Abrasive Audio…to Soothe the Senses
Seventh ‘something’ of a Seventh ‘something’. (Hey… I tried!)

bestof18Audio

Welcome to yet another in the ongoing Abrasive Audio series. A virtual smorgasbord of high-profile releases and a few I believe need not be allowed to let slip under the radar are up for discovery this week. Without further ado let’s give those cavernous, flaps of skin attached to our skulls a memorable but exhaustive workout.

Equipoise – Demiurgus
(USA)
Release – March/8/2019
The Artisan Era
Mind Eraser PR

https://equipoiseofficial.bandcamp.com/album/demiurgus

equipose_Demiurgus_CoverArt-500x500

Artwork – 8

Something otherworldly is on the prowl, it’s hungry…for something.

Intricate Sci-fi themes run through this intriguing image wrought with an ominous nature.

First Track – 9.5

Exquisite piano tinkering, a Gothic vibe and an abrupt transformation into technical melodies showcasing depth and emotion.

A stunning opener!

Initial Listen – 9.5

Precision, speed, intricacy, technicality and diversity. A slew of words which aren’t even close to summing this up, but I tried!

Inhuman pacing coupled with virtuosity, ingenuity and a marriage of rhythms and styles which boggle the mind. It’s as if a collective multitude of the finest musical styles, from a number of different centuries (from across the globe) have somehow found a way to “converse” and complement each other. (Thank the Dark Lord for the Internet and Star Trek. Wait, wha-?) Renaissance melodies (piano, etc al) cavort with bass lines and drum tattoos only the insane could possibly conjure, and the overall composition, I’m at s loss for words. Remarkable doesn’t even get near to the ballpark. Overall an outstanding, mind-blowing and undeniably jaw-dropping experience which warrants discovery.

The Artisan Era certainly have a knack for scouting and spotting talent, I’d deem this the finest prog/tech death release thus far this year (need I add in my opinion?)

Amazing from start to finish!

Cultic – High Command
(USA)
Release – April/5/2019

https://cultic.bandcamp.com/album/high-command

Eleventh Key
Qabar PR
cultic-high-command
Artwork – 8.5

 

Dragons, fire, destruction and death an image that’s obviously shrouded in an epic fantasy theme. A fantastic color palette only adds weight to an already brilliant image.

First Track – 8

It’s as if the introduction was lifted from the movie Excalibur. Clashing swords, cursing and the grunts of frustration coming by way of a plethora of equestrian beasts only leave me intrigued as to what’s will follow. The music is Bolt Thrower ‘Realm of Chaos’ heavy, dense as quicksand, with thunderous bass that sounds like an advancing war machine, all slathered in old school values with a plethora of nods to huge undeniable influences from both doom and death realms. An intriguing sound indeed!

Initial Listen – 8

An unrelenting and bludgeoning attack sporting damaging mammoth esque riffs only the hammer of a Titan could deliver ‘High Command’ offers a sound akin to an avalanche of destruction. Cloying like hot tar raining from the ramparts, atmosphere laden and tracks overflowing with groove make for an odd combination, but it works and fans of bands as a far afield as Celtic Frost, Bolt Thrower and Neurosis are sure to want to dive in sans floaties.

Favorite Tracks; Cruel Orders, False Idols, Enchained.

Misery Index – Rituals of Power
(USA)
Release – March/8/2019

https://miseryindex.bandcamp.com/album/rituals-of-power

Season of Mist
misery index rituals
Artwork – 8.5

Ancient monoliths constructed of skeletons in a perpetual state of agony. There’s even a storm raging tempestuously in the background. Fantastic imagery guaranteed to grab the attention.

First Track – 8

It’s been a while, but Misery Index are back!

Obviously not as whirling frenetic as the days of old this is a more mature band and effort following on from the tech grindcore/death prowess experienced on “The Killing Gods”.

A great start proving that the band can hold back, know when to ‘pour it on’ and most certainly have not lost their edge, tightness, ferocity or hunger to remain at the top of the grindcore/brutal death food chain.

Initial Listen – 9

Brutality in an exquisitely wrapped tight package. Everything one comes to expect from one of the masters of the genre who never disappoint and then some. Precise, taut, bludgeoning, boasting a veritable tsunami of riffs upon riffs yet brimming with passages of melody and atmosphere which only adds depth and presence to an already outstanding album. Trademark inhuman drumming and one of the finest growling assaults in the extreme metal arena only add to the allure. Where do Misery Index go from here? I have no idea, but I’m excited to find out. In the meantime, I’ll be spinning this as obnoxiously loud as the capacity of my stereo will permit.

If you have yet to discover a band with a masterful discography behind them now is a prime great jumping on point.

Favorite Tracks; Decline and Fall, New Salem, I Disavow.

Feed Them Death – No Solution/Dissolution
(United Kingdom)
Release – November/8/2018
Exalted Woe Records
Anubi Press

https://feedthemdeath.bandcamp.com/album/no-solution-dissolution

feedthemdeath Artwork – 7.5

A black and white image splashed with crimson nods to obvious social commentary and political injustice. However much I try to keep this site politics and BS free, I remain intrigued.

First Track – 7.5

Brutal death partnered with grindcore to great effect. An instant attention grabber, harkens back to Napalm Death of old but with a twist.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Straight to the point tracks, no frills, no intros no soaring solos or ballads (thank the Dark Lord).

Plenty of mosh-tastic groove found here amidst tracks which find a stunning marriage between grindcore and brutal death. Top notch drums, bass solos and varied vocals (guests on ‘Penance in the Wrong Direction’) only add to the fun. Prepare to break shit!!!

Recommended for fans of Napalm Death, Human Cull, Misery Index and others who tinker with genre non-conformity.

Favorite Tracks; Exposed Parading Dissent, Terrific Gods Caravan, Doctrine of Approximation, Penance in the Wrong Direction, Inception in Rot.

Oshiego – The Book of Wonders
(Singapore)
Release – March/29/2019

https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/the-book-of-wonders

HorrorPainGoreDeath Records
oshiego
Artwork – 7.5

Whoops, here I was thinking this was a cookbook, apparently this book has ingredients of a more sinister, diabolical, nature than I was seeking out. Never mind, I’m famished. Now, where are the eggs hiding?

First Track – 8

An encapsulating atmosphere drenched introduction climaxes in a brutal blast-beat laden assault complemented by melodic interludes and chaotic passages.

An intriguing track and a fantastic introduction to the bands style.

Initial Listen – 8.5

“The Book of Wonders” offers that which many releases in the same category fail to, an audio experience slathered in brutality, groove and melody with compositions boasting epic natures. Commendable production values complement old school European stylings (Asphyx) with occasional nods to American standouts (Obituary) teasing at grindcore leanings. Whilst thrash rhythms cavort with drum salvos of pulverizing intent against an often feverish, whirling dervish audio backdrop.

HPGD do it again, another great addition to a stable that never ceases to entertain.

This only gets better the more it’s allowed to molest the audio senses, recommended for those who prefer a little melody atop their fix of audio brutality.

Favorite Tracks; The Book of Wonders, Seven Kings, The Fifth Voyage, The Fever.

Cast the Stone – Empyrean Atrophy (EP)
(USA)
Release – August/31/2018

https://agoniarecords.bandcamp.com/album/empyrean-atrophy

Agonia Records
cast the stone
Artwork – 8.5

Electrifying imagery proving why one shouldn’t provoke the wrath of the heavens, especially alone far from cell range.

First Track – 8.5

Technical riffage slathered in melody and draped in a Stockholm buzz saw tone. And a mid-tempo which frolics with doom sensibilities. What’s not to like?

Initial Listen – 8

Vocal heavy, narrative lyrical themed and a penchant for epic qualities. This release delivers more than what one might expect as it traverses classical folk doom audioscapes, occasional melodies more akin to classic rock opuses and rhythms one would expect to reside upon either a Vomitory or Unleashed album. For those yearning diverse audio albeit with a viking, melodic and death/doom edge this might well hit the spot. A fantastic Infestdead cover ends the album on whirlwind terms.

Recommended for fans of Arch Enemy, Vomitory, Unleashed and Amon Amarth.

Favorite Tracks; As the Dead Lie, Empyrean Atrophy, JesuSatan.

Distracted by Demos

ungraven demo

Ungraven – Language of Longing
(USA)
Release – April/9/2018
Black Bow Records
https://ungraven.bandcamp.com/album/the-language-of-longing-demos
Initial Thoughts –

Dirgey, unapologetic, brash, pulverizing bulldozer riffs with infrequent, surprising, synth/experimental additions to keep the listeners on their toes. This is industrial doom bordering on black/drone with vicious intentions.

Recommended for fans of Godflesh, Fudge Tunnel, Bolt Thrower, Conan.

(Note – A more polished version (w vocals) was released on March/1/2019 courtesy of Black Bow Records)

Critical Extravasation – Morbid Existence
(Russia)
Release – April/5/2019

https://redefiningdarknessrecords.bandcamp.com/album/morbid-existence

Redefining Darkness Records
critical extravasion
Initial Thoughts –

Youthful energy and familiarity is what jumps out from this short three track sampler. Death that’s dynamic, yet epic, and unarguably steeped in old school European influence, namely Pestilence and Morgoth with a little Death (ala progressive elements) and Alkaloid thrown in to stir the audio concoction around some.

Much like CIST (also from Russia) with their “Frozen Casket” EP this leaves an immediate impression and leaves one hungry (much like the band) for more.

An included Morgoth cover (“Body Count”) adds to the brilliance of this release.

These guys are going places. Seek this out or miss out!!!

Back to our Regular Programming
Plaguebringer – Diablos
(Canada)
Release – February/16/2019
https://plaguebringercanada.bandcamp.com/album/diabolos
plaguebringer
Artwork – 9

That medieval medical text book imagery gets me every time.

First Track – 8.5

From out of nowhere this grabbed me and tossed me around with no thought given to my aging fragility. Ouch. I’m tired, bruised and battered but I want more! Symphonic/melodic/tech/ death which will open your ears…wide!

Initial Listen – 8.5

Think Black Dalia Murder, Necrophagist with a splash of Archspire and you might be somewhat close to the style this album offers. Pace, technically, rhythms which are constantly shifting, Gothic intros and flesh shredding vocals it’s all here. My only qualm, and the reason why I didn’t give this a higher score, is that the drum salvos appear a tad repetitive at times.  Other than that, this is awesome tech/brutal death which boasts a clean mix and thankfully stays this side of the you lost me at cosmic-guitar-shredding- wizardry arena. I’m eagerly awaiting how the band progresses from here. This deserves mountainous praise!!

Black Therapy – Echoes of Dying Memories
(Italy)
Release – March/11/2019
Black Lion Records

https://blacktherapyblacklion.bandcamp.com/album/echoes-of-dying-memories

Qabar PR
black therapy
Artwork – 8

Stunning art, a vivid color palette, and an image that brilliantly exemplifies the album title.

First Track – 8

Melody laden death with raspy vocals miles from blast beat and brutality ville. An intriguing mix that’s similar to Dark Tranquility, the lighter arena of Hypocrisy, At the Gates and Soilwork. A fantastic start and introduction to the band and their style.

Initial Listen – 8.5

Channeling Paradise Lost, Swallow the Sun, Arch Enemy and Soilwork, Black Therapy offer the listener a sound that’s both familiar and pleasing. Melodic death with doom elements complemented by top notch production and exquisite melodies. Recommended!

Favorite Tracks; Echoes of Dying Memories, Dreaming, Ruins.

Hath – Of Rot and Ruin
(USA)
Release -April/12/2019

https://hathnj.bandcamp.com/album/of-rot-and-ruin

Willowtip Records
Clawhammer PR
Hath of rot n ruin
Artwork – 8

Desolation, hopelessness. Am I to believe this is a blackened/doom release?

Only one way to find out…

First Track – 9.5

Blackened death with spats of a progressive nature and an overall effect which has to power to floor those unsuspecting anything of this grade. I’m at a loss for words and my mouth is agape in utter appreciation.

Initial Listen – 9.5

Technical, majestic black, bludgeoning rhythms, classical interludes and Amorphis esque progressive passages. This is overflowing with brilliance, take your pick of where and when to find them, this embodies everything a fan could wish for. Brutality and technicality in equal measures slathered in pitch values against a supremely effective atmosphere. And the occasional suffocating presence to add to the overall stunning epic audio experience.

This act/album came out of nowhere to kick me on my arse. I’m bruised, but my ears couldn’t be happier!

Another early album of the year contender with zero argument and reservation!

Favorite Tracks; The whole album rips, I’m hard pressed to find a few I prefer over others.

Wardehns – Now Cometh the Foul
(USA)
Release – December/21/2018
(CD -March/15/2019)
Self-Released

https://wardehns.bandcamp.com/album/now-cometh-the-foul

Dewar PR
wardhens
Artwork – 9

A pack of Druids encroaching upon an ogre pit. And they are pissed. I’m left wondering what the Druids happened upon or might be left to talk about.

First Track – 7

An acoustic affair which plunges the listener face-first into distortion and sludge complemented by surprising melody. An avalanche of huge riffs hinting at an epic nature heralds the remainder of the album. An intriguing start.

Initial Listen – 7.5

An air of fantasy runs through this release, thankfully not of the sparkly fairy type, as well a striking mixture of a number of styles. Thrash rhythms frolics with low tuned guitars (doom) and hardcore vocals (with a growling edge sometimes leaning towards that sported by Master‘s Paul Speckman) cavorts with an overall sludge tone making for a release that’s pleasingly diverse (there’s even a splash of old school values tossed in to shake things up), melodious and often groove-laden. This concoction, however, is balanced delicately and definitely not so overpowering as to turn listeners away.

Favorite Tracks; Denim Dogs, Fangs.

Basilysk – Emergence
(USA)
Release – February/22/2019)
Self-Released

https://basilysk.bandcamp.com/album/emergence

Dewar PR
BasyliskEmergence
Artwork – 7.5

Admittedly it took me a few glances to work out what I was looking at, I’m not gonna’ spoil it suffice to say… somethings looking back, and there’s a great many ‘somethings’.

First Track – 8.5

An intriguing, immerse, intro puts me in mind of mild desert nights, then the guitar jumps in. Progressive chords and technicalities hint at an album which, if you go into this blind, isn’t at all expected. Think later era Death, Cynic and Atheist. Rapidly evolving rhythms and a multitude of riffs keep the listener on their toes, this is leap-years from traditional death though it bears brutal elements as well a myriad of intricacies. An excellent opener!

Initial Listen – 9

Obvious very early on is that Basilysk have crafted an album that screams volumes of experience years beyond the band’s history. It’s difficult to comprehend this is the band’s debut especially with the stylistically diverse audio on offer. Influence is varied from a plethora of corners of the metal spectrum and no two tracks are alike. Styles range from traditional doom stylings through NWOBHM rhythms with more than merely hints at the diabolical/infernal nature that’s traditionally associated with David Vincent, Trey Azagthoth and crew. Though neither lingers long enough to result in the album being easily pigeonholed to one specific genre. The transitions are seamless warranting further exploration and an appreciation of the albums ingenuity which only grows with each and every listen.

Favorite Tracks; Sinners of Their own Reality, Sad State of the Arts, Prebirth-Karma-Afterlife, Clouds.

Death Agony – Desiderata (a Devastating Revelation)
(France)
Release – March/1/2019

https://xenokorp.bandcamp.com/album/desiderata-a-devastating-revelation

Self-Released
Xenocorp Records  (PR)
death agony
Artwork – 8

You can feel the pain, sorrow and heartbreak in this image, all the more powerful as its emotions suffered by an innocent.

First Track – 8

Punishing riffs and searing vocals cohabitating with mid-tempo rhythms all the right ingredients for an attention-grabbing start!

Initial Listen – 8

Nothing ground-breaking here, this isn’t audio which will in any way reshape or reinvent the wheel. However, this album does offer melodies which will make your limbs move, frenetically, of their own accord. The vocal style is commendable, harsh yet not quite brutal enough to be undecipherable. All in all, an album which will please fans of the more melodic side of the brutal death metal arena showcasing European stylings via Vomitory and Morgoth complemented by a modern approach.

Lay your ears upon this and feel the face split as a grin starts to split your face.

Favorite Tracks; The Silence of the Dead, Burial, Macabre, Hearing the Symphony of Death.

Lucifera – La Caceria de Bruja
(Columbia)
Release – February/25/2019
Dunkelheit Produktionen
https://dunkelheitprod.bandcamp.com/album/la-caceria-de-brujas
Recommended by Jay Keeley (@doomparade on twitter)

lucifera

Artwork – 8

A cowl, mystical diagrams, skulls and candles could only mean one thing…it’s pizza night!

First Track – 9

Be warned, if you aren’t paying attention this will change that in a vicious flash.

Archaic vocals complement atrophied appendage awakening blackened riffs of a thrash nature. Add in the occasional tolling of a solemn bell and you have a track of the unsuspecting highest caliber.

I kid you not, this is criminally infectious audio.

Initial Listen – 9.5

Alejandre Blasfemia resides over the audio proceeding like a feral throated high priestess whilst David HellRazor injects a tomb shaking cavalcade of riffs boasting volcanic fury. Rhythms are of a quality akin to an unscourable soundtrack one will find bouncing across their subconscious for some time to come. A ceremony of sorts breaks up the proceedings and adds oceanic like depths to an aura that’s undeniably bestial, archaic and black though reeks of homage to heralded blackened speed outings from the past and in part traditional heavy metal. This might well be the one album to turn one towards the Dark side of the extreme metal arena as it sports a quality and presence which is rare and an appeal, even on a first experience basis, which is mesmerizing.

Favorite Tracks; This is another example of an album which delivers throughout making it extremely difficult to highlight a few from an outstanding collective.

Plucked from Metal Past

Oi! Allow me to squeeze on in here!

Move aside pointy-assed characters and punctuation everyone’s favorite misshapen denizen of the Underworld is about to scribble. And look-ee here, Cult has again provided me with a platform and subject on which to lay my thoughts. One of these days I’ll have to make myself known and thank him. So what do we have here. Ahh- a trio of albums from yesteryear. Here’s to making a hole in the skull to place the earbuds, it’ll leave and mark (and mess) but it’s worth it.

Misery Index – Pulling out the Nails (compilation)
(USA)
Release – February/10/2010

https://miseryindex.bandcamp.com/album/pulling-out-the-nails-2

Anarchos Records
misery index pulling o0ut the nails
Thoughts –

Misery-fuckn’-Index!

Whenever I need a soundtrack to accommodate a trail of destruction to this is the band to whom I turn. Or course there’s others but Misery Index tops the list, without resorting to mere noise, and more often than not comes to claw first. Strange then that is a release I’ve not heard of until now. It’s a compilation you say? Well, that only means one thing more tracks, more time and varied output collected from a extended period of time rather than a collection created for one album in mind (that’s more than one thing, but who’s counting?) What we have here folks is a collective of tracks (I’d count them but I can’t count that high. I only have seven fingers most of which are merely gnarly knubs) ranging from under a minute to close to five minutes in length. A fact that projectiles grindcore to the genre assumption arena, and one wouldn’t be far wrong. Misery Index somehow inject the whole shebang with an unfathomable amount of rip-roaring riffs, the technical precision of a surgeon and cataclysmic passages which could well bring a small nation to its knees (I’ve a few in mind based on prior experiences). Obvious nods to the most established in the scene stand out but it’s the overall quality, ingenuity, variety and inhuman talent on display which make this band and this collection so earth-shatteringly remarkable. Demo tracks and live versions are in addition to those already familiar to most. Now to putting Cult’s room back into some semblance of order, I got carried away, my appendages tossed me around like last week’s garbage and I daresay I broke more than a few bones.

On a side note I find it hilarious that ’49 Seconds of Hate’ is a fifty second track. Did someone have second thoughts and add a moment of silence to break up the brutality? We may never know, but won’t someone interview them to ask?

The Abyss – The Other Side
(Sweden)
Release – March/10/1995
Nuclear Blast
the abyss the other side
Thoughts –

I know these chaps well, their music anyway. Formed by members of Hypocrisy this is, I can only imagine, the result of passion beating out experimentation. Somewhere in between the bands tomfoolery, mixing extraterrestrial elements and horror with undeniable musical genius (‘The Fourth Dimension’ and ‘Abducted’) Hypocrisy decided to bring it home with an offering harkening back to when raw production, bestial shenanigans and pitch-black metal devastated the underground. But that’s not all, this has a twist, melodies and heart which would make Granma cry and vocals that send and shiver down my splintered, dislocated, spine (did I not mention I look a mess, certainly not swimsuit edition material that’s for damn sure) no matter how often this is between the ears. One would think Tatgren would be the one to handle these duties, but no, strangely the drummer, Lars Szoke, has astonishingly wicked vocal chops too and I’m honestly surprised he hasn’t been utilized more before now.

Naturally this sounds more like the Hypocrisy of old (‘Osculum Obscenum’, ‘Pentralia’) than anything they’ve recently released but it’s different still than even that. I’ll be blunt folks, this is mind blowing audio, it’s black but blistering with abrupt melody, spats of groove and vicious intent. An album I would suggest one adds to their collection as soon as bloody possible. I’ve spied it in Cults collection amidst releases I’d rather not mention. Who is Warren Zevon anyway and what is an ‘Excitable Boy’?

Whoops, forgot to mention. The whole proceedings are in a language wholly untranslatable, unless one is of Swedish descent, but this doesn’t hamper the albums aura in the slightest it only adds to its archaic appeal. I’m of the mind this is the best thing Tatgren and crew have ever laid to vinyl (I know it’s out there someplace) and the fact that it isn’t praised as a genre masterpiece is beyond me. A travesty!

Mourning Beloveth – Dust
(Ireland)
Release – January/23/2001
Bron’
mourning beloveth
Thoughts –

Doom from a land known more for social unrest, alcohol that looks and tastes like roofing tar and potatoes. Who are you kidding? But in all seriousness, this is akin to an audio eargasm one does not wish to end, albeit one that’s devoid of blast-beats, hyper-speed and all the trappings one would normally associate with extreme audio. I’d mention that listening to this makes me cry, but I’d be lying (the fact one thinks I’m still able to make water with my eyeball sockets makes me larf).

So, what makes this so criminally pleasing? Perhaps the leads oozing melancholy, the diverse vocal elements, the unhurried approach or its similarities and subsequent appeal to fans of legendary British doomsters My Dying Bride?

I’ll be fukd if I know. One thing however is not up for debate and that fact is that this is an underrated epic which remains highly unappreciated and devoid of the limelight which it so warrants. There are albums which are good, there are albums which are great, then, there are albums such as this which transport one to another realm entirely. Shit, that was nearly poetry that’s how much listening to this has an effect on me.

That’s it, my knubs are tired and to be quite honest the cover of this pieces remaining album makes me homesick. Until next time, I’m off to whisper naughty words in a sleeping infants’ impressionable ear.

-B

Reccd’ by Void
mr bean wtf #2
Mystifier – Protogoni Mavri Magiki Dynasteia
(Brazil)
Release – March/8/2019

https://mystifier.bandcamp.com/album/protogoni-mavri-magiki-dynasteia

Season of Mist Underground Activists
Mystifier
Thoughts –

And here I was thinking this was just another black metal opus. Boy, was I ever wrong? Naturally, this has all the elements to appeal to one whose penchants are firmly rooted in the scene. It (I’d mention the albums name though fear I’d spend an annoying amount of my time correcting my writing instruments, in this case my aging phone, ‘auto-correct’ function) sports majestic passages, vicious blast beat assemblies and (wait for it) a certain undeniable allure. Although it infrequently meanders into audio territories, I’m not altogether familiar with. (Admittedly I’m more an instant gratification type fan, I like speed, evil and a beat I can lose my shit to). Naturally the several tracks I would mention as my favorites are based on galloping rhythm prowess and intriguing vocal delivery. However, this also bears “bluesy” moments. You read that correctly. Towards the albums climax, this element resides unassuming, ready to pounce and shock. This very same track also offers melodies one might not otherwise expect, riffs more often associated with doom and traditional metal affairs. In fact, the albums final tracks serve as testament to the fact that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Which isn’t to say that Mystifier veer deviantly from the extreme path, their wheels thankfully stay in the same worn ruts it’s the path that widens, tremendously. Whereas before one might say they detected vintage Septic Flesh now they could claim a sound more akin to speed infused blackened death with nods to the gods of yore with an attitude to match. The climax is exquisite, draped in grindhouse synth values and not expected in the slightest. In effect an excellent finale to an album which only increased my attention and intrigue as it matured. It’s been a long time since Mystifiers last effort, ‘Profana’ in 2001 I only wonder if this was what was expected. Based on the response it’s garnering it’s certainly turning heads with the word ‘disappointment’ nowhere in sight.

Thanks again Void, with each and every recommendation you toss, my path the Dark side beckons, becoming infinitely easier to traverse.

 

Cult

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Scorching the Retinas – Catching Up on the 80’s

head_explosion

Chopping Mall (1986)
Director – Jim Wynorski
Writers – Jim Wynorski and Steve Mitchell
Runtime – 77 minutes
Concorde
Lightning Video

chopping mall dvd

Following up from my Maximum Overdrive piece in which I admitted to not watching nearly as many genre flicks from the 80’ which I may have liked I’d like to introduce another film. Chopping Mall has received quite the buzz as of late. Whether this is from the fact that it features a horror scream queen great, Barbara Crampton (Re-animator, From Beyond, Puppet Master – the Littlest Reich) or that it ultimately features a ‘man versus machine’ scenario I’m not entirely sure, though one thing is for certain. I can’t boast watching it anywhere near close to its original release date and to my knowledge it hasn’t been remade/rebooted yet. I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me this long to discover/experience Chopping Mall, I could use a myriad of lame excuses, but I’ll just blame life (it’s easier this way).

This all changed however when the wife was kind enough to splash for a horror collection (how I love those) which featured this film as well a handful of others, most of which I’ve laid eyes upon and each with their own specific appeal. Sight unseen I’d comment that this film (most notably the robots within) appears as if a montage of influence from Robocop (the original – 1987), Short Circuit (“Johnny Five is Alive” – 1986), Battlestar Gallactica (naturally, the original series from 1978) and perhaps even the ‘Daleks’ from Doctor Who (who first appeared in 1963 a handful of episodes after the legendary series commenced). But after a little research I can see that this came out around the same time as Short Circuit. Perhaps it did, then, garner huge influence from the ‘Daleks’ and the ‘Cyclons’? There’s only one way to know for sure, a viewing is in order. And what better time than now.

Chopping Mall originates in a mall, The Park Plaza, (as if the title alone doesn’t offer that type of information) in a time when smoking was allowed, even in the stores, and each mall had its own identity. A far cry from the cookie cutter capitalist compounds our cities boast today. The film’s opening scene displays the need for security and Stan Simon (head of a huge conglomerate) has the answer. An automated patrol after hours. Sounds ideal, right? What could possibly go wrong? After all, Stan guaranteed a ‘no-kill’ policy following a slew of concerns and questions following on from a brief video to show the robots true potential.

killbots #2

The “Killbots” taking a nap, or are they?

With the ”Protectors” all set to roll out the mall is set to herald a new age for retail security. However, what Stan and his team of tech geniuses couldn’t have considered in their wildest dreams was the intervention of a group of horny teens, copious amounts of alcohol, and an orgy- like event held on the premise’s furniture outlet after hours. To add to the mix the city is lit up, embroiled in a lightning storm. As luck (or something else adding to this films’ viewing experience) would have it the mall gets struck, several times. And although nothing seems awry, there definitely is as a tech in the malls security headquarters soon finds out. One of the “Protectors” sparks into life and skewers the unsuspecting as he peruses every minute detail of his favorite centerfolds every curve.

Cut to the collective of teenagers grunting, grinding and making various squealing noises under covers (which no doubt will be scrubbed clean of incriminating DNA before the next day’s business) and the odd couple out.It’s blind date night and the locale is that which typifies lust and carelessness and comes complete with its own unique ‘jungle’ soundtrack and a monster movie featuring over-sized crustaceans plucked from the 30’s.

Very early on the viewer is assaulted with a various smorgasbord of elements which scream 80’s. Tight jeans, form-hugging tops and that’s just the male leads. There’s role reversals and plentiful nods to a myriad of other films, high octane crime features, from around the same time. Naturally, ‘hair’ is huge, and explosions are more frequent than character actions (in certain situations) which make sense. But this is a movie and there is a story line which must be followed. And I’m happy to report I’m glued. Admittedly, the unabashed, bountiful, flesh on display certainly helps and the characters introduced fall neatly into folders (who’ll die first, who’ll be the hero/heroine and who will survive, or not) which any long-time fan of the genre will be able to guess at within no time whatsoever based on age old slasher rules. As a side note I believe chewing gum with the mouth wide open is not just rude, it’s punishable by something (lets face it, probably not as harsh a punishment as a grisly death) and in this instance it is for which I am eternally grateful.

chewing gum

I love you, but only because you chew gum with your mouth wide-the-fuck-open!

The movie progresses and surprise, surprise (ha, no Cilla Black here, thank the Dark Lord. A reference for my British readers) our teen collective finds themselves trapped. But it gets better, the “Protectors”, or ‘Killbots’ as they have now been lovingly termed, have only one thing in mind; Carnage and Mall Security (that’s two, and I’m an idiot!) Cue ‘cat n mouse’ antics, kill scenes and hysteria courtesy of level-headed, peer-pressure queen bee, Suzy (played by Barbara Crampton of From Beyond, Re-Animator and Puppet Master; the Littlest Reich fame).

Any fan of cult movies will perk up at the homicide one-liners spat by the film’s antagonists “Thank you, have a nice day”. To which I can only assume that Paul Verhoven and his creative buddies still vehemently deny the similarities to Peter Wellers infamous sentence, as Robocop, to this very day. However, the robots here appear much more like ‘Johnny Five’, complete with tracks (which I would like for my car, as living in the Midwest during the winter months sucks) and spindly arm attachments. Though they converse with the blunt politeness of a ‘Dalek’ (I was right!), are there any fellow sci-fi nerds here, or is it just me? I’ll refrain from my comments on Asimov and his laws of robotics regarding this film as this has a certain air of levity about it unlike Asimov’s mammoth texts. Although it does hint at the same premise that one day machines will adapt to the level where they don’t need prompting, guidance or maintenance and this is where the similarities to James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984) come in, that and the same relentless pursuit of the film’s antagonists.

this is a killbot

Now, this is a “Killbot”

Naturally bravado reigns supreme and those brandishing massive egos live (or not) to regret their actions. Did I mention Chopping Mall features a sporting goods store which sells assault rifles (was this ever a thing?) obviously these are utilized to great effect by those who have only ever seen their abuse in films like Rambo and Dirty Harry. Hilarity ensues, bad decisions are followed through and our heroine shows why relying on rampant, uncontrolled, testosterone isn’t always the best option.

Chopping Mall sports a multitude of dialogue to elicit smirks, groans and face splitting grins and even a stunning Segway early on, which I’ll not ruin, suffice it to say smoking is not good for you! Numerous character interactions produce instances of nothing but random quotability in everyday life (if you are anything like me). Standout moments include, but are not limited to, “Fuck fuchsia, its Friday” and “Computers, huh? Let’s go crash the fucker!”  But it’s the resourcefulness, adaptability and ingenuity of the small collective (drastically dwindling number) of teens which make this film fun, probably no thanks to marathon viewings of MacGyver (nowadays we suffer the rehashed version, but also reruns, if you’re lucky enough!)

Keeping up with genre trends Chopping Mall showcases a surprisingly delectable head explosion (ala Scanners (1981) and Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend (released the same year) and even Dick Miller (RIP) of Gremlins fame makes an appearance, if only for a few minutes.

head explosion-choping mall

Hey Suzee, these prices blow my mind!

Overall Chopping Mall is a film I’m surprised wasn’t recommended to me earlier. It stands out amidst others in the same arena based on its characters, its delicate balance of gallows/dark humor and suspense, the story (which is admittedly easy to follow), the films pace and the all the explosive action, over-sized firearms, flares, Uzi’s and all. But beneath all that its loving depiction of the 80’s which although I was too young to remember, I miss. And quite honestly, I can’t think of another genre film based in a shopping mall other than Romero’s infamous Dawn of the Dead and all its subsequent remakes. For these and so many more reasons, which I don’t wish to bore you with lest this transform into a monstrous diatribe, I deem this a must watch. Rediscover what made the 80’s so much fun! Which leaves only one thing left to say…

“Thank you, have a nice day!”

Cult

Attack of the Compilation – Extreme Metal Attack (anno XVI)

bestof18Audio

Extreme Metal Attack (anno XVI)
HelldProd Records
Release – March/22/2019

(Celebrating the 16th event of its kind in Portugal scheduled for March 22/23, 2019)

https://helldprod.bandcamp.com/album/extreme-metal-attack-anno-xvi-2019-tickets

Release date March/22/2019

extreme metal attack 2019

Well hello again.

Cult’s house is empty.

It’s quiet. Which is strange as the spawn of Cult usually leaves a tornado of destruction in her wake, she isn’t shy about letting loose amplified power from her infantile pipes either, the words “I’m a princess!!” Never fails to leave a smirk on my gnarly visage.

I’m discovering new stuff every day. Like where Cult secretes his sugary goods in order that his lips are the only ones to taste them (clever bastid!). I believe I’ve found his weakness however, if it even comes down to it all I’ll ever need do is hold one of his beloved Funkos hostage and he’ll be like putty in my grasp.

Now, where was I? I got distracted.

Ah, there’s his computer. One nudge of the table on which it’s perched and the screen flashes into life. It appears Cult has left me a template (what a nice fellow), either that or he didn’t get around to finishing this. Ha! I’ll make his day and do it for him.

Now what do we have here? An underground metal compilation supporting a festival in Portugal. I’ve visited numerous times. The people are tasty (though there’s no ketchup in sight) and the language is like the exquisite howling of a tortured soul to my ears.

Hmm-! My interest is perked, my nipples are hard, I’ll spare you the description of my aroused genitals. Let’s take a listen, shall we?

Well, would ya look at that. It seems as though, on visual contact anyway, this compilation seems right up my alley (there’s a ‘double-entendre’ if ever I visualized one, yuck!)

The track title is enough to raise the hackles of a hell hound with a hankering for audio extreme.

hellhound

Wait. I smell audio extreme. I’ll save you for later!

‘Fire’, ‘Daemons’, ‘Abominations’, ‘Deathchant’ and ‘Unholy Semen’ (full of salty protein nutrition, no doubt, at least that’s how I’d spin it on a first date) all words which I’m intimately familiar with though which still never fail to grab my attention. Now, where was I? A tray full of snacks, Chef mix, donuts? I jest, I have the attention of a flea. But, strangely, where metal is concerned, I’m hyper-vigilant, if only I had the memory to match.

Perusing articles of a similar nature I can see that Cult has devised a rating system especially for the purpose of releases such as this. I like it, but it won’t work in this instance, I need my own flavor.

Let’s try this instead.

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.

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!!

confued Orc

I’m confused, still!

 

That’s better, get the point? I don’t care, let’s continue.

Nine tracks in all, and I’ll be if each one of them doesn’t excite in their own way.

Nocturnal are to first to rip into the senses, the track appears oddly ironic. I’m bouncing around like a primate with its a lit firecracker in its anus. Let’s just say Cult is going to return home to find shit all outta’ whack. The place is destroyed, his coffee is on the carpet (not to fret it’s in a spill proof type container thing) one of the legs of his side table is reduced to splinters, several (of the various) notebooks from his desks is confetti and the picture of the smiling green guy above his desk is slightly askew. I need to calm down. But what a start. Damn!

The audio continues. There’s no frilly crap to be found here folks I can make that out within no time at all. Blackened speed/thrash, black metal and black every-goddamn-thing else is on the menu, venomous vocals which would strip primer from a myriad of vehicles in a gangsters paradise (whatever that means) complement rhythms inciteful enough to raise the Dead (keep the ‘toilet water’ handy, corpses have a stench to cut through even the most wicked of sinus blockage).

After a solitary listen, I’ll grant this a rating of Time for a Crimson Splattered Moshpit within spitting distance of the All Mine! rating.

Overall this collection is one I’d gladly take a few lashings for, my boss is a split-tongued, pitch fork wielding, demanding cock-nugget, what can I say?

Within the collection there are a handful of tracks I lost total control ofy body over whilst listening, tracks I’d gladly place on an infernal playlist and irreparably damage my misshapen torso to.

In order…

nocturnal

Nocturnal – Rising Daemons

Fast as unholy fuck with rhythms to match and wicked vocals and a nod to vintage speed metal. An amazing introduction to this, or any compilation. My neck is broken, again, from the vigorous head bangin’, I’ll have to reset it (but it was worth it!)

Dethronation – Deathchant Assyria

Try as hard as I might I can’t help but bounce from one wall to the next with this between my ears. Old-school blackened speed and attitude with a South American feel. What’s not to like?

Did I mention this has an epic length and passages of doom tinged atmosphere, nope? Well I apologize. Great track!

blackevil

Blackevil – Between Fire and Fire

What is it about “speed” that gets to me so?

This question might never be answered, in much the same way human males have a fascination of over-sized mounds of chest fat fit to bursting.

Blackevil have somehow fused NWOBHM with blackened speed with a familiar vocal style I can’t for the infernal life of me place (there’s that shit memory again). Regardless this fkn’ rips!!

Nefastu – Belica Neblina

Blistering black metal similar to Tatgren’s scorching Abyss output. Need I say more, probably not, but I will.

Alcoholocaust – Supreme Heavy Metal Negro

Chainsaws and machine guns and there’s the N word in the title. One of these three things is enough to incite a riot in the liberal mind, the other two are used to exhaustion every night in the suburbs of Chicago. Take your pick, I’ll be busy acting like a frenzied force of nature as I prance around without a care in the world.

martyrium

Martyrium – Abominations

Easily the most polished sounding track here. This boasts epic values and sports black, death and doom, albeit pitch in tone, elements.

It’s the sacrificial aura that does it for me, however. Gteat stuff!

Necromutilator – Unholy Semen of Doom

I swear if this track sucked especially with the words ‘unholy semen’ in its title I’d hurt a Mfer’. Thankfully it doesn’t! Groove aplenty.

toxik attack

Toxik Attack – Loucos Pelo Old School

I can’t for the life of me make out what they are saying but I’m loving this. It has a folk/heavy metal/speed metal vibe which I’m finding irresistible.

That’s about it, this compilation made me jizz all over the damn place, several times in fact, caused me a concussion from slipping in the mess and resulted in an unfathomable amount of broken bones. Not to worry they’ll knit together again, and I’ll become infinitely uglier.  This is par for the course and I’ve become accustomed to it.

Fuk, I hear footsteps, I’ve no time to clean up. Perhaps a note will suffice…?

There, I’ve placed it where it will be easily spotted.

Oh, what does it say?

Sorry Daddy, it was me.

Love M.

No one will ever know.

Now to secreting myself where no one will find me. Wait a minute. She’s barely two, do you think she even knows how to brandish a crayon, or use punctuation?

extreme metal attack banner

B

bestof18Audio
Usurper –
What the hell happened and where did they go?
Before we start, an introduction of sorts…

usurperlogo-e1551822178239.jpg

It was back in the early 2000’s that I first heard of Usurper, a recommendation from a friend that caused me to recognize their logo when I happened across the “Threshold of the Usurper” EP sitting in a bin at a used shop in Southern Ontario.  I picked it up and was immediately ensorcelled by their brand of old school blackened thrash; the heavy-as-balls guitar tone, the powerful drumming, the Celtic Frost-worshiping “hey-hey” vocals, the loving rendition of a Mercyful Fate classic, and even a killer hidden track at the end of the disc.  There was nothing to dislike.

 

The affair continued; I collected as much of their discography as I could (eventually getting all of it except “Diabolosis…,” that one continued to elude me for a few more years) and then awaited “Twilight Dominion” with bated breath.  I was dismayed when I heard that longtime vocalist General Diabolical Slaughter had taken his leave of the band, only to have my faith restored upon hearing that “Cryptobeast” didn’t miss a step and that Tyrantor was a perfect fit.  Of course, Usurper announced their dissolution shortly afterwards.  Knowing there was no new Usurper to come, I explored the members’ other projects.  I even tracked down the releases from the founding members’ preceding band, The Dead Youth, who released an impetuous pair of albums full of youthful, almost Beavis and Butthead-like energy.  It wasn’t quite Usurper, but it helped fill the musical void they left.

cryptobeast album

Cryptobeast

Fast forward to 2019, Usurper, who are still in constant rotation in my playlists, have reunited and are less than a month away from the release of their new album “Lords of the Permafrost.”  Cult, knowing my deep love for the band from our conversations about the new album, reaches out to me to assist him in drafting some interview questions for Rick Scythe and putting together this introduction.  How could I say no?

 

“Lords of the Permafrost” is out March 22 on Soulseller Records and is true fucking metal, kicking posers to the curb and setting them on fire, leaving the ashes of false metal in their wake.  Hop on that shit and wreck your neck.

–  Voidhanger

The Interview Bit

 Cult/Void – It’s been a while guys, what enticed you back into the composition and performance fold? Has it been a troublesome transition?

Rick Scythe (guitars /founding member): The time felt right. We’ve been talking about this since 2010. In 2013 we got our first serious offer to reform. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it work, but the seed was planted. Finally, in 2015, we did our first reunion show. Then in 2016-2017 we did some other high-profile gigs, including California Deathfest and Maryland Deathfest. Things went great, and then we got an offer from Soulseller Records to record a new album… so here we are.

 When Usurper ended in 2007, Warlord had no desire to continue with the band, Tyrantor was facing personal issues, and you ultimately chose to focus your energy on “Nightshade”.  What happened since then to allow the band to reconnect? 

RS: We needed some time to step away and recharge our batteries. I got to do some different things musically, but more importantly, I got time to get my personal life in order. I eventually recorded two albums with my solo band Scythe – which kind of filled the void caused by lack of Usurper in my life… just glad to have Usurper rolling again.

USURPER-sign to Soulseller

Rollin’ out the audio

Jon Necromancer played a considerable role in Usurper, having been involved in all studio albums from “Diabolosis…” to the last pre-breakup album, “Cryptobeast.”  Was there any discussion of him coming back to the fold?

RS: Actually, when the band formed in 1993, we were only a three piece. I played guitar and bass on our 1994 demo. I also played half the bass tracks on our 1995 debut album, “Diabolosis”. But yes, Jon was a long-time member of this band, and someone I always considered a good friend. We’ve been through so many albums and tours together, so many crazy times together… of course we wanted Jon to return.

In 2013, it was actually Jon and Joe (drummer) who approached me about reforming. When we met up at that point and began discussing things, I felt like the hatchet was buried and we would start kicking ass again. We began rehearsing as a 3 piece because Dan (vocals) was in Colorado and needed a liver transplant so he couldn’t do it. We rehearsed with both me and Jon handling the vocals and it was sounding good. We had a show lined up, but at the last-minute Jon decided he didn’t want to do it, so it never happened.

In 2014, Dan got his liver transplant, and in 2015 we were booked for a local metal fest. Jon called me once again and told me he wanted to return. All four of us rehearsed, things seemed good, but once again, Jon backed out. For the record, I would have loved for Jon to have been part of this – ultimately it was his decision not to return.

I’m still not sure if he has some ax to grind with me or Dan, or some personal vendetta, or if he now all of the sudden isn’t a fan of old Usurper or if he just felt like he wasn’t up for the task? All of us at one point were dedicated and passionate about Usurper. We all have the Usurper “U” tattooed on our arms. To me, this means Usurper is part of your blood.

usurper-classix-lineup.jpg

The lineup of old

But whatever the case is, it’s unfortunate for him. Life’s too short for some silly grudge. Usurper is bigger than any one member; the sum is greater than its individual parts. It has always been that way. So, if someone is hemming and hawing, at a certain point, the train leaves without you. I’m not begging anyone to do anything.

Lucky for us Scott Maelstrom was in a project with Joe. He was a die-hard Usurper fan since the 90’s. He had all our albums and was at every show we ever played in Chicago. Joe told me that Scott was up for the task. Scott came out to rehearsal one night and he already knew how to play a lot of songs. I can sincerely say that this has now turned out to be the strongest line-up we ever had.

 This is your first album in over ten years. Have your influences changed, or been added to in any way, since last you entered the studio?

RS: Not at all. I’m old and set in my ways. I saw so many trends come and go in just the Chicago scene alone since we’ve been hiatus – all of which I had no desire to try to conform to. I knew when we returned, we would just pick up where we left off.

Joe and I discussed things and decided if we were going to record a new Usurper album, it would have to sound 100% like old, 90’s Usurper. Zero modern influences, zero changing with the times. We didn’t want a modern version of Usurper, we wanted the old, set-in-our-ways Usurper. To me it seems like this album could have come out between “Skeletal Season” and “Necronemesis”.

necronemesis

Circa “Necronemesis”

The title of the new album feels somewhat familiar. Can you tell us more about it?

RS: We just liked the term, “permafrost”. Permafrost is deep underground. It is hard. It is relentless. It is set in time and doesn’t adapt to anything…. sort of the way someone might describe Usurper.

 Usurper has always been prone to lyrics and themes involving the supernatural and cryptozoology, which leads me to believe that there is more to “Lord of the Permafrost” than just being a title.  What’s the story here?

RS: The title track is based on the native American legend of the Wendigo, which are these strange hybrid beasts that stalk humans in the coldest, darkest days of Winter.

What does the gargoyle on the cover signify? One also appears on the cover of “Twilight Dominion,” are the albums in any way related?

RS: It is actually a hybrid creature. It sort of represents the strange human / animal hybrids from the song, “Mutants of the Iron Age”. It also resembles elements of the Wendigo as well as, like you said, a gargoyle – as sort of a nod to the song “Gargoyle”. It also represents sort of a marker or monument – to indicate the point of no return for those who dare to go “Beyond the Walls of Ice”. Basically, it represents a lot of lyrical topics on the album, without being too “on the nose” about any one song. We wanted it to look and feel so “typical Usurper” to our fans. Like when you look at a Manowar cover and say, “that looks so much like a Manowar cover”. We want the same impact when people look at our covers.

 Have your musical interests changed from your earlier years to now. Do you believe this may have transformed your creative process or style any?

RS: The only thing that has changed over the years is, instead of being influenced by specific old bands, we are now influenced by past Usurper albums. Our objective for “Lords of the Permafrost” was to have the listener drop the needle anywhere on the record and instantly say, “this sounds like Usurper“.

twilight dominion

“Twilight Dominion”

 Usurper was born from the notion of bringing back the spirit of the mid-eighties thrash metal scene, something I think was accomplished in Usurper’s original incarnation.  Does this remain Usurper’s goal, or have your goals for the band changed?

RS: In the early days we wanted to create a band that was rooted in the style of mid 80’s underground thrash/speed/black metal – we wanted to take approach and incorporate the anthemic qualities of traditional heavy metal, the head-banging-ness of 70’s hard rock and mix in a bit of dark melodic atmosphere.  Usurper has always been way more original than we have been given credit for. I hate when lazy journalists call us, “death metal”. We might have some of the heavy elements of death metal, but we never considered Usurper to be a death metal band.

How has the reaction been for Usurper’s return to the live setting, and then to the studio?

RS: It has been great! We’ve seen and met a lot of older fans that followed us since the 90’s at our shows. They seem genuinely grateful for our return. We’ve also had a lot of people in their 20’s and early 30’s at our shows, who may have discovered Usurper much more recently. So far people really seem to like the new songs. I’m glad we stuck to our convictions and didn’t decide to modernize Usurper.

lords of the permafrost

Due out March 22

With the release of ‘Lords of the Permafrost’ how do ideally envision the band’s future? Is there anything especially exciting on the horizon you might be able to hint at?

RS: We are just now planning our some (summer? Ed*) concert dates and festivals. So far, we are headlining shows in Chicago, Milwaukee and New York, with other dates in the works. We will also be playing a festival in Finland… more shows to be announced soon. Check our Facebag page for more info.

Thanks for the time guys, welcome back to the metal fold and all the best for the future.

Void and Cult

A huge thanks to Void (a person whose knowledge on metal never ceases to amaze me) for taking the lead on this project.

“Lords of the Permafrost” is available on Soulseller Records (Soulsellerrecords.com) at the following address

https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/lords-of-the-permafrost

 

An Unfathomable Game for any Mere Mortal to Comprehend or The Games We Play

the games we play #2

A vision of incomprehensible exquisiteness towers over me.

A curse escapes lips pursed to perfection, an image that many artists throughout time have tried in vain to capture and reproduce. Rouge portals I’ve traced with my trembling fingers and caressed many times in moments of absolute dream-like ecstasy. However, now pulled back in a grimace of concentration they lend her features a primitive, bestial, appearance that appears utterly foreign upon her angelic form. Nevertheless, a visage of delight the Gods themselves would pledge eternal allegiance to.

Under the torn fabric of her shirt I spy a  multitude of muscles tighten and shift, as she prepares for yet another vicious assault. A snapshot in time I will no doubt reminiscence upon over and over. Thin beads of moisture line her brow giving her an ethereal sheen and I’m reminded once more of what it is that attracts me so about her.

The stout metal rod steady within her delicate yet firm grasp connects with my prone form time and time again.

Ahh – the pleasure! To be ‘deconstructed’ by her. She who remains nameless, for a name could never come close to describing her true essence, a stunning creature that no mere mortal could ever hope to comprehend, even if given an eternity to ponder.

I feel a lung puncture under another powerful onslaught of blows, a kidney flattens into mush, my bladder explodes spilling various toxins across neighboring internal organs. I grunt. Not in pain, but because it seems appropriate.

Through a crimson drenched screen, sight that’s rapidly failing, I spy coiled innards spill lazily from my ruptured torso to spool around my lower extremities. My shell never ceases to amaze me, no matter the number of times I grow another to inhabit.

The vision of loveliness stops momentarily to wipe at her brow. Her physical exertions have caused sweat to encumber her vision. The lines of her classic beauty are silhouetted boldly against the fading light of the day, the image makes my face contort into a faint mockery of a smile the best attempt my annihilated features will allow.

 

The tirade of blows continues, transforming my form into a bloody radius, that of an over-sized artist’s palette consisting mainly of crimson hues dotted by only the occasional and rather faint flash of ivory.

Slipping into unconsciousness I willingly surrender to (that which many ignorantly consider the Reaper’s embrace) my final image is of her face as she utters the words, I love you as she plants a kiss upon my shattered brow. As I descend, I’m thrown back millennia to the first time I glimpsed upon she who shall remain nameless.

It was her aura that I first noticed. Vivid, golden, burning, like the brightest star. Mortals boast, at best, a faint sheen so hers was especially easy to spot from afar.

I followed this vision for weeks (at a safe distance) through numerous trails, across townships, traversing abundant bodies of water and through all the exciting scents and sounds a bustling Middle Eastern bazaar offered before I ventured to start a conversation. However, I needn’t have bothered. It was she who found me. Her bluntness surprised even me as she ‘broke the ice’ with a playful gaze and a wicked grin.

So how is it that you spend time to fill the boredom of eternity? Doesn’t time just seem to flow seamlessly after the first five hundred years.

It was true.

Immortality sounds like a blast. Right. This is only partly true, in fact, imagine all the niggling annoyances one encounters throughout their lifetime then compound them with a constant relocation regime, financial institutions asking copious questions and the overriding anxiety, fear, of discovery. Mary Kay be damned, it’s a curse looking youthful when you never age.

We’ve spent several lifetimes together, with obvious breaks in between lest restless, inquisitive types ‘cotton on’. We’ve danced in bloated corpse strew streets of a city mired in plague. Then returned several centuries later to watch it burn. I impersonated a man of the cloth (rather well I might add) and lit a pyre beneath her feet. The sly look she tossed me in my direction priceless as I watched as part of an excited, ignorant village collective, aroused, as the flames lazily devoured her lithe, twisting, form.

the-great-fire.jpg

Eventually thwart with merely an eternity of boredom to ponder upon we devised and concocted a unique and imaginative scheme. More a string of events, all of which conclude in much the same result.

The premise brought with it exciting new hurdles and intricacies to our existence giving it a sense of excitement where before there was very little, it also kept things fresh and ultimately ensured that pesky mortals must try harder to keep abreast of what in fact we are and what they could never hope to be.

Of course, this ‘game’ has several rules, considerations of the upmost importance we must each perform to ensure it can be played again. Unlike any other however, there is no winning or losing. Its premise revolves around the ‘hunt’ (for there’s a whole world out there where either one of us could be) and the ‘ultimate moment’ one that the other knows is coming, but not when.

 

That instant has just passed. Truth be told it’s an odd fetish, unfathomable to any but a rare few, and enjoyed by both of us in very different ways, depending of course upon our role which has been reversed more times than I care to count.

 

It will be a great while and I have a great deal to accomplish until I get to taste the ‘other side of the coin’. It’s my turn to hunt next. Rest assured when the time comes, I have some truly devious campaigns in mind. New twists to put in place. I may even bend a few rules, replace a great many, or change them entirely…Perhaps rewrite the damn lot? I’ll have a lifetime to decide on the specifics, after all when you have eternity to play with time matters not, only what one does, or is willing to do, to try to coexist alongside its parameters among mortals.

 

But, for now I must rest.

It takes a great deal of energy to revitalize and re-energize (reincarnate if you prefer) to pull myself even close to a position where I might be able to think and plan upon such things.

Strange then that I do not feel the comfort of warm earth around my pulverized and dislocated form. I can only hope that my companion has stuck to the rules and her end of the bargain.

Only time will tell. And I have an eternity in which to wait.

Unmarked-Graves

-Cult

 

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Catching up on the 80’s
The Cinema of Stephen King #1

Maximum-Overdrive

Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Writer/Director – Stephen King
Runtime – 98 minutes
Dino de Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Evening readers, there are a plethora of films I’ve never seen and have always wondered why. In most cases I’ve read the accompanying/relevant paperwork. Or if you prefer the book that goes with, or is the inspiration for, the film. Maximum Overdrive is one such example and is based loosely on ‘Trucks’ a short story penned by Stephen King (originally published in June of 1973 which later appeared in his 1978 Night Shift short story collection).

maximum-overdrive-emilio-estevez

So, what is it exactly that you want?

Taking equal parts premise from Steven Spielberg’s Duel, Richard Stanleys’s Hardware, James Cameron’s Terminator and Kings’ Christine, Maximum Overdrive twists this intriguing concoction into new realms utilizing the enigmatic powers of the ethereal ‘presence’ from Rhea-M, a comets tail suffocating Earth’s orbit (a force which is better known in this genre, specifically, to spark resurrection, and appetite, in those recently deceased). Machines have taken a life of their own. But for what reason, vengeance, union rights, a more rigorous maintenance schedule?

Admittedly, any film that calls it’s director/writer, in this case  Stephen King (albeit in cameo), an asshole in its opening scene is enough to draw my interest. And, it only gets better. In the following scenes a ‘drawbridge’ opens wide, unbeknownst to its operators, leaving unsuspecting motorists shocked, dangling from their car windows and ultimately plunging to their untimely demises. Soon all electronic and mechanical equipment appears to generate a vengeful life of their own and the surrounding community begins to feel the squeeze.

maximum-overdrive-trucks

You drive me round, round baby, right round like a record baby, wha-?

At a local Dixie Boy/Gas World Truck stop, a horde of big rigs encircles the gas pumps and parking lot ensuring a handful of survivors stay put.

 

A Green Goblin (Spiderman fame) mask-fronted Happy Toyz truck heads the charge against the ragtag motley crew of misfits thrown together by way of extenuating circumstances and an odd predicament. Bill, Emilio Estevez (Young Guns), is the brainchild shattering the shackles of his corrupt boss, Hendershot (played by Pat Hingle), as he attempts to stay one step ahead of a myriad of mechanized antagonists.

Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson – The Simpsons) lends her voice and hysterical talents and adds character to an assembly riddled with inflated egos. Laura Harrington (Buckaroo Bonzai, The Devils Advocate) provides the love interest to keep Bills ‘drive’ alive. And a youth, who knows a little too much for his own good, hurdles over emotions brought about by the recent demise of his Father to aid in the groups attempted escapes (whoops nearly added a spoiler there!).

maximum overdrive splat!

Splat!

Plenty of standout scenes here. A school bus skewered by a light aircraft, a vending machine which emits deadly projectiles, an ice cream van and a lawnmower take turns chasing a youth on a bike and the instant karma handed out to a impulsive jewel thief are amongst those which immediately come to mind. A multitude of truck upon fragile human shell impacts and forms crushed to pulp are surprising additions to a tale which boasts an enjoyable pace, a curious premise and a rousing soundtrack courtesy of AC/DC. Although I’m left wondering why ‘Highway to Hell’ wasn’t incorporated when it would’ve fit, in instances, like a made to order (driving) glove. I’ve no problem with ‘Back in Black’ not being used, as let’s face it, it plays at damn near every sporting event and is used by virtually every high school/college team wishing to add another trophy to their hallways glass case. Can you tell I prefer my Aussie rock in short, infrequent doses?

maximum overdrive lego

I bet you were expecting a picture of a well -known rock band from Down-Under…well here’s Lego in your eye!

Maximum Overdrive is many things. It’s often light-hearted, is occasionally dotted with dark humor and is certainly enjoyable from its sunny-side up fried eggs start to its rousing, bazooka explosion, finale. Several moments might even make the viewer ponder upon the abuse they’ve dished out upon their powered ‘equipment’ without one iota of appreciation, it might even make some think upon a world without such. One of the films priceless scenes sports the frustrated Dixie Boys waitress, Wanda June, yelling defiantly at the vigilant big rigs “We made you!” as it adjusts its path to plow straight towards her. But who, really made who? (cue “Who made Who” by AC/DC) There’s obvious argument that without machinery and electricity we wouldn’t be at all where we are today. The films creepiest moments come by way of the machinery operating itself. Levers turn, gears change and ignitions are triggered all without the guidance of a human hand, imagine the possibilities. Its terrifying!

Maximum Overdrive sports a smorgasbord of characters one wants to root for and others which only fuel wildly imaginative death scene scenarios in the viewers mind.

maximum overdrive ouch!

Next time ask for a Pepsi nicely!

I’m not here to spoil the fun (for it’s not my style) but suffice it to say if 80’s movies, horror drenched in camaraderie, easy to follow story lines, sweaty action, hysterically screaming ladies, heroes developing from the most unlikely of character and mushroom cloud laden explosions, are your thing and you have yet to lay your peepers upon this…you’re missing out!

Add this to a Creepshow, Silverbullet (aka Cycle of the Werewolf) double bill and you’re set for a grand night of macabre yet humorous King inspired cinema. Of course, there’s a roulette wheel of others from which I could have chosen but I went with these, although on second thoughts I’d toss in Cats Eye too, leaving the more epic affairs for another night entirely!

stephen_king_collage_by_stephenkingfreak23

Seriously, take your pick.

If this is any indication of Stephen King’s directorial prowess, he can direct like a MF-er!

 

Have a comment, a suggestion or recommendation? Feel free to add your two cents.

 

Cult

 

Bargain Horror Collections, are they worth the bother?

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Furthering my quest to unearth buried cinematic gems I continue to dive deep and scour the darkest depths of that which is known, in exotic locales, as the bargain bin. This installment has found me clutching a collection harboring twelve movies, all of which reside on two double-sided discs. Eight of which with the word ‘dead’ in their title so there’s no pondering upon what and whom this collection is based on, and designed for.
horror collection

The Collection under scrutiny

 Without further ado let me be your guide and escorts you into realms enigmatic, mysterious and clouded by others judgments. One more step and we’ll be entering B-moviesville. A county beseeched by horrid acting, plots which are paper thin and direction akin to that of a kindergarten class project. However, keep your eyes peeled, for amidst the varied chaotic ruckus there lies brilliance, undiscovered and unappreciated, cinematic gold ripe for laying the weary peepers upon.
Or, is this another wild goose-chase?
Only one way to find out…let’s take that final step.
(And what better way to get an overview than by watching one movie from each side of both discs.)
Disc two; side A
germz
Germ(z) 2013
Writer – JT Boone
Director – JT Boone, John Craddock
Runtime – 85 minutes

When a satellite crashes to earth it brings with it a virus which turns ordinary peaceful small town folk into crazed flesh eaters with a ‘rage’ like intensity. 
Picturesque scenery, a couple of strong characters, an intriguing love interest and the films pace save this from obscurity. Minimal gore, a story which has been covered many a time before, choppy editing and failed attempts at humor are amongst it’s flaws.
Offering very little to an already overcrowded genre Germ(z) has its moments it’s far from being the worst zombie film I’ve witnessed, but not nearly enough and thus is recommended only to those who have a quest to set the record of witnessing the highest number of low budget zombie affairs (for there are an overabundance from which to choose). 
5
 
Disc two; side B
buck wild
Buck Wild (2013)
Writer – Tyler Glodt, Matthew Albrecht
Director – Tyler Glodt
Runtime – 96 minutes

Country folk encounter city folk on a weekend retreat. Add a Chupacabrea, a horny country girl (Candy), a country badass type, ego and lots of attitude and you have all the makings of a great B movie. So how does Buck Wild stack up?
An oddball assortment of characters leads to quirky, oft hilarious, dialogue and situations, though often awkward, which keep the movie rolling at an enjoyable pace. Jerry (Jarrod Pistolli) manages to steal every scene he’s in with his happy go-lucky Commando attitude. Montages come thick and plentiful and strangely don’t seem at all out of place. The movie progresses to showcase the huge attitude of a small town game warden (played by the director and half of the writing team), family disagreements stemming from the Godfather trilogy being ‘smacktalked’, the complications which arise from not shooting something obviously exhibiting signs of advanced rabies in the head and the possible side effects of consumption of pot brownies by undead types.
Will Tom ever find a pair of pants, will Billy Ray ever come out of the closet and will Craig ever man up and leave his cheating girlfriend?
These are questions I can’t or won’t answer. I will, however, state that Buck Wild was surprisingly entertaining, especially given that it boasts abysmal IMDB ratings, and offered a great deal to enjoy. The buddy element added levity, the humor element worked, it has utterly quotable moments and a number of scenes which although aren’t new do leave quite the impression. Death by frozen fish, anyone?
“Yaytzee!” 
Give this a moment of your time if your penchants stretch to well-crafted films of the lower budget variety drenched in hilarity and crimson and you can forgive the fact that the line “Squeel like a pig” wasn’t utilized once in a movie where it would’ve been especially easy to do so.
8
Disc One; side A
Deadtime_Stories_Vol_2
George R Romero presents 
Deadtime Stories Vol. 2 (2011)
Directors – Matt Walsh, Jeff Monahan, Michael Fischa
Runtime – 102 minutes (3 tales)

George R Romero adds an introduction and various one-liners to a trilogy of short tales.
Deadtime Story #1 – The Gorge
Three friends set out on a cave exploration excursion only to find they weren’t as well-prepared as they initially thought.
Desperation, frustration and hopelessness sets in as the days pass and they are forced to ponder upon the inevitable. 
This segment is rife with surprisingly decent effects, plentiful crimson and a palpable sense of dread. The acting isn’t half bad and the story has surprising depth. A great start.
7
Deadtime Story #2 – On Sabbath Hill
An iron fisted, married, teacher has relations with a student. When complicatons arise both are left in a state of confusion. When Allison (the student) kills herself, in class, the college is left devestated. The professor wracked with guilt, finds his sanity slipping, imagined visions flash before his senses. But worse yet blackmail looms on the horizon.
The acting in this segment is great. A handful of ‘little” touches sublime, while others are stretching the boundaries of bizarreville. A creepy soundtrack adds weight making for a tale that’s surprisingly watchable, if at times a little over the top.
7.5
Deadtime Story #3 – Dust
In a research facility a container of ‘dust’ from Mars is going through final testing to concrete that which several institutions already know. It’s useless and of no value whatsoever. However when a young Doctor thinks outside of the box he discovers something possibly life-changing, especially for a co-worker, the facilities security chief, whose wife suffers from Leukemia.
Without time on his side the chief takes matters into his own hands. Returning home he decides to slip a little something, something into his wife’s meds. After all what’s the worse that could happen?
As it happens the consequences far outweigh those of adding copious amounts of vodka to the water font at a baptism. 
Dark humor finds its way into this segment as well lust, love and an insatiable appetite. All of which collide to form a fantastic climax to an anthology most have never watched or even heard of. This has a Creepshow vibe and an overall aura that’s difficult not to appreciate.
 7.5
In conclusion, this is a collection of films which is far from that sporting Hollywood budgets but isn’t without flair, style and ingenuity. More of a up and coming genre film makers collection this does its job of sparking interest in independant,  fresh, talent and for that it deserves applause. Obviously this isn’t for those yearning for Oscar material though is recommended for those, like myself, who can appreciate the raw, the unfiltered and that which shows promise even without the funds to back the premise up. 
Give this a peek!
 
Disc One; Side B
death from above
Death From Above (2012)
Writer – Bruce Koehler, Mark Hensel
Director – Bruce Koehler
Runtime – 85 minutes

Olympic wrestler Kurt Angle in a movie alongside a few others of similar muscle clad ilk? You bet your ass! 
Tom Savini makes a guest appearance dwarfed by a Monster truck, the ‘Big Blue Beast’ and a collective of inept law enforcement types. 
Demonic looking contact lenses are the order of the day as well ancient texts, an amulet, the occasional mention of Thule (God of the Underworld), conspiracy theories and a collective of classic badass, high octane, vehicles. Mud wrestling, monster trucks, hilarious one-liners (intentional or not) and splatteriffic CGI effects add to the nonsensical silliness.
Robert Z’dar (aka Maniac Cop) makes one of his final celluloid appearances as a tour manager for Anti-Flag which only momentarily takes the attention away from a story that’s thinner than the cardboard which next describes the acting here.
Anyone wishing for a viewing experience that’s up-lifting, life-changing or eye-opening need not bother with this film. However, if you’re up for ninety minutes of testosterone-charged, large engined truck worshiping, cleavage showcasing, cultist shenanigan fueled celluloid this could well be the destination you need to make a pit stop for. But be warned there’s nothing Sci-fi about this as the title might suggest.
“Take that you devil-worshiping sons o’ bitches!”
5.5
 
Bonus (becus’ I started to watch and couldn’t tear myself away)
A of the Dead
Apocalypse of the Dead (2009)
Writers – Vukota Brajovic, Milan Konjevic, Milan Todorovic.
Directors – Milan Konjevic, Milan Todorovic.
Runtime -101 minutes 

Dizzying camera work and impressive, plentiful, FX and pace add weight to this film. On a personal note a myriad of nods to ‘Day of the Dead’ including a character who look like one from the film sparks fond memories. 
Not the greatest of zombie films but this is far from being the worst, it’s action-packed, full of grisliness, easy to folliow even if you’re doing half a dozen different things as well as watching this. And it’s fun to watch if only one can enjoy a film for escapisms sake and isnt looking for a feature to add to the Oscar nominations list.
‘Apocalypse of the Dead’ doesn’t reinvent the genre (but do the undead nap is the question?) though it does offer that which a fan of said genre demands minus dragged out drama scenes and long winded talkie moments.
…”Hell is going to overflow and the Dead will rise forever” not quite “When there’s no more room in Hell the dead will walk the earth” but I’ll certainly toss the filmmakers some points for trying and incidently both quotes fall from the same mouth so someone’s paying attention. Sidenote: Another quote from the same character nods at the title of a celebrated B movie in the same genre “Die you Zombie Bastard!” (2005).
All in all a commendable effort in a genre which is still sporting a multitude of fresh additions, even to this day, some ten years after this was released.
7
In conclusion this was not at all a bad showing. I’d gladly splash another coupla bucks on a similar collection (I own an ungodly amount as it is) if this is any indication of the caliber of the films on offer. Naturally, there will be those who disagree with my findings and opinions, but that’s fine. If everyone agreed what fun would life be. It wouldn’t be fun, but it might be a damn sight easier.
Feel free to share your opinions, thoughts and or recommendations.
Cult