Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Long Delay

As I knew would happen when I made the resolution to update this blog every week, I knew I would miss many weeks between each post, which of course doomed me forever.

Although the last few weeks have been very productive (working on my script again and making a pen and paper RPG), I have neglected my blog heavily. Hopefully I will no longer ignore it. I am making a concerted effor to put more work into the blog, at least until I get a steady job. That will be all for now.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TATDMMT: Metal on Metal by Anvil

I have been way too lax when it has come to my blog. I made a resolution to update it regularly. I decided once a month couldn't be too hard, but alas, it has been over a month since I posted. So without further hesitation...

There are so many things I want to talk about. The films that inspire me, the music that moves me, what albums made me what I am today, etc. I can never decide on my own. Hrm. I randomly decided to watch the new documentary Anvil and was reminded of one of the most important albums of my youth: Metal on Metal by Anvil. I had totally forgotten about it until I saw this documentary. So without further annoying banter from me I present:

The Albums That Defined My Musical Tastes

That is one heck of a title, maybe I should shorten it to TATDMMT, or What Made Me a Metal Fan, meh, too lazy to change it so The Albums That Defined My Musical Tastes will have to do.

So every so often I will make TATDMMT posts and go through an album track by track.

Metal on Metal by Anvil
Anvil is one of those awesome bands that should have made it, but didn't for various reasons. Every serious Metal band lists them as one of their influences. Anvil is one of those bands that didn't sell out or sell short for anything and it may have cost them fame and fortune. But 13 albums later and they are still heavy as hell.

This album was one of my favorites when I was first introduced to heavy metal in the mid-nineties. It started with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and spread from there. Most metal fans follow the evolution of metal into their favorite sub-genre just like the actual evolution of their sub-genre. So it follows that I listened to Black Sabbath and Iron Butterfly and drifted into Judas Priest and Iron Maiden which exploded into Diamond Head and Anvil which lead into Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer which morphed into Manowar. Very strange that last leap but hey, whatever works. Thus an obsession with metal began.

1. Metal on Metal
Yeah, it starts like that. Anvil's most famous song and it hits your right in the face. An almost plodding doom style track with great lyrics and an awesome riff. My friend Tom handed me this CD to listen to and my toes curled with the awesome power of this album and this song rips through your ears on a horrible weekend bender.

2. Mothra
If Metal on Metal was a punch to the face then Mothra is a kick to the gut while on the ground. This song is fast and furious. It's also about a creature that kicks ass. It isn't about the Toho character, but it is about a giant flying creature. The title seems out of place, but the song kicks ass.

3. Stop Me
This slows it down a bit. Feels more like a glam metal song, but it is very different at the same time. Very passe now, but it probably felt pretty fresh in the 80's. This was the song I skipped the most, but I still love the guitar riffs and the drums seem pretty solid. The solo at 3:05 is fucking sick.

4. March of the Crabs
A very nice instrumental track. I miss the days when heavy metal albums almost required instrumentals. Every Metallica album up until their self titled album had a solo. Some say that is when they lost their touch. I think the secret to success with heavy metal is to have at least one solo on your album. Anyways, this one is fast and furious and feels very well put together.

5. Jackhammer
Another fast and furious thrash track, it is with this song you feel they were very masterful thrashers. This is one of those songs I would put on my workout mix, if, you know, I worked out. That being said it is one of those songs that I use to pump myself up.

6. Heat Sink
Very familiar sounding riff at the beginning of this one, also a blisteringly fast song. The riffs between lyrics are very fun. The lyrics in this song are a bit weak, but still enjoyable. It always conjures up interesting imagery.

7. Tag Team
Another slower song, this one's lyrics are about tag team wrestling. Wrestling with hot sexy ladies. It is so misogynist that it makes me smile. Oh, my misogynist lyrics from a band in the 80's. Fuck yeah, lets sing about hot sweaty ladies wrasslin'. The riff and drums on this track are very meh, very mundane. That guitar solo at the 1:55 mark is very awesome.

8. Scenery
God damn that riff sounds so fucking similar to another riff I have heard... Aside from the riff that feels like someone ripped someone else off at a later date it is a straightforward song with a nice driving riff. Drum work on this track is quite well done. This song however feels a bit long when you finally reach the end you wish it were just a minute shorter.

9. Tease Me, Please Me
Well if an 80's hair band played a thrash riff over their lyrics it would sound like this. I hate the lyrics to this song, but the music is so strong that I rarely skip it. The guitars drive home this feeling in my gut. I don't know how to describe it, it just is.

10. 666
The second best known Anvil song and one of their best. This song is epic live, on the album it feels less powerful. The lyrics are great and the riff is masterful. The drums are amazing. This is one of those songs that can really get your blood pumping and is one of the quintessential thrash tracks.

Final Thoughts:
At the end of the album you feel out of breath and a little sad that it is over. This album is a sonic gutpunch that leaves you wheezing on the ground. Metal on Metal is still one of my favorite albums because of it's power and speed. I find myself listening to the faster tracks on the album when I am writing action scenes, especially car chases. The album feels like it should be called 'Anvil presents The Car Chase Album' but I digress. Everyone should have this album in their collection as a piece of history. Without this record I don't think thrash would be what it is today.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten Home Video Releases of the Decade

I have been a home video enthusiast since DVD started (yeah, I know, old but not that old). I still remember the first edition of Stargate my family owned. It had the movie on two sides of the same disc and as far as I can remember it had no special features. This list is my personal selection for the last 10 years. Lots of ground to cover, so let's get to it. Oh and these are in no particular order.

10. Monster Squad: 2-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition (Lions Gate)
This film has so much sentimental value that it gives me a warm feeling in my heart. If you were a kid in the 80's you most likely saw this awesome film. Besides the first few minutes which are cringe worthy for its vulgarity, this film is one of my favorite kids films. It has action, drama and explosions. Which by the way only two of those things kids require for entertainment and drama isn't usually on their list. The Monster Squad never talks down to kids and never assumes they are stupid like most kids films of the last 20 years and lets face it, that Wolf Man is pretty damn awesome. Frankenstein's Monster looks pretty cool and the Mummy too. Only Dracula leaves something to be desired. Not really charismatic and not really very cool but as a kid you hardly notice.

9. Duck, You Sucker! aka Fist Full of Dynamite: 2-Disc Special Edition (MGM)
Almost 40 years after it was released Duck, you Sucker! makes it onto dvd. 2007's release was one of the finest released from a major studio. Fully restored with many scenes that had never been seen in the US and an awesome commentary to boot. Rod Steiger is masterful in this film. He sells the character perfectly. The transfer is beautiful. The first time I heard of this film was on the internet. I blind bought it and it is now one of my top five films of all time. A shame Leone stopped doing films, I think he could have made so many more great films. This movie shows that he can put drama into anything and not make it melodrama like so many westerns do.

8. Gojira: Deluxe 2-Disc (Classics Media)
Finally, I can throw away my shitty full screen copy of this film and bask in the wonder that is the original 1954 movie. Which I saw for the first time on this release on a projector with amazing surround sound in my previous abode. This disc is a must own for anybody who ever loved Godzilla. I have friends who own only 20 DVDs and this is always among them. Ishiro Honda would have been proud to see this release and to see how much is film is loved the world over. The Raymond Burr version is a great film, but the original is masterful and is one of the greatest film to have ever been made. Oh and it was released on September 5th 2006, my birthday.
7. Breathless (Criterion)
Criterion makes yet another amazing release in a series of amazing releases. Aside from a few mistakes (i.e. Time Bandits) Criterion is knocking them out of the park with almost every release. This release is one of their all time best. The print looks great and the extra features are astounding. So much to pack into one release. It took me the better part of a year to finally buy this film but it was totally worth it. Worth every penny of it's $39.99 price tag (of course I didn't pay that much, I am too cheap).

6. Alan Clarke Collection (Blue Underground)
Alan Clarke is one of the greatest British directors ever. His camera movement is rivaled by none and his ability to piss off those who need pissing off was similar. His work has inspired so many directors and some have no idea. The film The Firm is one of my favorite pieces of film. Blue Underground released this fantastic box set with Elephant, The Firm, Made in Britain and two versions of his film Scum. Made in the UK has Tim Roth, The Firm has Gary Oldman and Scum has Ray Winstone. This collection is a great selection of the directors body of work.

5. Peckinpah Restorations (Criterion, MGM)
This has been the decade of Peckinpah. With the release of Straw Dogs, Major Dundee, Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, The Getaway, and The Wild Bunch, Peckinpah has been on fire. Well except the part where he has been dead since 1984, that part he hasn't done so well with. All of those films have been fully restored or reconstructed but of all of those films I have a personal love for The Ballad of Cable Hogue. A film about a man fighting the rise of technology in the last of the frontier and then his eventual acceptance and destruction by that technology is an amazing film. One of my favorites for sure.

4. White Dog (Criterion)
I had just finished reading about this in Samuel Fuller's autobiography A Third Face when this film got released. It took 20+ years but it has finally seen the light of day (no thanks to the NAACP). Criterion does it again with a beautiful print and a smattering of special features. This film was buried by it's original studio because of pressure from the NAACP, who claimed it would promote racists to make white dogs (Riiiight), dogs trained to kill anyone not white. The film is clearly against racism, but ok, I'll roll with it. Great film, not Fuller's Masterpiece, but a great film nonetheless.

3. Dawn of the Dead: Ultimate Edition (Anchor Bay)
The last of the really great DVDs from Anchor Bay. After a strong start with their releases of classic horror films, their release of the Evil Dead series in versions that can't be topped and this beautiful release, they went downhill with really bad direct to video crap. Oh how the mighty have fallen. This release of George Romero's masterpiece is one of the greatest home video presentations ever. This release has 3 versions of the film and a special features list that is as long as my arm. Any horror fan worth a grain of salt will own this version of the film and I'm not just saying that because I own it, it's because it is true.

2. Sin City: Unrated 2-Disc Special Edition
The film may not be good by some people's critisim but they do agree that the film is presented in a magnificent way. All three threads are shown in their completeness as a single story. Awesome behind the scenes special features. Of course Rodriguez's 10 minute cooking school. A fantastic commentary fills out the extras. And to top it all off, one of the best physical representations ever, including the original graphic novel.

1. Lord of the Rings: Extended Editions
Possibly the greatest DVD set to ever be released. It's extras are so vast that even 10 years later this blogger has yet to finish watching them. Each film is expanded to the extreme. Every deatail is explained and explored. The commentaries are some of the most entertaining put down. This presentation will be hard to top for years to come.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First post, yeah, testing

Total test, first post of the new blog.