Music Review: DANIEL AMOS – Vox Humana

Leave a comment

daniel amos vox humanaDANIEL AMOS
Vox Humana
Refuge Records
1984

It’s funny what you tend to run into at local small town thrift stores. For instance, I was looking around a small second-hand thrift store in a town called Oakland here in Nebraska, and among the odds and ends and various other nick-knacks abounding, I spotted in a box of stuff a CD copy of Daniel Amos’ sixth release, Vox Humana, which I purchased for a mere $.50. For those curious, this was the 1992 CD release from Refuge Records, as previously the album was only released on LP and cassette formats. Pretty good condition, nary a scratch on it. The cover booklet was what you would call bare bones, but I really couldn’t complain.

Anyway, Vox Humana, compared to the preceding two releases, is more of an electronic synthesizer-driven New Wave album, with flourishes of the kind of musical creativity that you would come to expect from Daniel Amos. I wonder if they chose the more synthetic style of instrumentation here as a kind of commentary on the plastic-ness of the culture at the time of the early-to-mid 1980s. Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into something that wasn’t the intention. I tend to do that sometimes. As such, though, this results in Vox Humana not exactly being a frequent player in my album list.

Don’t get me wrong, as a New Wave album, Vox Humana is a good, solid release. Things kick off with “Travelog”, a bit of a dark, mid-paced tune with a driving beat and a spacey feel to it. This is followed by “(It’s The Eighties, So Where’s Our) Rocket Packs”, the structure of which reminds me strongly of The Buggle’s song “Video Killed The Radio Star”. One thing I’ll give this album, the songs at least maintain the varying structures and craft that Daniel Amos excels at, like with the plastic calypso of “Home Permanent”, the quirky rockabilly of “It’s Sick”, and the driving punkish “Dance Stop”, which is a popular crowd participation song when played live, I’m told. “Live And Let Live” has great Beatles-esque melodies and a psychedelic vibe, whereas the followup to that is the skipable ballad “When Worlds Collide”. “As the World Turns”, “She’s All Heart” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man” all maintain the catchy pop hooks. The album ends with one of my all-time favorite songs, “Sanctuary”, kind of a dark, almost 80s Gothic style song that always gets me in the feels.

As I mentioned, Vox Humana is a good, solid release from Daniel Amos; it’s just that I’m not necessarily in the mood for New Wave as much to listen to this one too frequently. There are some cuts on here that I do enjoy more than others. The production of my copy, which I presume was from the original mix that Refuge put out, is decent, if a bit thin at times. In 2016, Stunt Records released a remastered two-disc special edition, so if you’re wanting to check this out, I would try and get that one.

Advertisements

Music Review: ADVOCATE – Exigency

Leave a comment

ADVOCATE - ExigencyADVOCATE
Exigency
Pentecost Records
1992

Advocate was a band from Denver, Colorado. They formed in 1990 and released a demo called Exigency in 1992, then apparently split up in 1995. And that is the extent of the information that I was able to glean from the internet about this particular group. Oh, and their style is listed as “thrash metal”, though I may have a bit to say about that. But, I’ve done reviews on less information before, so let’s get to this, shall we?

First, that cover art. I’ve seen worse, really. But, the album art for this release does rank up there as far as not being representative of the music itself. It’s no pink unicorn on a white backdrop, mind you, but still it has more of an “illustration for vacation bible school” vibe going on. But anyway, the music. Remember in the previous paragraph where I mentioned that Advocate was listed as “thrash”? I disagree. The music is really more heavy metal that leans towards thrash at times, much like Metal Church. There’s some really good riffs and solos going on here, as well as some good solid musicianship with the crafting of the songs, showing a kind of talent that keeps things from getting stale. The big issue I have with the music, though, are the vocals. They’re…passable. Kind of in need of more polish in several instances, and for whatever reason the vocals are way up in the mix, dominating the other instruments into a slightly muffled background position. That’s rather distracting.

Overall, Exigency is a six-song demo that has some rather good ideas going with the music, but it’s hampered by a sub-par vocal mix. Regardless, had they kept at it, they could have really had something going. I have no idea what caused them to break up, but this one evidence of their existence is still out there. Worth a bit of a look if you happen to run into it.

Music Review: AZBUK – Compilation For Eternity

Leave a comment

AZBUK - 2008 - Compilation For EternityAZBUK
Compilation For Eternity
Open Grave Records
2008

For a brief moment in time, the criminally short-lived Open Grave / Sullen Records managed to release an array of choice \,,/METAL\,,/, both from the mainline and Christian sides of the underground scenes. For those of us with a taste for Black Metal, that meant easier access to bands like Azbuk, with the release of Compilation For Eternity in 2008.

As the title implies, this is a compilation of tracks gleaned from the three demos Azbuk released: 1997’s Divine Force (“Supplication”, “Majesty”, “The Loyal Witness”, and “Abyss Eternal”); 2001’s Nosferatus Darkness Earl (“Nosferatus Darkness Earl”, “Reflections Of A Damned Mirror”, “Fallen Angel”, and “Constitution”), and 2004’s Ancient Secrets Of The Bible (“Ancient Secrets Of The Bible”, “The Kingdom”, “Return”, and “Symphony Of Death”). It’s an interesting look into the evolution of this South American band, going from standard black metal on their first demo, and transitioning to a more progressive blackened sound, figuring in elements of death metal and doom in the mix on their other two demo releases. The production is raw, as I don’t think there was much as far as remixing or remastering when this compilation was put together. It preserves the original dynamic, methinks. As with other releases like this, Compilation For Eternity works as a good introduction to one of the more woefully overlooked black metal bands. The only criticism I would have being not just releasing a two-disc or so collection with the entirety of all three demos included. But, at least we have this one in existence.

Movie Review: DADDY’S HOME

Leave a comment

daddy's homeParamount Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Here’s a question for you. What do kids need more, a father or a dad? What’s the difference? The way I see it, darn near anyone can be a father, but not everyone has the patience or the devotion to be a dad. As for me, I’ve always wanted to be a dad. Let me tell you, I love it! Yeah! And I love my Ford Flex. It treats me to a smooth ride, and you know what? It didn’t break the bank. Room enough for the whole family.”

Brad, who always dreamed of having the perfect family, is determined to become the best step-dad to his new wife’s children. But when their biological father Dusty shows up unexpectedly, Brad’s idyllic family life is turned upside down and he must go toe-to-toe with Dusty in this hilarious family comedy…

I have to say, I am rather amused at how the description above from the back of the DVD cover describes this movie as “hilarious”. Perhaps the writer was being sarcastic? Or, maybe he did find this movie hilarious, and I’m just being cynical?

I’m sure there would be some people out there that would consider this collaboration between Will Ferrell and Mark “Don’t Call Me Marky Mark” Wahlberg to be the height of comedic perfection. Or at least comes close to that pinnacle. Me, I found Daddy’s Home to be amusing at best, but certainly not a laugh-out-loud exercise in hilariousness.

Anyway, Daddy’s Home has Ferrell playing a stepfather who is rather enjoying his role in his family life, until one day the children’s biological father shows up and begins to wedge himself into the situation. This, of course, leads to a constant stream of one-upmanship, with the standard wackiness ensuing, which ultimately culminates in the two coming to terms and becoming besties. The end.

I have to admit that Daddy’s Home does have a certain old-timey charm, rather like those family-friendly comedies from the 1950s, only with a bit more mild crudeness. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that the premise for this movie might have been a rejected concept for a TGIF sitcom from the 1990s. And admittedly, both Wahlberg and Ferrell do have a pretty good chemistry going, this being the second movie they’ve been teamed up together on. But as far as favorite characters go, this goes to the peripheral characters of the out-of-work guy who crashes at the house, and Ferrell’s character’s boss, both acting as kind of a Greek Chorus to the story. The very best part of the movie comes at the end, though, when John Cena shows up to the tune of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Awesomeness achieved.

Overall, I found Daddy’s Home to be a mildly amusing and…what’s that emotion…opposite of hate-filled…um…”heart warming”, I’m told, and mostly inoffensive way to kill 90 minutes. Really, I only watched this because I kind of want to see the upcoming sequel, due to wanting to see Mel Gibson and John Lithgow play off each other. Otherwise, not bad for a rental.

Article: POKIN’ THE SHEEP + KILLING JESUS

Leave a comment

NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

skull spiderI do admit to being what others would refer to as provocative. Blame it on my tendency to not being satisfied with mere pat answers, or just taking things at face value. It’s not that I set out to play Devil’s Advocate with everything and everyone; part of my wrestling with my faith involves examining things from multiple angles and perspectives and not settling into a comfortable pathos.

For instance, I once made a shirt that said What Would Satan Do? Aside from being a response to the popularity of the What Would Jesus Do? merchandise that was everywhere at the time, I think that’s a good question for Christians to consider. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and all that.

One particular shirt, however, seemed to really get under everyone’s skin when it really shouldn’t have. I was at Cornerstone 2002, and was perusing the merch tents one hot and sultry afternoon. One table set up sold an array of shirts, one of which had I KILLED JESUS in big letters on it. This shirt called to me. It perfectly communicated, in shirt form, that because of my sins Jesus died on the cross. I was found guilty, but Jesus died in my place to atone for my sins. Also, the cotton blend was lightweight yet durable, and most importantly, it concealed my upper torso. So, I bought it, and immediately changed into it outside behind the merch tent.

To put a context to the reaction to the shirt–earlier in the fest, I was wearing the previously mentioned What Would Satan Do? shirt. Nobody bats an eye. As a matter of fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one for themselves. I change into the I KILLED JESUS shirt, and suddenly I find myself unable to go ten minutes without someone stopping me to ask what my problem was. What was I thinking, wearing a shirt that said I KILLED JESUS at a festival that catered to Christian music and arts? You would have thought I was wearing the Cradle Of Filth shirt that said JESUS IS A [derogatory misogynist slur] on the back. Several times, I had to explain the meaning behind it, that not only did I kill Jesus, but they did too, for the same reason. It finally got to the point where I began answering with, “He got better,” and left it at that.

Mind you, I’m far from naive, thinking that everyone who attended Cornerstone was a professing Christian and were familiar with the core doctrines of the faith. But, I did find the nature of the questions and statements interesting. Could it be that, in this day and age, that the reason for Christ coming in the first place is becoming taboo in Christian circles? I admitting to any kind of sinful nature, and thus necessitating a perfect sacrifice for atonement, just not in keeping with living a victorious life? Or are some just simply unaware of Jesus’ death and resurrection to begin with? Like, they read the Gospel accounts and just stop reading when things get to the Last Supper, like shutting off Old Yeller before the dog gets rabies, unaware of the ending?

Or, perhaps they are aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but are still squicky to admitting it was our sins and separation from God that lead to His death on the cross? We’re quick to place the blame on the Jews, or the Romans, or whatever. I know all too well, however, it was I who nailed Him to the cross. As well as you. And everyone else who has ever lived. And I will continue to admit it openly: I killed Jesus. But fortunately, it didn’t end there.

I am a great sinner. But I serve a great Saviour. Cheers, my wonderful freaks…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: CHOPPING MALL

1 Comment

Movie Review CHOPPING MALLLionsgate Home Entertainment
1986
R

“I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots.”

Some people will kill for a bargain…and at the Park Plaza Mall they do! Here, you can shop til you drop…dead! High tech robots equipped with state of the art security devices have been recruited as the new mechanical “night watchmen” for the Park Plaza Mall. When a jolting bolt of lightning short circuits the main computer control, the robots turn into “killbots”…on the loose after unsuspecting shoppers! Four couples are trying to make it after-hours in a mattress store. They make it all right…in the morgue! At Park Plaza, you can save on everything but your life!

Look at that DVD back-cover blurb up there. Just…gaze upon it. That, my fellow cinema fiends, is rampant abuse of the exclamation point right there. And to use them pared off with attempts to sound like Tales From The Crypt bon mots…they make me cringe. Also, this may be the first time I used “bon mot” in a sentence of any kind. But I digress.

Chopping Mall is a movie from the mid-1980s that poses the question: What if Short Circuit was a slasher horror flick, instead of a whimsical sci-fi family adventure? I mean, sure, you could argue that Chopping Mall came out a mere two months before Short Circuit and thus this would be a moot point, but let’s get real here. Chopping Mall is for those wishing Short Circuit had a body count and even goofier main characters. As a matter of fact, Chopping Mall was originally released under the title Killbots, which would have been far more on point with the plot of the movie, but was changed to the current name when it was re-released.

So, after a brief scene at a demonstration of the high-tech security bots, we’re introduced to the horny 20-somethings that work at various shops at the local mall. One of them is the son of the guy who owns the mattress store, and he and his buddies decide to bring in their respective girlfriends and have a product testing party after hours. This just also happens to be the same night that the fancy-schmancy security bots at the mall got shocked by a power surge due to an electrical storm outside, and they all surpass the Three Laws and begin killing all humans. So now, long after all the other smarter humans have left the mall and the kill bots have been deployed, the only live bodies left are those horny 20-somethings, and now it’s a matter of survival trying to get out of a mall that’s been put in lockdown, while being stalked by the three security robots. Things don’t go well.

First thing I really need to point out here, is that, for a movie titled Chopping Mall, there is absolutely zero actual chopping. Oh, there’s plenty of electrocuting, stabbing, choking and being shot at by lazer blasts (seriously), but absolutely no chopping whatsoever. I have to say, I am very disappointed, movie. You promise chopping, and then fail to deliver said chopping. I don’t care if it was the alternate title choice, the video cover promised chopping, I expect chopping. That said, Chopping Mall was a nice bit of cheesy 80s-tastic fun. The script itself oozed dated 80s pop culture, right down to the use of the words “bodacious” and “to the max”. The effects were delightfully low-budget, and things get so over-the-top you have to really check your brain in at the door and just sit back and enjoy the wackiness.

Misnomer title aside, Chopping Mall was a lot of unintentional fun to sit through. Easily making my list of So Bad It’s Good movies you need to watch and rip on with friends one night.

Music Review: CRIMSON THORN – Plagued

Leave a comment

crimson thorn - plaguedCRIMSON THORN
Plagued
Independent
1993

Once upon a time, two lads from Minnesota met at a Barren Cross concert, became friends, and formed a band called Obidiah. From there, they created the legendary Crimson Thorn, and recorded the cassette-only demo Plagued in 1992, and released it in 1993. Obviously, since then it’s gone out of print and hard to find, until it was included on the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed as bonus material.

The reason why I’m writing about this now is because, as of this writing, Bombworks Records has recently released the official 3-CD boxed set featuring all of their releases, which includes this demo, with all of the material given a well-needed remastering that the originals were sorely lacking, including this and the aforementioned Unearthed. I wanted to discuss the music itself separately, so I can focus on the quality of the remastering when I get around to reviewing the boxed set collection here soon.

It’s rather fascinating to learn that, given the kind of death metal the band is famous for playing and releasing, that the music on the Plagued demo is thrash metal. Not thrash metal with death vocals, like on Mortification’s self-titled album, actual thrash metal with standard thrash metal vocals. Mind you, this is some very good thrash metal, so there’s no complaint about that. I just wonder what prompted the change from the Exodus style thrash sound to the Cannibal Corpse inspired death metal goodness that appeared a year later on their debut full-length release.

Anyway, despite the less-than-stellar production on the demo itself (it’s to be expected, really, and the Morphine Records release didn’t do any remastering), the metal here rips with some fantastic thrash riffs and thick rhythms anchoring things down. The vocals, like I said, are of the deeper thrash shout vocals, the likes of which bands like Scourged Flesh and Sacrament have employed, among several others. I think that, had they stuck with the thrash metal direction, they would have been just as fantastic at that as they were with the eventual death metal direction they eventually went with. Regardless, the Plagued demo is very much worth checking out, and since this is included in the boxed set, it’ll be easier to do so, rather than trying to track down an affordable copy of the cassette-only demo itself, or even the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed on which it is included (with a mixed-up track listing, I might add). Recommended.

Older Entries