Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Movie Review: We Are The Best!

Long time no see, dear reader. I'm going to skip my usual "hey guys I know I haven't posted in X weeks/ months/ years and I'm really sorry, I've just been really busy" spiel and jump right into this post. As always, obligatory SPOILER WARNING. I'll try my best to spoil as little as possible. It's not like there are any Usual Suspect caliber plot twists in this indie drama.

We Are The Best! is a Swedish-Danish film released in 2013 about three 13 year old girls who start a punk band in 1980s Sweden. It's based on director Lukas Moodysson's wife's semi-autobiographical graphic novel Never Goodnight. If that isn't enough to convince you to watch this movie, then I don't know if we can call ourselves friends anymore. On a more serious note, We Are The Best! follows two adolescent punks, Klara and Bobo as they stumble their way through school, home life, starting their first band, and generally being young, angst-ridden kids. Klara and Bobo start their band solely out of spite of a group of teenagers at their local youth center, and despite not knowing how to play any instruments, fall in love with the idea of playing in a band.

What this movie captured perfectly is the idea of being a young kid with something to say and finally finding a legitimate outlet for it. Klara and Bobo are written like true 13 year olds, where they know that they're young, angry, and want to take down The Man, but they're not quite sure what their fighting against, what the real facts are, or what causes they should really support. They don't know shit, but they don't care because they're too wrapped up in being passionate about something for the first time. Once they get hooked on making loud, incoherent noises and writing angsty, terrible punk lyrics they find a girl in the year above named Hedvig to round out their trio so they can start writing some real music. Hedvig is an outsider at school too, but she plays some mean classical guitar, so the girls befriend her to use her expertise to help them along musically. Also, something to note: I'm not sure if the actresses were 13 years old at the time of filming or older, but either way, they're young and they don't suck. They're actually pretty solid actresses. Hollywood, take notes. This is how you should cast children and adolescents in your movies.

Something you'll notice quickly in We Are The Best! is that the movie isn't really about punk music or punk culture. It's mostly about what it's like to be a young teenager and how they live their lives in a constant hyperbole. Finding an outlet for your feelings in the form of a band is the greatest thing in the world, this cute guy you just met is making you go head over heels in love, and getting into a mundane argument can be the absolute irreconcilable end between you and your best friend. And in typical teenage fashion, these major life-or-death crises blow over in a matter of hours or days. It's these dynamics between the three girls that makes this movie fun to watch, because deep down, you knew you were that bad when you were younger. Sure, if you're into punk or hardcore, it may feel nostalgic to see a couple of kids learn to play their instruments and fall in love with music, and stick their middle fingers up to the world just like you did, but even if you never went through a phase like that (like your's truly), there's still plenty to love here. A small detail that I loved was that almost all of the music played by Klara, Bobo, and Hedvig looked and sounded like it was recorded live on location. You can hear all the little nuances of recording on location, where everything you see matches up perfectly with what you hear. Nobody is randomly mashing their fingers on a guitar with a totally different track being played over top. It's nothing too big but in most movies, including movies about music, they just throw in some studio recordings so they don't need to teach the actors how to actually play the instrument being played on screen.

So there you go. We Are The Best! is definitely one of the best movies I've seen in months, with the only other being December's The Imitation Game. This movie is legitimately fun to watch, no matter who you are. It's adorable, genuine, and to top it off has one of the most punk as fuck endings I've seen in a movie. You can find it on Netflix (the Canadian version at least), which is where I found it, and I'm sure your local movie store carries it too if you feel like spending some cash.

That's all for now, folks! Go out and start a punk band with your friends.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Graspop Metal Meeting: Day 2

Day 2

Carach Angren

     Day 2 of Graspop began with heavy rain and heavy music. Due to the inclement weather, the indoor "Metal Dome" was the place to be. First up on the indoor side stage were Dutch black metal band Carach Angren. The first thing that strikes you with Carach Angren is their lineup. They have one of the strangest musical combinations with a keyboardist, guitarist/screamer, drummer and violinist. While I was quick to judge that the lack of bass would result in a dry, empty sound and the violinist would likely be drowned out by synth, I was quickly proven wrong as the band boasted a monstrous and epic sound. The keyboardist takes over the bass octaves and allows the violinist and guitarist to trade off melodies. This accompanied by masterful machine gun drum lines results in an epic and vicious black metal tone. While my viewing of Carach Angren's set was mostly coincidence due to the inclement weather, it turned out to be a perfect way to get the metal flowing. Once their set was over, the rain had stopped and the early afternoon crowd who had crammed into the Metal Dome were ready to take on the rest of what Day 2 had in store.

Fire on the metal dome screens looked badass

Quick Review: An interesting musical combination comes together in a familiar yet unique black metal sound.


Protest The Hero

    While I've seen PTH in many times, in many different venues, nothing quite compares to witnessing their set in Belgium. Coming from an area where Protest The Hero has occasionally made it to mainstream radio, it was a strange feeling to see the band perform to a crowd that was largely unfamiliar with the band. The Belgian crowd exploded during Bloodmeat but remained still for the majority of the rest of set.

     As for Protest The Hero's performance, the band is always stellar live. They're a group of phenomenal musicians who can perform their music to near perfection. I will however admit that the band has little to no energy on a large stage. In clubs and smaller venues, the band is so upfront and personal that the minimal movement is sufficient to boost the crowd full of energy. However, on a large festival sized stage, PTH give off a rather bland performance. The music sounds amazing, and Rody's rants are always hilarious, but there is less movement and expression than what you'd expect from a death metal performance. This trend has been growing over the years, with PTH becoming less and less entertaining to watch with every performance I see. While their insane tech guitar lines severely limit the possible movement, the band appears almost un-interested in their own music while they play it. 

Quick Review: Music is performed to perfection but the band appears to have lost any trance of passion in their live performance



     After the standstill nature of Protest The Hero's set, I was looking for a little madness. Nails were set to take the Metal Dome stage and seemed perfectly suited for my needs. Nails are a powerviolence/hardcore band from California and have made a name for themselves with some of the most ruthless and aggressive hardcore punk in the industry. Nails is a no-nonsense type of band. While Nails may be a famous international name, the band still strolls out on stage as if they were opening a small underground show. After a quick sound check the band opened their set by smashing the audience in the face with a wall of sound. Their music is permanently cranked to 10 and strumming any less than your hardest on the guitar is completely unacceptable. The chaos that comes along with hardcore punk can often be confused for sloppiness, but Nails nailed every transition, cut out perfectly in-sync on every pause, and performed some incredible tightly knit chaos.

     Oddly enough, by far my favorite moment of the set came in between songs. There were three beach balls that seemed to permanently exist in the Metal Dome and nowhere else. During Nails set, these beach balls seemed ironically hilarious, but during a tuning break Nails' frontman gave a profound speech about why he loves the beach balls. He declared that he hadn't seen a beach ball in almost a year (when he was last home) and that the combination of the Belgian fans losing their minds in the pit and being fascinated by a beach ball reminded him of the SoCal crowds in front of which Nails originally made a name for themselves. Nails are balls to the wall, in your face, relentless and ruthless hardcore, but connected to the crowd over a giant bouncing colourful inflatable ball. Nails ended their set with kicking all three beach balls at the same time (one per guitarist/bassist), in sync with an ououtrageously heavy slam riff.

Quick Review: Powerviolence and beach balls resulted in a gargantuan-ly heavy sound with some hilarious distractions



     For years Gojira had been a band I'd always heard about but for some strange reason I had never actually got around to listening to. Gojira, being possibly the best metal band to ever come out of France, are a massive attraction for Belgian metal fans. The crowd standing around waiting for Gojira was already huge an hour before the band hit the stage. I distinctly remember the size of Gojira's fan base due to an error in GMMs scheduling, and it turned out the Gojira fans had been waiting at the wrong stage the entire time. At this point I found myself graced with the opportunity to outrun the thousands of Gojira fans marching from one main stage the next (which is actually quite difficult given the barrier and bar between them). Without much of an idea of what I was in for, I found myself at the front of one of the largest crowds of Day 2.

     Gojira blew my pants off with their god-tier metal riffage and immense vocals.  Gojira's constant barrage of incredible heavy riff after incredible heavy riff had the crowd running at full throttle from start until finish. Every once in a while you witness a live performance so good, that you immediately feel the need to listen to that bands entire discography, this was my experience with Gojira. I'm pleased to say that today I have fully recovered from my Gojira-negligence and have probably played L'Enfant Sauvage more than any other album since I returned from my trip. Gojira are absolutely masterful metal songwriters. They have what on the surface may come across as a typical metal tone, but underneath lies some of the best written metal you could ever hope to find. Gojira put on a performance so good that it has already had a noticeable how I think about writing metal riffs on guitar.

Quick Review: Gojira produce an endless stream of incredible riffs and sound spectacular live



     I'd seen Mastodon once before my trip but managed to catch them twice during my month in Europe. GMM was the first of these two performances and I was initially skeptical. My first experience with Mastodon live was at Mayhem Fest in 2008 and their performance was less than stellar. Thankfully the sludge metal king-pins brought their "A" game to Belgium and completely turned around my opinion of their live performance. Mastodon often get praised as being one of the most dynamic and creative bands in metal and their live performance honed in on these strengths. Mastodon's three vocalists and huge musical range provide the audience with a diverse sonic experience and cover enough genres in one performance that the odds are everyone is going to enjoy at least one point in the set. 

     Mastodon merit their name and have one of the hugest live sounds imaginable. Sludgey riffage shook the ground and resonated the very core of the audience. While Mastodon failed to attract as large of a crowd as most main stage bands, their set comprised of largely new material was a wonder to behold. Personally songs where drummer Brann Dailor took over vocals tended to be my favorites, but all three vocalists delivered their own unique styles in spectacular fashion. Mastodon keep you guessing and are constantly exploring new aspects of their sound. In a live setting this variety of sounds results in a fairly stationary but captivated audience.

I did later get closer to the stage, but this is a nice shot of the two main stages

Quick Review: Relatively small and unenergetic crowd for a diverse and captivating performance



     Few bands deliver more of a European folk metal vibe than Swiss band Eluveitie. As far as creative instrumentation goes, have a dedicated Hurdy Gurdy player is a pretty unique choice. For those incapable of using wikipedia on their own: a Hurdy Gurdy is a hand cranked string instrument that fits into the wheel fiddle family. This utilization of strange folk instruments are what have given Eluveitie a step above the competition in the folk metal scene. Examples of the many other of the strange instruments the band has used over the years include: Gaita, Bodhran, Crumhorn, Irish Bouzouki, Hammered Dulcimer, Uilleann Pipes, etc.

    Eluveitie's live experience is just an all around good time. The band's use of folk instrumentation gives the band a constant cheery vibe to their metal soundscape.  However, despite the use of various odd instruments and frequent changing vocalists, I still found Eluveitie's performance to be rather one dimensional. They capture the folk sound incredibly well, but fail to provide much substance or songwriting to accompany the creative instrumentation. While I had gone into the performance quite excited, I found myself unexpectedly bored halfway through. The performance began to feel as if it were dragging on, and the words "last song" came as more of a relief rather than a disappointment. Ultimately it was a good set, but the band would be better experienced in shorter doses, as the folk instruments do lose their appeal after some time and you may find yourself realizing that the core of the band is a rather mediocre and unoriginal metal band, with any strange instrument thrown in.

Marquee tent was massive, there was still about twice as many people behind me as in front of me here

Quick Review: Mediocre metal with creative instrumentation thrown in, best experienced in small doses



    As day 2 began to draw to a close, the headliners began to take over the stages and do what they do best. While I had my sights set on heading to the side stage headliners, the final band I caught over at the main stage was american thrash metal band Trivium. I had been a pretty big Trivium fan in high school, but had been quite disappointed with the latest few albums. I had only managed to the end of Trivium's set at  Download, so I was thrilled that at GMM I'd have a chance to catch their performance in full. 

     Trivium took the stage with furious energy and instantly sparked the crowd into motion. With the speed of thrash and the power metalcore, Trivium finds a happy medium that works incredibly well...until the vocals come in. Matt certainly wasn't bad live, much of his performance was near album quality but reproducing the boring and mediocre work of their last two albums wasn't going to end up magically sounding better live. Trivium brought along one of the strangest and most extensive live set ups at GMM. While the giant logos on either side of the stage were pretty badass, the strange fake ice the band had throughout the stage was an odd choice. It's clear they are trying to add some props to fit in with their new album cover, but it came across as looking cheap and took away from the band's powerful performance. Trivium are extremely talented and play their music with great precision and energy. They also manage to not fall into the boring thrash metal performance category and don't simply stand in one place from 45 minutes. Trivium make great use of the entire stage and are constantly in motion. If you enjoy Trivium's new music I highly recommend catching them live as they do put on a great performance.

Quick Review: Amazing live energy and instrumentation, but nothing fixes how mediocre the new music is

The Dillinger Escape Plan

     Alright, so I already review TDEP live at Download, and have been thus far only making one review for bands I caught at two festivals, but if any band deserves two live reviews it's gotta be them. Mathcore pioneers The Dillinger Escape Plan were alternate headliners in the Metal Dome and I was to get a chance to see one of the best live acts in the world twice over the course of two weeks. 

     While the Metal Dome was a side stage, it out did every other stage in one way: it had a dozen huuge screens behind the stage that the bands could use to put on anything they'd like to add to their live show. TDEP decided to use the screens as massive strobe lights synced up to their music and it was freaking glorious. Since it was around 10pm by this point, it was dark outside and even darker inside a giant tent. Dillinger's music synced up to strobe lights and the otherwise darkness of the tent caused a feeling of absolute madness in the Metal Dome. Everything around you was moving to the oddest rhythms and the crowd became one with the music. 

This was at night, that is how bright these lights were

     Thankfully the band had additional lighting on stage so the band was still view-able at all times. TDEP erupted with insanity and chaos, and lived up to their name as one of the craziest live bands out there. It was also really cool to see that the set was so different from what I had seen at Download. The majority of the set list was the same, with two songs changed, but the performance itself was drastically different from the craziness I saw at Download. The Dillinger Escape Plan's live show has manage to climb to be considered possibly the best live on the planet and it is all done without a single scripted moment. They manage to whip-out a different bag of chaos each time and rely on genuine passion rather than pre-planned stunts. 

Quick Reivew: Witnessing TDEP live is an experience of a lifetime, and I got it twice in two weeks



     Day 2 ended off with Limp Biskit and Volbeat on the main stage, so I had my sights set on the Marquee stage where Carcass were closing out the night. Carcass are a classic British extreme metal band who have been a huge influence on modern Death Metal and extreme metal genres. While members of Carcass might be older then they once were, they still rock as hard as ever and delivered a top tier performance at GMM.

    Carcass has a dynamic and precise live tone that is a combination of two distinctly different guitar tones and is held together by a massive muddy bass tone. Carcass' two guitarists shreded faces and showed how the band has been able to survive the years and continue to be a top tier metal act. While the drumming and vocals are certainly key elements of Carcass' sound, there's no doubt that the band would be little without its distinctive riffing style. The british melodic death pioneers have a wonderful aura of not really caring about their performance yet still deliver an immense and powerful metal show. It's as if the band still has some of that 80s rockstar cockiness in them, but the band plays so damn well that they manage to pull it off.

Quick Review: They might be getting old, but they can still out-perform most metal bands today


That's all for Day 2,
Day 3 should be posted in the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading!

David, I'll see you when our paths should collide once again

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Album Review: Rasplyn - "Scenes Through the Magic Eye"

Today's review is going to be of some music a little left of center. No grindcore, no brutal slamming guttural death metal, no smash-everything-around-you hardcore rap. Today we're going to look at something droning, psychedelic, and transporting. Today, we're reviewing Rasplyn.

Rasplyn is the solo experimental music project of Carolyn O'Neill, who is quite the busy bee these days. Between featuring on other releases like John 3:16's 2012 release Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, co-founding the Logan Square New Music Ensemble, directing short films, and managing Resolution Digital Studios, Carolyn still manages to put out a great debut album under the Rasplyn moniker.

Now, don't let that album cover fool you. I judged the book by it's cover on this one and went in to the album thinking it would be some cheesy new age music with some ham fisted middle eastern influences. Little did I know, Scenes Through the Magic Eye would contain some of this year's most interesting sounds.

The album is mostly classical or orchestral pieces composed by Carolyn herself, each accompanied by here reverb-laden, stereo-panning vocals flowing in and out of the tracks. The album does have a middle eastern flair to it, but it is definitely more subdued than I thought it would be. These influences are precisely that, influences. Rasplyn isn't defined by middle eastern tones and melodies, but uses them to her advantage. The tracks more often than not have some droning strings in the background with everything else floating overtop, creating a sort of shoegaze effect. The closest pieces of music I have to compare Magic Eye to would be John 3:16's Visions and to a lesser extent, some of Sunn O)))'s experiments with classical instruments. If Visions transports me to an isolated pond at night, Magic Eye brings me to a temple at the break of twilight. Something ancient and well before any of our times, but still preserved. While it's been overgrown with vines and foliage, it still stands, monolithic in the distance. As the album continues I explore the temple, finding remnants and fragments of the peoples and cultures that have visited it before me. Some morbid, some less so, but all of them engrossing nonetheless.

Rasplyn's debut album is something that definitely surprised me in a good way. To me, her music should really be a part of a soundtrack to a movie or video game, with its massive production and transporting qualities. 

Scenes Through the Magic Eye comes out on Mythical Records on November 30th. You can check out Rasplyn on Bandcamp, Facebook, and on her personal page.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in court.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Graspop Metal Meeting: Day 1

Day 1:

Ghost (aka Ghost BC)

    I was a little late arriving at GMM, so by the time I had explored the festival grounds it was already time for Ghost to take the main stage. I'd dare to argue that Ghost are known more-so for their live show than their music, so I was quite excited to see what all the hype was about. To those who are unfamiliar with Ghost, the vocalist dresses as a Satanic pope and the rest of the band are "Nameless Ghouls" who all dress in identical disguises. While this type of theatrics is expected of Black Metal bands, Ghost uniquely brings these theatrics to a radio-friendly genre of metal. Ghosts combination of epic synth lines, metal riffing and creepy singing provides an interesting atmosphere that feels as though Black Metal and Rock had some strange bastard child. While this might sound like an insult, I loved Ghost's performance! The best moment of the performance came during the song Monstrance Clock, when the crowd chant "Come together, together as one, Come together, for lucifer's son" took over the festival grounds. The chant was so repetitive and simple that nearly every person at the festival joined in. I found myself in a giant circle of people hugging, dancing in a circle and chanting along. The ball of satanic happiness roamed around the crowd and absorbed everyone it ran into. By the end of the song there were hundreds of people in what I imagine just started with one friendly drunk guy hugging someone. This friendly satanic vibe is something that can only be found at a metal festival, and it was an amazing start to Graspop Metal Meeting.

Quick Review: Happy satanic music works unbelievably well at a metal festival



     Day 1 at GMM boasted an incredible lineup of main-stage bands, so I spent most of the day hoping back and forth between the two side-by-side main-stages. One of the many highlights of Day 1 was Brazilian metal pioneers Sepultura. Sepultura brought an immensely powerful sound and a ferocious live show to GMM and easily took the cake for one of the most intense and purely aggressive performances of Day 1. The band did a great job of making the crowd felt involved, with several crowd chants, good friendly conversation between songs, and countless calls for circle pits. Sepultura came across as great performers who still have immense passion in their live show, as well as being genuine, appreciative, and friendly people. It was tough NOT to love Sepultura's performance. It was aggressive enough to exponentially increase your desire to punch everything around you, and yet still maintained the friendly feel of a metal festival community. 

Quick Review: Relentless aggression and a thoroughly entertaining live show.



     From the moment I arrived at GMM I heard cries of "SLAYER" coming from all corners of the festival grounds. It had become an inside joke amongst the fans to chant for Slayer no matter what band was actually scheduled to play next. While I'm not a huge Slayer fan, I decided this was a truly unique opportunity that I was going to make the most of it. I headed over to the main stage well before the start of Slayer's set and got myself as close to the front as possible. While the rain had begun to fall upon Graspop, there was an electric buzz among the fans waiting pressed up against the barrier. The cries for Slayer grew louder by the minute, slowly overcoming the sound system and the poor band that was slotted to play before Slayer. By the time Slayer finally took the stage the rain was pouring down and the crowd exploded into festival-rain-poncho filled mosh pits. 

     I caught Slayer live twice on my Europe trip and concluded that the enjoyment of their live show entirely depends on how much you get into it. Those fans who sit way back and simply watch will likely come out of their live set thinking it was a mediocre performance and was quite boring to watch. However those crazy fuckers who dare get right up front will all tell you with absolute unanimity that Slayer is one of the best metal bands to catch live ever. Slayer has minimal movement around the stage and adds very little to the stage show to keep on-lookers entertained. The key to enjoying them live is to dare to go into the pits and enjoy the absolute madness that takes place within. I spent the majority of the set in giant circle pits, and being thrown from one mosh pit to another. It was a perfect experience for those who desire to get a little nuts during metal shows. Slayer ended their set with Angel of Death dedicated to their late guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and left the crowd exhausted yet wanting more.

Quick Review: If you enjoy mosh pits, Slayer has one of the best live shows imaginable



     In one of the most insane back-to-back performances any metalhead could ever dream of, Slayer was immediately followed by both Behemoth and Opeth playing on different stages. While I was disappointed I couldn't see both, I had planned out my trip well enough to know that I could catch Opeth at Download (and miss Behemoth) and catch Behemoth at GMM. While for much of Behemoth's extensive discography I had been quite indifferent towards to Polish Black/Death Metal gods, their recent album The Satanist had got me hooked. While I lacked energy after moshing my way through 45 minutes of Slayer, Behemoth is famous for having quite the theatrical live show, so I once again got myself as close to the front as possible to experience it in all its glory.

     Behemoth had so much going on in their live show I genuinely can't remember how it all started. I do however distinctly remember the blood, the satanic crosses on fire, and the band changing outfits more often than they changed guitars. Behemoth are far from the purest Black Metal band out there, but they are certainly one of the faces of the genre. Their live show does a fantastic job of displaying what is so entertaining about Black Metal. There was an aura of genuine evil cast across the fields of Dessel during their performance, and enough fire, blood, and religious mockery to make any metal fan happy. To my pleasant surprise their set consisted almost entirely of material off The Satanist, nearly playing the album front-to-back, but swapping out some of the less memorable tracks for old favorites. Opening and closing their set with the book-ends on the new album was an incredible live experience with the crowd getting fully involved in the ending speech of O Father O Satan O Sun. Behemoth's theatrical live show has so much to offer and was easily the highlight of Day 1.

Quick Review: Incredibly entertaining theatrical live show with album quality sound


Avenged Sevenfold

     This was now my second time watching A7X on this Europe trip but the first time I decided to watch their set start to finish and give the California rockers a chance. A few things stood out right away in their performance. Firstly there was the stage show itself. There is clearly an insane amount of money put into attempting to give A7X a great live show as almost everything you could possibly add to the stage show was there. Banner: check. Screens: check. Insane amounts of LEDs: check. Fire: check. Fireworks: check. That strange stage design that allows member to walk around above/behind the drummer: check. Avenged Sevenfold throws so many flashing lights and fireworks into their live show that it's enough to keep an toddler with ADHD entertained. The second thing that struck me about their live show was the visible intoxication. While there's nothing wrong with getting liquored up before a performance, the fact I could spot it from 100 yards away starts to say something about the bands attitude towards accurately playing their music. I'm primarily speaking of Synister Gates in this case, who both looked like he might fall over, messed up frequently, and did the honour of providing drunken backing vocals. Third thing that struck me about their live show: Matt Shadows is perfect live. I may love to hate on A7X but I will say absolutely nothing against their front-man, he killed it. His vocal style might not be for everyone, but when it comes to performing it live, the man is truly talented.

     Avenged Sevenfold's performance did sort of piss me off for one reason in particular though. Every second of their stage show is pre-programmed, and pre-scripted. It's pretty sad when it gets to the point that in every city you perform you deliver the same speeches in between the same songs and hardly change a word. I understand these bands are constantly touring and it may be hard to change things up but this is what differentiates great live performers from the rest. Overall Avenged Sevenfold wasn't bad, and their fans loved the performance, but for me the whole thing felt very in-organic and stale.

Quick Review: Stellar live vocals, but drunken slip ups were the only not scripted element of the show 



     Day 1 was closed out by Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton. While i'm not much of a Power Metal fan, catching a Power Metal band at a major European metal festival was on my bucket list. There's just something about the genre that makes it inherently so much better in a live environment. The genre thrives on the European festival scene and massive festival crowds.

     Sabaton did not disappoint my power metal live expectations, putting on a great show filled with endless crowd sing-a-longs, shred-tastical guitar solos and songs about war. The power metal experience is a metal experience that felt more about friendship and brotherhood rather than anything aggressive. While I did feel a little out of place since I didn't know any of the words, I still had a great time watching Sabaton. Their stage show was unique and impressive. There were hundreds of lights to illuminate EVERYTHING, the drum set was a fucking tank (literally, it could even shoot things), and the band invited random fans on stage to participate in a Swedish feast. Sabaton's front man did a great job keeping the crowd entertained and cheery with his stories, speeches and jokes. I got sloshed on Belgian beers while watching a power metal band perform to tens of thousands of fans and had an awesome end to Day 1.

Quick Review: Everything you could want out of a power metal live show, plus a drum set that is also a tank


Thus ends the list of memorable performances from Day 1,
Thanks for reading!
Day 2 comes next week,

David, I'll see you when I hide in a tree outside your window.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Album Review: Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2

It's been over a month since my last full on album review, which I think is kinda funny considering I started this blog by reviewing nothing but music. Either way, fuccbois beware, because this next album is about to go twin hype and do a dance on your wind pipe.

Run the Jewels have been my favorite rap group since they dropped their debut album, Run The Jewels last year. Consisting of two of my favorite rappers, one of whom is also my favorite producer, this is a duo that can't be beat in my books. Consisting of the odd combo of southern rapper Killer Mike and New York rapper/ producer El-P, this is one of those instances where two very different people come together and make something greater than the sum of their parts.

Run The Jewels 2 is a natural extension of last year's debut, bringing in more serious and socially conscious lyrics more akin to those in RAP Music and Cancer 4 Cure. There's religious imagery out the ass, and lots of content calling out police brutality, corrupt political and judicial systems, and racism in Western culture. Don't worry, though, everything that makes Run The Jewels the most metal rap group is still there. Between some of their most violent and raunchy lyrics and El bumping out some of his most aggressive (and most addictive) beats yet, this album doesn't show the duo softening up anytime soon.

Another thing RTJ has stepped their game up on is who and how they use their features. Rage Against The Machine's Zack De La Rocha, Foxygen's Diane Coffee, Three 6 Mafia's Gangsta Boo, Blink-182's Travis Barker (!), and Beyoncé's Boots all contribute monster verses, haunting hooks and melodies, or in Barker's case badass drum fills to RTJ2.De La Rocha and Gangsta Boo are the two standout performances on the album for me, although Boots cuts a close third. De La Rocha is actually sampled and looped in the beat to "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)", and Gangsta Boo drops one of the raunchiest verses I've heard, which is twice as powerful following Killer Mike and El-P's hypersexual lines in "Love Again".

I know I'm a huge fanboy and I hype Run The Jewels a lot, but this is by far my favorite album of the year so far. It floored me after my first listen, and every time I listen through it again, I pick up on more nuances in El-P's production, or catch more clever wordplay in everyone's lyrics. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

You can get RTJ2 for free (that's right, FREE) off of Run The Jewels' website. Catch Run The Jewels on tour this month, and if you see them on their Toronto date, come say hi (and buy me a beer)!

That`s all for now, folks!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cinema Terrible: 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon 2014 (Part 2)

By now, we're almost into hour 6 of our marathon. Let's keep the pace up.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Dir. Neveldine/Taylor)

I was so pumped for this movie for two reasons. The first, that Nicolas "The Cage" Cage was starring and that it was directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, both of whom directed Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage under the name of Neveldine/Taylor. For those of you who don't know, Crank 2 is one of my favorite action movies, and Ghost Rider: SoV follows suite in terms of cinematography and (almost) keeps up in pacing. Spirit of Vengeance is way better than the first Ghost Rider, because of how reserved the original was. With Neveldine/Taylor at the helm, this sequel has the direction it needs to be a schlockfest of a movie. Ghost Rider: SoV has got to be one of the better movies we saw over the marathon.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime anyone says "Devil" or "Rider".
2. Anytime Nic Cage turns into the Ghost Rider.
3. Anytime Ghost Rider ghost rides a new ride.
4. Finish your drink during the greatest interrogation scene of all time.

Superbabies: Baby Geniueses 2 (Dir. Bob Clark)

I can't tell you what happened in this movie. Not that it was too hard to follow or that we weren't paying attention, but because we spent this hour and a half mourning Jon Voight's career. Voight, known for a few little movies called Heat, Mission: Impossible, and Deliverance, officially hit rock bottom here. I don't know if it was part of a contract that he had to act in this movie, but this movie is just dreadful. I would say that Superbabies is on par with Foodfight! in how painful it is to watch. While Foodfight! had it's moments that stood out, and had terrible animation to make fun of, this movie had almost no redeeeming qualities. You've been warned.

The Drinking Game

1. Drink so that you only see the bottom of the glass instead of subjecting your eyes to this horror. Refill your drink whenever you can see the movie through the bottom of the glass.

Tammy and the T-Rex (Dir. Stewart Raffill)

If there's any movie to cleanse your pallet after Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, it's Tammy and the T-Rex. Starring none other than Denise Richards and the late Paul Walker. This movie is a cinematic anomaly. I have no idea why this was made, or who thought it was a good idea. All I do know is, this movie is the biggest mishmash of ideas, themes, and tones, and it's amazing. If you've ever wanted to see Denise Richards fall in love with a giant mechanical T-Rex that's controlled by Paul Walker's brain (and let's face it, who doesn't), then you need to see this movie right now. No, seriously. You can. Right here, right now.

The Drinking Game

1. Drink every time you question a creative decision made by the writers or director.
2. Drink every time you see the T-Rex's floppy sock arms slide in on screen.
3. Finish all you alcohol once the credits start rolling, because holy Christ in heaven, what the fuck is that last scene?!

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you last Sunday.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cinema Terrible: 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon 2014 (Part 1)

Here I sit in the aftermath of this past weekend's 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon. For an unknown reason, my friends and I enjoy suffering through terrible, terrible movies, and we've made an annual tradition of participating in a 24 hour marathon of schlock, bad acting, and awkward 80's nudity. That's 24 straight hours of movies, with the only rules being that as soon as a movie ends, the next must begin and that somebody must be watching the TV at all times.

Since my friends and I are all old fogies now, we didn't play many of the drinking games that are associated with movies of this ilk. For you youngsters out there who really want to party, I will include any drinking games I know alongside each movie's review. However, be warned, if you want to play with drinking games, your marathon will probably go like this:

1. Start your first movie. Yeah! Drinking!
2. Keep drinking.
3. No, seriously, you don't get a break here. Keep drinking.
4. Re-evaluate your life choices as you forcefully gulp down your 13th beer in 30 minutes and realize that you have twenty-three and a half more hours of this.

Naturally, all of us fell asleep at one point or another (except for friend and fellow blogger Fyfelife), but every part of every movie did get watched, and that's all that matters. This was our second ever marathon, running from exactly 1:02 PM Saturday, October 25th until 1:07 PM Sunday, October 26th. We burned our way through 15 movies, 3 XL pizzas, maybe about $100 worth of Bulk Barn candy, and most of our sanity. This is our story.

The Room (Dir. Tommy Wiseau)

One of the triumvirate of movies dubbed "the worst movies ever made", The Room is a disasterpiece of a drama. Written, directed, and starring the enigmatic and eccentric Tommy Wiseau, this movie is about a young couple, Johnny and Lisa, who are to be engaged soon. Unfortunately for Johnny, his bride-to-be is cheating on him with his best friend! That's it. That's the entire plot of the movie. For what The Room lacks in exciting plot, it more than makes up for in terrible dialogue and acting, usually delivered by Mr. Wiseau himself. I mean, seriously, this man is on a whole other level. How this movie was made is a mystery to me (a common theme among the movies watched), but I'm glad it exists. This is the movie that first got me into bad movies, and to this day it still holds a special place in my heart.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Lisa is referred to as "hot" or "sexy".
2. Anytime Mark is referred to as Johnny's best friend.
3. Anytime Lisa says she doesn't love Johnny anymore.
4. Anytime Johnny says "Oh hai, [Character]!"
5. Anytime you see an establishing shot of San Francisco.

Troll 2 (Dir. Claudio Fragasso)

The second of our trinity of infamous so-bad-they're-good movies, Troll 2 is an unrelated sequel to Troll, which I have not watched. Also, see that cover off the left of the screen? That isn't the main kid in the movie. That isn't the troll in the movie. In fact, there aren't actually any trolls in Troll 2. Mind blown, right? Troll 2 is actually about a country town of goblins disguised as people that terrorize a young family from the city so that they can eat them. Before they eat them, they need to turn them into half-plant-half-human because Goblins are apparently vegetarian and can't do basic fraction math.

Troll 2 is incredibly fun to watch, and unlike most B-movies, there is very little downtime or painful sections to sit through. Grab some popcorn, a double-decker balogna sandwich, and strap in for the ride of your life.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Grandpa Seth wizards the shit out of the scene like a motherfucking boss (Spoiler: He never does it any other way).
2. Anytime you see the one extra derpy-faced goblin.
3. Anytime you see green goo/ food with green goo on it.
4. Anytime you get lost or confused by the what's happening on screen.
5. Finish your drink at the pivotal "OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOODDDDDDD" and "Popcorn" scenes.

Foodfight! (Dir. Lawrence Kasanoff)

This movie. This freaking movie. This movie has been blacklisted from my household because of how terrible it is. It's easily the worst animated movie of all time, and somehow managed to hire on one of the most star studded casts of all time. Between Charlie "Tiger's Blood" Sheen, Hilary Duff, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, and Eva Longoria, you'd think there'd be some redeeming qualities to this movie, but there aren't. This movie is painful. If you want to get the gist of the movie without losing your ability to smile or feel joy ever again, watch JonTron's excellent review of it.

The Drinking Game

1. Lie down.
2. Try not to cry.
3. Cry.

So there we are. We've begun our odyssey through 24 hours of terrible movies. I hope you're prepared. Next time, we cover the surprisingly awesome Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, the unsurprising terrible Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and the heart-wrenchingly disappointing Samurai Cop.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in hell.