Monday, 29 October 2012

Terrible Metal Album Covers Chapter VII

Another slack handful of artwork from the file labelled "Christ on a bike, who drew this dreck?"
Terrible metal album cover
 Hypnotica - La Rebelion Del Ser (Colombia 2010)
This isn't too bad until you get to the bottom and realise that our unfortunate hero was born with his hips in entirely the wrong place. And what the hell happened to his nose?
awful metal album cover
Velvet Viper - The 4th Quest For Fantasy (Germany 1992)
 Err...is that rock having a fag?
A quick trawl through Youtube reveals a pretty decent Power Metal band so they really 
deserved a better cover than this.And dear gods, could that logo be any cheesier?

Godawful metal album cover
 Artillery - Terror Squad (Denmark 1987)
 Out of proportion coppers, a mad dentist  and a tooled up monk  
use a giant rat to hunt down bad guys.
Not so much Terror Squad as "Wacky Hijinx Squad"
I look at this picture and I imagine This  playing in the background.

Awful metal album cover
Damien - Stop This War (USA 1989)
Too many Metal album covers are dictated by 
drunk guitarists having this sort of conversation
 "Hey you know what would be an awesome cover?" 
 "Let's have fighter planes...except the noses are...eagles!"
"Nah, dude, Dogs are way more metal."
"Ok..big dogs, big mean dogs!"
"And we can have them dropping LPs. It'll be symbolic."
"Symbolic of what?" 
"What?"
"What will the symbolism be of, exactly?"
"War...and..Metal and ..fighting against the man! Yeah! It'll be a political statement dude."
"Damn, we're artists and we're revolu...revul... political dudes, man. Cool. Now somebody get me more tequila and a bag of onion rings."

Bloody awful metal covers
Repression - Germany Rocks 1990
Can you work out what the head of this thing is supposed to be? 
Maybe it's some sort of Rorschach test.
Or the artist spilt some Tippex and decided to try and salvage what he could.

 Marchello - Destiny (USA 1989)
If art gives you an insight into the artist's psyche then guy who came up with this had some ...interesting...issues. 

Fate Angel - CII966856 - USA 2010
Another MS Paint abomination. 
I suspect the band are gleefully teabagging the rest of the world  and their fans especially.

That's it. I'm going to bed. This is just getting too bloody stupid.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Womens Wrestling Comics - Love and Rockets

  Following on from my piece on "Whoa, Nellie!" (Read it here) I thought I'd take a quick look at parent comic "Love and Rockets" and its occasional forays into wrestling.
  Wrestling champion and revolutionary Rena Titanon is introduced quite early on and #2 she tells the story of how she won - then lost - the world title.
Love and Rockets Rena Titanon wrestling art
         Note that the art style shifts quite a lot for each of these.

The Metal Project: 2000AD

The Metal Project: An attempt to track down every Metal song on Youtube with "Metal" in the title and bring them together in one place.   Dear Gods,there's rather a lot of them.

 And so we come at last to the 21st Century.  Nu-Metal still bestrides the landscape like a colossus but the European Power Metal renaissance is picking up speed. Right behind it, waiting patiently,  is a gaggle of  female-fronted bands, most of whom are currently tagged  as "Gothic Metal" for lack of a better term.
Oh, and Iron Maiden reunite with Bruce Dickinson.And there was great rejoicing.
 (On a personal note, I spent most of the 90s wondering what happened to music and generally sulking so I was rather glad when things started picking up again.)

Bestial Desecration - Hatefilled MetalRage (Germany)

Honour to: forcesOfhell

Burning Rain - Metal Superman (USA)

(I rather like this one.)

Honour to: Snakeskin Jaw

Exciter -Metal Crusaders (Canada)

Honour to: petrankaras

Iron Fire - Metal Victory (Denmark)

Honour to: TheRusty

Joe Hasselvander - Metal Eyes (USA)

(80s. Very)

Honour to: JoeEduard

Majesty - Son Of Metal (Sweden)

(Big fans of Manowar, clearly)
Honour to: 96Nyko

Metal King - Metal Rules (Colombia)


 
Honour to: Ruben Restrepo

And now for another band that decided they like the 80s just fine. 
Not that that's a bad thing.

Premonition - We Are Metal (USA)

Honour to: crgreyf

 This last track is outside my usual remit but since it's from the soundtrack of the film "Heavy Metal 2000" I'm going to post it, even if it does sound more like Curve than actual Metal. 
  

Jenny L. & Zak Belica - Heavy Metal Fire  (Canada)

   Honour to: animeloverandother

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

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Been Watching: Princess of Persia

Tiffany Dupont Omar Sharif Luke Goss
 Just for a change I'm going to copy the DVD blurb verbatim. You'll see why in a moment.
"The epic true story of  one woman's battle to save a nation."
 "King Xerxes is leading the Persians in a brutal war with the Greeks. At his side is the beautiful Esther, a woman transformed from peasant to princess.
 As the battle intensifies, an unlikely chain of events forces Esther into an impossible position - to choose between all she has ever dreamed of and the fate of her people.
 Can she defy an empire and save a nation on the brink of destruction?"
  Either the people who came up with the packaging have never sat down and watched this movie, or  what we have here is the most misleading DVD cover since some idiot described "Boat Trip" as a "hilarious comedy"

 Going by the cover, you'd expect this film to be an action flick. The heroine is swinging a sabre and that's obviously a battle going on in the background, right? 
 Nope.
 The closest you get to swordplay is a five minute training sequence and at no point does Esther get her hands on anything more lethal than a quill.



 Here's what the original DVD cover looked like. 
Tiffnay Dupont Luke Goss DVD
  
  No swords, no battle and I can't help noticing that the film is called something else entirely.
 Somebody is pulling a fast one here. 
  A little research reveals that this was filmed in 2003, released in 2006 and reissued on DVD under a new name, hoping to cash in on the "Prince of Persia" movie.  Sneaky gits. 
   The film I found myself watching is a biblical drama based around the story of Esther and it goes like this:  When the current Queen of Persia is manipulated into pissing off the king , her services are dispensed with and  Xerxes holds a contest  for a replacement. A young woman named Esther is  pressganged into the palace babe corps, quickly realising there are worse jobs . Being intelligent and educated she  manages to intrigue Xerxes enough to get the position of Queen. 
 Thing is, "Esther" is really Hadassah - a Jew who's hoping nobody will notice.
 The second part of the film is Esther dealing with palace intrigue, particularly the evil Haman and his plot to wipe every Jew off the face of the earth.
 And thanks to an unfortunate set of circumstances, Xerxes is not very happy with her right now.

  The first thing you notice is that this film looks great. The sets are magnificent, the costumes pretty  and wherever it is that they found to stand in for ancient Susa is glorious. 
 The dialogue is a bit hammy but it's a Biblical movie so that's sort of expected and most of the cast do the best they can. Omar Sharif adds the expected class to the proceedings, while Peter O'Toole pops up long enough to pad out his retirement fund. Tifany Dupont and Luke Goss aren't bad as Esther and Xerxes respectively and I suspect Goss's reluctant warrior-king is closer to the historical Xerxes than the enormous perv seen in "300"
 Bad guy Haman is a none-too-subtle Nazi to the extent that he has a frigging swastika as his badge and if you haven't worked out that the film-makers are a tad religious after the first 30 minutes then I have a proposition for you. You see there's this UN money sitting in a bank account in Nigeria and I need some help getting it into the UK...
  All things considered,  this film isn't bad and once I got over the initial surprise I rather enjoyed it.
Having said that, I think I'd rather have seen the film I thought I was getting. That looked like it might have been fun.  

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Metal Project: The Nineties part two

Ever wonder how many Metal songs there are that have "Metal" in the title? I did and that's why I set out to find as many on Youtube as I could. Welcome to The Metal Project.

   The mid-nineties were not looking good for Heavy Metal. The LA scene had been comprehensively nuked, a number of major players were in a creative slump or trying to make the music they thought people wanted, and Judas Priest still hadn't got round to finding a new singer yet.
 The legendary Monsters Of Rock festival drew its last breath in 1996 and "Kerrang" had morphed into an "Alternative" mag that was actively scathing of any metal band that wasn't downtuned and angry.
 But as so often happens, Metal was about to make a bit of a comeback.
 To begin with, since Ozzy Osbourne couldn't find a touring festival that wanted him, he created his own - Ozzfest - and that acted as a springboard for Metal's next wave of bands.
 Whether the likes of Korn, Marilyn Manson and Limp Bizkit are actually "Metal" is an argument going to rage long after those bands shuffle into retirement . But all of a sudden it was okay to use the "M" word in public and you have to wonder how many people rediscovered the Old Masters through Nu-Metal.
  Now while the Anglo-Saxons were getting excited about bands with baggy pants and DJs,  Sweden's Hammerfall and Italian loons Rhapsody were spearheading a new generation of  European Power Metal bands. They were fast, they were melodic and they were not afraid to sing about knights, dragons and the glories of Metal. Expect to see lots of those bands popping up as I move on into the next decade.
 I should also really mention that there's always a determined core of bands going "Screw fashion. Let's thrash"

 So to sum up, the Nineties may not have been a golden era for Heavy Metal but rumours of its death were greatly exaggerated.

    Well that intro turned out longer than I was expecting. Let's have some music.

Strapping Young Lad - Cod Metal King (Canada 1995)

(I'm fairly certain Devin Townshend is taking the piss but it's a good example
 of the sort of thing  Metal Hammer was pushing in the mid-90s )
Honour to; Megam0rf

Moonblood - Warriors Of Metal (Germany 1996)(Demo)

(I will warn you now, the vocals on this one are an acquired taste)
Honour to: Occult Warwulf

Arakain - M. Jako Metal- (Czech Rep. 1997)


Nocturnal Breed - Metal Storm Rebels (Norway 1997)

Honour to: fersalrod77

Sacred Steel - Wargods of Metal (Germany 1998)

Honour to: petrankaras

Saber Tiger -Metal Rider '98 (Japan 1998)

Honour to: BellXlleb


Scepter - Obsessed By Metal (USA 1998)

Honour to: DeathThrasher69

F.K.U. - Metal Moshing Mad (Sweden 1999)

Honour to: extremo8008

Now some US Trad Metal

Killer Khan - Metal Death Star (USA 1999)

Honour to: TheMetallicAttack

Spanish bands really deserve more attention. Like these guys below.

Lujuria - Corazon De Heavy Metal (Spain 1999)

Honour to; ralphbury025
 Hope you found something to enjoy. See you next time.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Been Watching: Monster Brawl (2012)

Monsters fighting DVD
   Live from a cursed graveyard in upstate Michigan, 8 of the world's most infamous monsters -  Frankenstein (sic), Werewolf, Cyclops, Witch Bitch, The Mummy, Lady Vampire, Swamp Gut and Zombie Man - battle it out in No-Holds-Barred Death matches.

  And that's pretty much the entirety of this film. The fighters are introduced, they fight, the winner walks off while the loser starts decomposing. Or decomposes a bit faster if they happen to be undead.
 The fights themselves are essentially Pro-Wrestling as performed by the members of Lordi and mostly tend towards short matches. The final, though,  turns into a bit of an epic and is the sort of thing you'd actually expect this film to be.
  
  Hang on. Didn't Celebrity Deathmatch already do this?  Except with more humour?

 Jimmy Hart essentially plays himself as a ring announcer while Kevin Nash pops up as a rogue soldier and isn't bad at all.
 To sum up: A halfway decent after-pub film if you've ever wondered what would happen if Frankenstein's Monster got into a punchup with a Zombie.

Here's the trailer if you're interested.

 By the way, this is my 200th post! I am pleasantly surprised that I'm still doing this.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Story: Reputations

  This is about a couple of characters that have been bouncing around inside my head for years. Lucius and Angel are a pair of swords-for-hire based in the fantasy city of Hartern, capital of the Betrician Commonwealth. Lucius is an ex-soldier who'd rather not talk about his past and Angel is a fierce young woman who might talk about her past if anybody was daft enough to ask.
 Hope you like it.

Reputations

  Angel was late. Angel was always late. Punctuality was a concept that she had never quite grasped and no one was brave enough to make an issue of it.
  Still, I was using the extra time to enjoy a novel experience. The Twisted Crown had a reputation as one of Hartern’s best taverns and to my amazement I found that the reputation was entirely justified.  The beer was as fine as I’ve tasted anywhere, the clientele lively enough to be interesting without being actively dangerous and the kitchens served a sublime piece of peppered steak.
  I was wrapping a chunk of said steak in fluffy, new-baked bread, when a long fingered hand reached over my shoulder. It calmly fastened upon a strip of meat and retreated back to its unseen owner.
  A moment later, Angel sat down on the bench opposite, chewing heartily.
“Now I see why you like this place.” She said, licking her lips.
  I suppose I had better make some introductions at this point.
  Most  people call me Lucius. It is actually my real name, or part of it, and in my chosen trade I am considered one of the top artisans in the Betrician Commonwealth.  More on that in a little while. I'm a little taller than average, in better shape than most my age and my face is nothing special at all.
  
 Now  Angel is very attractive indeed; about average height, with a slender , smooth muscled body and  the sort of face that causes monks to abandon their order forever.  She tends to get puzzled when people point this out, being somewhat innocent in some matters.
  Angel has been my partner for a few years now and we work surprisingly well together when you consider that the first time we ever met was when she tried to kill me.
  She has assured me since that it was nothing personal. Which makes me feel so much better.
In case you hadn’t already guessed, we are both Sword Masters.  Give us money and we will guard your back, fight your duels for you, lurk menacingly in the background while you visit someone who owes you money, and so on.
   Half the time we don’t need to fight at all. That’s how good people think we are.
 “Doing anything this afternoon?”  I asked, pushing my empty plate to one side.
Angel helped herself to a mouthful of my ale. “I think I have a commission for us, but not until Sundown.”
“A duel then.”
I couldn’t help noticing the strange expression that flitted across her features momentarily.
“Yes”  she said after a moment. “Incidentally, why do you Betricians always fight duels at sunset or sundown?  “
She was changing the subject, rather clumsily, but I would leave that for a little later.
“I think the original idea was something about the gates to the Underworld being opened at those times. We didn’t like the idea of angry spirits loitering too long over the duelling grounds.”
  I shook away the morbid thoughts this conversation was stirring up and gently pulled my ale-mug free from her grasp. “Anyway, reason I asked was that we have something of a  problem.”
  From my doublet I pulled out a small, cheaply printed booklet, the sort sold on market corners to bored apprentices and dropped it onto the table between us.  “See what you make of this.”
“I’m not really the type for scandal sheets?”  Angel  grinned, but she picked it up nonetheless.
  I watched her expression change as she flicked through the lurid woodcuts and smeared ink, getting darker with each turn of the page. She reached the end and folded it shut and handed it back to me without a word. But her face was like something from one of the old temple paintings, where cold-faced gods walk through the flames of Hell, trampling screaming sinners underfoot.
“We cannot allow this.” I told her.


  The duelling ground in Hartern is actually a very picturesque spot beside the river, part of the public parks we Betricians like to fit in wherever we have space. Tall, carefully placed laurel hedges conceal this part of the park from passersby. It would not do for clerks at their lunch and strolling lovers to have their pleasant thoughts ruined by the sight of sweating, fearful men trying to kill each other.
  As we arrived, the Duelmasters were lighting torches and placing them in ugly,wrought iron holders around the edges of the ground.  I nodded to one or two, I had been here  enough times to start putting names to the bustling figures in their dark, sensible clothing.
  Angel, as always ignored them. Instead she was watching  the other entrance with an  intensity I had never seen before.  There was something my partner was not telling me and I was hoping it was not something that could get me killed.
  “You never did tell me who my client is.” I commented. Not that I really cared but it took my mind off the way my stomach was starting to shrink into itself .  I prefer bodyguard duty, if truth be told.  When things are quiet I’m too busy scanning the street to get nervous and when things suddenly explode into violence, well, I'm rather preoccupied with not dying.
  I think it’s the waiting. Standing around in the open air putting on a brave face for the customer while the sun oozes below the horizon and men in black coats wait on the other side of the torchlight, with a simple pine box at their feet.
  “He’s here.” Angel was pointing to a pair of cloaked figures striding through the gate on the other side of the duelling ground. 
“Then we had best go and say Hello.”
  They could have been father and son but I doubted it.  They were both tall and broad shouldered, with the sharp, watchful eyes professional fighters tend to develop very quickly indeed.
  The younger man was narrow faced and sullen, clearly unhappy to be here. He dressed well but without excessive flamboyance and the matching sword and dagger at his waist looked well cared for. An apprentice, I would guess, someone to watch in years to come.
  But the older man , now there was someone who drew the eye.  The years had added extra lines and extra flesh to his face and his close-cropped hair was flecked   with grey  but when he swept back his cloak I saw the shadow of  rolling muscles under his shirt.
  “You must be Lucius.”  He was smiling, which was a little disconcerting. “I have heard much about you and your partner.”
 Holding out his hand, he added. “ My name is Iridamius. I am your client. Also your opponent.”

“I think now would a good point for a few explanations.”  I was trying to keep calm. I didn’t want to go into a duel carrying a skinful of anger.  Iridamius was reputed to be one of the best men with a blade in all of recorded history.  He didn’t need me making it easy for him.
Angel spread her arms wide with a sheepish smile. “You can beat him.” she declared. “I have faith in you.”
“Aside from the fact that this is Iridamius, a genuine living legend, we are talking about and I am not sure I can “beat him”, I would like to know exactly why you accepted this insane contract in the first place.”
I was down to my shirtsleeves now and a stiff breeze was bringing hints of rain to come.  What a wonderful evening this was turning out to be. 
“He asked for you specifically. Said he had heard you were the finest swordsman in Hartern.”
  Over on the other side of the square, Iridamius and his second were arguing. From the set of the younger man’s shoulders and the look on his face I knew exactly what he was saying. Like so many seconds I had seen over the years, he was trying to talk his man out of it. With a few sharp comments from either side, the discussion broke off suddenly. Iridamius turned and looked over towards me, a strange, thoughtful look on his face.
Angel leaned in towards me and lowered her voice .”Don’t ask me why, but I think he wanted you because you stand a good chance of winning.   
 Pushing my parrying dagger into my left hand, Angel  patted me on the shoulder in the same way you would reassure a small boy stepping onto the stage to sing for the first time. “Remember this, if you kill him, we can put our fees up by a quarter.”
  And with that, she sent me off to fight a man who had killed so many duellists even the Duelmasters Guild had lost count.
 
 There were three of us out in the centre of the square.  Myself, Iridamius and the Duelmaster Prime. There were formalities to be observed after all, otherwise this would be the same as an ugly little brawl  down by the docks.
“Does either of you wish to withdraw?” The Prime was a squat one-eyed man with a deceptively gentle voice. Probably a swordmaster himself once.
“Iridamius and I shook our heads in unison. Strange as this might sound, it had never occurred to me to just walk away. I had a reputation too.
“This is an…unusual…case, but nevertheless, the customary rules apply. You will retreat to the white marks on the ground and wait there until I say “Begin.” Once battle is joined it may not be halted for any reason until a clear victor has been determined. Your seconds may not interfere, but may engage each other if they so desire. Fight bravely and with honour.”
 “May I ask my opponent a question, Prime?”  My request was unusual, but this affair would have the DuelMasters Guild arguing for years in any case, so he nodded and stepped back out of the way. Now it was the two of us.
“Why?” I asked
“Why you?” Iridamius was smiling.
“Why do this at all. Why hire someone to fight yourself?”
“Simple.” He said evenly.”I’m getting old. Either I stay in this game too long and have some young brat boasting that he killed me, when I was too old to even bring my sword up for a stroke. Or I die in bed. Withered, alone, stinking of piss and cheap wine. “
He shrugged. “Won’t do much for the Iridamius legend will it? So I thought I would just go round the Commonwealth picking fights until I found someone who deserved to win.  End my story by starting someone else's.”
Then his eyes went cold and hard.” So come on. Let’s get this done.”

 We took our positions and the Duelmaster gave us the word and then he was at me like a whirlwind.  Even past his prime, Iridamius still moved like a snake, trying to slither that rapier inside my guard and through my heart, while the dagger in his left hand was a wall between my point and his flesh.
   It seemed like forever. The two of us were locked into a spinning, quickstepping dance and our blades were the link that bound us together. Everything else was a void around me. There was only the blur of silver between us and the stamp and scrape of our feet on the stone. 
 Something scored a sharp line of pain across my left arm and then again along the left side of my ribcage. The next thrust would have opened up my throat but I caught the edge on the bellguard of my dagger , held it long enough to flick it away and then slipped my point past his guard to leave my own red trail across his white shirt, gouging out a narrow strip of skin from shoulder to nipple.
  “Not bad.” he hissed. Then his point was coming for my eyes and the dance was on again.
A sword fight is like chess, I have heard it said, strategy and skill, move and countermove, except plans are laid and relaid within seconds while instinct and hard-earned reflexes keep each player in the game. 
  I could feel him tiring just as he could feel the strength seeping out of me.  Then my foot slid out from  under me and while I reeled off balance Iridamius lunged for my heart. His sword rang against my dagger and swept it aside, but the blow had been deflected just a little and with a surge of effort that strained muscles almost to breaking point I managed to twist to one side. While his blade scored a groove through the skin  over my collarbone, mine was driving deep into his chest…
    Iridamius slid backward off my sword and sat down hurriedly as his legs collapsed.
 His second was already running to him, anguish twisting his face into something ugly. For a moment I thought me might launch himself at me but then he dropped to his knees and took his master in his arms.
  I felt a cloak being placed on my shoulders. “ I knew you could beat him.”  said Angel , so softly that I almost didn’t hear  her.
  I knelt down beside the man I had killed. Oh, he was still breathing, but there was bright, foaming blood on his lips and more staining his shirt a vivid crimson.  A dead man smiled at me and said through gritted teeth. “ Well done. “
 “People will talk of this fight, tell their children outrageous lies about what happened today.” I told him, waving to indicate the DuelMasters moving in on us.” Is that what you wanted.”
“Close enough.” he chuckled and then blood gushed from his mouth to spatter across the stones. 


  The street of Printers was a short one, barely a dozen sprawling, two storey buildings. At the bottom end sat the premises of Master  Eminn, a pitiful little place with peeling whitewash and far too many gaps where slates should be.
  Printers work late, as a rule, so we were not too surprised to see lights through his shutters and the clatter of machinery. The door was open, so we let ourselves in.
  Inside stank of of ink and paper, so thickly it clogged my nostrils.  Thick drifts of paper lay across everything, with the exception of the iron press that stood in the centre of the room , currently being manipulated in arcane ways by a youngish man in an inkstained smock.
  “We wish to speak to Master Eminn.”  Angel anounced in her most imperious manner. That girl has a definite flair for the dramatic.
“Come back in the morning.” snarled the printer without turning his head.
“I’d rather not.” I told the back of his head. “I would prefer to speak to him now . We have some news for him. “
 He stood upright suddenly and turned around with a broad, slightly greasy smile. “Yacob Eminn at your service.” He didn’t offer his hand, stained as it was with ink and other substances. 
  I could understand why he had gone into his chosen line of work. Never have I met someone who looked so much like a rodent, even down to the slightly overlarge teeth.  He had the sort of complexion I would normally associate with the newly dead and breath to match.
  All of which made our mission easier. 
I produced a certain booklet from my doublet and handed it over to him. It took him a moment to notice as he was too busy gawping at Angel.   When he did, his face lit up again. “Oh yes. The Tale of Angel And Lucius .” he cried, “This should be one of my best sellers ever. I’m printing another batch of these as we speak.”
“ Is any of it true?” Angel asked , a definite edge to her voice that most people would have caught..
Eminn shrugged his narrow shoulders “I doubt it.” He must have noticed something in my expression at long last, because only then did he ask who we were.
“My name is Lucius.” I told him and his face went even whiter than it had been previously. A trick I hadn’t thought possible.
Then he looked at Angel again. Only this time I could see him studying her, rather than  simply leering.  One by one the tumblers clicked into place.
Female.
Wears mens clothing.
Carries a sword and buckler.
Travels with Lucius…

Luckily the paper everywhere broke his fall. 

 Once we had woken him up again, we walked him through to the back room which doubled as living quarters and storeroom and sat him down at the table.
 I sat down opposite him and treated him to what I think of as my Number 4 “Slightly Psychotic” Smile. 
 Of all the things he was expecting, me placing a bottle of wine on the table in front of him was probably low on the list.
  “I brought you this to wash down your dinner.” I informed him.
“But I’ve had dinner.” Eminn protested. Angel leaned over and dropped a pewter plate onto the table. “So then this shall have to be an early breakfast.”
  And then I carefully placed a newly-printed copy of “The Tale of Angel and Lucius.” on the plate.

  To his credit, he ate it all  and the five other copies we made him eat before we were finished with him.   When he was finished, he swore an oath on every god he knew that he would burn every single copy of his disgusting little book.
  And just to make sure, I waited until Angel was out of the room before I had a quiet word with him.  “Just thought you might like to know a couple of things. Firstly, this was my idea. Angel had something else in mind that you truly, truly do not want to know about.
  And secondly, If I were you, I would hope she never finds out about the two chapters I took out of the book before I let her see it…” 


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Been Watching: Rock Of Ages (2012)

The story:

 Young Sherrie Christian arrives in LA hoping to become a singer. She meets barman and aspiring rocker Drew Boley and winds up working alongside him at the famous rock bar The Bourbon Room and having the sort of montage-friendly relationship you get in musicals..
 As it happens, The Bourbon Room is verging on financial ruin and the owner is relying on a special farewell gig by rock superstar Stacee Jaxx to save his bacon. Assuming he remembers to show up, that is. 
 Meanwhile, the Mayor and his ambitious wife are hoping to make a name for themselves by cleaning up the infamous Sunset Strip once and for all. 
 Can true love conquer adversity? 
Will the Power of Rock defeat The Man? 
Will Stacee Jaxx ever manage to reunite his alcohol addled brain with the rest of Planet Earth? 
How many 80s Rock Songs can you squeeze into one film and how many of them are a UK audience likely to know? 
 What the hell is the deal with the baboon anyway?

Been Watching: Strait Jacket

Anime DVD review
  Set in a world where Sorcery works as well as Steam engines, the use of magic is still a dangerous business.  Use magic too much and too often and you will become a hideous, misshapen demon bent only on slaughter.  Which is why magic-users armour themselves with the protective suits known as "Molds" or "Strait jackets".
  But sometimes the "Molds" fail.
 And that's when the Tactical Sorcerists are called in.
    Leiot Steinberg is a rogue Tactical Sorcerist - a magic-powered, demon hunter, in other words. His methods are crude, the collateral damage is high and he's a bit of a dick. Nevertheless, with a terrorist cell deliberately causing demon incidents, the Sorcery Management Bureau is forced to enlist his aid.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Metal Project: The Nineties. (Part one)

 The Metal Project is my attempt to find every metal song on Youtube that has "Metal" in the title and gather them all in one place. 

 Some people would have you believe that as soon as "Nevermind" was released everybody threw away their "Skid Row" T-shirts and donned a checked shirt. The truth is somewhat more complex than that but even so, what with Grunge, Rap and Dance music ruling the airwaves, Metal found itself pushed back into the shadows and morphing into something darker and angrier.
  Death Metal replaced Thrash as the music of choice for angry teenagers, facepainted Norwegians began setting churches alight and Saxon packed up and moved over to Germany until it was cool to like them again.
  By the middle of the decade  a new generation of "Metal" bands started cropping up in Kerrang but Nu-Metal, with it's chuggy riffs, allergy to solos and occasional outbreaks of rapping, really has no place here.
 All of which goes some way towards explaining why I've had to put the year-by-year posts on hold for a moment. In the meantime here's a slack handful of songs that prove Metal was alive and well in the dark days of the 90s.
 

Riot- Metal Soldiers (USA 1990)

Honour to: Warravens

Evenstorm - Heavy Metal Fever (Germany 1991)

(Very NWOBHM sounding)
Honour to: metallife78

First Aid - Heavy Metal Men (Russia 1992)

(If you know the 80s German outfit Bullet, this sounds a bit like them)
Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Heaven's Gate - Metal Hymn (Germany 1992)

(Old-school chantalong stomp)
Honour to: Steel LordGreece

Savino - Metal Messiah (USA 1993)

(Christian Rock, but not bad at all)
Honour to: fretboardfiend

Darkthrone - Unholy Black Metal (Norway 1993)

Honour to: 666evilmetalhead666

And to finish, a piece of prime Aussie nastiness.

Destroyer 666 - Death Metal Winds (Howl Again) -(Australia 1995)

Honour to: drummer1735

Now compare that to the first song on this post. Bit of a contrast huh? 

That's it for now folks.
Next time we look at the second half of the Metal Dark Ages.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Gig Review: Dragonforce/Alestorm/The Defiled - Portsmouth Pyramids 07/10/12

  The doors opened  at 7.30 and openers Cavorts came on at 7.35 so you have to wonder how many people actually got to see them. I certainly didn’t.  By the time I got inside I barely had time to grab a pint before the Luchador-masked MC was announcing the next band.
  I saw The Defiled last year on the Murderdolls tour and wasn’t overly impressed, mentally slotting them into the bracket “Shouty noise”. They were a bit better this time around and certainly get full marks for effort. The keyboardist in particular flinging his instrument around in a way that probably made his roadie wince.  
  Midway through the set the lead singer cheerfully announced that he’d thrown up onstage thanks to some dodgy fish and chips then shortly afterwards the drummer was suddenly festooned in toilet paper.
 Even with the added synths and samples I still thought they were a shouty noise but The Defiled seemed to go down well and managed to get a big chunk of the crowd bouncing up and down for their final song, always a good sign.
 Alestorm are quite possibly the perfect band to get drunk to.
 The world’s leading purveyors of True Scottish Pirate Metal regaled us with their keytar-driven tales of booze, wenches, pirates and more booze, briefly turning The Pyramids into their own personal,  disreputable tavern.
 The end-of-tour silliness only added to the fun. MC Luchador popped up onstage to deliver a plate of  nibbles garnished with a used condom and when the keyboard player pointed out that their drummer had apparently turned into a horse, lead singer Chris shrugged it off “These things happen” he told us casually.
 Judging by the amount of tricornes dotted throughout the crowd here were more than a few who’d come specifically to see Alestorm and the buccaneering Scots didn’t disappoint. I’m fairly certain the moshpit all suddenly started doing a jig at one point. 
 Great fun and afterwards I had this weird urge to drink some rum...
 It had been a while since I’d seen Dragonforce - almost ten years in fact - and since then almost the entire lineup has changed, only shredders Herman Li and Sam Totman remaining from the band I saw at the Bloodstock festival in 2003.
 And there’s no getting round the fact that if you are allergic to widdly guitars then Dragonforce are really not the band for you. Almost every song has a healthy dose of shredding solos, mostly played at breakneck speed.
 At one point a pair of acoustic guitars appeared onstage and silly me, I thought that might indicate a ballad was on the cards.
 Nope.
 Sam and Herman launched into the warpspeed  acoustic intro to “Through the Fire and the Flames” before normal service was resumed and the guitars got cranked up again.
 Interestingly the anthemic "Cry Thunder" is by, Dragonforce standards, practically a dawdle, and I'd be interested in seeing if that's a direction the band pursue further.
They can't get any faster surely, otherwise somebody's going to lose a finger. 
  Over the years Dragonforce have picked up a reputation as a sloppy live band but from what I was hearing, that’s really undeserved. The only flaw I could pick up is that new vocalist Marc Hudson got drowned in the mix from time to time. Otherwise he acquitted himself with honour on songs that can’t be easy to sing. Not a bad front man either.
 I’m frankly amazed that nobody collided onstage as guitarists, vocalist and bassist roamed  every corner of the  stage. From time to time even the keyboard player slung a customised keytar round his deck and headed for the front of the stage to join in the fun, this being a band where nobody is content to stand at the back of the stage and blend in.
 Then, after the obligatory encore (“Valley of the Damned” from the very first album) the band were taking their final bow and I wandered off into a chill October night, ears hissing and content that my money had been well spent.      
 Band of the night - Alestorm, just shading it over Dragonforce.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Metal Album Covers and Women With Swords - Continued.

  From the very beginnings of the music business record labels have attracted attention by putting attractive women on the cover.  Think about all those Top Of The Pops albums cluttering up car-boot sales and junk shops across the UK. There is not a single man to be found on any of them.
   Naturally Heavy Metal has it's own cheerful approach to this: Hot, underdressed woman + weapon = cool. As we shall see, some bands take it to another level entirely.
  Note that it seems to be Power Metal/Trad Metal  bands that really seem to go in for this. If there's a woman on a Death Metal cover then she's probably being eaten by zombies. Or worse.
 What better way to start than with a woman who can rightfully lay claim to the title Queen of Metal
album cover woman with sword

 Doro - Warrior Soul (Germany 2006)

The reason I find this one so facinating is that yes, that is Doro herself on the cover so presumably she's ok with the generous levels of butt-cheek on display. 

Metal album cover woman sword panther

Lady Killer -USA 1983

Little did she know that by getting herself a razor and a panther 
she was about to spark a terrible arms race.

 Soon women all across the globe were demanding blades and beasts.

Metal album woman on horse with sword

Valkyria - Russia 1993

Metal album woman riding tiger with sword

Ivory Tiger - Metal Mountain (USA 1986)

Sadly the money invested in buying the tiger left her unable to afford decent armour.

Until finally somebody came up with the Ultimate Weapon
metal album cover woman with axe riding a bear

 Crom - The Cocaine Wars 1974-1989 (USA 2001)

"Yeah. I got me a Polar Bear and a giant ass battleaxe. What you bitches gonna do now, huh?"

Kivimetsan Druidi - Betrayal, Justice Revenge (Finland 2010)

What we have here is that rare specimen: a Metal Amazon who's worked out 
that going into battle in proper armour increases her chance of survival.

Street Child - EP (USA 1989)

Hey. She's got a gun. How is that even fair?

More poorly armoured warrior women next time.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Metal Project: Metal Videos Chapter V

  The Metal project is my ongoing quest to track down every single Heavy Metal song on Youtube with "Metal" in the title. 

  The chronological posts having come to a screeching halt while I desperately try to find more songs from the 1990s, here's another batch where I could only find promo/live videos. Enjoy. 

 3 Inches Of Blood - Metal Woman (Canada 2012)

Honour to: CenturyMedia

Amenazha - Heavy Metal (Spain 2011)

Honour to: amenazha

It's amazing how many bands have a song with this title. 

Astoryas -Heavy Metal (Live) (Germany 2004)

Honour to: Astoryas666

Black Fire - Thrash Metal (Peru 2007)

Honour to: Foly55

Joe Thrasher _Metal 'Til You Puke (Live)(Canada 2011)

Honour to: TALENTEDvariety

Nemesis - Forever In Metal (Guernsey 2011)

Honour to: GsyCow

Pellek/Johansson - Nothing But Metal (Norway/Sweden2011)

(And check out the range on this guy. Jawdropping)
Honour to: imPelleK

That's all folks. 

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