10/31/20

Fight the Power (Outage)

Fuck!  Due to Hurricane Zeta, we have been without the Internet for days (I'm at a relative's house right now).  I have no decent way to create content for the site.  And it's Halloween, so that really pisses me off.  We haven't been given an ETA by our ISP.  Could still be days out from WiFi, so FML!  Sorry, gang.  I'll try to enjoy the holiday anyway.  After all, Halloween will keep on keeping on, right through Christmas if you're doing it right.  Skullfuck a pumpkin and watch Spookies for me!

10/27/20

A Band: Autumn


I can't believe it has taken me this long to point floodlights at Autumn.  Hell, I even created a column for the express purpose of exposing cool bands to inquisitive eyes.  Better late than never, I suppose.  Autumn is a Dutch collective that deals in atmospheric rock.  I've seen them described as "goth rock," but those predilections are muted in comparison to the Cold Caves of the world (I don't know; Revolver is telling me that Cold Cave is a modern goth band).  To be honest, I'd put them in the same bin as Soen and Katatonia.  They have released six albums to date.  I have heard three of them in full.  I can explain.

In 2009, Marjan Welman stepped in as frontwoman, replacing the competent Nienke de Jong.  Autumn's pre-Marjan period is awfully goshdarn similar to The Gathering's pre-Anneke period.  There were a couple of middling death/doom records, and no, I'm not jumping to spin those black circles.  They did release a long player with Nienke I want to check out by the name of My New Time.  It was composed in a style much closer to that of modern day Autumn.  But that's not why I'm featuring them.  For that honor, you can thank Marjan, the best fucking female vocalist to come out of the Netherlands since the vaunted Vatnier Greslev.

In a word, she's flawless.  Marjan, not Vatnier (the latter doesn't exist).  It's not her range.  She doesn't excoriate your scaffolding with high notes.  She doesn't growl.  She doesn't do the thing where she suffocates a line with endless, useless runs.  What does she do?  She sings the fucking song perfectly.  Every note is where it should be and that extends to every pause, every falsetto flourish, every spell of vibrato she casts onto the listener...ellipsis period.  It's just so refreshing to hear a great singer perform great songs.

Speaking of which, 2009's Altitude is teeming with crackin' tunes.  You simply need to hear it.  I've lost all objectivity, as I've heard it a stunning number of times.  No lie, I've played Altitude more than any other album in the past two years.  2011's Cold Comfort is far from being a slouch, though it doesn't hold an ornamental flambeau to its predecessor.  Eight years later (!), Autumn blessed us with Stacking Smoke, one hell of a comeback opus, if you can call it that.  It's a smooth, melodic potable.  I recommend hitting up "The Phantom Limb" and "Where the River Ends."

Basically, I recommend any project that involves the talents of Marjan Welman.  I don't mean to disregard everyone else in the band.  But fuck those guys.

10/24/20

Rassle Inn #10


I wanted some degree of distance from the segment I'll be discussing today.  I wanted objectivity.  In truth, I still don't have enough distance to reach a final conclusion, but at least I know how I feel about it.  What the hell is "it"?  Oh, you know.  This past Wednesday, MJF and Chris Jericho sat down for a lavish steak dinner at a posh, fashionable...um, studio lot to negotiate the former's proposed entry into The Inner Circle.  Out of nowhere, they broke into song.  This was "Brian and Stewie" territory.  There were dancers, euphuistic bouts of choreography, and roving set pieces.

Divisive?  That's an understatement.  You either loved it or hated it.  Of course, I say that, and yet, I can see both sides of the donnybrook.  Pro-wrestling is driven by money.  If the quarter-hour draws ratings, it was successful.  Period.  I'm prone to believing that next week's ratings will tell the tale.  Wednesday's demographics only tell me that the show was received; they don't tell me how the show was received.  You are free to call it amateurish comedy.  You are free to call it puke-flavored bullshit.  You are free to call it whatever you want, but if it proves to be a hit with fans, you cannot call it a failure.

For the time being, what is my opinion?  I doubt that you asked, but I'll go ahead and tell you.  I think it was good.  And bad.  Good because, well, I can't say that it wasn't entertaining.  The bit was streamlined and well-performed.  Who knew that MJF was a gifted crooner?  Christ, that guy is talented.  While he was nearly blown (up) to smithereens, Jericho knew how to play his part.  Bad because, well, it's a rasslin' program.  Just before the act in question, Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston sold the shit out of their feud.  They have a match coming up at Full Gear.  It's a fight based on grit, nerve, and realism.  Would you apply any of those nouns to the dulcet routine that directly followed their video package?

Look, I dig Dynamite, but as a cohesive whole, it's tone-deaf.  They are trying to make everyone happy.  Clearly, that's not going to happen.  Narrow your scope.  Focus on taking one stylistic approach and do it better than the competition.  NOTE: When I refer to "the competition," I'm not only referring to WWE.  Trounce every promotion on the planet.  So narrow your scope and AIM FOR THE UNIVERSE!  You know what I mean.

In summation, I didn't despise it, but try not to turn it into a habit of whimsy.  It's something brand new for the industry, so it might attract new eyeballs to AEW.  Armbars crossed!

10/21/20

TYPE O NEGATIVE - Life is Killing Me


I distinctly remember when Life is Killing Me was diffused to the masses.  If I'm being honest, I can't say that I'm 100% unbiased, as I have some scrumptious memories tied to this fucker.  It received spins during October, for one.  The fact that it's one of my "Halloween records" automatically gives it brownie plaudits, the kind of stroke that the other Type O opuses (that doesn't sound right) lack.  Plus, "(We Were) Electrocute" appears on the Freddy Vs. Jason soundtrack.  I'll never understand why they didn't use "IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That)" instead, what with its driving refrain of "If you don't kill me/I'm gonna have to kill you."  It's only perfect!?

This album was a breath of fresh, somewhat buoyant air after the despondent World Coming Down.  I shouldn't classify it as happy; no Type O disc is happy.  Nevertheless, it's happier than its predecessor.  Compared to "'White Slavery" and "Everything Dies," it's goddamn chipper.  It does have its sinkholes of abjection, but on the whole, it's underscored with a more consequential nip of the band's black humor.  Each track has its own flavor, so I feel compelled to eat this elephant one spoonful at a time.  That's from a joke.  How do you eat an elephant?  With a spoon.  No, wait.  I think I fucked it up.  I've ruined everything.  Either way, it has nothing to do with a disastrous A Perfect Circle album.

1. "Thir13een" ~ Basically an intro.  It cribs the interstitial theme from The Munsters, so yay.

2. "I Don't Wanna Be Me" ~ This was the first single, and I must say, it smacked me in the face the first time I heard it.  A fast Type O tune well under four minutes?  Bracing.  Kenny offers a killer solo.  An atypical song, but it still wore the trappings of classic TON.

3. "Less Than Zero (<0)" ~ Here, the music gives itself room to breathe.  It's a little more melodic and the arrangement is more adventurous.  The riffs are riffy!

4. "Todd's Ship Gods (Above All Things)" ~ The lyrics are rather poignant.  They attest to the diversity of the album, at least in terms of topics.  Musically, I'm not a fan.  I find it to be bland.  By the way, I typed that last sentence with my nose pointed to the heavens.

5. "I Like Goils" ~ It's funny; I doubt that even Steele would write this song today.  It's still amusing, though.

6. "...A Dish Best Served Coldly" ~ A rad fucking jam.  It contains everything from swampy riffage to tempo shifts (I enjoy tempo shifts) to...um, other cool shit.  Just trust me.

7. "How Could She?" ~ Great chorus and shredtastic lead breaks.  Dude, Kenny Hickey is an underrated guitarist.  Anyhow, it's fun singing along to the verses.  Judy Jetsoooooooon.

8. "Life is Killing Me" ~ Ah, the epic title track.  I'm surprised that it wasn't released to radio.  It's a heavy stomper that comes equipped with incisive lyrics about assisted suicide.  I believe it was the brilliant philanthropist Frank Reynolds who said of doctors: "They're all shit."

9. "Nettie" ~ A moving number memorializing Steele's mother.  Exceptional.

10. "(We Were) Electrocute" ~ Audaciously poppy.  While it fits on this set of canticles, I deem it skippable.  TON and major keys don't mix, in my opinion.

11. "IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That)" ~ Jesus, this is going to be a nightmare to proofread.  Huh?  Oh, right.  I mentioned this one earlier.  I dig.

12. "Angry Inch" ~ I've never seen Hedwig, but this is an energetic song that virtually blackmails you into tapping your toes.

13. "Anesthesia" ~ My pick for best fucking ditty.  Almost twenty years later, it has the same effect on me.  That climactic wail...son of a bitch!

14. "Drunk in Paris" ~ A harmless instrumental.  Not much to say.

15. "The Dream is Dead" ~ My pick for best fucking riff (the opening riff, that is).  A rock-solid denouement.

Overall, Look What the Cat Dragged In is Poison's fourth worst recording, not counting splits and compilations.

    

10/20/20

Goddamn Baseball


Just wanted to let you know that I'm working on a muzak review, but it's taking a little longer than I would like.  I'm breaking it down track-by-track.  Plus, goddamn baseball is getting in the way.  My Braves were SO CLOSE to eliminating the noxious, repellent Dodgers.  I don't mind the Rays, so I'm rooting for them to dismantle those blue-balled...erg, there is no noun insulting enough.  Anyway, I'll post the review tomorrow night or whenever it's done writing itself.

I really, really dislike the Dodgers.

10/16/20

Album Cover of the Whatever


I've always been interested in the career of one Rogga Johansson.  Well over a decade ago, I discovered Ribspreader, his badass death metal project.  To be more specific, it's Swedish death metal.  By definition, all of the death metal that Rogga propagates comes out as Swedish death metal, as Rogga is - you guessed it - Swedish.  Ribspreader is prototypically Swedish.  Everything from the buzzsaw guitar tone to the collar-rattling d-beats screams Swedish.  And I'm sick of typing "Swedish."

Anyway, this squib isn't about Ribspreader; it's about the righteous cover of Edge of the Abyss, the third outing from Johansson & Speckmann.  At first, I thought I was looking at a demon blessed (?) with a demon dick.  Now I can see that it's a demon snaked in a curvilinear corkscrew demon.  The whole ordeal is eye-catching (I'm in favor of pooling white with purple).  As an aside, buy Edge of the Abyss yesterday if you want your vital organs lanced by brutal-as-fuck death metal.  I'm sick of typing "death metal."

PS ~ Rogga Johansson is currently in 31 active bands.

PS II ~ Speckmann is Paul Speckmann of Master fame.

10/15/20

Blood Capsule #101

NIGHT CREATURES (1962)

We are in Hammer territory, so this film's pertinence to a genre fansite is warranted.  However, a word of warning seems befitting; Night Creatures isn't quite a horror treat.  Rest assured, it's a treat, but none of its devilry is supernatural in the slightest.  A royal covey of servicemen are sent to a marsh to monitor the rumored smuggling of alcohol and other vendibles.  It proves difficult to burrow down to the truth, what with the rector (a sharp Peter Cushing) having an answer for everything and advances in the inquest being obstructed by appearances of phantoms in the wetlands.  Are these bog ghosts genuine articles?  If so, are their horses--I'm an idiot.  I already spoiled the mundane nature of the supposed "phantoms."

It's okay!  You can still watch Night Creatures and enjoy it as much as I did.  I alluded to Cushing's shipshape performance, but the rest of the cast is uniformly sans pareil.  You know the acting is stupendous when I break out French words.  We get to see Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen, and Michael Ripper all flex their chops.  I was trying to think of a clever way to call attention to Romain's staggering bust, but I am not a clever man.  It's just as well.  The romance between Reed and Romain (squire and barmaid) is stilted at best.  Any other misgivings?  Eh, the script is dialogue-heavy.  That's not necessarily a negative trait, but I recommend leaving subtitles in the "on" position.  You don't want to miss out on expository details on account of heavy accents.

If this were a full-length review, I would expound on the shaded duality of many of the characters and how I appreciated the fact that Captain Collier, for instance, was neither 100% noble nor 100% villainous.  But it isn't.  I may retire early tonight.

10/13/20

Green Music


A few years back, I began a quest to review each Type O Negative album.  I made it past World Coming Down, and then for some bullshit reason that I don't recall, I had to take a sabbatical from the site.  If I'm being honest, I never gave it much thought, but I'd like to go ahead and tackle the final two TON chapters.  So I'll get to that and more music reviews in general.  I mean, I do still listen to music.

Music is neat.

10/11/20

Arcade


Just watch Brainscan.  Shit, there's your review.  I realize that Arcade was filmed a few years earlier than Brainscan, but this wasn't the most unique plot on the market.  Didn't Tron do the whole "trapped in a cyber game" thing in 1983?  It's irrelevant.  I always maintain that novelty and innovation, while important, are less imperative than simple execution.  Tell your story well.  In terms of ambition, Arcade doesn't aim at Ursa Major (or Minor), but its arrow manages to pierce the lower constellations.  Of course, all constellations reside in outer space.  I didn't think that metaphor through.  Hey, it's on me.  We need a fresh start.  Forget this bullshit paragraph ever happened.

1993's Arcade was written by David Goyer, and Charles Band wants you to know it.  The film was actually lensed in 1990, but its release was encumbered by a caboodle of issues, chief among them reshoots.  Apparently, you can still find the original CGI effects on certain tapes (including Paramount screeners).  There was also a legal miff with Disney.  Oy.  I'll be honest; I don't understand the minutiae of Arcade's inclement production history.  It's hard to blot it out, though.  Watching the final product, it's obvious that there was an inclement production history.  Arcade feels incomplete.

On the technical end, it's literally incomplete.  The winged skeleton on the cover?  It had potential to be cool, but it's rendered with the worst digital effects I've seen in something that was shot on film.  In fact, a distinctly PBS-scented smog pervades the entirety of Arcade.  We're only a half-baked whodunit away from an episode of Ghostwriter.  Yet!  In the prelusive prolegomenon (word of the day...it basically means "preamble") of the very review you are reading, I insinuated that this flick wasn't a full-scale fiasco.  The main players are trying.  Megan Ward is sturdy as the lead.  I knew she was dependable because I recognized her from Freaked.

Speaking of recognizable faces, A.J. Langer gives a genuine performance as The Other Girl.  I'm positive that she had a name.  Anyway, she turned up in a jillion TV shows and movies in the 90's, most notably My So-Called Life and The People Under the Stairs.  Seth Green is here.  Again, the 90's.  The script didn't piss me off or affront my sensibilities, but by the same token, it didn't send currents of electricity 'round my pubic hair.  Strangely, Arcade is one of those video game reels made by folks who didn't know much about video games.  What gives?  Goyer wasn't exactly a fossil when he penned the screenplay.  The same could be said for director Albert Pyun, a talented guy who helmed Cyborg and The Sword and the Sorcerer, to boot.

Robert Z'Dar says, "Meh."

  

10/8/20

Geek Out #142



This is utterly divine.  Slice-of-life footage taken in 1996 (disregard the title on YouTube) at a Spirit Halloween store...!  I am a worryingly nostalgic man by nature, so this video is deep-fried crack for a plaintive sap like yours truly.  There are a couple of things worth noting.  First off, look at the size of the joint.  As one of the employees states, it's late in the season (I believe the tape was recorded on the 30th of October).  That space was typically voluminous with wares to peddle.

Also, today's Geek Out serves as a double feature.  The last four minutes chronicle a Danzig autograph-signing at a record store.  Same year, same season.  I gotta tell you, seeing an honest-to-Satan record store plucked out of time from back in the day when people actually purchased compact discs is almost too much for my nerd erection to handle.  I know it's 1996 because The Zig is promoting Blackacidevil (and I spotted a poster for Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar).  The mid-90's were magic(k)al, man.

10/6/20

E.V.H.


Everyone will say it now, but I've been saying it for years; Eddie Van Halen was the best guitarist on the planet.  That's right.  It's all about me!  No, but I'm serious about Eddie.  He was never underrated.  You could even say that he was rated fairly, so why do I feel as though he didn't receive the credit he deserved?  Probably because he's dead.  It fucking sucks.  When you're already having a cragged, downright unmusical day, you don't need to read that a rock icon succumbed to cancer.

I may be a metalhead first and foremost, but I grew up hearing Van Halen songs ricocheting above me, those smoking leads levitating like phosphorescent phantoms.  My dad was a big VH fan.  We owned the Live Without a Net home video, which I must have watched 546 times.  I remember being disconsolate when our house was burglarized in 1990.  Aside from the obvious trauma, the dickbag filcher managed to swipe our VCR at a time when it contained the VH tape.  Son of a bitch!  Thankfully, Dad bought it again.  It wasn't on YouTube just yet, y'know.

That's a decidedly random memory, but dude, Eddie's solo during that set?  Mind-boggling.  He made guitars do things they weren't supposed to do.  As for the influence he had on other players of the instrument, forget about it.  Technically, he was sitting at the meridian of melody, but most importantly, he knew how to write a goddamn song.  He understood that each note had its place.  The guitar solo on "Can't Stop Lovin' You" is an excellent example.  It isn't particularly long, but it fits.  Yes, I cited a track on Balance.  I'm not staging a Dave/Sammy debate.  That's for a different document (that I won't write).

I have only exalted Eddie Van Halen's merits as a guitar god.  I didn't know him personally, but as with all celebrity deaths, it's important to treat the departed as people.  This discourse is merely coming from the perspective of a fan.  There are those who will miss him much, much more than I will.  Perhaps it goes without saying?  I mean, it should.  I'm driving off-course.  Let me wrap this up by LINKING TO the aforementioned solo from Live Without a Net.

Rest in peace, Ed.

10/5/20

Blood Capsule #100

YUMMY (2019)

These days, I don't take requests.  When my depression intensifies, it steals the joy from my hobbies, so if I'm sitting down to enjoy a movie, it's going to be one that I picked.  Obviously, Yummy was an exception.  This zombie romp was culled by a winning contest participant.  I had reservations, but it turned out to be a diverting, boisterous enucleation of the epidermis.  Sorry, the film's plot is fettered to my brain.  All of the action takes place in a hospital where our heroine is looking to undergo plastic surgery (a breast reduction, to be specific).  Her lovesick boyfriend is wary of the joint, and after making inquiries, shuffles into a scary scene.

I know that I referred to Yummy as a "zombie romp," but we're dealing with a virus here.  These cinematic ghouls are zombies to the extent that the infected rovers in 28 Days Later are zombies.  Of course, it doesn't matter.  If I'm appending this flick to any pile of recent zombie scourges, it does top out as one of the most entertaining.  Oddly enough, Yummy isn't yummy on account of its gore (though the viscera does swell and percolate like so much globoid liverwurst); it's all in the storytelling.  The characters are written in shades, the pacing is patient, and the comedic elements are worked in naturally.  Erm, for the most part.

There is one moment that is completely unnecessary and...yeah, it's just too much.  I don't do well with depictions of cock violence.  Even sitting at my laptop now, I'm audibly groaning at the thought of...nope!  Lord Jesus!  Help me, Satan!  Ouch!

10/2/20

Album Cover of the Whatever


Ah, the band that bridged the gap between The Misfits and Danzig.  And that's basically how this record sounds.  The album cover is perfection.  Apparently, the iconic "horned skull" was first used in a Marvel comic.  Somehow, I doubt that we'll see it crop up in Age of Avengers 5: The Ultron Agenda.  Shut up.  My ignorance is willful.

10/1/20

Rassle Inn #9


Stagnation.  Defined as "a failure to develop, progress, or advance."  Somewhere around the middle of 2019, pro-wrestling was looking up.  There was chatter that intimated the business was destined for another boom period, an upsurge of prosperity that fake fighting desperately needed.  This talk was prodded by the arrival of AEW and the handy presence of NWA's Powerrr, a YouTube show that was gaining in popularity before the pandemic poached all of our toilet paper.  In the here and now, the wrestling landscape has leveled off.  It would be easy to impute COVID-19 (and the rest of the coathanger abortion known as 2020), but that's not where I find blame.

No, no, no...rasslin' need only to look in the mirror.  Perhaps it was na├»ve to expect Vince McMahon to view legitimate competition as good fortune.  For what purposes, you may ask?  To close ranks, take (metaphorical) stock, trim the fat, and get serious about delivering a fresh, relevant product.  All the while, he could have built new stars.  Satan knows the roster has plenty of exceptional talents ready to utilize.  Of course, that is not what happened.  For months, Raw and Smackdown were business as usual.  Neither stupendous nor miserable.

I never strive to be the reactionary fan who leaps into hyperbolic rants at the conclusion of each episode of Raw (or whichever program you want to insert here).  I can usually find positives in even the most prodigious mounds of Triceratops feculence, but as of late, WWE has been unspeakably horrible.  Two weeks ago, I swear on your mother's grave, I watched the worst fucking episode of Raw to ever hit the air.  The fact that it's still three evercunting hours long...that's just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.  I couldn't possibly describe why it was shit.  Jesus, this column would never end.

It's no wonder why there are millions of folks who identify as former wrestling fans.  Vince has lost it.  Period.  Ah, but I began by addressing the business as a whole.  I'm not letting Tony Khan off the hook.  Do I prefer AEW to WWE?  Yes.  I actually look forward to sitting down with Dynamite on Wednesday nights.  Be that as it may, Khan (and The Elite EVP's) squandered an evasive opportunity.  They promised a true alternative.  Something different.  A sports-based presentation.  I abandoned complete sentences for a second there, but I felt it was necessary.  Indulge me.

I would wager that 95% of AEW's television programming has been extremely similar to that of WWE in terms of tone and style.  I'm not talking color schemes here.  Keeping track of win/loss records was a terrific place to start, but that's not enough to shake the casual viewer into tuning in on a semi-regular basis.  If you want to see pro-wrestling exhibited in a realistic, sports-based way, check out ROH's Pure Title Tournament.  It's so different from WWE, it's almost a culture shock.  Unfortunately, you'll have to dig online for their TV show.  I'm dense, and I cannot seem to find it on any earthbound streaming device.

My verdict?  Stagnation.  Yes, that is my verdict.  Wrestling won't be encountering a boom period until ROH gets purple hot (I stand a better chance of receiving steamy DM's from Penelope Ford) or Vince McMahon croaks.  Please note that I am not wishing for the man's death; I am simply stating a fact.  Yikes, this fulmination screed was wordier than I intended.  Why don't I add to it!?

P.S.-For the record, I'm cool with NXT, although it does lose out to Dynamite by a smidgen.

P.S.S.-New Japan kicks ass.  Always.  This year's G1 Climax has been so epic, I haven't been able to soak all of it up.  Here is a snapshot of Jay White being Jay White.