performance; a rather unassuming introverted type who transforms into somewhat of a fearless explorer/sleuth. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Trista (Robinson) becomes inundated with projects and propositions in the very near future. The neighbor’s performance (courtesy of Marshall Hilton) is also worthy of note. A character who appears concerned though respectful of boundaries whose presence only adds to the overall mystery of the film as a whole.

Echoes of Fear Neighbor

Well howdy. I’m your neighbor.

Channeling “The Changeling” (not the Angela Jolie film but rather the unforgettably well-crafted and chilling George C Scott opus from 1980), utilizing the scare tactics of “The Grudge” and the visual build-up approach of classics such as “Halloween” though never wandering into copycat realms. “Echoes of Fear” traipses into arenas one might not expect adding layer upon layer of intrigue to a story which exhilarates and continues use to keep its audience enraptured.

(Trailer courtesy of Movie Trailers Source)

To keep this short, for it would be easy to praise indefinitely, “Echoes of Fear” proves that talent (on the directorial, writing and acting fronts) still thrives within a genre that’s recently resorted to gimmicks (utilizing stern gazed habit wearing folk, creepy vintage collectables and twisting folklore and fairytale) to provide the scares. It holds the attention throughout and is bolstered by both strong performances and a fantastic atmosphere laden score. And although it doesn’t ooze with gore it still obliterates all of the checkmark spaces in the prerequisite boxes which constitute a great horror film. Suffice it to say this is a must see and deserves the hype. A huge accomplishment for the crew involved and the low budget film genre at large “Echoes of Fear” demands respect, a larger audience and (tragically) more acclaim than my words can provide.

Echoe of Fear possessed

Words fail me, perhaps a spot of interpretive dance is in order?

Don’t waste another minute, “Echoes of fear” is a fantastic example of the crème de le crème of that which the creative minds within the Indy scene have recently produced (in my opinion). Add this to the top of the “to be watched” pile. You can thank me later.

 

9.5

Cult

Abrasive Audio 2020 Part Seven

black metal gif

As the world nears total lockdown and a possible zombie apocalypse looms, we can all rejoice in the fact that we still have audio to lift the spirits and transport us to a better place. However, before I continue, I’d like to mention that artists are some of the folks hit hardest during these times of uncertainty, obviously close behind those who work in a serving capacity in restaurants, bars and similar establishments. Be  good neighbor, support others in these times of need and help out whenever you can. As a nation, as a people we will make it through this and only be stronger because of the adversities and instances of silliness we are currently enduring. Without further ado and preamble may I present a handful of audio treats which delighted my senses. I have hopes they might do the same for the listener.

Note; As much as I’ve tried to keep this brief it’s somehow worked its way into diatribe lengths and for that I apologize. However, for all those willing to dip their retinas in my atrocious grammatical (lack of) skills may I present this week’s findings.

January Releases

vernon of persia

Vernon of Persia (USA) – Ascend
https://vernonofpersia.bandcamp.com/
Release- January/10/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 82

Who I can only assume is an astronaut stares longingly at a planet in the distance? I can also only assume the planet he/she’s on is Mars as it’s red whereas the other planet is blue. Is it Earth? Why would he/she want to go back? Questions, questions and more questions all leading up to the all-important one…what about the quality of the album itself?

FIRST TRACK- 76

Djent and Technical Death leanings with sparse Progressive breakdowns aided by vocals (hardly traditional grunts, growls or shrieks) dipped in angst. This is hardly Brutal Death but rather Deathcore, an intriguing start with significant ‘bounce’ and I’m curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 78

Surprisingly diverse this release encompasses elements from a variety of genres (namely Djent, Progressive. Tech and Melodic Death) whilst adding a twin-pronged vocal approach to add depth. The tracks on offer are pleasingly different and showcases the bands willingness to inject a little experimentation into the mix. However, with that being said this most probably won’t appeal to those whose penchants run to Brutal Death and traditional Tech or even Prog Death but rather to those who prefer their breakdowns just short of Slam territories and audio which is just barely too extreme for traditional/terrestrial radio airplay. Honestly, I’m liking this more than I thought I would (admittedly it has its moments) it’s growing on me. But then again, I have a soft spot for other audio in much the same vein; ie, vintage Beartooth which most don’t understand. My recommendation is; if you’re adventurous, give this a listen & decide for yourself. It might surprise you?

Favorite Tracks; Weightless, Ascend, Inner Sleep, Sea of Trees,

FFO; (vintage) Beartooth, Killswitch Engaged, Between the Buried and Me.

incinerator

Incinerator (Norway) – Awakened by Evil
https://incinerator-norway.bandcamp.com/releases
Release (digital) – January/17/2020
Self-release
ARTWORK- 82

The art here is dominated by a large logo, obviously the band’s name, and with what it includes there should be no doubts as to what to expect in regards to the audio within. There’s an inverted cross and an ancient torch with a blazing pentagram at its center. But that’s not all. There’s also a skull held aloft by a hand and wrist encased in a studded wristband. The skull looks none too happy being engulfed in flame but it all makes for an intriguing image.

FIRST TRACK- 85

An intriguing introduction (taken from “Awaken” by NORDVARGR) leads the listener into exquisite black speed/thrash territories (draped in nostalgic qualities) to snap the spine. Heavy accented vocals top the unholy concoction off leaving me rabidly eager for the remaining three tracks to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 84

Only four tracks here. Surprisingly each boasts more than enough to keep the listener sated. Atmosphere is plentiful thankfully invoked through percussion rather than keyboards. Swifter than-something-quite-fast rhythms alongside an impressive drum salvo and wicked vocals make for a hypnotic audio experience. But that’s not all this offers, this isn’t merely thrash nor speed (with at times a decidedly South American flavor) for within the four tracks here is a distinct homage to the blackened spectrum though it’s not until the final track, “In the Dead of Winter”, that this becomes neon sign bright. Crisp production with a raw edge elevates this into stellar realms.

If you’re a fan of the acts mentioned below do not let this pass you by unheard.

Favorite Tracks; Intoxicating from start to finish.

FFO; (vintage) Slayer, Hellripper, Wraith, Bastardizer, (vintage) Bathory, Venom, Bewitcher.

February Releases

Karnivore

Karnivore (Sweden) – Dodsriket
https://southcoast-productionssweden.bandcamp.com/album/d-dsriket
Release- February/13/2020
South Coast Productions
ARTWORK- 77

Classic bronzed and somewhat archaic statue-esque art. Puts me in mind of blackened death audio, but I could be mistaken (it’s happened before).

FIRST TRACK- 78

An over two-minute instrumental, I’d say this would normally be a risk but this is surprisingly upbeat audio complete with rhythms and a somewhat epic melodic vibe which hints at perhaps that which is to follow. Color me curious.

INITIAL LISTEN- 80

It isn’t often that a release touted as ‘Death Metal’ from Sweden surprises me as much as this. And it didn’t take long for it to do so either! One might expect the olde tried-and-true HM2 approach, but it isn’t here. This boasts melodies (not rare in and of itself in the genre) and a certain infectious nature but it’s how it gets there which is the kicker. Think a Viking touch ala Amon Amarth mixed with the rhythms usually associated with ‘Storm’ era Dissection and you wouldn’t be far off. Add to that certain traditional Heavy Metal passages, a spot of Sodom worship amidst the albums thrashier moments, rough accented vocals and the hypnotic effect is complete. Barring a few hiccups, the album is a great find and introduction to both the band and their style.

Favorite Tracks; Empire of Filth, Slice n’ Dice, No Freak, Black Flames, Disfigured Man.

FFO; Amon Amarth, Dissection, (vintage) Arch Enemy.

March Releases

pestifer

Pestifier (Belgium) – Expanding Oblivion
https://pestifer-band.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
Xenokorp
ARTWORK- 72

Blues, greens and a most unmistakable aura, that of seething menace amidst towering spires. I’d swear this was a black metal release if I didn’t know better.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Complex rhythms, multi-layered riffs and amidst it all a purpose, a story to tell, woven intricately throughout. Fantastical passion invoked by undeniable hypnotic qualities and captivating melodies. A stunning mix of chaos and precision.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

Impressive, unpredictable and bursting with a mischievous sense of boisterous adventure, a spiraling narrative (which puts one in mind of Atheist as well, in instances, Voivod but also Testimony era Pestilence) and a varied progressive approach thankfully miles from the brutal assault many others offer. However, this still offers a technical pace and sublime precision, which most will be able to instantly appreciate, to keep the listener on their toes while offering nostalgia for those who have been around the extreme audio block. Give this a couple of spins, its grown on me and continues to do so.

Favorite Tracks; Exciting from start to finish.

FFO; (mid) Pestilence, Necrophagist, Atheist, Obscura.

 

 

Wolf (Sweden) – Feeding the Machine

Release- March/13/2020
Century Media Records

wolf feeding the machine

ARTWORK- 94

A little girl nonplussed at having to walk upon a landscape of shattered bodies (if that’s what this depicts) There’s something going on here. Is this a deleted scene from “Soilent Green”? Is she the harbinger of doom in sheep’s clothing? Regardless this is probably my fave album art of the year thus far.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Melodic Heavy Metal bordering on Speed metal with Halford-esque vocals. With solos and leads also of the Priest ilk, though this is a tad darker I’m liking it.

INITIAL LISTEN- 77

An impressive vocal range, rhythms and melodies which are highly infectious and a style which is perilously close to Thrash. The leads and solos are what separates this from the crowd but for me there’s still something missing as it didn’t live up to the initial excitement the first track provided and only a few tracks grabbed me. Perhaps a few more listens are in order?

Favorite Tracks; Shoot to Kill, Midnight Hour, Mass Confusion, Feeding the Machine.

FFO; Judas Priest, Primal Fear, Iced Earth.

Aronious

Aronious (USA) – Perspicacity
https://aronious.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/13/2020
The Artisan Era
ARTWORK- 84

A burst of color. Reds, pinks, grey and darkness and even a splatter of green. I believe I see a tree, there’s definitely a moon in there, apart from that I’m not sure what I see, apart from the bands logo. A little confusing, but I like it. Perhaps the image is a nod to the style of audio within; the melding of one color into the next, the ominous approach of night and the transforming glory of nature (?) Hitting play…

FIRST TRACK- 91

From its slight Middle Eastern/Sci-Fi themed instrumental opening one instinctively knows this will soon twist, transform and lead the listener into unpredictable waters, and it does. Cut to octopus-esque drumming abilities (an obviously well-trained creature) intricately carved guitar rhythms (I can only imagine a smoking fretboard) and a constantly evolving arrangement; flourishes of an intricate nature, frenetic galloping movements, melodious breakdowns and the scene is set. Add brutal death vocals and every Prog/Tech Death fans interest is piqued, as well it should be! A fantastic opener setting the stage fur what’s about to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 90

Tech/Prog Death is a fantastic genre, however it’s a little tricky to write upon if truth be told. One can only say “intricate”, “tight”, “fluid”, “precise” and “inhuman instrument manipulation” only so many times and I’m pleased to say those phrases all fit perfectly within the parameters of this review. I’ll state that The Artisan Era are certainly expert in choosing talent for inclusion within their stable, and they’ve done so again with Aronious. I only find it strange that they aren’t from Californian soil (as most appear to be). In regards to this album, and without trying to sound repetitive, it entertains from its opening note to its last. Perspicacity stays far removed from predictable, remains exciting and careens through a myriad of genres as it transports its listener into dizzying heights, brutal arenas and landscapes both serene and surreal. And often all within a few seconds of each other. This is in short, an excellent example of what the finest of the genre has to offer. And yet another winner for The Artisan Era stable. Need I say make room for this in the collection? Probably not. But I just did!

Favorite Tracks; Within an album of this quality, forget it!

FFO; Inanimate Existence, Equipoise, Obscura.

neorhythm

Neorhythm (Russia)- Terrastory
https://neorhythm.bandcamp.com/
Release- March/20/2020
Self-Released
ARTWORK- 88

Can you depict the history of mankind in an image, a diorama, perhaps trapped in a bubble?

– You bet

Schweet. Great job. But where’s the Queen mum and the cast of the Jersey Shore?

FIRST TRACK- 72

A wide ranged vocal approach, crunchy guitars, varied pace, riffs for days and an aura overflowing with passion. This boasts a rainbow of elements and promises that the remainder of the album is going to be quite different.

INITIAL LISTEN- 83

I wasn’t honestly sure what to think when presented with an album, concept of sorts admittedly, on the history of mankind. I sure as hell wasn’t expecting it to be as impressive as this. Promo materials state “Dark Groove” and it’s close, for wont of a better term. As the album rolls out certain passages bear a distinct Moonspell Gothic Rock vibe, others a Rotting Christ grandiose feel, while others yet a bouncy mix of styles I’d associate with Gojira. In short, this is quite unique, Avant Garde could well be used in its description (hopefully it wouldn’t scare potential listeners away) as well a slew of other genre monikers though not a single umbrella to cover that which is on offer. It becomes more consumable as it matures though that might be based on the fact that the listener is merely becoming more familiar with the style on offer? One thing is undeniable; this has a great deal to offer those with patience and an open mind. With that in mind I’m rather surprised I like this as much as I do.

Favorite Tracks; Fight for Fire, Zeus Rules, Empire Glory, Sapere Aude, Information Age.

FFO; Soulfly, Sepultura, Gojira, Meshugga.

April Releases (Why? Because I just couldn’t wait)

grim fate

Grim Fate (The Netherlands) – Perished in Torment
https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/perished-in-torment
Release – April/7/2020
Xtreme Music
ARTWORK- 75

A Bull, twisting human souls, a Jason looking fellow, an Eagle, even a few tombstones, there’s probably a few more details in there if you peer hard enough. Intriguing art with a bronzed effect and a myriad of intricate details leaves me curious as to the audio on offer.

FIRST TRACK- 79

Mid-paced infectious dirge with carefully injected Doom elements and a certain familiarity which nods to old school sensibilities. This leaves me eager for what’s to follow.

INITIAL LISTEN- 76

Death Doom driven by unmistakable dirge qualities. Old school influences are front and center with plenty of bludgeoning groove, galloping passages and tempo changes to spare. Not much that’s genre defining or ground-breaking here but this is guaranteed to make one move and will please the ominous mid-paced chuggery crowd. Is it just me or does the ten-plus minute closer bring to mind “Shades of God” and “Icon” era Paradise Lost?

Favorite Tracks; Pile of Corpses, You Will Rot, Perpetual Anguish.

FFO; Grave, Benediction, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Gorefest.

 

khora

KHÔRA (International) – Timaeus
https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/timaeus
Release- April/17/2020
Soulseller Records
ARTWORK- 91

Undeniable boner material for those into Lovecraft themed chaos and otherworldly cosmic Sci-Fi themed shenanigans.

FIRST TRACK- 88

Dropped unceremoniously into a cosmic landscape via cinematic synth mastery the listener is soon pummeled with a style akin to Death meets Black with Symphonic elements to spare. A dizzying introduction if truth be told which overflows with intricate details and nuance hinting at an album with a great deal to offer those who have the willingness/patience to allow it to do so.

INITIAL LISTEN- 85

It becomes clear within the first couple of tracks that this isn’t a traditional, run of the mill, extreme audio affair. It’s neither comfortably Black, Death or even Progressive though it does utilize elements of each, with a more than liberal helping of atmosphere, within its epic, sprawling arrangements. As one listens the description Avant Garde might come to mind for this is slightly ‘different’ in its composition and approach. Unmistakable however, is the underlying dark/ominous nature aura throughout (even in the tracks with a remarkable Progressive Devon Townsend feel) though highly polished in its production. Balanced is a term which I believe fits in describing this album. Progressive themes are evident as well the majesty, coldness and harrowing nature often associated with Black metal. This isn’t all that’s evident but amongst the styles here these are the most prevalent and effective in making this a listening experience which leaves an impression, fits the cosmic narrative and warrants further exploration to fully digest. In conclusion I’m of the mind that this is an album which demands repeated listens to fully appreciate. Much like consuming a Pringle; one just isn’t enough.

Favorite Tracks; Noceo, l’Annihilateur, Existence, The Occultation of Time.

FFO; Septic Flesh, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir,

Something a little Different

Askvader

Askvader (Sweden) – s/t
https://askvader.bandcamp.com/album/s-t
Release-March/13/2020
The Sign Records

The artwork for this release depicts various instruments piled upon a minuscule island (of sorts) with a storm raging, lightning pierces the sky, in the background. Miles from the imagery which would normally appeal to my refined (ha-ha) tastes this album boasts what I can only imagine is more a rock and roll/traditional heavy metal vibe. However, after playing it for the first time with my daughter in attendance and having witnessed the look of sheer joy spread across her features, and her little legs and digits twitching in time with the music I came to the rapid conclusion that it deserved a few words.

Cheshire Cat

Similar to the grin on my daughters face

Undeniable is the fact that this isn’t what I would normally have pounce between the ears. The lyrics aren’t based upon anything dark, morbid, the apocalypse, shenanigans in the Underworld or any other manner of perversion humans or other biped abominations are capable of. The lyrics here are based on happier, more relatable everyday things. In fact, this is radio friendly audio if only the majority of stations would ever give it a chance. The music has rhythm but again is oceans removed from that which I would normally allow entry into the senses. This isn’t Thrash, it isn’t Death it certainly isn’t black nor Grindcore or any variation or mixture of those already mentioned. It’s obviously classed as a pallet cleanser but for those who let their ears frequently wander into such realms, I would venture to say this is very good. It overflows with melodies, both acoustic and otherwise, all of the instruments are clear, the vocals are instantly likable, in a fresh, youthful, kind of way. The style however, is varied, ranging from Doom, Brutal Death and Dirge. Ha, I jest! In actuality this is Blues laden Rock and Roll with an emphasis on passion and emotion. A retro vibe is prevalent throughout and it’s here that I should really mention a plethora of acts (from the era in question) which this style sounds like. But, I’m at a loss. Suffice to mention this has an air far removed from modern rock and more an aura which The Black Crowes and Old Man Wizard have more recently captured and probably a slew of other acts I’ve yet to discover (perhaps even a smidgen of vintage Wolfsbane). This shines with leads, solos and riffs one can’t help but appreciate be it through spastic limb movement or the smirk which continues to spread across the chops as this plays out. I’ll admit I’ve listened to this more than I thought I ever would and I delight in playing this whenever my youngest joins me in the car as I much prefer to either of the “Frozen” soundtracks, surprisingly I’m actually coming around to it but more importantly it makes my daughter ‘light up’. And that seriously is all that matters (it’s the little things in life) and the reason why I’ve just spent more than a few minutes scribbling these words.

mix tape action

Keep it up old man. Hopefully you’ll make at least one persons day slightly better.

In closing, give this a chance. It isn’t “extreme” in any way, I believe I’ve mentioned that before, but it is well- crafted, infectious and addictive.

And, that’s about it for this week’s extreme audio exploration.

Stay safe out there.

Cult

Scorching the Retinas – The Hunt (Quick Review)

The Hunt (“A rapid get this done before it’s time to pay” review)

The hunt-poster

The Hunt (USA) 2020
Director – Craig Zobel
Writers- Nick Cuse, Damon Lindelof
Runtime – 89 minutes
Blumhouse productions, White Rabbit

I’ll make this quick. I don’t have much time, I’m squeezing in a few minutes of scribbling following the screening while the wife gets a Pedi/Mani (nope, I’m out! No one touches my feet!)

Commencing with a grandiose soundtrack reminiscent of epic features of yore The Hunt starts off on a great footing, I’m excited already. Cut to the first scene – a luxurious aircraft in which a collective of well-too-doers (whatever that means; in short people with money and positions of esteem) are busy “subduing” someone who has apparently “woken up too early”. The mind spins, the word “Hostel” comes to mind, an ‘unfortunate’ is dragged back into the cargo hold and the movie continues.

Trailer courtesy of amazingMOVIEtime

Cut to a wooded area and a small, varied, assortment of confused individuals awakening with bits (I believe that’s the term) attached to their mouths. Yes, this seems uncomfortable enough, but it gets worse.

The Hunt the crate

But I can’t find one that’s vegan!

The appearance of a crate boasting varied weapons raises a few eyebrows whilst the sudden whizzing of bullets shreds said eyebrows and sinuous attachments into naught but crimson clouds. The frantic group soon find their bearings, a small fence and come to the realization that most have already been picked off.

Unlike most, The Hunt starts at an adrenaline spiked pace and rarely let’s up. Several characters have been introduced (but don’t get attached. Whoops!) as well their flaws. But those running still only have only the slightest inkling as to why they are in the situation. To make matters worse they have no clue as to where they might be.

The Hunt

But…I’m American!

Ingenious twists and turns (otherwise known as Red Herrings) aid the narrative in its flow and in little time the viewer has a better understanding as to what is in fact transpiring.

Who to trust, who can you trust and why should one? Many questions exist with one thing being plainly obvious; someone is having fun at the expense of another. The reasons as to why this is the case is carefully intertwined in a myriad of factors including conspiracy theories, the court of public opinion, stereotypes and numerous ideologies. One might immediately think ‘Class Warfare’; rumors exist that the films original title was “Red State versus Blue State” which have since been dispelled, whether they held merit, or not. Delicious dialogue interactions throughout might make the viewer ponder upon all manner of opinions and reasoning.

The Hunt reserved for the boudoiur

mmm…hhrrrr…mmmhhhh (and assorted other garbled mumbling)

Without ruining that which might already have been depicted in the trailer I’ll state that the characterizations here are humorous, varied, familiar and often surprising given that which many characters boast.

The Hunt is rooted upon the foundations laid down by such ‘classics’ as “Manhunt” (which I’ve just covered here), “Turkey Shoot”, “Hostel” and numerous others whose titles escape me at present while also boasting dialogue interactions which put one in mind of Tarantino- esque affairs.

Turkey Shoot movie

The action is top-notch (including more than merely the atypical cat n’ mouse scenario one might expect) the tension well-crafted aided by an excellent score/soundtrack and the scenarios which unfold vaster in scope than that depicted in many a similarly themed feature before.

For those who might be on the fence (check first. It might be electrified) this contains enough grisly explosions, gouging, shootings and unflinching brutality and even numerous surprisingly well-choreographed fight scenes to sate. Though, thankfully, it doesn’t sink into OOT realms which would glorify or put one in mind of a Cult Italian or Troma production. Occasionally, the unflinching factor is turned down.

The hunt fkn ouch

Fkn’ ouch!

The result of some actions are left to the viewers imagination, seriously when it’s that obvious one doesn’t need to see it in glorious technicolor, this is a nice touch (as too, for me, the exquisitely delivered grisly bits). The result is a feature which could well be placed in either the thriller, action or horror genres comfortably.

The enigmatic/mysterious factor is played well to the point that one of the main characters isn’t unveiled until well into the second act. The main character isn’t unveiled until deep into the first, keeping the viewer on their seat wondering if they are in fact going to perish as quickly as the others (whoops. Spoiler alert!) In regards to the main character; She (probably not as huge a spoiler as the others before it?) is portrayed brilliantly, kudos to Betty Gilpin for such a strong Femme Fatal portrayal which is sure to be remarked upon for years to come, retains a mysterious aura (what’s up with all this ‘mystery’ amidst such unrelenting bloodshed and carnage?) and truly doesn’t show her cards until the film’s final act/stanza (call it what you will).

the hunt femme fatale

In short, I need to get this wrapped up, (it’s time to pay) without dropping any more spoilers. I’ll gladly state this was fun from start to finish though admittedly a little predictable in places. However, the pace so fluid, the characters so enjoyable, and the dialogue refreshing (even that concerning “Grilled Cheese sandwiches”) though often doused in dark humor, as to make one not linger upon such things.

The Hunt how to make a good grilled cheese

Lets not concern ourselves with cheese

In conclusion, and because it’s time to break out the wallet for yet another Anniversary gift, give this a chance before you write it off as just yet enough survival feature. The Hunt is vastly entertaining, smirk inducing, often thought provoking and most importantly fun! And has earned my stamp of approval.

Fun fact;

The most dangerous game book

Because no movie review is complete…without the picture of the book it’s based upon.

Heavily influenced by Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game”, “The Hunt” now nestles amidst a myriad of others (including “The Pest”, “Hard Target”, “Surviving the Game” and “The Eliminator”) with much the same premise (imagine that!) for those whose penchants run to binge watching similar features, film comparisons (be it scene by scene or otherwise) and/or discovery of  directors whose works remain relatively unknown.

 

Cult