Movie Review: SERENITY

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Movie Review: SERENITYUniversal Pictures
2005
PG-13

“Way I remember it, albatross was a ship’s good luck, ’til some idiot killed it. Yes, I’ve read a poem. Try not to faint.”

Set in the not-so-near future of Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series Firefly, a genetically enhanced and telepathic girl escapes the government-controlled experiments subjected on her, and hitches a ride with her protective older brother in tow on the Serenity, piloted by the cynical Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his motley crew, themselves at odds with the coalition dominating their universe. After inadvertently discovering a massive cover-up involving a supposedly “failed” planet colonization, the crew find themselves on the run from a deadly assassin, fighting their way through traps and hordes of cannibalistic Reavers to uncover the conspiracy, with a human cargo that may be their biggest threat. Just another day in the life of the Serenity crew, really…

Let me preface this review by stating that I, your beloved Uncle NecRo, have yet to see an episode of the series Firefly, the short-lived show that this movie is based on.* Chalk it up to lack of interest, as the only things with the Joss Whedon stamp that I was interested in at the time happened to involve vampires. Namely, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel (Angel being my favorite of the two). Firefly was more sci-fi with a western feel kind of show (i.e.- no fangs…and definitely no Spike), and while I did want to check it out sometime, the affiliate it was shown on didn’t really give the show much of a chance, showing the episodes out of sequence and such. So, before anyone thinks that this is one of those kind of reviews that slathers this movie with praise because the author is already a ravenous and drooling fanboy of the mythos its based on, keep in mind that I walked into the theater with something of a clean slate.

That said, I also want to point out that, the moment the opening credits rolled, I was captivated by one hell of a well-written, well-directed, and just flat-out fantastic sci-fi adventure movie. Once again, as with his writing on both the other two shows and on the impeccable Astonishing X-Men comic (the only X-Men comic I’ve ever read, save for my brief lapse of sanity involving the Grant Morrison run on New X-Men…geek boy roots showing again), Joss Whedon has woven one hell of a space yarn that’s really more of a western with space ships. You know, like how the classic Star Wars movie was. You got intense action, captivating drama, some interesting plot twists, and some very outstanding special effects. The fight scenes were kept low-key by today’s standards (meaning, no wire-fu, just some good-ol’ classic martial arts and fisticuffs), and the final stand-off between the crew and the Reavers was just…unbelievable. In a good way. And, true to Whedon’s method, I’m sure there will be some fans of the series that’ll be taken aback by some unexpected plot turns involving the cast. That’s his way. I remember standing up and screaming at the television when he offed Fred for no apparent reason in that episode of Angel…but again, I’m getting away from the subject. I digress…

Bottom line, this is a fantastic movie that both fans of the series and anyone who’s never heard of Firefly can enjoy. Too bad I saw little to no advertising for this, and apparently it’s taking a dive at the theaters. But word of mouth from other geeks on the ‘net have praised it, so word of mouth can keep this sucker in a strong “cult” standing. Highly recommended…a good use of your $8…

[* = this was posted nearly ten years ago…I have since then not only watched the entire series, but I own them, and watch them all back-to-back at least once a year…in case anyone feels the need to troll, and all that – Uncle NecRo]

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Music Review: DIE HAPPY – Die Happy

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DIE HAPPY - Die Happy
DIE HAPPY
Die Happy
Intense
1992

It’s pretty much a footnote in Christian Metal History now, but when the original Vengeance Rising lineup of Doug Thieme, Larry Farkas, Roger Dale Martin and Glen Mancaruso quit the band and formed Die Happy in 1991, it caused a bit of a controversial stir. Die Happy, the band’s 1992 debut for Intense Records, is much, much different from the Vengeance days. In fact, the only thing this CD has in common with their former thrash band is the band members, sans Rodger Martin. Die Happy eschews the insane thrash stylings for more of a gritty blues-based heavy metal sound that has more in common with Bang Tango, Skid Row and Bad English. Also, the vocals, handled by newcomer Robin Kyle Basauri, are clean and powerful, lending a David Coverdale-like flavor to the music. The music is heavy metal all the way, showcasing the members ability to play more than just thrash. Lyrically, Die Happy takes a storyteller’s approach, which makes the listener think a bit more than when things are spelled out for them on flash cards. I am, however, kind of scratching my head over the song “Doctor Bones”. Amusing tale, but huh? Anyone have any idea?

Anyway, a totally underrated album. Die Happy is straight-up heavy metal for fans of Zak Wylde’s Black Label Society…

Sunday A’La Carte’ – September 28, 2014

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unnamedI know, I know—technically, it’s Monday morning now. Forgive me, but around the time when I get around to actually start writing these bits, I found myself rather wanting to sleep off a sudden onset of depressive funk (not the fun music style, either). It’s been a surprisingly heavy day, first not being able to go to church in the morning due to some overheating issues with the Aluminium Falcon this past week, then receiving word that the church I attended from childhood through graduating from High School—Uehling Congregational Church—is closing its doors for good at the end of the year. And to top it off, I finally caught up with the season premier of Bones…AND THEY KILLED OFF SWEETS. Oh, um…spoilers, there. It was like having a rather loyal dog killed in front of you. And I’m a cat person. At that point, I thought: “You know what? I’m just going to escape reality for a bit. Nap time.” That was at a quarter to 6pm, CST. My body dragged me kicking and screaming from the Dark Realm around a quarter to 12am. So, I figured I’d get some writing in before heading back for a few more hours…

habits of the common book wormI guess I should go ahead and make the unofficial announcement here: I’ve decided to effectively end production on NECRO SHOCK RADIO. I shall explain more in-depth in my more official announcement / explanation in a few days, but the general reason is that my heart just isn’t in it like it has been. I might just do a special Final Session, where I just play the songs I like, rather than throw everything into the Randomizer and pick them out that way. But, yeah, to quote The Doors: “This is the end.”

umbrellaOne of the things that has me rather down (among the other ones, mind you) is the fact that the era of Saturday Morning Cartoons is officially over. No more lazy Saturday morning blocks of fun, animated goodness to watch with a big bowl of artificially colored and over-sweetened cereal of choice. It was more than just mindless entertainment, though. I credit them for the stronger bond that I have with extended family members. No matter our disagreements, Saturday Morning Cartoons brought us all together. Well, other things too, but for the sake of the issue at hand, Saturday Morning Cartoons played a big part. I mean, sure, cartoons themselves are going nowhere. And in this day and age, with entire cable channels dedicated (for the most part) to cartoons, and websites offering 24-7 animated nostalgia fixes, it’s a good time to be a cartoon geek. But, I can’t help but feel that a little bit of Americana has gone the way of the buffalo. To think that there will be an entire generation of youngsters who will never know the joys of getting up at the crack of dawn, pour some cereal and watch several hours of cartoons on a standard broadcast television channel. Rather disheartening, really…

forbidden doorsA few days ago, I posted some spontaneous brain-droppings on how the so-called “grown-up” birthday parties I attend now are really bigger versions of the kind I attended as a kid. Kind of like how Dave N’ Buster’s is the grown-up version of Chuck E. Cheese’s – all the fun with way better food. Anyway, the actual celebration happened Saturday evening, and by all accounts was completely awesome. We stuffed ourselves with sushi, home-made pretzels and red bean buns were brought, along with several mixers for those who partook of the adult libations. Discussions on computer programming, some sort of roll playing card game was being played on the dining room table, an 8-bit style video game called “Crawl” was the point of amusement for a bit, then we all gathered into two groups and played the space-faring interactive video game called Artemus. Think Star Trek, with cooler looking ships. I was the Science Officer. Essentially, I scanned enemy ships in various quadrants, and reported on their weaknesses for optimum blowing up. I had to leave before Midnight, alas, on account of the hour-long drive ahead of me. I have no qualms with that. Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young…

Have to get back to bed. Needing to get the Aluminium Falcon into the shop to have her looked at, then work again. Here’s to a better week. I leave you with an episode of one of my all-time favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon shows back in the day. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Music Review: DISAFFECTION – Begin The Revolution (EP)

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DISAFFECTION - Begin The Revolution (EP)
DISAFFECTION
Begin The Revolution [EP]
Independent
2007

Blabber Jesus is a fantastic resource for the dyed-in-the-steel Christian metalheads like myself. Aside from the news, podcasts, and the album archives they sport, they also have a free LEGAL download page, where bands and labels post their demos and such. Many independent metal bands that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed I have found on that site. And did I mention it was all legal? Just in case you missed it the first time, and were contemplating getting ahold of the RIAA or something.

And no, this isn’t a secret ad for Blabber Jesus. I’m just giving credit where credit is due for running into this gem of a demo EP that is the basis for this review.

First off, in case there’s any confusion, there are two Disaffection releases with the title Begin The Revolution — this four song EP, and a full-length album I’ve seen for sale at CD Baby. And since I’m but a poor Midwest boy, I’ve yet to gain the capital to purchase the full-length as of yet, so I have to make due with the demo EP. So then, on with the review, shall we?

Disaffection plays a style of thrash metal that’s tight, technical, and rips things to shreds. You can compare Disaffection to the likes of Extol, Ultimatum, Slayer, Exodus and early Betrayal; and when it comes to thrash, that’s a very good thing. To be honest, when I think “demo”, I usually think “well-intentioned nice try.” But here, it’s astounding how fantastic the music is. It’s a shame this is only four songs long, as this left me hungry for more.

Music Review: DETRITUS – Perpetual Defiance

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DETRITUS - Perpetual Defiance
DETRITUS
Perpetual Defiance
White Metal
1991

Two words: Classic Thrash. Want three? Classic Thrash Metal. Period.

Detritus was probably one of the greatest thrash bands that nobody knew about. They were from England, to be sure, and their distribution deal had more problems than the ’73 Duster I owned, but they shred.

‘Perpetual Defiance’ is one of the thrash classics. I would say it ranks up there with Betrayal’s ‘The Passing’, or, dare I say, Anthrax’s ‘Among The Living’ (for a good secular comparison). My personal favorites on here are “Taste The Blood” (classic blatant lyrics: “Taste the blood He bled for you / Take the body, it was broken for you too / You’re damned and so was I / Taste the blood and you won’t die”), “Subliminal Division”, “No Mercy”, “Playing With Fire”, and “Derange”.

For those who are into another classic English Christian metal band, 7th Angel, you might want to check these guys out. . .

Music Review: DEMON HUNTER – Summer Of Darkness

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DEMON HUNTER - Summer Of Darkness
DEMON HUNTER
Summer Of Darkness
Solid State Records
2004

The sophomore release from what has become the legendary powerhouse known as Demon Hunter finds things just as heavy and melodic as their self-titled debut, if not a bit more solid in the song writing. The group does have a pretty distinctive style going, and have set themselves apart from the regular stable of Solid State bands and other imitators. When they’re heavy, they are pretty darned heavy. Still don’t really go for the mix of growl-shouted extreme vocals and the emo-drenched clean melodic vocals. Sorry, it just doesn’t work for me, there. Still, that’s not enough to deter my enjoyment of the heavier cuts on this CD. The thing is, like with their debut, there’s a little bit of predictability with the songs. Heavy on the verse, emo on the chorus. There are variations, but Summer Of Darkness keeps with this formula for the most part. And that has the unfortunate effect of me losing interest somewhere after the midway point.

Music Review: DEMON HUNTER – Demon Hunter

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DEMON HUNTER - Demon Hunter
DEMON HUNTER
Demon Hunter
Solid State Records
2002

Pop quiz: What do scientists in Scotland and the Christian Music Industry have in common? Answer: They both apparently feel that cloning an original is the best thing since spliced thread. Do you know how long I had to wait to use that pun?

I came listening to this debut release, admittedly, not wanting to like this. There were several reasons- the fact that they were hyped up by Solid State as the next big thing for nearly a year before we saw this release, coupled with not really being that impressed with the two MP3 songs they had for preview on their website. In the case of fairness, though, I listened to the entire release after acquiring it for cheep, and here’s my assessment:

Demon Hunter is, surprisingly, an impressive debut from this Solid State band, a nu-metal Deftones/Slipknot/Drowning Pool hybrid tag notwithstanding. And nu-metal this is, and better than most attempts I’ve heard in the past. This CD works the best when it’s just brutal- the guitars and drums attacking with the screaming vocalist. About the only thing that annoys the earwax out of me is the melodic “emo singers” that break in periodically, a formula that just about every nu-metal poser band has used since the dawning of this style.

Quite frankly, the review’s a bit biased, because I’m not a fan of the nu-metal. And you’d think that, with a name like Demon Hunter, the lyrics they sing would be a bit more, I don’t know, blatantly Biblical rather than the quasi-introspective glut that most all of the Solid State hardcore / metalcore / crap bands on the label write. Please, guys, break that freakin’ mold, will ‘ya? Anyway, this would appeal more to the adolescent pissed-off-for-no-apparent-reason crowd. Me? I’ll listen to it once in a while, but not much more than that…

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