Monday, 16 October 2017

The Metal Project: Storming Metal

Metal songs with metal in the title

Evening all. 

 I am well overdue for a Project post and my backlog has built up to the point where's about to burst free. So with that in mind, please see below for a small selection of metal songs.  There's no real theme to this collection; I opted for the "Lob dart. See where it ends up" method so even I'm not sure what's happening next.  

As always I hope you find something to like. Enjoy.


Morbid Termination - Metal Child (Demo-USA 1985)


Honour to: SlauterXstroyes


Inferno - Storming Metal (Norway 1996)


Honour to: AlcoholicMayhem


Quickfire Deus Sol Invictus - Metal Destruction (Argentina 2012)


Honour to: Sangwitok Zine


Death's Cold Wind - Satan Metal (Ecuador 2014)




Crossfire - Metal Knives (Belgium 1983)


Honour to: Steve O

That's All Folks. 


Sunday, 8 October 2017

The "Sad Warrior" Pose

 Earlier this week I posted a review of low-budget horror-flick "Land Of The Pharaohs"(It's crap. don't bother) but in the process of writing the review something occurred to me.

I looked at the DVD cover and thought "Why does that look familiar?"



And the answer was "Because I've seen that pose used on a few DVDs lately.  Let me demonstrate.

This is the one that immediately came to mind.


I've decided to call this pose The Sad Warrior pose because let's face it, do any either of these people look like they're having fun.

  At best you have a warrior praying for strength and fortune before an epic battle. Alternatively, here's somebody on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of all the heinous shit they've been put through.

 My theory is that DVD artists like this pose because it suggests a depth of feeling to the hero that might make us care about them a little more. "I'm not somebody that stabs people then parties. I stab people then feel really bad about it afterwards. Such is my fate"
 
 Problem is I've watched both of these DVDs and neither of the blokes on the cover are in the frigging movie.  
 Not even a little bit.  If it comes to that, the movie on the cover is not the movie on the disk because "Land Of the Pharaohs" is set almost entirely in a municipal museum and "Clash Of Empires" is about Javanese villagers fighting an evil king.

I suspect this is deliberate. 

Still don't believe me? Let's have another one.


Sympathy is not the only emotion being deliberately courted here, I feel. 
It's also  curiously similar to this Red Sonja promo poster. 
 A film we never got to see, sadly. 

 Once again the packaging for "Red Reaper" is deliberately misleading. No chainmail bikini for a starters.
  Beyond the fact that the hero is a pretty redhead, you don't get the film you' paid to see.

Moving on to film's I haven't seen. A five minute trawl through Amazon pulled up all of these adventure movies, coming to a CEX near you. 

  (I did try watching this one but gave up after 20 minutes because it was so dull. I doubt it got better.) 


 A slight variation here. Yay.
 I haven't seen this movie but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that it isn't about "one man's fight to destroy an entire empire". It's more likely about a Thracian farmer fighting against the Roman prick that nicked his donkey. 

  One more to finish. 

  Here's a funny thing. When I went looking for this DVD cover I found two different versions. It's interesting how there's such a wide gap between the film you'd expect from this cover and what the other cover suggests.

Almost like one of these covers is lying to you.,


Here's my tip. If you see The Sad Warrior pose on a DVD, save yourself time, money and frustration and walk on by.  Maybe then the people who perpetuate this bullshit will finally stop taking the piss. 

 That's All Folks. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Cheapo DVD Reviews: Land Of The Pharaohs (2017)

"Land Of The Pharaohs begins in ancient Egypt, where Isis and Osiris ruled the land. All were happy for the couple except one, Set, a jealous man who killed Osiris in order to take over his kingdom. Isis snuck into Osiris' tomb and tried to raise him from the dead using her black magic. Set caught Isis in the act and had Osiris cut to pieces, with each piece buried in a different part of the land, so Isis could never again raise her husband. Isis vowed to avenge Osiris' death and return with him to rule over all the worlds. Now, six college students Kyle, Dustin, Felicia, Jay, Serena and Amy take their last course in archaeology in anticipation for graduation. Their last assignment is to uncover and document the museum's new acquisitions with their teacher, Professor Shields and world-renowned Egyptologist Dr. Nasir. During the night they haphazardly awaken the ancient spirit of Isis' lost soul and her wrath is unleashed on the group. As students start to disappear one by one, they must band together to stop Isis from rising her dead lover Osiris and his evil army of the dead, and exacting their revenge upon the world." 

 Before I go any further I need to get my customary DVD cover rant out of the way.  Stick with me. I'll try to be brief.

 Issue#1 is the pose our cover star is holding.
Correction. Issue#1 is the fact that the guy on the cover isn't in this film.
Issue#2 is that for a  film called "Land of The Pharaohs" you see very little of Ancient Egypt beyond some painfully obvious green screen backgrounds.
 Hmm. It's almost like the cover artist is trying to fool you into thinking this is a different film to the one the producers remember making. Maybe in a bid to cash in on the success of a recent Egyptian-themed fantasy about Gods? Who can say.
For Issue#3 we're back to Egypt-boy's pose on the cover.   For some reason DVD artists love that whole "Mopey Warrior Contemplating His Sword" image . I've seen at least 4 movies using it and you know what, they were all a bit crap.

 Two minutes Googling pulled up the original movie title and movie cover. It's quite a bit different.

 
  I'm no expert on Egyptian myth but I don't remember anything about Isis having ginormous knockers.

  Priya Rai is best know for movies that demonstrate her ability to bend over and make faces, if you get my drift.

 She makes bongo films, OK?  

  You have to wonder how many people bought "Isis Rising" and spent the entire film waiting for the porn to start.

  Moving on to the actual film itself, this is a low-budget affair that barely scrapes 80 minutes. A group of college stereotypes are locked in a museum overnight, accidentally awaken a porn-actress slightly past her commercial prime   pissed-off goddess and get picked off one by one before an anticlimax of an ending. That's it.

 I can't say I was impressed by the story or pacing, thought the acting was nothing special and the SFX were just crap. The characters are hard to like, with one male lead in particular coming across as a bitter jerk.
When the douchey Jock is easier to root for than the lovelorn nerd, your writing has gone a bit wrong somewhere.
 Music is minimal, besides some Dubstep that must come cheap from a local basement DJ and grates like you would not believe.
 "Shock" final scene isn't that shocking, either.

How much did I pay for this?: £2.50
Was it worth it?: Nah. Besides being annoyed at the bait&switch, this just isn't a good movie. Don't bother.
 
At least this guy enjoyed himself.


That's all folks. 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Five Songs About Rain


I was listening to the rain the other night. Lying in bed while a heavy downpour hissed against the pavement and torrents of cold water poured out of the gutters.

 Here's a random fact about me: I like rain (or at least I do when I'm not out in it.)  Always have.
 I know rain makes some people sad but I've always found it strangely soothing.
Sometimes I open my kitchen window and lean out to watch the rain coming down on my garden. Then I go and curl up on my couch with a big mug of tea and something with unhealthy levels of sugar.

  That's where I got the idea for this post. "Why not post some songs about rain" I thought "I can share some music I like and maybe talk a little about the bands and the songs. Brilliant!"

So today I present for your approval and entertainment Five Songs About Rain. As we shall see, rain is a perfect tool for songwriters wanting to establish a mood of sadness.

I'm going to begin with the only song in this group that was a UK hit. 

The Cult - Rain (1985)

  The Cult are one of those bands where I know the singles and that's about it. Then again, Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury always wrote great singles.
  "Rain" is from the "silks & scarves" period before they went full-on Hard Rock and shows how The Cult could write songs with a sweet groove that you could dance to, but with enough rock drive for headbangers too.
  On this performance the backup singers  from Doctor And The Medics  have come along to add their support. It works.



The next three tracks are all from bands I found by accident. 

Saga- Images (Chapter One) (1980)

  There used to be a really good second-hand record shop in Stafford in the yard just behind the Astra Cinema. I must have spent hours in there shuffling through box upon box of LPs looking for anything that might be "Cool".  That's where I discovered this LP Canadian Pomp Rock maestros Saga. 
 I took it home, played it...and was immediately baffled. Saga's quirky Prog/AOR was so far away from what I was listening to at the time that I just couldn't get them.
 Six months later I dug the LP out again and this time it clicked. I've been a fan ever since.  

  As you can tell by the title "Images" is part of a song-cycle that Saga have been working on for their entire career. One of these days I plan to sit down and listen to it all in the correct order. 
 In the meantime, sit down and let Michael Sadler's rich vocals and the synths of this majestic, poignant track wash over you like the rain. 



Dragon - Rain (1986)

 Somewhere in the mid-90s I found a small shop that sold old LPs in the back room. I came home with a bagful, including "Dreams of Ordinary Men" by Hunter. I was quite impressed. Hunter were good slick, 80s AOR with a more-than decent vocalist and the standout track was a ditty called "Rain." 

  Years and years later I discovered that Hunter were really a New Zealander/Australian band called Dragon who had been around since the late 70s and the LP I'd picked out of that dusty pile was cobbled together from tracks off at least two Antipodean albums.  Maybe the suits had decided that Dragon sounded too "metal" when time came for a US/UK release. Either way, I wasn't half confused when a Youtube Playlist led me to this song, only under a totally different band name. 

  So, here's Dragon aka Hunter in action. Whatever the name, this is good AOR. Enjoy. 



Platinum Blonde- Sad, Sad Rain (1983)

  Platinum Blonde might have been big stars in Canada but never made any impact in the UK - which might explain why I'd never heard of them until I found an import LP at a record fair.  

 As I tended to do back then, I was willing to risk a quid or two to see if the band were a rock outfit or not.  They definitely had Rock haircuts.  
  Turns out that Platinum Blonde were a rock band but more the spiky, New Wave sound that was popular in North America at the time. Sort of like The Police minus the reggae filtered through a Canadian lens. 

 "Sad, Sad Rain"  is one of my favourite tracks on the "Standing In The Dark" album. A solid drum riff leads into the memories of an  unhappy youngster that hint of heartbreak.



Queensryche- Another Rainy Night (Without You) (1990)

  The Queensryche brand has taken a bit of a knock over the years. Underwhelming albums and interband tensions leading to one of the nastiest band splits I can remember have tarnished their legacy.

 Back in 1990 it all seemed so promising. The Seattle quintet had followed up their political masterpiece "Operation: Mindcrime" with "Empire" - an album that merged slick, melodic hooks with power, dynamics and intelligent lyrics, topped off by Geoff Tate's incredible vocals. There's a reason why he's mentioned in the same breath as Bruce Dickinson add Rob Halford.  

 For a brief while Queensryche were showing the way forward for Heavy Metal and the future was smart.  

  I rediscovered this song recently and I've had it on heavy repeat ever since. Those guitars. The chorus. The drums powering the song along. The way Geoff Tate gets so much emotion into his singing. Listen and marvel.
  Then watch the rain outside and think about the future we never got to see.   


That's all folks. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Taya Valkyrie in Impact Wrestling

(Sorry I haven't updated for a while. Life kept getting in the way.) 

   I have to admit, when I heard that Taya Valkyrie was coming to Impact/GFW/Whatever it is this week I perked up somewhat. 
  
   I've been thinking for a while that the Knockouts Dvision desperately needed some more depth, especially since half their current roster doesn't actually wrestle that much.  Taryn Terell has only done run-ins, Allie mainly does mixed matches or backstage stuff and poor Laurel Van Ness has spent recent months alternatively insane, acting as arm candy for Kongo Kong or being courted by Grado.  I wonder if she's upset somebody... 

  So having a statuesque, bona-fide Lucha Libre star rock up in the Impact Zone could only be a positive thing. I'm already looking forward to some fun matches against Rosemary and with a bit of luck Taya Valkyrie will bump into Sienna at some point down the line. 

There's just one thing I have an issue with and I acknowledge it's a bit petty. 

Taya's ring gear.

Not all of it though. The robes are awesome, perfectly suiting the Warrior Queen look she's going for. And I like the one-piece leotard which makes more sense to me than the crop-top & shorts Rave Gear that's the vogue these days.  The only bit I have an issue with is what's on her feet.


 Sorry Taya but much as I think you're awesome, I really don't like the Neanderthal legwarmers you're rocking here. Don't they slow you down at all?

  Please don't track me down and hurt me.

I'll leave with one final thought.

Look at this picture.

 One of these women is a much-loved babyface. If you don't follow Impact Wrestling, can you work out which is which?

Hint: it's the woman with a skull for a face.

Wrestling gets strange sometimes. 

That's all folks. 

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: A Whiter Shade of Pale

   Heavy Metal Cover Girls is a semi-regular feature where I post Metal/Rock CD covers that share a common theme. They also feature attractive young women who may or may not be wearing clothing. This is purely coincidental. 

  The theme today is all about colour or rather the lack of it. 

One of the things I've made several posts about is the way artists use colour to make an impact and to play into established  tropes. Red for the little girl lost in the woods. Black for the dangerous outsider. White for the virgin in peril. You get the idea. 
 But what about taking that idea a little further? What about using white and then making it as white as you can get? 

 All the covers today aren't about women wearing white, they're about women who are so white of skin and hair  that it becomes almost inhuman. 


Ancient Myth - Aberration "Pt1" (Japan 2016)

pale skinned women artwork
 Damn that's a big monocle. 


Catharsis- Prima Scripto Demo (Russia 2003)

Metal album art women
 Technically this is white with a greenish tint.
However her eyes are white as are certain other bits on prominent display. 

One of the things you're going to be seeing a lot is that when out heroines have white skin, they have a lot of white skin. 


Architects of Agony- Down The Rabbit Hole (USA 2016)

Heavy metal cover girls
That's not remotely creepy, is it? 
It's basically 50 Shades Of Wonderland. 

The band have a homepage here:

https://architectsofagony.bandcamp.com/



Dreadful Minds - Love / Hate /Lies (Germany 2014)

The artwork is quite simple but I quite like the way it gets over the message and I find myself asking "What's the story here?" 
Is the card in her hand for her or for the viewer?


Snake-o-phobics look away now. 


Red Queen - Star Blood (USA 2016)
Not a lot of red on display here. 
Also, Jesus Christ the snakes, man. The freaking snakes!

Ahem. Now I've stopped shivering, you have to admit that is a very striking image.
Hints of Classical Statuary maybe? 

Band homepage here:

http://redqueenband.com/


 Sex & Sin - Mother's Therapy (USA 2016)

   Whereas the inspiration for this bit of artwork is easier to work out.

Picture sourced from http://ladydeath.wikia.com

I have no idea what the cover has to do with Mothers or therapy but that's common with these covers. 

It actually fits the music quite well as Sex & Sin are a  reformed 80s Hair Metal crew. 
Check them out here:


Opus Arise - Revelation (Canada 2016)

Albino naturist accidentally finds herself in Hell. Is naturally startled. 

Speaking of hell...

Cruenta Lacrymis - Sweetness and Blasphemy (Italy 2015)

White definitely not representing purity here. 
This is more the white of things that live in the dark, deep underground.
I can feel her blind eyes staring into my soul. 

That's all folks.  


Saturday, 2 September 2017

DVD Review: Batman And Harley Quinn

  When Poison Ivy and rogue Tree-spirit Jason Woodrue break into S.T.A.R Labs to steal some biowarfare research, Batman and Nightwing have to track the flowery duo down before they can unleash mayhem on the world. 
   To do that, they need to enlist the help of somebody who knows Ivy better than anyone. 


 Unfortunately that somebody is Harley Quinn.  


  This DVD is a pleasant surprise to those of us who have happy memories of the old DCAU cartoons - Batman: TAS, Superman and Justice League - as it uses the signature stylised animation style and witty dialogue of the "Diniverse"

 As a useful bonus, Harley is the loudmouthed, fruitcake we know and love, rather than the darker-edged psycho of recent media.

  Since the writers are well aware that their DCAU audience is now older, they use the DVD format to push the envelope just a little bit. There's a couple of low-level naughty words, more graphic violence and then there's this ...

Harley underwear.

     It gets even less kiddie-friendly after this, believe me. 

  I loved this DVD. The cast are all excellent, especially Kevin Conroy who may be the definitive Batman.  There's plenty of action, plenty of funny bits and some developments that the writers clearly threw in for the hell of it. The oddball team-up of Batman, Nightwing and Harley is marvellous in itself and serves as a springboard for more fun-times.

   I think I made this face a few times. Minus the boobie-shake obviously. 

  Why's Harley looking so pleased with herself? 

Oh God. That's why.

  Batman suggests you buy this DVD. Or else.  

  
  To sum up: if you loved  the DCAU, loved Harley Quinn and want to see a DC movie that isn't grim and a slog to watch then check out Batman and Harley Quinn. 

  

Monday, 28 August 2017

Black Metal Crew Sataninchen Sing About Cats And Stuff

I wish I knew why Metal attracts so many strange and ...unique... bands.  The scary part is, you are never quite sure whether they're a parody, genuinely nuts or skipping back and forth over the DMZ dividing the two.  Take Manowar.  After 30 years people still aren't sure if they're tongue in cheek or not.

Luckily there are some clues that German Black Metal band Sataninchen are playing for laughs.

There's the cover of their latest album for starters. 



  After I stumbled across the memorable artwork above I knew I had to go check out some of their music and that's where I found this 2016 promo video.  It's in German, a language I can barely order a beer in, so the subtleties of the lyrics are sadly lost on me.  There's a bit about cats and I'm sure there's something about dicks in there too. 
  Why? Buggered if I know. 

   Either way the end result is rather catchy. See for yourself.


 if you want to hear more, pop over to their bandcamp. : https://sataninchen.bandcamp.com

That's All Folks. 


Saturday, 26 August 2017

Giant Ass Cuttlefish

   I can't remember when I first noticed something different about one of the old buildings on Museum Road, Portsmouth. I do remember that I kept forgetting to take my camera along to capture  what I found.

   Eventually I managed to arrange it that I was walking down Museum Road in daylight, with a fully charged camera in my hand and i proceeded to take some photos of Pompey's newest bit of wall-art.


  A really, really big Cuttlefish. 

This might give you some idea of the scale.

  The building is part of the Portsmouth Museum complex although as far as I know, this block is unused. 
(Which, by the way, means I am dying to see what's inside. D'you think if I asked nicely they'd let me have a poke about?) 

  A quick Google turns up this piece from the Portsmouth news, explaining that the local wildlife Trust asked wall artist ATM to paint something commemorating the  Portsmouth area's marine life. 

 
 I didn't actually know that you got Cuttlefish round here, let alone that they bred locally so that's a nice surprise.

 I like the painting. I'm all in favour of anything that makes blank walls a little less blank and city spaces a little more colourful.

 Here's some more pics. 




If you get up close you can really see how many intricate brush strokes ATM used. 

Shame there's a bloody great pipe in the way but it's impressive how he managed to work around it. 

   So there you have it. I'm hoping this big cephalopod stays up there for a nice long time and causes great confusion to passing tourists for many years to come.

   That's all folks. 



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

A Surfeit Of Bags

  When the UK Government introduced the Carrier Bag Charge in 2015 I think I ended up doing what a lot of people did.  Given the option of a flimsy bag for 5p or paying a little more for something that could be reused, I naturally went for the reusable bags.

 And this would have been great if I'd ever remembered to reuse them. 

 What tended to happen was that I'd decide to do some shipping on the spur of the moment, realise I'd forgotten to bring the damn bags once again and pay for yet another reusable bag which ended up on top of my kitchen cabinets.

 After two years, that sort of thing really mounts up so when I went on an uncharacteristic decluttering binge I pulled all the bags down from the tops of my cabinets and ended up looking at this.  


  Well crap, That's a lot of bags, isn't it? 

 I shudder to think how much all this lot cost me. 

  There isn't really a punchline to this post, except to say that once upon a time I had a stockpile of cheapo carrier bags. I still have a stockpile of carrier bags except they're bigger, more expensive and more difficult to slip into my back pocket on the offchance that I decide to nip into Iceland.   Oh joy. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Terrible Metal Album Covers- Chapter XXVI

Hello and how has your weekend been?  Mine's been mostly OK although I really wish the seagulls that have been squawking non-stop since 4AM would pack up and sod off to somewhere far away from me.

Tell you what. Let's have a look at some album covers that are a bit shite, shall we?

Some bands have a good concept but do it badly, some have a bad concept and do it really badly and some just threw a handful of crayons at the wall and used  the result. I leave it to you to decide which is which.

 Before we go any further I'd like to issue my usual disclaimer.

Bad cover does not equal bad band. 


Now read on. 


Chaos Injected - S/T 2016

Terrible metal album covers

There's a man surfing in a toilet. 
That's the not even the most bizarre thing about this cover.
Ho Boy.


Roctum - Nothing To Do With Hell EP (Finland 2017)


These Finns make it perfectly clear that they aren't Satanic.
Still not exactly people you'd invite around for milk and cookies though.
They seem entirely too keen on stabbing dudes for my liking.

Demon - Blow-Out (UK 1992)

Question: If you didn't know this band, what do you think they'd sound like based on this album cover?
Dodgy Teutonic Speed Metal?
Raucous South American Thrash?

Here's a perfect example of a band being let down by their artwork because this Staffordshire
crew have been delivering sophisticated, intelligent hard rock since 1980 and
sound more like Magnum than whatever mental image that cover brought up.

Great band.
Terrible cover.

Dark - Sex N Death (Cz. Rep. 1992)

awful metal artwork

So what does this cover have to do with "Sex", exactly?

Dark have a song called "Sex Shop of Doctor Fuctor" which amuses me more than it should.


Harrow - The Pylon Of Insanity (NLD 1994) 

Bad metal album covers

The pylons are apparently made of  turds so that's pretty insane.

Sticking with giant-ass eyes... 

Dizziness - On The Rocks (Sweden 2013)

awful metal album covers
 The artist is trying to be clever, isn't he?

He also seems to think it's still 1984.

Dawn Hawk -S/T (1990)

terrible album cover metal hawk
I'm going to have nightmares about giant, clutching pink claws tonight, I just know it.

Time for me to go shout at some seagulls so I'll knock it on the head.

That's All folks. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Osborne Road Gallery

 While on my way down to the seafront to snap some ships I took a moment on the way to document some of the current artwork decorating the defunct Grosvenor Casino.  Hope you like them.

Southsea Osborne road murals
  One of the trademarks of this artist is birds looking pleased with themselves. 
The seagulls round here are even more arrogant and, sadly, nowhere near as charming. 
  A pair of surly looking dogs. I think they're dogs. Definitely scoring higher for "muscle" than brains though.

  I don't really understand this one but that's OK. It's still pretty cool. 
  Another satisfied bird. This one has wandered over from France and is enjoying his day out. 
 I find this picture to be interesting. The combination of skull faced guy and birds works really well.
Again, I only have the vaguest idea of what the artist was trying to say but I've never been good with that kind of thing. Something about a scary visage not being a clue to the man inside?   Comment below if you feel differently.

  All credit to the artists involved and I look forward to seeing what you're going to do next. 
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