Music Review: AMERICAN MADE – Against The Flow

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Music Review_ AMERICAN MADE - Against The FlowAMERICAN MADE
Against The Flow
KMG Records
1999

The thing is, I know for certain I’ve already listened to and reviewed this particular album years ago. One could say, over a decade ago. Back when I was maintaining a LiveJournal (before the site decided to make us all sit through a pointless ad before allowing us to make our posts, which is one of the reasons why you’re not reading this on LiveJournal now), I remember picking up a cheap copy of Against The Flow from the late and lamented RadRockers store I would frequent back in the day, along with its follow-up Red (the review of which I managed to retain, for some reason), listening to them both a couple of times, then popped out a review for each and called it a day on American Made. But now, here we are, having the archives of my reviews over the decade been moved over to this biggity-blog for now, I seem to have misplaced the original review for Against The Flow. And since my odd bit of OCD won’t allow that oversight to continue on, I found myself having to once again listen to that album and write a new review, as the original has been lost forever. And let me tell you, that was something I was not looking forward to.

This time around, though, in the interest of providing a bit of back story to the item I’m about to, for lack of a better word, review, American Made has its roots in that tried and true way that many a band have come to be: the key members all met at a Christian summer camp. Two brothers who were into hardcore punk and a hip-hop enthusiast, for whatever reason, decided to start jamming together and blending the two styles, essentially throwing genres together at a wall and seeing what sticks. They found they gelled together enough to begin performing together (along with a bass player) under the name Against The Flow, but then changed their name to American Made, and recorded their first album which they titled Against The Flow (see what they did, there?), which was released as the first original recording on the KMG Records label.

You may have detected a less-than-enthusiastic vibe with my review so far. That’s because I’m still rather sore at spending $2 for a copy of Against The Flow, money that could have gone to a couple of tacos from Taco Bell. And in case you’re wondering, no. I am not letting the fact that I had to re-listen to the album color my review of it. I am nothing if not professional in my amateur pursuits as an online pseudo-journalist, after all.

The music on Against The Flow can be described as 2/3rds Pop Punk, and 1/3rd Miscellaneous. Keeping in mind that the popularity of Pop Punk (or “Mall Punk”, whatever you wanna call it) was beginning to wane a bit by the time Against The Flow was released, this is nevertheless full of the that style of music, with the tracks. However, when it comes to the “Miscellaneous” part of the songs, that’s where I found the band actually sounding rather decent. Not that I have anything against Pop Punk in general; it’s just that the band here has demonstrated a versatility that went beyond just the sum of their genre pigeonholing. Like on “Kick It”, they have a classic Suicidal Tendencies vibe which I rather enjoyed. “Against The Flow” has a 311/Sublime style, heavy melded with a hip-hop rhythm which is decent. The one titled “Rap Interlude” is just that, featuring an acoustic guitar and rhyming that I rather dug. “Nate” is a good heavy rap/rock song, and “How We Roll” was atmospheric with a nice Middle Eastern vibe with some more rap/rock styling. I should point out that “Enough Is Enough”, while falling into the Pop Punk style, has a darker feel than the other happy-go-peppy stuff that’s standard, so that one is a definite stand-out itself.

Overall, having given this another listen after all of these years, I do admit that there are more bright spots on here than initially back when I originally did the first review. It does have some good production, and as I mentioned their best bits were when they were going beyond the regular Pop Punk style. However, there’s more Pop Punk here than otherwise. And the Otherwise stuff isn’t really my style overall. But, I’m just a grizzled old \,,/METALHEAD\,,/ who happens to dabble a bit with other genres. I like what I like, I’m saying. And I’m still “meh” about Against The Flow, but not as vehemently as I was over 15 years ago when I first listened to it.

Movie Review: GREEN ROOM

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green roomA24
2015
R

“It’s funny. You were so scary at night.”

Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker, a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise. But while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, The Ain’t Rights prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected, turning the tables on their unsuspecting captors and setting the stage for the ultimate life-or-death showdown.

I know, I know. I had the chance to see the movie Green Room during its blink-and-it’s-gone run time in the theaters. I kept hearing very, very good things about the movie, how it’s not only a tense independent thriller featuring great performances from the cast as well as a fantastic cinematography that really brought out the claustrophobic nature of the story, but I kept hearing from acquaintances in the underground punk scenes that the depiction of the hardcore punk aesthetic was quite legit. The thing was, I rarely want to go to the movies alone nowadays, and since most if not all of the Exalted Geeks I would go with aren’t into horror movies, I decided to wait until the VOD release.

My mistake. I admit that now. I should have worked past my anxiety to take in this flick on the big screen when I had the chance. Because, boy does Green Room pack a significant roundhouse kick to the midsection with a steel-toed boot.

So, here we have a story about a hardcore punk band, named the Ain’t Rights, trying to get by on their DIY ethos and playing some seriously righteous hardcore punk wherever they can. Before they decide to call it quits on the tour, they’re given a shot at an out-in-the-boonies bar for a decent payout for gas to get back home. Only, the bar has a rather narrow kind of clientèle–namely, skinhead Nazis. But, money is money, and they do the set anyway, and when they’re getting set to leave, they accidentally stumble upon a murder in the titular Green Room, and now they have to spend the rest of the night trying to survive getting snuffed by the bar’s owner and his army of skinheads to cover everything up. Things…don’t go well.

There are two things that make Green Room a fantastic horror thriller: 1) the depiction of the whole hardcore punk aesthetic, I’m told from acquaintances who adhere to that scene, is pretty authentic. I say “I’m told”, because I don’t claim to be part of or even an expert on the scene; while I read up and try to understand and have an appreciation for the scene and the music, I also hold no delusion as to claiming I’m part of it. The ones I know of who are have given their seal of approval, though. As long as they’re not really messing with Poser Boy here, I’m going to accept it. 2) This is a well-crafted and tight horror thriller that is claustrophobic, quick-paced and doesn’t take any easy way outs. There were a few times where I caught myself drawing my knees up to my chest and getting unnerved at the goings on I was witnessing. Add to this a fantastic performance from none other than Patrick Stewart as the head Skinhead, and you’ve got yourself a chilling time.

Really, don’t make the same mistake I did. If you haven’t watched Green Room, do yourself a favor and rectify that oversight. Highly recommended by your Uncle NecRo.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO -February 18, 2017

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February 18, 2017

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NECRO SHOCK RADIO – January 28, 2017

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January 28,2017

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NECRO SHOCK RADIO – January 21, 2017

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JANUARY 21

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NECRO SHOCK RADIO – January 7, 2017

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Uncle NecRo’s TOP 100 CHRISTIAN ALBUMS FROM THE 1990s, Part 5: 20-1

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Here we are, arrived at Part 5, the final ten in this little mini-series on the blog. Hope it was good for you. I know you’re just itching with curiosity to know what the rest are, so without further adieu:

mortification-mortification20 – Mortification (Mortification)
…this was my first exposure to this new fangled style of metal that was Death Metal. Back in the tail end of 1992, on the trip back from a national youth group convention in Texas, someone in the van I was riding in lent me his copy of this album, because he saw the Destruction Comes cassette in my collection. I’ve been hooked ever since.

crashdog-mudangels19 – Mud Angels (Crashdog)
…what do you know, actual legit punk rawk, at a time when “punk” consisted of the radio-friendly pop styles of Green Day, MxPx and…some other bands, I don’t really know much about all of that. But this, nothing slick about this rawness.

circle-of-dust-disengage18 – Disengage (Circle Of Dust)
…dark, electronic goodness that goes great with brooding.

no-innocent-victim-1997-no-compromise17 – No Compromise (No Innocent Victim)
…one of the better of the so-called “Spirit-Filled Hardcore” bands I’ve come across, only slightly less pretentiously amusing than those Straight Edge bands.

one-bad-pig-i-scream-sunday16 – I Scream Sunday (One Bad Pig)
…while the inclusion of the duet with Johnny Cash on his song “Man In Black” is enough to warrant this as the best of One Bad Pig’s discography to date, there’s some seriously good cuts on this besides just that song.

leaderdogs-for-the-blind-lemonade15 – Lemonade (Leaderdogs For The Blind)
…since it was given to me by one of my alternative music snob friends, I was expecting just that. Imagine my surprise when this turned out to be pretty good industrialized rock.

pod-snuff-the-punk14 – Snuff The Punk [Rescue Records 1994 Version] (Payable On Death)
…yep, there’s Payable On Death in my collection. Yep, it’s been in there since long before they became youth group darlings. Yep, this original version is preferable to the post-fame remaster re-release version. Yep, I refuse to call the band “P-O-D”. Yep, even I want to punch myself in the face right now.

stryper-against-the-law13 – Against The Law (Stryper)
…like with the Bloodgood entry, this is the only studio album Stryper released in the 1990s, so I can’t include the previous releases. But, unlike the Bloodgood entry, this album is very good and should be listened to a whole bunch of times.

seventh-angel-lament-for-the-weary12 – Lament For The Weary (Seventh Angel)
…after only hearing a couple of their cuts on the Arise Skates compilation, I found this at a Camelot Records. Good find, methinks.

jesus-freaks-socially-unacceptable11 – Socially Unacceptable (Jesus Freaks)
…I remember this being the first legit thrash album I’ve heard from a Christian band, immediately comparing it to Metallica in their Ride The Lightning era. Oh, how adorable I was back then. Still, great little EP.

groms-ascension10 – Ascension (GROMS)
…pity these guys didn’t produces more than just this album. Great death metal, this one is.

seventh-angel-the-torment9 – The Torment (Seventh Angel)
…I like this debut album just slightly more than their second one, simply because it’s more straight-up thrash. They’re both excellent, though.

deliverance-what-a-joke8 – What A Joke! (Deliverance)
…my first Deliverance album, also my first exposure to the existence of Christians playing thrash metal. Which is why this one is the most-listened to album of their discography.

living-sacrifice-nonexistent7 – Nonexistent (Living Sacrifice)
…my first exposure to the band that is Living Sacrifice, I got this because of the cover art alone. I was thinking, “wow, they sell this at a Christian bookstore!” Fortunately, the death metal was fantastic to boot.

circle-of-dust-brainchild6 – Brainchild (Circle Of Dust)
…heavy industrial metal goodness. More in the vein of Ministry than Nine Inch Nails, and it still hasn’t gotten old over 20 years later.

klank-1997-still-suffering5 – Still Suffering (Klank)
…I cannot tell you how many speakers I’ve damaged cranking this thing. Or how many countless hours of darkness this helped me get through.

rackets-drapes-candyland4 – Candyland (Rackets & Drapes)
…I could write pages on how this album by this particular band was such a paradigm shift for me when I first discovered it, but that would defeat the purpose of a brief synopsis for this list. Maybe later.

vengeance-rising-destruction-comes3 – Destruction Comes (Vengeance Rising)
…you long time Vengeance Rising fans are probably wondering why I placed this one so high on the list. Well…it was the first Vengeance album I owned, and it was the first one to pop into my head when I was brainstorming. Also, sometimes you just need to sit back and GRIND.

tourniquet-pathogenic-ocular-disonance2 – Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance (Tourniquet)
…hmmm, what’s that? You’ve been wondering which Tourniquet album I deem to be better than Psycho Surgery? Why, it’s this one, silly. No, no, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one who’s wrong.

mortification-scrolls-of-the-megilloth1 – Scrolls Of The Megilloth (Mortification)
…and the top spot goes to the greatest death metal album to ever be released, period.

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