Writing for the Web

Here are some of my reviews and such that I’ve written for various websites across the net:

Raggedy Angry

Category: Industrial, Rock, Ballad

Album: How I Learned to Love Our Robot Overlords

Stars: 2.5

Blurb: If this is to be the future of our genre than I feel for our children.

 

The new album from Raggedy Angry isn’t necessarily a bad album but perhaps a band trying to find it’s voice amongst it’s influences and the lack of focus pulls the final product in too many directions.  There are elements of industrial, synth pop, metal, screamo and more through out the entire run of the album.  Instead of incorporating each one of those elements into their own sound and vision often times Raggedy Angry simply writes a song in that style, leaving out their own voice and their own originality.

 

The album is a jagged obstacle course for the listener to get through.  Moments of clarity are scare but they are there.  More often than not though it’s the obvious pitfalls that stand out more than anything else.  “Robot Love” being the biggest misstep.  The song is a ballad done with a female vocalist and it just feels out of place and completely dated on a record like this.  One minute they are a snarling industrial metal hybrid ala Marilyn Manson and the next this overly sappy love song about robots along with the augmented vocals necessary to make it sound like the robot is singing.

 

Dave “Rave” Oglvie produced this album once again and while he is a notable producer with a ton of respect and credibility in the genre, this I believe is a misstep on his part as well by not focusing these young men into a more concrete idea.  The last time Dave had this bad of an idea Motley Crue recorded with John Corabi.  Perhaps if Dave would have stepped in and pulled the ideas together or helped them to focus their ideas this would have been a much stronger package.  The recording and mixing are excellent but with out the proper focus it’s lost on the listener.

 

It would be unfair to write off Raggedy Angry at this point in their career, they are still young and it shows in their music.  Give them a few more years of writing and recording and touring and they could be a true force to recon with.

 

Track list:

  1. Wake
  2. Don’t Mess With The S.S.
  3. Burn Your Gods
  4. Fire Engine Red
  5. Sick Thoughts
  6. My Escape
  7. Take Me Home
  8. Easter Island Radiation
  9. Get Fucked
  10. Assimilate
  11. Superjet
  12. Digital Hell
  13. Robot Love
  14. Epilogue Cheers

 

Raggedy Angry Website http://raggedyangry.com/

Raggedy Angry MySpace http://www.myspace.com/raggedyangry

Raggedy Angry Facebook http://www.facebook.com/raggedyangry

Raggedy Angry ReverbNation http://www.reverbnation.com/raggedyangry

Raggedy Angry Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/raggedyangry

 

Ding Dong Dead Review 1-03-12

 

I knew going into this it wasn’t going to be anything to blow me out of the water but I’ve seen a lot of gems in the rough that lead me to believe that there was something really special about a film.  Ding Dong Dead isn’t one of those movies.  In fact this movie made me violently angry and wishing I had a 12 pack of beer to get the terrible images out of my head.

First off, the cast of women were definitely my type of ladies.  Lovely goth/punk girls with tattoos and piercings and all the things that make the Suicide Girls so appealing to my type.  But what the film makers failed to do here was get any of them naked.  If you’re going to have a film full of Suicide Girls wannabes then at least get them naked, geez I mean really is it that hard?

Second the whole time this kind of felt like some kind of May rip off with our male protagonist being the Angela Bettis character from that movie.  Only of course you end up not routing for him at all.  In fact he gets so out there that you can’t explain his violence in the end.  Did the girls really drive him that mad to want to kill all of them?  Seriously I’ve had some fine ladies play some tricks on me but nothing these girls did would have led to the final outcome of this film.

The acting was passable for this type of movie.  Our leading man actually seemed to have some real acting chops and could probably do much better than this tripe.  The girls varied on their abilities, but most did a fine job with what they had to work with.

One of the most laughable points for me was the violence.  I have my degree in theatre and one of the things when learn in theatre is stage fighting and making things believable for an audience.  Our director here should have taken a Stage Combat class as well because he shot the violence at wrong angles and some of the violence was completely unbelievable.  You could clearly see the cheating.  While I understand you can’t physically harm your actors and actress, you can make it believable by shooting it from the right angles and from teaching the basics of stage combat.  Mr. Creepy before your next horror film read a book on how to make choking look like you’re really choking someone.

And lastly the music.  Dear lord where do I even start.  For one thing the music was canned music.  It was obvious that no one actually composed a score for this film, but you says “no big deal it can’t be that bad right especially if he mixed it correctly?”.  He didn’t mix it correctly in post.  It stuck out like a sore thumb and ruined any sort of tension or build up at all.  Seriously the music took me so far out of the experience that I wanted to punch my ears until the bled to make the ugly stop.  Not only was the music mixed too loud it had nothing to do with the movie, it built no tension, it didn’t even feel like it should even be apart of the film at all.  Here’s a note to any film makers reading this review, find a musician that will score a film for you.  There are tons out there that will do it for free or next to nothing just to get a break, hell I’ll do it!

I tried to do the special features, but when I started to play them the directors interview was shot in full frame and stretched to wide screen and it made the director look like a giant arrogant mushroom and I gave up.

Ding Dong Dead was a complete waste of time with little redeeming qualities apart from a few moments of inspired acting, but the rest of the film was incompetent on so many levels, don’t waste your time there’s nothing to see here.

 

Movie: 1 Star

Special Features: 1 Star

DVD over all: 1 Stars.

 

Resurrection County

Another release from MTI Releasing and I went into this with the same expectations that I had after watching the last screener I was sent, which means I absolutely thought this was going to be a pile of crap.  Come to find out though I was pleasantly surprised by a competent little film.  While it was filled with clichés from the torture porn genre it had enough tension and believable moments that kept me in it for the entire run time and never really pulled me out of the film or left me questioning the directors choices or the actors motivations.

First off this film is a combination of “Wrong Turn” meets “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” meets “Hostile” meets “The Hills Have Eyes” meets “Red State”.  I’m not kidding about that either.  It’s basically a giant hodgepodge of every film in the torture, redneck, back woods, religious nuts franchise of films.  Take a little bit of every one of those films through it into a big pot and stir.  Then poor it out and see what you get.  While on paper it sounds pretty terrible the solid direction, good performances by both the protagonists and antagonists, and good amounts of tension gave me an enjoyable romp in the rural forests of Arkansas.

Four friends go out to go four wheeling in a remote part of the Arkansas woods and come across the spooky filling station with the helpful local who seems to be eyeing each one of the camping party.  He provides the necessary info that the crew need to find their ultimate four wheeling destination and sends them on their way.  At this point you can read what’s going to happen all over the faces of the actors, but you don’t mind.   It’s well done and your look forward to what may be happening next.  As things progress you find out more and more about our protagonists and their relationships with each other.  What you may think is a perfect friendship soon gets sullied by information that is given to you in exposition between all four of our leads.  Our four leads do a pretty good job, a lot of times in these lower budget films you get actors who get turned down for soap opera roles but everyone in this cast hold their own and each member appears to have some training, either that or the director did a pretty damn good job of getting a believable performance out of all the cast members.  Again this was the most shocking part of the entire production to me, getting a decent performance is first and foremost one of the most important parts in creating believable movies.

From then on after our relationships are established things get ugly real fast.  Needless to say there are deaths, upon deaths.  Another thing that impressed me about this film is that while you can tell there was limited budget on this they decided to put it where it counts and place a good portion of the budget into the effects.  They bring to the screen believable gunshot wounds, believable beatings and more.  I was really impressed with the amount of gore in each of the set ups that needed it.  Unfortunately they probably spent all the money on the gore and didn’t have any money left over to get the actress to take off their tops on screen.  A minor complaint but it would have been nice to see a little skin from our leads especially when there were several moments that alluded to it.

All in all this film worked as a whole and I was pleasantly surprised but there were a few things that bothered me about the production.  First the lack of skin by our female leads despite several moments that alluded to the showing of ample amounts of flesh kind of turned me off.  While it wasn’t it necessary it sure would have been a nice addition to the entire film as a whole.  Secondly I had a problem with the colorist work done.  When a trend comes up in film, especially horror films, many of the independent film makers try and make their films look like the big budget films hitting the big screens, while that’s an admirable thing to do, it can’t always be pulled off successfully and perhaps I’m just jaded but if I see one more film in a full saturated wash of vomit green for a two hour run time I’m going to cover every person in front of me with a vomit color of my own choice.  I get it, you’re trying to create a mood and an atmosphere by try using lighting to do that and not relying on post-production to bring that magic to your film.  It gives the actors and their makeup and unusual hue and sometimes pulls me out of the film to stare at the V: The Miniseries skin tones.  Robert Englund’s lizard character would be proud of how green you’ve made everyone look.  Also another little bother was the Miller Lite beer cans.  I’m sure these Redneck Hillbilly psychopaths would NOT be drinking Miller Lite, it just doesn’t fit with their motives.  At all, so next time use a Mason Canning Jar filed with moonshine to make it more believable.

All in all Resurrection County is a decent rental and something that fans of the torture porn/redneck killer genres will probably enjoy, with a believable cast, solid direction, good gore and good amounts of tension this is worth the time you invest in it.  Give it a go today.

 

Movie: *** ½

Nudity: None

Gore: ***1/2

 

Caustic – The Man Who Couldn’t Stop
Label: Metropolis Records
Release date: October 9th, 2012
Website: http://www.tellmeaboutmyuterus.com

 

Reviewed by Gabe Wilkinson

 

Ladies and gentleman, what we have here is a failure to communicate.  Matt Fanale apparently didn’t get the message that this is 2012 and people don’t want music in their ears that is challenging, forward thinking yet feels like a nod to those that came before him.  No he thought it was necessary to create that very album.  To put all of his blood sweat and jizz into something that is truly different from the landmines plaguing the industrial/electronic world around us.

You see we’ve all read Matt’s blogs on Vampire Freaks, we get it.  He is outspoken and calls people on their bullshit, but it wasn’t until now that I really believe that Matt put his money where his mouth is and created something that is challenging and coming from a place that only someone who truly loves what they are doing and wants to push themselves further and create their own brand.

My first moment to realize this was the Foetus-esque second track “Laugh Like Mutants” with its heavy guitars and pounding beats this sounds like Matt is channeling Mr. JG Thirwell himself and then casually raping his eye socket.  Not even Lydia Lunch could take a pounding like this for the songs nearly six and a half minute run time.  Yeah you read that right, six and a half minutes.  What the hell is he the new Led Zeppelin of industrial music?  No.  Why?  He didn’t steal some old blues mans song.

The next track that stuck out to me and grabbed me by the testicular fortitude was the collaboration with Android Lust for the song “Bleed You Out”.  Many people may have downloaded this song when Matt and Metropolis released it for free before the albums release.  I think what I found most shocking and impressive is the stylistic change from the first two tracks off the album.  Here the gears and shifted into a more dance floor oriented feel.  Big beats with less distortion and what’s this?  MELODY you say?  Yes, not only in the vocal performance but there are these quiet pads with this whispering melodies bubbling just below the surface of the track.  This track actually reminds me of everything good about a lot of the 90’s industrial scene with its pounding dance floor beats and breathy female vocals.  The only real thing that I hear that bothers me is the bass sound kind of sounds like a preset that I’ve heard before, but that’s a SUPER nit picky gripe from someone who listens to a lot of electronic music and probably not all that fair to Matt.

As we move on to the fifth track I’m starting to see the theme behind this record.  I’m starting to get it.  This record is about creating tracks that are different from each other.  This record is about creating tracks that have their own unique and individual personalities.  It’s about creating a world for each track for the listener to get lost in.  Matt has grown more in the last five years musically than most artists grow in their lifetime, coming from the early stuff of noise and abuse to moments on this record that are down right… poppy?  Poppy?  What the hell?  Matt Fanale poppy?  But I can’t help but finding myself singing choruses.  Getting lost in swirling melodies.  Enjoying quiet moments smashed up against some of the louder more aggressive moments that Caustic has employed in the past.

But never fear people Matt doesn’t abandon his roots in heavy beats and distorted vocals.  There is plenty of it on here to keep you happy… hey wait did I just hear a Full Metal Jacket sample?  No?  Ok.  You catch a break this time Fanale but I could have sworn I heard a military sample.  So yeah, if you like it stompy, Matt can make it stompy.  But in my opinion those aren’t the most interesting things on this album, no not at all.  And well at 76 minutes there is a lot to be interested in on this record.

Really what I find most interesting on this record is the final song “Fin (Again) Begin (Again)”.  Eight minutes of a soundscape, something completely new for Caustic.  Not only that but it’s interesting.  It reminds me of the best parts of horror movies when the protagonist is being chased by the masked killer and the tension builds as the tympanis pound out a beat.  Well played Mr. Caustic well played.  And DAMN I love that viola at the end of this song.  Take THAT Clint Mansell!

Now not to sound all fan boy or anything but I really feel like Matt has created a unique work of art and something that is at least worth your time to check out and experience once.  At 76 minutes it’s a hard album to digest in one sitting.  We are in a culture of shuffles and playlists, but you really need to sit down with this at least once and listen to it all the way through to experience the journey that Matt is taking you on.  To enjoy the context of the album in its entirety and to take it all in.  I suggest a nice comfy place that is well lit just incase you scare easily.

While this may not be a perfect album, it is one of the best I’ve heard this year as far as originality and creativity.

 

Final Verdict 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

 

Track listing:

  1. Failing at the School of Life
  2. Laugh Like Mutants
  3. Man-E-Faces (daddybear vs Caustic) [Caustic Version]
  4. Bleed You Out (feat. Android Lust)
  5. Ghost Like Swayze (iVardensphere vs Caustic)
  6. Bury You Alive
  7. Bigger Better Faster NOW!!!
  8. PigEatBone
  9. Stains on the Coattails
  10. Zen Castrato
  11. Graver Guru
  12. We Never Learn
  13. Internet Model
  14. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop
  15. Suck Me Dry
  16. Demon Seed Semen Deed
  17. Collide With Me
  18. Fin (Again) Begin (Again)

 

Ministry – Relapse
Label: AFM/13th Planet Records
Release date: March 27th, 2012
Website: www.thirteenthplanet.com

 

Reviewed by Gabe Wilkinson

 

 

Back when Ministry let it be known to the world that old Uncle Al was retiring from the world of Ministry my heart cried.  More than a little.  It’s no secret that I love Ministry.  I love everything about Ministry.  I love “With Sympathy”, I love “Twitch”, I can even find stuff to love about “Dark Side of the Spoon”.  The thought of never hearing another Ministry record was a thought I didn’t want to live with.  I had no choice though.  Then out of the blue an album I had been waiting nearly 25 years to hear was sent to me… what is this?  Buck Satan and the 666 Shooters was laying in front of me and I had new music from ole Al himself, or Buck.  I thought to myself; “I wonder if Al will want to do another Ministry record just for shit’s and giggles and since he was working with Mike on Buck Satan it would seem easy enough to do.  Then as if I had just rubbed my genitals against a magic lamp the announcement was made of Al’s return to Ministry, his “RELAPSE”.

 

I’ve had this record in my hands for awhile now and I’ve done my best to come up with words to describe it for you, you my loyal readers all over the globe.  Many in the industry have given it rave reviews and high praise.  Many call it a return to form for Ministry (which I’ve been hearing since they released “Animositisomina”).  I’m in the middle of the road on how I feel about the record.  In the press releases and write up’s Ministry are being referred to more and more as a metal band which while on the surface makes sense since they seem to be more akin to the thrash bands now of the late 80’s rather than the electronic pioneers they were in that same era, it’s hard for me to use that term for them.  So I won’t.  Ministry are still an industrial band.  Phew, got that off my chest.

 

This is Uncle Al’s most personal record to date (if you exclude the lovelorn lyrics of “With Sympathy”).  With a Democrat in the White House Jourgensen decides to attack the corrupt record industry and band management instead of taking on politics.  Mind you, politics are still important here.  I mean with a song title like “Git Up Get Out ‘n Vote” it’s kind of hard not to see the politics involved in it.  But “Ghouldiggers” is squarely aimed at former record labels and former band managers.  Al doesn’t seem to be running out of vitriol for those in the driver’s seat in his career or his country.

 

Relapse is really (what I feel like is) a 5-peat of records starting with “Animositisomina” and including “Houses of the Mole”, “The Last Sucker”, “Rio Grande Blood” and concluding with “Relapse”.  It’s the same kind of feel, the same kind of guitar work, the same kind of vocal delivery, and to an extent the same kind of fuck you attitude towards society.  While each of those records have moments that I really enjoy, as a whole I’m left with a less than satisfied taste in my mouth.  It’s not to say that they aren’t great slabs of modern industrial metal but they are missing something.

 

For me the biggest falter for the last 5 Ministry records has been the lack of experimentation.  The companion remix CDs have almost been more of a treat for me than the actual albums the songs originally came from.  The other problem that I have is the mix.  Seriously does Uncle Al have no treble in his studio monitors?  Because when I’m jamming these records all I hear is treble and the bass seems to be low cut so severely that the entire mix sounds lifeless and dull at times.  Not to mention that no matter how much the songs may “sound” different they tend to get a bit same sound-y at the end of the day because of the lack of experimentation in sound and mixing.

 

So what’s my final verdict?  Do I still love Ministry?  Absolutely.  Will I still buy this record and play it?  For sure, it’s Ministry.  You can’t deny Ministry or their place in history or their place on my psyche and my life.  Ministry are one of the few bands that changed my life and I’ll be right behind Al the whole time, but be warned folks, this is the Metal Al.  This is not all of “Twitch”, the Al of “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste”.  This is Metal Al.  And if you don’t enjoy Metal Al, this may not be your cup of Croke (pun and spelling error intended).

 

Tracklisting:

1. Ghouldiggers
2. Double Tap
3. FreeFall
4. Kleptocracy
5. United Forces
6. 99 Percenters
7. Relapse
8. Weekend Warrior
9. Git Up Get Out ‘n Vote
10. Bloodlust
11. Relapse Defibrillator Mix (Special Limited Edition)

 

Unit:187 – Transfusion
Label: Vendetta Music
Release date: March 27th, 2012
Website: http://www.unit187.com/index.php

 

Reviewed by Gabe Wilkinson

 

 

In all honesty, I haven’t heard a release from Unit:187 since Loaded in 1998 and at the time I wasn’t blown away with it.  Yes it contained some impressive amounts of talent on it with Byron Stroud and Jed Simon who both worked with Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad and Front Line Assembly at points in their respective careers.  Yes, Devin Townshend had a hand in the whole process, but it left me flat and cold.  It wasn’t until last year when Stiff Valentine were touring through my neck of the woods and Chris Peterson was coming along with them to the WTII Mini Fest in Chicago that I found out that Chris was now in the band and the band as a whole was gaining momentum and vigor that had been left behind.

 

I was very excited to hear new stuff especially since I got to spend a lot of time hanging out with Chris and getting to know more about him as a person and more about him as a musician than just the guy you read about in the liner notes of your favorite magazines and CDs.  Chris has a real passion and you can hear that in everything that he touches.  While this is a remix CD, you can hear his unmistakable influence all over this disc and that is a good thing to me.  I love his programming and his sounds.  The other thing you’ll hear all over this disc is Stiff Valentine’s influence.  Chris DeMarcus and Craig Johnsen both of Stiff Valentine lend remixes to this collection and there is a remix from Death Proof on here as well which is DeMarcus and Jason Bazinet of SMP fame (as well as drums for anybody with enough bags of dicks to hire him to go on tour).  What we get here in total is a pretty solid mix of remixes.  There are strong solid elements of industrial in here too.  Even when other genres like dubstep are being experimented with it never sounds out of place nor does it sound bandwagon worthy.

 

That’s just it, this whole release sounds like a band who have found people that truly understand their sound and what they are going for.  What makes that difficult is the fact that there isn’t a lot of experimentation either.  I think I was most surprised by 16Volt’s remix of “Kurva”.  While it sounds like Unit:187, it also sounds exactly like a 16Volt outtake, in fact I think Eric Powell is even singing this track.  Which doesn’t make it bad, it just makes it sound like 16Volt and not like Unit:187 being remixed by 16Volt.  I know that sounds like a pretty petty complaint in the big picture but I kind of found it distracting as a listener and it really pulled me out of the experience because is sounded so unlike what I was hearing.  The only other flaw that I could find with this release was the lack of distinct timbre changes from one song to the other.  Guaranteed a lot of the same songs were remixed, but still each song kept a lot of the original elements with the artists choosing to only switch things up a little bit.  Personally I would have loved to hear the artists take more risk with these songs and push them further away from the metal/industrial hybrid roots.

That’s not to say that this is a bad release.  Obviously if I’m doing my job right I’m not going to be stroking cocks all day long and not giving some criticism where it needs it.  Does this CD have a place in your collection?  I think so.  The mixes are all really strong for what they are, I think perhaps iVardensphere actually won me over as having the best remix on here (which is a difficult thing considering you have Ken “Hiwatt” Marshall and cEvin Key remixing a track together and those two could sword fight with their penis in a toilet and record it and I’d buy it and spin it every night of the week in my head phones declaring it the greatest piss of industrial music of all time.

 

All in all I think that Unit:187 should be proud of this collection of remixes.  It’s a solid work with solid remixes and it feels cohesive and well done.  I think any fan of the genre will get a kick out of this and I think any of these tracks could get a dance floor hopping sans the Easter Bunny.

 

Final Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5.

 

Tracklisting:

1. Rolling Vengeance (remixed by Ken “HiWatt” Marshall & Cevin Key from Skinny Puppy)

2. Threatened (Rom DiPrisco Remix)

3. Sick Obsession (Stiff Valentine Remix)

4. Blood for Blood

5. Threatened (Knifed Remix by Jared Slingerland and Craig Johnsen)

6. Living To Die (Necrotek Remix)

7. DDD (iVardensphere Remix)

8. Rolling Vengeance (C(o)de Blue Remix)

9. Kurva (16Volt Remix)

10. Rolling Vengeance (Deathproof Remix)

11. DDD (Witchmaker Remix)

12. Threatened (End Threat) [Glitch Mode Mix Cyanotic]

13. Rolling Vengeance (Mindless Faith Remix)

14. Threatened (Mono-Amine’s Poppy Remix)

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