Tuesday, 31 July 2012

A blatant plug - Rescue Dogs

  One of the other blogs I follow has a piece about rescue shelter dogs and the Bloggers Unite For Dog Rescue Project.
  The last dog I had was from a rescue shelter and he gave me a decade of affection and companionship. I like to think that we made each others lives better.
 So a worthy cause and the link is here: Bloggers Unite For Dog Rescue
 Stop by and say hello.

The Metal Project: British Steel

 The Metal Project is an ongoing quest to find every song on Youtube with "Metal" in the title and gather them in one place. 

    As I've been working my way around the world it's easy to spot that there's one nation I haven't covered yet. The country that invented Heavy Metal, laid down most of the basic rules and produced one important band after another.
  The UK is the spiritual home of Metal and it's time to pay tribute.
  Now I've already covered the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon and Conquest Of Steel. Even so, I can still put together a worthwhile list of songs. Enjoy.   

Aragorn - Metal Fatigue (1982 Demo)

Honour to: waggon666

Atomkraft - Total Metal (1985)

Honour to: metalmeltdown12

Blitzkrieg-Metalizer (2002)

Honour to: petrankaras

Hellrazer - Made Of Metal (1987)

Honour to:  Lemmy4tw

Holocaust -Heavy Metal Mania (1980)

Honour to: Crossbowman

Onslaught -Death Metal (1985)

Honour to: aerogun18

Seventh Son - Metal To The Moon (1984)


And now the band with the most unfortunate monicker in Metal history. 

Toad The Wet Sprocket - Metal For Money (1981 BBC Session)

Honour to: deadhorse99

Venom -Metal Punk (1987)

Honour to: Neutralia1
And just to prove that Britain can still produce Metal bands

Viking Skull -Heavy Metal Thunder (2007)

Honour to: metalrugenwolf

That's it for now.See you next time.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Book review: Colin Falconer - Silk Road (2011)

   The Holy Land 1260 AD.  When the Mongol armies descend upon Aleppo the beleagured Crusaders of the Holy Land realise that they may have found a valuable ally against the Saracens.
 Two men are chosen as envoys. Templar  Josseran Sarrazini, a knight hoping to atone for past sins, and William of Augsburg, a fanatical Dominican friar.
  But when Josseran and William are brought before the Mongol general he declares that  the decision is not his to make and they must be sent down the Silk Road to kneel before the Great Khan at Karakorum.
 The two Christians are forced to make a long, dangerous trek beyond the limits of their known world.  Along the way they will face scorching deserts and icy mountain pathways with each new day  a challenge to everything they thought they knew.
 And Josseran will meet a beautiful, fierce Mongol Princess who has dreamt of a stranger with hair of fire.

  I picked this one up on a whim and I'm rather glad I did. It's a slow-burner of a book, devoted mostly to the gruelling nature of the journey, the tense, hostile relationship between the  open-minded Josseran and the Dominican zealot and the way each reacts to the new and astonishing world they are discovering. There's also the developing bond between the Templar and Khutelun, daughter of a Mongol Khan and very definitely not demure, meek or needing anybody's protection.
 Falconer does a pretty good job of painting the world of the Mongol Empire, its peoples and politicking and is equally good at fleshing out William, Josseran and Khutelun, making them interesting but without falling over the cliff into obvious cliche. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that Josseran and Khutelun are people you find yourself rooting for. William... not so much. 
 Not my usual fare but I was impressed and would be interested in seeing what Colin Falconer's next book has to offer.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Metal Project: More Metal From Around The World

The Metal Project: An ongoing mission to find every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

 Rather than being devoted to a particular country, today's  post is a quick roundup of songs from nations not usually noted for their  Metal scenes.

Asparez - Fire And Metal (Armenia 1990)

Honour to: LocutusMe

Decayed - Black Metal Onslaught (Portugal 2001)

Honour to: BlackMetalPT

Holy Dragons - Metal Vikings (Kazakhstan 1999)

Honour to: xxmetallwolfxx

Maniac - Power Metal Addicts (Austria 1989)

Honour to: Sodomdadead

KK Street Bangers - Street Metal (Montenegro 2010)

Honour to: LeatherWarlord

Millenium - Metal Army (India 1994)

Honour to: capusaideep

Strident - Metal Or Death (South Africa 2010)

Honour to: Fixo1995

Tangorodrim - Unholy Metal Way (Israel 2001)

Honour to: sophiasaurus

Vandal - Metal Town (Macedonia  2007)

Honour to: ExecutorMKD

 That's all folks. See you next time.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

More Metal Album Covers - File under "Oh Dear"

 Picture the scene. You are a young, eager band poised and ready to take the world by storm. 
Today you get to see your album artwork for the first time. 
This is the artistic statement you make to the world. 
This is the means by which you grab people's attention 
and make them want to part with their hard-earned money. 

This is the point where maybe some bands really ought to have said "Are you having a laugh?"

Bad awful terrible metal album cover

Conquest Of Steel - Hammer & Fist (UK 2007)

It's like somebody tried to draw Red Sonja while on a bad trip. And with broken fingers.

Bad awful terrible metal album cover

Attila - Rolling Thunder (USA 1986)

 Cool idea but could have been done better

Bad awful terrible metal album cover

Zion - Thunder From The Mountain (USA 1989)

Zion were Christian rockers so the cover may well represent Good v Evil.
I don't know why the big dragon has a cock growing out of his head, though

Bad awful terrible metal album cover

Helter Skelter - Welcome to the world of Helter Skelter (Germany 1988)

Ok, so they weren't too serious but damn, that cover makes them look like goofballs
Here's the back cover.

Not much of an improvement. 
Bad awful terrible metal album cover

Split Beaver - When Hell Won't Have You (UK 1982)

As if the name alone wasn't a handicap. A Sleaze Metal band from LA might have got away with it . 
A band from Wolverhampton?  No chance.
 Oh and the album cover aims at "Sexy" and misses by a mile

  I should mention once again that crap artwork does not equal crap band. Some of these guys deserved so much better.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Manga: 13 - A tale of long-lost love and casual murder.

By: Sorachi Hideaki  Volumes: One  Genre: Delinquent Comedy.

 This is a tale of two children and what happened when they finally met again.
 It begins with a quiet little girl named Iyazo Gorugo reading out an easy about her family. "Father is an assassin, Mother is an assassin, Grandfather is an assassin..." 
 This goes down about as well as me telling my classmates that I had a pet T-Rex. 
 Then on the field trip classmate Mondo Fujieda attempts to make friends by offering some candy. Which makes Gorugo ill. Spectacularly ill.  "Fetch a mop and bucket and a Hazmat suit" ill.
 A humiliated and puke-covered Gorugo vows bloody revenge on Fujieda and then leaves the school forever.
 By the way, when she said her family were assassins, she wasn't kidding. 

 Years later Fujieda has become King of the school delinquents and has put aside his old name in favour of the moniker "Thirteen"
 (Why? Nobody knows and he isn't saying.)
 However his world is about to get a lot more complicated.  Because Iyazo Gorugo has just transferred to his school.
 And she still wants to kill him.

  I sometimes find that manga can work better when the author only has a limited space to tell his story. Here Sorachi Hideaki has precisely 37 pages to work with and does it rather well.
   Once you get past the vomiting and ridiculous violence there is a surprisingly touching tale of two people whose lives were changed by one incident and have been waiting for the punchline ever since. Without giving too much away, this does not go the way you expect.
 The artwork is not the prettiest I've ever seen but does fit with the tone of the manga.  It reminded me a little of Ryuhei Tamura's work on "Beelzebub" , especially in the way he draws mayhem.

 If you fancy a quick fix and want to get to the ending without having to wade through 101 chapters  I would definitely recommend taking a look at this one. 

Find it here: http://www.mangahere.com/manga/13/v01/c001/

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Metal Project: Metalucifer - The Most Metal Band Ever.

The Metal Project - An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

 Today's post is a wee bit different because not only are all the songs from the same country but they are all from the same band
 Japanese NWOBHM-obsessed nutters Metalucifer hold the record for fitting the word " Metal" into song titles and have released at least one CD where every single song is "Metal something -or-another. "

Heavy Metal Ironfists (2009)

Honour to: thvavali

Heavy Metal Warriors (2009)

Honour to: SteelVsMetal

Iron 'N' Steel' N' Metal (1996)

Honour to: SlAy3rThrAsh666

Heavy Metal Ambition (2009)

Honour to:SlAy3rThrAsh666

Heavy Metal Demons (2009)

Honour to: Christcrusher1 

 Heavy Metal Highway Rider (2009)

Honour to: BreathTheDeath

And to finish, a pair of instrumentals.

Metalucifer (pt 1) (1996)

Honour to: SlAy3rThrAsh666

Metalucifer (pt II) (2001)

Honour to: SlAy3rThrAsh666

That's it for now. See you next time.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Metal Album Covers - How Not To Do Them

While poking about in my "Music" folder I couldn't help noticing that some of the LP covers contained therein were somewhat lacking in execution. Some were tacky, quite a few were obviously done by a mate of the band and all in all, you have to wonder how much damage was done to the band's career.
 Let me show you what I'm talking about.

   Kidd Gloves - Feel The Fire (USA 1987)

(Now this wouldn't be so bad if the artist actually knew how to draw noses)

Black Angels - Hellmachine (Switzerland 1981)

(Note that the motorbike is the best-drawn part of this mess) 

Hawk - S/T (USA 1985)

(Words fail me. Is it a man? Is it a woman? What the hell is it supposed to be?)

Conquest Of Steel - S/T (UK 2004)

(I've seen these guys and they are awesome live. Their album covers do them no favours)

Predator - Easy Prey (USA 1986)

(Put together quite well. Just very, very tacky)

Rock Bergade-The Attack Is On (USA 1983)

(This one actually makes my eyes hurt!)

Preyer-Terminator (UK 1986)

(The monster lets it down, sadly)

 I have some more that I'll post at a later date. Incidentally, just because I think the LP cover is crap that  should not reflect in any way on the band's music. Most of these bands aren't bad and certainly deserved better.  

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Manga: B-Reaction. A tale of high-school romance and kicking people in the face.

  For one brief moment Kensaku Onodera is on top of the world. The 15 year old streetfighter has just won a karate tournament and fame and fortune seem to beckoning. Plus there's a definite possibility of his girlfriend sleeping with him.
   Then it all goes horribly wrong. Tripping over his gi causes our hero to collide violently with the ring girl's boobs. Seconds later her foot collides violently with his face and Kensaku wakes up to find himself a laughing stock.
  Things don't get any better the next day. Not only is he dumped by his enraged girlfriend but his new homeroom teacher looks awfully familiar...

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Metal Project: Metal From Malaysia and Indonesia

The Metal Project: An ongoing quest to find every Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

 Originally I was going to try and cover the entire Pacific in one post. Which was a bit silly.
  Given that Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim nations with the authorities less than tolerant towards long-haired youths in black t-shirts, their metal scenes seem to be quite vibrant.
 Here's a brief selection of songs. Enjoy. 

 Antacid - Metal Assault Devastation (Malaysia 2005)

 Honour to: truebm1108

Bestial Hordes - Nuclear Metal Lust (Malaysia 2011)

Honour to:  wtf666th

Big Panzer -Bursa Metal  (Indonesia 1990)

Honour to: faridcod666

Hellstorm - For Metal We Die (Malaysia 2011)

Honour to: mentalholocaust

Iron Skull - Heavy Metal 666 - (Malaysia 2011)

Honour to: BorneoDesekrator

Lobotomy - Speed Metal Warfare (Malaysia 2010)


Power Metal - Rakyat Metal (Indonesia 1992)

Honour to: awangfaisal

And another one from Power Metal just to even up the Indonesia side.
(Note that with this one they've evolved in a definite Prog-Metal direction)

Power Metal-Power Metal (Indonesia 2005)

Honour to: awangfaisal

And just in case you thought I was kidding about Malaysian authorities and their views on Metal:

That's it for now, see you next time. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Metal Project: Metal From Australia

 The Metal Project: An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal Song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

  And today I shall offer a brief selection of songs from Down Under. It's a mixed bag, including Thrash, Trad Metal, Satanic Metal and Christian Metal.  See if you can spot which is which.

Black Alice - Man Of Metal (1984)

Honour to: SlauterXstroyes
(The 600th song I've posted while  working on this project, by the way)

 Black Steel - Grind To Metal (2005)

Honour to: SwordFate80

Destroyer 666 - Satanic Speed Metal (1998)

Honour to: fractionality

Elm Street - Metal Is The Way (2011)

Honour to: blackforest1986V

Next up, a couple of Christian Metal bands

Light Force- Metal Missionary (1988)

Honour to: NapalmScum

Bassist Steve Rowe then went on to form:

Mortification - Metal Crusade (1999)

Honour to: canalladfc

That's it for now, folks. See you next time for more of the same.

Weird Crushes: Princess Aura

 When I was a kid one of my favourite  cartoons was "The New Adventures Of Flash Gordon" and there were a number of reasons for that.
1. Considering the budget and time period it was surprisingly well put-together. Certainly a hell of a lot better animated than the Hanna-Barbera stuff I was used to, anyway. (Although even at the age of 10 I couldn't help noticing that certain shots kept getting reused. Filmation were infamous for this apparently )
2. I'd grown up watching repeats of the old Flash Gordon serials on a Saturday morning and here was more of the same. In colour!
3. Unusually for the period, Flash Gordon had an ongoing plot arc which saw Flash and Dale acquiring new allies before the final showdown with Ming.
4. Then of course there was something no other cartoon of the time had.
Flash Gordon cartoon
 Princes Aura. Red of hair, scant of clothing, heavily armed and rides a frigging Terror Bird. Cool.
 I was a massive fan of Aura pretty much from her first appearance in the opening credits (although I can remember my Mum raising a quizzical eyebrow) and truth be told, Ming's warrior-princess of a daughter was a lot more fun than the bland Dale Arden. 
 You can probably guess how the story ends. Aura spent most of the first series pursuing Flash and co. before switching over to the good guys and hooking up with tree-dwelling slaphead Prince Barin.
  Meanwhile a young Big D was left with a lifelong fascination with female characters who have red hair, a limited wardrobe and a tendency to settle issues with  a swung broadsword.
Flash Gordon Filmation Cartoon
Flash Gordon Filmation Cartoon

 Proof that Jessica Rabbit did not invent cartoon characters getting seductive.
"Season 2 will feature a cute dragon sidekick? That's this cartoon screwed then."
 Here's the intro if you're interested.

And here's the full-length version that came out a few years later. 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Metal Project: Metal From Chile

The Metal Project. An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

  I thought I'd do one more South American post before I took off to explore other areas. This is a selection of bands from Chile. Hope you find something you like.

Acero Letal - Por La Gloria Del Metal (2009 Demo)

Honour to: rochimetall

Bad Joke - Heavy Metal Forces (2008 Demo)

(A bit low on volume for some reason)
Honour to: HeavyIronFist

Disaster - Thrash Metal (2006)

Honour to: 69stratonaru

Evil Knight - Evil Metal Or Die (2012)


Fastter- Guerreros Del Metal (2009)

Honour to: MetalChafe

Insanity - Ominous Metal (2011)

Honour to: speedreaction

Panzer - Suenos Metalicos (1989)

Honour to: RockMetalChileno

And now for a bit of Black Metal.

Perversor - Metal Massacre (2010)

Honour to:  DaRkPlAuGe09

Predator - Metal Till Death (2007)

(Instrumental- Well, there are lyrics but one sentence right at the very end barely counts. )
Honour to: lavifer

Sick Violence - Metal Bitch (2010)

Honour to: DeathThrasher69

By my reckoning that's 599 songs I've done so far so the next post is definitely going to be a bit of a milestone. Hope you liked some or all of the stuff I posted today. Credit, as always to the original posters and to the bands themselves.  See ya next time.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Metal Project: Metal From Argentina.

 The Metal Project. An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

 Thanks to being busy with work and suchlike it's been a  while since I did one of these. Oops.
 Today's collection is devoted to bands from Argentina and it's quite a mixed bag. Hope you find something to like.

Aleacion Binaria - En La Senda Del Metal (2005)

Honour to: AleacionBinaria

Crisis - Martillo De Metal (2011)

Honour to: FissoMetal666

Destructor - Heavy Metal (2007)

Honour to: pierguns

Dr Jekyll - Muerto Al Falso Metal (1988 Demo)

Honour to: fedenwobhm

Hellion - Asesinos De Metal (1984)

Honour to: leothrash1

And now for something completely different. 
 Argentina's answer to Nightwish.

Ivana D'Arc - Symphony Metal Queen (2010)

Honour to:  sebass756

Kamikaze - A Fuego Y Metal  (1988)

Honour to: TheValetoxica

Man In Pain - Gran Metal (2011)

Honour to:  diegmaninpain

Nepal - La Senal Del Metal (1993)

Honour to: elcolometal10

V8 - Tiempos Metalicos (1983)

Honour to: masheavymetal

And that's it for now, boys and girls. See you next time

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Big D At The Movies: Snow White And The Huntsman

  Once upon a time there was a young princess with lips red as a rose, hair black as a crows wing and skin white as snow.  Then one day a wicked witch charmed her way into her fathers life and his bed and then stabbed him with a frigging great knife.
 The kingdom fell and the young princess was locked away in a a tower while the evil queen worked out what to do with her. At long last she decided that the best way to solve her ongoing political problem, and, incidentally, gain eternal youth, was to eat Snow White's heart.
  The news that the young princess had just escaped and was last seen heading into the Dark Forest made the evil witch very unhappy so she shanghaied a drunk and ordered him to bring back the girl while promising all sorts of things she was obviously never going to deliver.
  Luckily for our heroine, he turned out to be not quite the dick he appeared to be and agreed to help.  Even better, some dwarven bandits decided that they wanted to be on Team Snow White as well.
 Now all they had to do was get Snow White to her uncle's fortress and then the good guys can ride forth and inflict some righteous violence.

 As you can tell just from the movie poster this film has  no singing whatsoever.

  Now if I remember  the original story, Snow White gets rescued a lot and that's mainly it.  The huntsman spares her life, the dwarves save her from dying of exposure and the Prince saves her from the spell and then punishes the evil queen. She's a lot more proactive in this version, as befits the 21st century. Alright, so she's maybe not the badass you'd expect from the trailer but still manages to push events rather than being carried along by them and the final showdown is all her.
 There's also an attempt at giving Queen Ravenna some motivation for her actions - she's been hurt in the past and has been getting her own back ever since - although any flashes of sympathy I might have felt evaporated moments later. Maybe it's just me but I get the definite impression Ravenna is a spoilt, spiteful womanchild and not actually that bright.
  The Huntsman, by the way, starts off as a drunken mess and you can actually see him rediscover his self-respect as the film goes by. 

 The most impressive part of the film is the visuals - Ravenna's Glass monsters and the weird and wonderful creatures of the Dark Forest especially. I do take issue with the direction of the fight scenes though. Once again they are filmed so it's hard to keep track of exactly what's going on and that's a real disappointment given that the film is bookended by largescale battles. They are impressive but I'd have been more impressed if the camerawork wasn't making me dizzy.

 As to acting honours, Ian McShane pops up as a dwarf chieftain and just owns every scene he's in.  And considering that Kristen Stewart has become an internet meme for wooden acting, she's pretty decent here. Admittedly she spends a lot of the film with the same slightly-worried expression but when she has to carry a scene Ms. Stewart gets the job done and does it well.
 I have mixed feelings about Charlize Theron's  take on the Evil Queen though. Most of the time it's calm, collected and malignant but then she'll start raving and, as I've already mentioned, it tends to come across like a spoilt teenager throwing a tantrum.

 I have a very simple definition of a good cinema experience. I want to come out thinking "Wow"
"Snow White and The Huntsman" didn't quite manage to make that happen but I did walk out into the rain thinking "Yes. I enjoyed that."
 Worth seeing.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

My Musical Pet Hates.

1. Songs that don't know when to end.

  If you're going to have a seven minute song there had better be something interesting going on in those last three minutes - have the guitarists duel with each other, suddenly change gear and crank up the volume, let the keyboard player have a solo, anything but repeat the chorus again and again and again and again...
Example: Anything off Judas Priest's Jugulator album. No kidding. There is not a single song on that album that couldn't lose a minute and a half and be all the better for it.

2. Mariah Carey Syndrome

   And this seems to be exclusive to female singers. specifically female singers who have a good range and want everybody to know it. Every single word is stretched out, bounced around the scale  and occasionally turned into something only dogs can hear. Why? It serves no useful purpose and gets on my tits something fierce.

3. Sudden outbreaks of rapping. 

   I'm not a massive fan of rap but I can appreciate the odd song here and there. What I do fail to understand is the ongoing tendency to shoehorn rap segments into songs that are otherwise mainstream.
 Fun fact. There has never yet been a pop song that has been improved by having Snoop Dogg pop up in the middle.
 Even Rush did this on the Roll The Bones album. Oh dear.
 (No, it wasn't Snoop Dogg. That would have been too weird for words.)

4. Miserable women with pianos. 

  I'm not a big fan of singer-songwriters. I prefer my music amplified and upbeat so having somebody wander onstage clutching an acoustic guitar will usually send me off to the bar.
  But there's one subspecies that causes me actual pain plus a fervent desire to stick a pencil in somebody's eye and that would be Miserable Women With Pianos. Adele, for instance.
 Fans would probably describe their product as "Personal", "Intimate" and  "Emotional" whereas I'd describe it as "Boring", "Shite" and "Why am I listening to somebody whining about how much their life sucks?"
 Screw that.

5. The Musical Makeover

 There's nothing wrong with tweaking your sound to keep current. Rush, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Yes and Pink Floyd (among others) have all taken a look at the musical climate around them,thought "We can do that" and adapted to fit. Usually there's a clear progression from album to album where you can track this happening.
 Then there's the bands that suddenly switch sounds completely.  Let me give you an example.
Ultravox made their name as a synthpop outfit, albeit one with grandiose leanings and a surprisingly useful guitarist.
But then they went  from this:
To this:
 Note the new clothes, brass section, backing singers and 
blatant ditching of all the elements I'd liked them for.
 If you want more examples, pick a Hair Metal band from the early 90s. An awful lot of them tried to jump on the Grunge bandwagon and got run over. Or any fading star that suddenly discovers dance music. (Looking at you, Cher. And you Wishbone Ash.)
 It gets particularly annoying when said artist announces that they are now making the sort of music they wanted to make all along.
 It's always nice when somebody basically let's all their fans know that he thinks they are mugs. Cheers.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Metal Project : Metal From The Land Of The Incas

The Metal Project. An ongoing quest to track down every single Meta Metal song on Youtube and gather them in one place.

 Today's -brief - post is devoted  to bands from Peru. 
Note that there's a definite tendency towards the more Traditional end of Heavy Metal. 
Anyway, enjoy.

Arsix - Sol De Metal  (2001)



Helldrunk - Metal Night (2005)

 You didn't think we were going to go a whole post without some Thrash did you?
Honour to: Tormentor775

Mandragora - Steel Metal (2010)

Honour to: chimboterockcom

Orgus - Guerreros Del Metal (1988)

Honour to: SectadeOz2007

Sanguinaria - Metal Attack (2010)

Honour to: TIOMACHUKA (again)

Sperantus - Sangre Metal (2008)

Honour to: xXZoNaMeTaLXx

Warheart - Born To Be Metal (2007)

(Instrumental, but screw it, I'm posting it anyway)

Honour to: warheartperu

  That's all, folk.

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