I knew I'd forget at least one record for my Top 5 list. I don't know if I'd place them near the spire of the list, but I should have mentioned Veruca Salt's Ghost Notes and Black Breath's Slaves Beyond Death. There. I feel better now.
About a week until the film list. Of course, I'm allocating vacation days to myself. Don't rush me.
About a week until the film list. Of course, I'm allocating vacation days to myself. Don't rush me.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 4:24 PM
Well, I managed to do it. I've narrowed the field down to five (and a half...I can do that). While preparing for this piece, I realized that there weren't many records from the last calendar year that I LOVED. Also, this was a strange year for me, from a musical perspective. Because of our financial situation, I haven't been buying much music, and it's vexing as hell. I haven't been buying much of anything. That's not to say that I haven't heard a bunch of stuff; I have. Nonetheless, I haven't guzzled a considerable amount of long players that demanded repeated spins. Just my two pennies.
Let's start at the top. Because?
1. Alkaloid - The Malkuth Grimoire ~ This band includes within its ranks members of Obscura and Dark Fortress. To me, it feels like the natural successor to the former's Omnivium. There is plenty of Obscura happening here, which is an orgasmic thing for a chick like me. I obsess over melodic, progressive death metal, and this is a prime example of dat shit. Every instrument is played with stringent precision. The drumming (as contributed by Hannes Grossman) is goddamn binary, and I'm not 100% clear on what "binary" means. It doesn't matter! As for guitars, scope the solos on "Carbon Phrases" and "Alter Magnitudes." Why can't more extreme bands figure out that aimless mongrel shredding doesn't cut it these days?
2. Chelsea Wolfe - Abyss ~ I got turned onto this pale goddess a couple of years ago, and I've been addicted ever since. There may be extant restraining orders. Just kidding! Nervous laughter! In my churlish opinion, Abyss is Chelsea's magnum opus. She keeps topping herself and finding ways to broaden her sonic base without striking insincere chords. This is easily her heaviest record yet, piling sunken doom riffs atop sparse electronic beats and cantering sounds that fill the room. And then you have Chelsea's fragile voice hovering over it all acting as the ribbon that ties the music together. Abyss was so fucking close to being numero uno. It's almost a tie.
3. Faith No More - Sol Invictus ~ I'll come right out and say it. I have problems with this album. For starters, it's too fucking short (we only waited eighteen years, guys), and there are a couple of tracks that I skip outright. So why is it my third favorite compact disc of 2015? Because the quality material is so FNM, it hurts. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, but this doesn't sound like a group of fortysomethings. Sol Invictus could have been released in the mid-90's. "Separation Anxiety" and "Matador" make me feel the way that "Caffeine" and "Ricochet" made me feel when I first heard them. Honestly, I didn't think that was possible. Feel the feels!
4. Unleash the Archers - Time Stands Still ~ I've scribbled a bit about this Canadian collective on this here site, so I won't burble into the night. Having said that, you need to know that this was the best speed metal release of the year. But it can also be considered a fantastic power metal release. And yes, death metal is sprinkled betwixt the excavations. Vocalist Brittany Hayes/Slayes is the star of the show. She fucking defines "powerhouse," hitting notes that murder bats (as of this writing, I lack forensic evidence, but the court of public opinion finds Ms. Hayes guilty of premeditated bat murder). Her Halford-esque screams will induce labor, whether you're pregnant or not.
5. Horrendous - Anareta ~ I'm actually jamming this one as I type. I might prefer 2014's Ecdysis, but this is a vigorous follow-up. If you're not privy, these Americans (split between Pennsylvania and South Carolina) ply their trade with old school death metal. However, there is a kicker. The tunes are technical and super melodic. Think Pestilence or latter day Death. There isn't a word for how catchy "Ozymandias" and "Polaris" happen to be. I do have issues with the production, but I love Horrendous anyway. Despite wearing their influences on their sleeve(s), they have a fresh identity, and they are completely unaffected by trends. Fuck. Yes.
94. Leviathan - Scar Sighted ~ This is my #6, but I wanted to give it a healthy mention. If we're talking "one-man black metal" projects, Leviathan takes the red velvet cake. Wrest (a.k.a. Jef Whitehead) does everything by himself. That's nothing short of phenomenal, as this album is a dense colossus of intricate nightmare bebop. Now, when I say "bebop," I mean "suicide music." The ambient sections are scary.
Here's a quick tally of other 2015 records to engage...
Xibalba - Tierra y Libertad (hardcore/death metal)
Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed (heavier than Satan)
Turnstile - Nonstop Feeling (alternative hardcore, very 90's)
Spylacopa - Parallels (experimental hard rock)
Gruesome - Savage Land (old school death metal)
Dolven - Navigating the Labyrinth (acoustic black metal)
Violet Cold - Desperate Dreams (poppy black metal)
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 2:20 AM
My mehtulz Top 5 list will be posted towards the end of the week, so I thought I'd machinate a blood capsule in the meantime. Motherfucking 976-EVIL, motherfuckers. It's not just a sweet Deftones song. No, it's a supernatural slasher directed by Robert Englund in between Freddy engagements. I'm wishing that he jumped behind the camera more often. Not because I can't stand to look at the guy, but because this is a stylish little picture! I loved the lighting, and man-o-man, there are a handful of cool angles that kept my pupils diverted. Obviously, the film is about a demonic telephone line. How does it work? Um, evil! That's how!
Stephen Geoffreys (yes, Evil Ed and the gaping star of innumerable gay pornos, my favorite being Halfway House Hunks) is Hoax, an awkward teen who is bullied to shit. His performance is topflight, but I didn't quite understand Hoax's...mental constitution? He's depicted as slow early on, a bit "simple" even. And yet, he seems "normal" (untoward choice of words, my apologies) later in the narrative, and it's before he becomes possessed by The Bell South Demon. Rotary joke! Anyway, the first half of 976-EVIL is a rollicking wedge of 80's horror. The second half doesn't suck outright, but it isn't nearly as fulfilling. Certain characters are introduced that serve no purpose whatsoever. Screenwriters Brian Helgeland and Rhet Topham should have stuck with the dynamic leads who anchored the exposition.
Overall, this flick is worth a Saturday afternoon rental. I'd say Halfway House Hunks is a judgment call.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:34 PM
Since this is no longer a weekly feature, I just post cool album covers as I come across them. This one made me do a triple take. The band is Big End Bolt. Would you believe that they play brutal, fetus-crunching death metal? I know. Shocked me, too.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:50 AM
I get tense around the end of a year. I know the time is coming...the time for bloggers and website-havers to compile best-of lists from the year that just crapped in front of them. I'm terrible at this! I hate ranking shit! I know I don't have to rank them per se, but I do enjoy separating the baubles from the husks. That's not a real saying, so please don't use it in public. I'm embarrassed. Great, now I'm crying. GREAT, now I'm shitting!
Another quandary is the field of candidates. For example, I didn't listen to every rock/metal album of 2015. And there was a jumble-crag of quality releases, a veritable mesa of mondo music. How do I narrow it down, gang? Fucklebean! That's not a real expression, so again, please don't use it. Oh, God. Here come the tears followed by the bowel munitions!
Okay, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to post two lists before the eve of the new year: A top five (I can't handle ten) for music and a top five for horror films. I'll probably hit music first to give myself time to watch more of 2015's genre fare. Could someone hold my hand?
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:16 PM
Oh, you love it when I get foreign, don't you? You love it when I get obscure and use the Spanish poster for no goddamn reason. Actually, there is a reason. 1974's The Loreley's Grasp (a.k.a. When the Screaming Stops) was shot in Spain by a real-life Spaniard. I'm speaking of Amando de Ossorio, he of Blind Dead fame. No one ever talks about his contributions to the genre outside of the Blind Dead series, which is a flagrant shame. I dig the Templar Knights as much as the next pantaloon, but his other experiments in terror deserve a day in the midnight sun. Most of them are on DVD/Blah-ray. If you can't find Grasp, try on 1975's Demon Witch Child (a.k.a. The Possessed). You're welcome. And yes, Ossorio's films have multiple titles. Get with the times.
This baby feels Italian. To be specific, it feels like a giallo, but it's a monster mash. It combines the "creature suit'' horseplay of the 50's with the dubbing and bloodletting of Opera or Deep Red. Personally, I would describe it as The Monster of Piedras Blancas...if it were directed by Dario Argento. So yes, it's pretty cool. Something is stalking the beautiful students at a boarding school in Germany. There are whispers of a local legend, a sea siren who transmutes into a scurfy, furfuraceous beast when the moon is full. Loosely based on real myths (now that's one fuck of an oxymoron), the story is somewhat refreshing, seeing as how the villain is neither a vampire nor a ghost. Nor a dude!
Surprisingly, there isn't much nudity on display. We see boobs, but only when they are being ripped asunder. It's not a pleasant sight, folks. The women are stunning, but unfortunately for them, they are fucking dolts. A bodyguard is hired to patrol the area and he gives the lodgers of the academy very basic instructions. VERY basic. Just lock your doors, lock your windows and don't flap your wings outside at night. Maybe it was simply "don't go outside at night." Whatever. My point is, dear reader, a distressing majority of the apprentices (?) choose to ignore these safety measures. I get that characters need to die, but find a more creative way for the Loreley to probe the institution. Know what I mean? Like, try harder.
Furfuraceous! Sorry, I love that word, and I'm going to jam it into as many sentences as possible. The definition? Fuck off; you have an Internet connection. Use it. Bitch. Give me your Wi-Fi password! Insert segue here...the dialogue is awful. The only players I found to be inviting were Old Professor and Blind Violinist (traditional German names, I guess). Of course, they are both mangled. The gore effects are winsome. Slightly shitty, yes, but once you witness a beach lizard in a hoodie literally break a man's heart, you stop caring about the superficial. Okay, it's a robe. No, it's a hoodie. It's a fucking hoodie, and I dig it. I dig The Loreley's Grasp, too. No one will agree, but in my opinion, it tops the first two Blind Dead chapters.
Calm down. I realize that this is not a seamless shocker, but it does gallop a bit quicker than a Templar Knight. Undead Robert Z'Dar says, "I use moisturizer daily to keep my chin from becoming furfuraceous. There, I used it in a sentence. Now give me my fucking money."
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:44 PM
Just the other day, I was mind-drifting on all of the dead rock stars that I love. It occurred to me that it's AMAZING that Scott Weiland isn't dead yet. And now, this happens. Fuck. I have sentimental ties to STP's 90's output. Core was one of the first albums I legit owned. I first borrowed it from my cousin and immediately loved every track, even the cursory instrumental. Of course, Purple is flawless. I've heard "Big Empty" too many times, but who cares? Again, every track is immediate and catchy as sin.
The only other STP record I can vouch for loving is No. 4, which I'm listening to as I write this panegyric. You have to give Scott this much; he gave his demons a fierce battle. The media pegged him as the next grunge corpse (at least) fifteen years ago. It's frustrating to read how many times he was able to get clean only to relapse a year or two later. Really fucking frustrating.
Thanks for the music, Scott. Rest in peace.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:40 PM