Well it’s been a pretty intense few days in terms of work-related stuff, and I’ve also managed to cram in a lot of music and a couple of movies. I’ve finished up the copy-editing of the book on consumer credit law and have moved on to a new title on branding. There is one chapter in particular that I really enjoyed, which dealt with the mythologising of packaging, and made reference to one of my heroes, Joseph Campbell, certainly one of the foremost mythologists ever. Was a hugely informative read. Overall, the manuscript has been very interesting to work on, which always makes things a bit easier.
Since The Cabinet of Dr Caligari on Monday, I’ve ticked a couple more movies off the list: Monsieur Verdoux and Cool Hand Luke, both with Ally, who has now also started his own blog dedicated to the movies he’s been watching over at 100 Minutes or Less. He tries to sum up his thoughts on each movie in a sentence or two, and he’s been getting through them much quicker than me at the moment. With Monsieur Verdoux, I do believe I’ve watched all of the Chaplin movies on the list now. I was massively surprised by how good the acting was (very little ham-fisted stuff) for a film from 1947. A real gem in the Chaplin catalogue, and certainly a much, much darker comedy than anything else of his I’ve seen. The tagline, “A Comedy About Murder”, sums it up perfectly. Cool Hand Luke was another great surprise; it had that sort of indescribable “watchable” quality about it from the get go. Brilliant performances and a fine portrayal of the eventual tragedy that seems to stem from an anti-establishment protagonist.
Music-wise, I’ve listened to so much in the last couple of days that I’m going to try to keep it short. As such, I finally made it to the end of my Terrorizer issue #250 listening spree and am going to move on to the current issue #252 spree (actually, I’ve made a start on it while writing this entry).
Tankard – R.I.B. [3/5] Beer-themed thrash metal from these German veterans that manages to retain a solid catchiness throughout, and is fun without resorting to (overly) cheap gags. Amazing that they have been able to make a career out of beer-themed songs for more than 30 years!
Temtris – Shallow Grave [2/5] A few great Opeth-esque passages can’t hide what is really quite mediocre “melodic metal” from these Australians that doesn’t seem to have much purpose. The vocals are all over the place, oftentimes sounding fairly out of key, or at least out of step, with the music, which seems to meander on directionless for the majority of the running time. Not my thing.
Tengger Cavalry – Ancient Call [3/5] Folk metal from China this time. I think this is actually the first metal band I’ve heard from China, and I was not expecting such a well-polished sound. If you’re more into your folk metal than I am, you’ll probably find more to rave about with this album. Nonetheless, this was a unique and enjoyable enough listen.
The Algorithm – Octopus4 [4/5] I was not expecting this to be so great. A djent/electronic/chiptune hybrid from France, the whole thing is pulled off with such style and panache that it was hard to wipe the smile off my face for the duration. Catchy, original, and great fun, this was an unexpected highlight of the week and I’m looking forward to some repeated listening.
The Atlas Moth – The Old Believer [4/5] I feel almost ashamed (I should be) that it’s taken me so long to properly check out The Atlas Moth. Not only are they well thought of in a lot of trusted publications (Terrorizer, Steel for Brains, Show No Mercy), but the Profound Lore stamp of quality is, as hoped for, all over this. Chris Bruni rarely missteps when signing bands to his label, and these “post-metal” masters from Chicago are no exception. I have a feeling that this rating may increase to “full marks” after a few more listens.
The Bastard Noise/Lack of Interest – The Bastard Noise/Lack of Interest [3/5] Nothing like an old-fashioned grindcore split release. In this case, the shorter, snappier stuff from Lack of Interest won me over more than the slightly more ponderous style of The Bastard Noise, although I expect if you’re a grindcore aficionado, you’ll enjoy this more than I did.
The Dagger – The Dagger [3/5] Jumping on the bandwagon much? A bunch of Swedish death metal musicians playing heavy metal/hard rock inspired by the likes of Blue Öyster Cult and Deep Purple isn’t exactly surprising in a post-Ghost world. No problems here, though; this debut album is enjoyable stuff, if not exactly overwhelmingly mind-blowing.
The Soft Pink Truth – Why Do the Heathen Rage? [4/5] Ten classic black metal songs covered using synthesisers, dance beats, and a healthy dose of camp sensibility. It shouldn’t work, but somehow solo artist Drew Daniel pulls it off with aplomb on this, his second release under this monicker. The cover of Mayhem’s “Buried by Time and Dust” (the original being a particular favourite of mine) is an inspired highlight.
Throne – Where Tharsis Sleeps [4/5] The first EP proper from this London doom trio is a great follow-up to 2012’s fantastic Heavy Lies the Crown single, which showed great promise indeed. Hopefully the positive critical acclaim that seems to be coming their way will fuel them with the ambition and hunger to put out a first full-length of equal or greater quality. A little reminiscent of the excellent Reverend Bizarre for me, albeit without the 20-minute songs.
Tombs – Savage Gold [4/5] This was Terrorizer’s album of the month in issue #250, and not without due cause. The third album from these New Yorkers is a phenomenal melting pot of sludge/doom/black/punk that I can only foresee getting better with repeated listens, as with The Atlas Moth above. It’s certainly their strongest release to date, albeit their most densely layered and least instantly accessible. But when it clicks, it really clicks.
Trap Them – Blissfucker [4/5] Another stupendously good release from Trap Them, whose brand of d-beat/crust/hardcore is right up my street. Along with Martyrdöd’s Elddop, this sets the standard high for the genre in 2014. I get the feeling that seeing these guys live would be so intense. Lucky for me they’re playing at Temples Festival in Bristol next year.
Twilight Force – Tales of Ancient Prophecies [4/5] While not the biggest power metal fan by any means, I’ve always had a soft spot for really strong stuff like Rhapsody (and one might even argue Manowar fit the power metal bill, who I also really enjoy). In what has been a pleasant running theme of this week’s listening pattern, I was not expecting this new Swedish band to evoke all those feelings of listening to those classic Rhapsody records, and to provide such a rejuvenating experience in what is often a very stale genre these days.
Vintersorg – Naturbål [3/5] I’ve always preferred Vintersorg’s work in Borknagar than with his solo band. I guess that says I prefer his vocals to his songwriting abilities. While there’s nothing to hate here, there’s not that much to get worked up about either. Everything is well produced and well crafted, but the songs do eventually start to collide with each other in sounding a little too similar throughout in comparison with the variety you tend to get with Borknagar releases.
Wreck & Reference – Want [4/5] With just vocals, electronics, and drums, this Californian duo manage to make one hell of a fantastic noise. Equal parts noise rock, sludge metal, and experimental ambience, there’s a bleak desperation running through the album that is as startling as it is intriguing.
And that’s about it, although admittedly in the time it took me to write this entry, I’ve nearly managed to get through two albums from the aforementioned Terrorizer issue #252 playlist! More on that next time.