Movie Mumblings | IT (2017)

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So, I finally did it. After weeks of hype, fuss and hullabaloo, I finally caved and dragged my ass to the movies for the first time in 4 years and saw the new adaptation of Stephen King’s IT. After surfing through a sea of praise, high ratings and creepy cretin fan-fictions and all kinds of weird shit surrounding it, I said fuck it and payed 15 bucks for a ticket and sat my ass down in the theater to give it a watch for myself. It’s a decision that shifted back and forth between saving the small modicum of cash that I have left in my pocket at the moment or following the herd and pissing it away for the 900th fucking remake that everyone get’s their nipples hard over that would most likely and unsurprisingly not live up to the hype. However, after finally feasting my eyes on it, I honestly have to say *drum roll*… that I enjoyed it! This may have been the most enjoyable remake I’ve seen to date and it definitely does the original justice and even surpasses it. The only problem I really had with it was seeing it in the theater, which reminded me why I usually don’t go to the movies… because people don’t SHUT THE FUCK UP! But otherwise, I was entertained all throughout and my money wasn’t wasted. *phew*

Now, i’m not gonna go back and forth between this and the original and compare the two in every single goddamn aspect, as I don’t really care for the original; i’m just gonna talk about this one and why I enjoyed it. This is one of those cases where I feel the original was weak and would actually benefit from a remake. The same goes for a lot of other “classics” that everyone jocks these days. There are indeed a lot of remakes that are unnecessary, but i’m not fully against them. I feel like the original IT suffers from being too dated and cheesy for it’s own good and it’s concept would work much better with the special effect technology we have now and our ability to make things look even more gruesome than back then, so I’m just going to focus on this film in and of itself. As we know, the plot follows a group of nerdy kids known as the Losers Club who go on somewhat of an escapade to solve the mystery surrounding their hometown of Derry, following the disappearance of one of the kids, Bill’s younger brother, Georgie, which we all know what went down from the jump. Needless to say, in a non-spoiler way, shit goes down. A lot of shit. Way down.

This is a very well done and refreshing reboot of what was originally a weak and uninteresting film in my opinion. It’s undoubtedly an upgrade with some very grotesque visuals that don’t rely too much on CGI, which I totally thought it would, and quite a few creepy moments. There’s also a fair hint of comedy thrown in, thanks mostly to this wise-cracking little fuck

The jokes and insults are used fairly heavily but not to the point of turning the entire movie into a laugh fest. Things are serious when they need to be with the comic relief only serving as just that. Richie was the perfect character to provide that relief and does and fantastic job at doing so. The film takes place in 1988 (which is a pretty significant shift, as the original takes place in 1960) and does a fine job in capturing the essence of the time period. It’s very reminiscent of films like The Goonies or Stand by Me… or Super 8 (bleh). The “kids going on an adventure” trope may be kind of overused at this point, but it works just fine here. I had no gripes. Each of these kids had their own backstory and sense of significance to the story that explains what fears they had for IT to tap into and take form of to use against them. As we know, Pennywise is just one form of IT, which is an omnipresent force that has it’s grip on the town of Derry and controls it, including the inhabitants. Pennywise just serves as it’s main form because many people fear clowns.

Also, big ups to Bill Skarsgård for his portrayal of Pennywise. He fit the role like a glove and knocked it out of the park. He looks just as creepy as a human as he does as a clown, so it works perfectly, which is strange because he’s now also the star of weird, perverted Tumblr fanwhores’ sick fantasies. What else is new, right? Anyway, great performance!

So anyway, i’m trying not to make this an essay and my reviews are spoiler-free, so i’m gonna wrap it up here. Overall, I was a pleasantly surprised by how this one turned out and very much entertained. The remake indeed did the original justice. Like I said, I’m not a fan of the original and I think it’s very dated, so an upgrade was much needed. The effects were better, the visuals were creepier, and the story was told in a much better way, the comic relief didn’t overshadow the film as a whole, and the updated Pennywise is much freakier and looks much more unnatural and distorted than the original. The kids did a great job in their roles, especially Finn Wolfhard as Richie and Sophia Lillis as Beverly. I wouldn’t exactly say this movie was “scary”, but it does have a lot of creepy and grotesque moments. Again, no spoilers, see it for yourself. I probably won’t be going to the movies again for another several years, until I forget how annoying people are, but this time was worth it. So I recommend it. Buy an unnecessarily expensive ticket and go check it out!

Until next time.

-Scvm

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Album Thoughts | Goya: Harvester of Bongloads

It’s been a while since I indulged in a nice, thick, crunchy Doom Metal album of the Stoner variety. Reason being is that I haven’t really come across too many in recent months that really caught my eye. One of my favorite Stoner Doom bands is Windhand, because they’re exactly what I look for in a band within this genre; heavy, burly, crushing and atmospheric riff and drum-wise with a powerful and vibrant vocal performance to top it off. That’s exactly what they possess, especially on their latest album, which made it my #1 album of 2015. I don’t come across that kind of thing too often these days, so it’s kinda rare that a Stoner band or album really lands on my radar. There’s always bound to be one, though.

Goya is a band from Phoenix, Arizona, fronted by Jeff Owens, who’s also the man behind this excellent collection of Electric Wizard covers under the moniker Acoustic Wizard.

I found out about his main band through this project and after enjoying his performance so much on this, I was pretty pumped to give this band a listen. Their first two outings floored me right off the bat. They had everything that made me love the last Windhand opus. It’s a steady, well-structured blend of thick, smokey guitars, thick, murky drums and a very impassioned and fervent vocal delivery by Owens that has kind of a raspy, Hard Rock feel to it and is pretty different from most Stoner vocals I’ve heard, but it fits and works like a charm. His style is what made the Acoustic Wizard stuff work so well too, his intense delivery is what gave it the punch it needed to really grasp your heed and keep it until it was finished. It works just as well on this album, even for the 20-minute opener Omen: I. Strange Geometry, II. Fade Away, III. Life Disintegrates. Even the brief instrumental that follows, Germination is an attention holder with it’s psychedelic riffs and overall groove.

Then we have my favorite of the 4 tracks on this album; the super abrasive and epic Misanthropy on High. 11 minutes of cloudy, psychedelic riffy goodness and searing, raspy cries about smoking yourself into a come while this shitty world passes you by. Excellent track that really put the cherry on top of this one for me. Things wrap up with the mid-paced and groovy Disease, which closes this on a strong, satisfying note. Despite the lengthy song lengths, this isn’t too long of an album at all, clocking it at only 40 minutes and not overstaying it’s welcome, though with a sound like this, it’ll always be welcome into MY ear canals. That’s for damn sure. This is a fairly standard but at the same time, unique and gripping offering of hazy, muddy Doom that’ll please any fan of the genre, especially if you’re looking for something ardent and hard-hitting. This will do the trick in more ways than one. Jeff Owens shines here just as much as he does on Acoustic Wizard and got me hooked on this band just as easily as he did for that project. Again, he brings a degree of uniqueness to a genre known for a highly duplicated vocal style that makes many of it’s acts very generic and stale. Jeff’s voice and the overall feel he gives off is very distinct and gives the band it’s own identity; much like Dorthia of Wndhand does.

So, needless to say, I may very well have found a new favorite within this smokey realm and another one to add to the year-end list in December. Like I said, it’s not every day a Stoner Doom album really catches me off guard and hits me right in the gut totally out of left field like this, but when it does happen, it’s glorious. So I can’t recommend this one enough to all Doom heads out there who are looking for something different and powerful. This sure as hell isn’t a bad one to turn to. In a saturated genre like Stoner Doom, it’s rare to find a band that sticks out like a sore thumb and offers something truly fresh and outside the box, and if bands like Goya and Windhand can pull it off, then there’s always a chance for it. So yeah, get your ears on this one and thank me later!

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Myrkur: Mareridt

So, I was curious. Morbidly curious. I’m sure we all know my initial feelings on this project and remember the scathing review I gave her first album for Hipster Week some months back. Well, upon the release of her new album, I looked at it and foolishly thought to myself: “Maybe I’m wrong.”, “Maybe WE’RE wrong.”, “Maybe this will be a step up”, “Maybe it’ll be better.” “Maybe, JUST maybe, she’s not as bad as initially thought.”… then I decided to give it a listen, and boy oh boy was I wrong. Dead wrong. Reality struck me dead in the face with a fucking Hurdy Gurdy.

Myrkur has been quite the controversial and polarizing figure in the Black Metal community over the last couple years. On one side, she’s a phenomenal artist who plays unique, heavenly Black Metal that she makes her own using her angelic voice and Folk influences and yadda yadda yadda. On the other side, she’s a vapid Hipster cunt with no musical talent whatsoever who’s using this gimmick to appropriate the Black Metal genre to make a quick buck. On which side of the spectrum do I stand? Well, if you read my review of M, it should be pretty clear; I do understand the backlash and the hate, but to me, there are significantly worse bands and projects under this umbrella plaguing the genre nowadays. She’s just a small part of it. So I never really had THAT much of an issue with her beyond her music. I just think her music is boring and sterile Folky Atmospheric Black Metal that sounds like a cross between Alcest (yuck) and Leaves Eyes (YUCK), and i’m not a fan at all of Folk Metal to begin with. That’s pretty much it. I’d be throwing stones in a glass house if I disparaged her beyond that because I do like some bands of this variety, including a certain fake Chinese one. Anyway, on to the album at hand.

The reason I mentioned a Hurdy Gurdy earlier is because for this album, the Black Metal element of her sound that got her so much recognition in the first place is shockingly almost completely stripped away in favor of a more Folk Metal style. There is still a teeny, tiny amount of harsh shrieks and blastbeats present, but only in 2 tracks, Måneblôt Ulvinde, both of which touch briefly on the Atmospheric Black Metal sound that the previous offering exhibited and displayed harsh shrieks, gloomy tremolo riffs and hazy blastbeats. Pretty decent sounding too, credit where it’s due. Aside from that, the rest of the album is a complete departure from that sound altogether. After a brief intro and the opener comes The Serpent; a kinda Chelsea Wolfe-ish slow, melancholic, Doomy Folk piece with palm-muted riffs and a slow, draggy drum pattern that drones throughout as her voice sears over it all. This is the first indication that something was different about this one. Speaking of Chelsea Wolfe, she actually makes an appearance on this album, on the track Funeral, which however, isn’t much to write home about. Just a short, Doomy, duel vocal track that she barely comes through on, it just left me scratching my head and shrugging my shoulders. The Doomier tracks do sway me a little but it still isn’t enough to fully grasp my heed.

Then we have slower, Folkier tracks like Crown and De Tre Piker; just more gloomy dreariness that I’ve heard done much better. Nothing much for me there. Then we have the weirder ones like the instrumental Kætteren and the very strange closer Børnehjem, which finally puts things to rest and ends my misery in the weirdest and most boring way possible. The overall sound here reminds me of a weird cross between bands like Eluveitie and Within Temptation with the trolly, fiddly, Folk Metal style coupled with the synthy Epica-like Gothic Metal style; neither of which genre does anything for me. If you’re gonna give me Gothic Metal, it better be early Moonspell or Diabolique. Not that newer crap that Mallgoth kids jock nowadays, and if you’re gonna give me corny Folk Metal, it damn well better be Goatmoon! Anyway…

I will admit that I do dig the Doomy, heavier element on this one; there are some pretty good riffs and really aggressive moments present, but overall, this album as a whole, much like it’s predecessor, bored me almost to tears. Amalie Bruun’s style just doesn’t entertain me as much as it does some other people. This isn’t even an opinion based on all the other controversy and dismay surrounding her, that’s a whole other rant, this is purely my thoughts on the music itself. I still think there is much worse out there when it comes to the Hipster squad (Deafheaven, Liturgy, Alcest, etc.) and there are some bands out of this bunch that I can tolerate as well, Myrkur just isn’t one of them. Again, I gave this one a listen out of pure curiosity and wondering if it would be a step up from the previous one, and while it was in a couple aspects, the overall package still couldn’t cut it. At least she isn’t leeching off of Garm for recycled Ulver riffs anymore.

Until next time.

-Scvm

 

Squared Circle Thoughts | WWE No Mercy 2017

NO-Mercy

So, after a nice month-long break from PPVs, it’s time for another brand-exclusive WWE show. This time, we have the Raw exclusive No Mercy. A show that has been built around two, as they have been saying nonstop over the last month, Wrestlemania Worthy matches; John Cena vs Roman Reigns & Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman for the Universal Title.

Well, how did this ever-so significant show hold up? In all honesty, it was a very solid show up until the last 2 matches. The lower to mid card was very good to great. All very exiting matches with some very entertaining in-ring action. Some blood and missing teeth too. Then the show neared it’s end and everything just fell flat and I was left underwhelmed. Not a good look on the part of Raw creative.

So, without any further adieu, let’s get into it.

The Miz (c) vs Jason Jordan (Intercontinental Title)

Starting things of on a HOT note, we have Miz defending the IC strap against Jason Jordan, who doesn’t seem to be catching on with the crowd as he was met with a good amount of boos and “you suck” chants. Anyway, this was a great opener! These two put on a clinic with some really good back and forth action and hopefully this will earn Jordan some crowd points, but I’m not so sure. I like the guy, but this whole storyline he’s involved in as Kurt Angle’s son is very convoluted and kinda dumb, but it is what it is.

Anyway, Miz wins and retains with the help of Axel & Dallas. I smell rematch. Damn good opener.

Finn Balor vs Bray Wyatt

I was expecting another good one out of these two because they put on a good one at SummerSlam, and we got just that. This was another banger put on by these two, perhaps even better than the last one. Starting off with some chaos as Bray immediately attacks Finn before the bell rings and making it look like the match would be off or it would happen later with the Demon, maybe? Nope. After a few words on the mic from Bray, Finn hits the ring again and we get a match and a really good one. Some brutal spots, including some brutal stuff by Bray; his throwing suplexes are insane. Finn got his usual stuff in as well. There was some good suspenseful storytelling in this match with Finn’s ”injured” ribs from Bray’s attack earlier, that had me thinking Bray would pick up the win at some points, but with each near fall, the crowd ate it up more and more.

Finn Balor wins with the Coup de Grace. This spells the end of the feud, I assume.

Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose (c) vs Sheamus & Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Title)

Next we have ANOTHER fucking banger of a bout. Another SummerSlam rematch between Rollins & Ambrose and The Bar for the red tag straps. This was a great match with some great effort on both sides that the crowd ate up like Pez candy. Cesaro got knocked ugly in this one and lost his 2 front teeth, but that didn’t stop these guys from putting on a clinic. There were a ton of great spots like that BRUTAL White Noise and Powerbomb combo by The Bar that I thought for sure spelled the end; maybe we’d see an upset, but no. Ridiculous moment there. There was a shit ton of really good double-team stuff by both teams and it made for a damn entertaining 15-minute bout.

Seth & Dean retain after an awesome finish. Possible match of the night in my book!

Fatal 5-Way Match: Alexa Bliss (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Bayley vs Emma vs Nia Jax (Raw Womens Title)

Next we have the womens match of the evening. Holy fuck, what a match it was. It was yet ANOTHER Fatal 5-Way but it was a damn good one. Each of these ladies put on a hell of a show and put in everything they could. There were some pretty brutal spots here like that Double Powerbomb on Nia to the outside that folded her the fuck in half. Heinous. Then there was a pretty impressive Double Samoan Drop from Nia onto Sasha and Emma. There were a ton of near falls and dope moments and it never got dull throughout.

In the end, Alexa picks up the win and retains after a DDT on Bayley. Damn good showing by all 5 of these ladies.

John Cena vs Roman Reigns

Next we have the first of the 2 Wrestlemania Worthy matches, as they stressed ad nauseam throughout the last few weeks, John Cena vs Roman Reigns. This was overall a pretty decent match, but I was expecting just a tad more out of it. It could have gone a bit longer, it could have had some more suspense in it, but it kinda fell short. It was good enough for what it was though. Some good back and forth action and some cool spots, including the inevitable announcers table spot that you can always expect if there are three fucking tables at ringside, and some other cool stuff pulled out by both guys.

Roman Reigns wins via a Superman Punch and a Spear. Not a bad match overall. I predict another math between these two in the not so distant future.

Neville (c) vs Enzo Amore (Cruiserweight Title)

On to easily the weakest and screwiest match of the night… as I expected. Neville defending the Cruiserweight title against Enzo Amore. I’m gonna keep this one short. Shitty match with a whole lot of nothing. “This is Boring” chants ensue, slow, dragging action and Enzo wins after a kick in the crotch to Neville. New champ! Only title change of the night. Wow. Guess the “heat” rumors aren’t so true after all, huh? Moving on.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs Braun Strowman (WWE Universal Title)

Main event time! The other Wrestlemania Worthy bout of the night. This one has me perplexed. The match was underwhelming, to say the least. A bunch of German Suplexes and Powerslams, a few near falls here and there, and Brock wins clean with an F5 out of nowhere. That was it. Just one F5. They built up Strowman as this killer who can and will beat Lesnar, and he loses clean to a single weak-looking F5. Wow. That was about it. Brock retains and keeps the ugly red strap. It is what it is.

It’s obvious that Roman vs Brock at next year’s Wrestlemania is the endgame here, which is fine, but why build up these other guys so strongly only to have them lose in such simple fashion? It’s weird and stupid. The same thing happened to Samoa Joe. If they’re going to lose, fine, but at least make them look strong in the process. Whatever. Overall, underwhelming, disappointing match that brought down an otherwise solid show.

Other Points:

  • I’ve had more than enough with “This is Awesome” chants.
  • Booker T and Michael Cole are both awful.
  • WTF?

Capture                                                Capture 2

So, overall, this was a very solid show up until the last 2 matches. 5 really good to great matches in a row that had me invested throughout and had my expectations elevated for the main events only to have them shattered. Like I said, if you’re going to keep the title on Brock, whatever, but at least keep building up your other top guys as well. Don’t spend weeks pushing them to the moon only to have them lose in silly fashion at the PPV. It makes no sense. So yeah, not a very good way to culminate the Brock/Braun feud. It is what it is, I suppose. Are we getting this match at ‘Mania? Is that why they wouldn’t shut the fuck up about the two main events being Wrestlemania worthy? Who knows. At this point though, I kinda hope we do.

So, that’s about it. Not a bad show, just a bad ending. Where Cena, Reigns, Strowman & Lesnar go from here, I’m not sure, but hopefully there are better plans in place, because right now, rebuilding is needed. We’ll see where it ends up. Hopefully by Survivor Series things will be clearer and better, but for now, i’m just kinda baffled. Anyway, it was a good month off from doing wrestling reviews, time to get back to it. See ya’ll in two weeks for SmackDown’s Hell in a Cell. Should be interesting, the way that”s been built up so far.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Belphegor: Totenritual

Blackened Death Metal legends and the subject of my last Discography Dialogue, the almighty Belphegor return with their long-awaited 11th full-length album. Three years after 2014’s Conjuring the Dead, this one was quite a curious one going in, as they are now 6 albums in under the Nuclear Blast umbrella and as I said in my discography review, their output thus far on that roster has been good to great, but not nearly as good as their material prior to it. Goatreich Fleshcult has always been and will always be one of my all time favorite albums and in my opinion, it was their peak. The albums that came before it (Blutsabbath, Necrodaemon Terrorsathan & Lucifer Incestus) are also fucking masterpieces. If you want my full thoughts on those albums, just read my discography review. Moving on.

Totenritual is the latest offering by the Austrian titans and like the rest of their post-Goatreich output, I proceeded with caution. Each of their albums on Nuclear Blast has gotten cleaner on the production side and a tad more melodic music-wise. They’ve still managed to keep at least a modicum of their musical integrity despite that and still hold up to this day. However, I still remained cautious and observant going into this album, and if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook (which you should), you already know my reaction to hearing this album, and to the rest of you, it may come as a shock, but here it goes *clears throat*: This is their best album since Goatreich Fleshcult. There, I said it! This album caught me completely off guard and hit me with the audio sucker-punch of a lifetime. This is a fantastic batch of songs and without a doubt their best one on the Nuclear Blast roster to date. This is not only their heaviest and most savage sounding album in years, but it’s also the most well-produced.

The production on this album is absolutely crushing and it gives their sound that ruthless and barbaric punch that it has been missing since the earlier days. This is indeed a modern Belphegor album, no doubt, it still exhibits the same style but it’s the most well-structured one of their current era that utilizes the production value to it’s full potential, much like Merrimack does on their latest outing (I know i’m repetitive, i’m working on it). This is the most precise and driven the band has sounded in the last say, 11 or so years. It’s like a rejuvenation of sorts. From the second I pressed play and opener Baphomet started searing into my ear canals like a bomb going off in a cave, I was totally blindsided by the total barbarity of the sound. It’s nothing all that different stylistically; it’s the same signature style of apocalyptically epic Blackened Death full of demonic riffs, muddy, blasty drumming and hellish guttural roars and shrieks that made Belphegor famous and put them on the map to begin with, it’s just done to a higher degree than the last bunch of albums released in those last 11 years.

Again, Baphomet is a great, pounding opener with some super mean riffs starting it off and followed by a flurry of pounding double-bass drums and menacing tremolo picking. Then comes the insanely blasty The Devil’s Son, which really sets the tone of what this album has to offer. Helmuth’s vocal performance on this album is immense and his growls sound more dismal and hellish than ever. Then we have the more pounding tracks like Swinefever – Regent of Pigs and Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration, which remind me of older, classic tracks like Bleeding Salvation and Sepulture of Hypocrisy. They showcase the band’s versatility and shows that they’re just as good at giving a slow and pounding beating as they are with unleashing blastbeat-ridden fury upon you. The instrumental Totenbeschworer also does a good job with that. The apocalyptic vibe of this album coupled with it’s thick, crushing, barbaric sound is part of what made me a fan of Belphegor to begin with and what makes Goatreich Fleshcult such a great album. Listening to this album is not just a listen, it’s a ride through the depths of Hell, it’s a beating with spiked bats and stones, it’s a punishing experience that you just feel in your ears and your gut. This is what was lacking on the last few Belphegor albums. That extra punch that the early to mid era brought; particularly the Napalm Records era.

This is not just a step up, but a giant leap in effort and impact from what the previous 5 albums brought to the table. Again, I do enjoy those albums (well, except for 1; Walpurgis Rites sucked), but this one just blows them all right out of the water and way the fuck up into the stratosphere. This is a skull-shattering, head-crushing and absolutely cathartic piece of Extreme Metal art and I don’t even have to talk about the rest of the songs on here for you to get the idea. It’s Belphegor and they’ll do the talking for you. If you used to be a fan of the band and lost interest, I highly suggest giving this one a shot, it just may re-ignite your spark for them. It’s a fantastic outing and perhaps the biggest surprise of 2017 for me. Just like everything from The Last Supper to Goatreich, this one will be on repeat for quite a long time. Time well spent.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Merrimack: Omegaphilia

France has become quite a hotbed in recent years for quality Black Metal acts. No, I don’t mean Alcest, I mean bands like Peste Noire, Mutiilation, Celestia, Mortifera, Borgne and many others who have sparked my intrigue for the French Black Metal scene and put it way up there with Sweden and Russia as one of my top nations breeding good stuff. This band is no exception.

Omegaphilia is the latest outing by Merrimack; another notable purveyor of loud, sinister and blasphemous sounds hailing from the land of wine, cheese and creepy catacombs (that I totally wanna visit). If you’ve heard their previous output, then you know already that they play a pretty standard but strident style of loud, blasty Black Metal similar to the likes of Marduk or Dark Funeral sans Magus Caligula. This is pretty straightforward but still filled with brooding riffs, fast, hefty drumming and harsh, snarly vocals that remind me a bit of Maniac. Some tracks on this album took me back to Grand Declaration of War & Chimera era Mayhem, the way they were structured. Starting off with opener Cauterizing Cosmos, with it’s eerie intro that builds into an assault of sharp, nasty riffs, including an intoxicating main riff that flows through the first few seconds and grabs your attention and lures your investment until things finally take a turn into a whirlwind of pulverizing blastbeats and manic, hellish bellows from the torturous throat of Vestal, and the ravaging continues until the last second of the songs running time and it doesn’t fail to leave your ears in shambles.

Then comes the vicious The Falsified Son, which follows the same pattern, minus the seducing intro. The vibe of this album is very harsh and sinister, but also epic and potent. The production is fairly clean, but they do a good job in utilizing it to it’s full potential. The riffs are sharp, but anything but polished or friendly, the drums and bass are equally as crushing as they would be in a more raw setting and Vestal completes the package splendidly with his gravelly tone and strident delivery. Gutters of Pain is another track that I highly enjoyed with it’s apocalyptic vibe given off by the manic riffs and ruthless non-stop blasts of Blastum’s drumming. Excellent fucking track. The most ruthless song on this album, however, was Cesspool Coronation; very powerful and unforgiving track that pounds into you mercilessly. At the Vanguard of Deception closes out this 7-track assault with one last blow of blasty, riffy madness until it all ends. I was absolutely left satisfied.

Omegaphilia overall is a superb piece of modern Black Metal art and yet another reason to pay close attention to France and what it has to offer. Again, this isn’t anything too innovative and it sure as shit isn’t anything fancy. It’s just a composition of strident, unfriendly and downright fucking cruel Blackened filth only designed to punish you from front to back. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I highly recommend it to fiends for all things filthy and misanthropic.

Until next time.

-Scvm

Album Thoughts | Akercocke: Renaissance in Extremis

Normally, the term “Progressive” (in music AND politics) will steer me right the fuck away. It’s a sub genre that, while I did enjoy in my late teens and very early 20s, I just can’t stand now. It’s for the same reason i’m not into Symphonic Black Metal or Melodic Death Metal; too boring, sterile and soulless. I don’t care how good or skilled the musicians are, I prefer substance over flash and i’d much rather indulge in something simple and atmospheric or just harsh, fast and dirty. I can get much more out of that emotionally than something fancy and over-dramatic. There are always exceptions though.

In the case of Akercocke, they remain to this day one of those bands that I have a soft spot for and have for years now. They are indeed a Progressive band, but a different kind of Progressive. It’s not the Symphony X style of Progressive with huge, 20-plus-minute long, way over the top, super complex compositions of songs with 15-minute guitar solos, arpeggios out the ass, squeaky-clean production, orchestral choruses and operatic vocals, nor is it the Dream Theater style of boring, overdone technical Prog for musicians, or the Tool style of pretentious “intelligent” Progressive for fedora-wearing, pot-smoking, The God Delusion-reading, George Carlin-worshiping dorks. It’s just Blackened Death Metal with a unique and menacing melodic undercurrent, all just about sex, death, Satan and blasphemy. What’s there not to love? Still not convinced? Give their albums The Goat of Mendes & Choronzon a listen. You’re welcome. Anyway, back to present day.

The band unfortunately called it quits after their 2007 album Antichrist. Since then, various other projects featuring drummer David Gray and various other past and present members surfaced like Voices & The Antichrist Imperium (both very good projects) who each played very similar styles to the band they formed from the ashes of. I’ve enjoyed those and Akercocke’s remaining catalog over the last 10 years devoid of their existence, and then last year it was announced that they have reunited. I thought it would just be for a few shows, but then a new album was announced and I was exited as can be. Fast forward to now, Renaissance in Extremis is finally upon us, and I finally got my hands and ears on it, and it’s a very interesting case. While I can’t call this the best offering by this band, it isn’t a bad one either.

The first thing I noticed about this album is that a lot of the darkness and satanic themes and even the usual gentlemanly suit-wearing aesthetic that the band is knows for has been stripped away. From what I gather, as opposed to the usual lyrics revolving around Satan, blasphemy and sex, this one seems to deal mostly with themes of death and loss, as evident with some of the song titles. Music wise, in all honesty, it reminds me of the latest Katatonia album. The music itself is good and very well done, but much like Katatonia, what makes Akercocke such an interesting and enjoyable band for me is their ability to create a sound middle ground between slow and melodic and fast, riffy and blasty and maintaining a fair balance between them. On this album, to me, that balance is a bit lacking. Tracks like Insentience, for example; the slow, picking intro of that track had me thinking it was leading into a cleanly sung melodic passage before building into a heavier, faster pace. Instead, it dives right into a fast, almost Thrashy sound with Jason Mendonca’s signature raspy, dramatic, maniacal yells and deep guttural growls. I have no problem with that, but when it comes to Akercocke and what made me such a fan of them, I was expecting a little more.

Then there’s A Final Glance Back Before Departing, which exhibits the same issue. This may seem like a nitpick, and it probably is; I have no problem with the heavier element of the music. Again, it’s really good; I just wish there was more of a balance between melodic and harsh like on their previous outings. That was my issue with the latest Katatonia album as well. It just seems like there was more concern with the fast and riff-driven side of things than with the evil, sinister melodic undertones that the band is so good with and that fit their sound and subject matter like a glove. The only track that does have this quality in my opinion, is One Chapter Closing for Another to Begin. Very good track that exhibits a fair balance of the two key elements. Inner Sanctum is another stand-out track I enjoy thoroughly. Some other gems on this opus are First to Leave the Funeral; a very harsh and blastbeat-ridden track that bares the very essence of what Akercocke are about. Jason’s maniacal shrieks and yells shine through like a diamond in the rough on that one. Then there’s Familiar Ghosts, which opens with this eerie, crawling melody under a weird sound clip of the ocean and builds into a flurry of riffy, raspy instrumentation and more three-faced vocal insanity by Mendonca. The guy is so versatile in his vocal style and it coincides with the overall sound of the music perfectly. Things wrap up with the weird but vibrant A Particularly Cold September, which features guest instruments like a saxophone and some keyboards. Good closer.

So, overall, like I said, this is indeed a very enjoyable album, I just can’t call it the best I’ve heard by these Satanic Brits. It is satisfying musically, the heavier element is excellent and the riffs are great and the slower side of things is just as good, I just wish there was a little bit more added in to give things a more potent effect. Again, it is a nitpick, but that’s what got me into these guys in the first place. Their earlier albums (which are masterpieces) are perfect examples of that and if you’re just discovering and getting into these guys, start with their early outings and work your way up. It will be much more rewarding that way. This is a comeback album following a 10-year hiatus, so I knew I couldn’t hold my expectations too high before giving it a listen, and maybe the next one will step things up a little, but for now, I enjoyed what they gave us, but Choronzon still reigns supreme.

Until next time.

-Scvm