Music Review: OVERDRIVE – Remembering The Basher

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Remembering The Basher

Okay, let me see if I’m able to explain this without losing anybody in the process. Overdrive was a band hailing from the state of Virginia that began life in 1985 as kind of an ELO/Styx type rock band called Damascus. Then, a short time later, they renamed themselves White Knight, then again to Heaven Quest, until finally they went with the name Overdrive. Why Overdrive, you ask? Because, and I’m quoting from the Firestream Music Vault entry here, “we were driven by the One OVER us!!!” I wonder if they used that many exclamation points when they were saying that out loud. Anyway, by the time they settled on Overdrive, they were playing a more straight-forward style of melodic metal and hard rock, and after releasing three demos as Overdrive, they called it a day in 1991-ish.

Remembering The Basher is a two-disc compilation of the three Overdrive demos, as well as the three-song demo released under the name Damascus, plus a radio interview thrown in to top things off. Instead of being a Retroactive Records release, which would have been expected back then, this was an independent release that apparently headed up by bass player Joe McLaughlin. I remember purchasing the download maybe a couple of years after the initial release on CD Baby, not really knowing much beyond what the description on the site said. I still don’t know much now, beyond the entries in both the Metal Archives and Firestream Vault site entries.

Disc One of the collection consists of the tracks from the 1989 demo Overdrive (“Bring Out The Big Guns”, “Hellbound”, “Shelter And Strength”, “Living Sacrifice”, “Mark My Words”, “Rodent Of The Piper”, and “Crusade”) and the 1990 demo A Grave Mistake (“When The Saints”, “Standing In Line”, “Light A Candle For Me”, and “You Need A Friend”), while ending the disc with a track titled “Applause”, which is exactly what it says it is. Disc Two contains tracks from the 1987 demo Sacred Heart (“Gotta Have Faith”, “Shelter And Strength”, “Never Too Soon”, “Child Of The Father”, and “High On God”), and the Damascus demo from 1985 (“Animate”, “Think Of Me” and “Don’t Worry”), and ends with a radio interview track titled “Rock 105 Interview”.

Of the two discs, I would say Disc One has the definite better selection than Disc Two. While the songs on the Overdrive demo are more melodic metal in style, on the A Grave Mistake demo they adopted a style of metal that sounded a lot like Armed And Dangerous-era Anthrax, kind of thrash influenced with the metal, which I found very much to my liking. And it’s a good thing they decided to lead with those two demos, as Disc Two’s selections are…subpar at best. The music on the Sacred Heart demo is poorly produced middle-of-the-road rock that only the 1980s could produce, whereas the three Damascus songs are just horribly made keyboard rock with off-tune singing that made me cringe the entire time. I actually had to hit the stop button before I got to the end of the last actual song, and I haven’t actually listened to the radio interview cut, but I’m certain that’s not going to matter as far as this review goes.

I can’t remember what I paid for the download of this album back when I bought it. I do know, having double-checked the CD Baby site now while pounding out my complete thoughts on this release, it now shows to be available for only two bucks. I would say, that would be worth it, if only to get the first disc of songs. Otherwise, it’s $.99 per song, and even I can’t justify paying roughly twelve bucks for the first batch of songs. As far as listenability…maybe the A Grave Mistake section, but otherwise it would be understood if you passed up this one.


Music Review: HORTOR – Ancient Satanic Rituals Are Crushed Into Dust

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Ancient Satanic Rituals Are Crushed Into Dust
Sullen Records

The second full-length from Mexican black metal band Hortor was released on Sullen Records back in 2009. This one continues with the raw and dark atmospheric black metal style from the first release; however, it seems the production is a bit better on this one, but not so much as to compromise their raw and blistering style of black metal goodness.

The album begins with a nice chilling Gregorian chant type intro, which leads into the blistering mid-paced assault on the auditory senses with the title track. For most of the album, it’s an ongoing barrage of straight-forward second wave black metal that is harsh, brutal, and leans more towards the early Mayhem side of the style than the Emperor type normally associated with modern black metal acts. There are some touches of classical acoustic guitar in the mix, and the final track, “The Darkness Will Be No More”, is a two-minute guitar instrumental that ends the album on a very atmospheric and haunting note. There’s also a cover of Horde’s “Thine Hour Hast Come” that’s pretty straight-forward.

Overall, Ancient Satanic Rituals Are Crushed In Dust is a decent oldschool Black Metal release that’s of a good quality. It clocks in at just over half an hour, so it’s a relatively brief listen. For me, it’s just about the right length for listening to Black Metal for an extended time. Check this out some time.

Music Review: DESTROYER OF BLACK METAL (DBM) – Slayer Of Evil

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Slayer Of Evil

You have to start somewhere, I guess. You may have heard about a Finnish death metal outfit called Deuteronomium, formed by two brothers, Manu and Jerno Lehtinen. Deuteronomium is awesome, one of my favorites in rotation here in my padded cell. Before there was Deuternonomium, though, they started out playing in another death metal band that refered to itself as Destroyer Of Black Metal, or DBM for short. Was this just as awesome? Well…not really.

DBM released only two demos during its brief existence, before they changed their name to Cathacomb (and lost the afore-mentioned Lehtinen brothers). Slayer Of Evil was their first cassette-only demos release, containing seven tracks of death metal that can be described as doomy, mid-paced and generically mediocre to the point of sounding like the musicians are merely phoning it in at times. The production is sludgy; not unlistenable, but in desperate need of fiddling with the equalizer. The main point of contention, though, is the guitar work. With some exceptions, it’s mostly generic doom metal riffs, no lead work, and it comes off as a bit…well, amateurish, if not lazy sounding.

There are, however, a couple of shining points in all this. Two tracks stand out: “Slowly They Rot” and “Death Of A Soul” have more of a thrashy death metal sound, not unlike the style of Seventh Angel from back in the day. Overall, though, the listening experience was firmly “meh”; there was some potential here, definitely, and I’m not faulting them for not sounding professional with what they probably had to record the demo in the first place. It was 1992, after all. Still, the relisten value of Slayer Of Evil is rather low, and I don’t really see myself popping this in to listen to in the future.

Music Review: FORFEIT THEE UNTRUE – Blood Soaked Splinter

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forfeit thee untrue - bloodsoaked splinter

Blood Soaked Splinter
Sanctus Gladius Records

There’s an episode of the show Metalocalypse (because of course I would be a fan of that show), where a couple of members of the band Dethclok decide to take a band called Get Thee Hense under their wing because…reasons, only to find out that the members are complete d-bags with delusions of adequacy involving their brand of nu-metal. At one point, the vocalist informs Nathan Explosion that he’s the “singer and the rapper! I do both!”, to which Nathan shoots back with, “A rap-rock band with a DJ? Somebody tell this band what year it is.”

You see, that’s the scene that keeps playing in my head every time I try and listen to this EP by South African band Forfeit Thee untrue. Though, to be fair, I can’t recall hearing a DJ in the mix.

You see, like with another album that I came across by way of the Sanctus Gladius website, I purchased the download on Amazon without listening to the sampling. It was an EP. How bad could it be, really?

If only I had known. If only I took the time to at the very least read their profile blurb on the Fire Stream Music Vault, where it says “FTU is all about being real and forsaking the fake in your life…” Whew, when you lay the fertilizer on that kind of thick, you’re desperate for something to sprout.

The music on Blood Soaked Splinter (which, as an album name, it makes for a way better band name…which is why I initially mistook the band to be called Blood Soaked Splinter, with the album title as Forfeit Thee Untrue) I would classify as Too Overly Busy Trying To Find A Style and Stick With It. Or, to put a finer point on it, I’m going to go ahead and once again make up a genre to better illustrate the description: ADHD-Core. It’s like they didn’t know whether they wanted to be metalcore, rapcore nu-metal, or melodic emo, so they just jammed all three together into each and every song they have on this album. From the very first proper song on the album, “Screaming In Silence”, we start off with what appears at first to be tough-guy Nu-Metal, then it jukes into an admittedly decent sounding metalcore riff, but then grinds the gears into melodo-emo-screamo, and then shifts gears like that at least a few more times. I think I understand what these guys were trying to go for, but what results is such a disjointed mess that I’m getting a headache just thinking about the music, without having to listen to this album again. And believe me, I had to slough through this thing at least a couple of times to really get a feel for what I was going to have to say about it.

The pity is that, the production on Blood Soaked Splinter is really, really good. And there are some interesting ideas here and there; if they would just focus on maybe one aspect at a time, they may actually have something decent. But as it stands, this first offering is just too much of a mess for me to give it many more future listens. Pass.

Music Review: FIREGATE – Woe, Woe, Woe

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firegate - woe woe woe

Woe, Woe, Woe
Nokternal Hemizphear

Arriving out of South Africa is a one-man project known as FireGate. Consisting of one guy (which makes sense, as I just said in the first sentence of this review that it was a “one-man project” and all) named Chris Mocke, according to the blurb taken from the Nokternal Hemizphear site, he’s a music teacher by day and a metal wizard by night. I’m certain they don’t mean that literally; consequently, I don’t recall Metal Wizardry as a course offered in the Hogwarts curriculum. And here I am, mixing my geek references. My bad.

I came across Firegate on the Sanctus Gladius site, sniffing around for some new \,,/METAL\,,/ to check out. Amazon had the album Woe, Woe, Woe (for the life of me, I keep hearing Joey Lawrance’s character from the old TV show Blossom saying that on a loop when I write that), and thus I purchased the download of the album. Considering this CD was limited to only 100 copies of the physical pressing, and I’m not one to feel the need to have the physical product in the collection, I’m more than happy with that outcome, really.

I found Woe, Woe, Woe to be refreshingly different. To be fair, with the word “fire” in the name, I was expecting either generic power metal, or generic second-wave black metal. But instead, the music is firmly ensconced in the King Diamond school of heavy, heavy metal, with some classic heavy riffs and a falsetto that will haunt your daydreams. But, there are also a bit of variety thrown into the mix, with elements of thrash, some black n’ roll, and some power metal tossed in to keep things interesting. The only real negative thing that I can think of with this album would be the production, as it seems a bit on the muddled side, just enough to make me think there was something wrong with the equalizers on my media player. I found it to be the audible equivalent to putting Vaseline on the camera lens.

Overall, Woe, Woe, Woe is a rather good heavy metal album from the classic school. It’s something different than a lot of metal that I’ve been forced to listen to recently, and it grew on me instantly. Check this one out some time.

Movie Review: PIXELS

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PixelsOfficialPosterColumbia Pictures

“Don’t tell anybody I killed a Smurf.”

When aliens intercept video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack Earth, using the games as models. Knowing that he must employ a similar strategy, President Will Cooper recruits his childhood pal, former video game champ and home theater installer Sam Brenner, to lead a team of old-school arcade players and a military specialist to save the planet.

Pixels is yet another movie that I initially had no intention of watching in the theater. As a matter of fact, by merely hearing about the plot synopsis from the round table discussion with the Coven of Exalted Geeks, I figured I could live without not only watching Pixels in the theater and waiting for the streaming on Netflix some time in the future, but also not wanting to see the trailer on YouTube any time soon. I got all the information I needed: this was a live action Futurama episode staring Adam Sandler and Kevin James, two names that pretty much guarantee I’m going to avoid watching the movie. Nothing against the actors personally, I just have never found the majority of the movies they make terribly amusing. I made my decision to pass on this movie, and that was that.

What they didn’t tell me was that Pixels also co-starred Peter Dinklage. More to the point: Peter Dinklage in a mullet. I was pretty much honor bound to watch this when it came out after discovering this by being forced to sit through the trailer on YouTube while waiting for whatever it was I was there to watch in the first place. Point is, I decided to actually watch the movie on the big screen when it came out, with the caveat that it would have to be a lower-price time (like a matinée or an early bird morning price, like I’ve been doing as of recent), or be patient enough to wait for it to land on the second-run El Cheepo theater. I went with the Early Bird one, in case you were morbidly curious.

As to whether or not Pixels was going to be a sub-par movie was never really in question. It was, after all, a Happy Madison movie; the only question was really going to be, what level of bad are we talking about? Entertainingly bad, or claw-your-eyes-out, make-the-hurting-STOP kind of bad? We’ve seen both from Sandler’s company, really. I was prepared for anything, though the preliminary reviews and tweets have been of the lambasting side, thus I was leaning more towards preparing for the worst. At least it was in one of those fancy-schmancy theater rooms made up with the La-Z-Boy seats, so if worse came to worse, I could at least kick back and take a nap. Like I more or less almost did with Annabelle.

Really, though, I found Pixels wasn’t really that bad. At least, I didn’t find it to be an unwatchable sack of do-do that a majority of online complainers are proclaiming it to be. Maybe it’s because I remain for the most part ambivalent about Adam Sandler’s movies, I don’t know. I just thought I’d actually watch the movie before deciding I despised it. Or, you know, didn’t despise it as much. Or whatever the opposite of despise is, I can’t seem to remember.

Pixels is what the posters allude to it being: a big, dumb, fun sci-fi action comedy that doesn’t pretend to be more than just that. And for the most part, the action scenes are the real reason to go see this movie. I mean, for this 80s kid who remembers these arcade games from that era, watching giant versions of these video game characters run amok and destroy cities was enough to coax a big goofy grin out of me. Allegedly. It was dark in the theater, no one had proof that this actually happened, no one can prove anything.

The problem here, lies (if you would consider it a problem) in the fact that, while you’re waiting for the action scenes to happen, you’re still stuck watching a very formulaic Adam Sandler movie. You got Adam Sandler playing another underdog character, Kevin James as the earnestly lovable but inevitably goofy friend (who also happens to be the President of the U. S. of A.), the love interest who is way out of Sandler’s character’s league that finds him abrasive at first but then by the end of the movie inevitably hooks up with him anyway, said love interest’s son whom bonds instantly with Sandler’s character, and the way more interesting antagonist who shows up and chews the scenery with the aplomb of a famished Great White shark. Okay, there’s also a side character who…I don’t know if he was trying to go for Chris Farley mannerisms, or if he was told “play your character like how Chris Farley would have”, but he came off as one of those annoying people you don’t know if you want to smack and shout “NO! STOP!”, or buy him an ice cream out of pity. Fortunately, though, the non-action scenes aren’t as annoying as they could have been…just more-so with the later character discussed.

Overall, I would rate Pixels as entertaining enough to watch. I enjoyed it for what it was, and even had a bit of fun pedantically pointing out the 80s pop culture mess-ups (they’re there…anybody from my era will see them). Pixels rates as a Wait For The Rental, or at least a stream on NetFlix in the future. If you must see it in the theaters, as I admit it was great to see the showdowns on the big screen, shoot for matinée pricing, or a second-run theater. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find the Pac Man emulator for Linux…got me a jonesing…


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Uncle NecRo here, and I finally got around to purchasing some legit space on a site to upload the sessions, and also to a place where I can actually do the upload without timing out on the internets. You’re welcome. This Session of delicious Brutal Music Therapy features selections from:

armageddon holocaust - radioactive zone 245 broken flesh - stripped, stabbed, and crucified firegate - woe, woe, woe forfeit thee untrue - blood soaked splinter grave robber - straight to hell mortification - realm of the skelataur nyves - anxiety


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