Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Metal Project: Video edition 2014

Q: What the blue balls is This Metal Project thing you keep on about? 

A: I find songs on Youtube with Metal in the title then post them.  Simple.


 Normally I post songs rather than videos but every now and again I run into a track where they only thing I can find is a promo vid. Which is why for today's post you not only get to hear the metal but see the band in action as well.   Follow me. With a bit of luck we might just find your new favourite band.

U.D.O - Metal Machine (Germany 2013)

 The Teutonic metal legend still has the chops. 
Honour to: afmrecords

Abigail - Sexual Metal Party (Japan 2010)

(More puke-stinking, punk-metal from the Japanese nutters who brought you "High school Metal Bitch" and "Sexual Metal Holocaust". 
Fan-vid using clips from a film I wouldn't mind seeing , if only to find out what the frig is going on. )
Honour to: gemol666


Hellenium - Heavy Metal Alliance (Sweden 2012)

(Catchy Trad Metal)
Honour to: HELLENNIUMOFFICIAL

Ghoul - Metallicus Ex Mortis (USA 2011)

(Home-animated vid for a band with a thrash-groove kinda feel and a vicious wit)
Honour to: Tankcrimes

Witches Mark - Witching Metal Ritual (USA 2013)

(Pounding US Power Metal - nifty bit of soloing too)
Honour to:  WitchesMark


Psychonaut - False Metal (Australia 2012)

(I'm not sure if this lot are tongue in cheek or not. Regardless, the song isn't bad at all. 
Fast, frantic and goes in all sorts of odd directions but the guitarists know their stuff.)
 Honour to: PSYCHONAUT

Hellhound - Metal Warrior (Japan 2006)

(They like their old-school stuff, these guys. Again, I like the soloing on this one.
And just you try getting that chorus out of your head.)
Honour to: heavymetalthunderaxe

And finally, one I save 'till last because...
err..
Well, you'll see why.

Das Pack - Heavy Metal Kind (Germany 2010)

Honour to: DasPackHamburg

That's all folks. 




Sunday, 23 March 2014

Terrible Metal Album Covers Chapter XXII

 Blimey, I haven't done one of these in a while. And in all fairness, the only reason I'm doing this is that the post I had planned turned out to be a real bugger to get down on paper.
 So, as a blatant stalling measure, let's open up the Vault of Horrors and pull some of the contents into the harsh light of  public scrutiny.
 Please bear in mind that while the album cover may be ghastly, this does not mean the band are shite.

DANGER ZONE - VICTIM OF TIME (EP 1984)

Awful metal album cover knife in mouth
I have no idea how this equates to a "Victim of time"
 "Victim of Dodgy Dentistry" would be a crap title, I guess. 
No wonder his eyes are watering. 

 Dorian Gray - Journey Of Mind (Germany 1998)


No. I'm not going to do a caption for this one.
Because that would involve thinking about it and I don't want to do that.

Why haven't you scrolled down yet?

Dr. Mastermind - S/T (USA 1986)

The first of several covers where talented musicians end up looking a bit goofy. 

Entrench- Inevitable Decay (Sweden 2010)

 I can only assume they are paying tribute to some of the legendary Crap Album covers of the 80s.

Frost - Raise Your Fist To Metal (USA 2003)

Jack Frost, to those aware of his work, is something of a musician's musician.
This cover does him no favours. 

Heavy Bones - S/T 1992

A band made up of seasoned veterans of the Sunset Strip. Releasing this album just as grunge hit was a bit unfortunate. As is this cover.
 What the fuck is that thing even supposed to be? Some sort of...Gorilla-Thornbush, maybe?

But if you thought the artwork on that was crap, cop a load of this...

Karst- Cleaning A Cave (Hungary 2011)

The artist was so unimpressed by his own work, he tried to scribble it out. 

Mysto Dysto - The Rules have Been Disturbed (NLD 1986)

Genie... Blue heads growing out of rocks... scary skull-face instead of a moon... 
A fine example of the "Throw random shit at the page" school of artwork. 

Rez - Silence Screams (USA 1988)

  These guys were actually Christian Rock but while you might argue that it's not a "Terrible Metal Album Cover" it does still count as a "Terrible Album Cover." Nice concept. Execution...needed a bit of polishing.
  The smiling skeleton-coin thingie down the front is weirding me out a bit so hurriedly moving on...

Voodoo Child  - Adrenalin (France 1985) 

Has anybody else noticed how many of these dodgy covers have no relation whatsoever to the album title? Or band name? Call me cynical but you have to wonder if the artist had a doodle lying around and just went "Screw it. Put a logo on that." 
Well, it would certainly explain that Karst cover.

Widow - Rockit (USA 1985)

More AOR than metal but back in the 80s the two scenes weren't quite so far apart as they are now. 
I digress. 
Contemplate the prime 1980s graphic design on display here. Oh dear.
  I firmly believe that decade doesn't deserve as much scorn as it gets but sometimes I have to admit the naysayers have a point. 

 Just to prove my oft-repeated point that crap art does not guarantee crap music. Here's Widow in action with a rather fun promo.  You get a bit of American Bandstand at the end as a bonus.

 That's all folks. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Fistful Of Comics: March 2014

  I wouldn't describe myself as a dedicated comics fan but every now and again a strange urge sends me to the nearest Forbidden Planet.
  Here's what I came back with  and some thoughts on each.

We'll start with one I've been following for a while. This is the final issue of the mini-series.


Clown Fatale 4

sexy killer clowns
 Four pissed-off female clowns were recruited by a local villain to do a little job for him. It went a bit pear-shaped. The final showdown sees our facepainted anti-heroine Chloe battling psychotic Russians and gun-toting rednecks as all hell breaks loose.

  This has been one of the most fun series I've stumbled across lately and the finale delivers more than sufficient blood, fire and death for my requirements. The art-style is quirky and a bit OTT but that suits this book.  With a bit of luck there's more adventures to come for Chloe and co.


clown grabs balls
Chloe gets into it with a fat bloke. 

Now one I've been reading for a long time.

Red Sonja #7

sonja and crocodiles
Is it just me or is that croc down the bottom looking downright smug?

  Sonja is given a mission by a dying king. He wants to throw the ultimate party so he has a list of guests he wants Sonja to find. Succeed and he'll free all the slaves working on his tomb. Fail and...well, you can guess.  In this issue, Sonja finds herself  looking for a renowned master-chef, last seen hanging out with a swamp-dwelling tribe of curiously-sophisticated cannibals.  

 Gail Simone seems to have ditched the chainmail bikini. I'm not entirely happy about this. In exchange Sonja has acquired a certain earthiness, reminiscent of a certain brawling Cimmerian. There's also more sardonic humour and Simone has so far managed to take the usual "Sonja arrives in town and kills people" storyline and make them interesting. Dare I use the word "Depth", even?

 Sonja gets a critique of her cooking abilities. 
Then discovers she'll be guest of honour Main course at the next feast

And finally, a series that's new to me.

 The Royals - Masters Of War 1 & 2

superhero and hawker hurricanes
 There was no way I was going to pass up a cover like that. Also proof that I will buy comics that don't have women on the cover. 
ww2 superhero and bomber
Geek test. Tell me what kind of aircraft that is. 

  There are legends that those of Royal blood once had "God-given" abilities, allowing them to do incredible, heroic feats during battle. Those days are past. Now the British Royal family can only stand and watch as the Luftwaffe hammer London into rubble.
 Except the legends were true. And those powers are not gone, merely kept a secret.

Issue 1. Idealistic Prince Henry jumps into the burning wreckage of Berlin, where he faces a deadly foe and is reminded of the moment it all began. When he used his hidden powers to smash a Luftwaffe attack.

Issue 2. The young royals are sent to America to drum up support for the war against Hitler. As it turns out, the British are not the only royal family who still have powers.

 If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that one of the titles I've been following is "Uber" - about Nazi supermen turning the tide of WW2.
 Well, here's something that covers similiar territory but from a different perspective.
  I'm not entirely sure about the artwork but the story is fascinating. As well as the obvious superheroics there's ongoing tension between young Henry and his older brother, the cynical degenerate Arthur. Among other things, Arthur is really not happy about Henry's relationship with his sister Rose, which may or may not be closer than it should be.
 Arthur is a bit of a twat, truth be told, but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to grow to like him.
 The story opens with a bang - Henry and a doomed force of Lancaster bombers battling through the skies of Berlin  - and the punchup to debate ratio is thus far pleasing to me. Available evidence suggests that once the other Royal families get involved we're in for a wild ride.
(One minor, pedantic point of irritation. At one point the artist depicts a force of Spitfires with Vokes tropical filters. They're called Tropical filters because they were used in North Africa and the Far East. Not over Kent. Just saying.)
 So, if you liked "Uber" you might like this. If you liked seeing Captain America beat up Nazis you might also like this. If you like a bit of Alternative History..you get the idea.

Princess Rose, Prince Henry, Prince Arthur and King Albert.
Well there was no way they were going to have the real Princess Elizabeth battling Nazis
Garth Ennis might write that one one day, mind you.
  
 Henry ****s up a Heinkel.
 The Americans introduce their own super-team. Royals being famous for er...sowing their seed..there was plenty of it got out into the general population.
 The Japanese send an envoy. Arthur is not terribly diplomatic. 

That's all folks. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Mirror, Mirror...

  You don't have to dive too deeply into the wild and wonderful world of metal/rock album artwork to spot that certain themes keep coming up time and time again. Motorbikes, cars, swords, skulls, stuff on fire...and so on and so on.  Plus of course, attractive young women.
 Today's post is  a simple idea that gives the artist a lot of room to be creative.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest scariest of them all? 

Monsters Of The Ordinary - Mirror (Austria 2012)

Rock cover - woman staring into mirror
  Our first indication that this particular post is not going to be all lovestruck cuties gazing wistfully into a mirror. Some of these ladies are in need of some serious psychiatric help. And possibly an exorcist.
 Band site here: http://www.monstersoftheordinary.com/ - More Stoner Fuzz-rock than metal but close enough that I'm going to sneak them in anyway.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Metal Project: Heavy Metal Storm

 About two years ago I set out to see how many Heavy Metal songs I could find on Youtube which had the word "Metal" in the title. I honestly was not expecting to find so many.

  There's no underlying theme to today's selection, just a grab-bag of metallic goodies. I hope you find something you like.

 Wulfgar - Midgardian Metal (Sweden 2010)

(Bombastic Viking Death Metal - pretty catchy)
Honour to: MisterMetal95

Stygian Shore - Stygian Metal (USA 1984) 

(Unfussy US Metal that was never going to get on MTV but that's not necessarily a bad thing.)
)
 Honour to: crgreyf

Harbinger -Die For Metal, Live For Death (USA 2009)

(Enthusiastic Speed Metal with hints of NWOBHM - 
Sounds like they were quite young when they did this.)
Honour to: audiostimulation

Not Fragile - Made Of Metal (Germany 1985 Demo)

(No frills but has a driving edge to it.
Breaks down in the middle so the rythymn section can have a go in the spotlight then layers on the guitars before going back into it. 
I like that sort of thing)
Honour to: SlauterXstroyes

Arcano XV - Heavy Metal Storm (Paraguay 2012)

(Very 80s sounding fist-in-the-air Heavy Metal) 
Honour to: theheadbanger09

Vhaldemar - Metal And Roll (Spain 2013)

(Power Metal that isn't too polished around the edges)
)
Honour to: VhaldemarOficial

Aura Noir - Black Metal Jaw (Norway 2004)

(Not as harsh and abrasive as I was expecting - got a sort of punky groove to it. Not bad)
Honour to: Korruptor

Titan - La Loi Du Metal (France 1986)

(A crunchy French take on the NWOBHM sound and a vocalist who just may be Udo Dirkschneider's Gallic cousin.)
Honour to: DisciplineOfSteel


That's all folks.
See you next time.




Sunday, 9 March 2014

Film: Safety Not Guaranteed.

 
"WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED."

"Three employees of Seattle Magazine head to the scenic, seaside community of Ocean View to find and profile the man behind a bizarre and hilarious classified ad looking for a partner to travel through time.
 Darius (Aubrey Plaza, The To Do List) along with fellow intern Arnou, follow Jeff (Jake Johnson, New Girl) their party hard boss, to profile the potential lunatic behind the preposterous proposition.
 Tracking down the paranoid Kenneth (Mark Duplass, Your Sister's Sister, Zero Dark Thirty) the source of their story, Darius must then face a series of challenges to prove that she can be trusted before she finds out the real reasons behind the desire to travel through time.
 What this hapless three find is beyond expectation and soon they realise that although everyone's need for change is different, the power to hope for something better is universal."

 To begin with, if you go into "Safety Not Guaranteed" expecting a full-on Time Travel comedy then you may be disappointed. There are some bits that are pretty funny - Kenneth's attempted break-in to a research lab for instance - but this isn't really that kind of film.

 It's not really a Time-Travel film either.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" is all about the way Darius and Kenneth get to know each other. Darius is a misfit, Kenneth even more so. You could almost describe him as "Damaged". Or "Nuts" if you prefer.
 Watching the two of them gradually ease into being comfortable together is rather delightful to behold.
 As a contrast you get Jeff's attempts to hook up with an ex-girlfriend, which he proceeds to do in the most asshole-ish way possible.
 In the last quarter of the film things ramp up to a definite extent - there's some revelations about Kenneth that threatens to take the film into something darker. I don't want to give too much away so I'll stop there.

I stepped outside my comfort-zone for this film and I am glad that I did. "Safety Not Guaranteed" isn't the film I thought it was going to be, but that film wouldn't have been anywhere near as enjoyable.

Worth seeing as long as you don't expect too much actual Time Travel.

Here's the trailer.



 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Film Review: Order Of The Grail (Spain 2011)

AKA: "Captain Trueno"
AKA: Capitan Trueno Y el Santo Grial"

" A white-knuckle journey into a blood-soaked world of mystical legend and war-torn history, Order Of The Grail is a jaw-dropping tale of honour, heroism and the battle to save the holiest relic in the world.
  When a 12th Century knight-errant on a mission to rid the Holy Land of injustice discovers a mysterious chalice in the depths of a Saracen cell he is thrown into a desperate quest to save the known world from teh forces of darkness. battling a maniacal sorceror and his legion of invincible Black Warriors he must join with his sworn Saracen enemies if he is to face his destiny and restore the Rail to it's rightful place.
 The Order of the Grail is born..."

 Has anybody else noticed that all these DVDs seem to have been designed by the same team?  
 And that the blurb writers tend to skim over certain important details?
  You have to be looking very hard at the back cover to spot that this film is in Spanish with English subtitles.
 A little bit of research turns up the alternative titles you see at the top of the page and the rather interesting discovery that the film is based on a long-running Spanish comic. 
    (If you can read Spanish you will find more info here: http://www.capitan-trueno.com/los-protagonistas/)

Once again we have a DVD label trying to pull a fast one. Gits. It's not as if we wouldn't notice the small detail of everybody speaking frigging Spanish.is it? 

 Anyway, the film itself is...not bad. 

 Not the thrill-fest the blurb writer would have us believe but since blurb writers couldn't tell you the time in less than ten minutes and a dozen descriptive hyphens, that's not too much of a surprise. 

"Order Of The Grail" has quite an old-fashioned feel to it so if you like the old swashbucklers you may well enjoy this. There's a few modern touches - the FX mostly -  but not overdone and the director doesn't subscribe to the annoying modern notion that the best way to film a swordfight is  two inches away from the hero's nostril and edited in a blender. 
 Sidekicks Crispin and Goliath manage to stay the right side of "Annoying", Sigrid - exiled Viking princess and blatant love-interest - is lively enough but never quite lives up to her initial promise and Captain Thunder himself is an old-school knightly hero played straight. This is not a bad thing. 

 There are a few things I'd have liked to have seen done differently. 

  After spending the entire film showing us that there's something subterranean and 'orrible stalking our heroes, the actually payoff is a letdown. In fact, the final battle itself could have been more dynamic and the secret weapon the good-guys deploy is bordering on ass-pull. 
 I was also looking forward to seeing how our heroes dealt with the magical Black Warriors. In round one, the good guys found their weapons utterly useless So in round two, once the Black Warriors make their appearance and begin picking off Team Thunder I was sitting there thinking "Ok. This is getting awkward. How do you beat these guys? What's their weak spot?"
 Well, the weak spot is that the good guys just sorta...wander off and forget about them. 
Really? That's the best you could do? 

To sum up. Misleading packaging and obvious flaws notwithstanding. Order Of The Grail isn't a bad Medieval Swashbuckler. Not brilliant but not bad either. 

Here's the trailer if you're interested.


That's all folks. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Bovington Tank Museum

My favourite WW2 tank
 
This week it was my Dad's 65th birthday and as a bit of a treat I said I'd take him and Mum to Bovington Tank Museum.
  Of course being an ex-squaddie and a fully paid up member of the regimental association, Dad got in free. And did all the driving. Meanwhile Mum paid for me and her to get in.
 So really I just treated Mum and Dad to breakfast on the way up.

Hmm. Doesn't sound so generous now, does it?

It was quite a good breakfast mind you. I particularly liked the sausages.

 The British Army has been training tank crews at Bovington since 1916 while the museum was founded in the 1920s on the suggestion of Rudyard Kipling. It is currently the world's largest collection of tanks, many of which are kept in running order.
 I visited Bovington during the 1970s and I have vague memories of it being pretty much an enormous shed stuffed with tanks. These days it's a lot more sophisticated.

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