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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Grind to Death has moved

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Fellow Grind to Deathians, we have made a great plunge and moved our site to a professional platform!
We are now www.grindtodeath.com ! For those of you who want the  new rss feed straight away it is http://www.grindtodeath.com/zine/rss.xml
Read this post for a list of new features and improvments 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Film Review: All Good Things

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Indecision is a destructive trait in any area, and is often deadly in film. All Good Things really can’t decide what it wants to be, odd considering it’s based on true events and proudly states this at the bookends of the film. But its indecisiveness unintentionally runs parallel with the indecision of its story and characters.

The story is directly based on Robert Durst a wealthy son of a New York real estate mogul. He witnessed his mother’s death at a young age and predictably was never the same. He was eventually arrested and tried for murder in 2003 and is suspected to be involved in other unsolved crimes linked to the Durst family. He is portrayed in the film by Ryan Gosling but the character name is changed to David Marks (all other characters based off of real people also have their names changed). Early in the film we see him rebel against his upper class roots. He marries a girl from a humble working class background, Katie McCarthy (Kirsten Dunst), they move to the country together and seemingly live their happiest days together. They set up a health food store naming it “All Good Things”. But the shop and their whole life style is being funded by David’s dad Sanford Marks (Frank Langella) who is constantly trying to encourage David to come and work for the family business, which he eventually does.

In enters the indecision, he chooses the job based on feelings of obligation rather than need or want. His wife didn’t want him to do it, and he has ultimately doomed their happiness. But impending doom is weaved into the narrative before even their fairy-tale like time in the country. Marks is shown mumbling to himself incoherently, and it’s established early on that he was present for his mother’s suicide. The film utilises a framing device to show this, it flashes back from David at his trial to the events that lead him there, with Gosling looking surprisingly convincing in old man makeup. His dark past and questionable psyche makes his romance with Katie tragic, she is initially blissfully unaware but her realisation changes her character for the worst.

Dunst portrays her as the epitome of sweetness. She is completely sincere and hides nothing, she is initially intrigued by his unique differences but eventually becomes aware of just how deep they go and what they are rooted in. He never talks about himself to her and she marries him without ever knowing about his mother or his personal demons. She is at last enlightened by David’s long-time friend Deborah Lehrman (Lily Rabe). Who breaks the information in an overly sunny and blasé fashion, when seeing Marks’ other female friends his choice of Katie as a wife seems far more puzzling. His mysterious past slowly breaks free of its repression following the revelation that Katie is pregnant, finally showing his rage tinted colours and requesting with no real reasons that they shouldn’t become parents. Indecision again with Katie being torn over whether to proceed with an abortion. Adding to the already incredibly dark tone, with a work obsessed David regrettably absent. The sweet and hope filled girl she once was dies, another victim of his scarred mental state.

The first two thirds of the film revolve almost solely around the tragic romance of David and Katie. They clash over her decision to pursue a medical career. It constantly builds and builds with the viewer painfully aware that this cannot end well. His long hidden dark emotions emerge often because of their dying relationship. His worst actions are left ambiguous, remaining off-screen; we are only shown Katie’s true terror at their aftermath. Their relationship is truly interesting and you really fear for her as well as sympathise with David because of his demons. This makes the sudden shift the film takes all the more worse. The shift links into the seeming indecision that the film has. For the first hour it chronicles a tragic romance, but from then on every aspect of it shifts. The narrative techniques, the time period, characters, everything. It turns into a far less compelling film, becoming a poor crime mystery genre film that sees David go on the run. Now, I’ll avoid spoilers as best I can but I have to write about this part of the film because it’s a significant chunk of the narrative and not a twist ending. Marks’ is suspected of various things and decides to flee to Texas, where he is seen in a costume far less convincing than his old man one but deliberately so. He meets Melvin Bump (played by will-always-be-the-library-detective-from-Seinfeld, Philip Baker Hall) and shit goes down.

The films indecisiveness is painfully apparent in its concluding third. It’s debatable that the awkward shift is unavoidable due to the true basis of its story. But All Good Things doesn’t seem to have any problems taking liberties with aspects of the story other than this. Who did what and why within the criminal acts in question are played around with endlessly. They have never been proved in real life but the film isn’t hesitant in pointing the finger at those it believes committed them. It changes and fabricates what it needs to in order to make the story more compelling, but this doesn’t prevent the incredible drop off in quality in the films closing chapters. Which are a little stupid and mostly uninteresting, the dark tone inexplicably lightens given the subject matter and it arrives at its feature length running time not at a stride but crawling on bloody stumps.

It’s not due to lack of talent that the film concludes as lacklustre. I hadn’t heard of director Andrew Jarecki before but his previous work (Capturing the Friedmans) was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. His direction is simply fine; with rare shots verging on fantastic (particularly the shot of Marks’ sitting at his desk as a building is constructed behind him). Ryan Gosling is one of the best young actors working today but he never really gets to show it. He gets the frustrated and demon filled side of David Marks’ down but never gets to embody an all the way snapped version of him, with the director instead opting for ambiguity. Dunst is fine as the sugar sweet Katie but her downfall is never really more than a few depressed expressions. The mystery was never solved in reality and the film decisions to incriminate its characters are far too predictable, it throws some red herrings into the mix but they’re not overly effective. It just can’t decide if it wants to be a romantic drama or a crime mystery.

The troubled and tragic romance of David and Katie Marks is a compelling plot point, it promises a thrilling pay off that just never materialises. It has similarities to another Ryan Gosling drama/romance film: Blue Valentine, and if anything All Good Things made me realise how good that film actually is. It’s two thirds a decent film but the conclusions commit a greater crime than any committed by its characters.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Great Expectations (Dawn of Chaos, Promo 2010)

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Death Metal on live recordings and lo fi quality is something I tend to be quite apprehensive about, technical moments and finer interjections can sometimes be lost and masked amongst the static low end flurry of buzzing, and thus not giving an accurate depiction as to what the band has to offer. However in Dawn of Chaos' promo they have just enough clarity in the promo to highlight effectively their considerable skills, and quite considerable they are.
That is not to suggest that they offer anything ground breaking or genre shattering, they merely play a myriad of death metal styles in a very professional execution; one could suggest they play it as an umbrella term, furthermore they somehow manage to smash together these various styles in manner that offers considerable integrity and a nice superflous flow from one style to the next. Some moments feel like a frantic axe wielding zombie survival horror, with others seeming more demonic and blasphemic, to an occasional old school Swedish Death Metal prangs. The release although short (what do you expect from a Promo, hell at least its longer than 90% of those grindcore releases you listen to! silly boy) really offers quite a lot, and I can honestly say hand on heart that they really do employ plenty of varying techniques to make for the most part non of the passages sound the same or similar. The only thing left to be desired is a decent audio quality recording quality, which I am sure will come in time. I certainly will be keeping an eye on this band.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Grinders Digest

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  • Perhaps I am slow on the uptake, but Brutal Truth are also recording a new album for 2011, well actually it has already been recorded, and the title for the release is "End Time", due this Summer. (source)
  • Grincore Karaoke has released yet another set of fantastic releases, this time round from Inerds and Cloud Rat here
  • TLAL has released Sidetracked's Uniformed 7" available here
  • G&P's Grindcore Alphabet has reached letter K (here)
  • Not really music related news in the purest sense, but google video willl be closing down and all its content with it, in favour of having youtube as googles only video service, you are now able to download and transfer all google videos to youtube. (source)
  • This tickled my humour and is typical of google genius yet comical tactics, youtube users who upload copyrighted material and are caught on it, have to watch an educational video and pass a quiz on the subject of copyright, before being allowed to upload again! (source)
  • HMV have been given support suprisingly by the record label industry offering to cut the costs of supply in order to throw a lifeline to the dying industry behemoth, (source)
  • Suprisingly the EU has hired a former record Industry representative, with the task of a a new music copyright, as for the direction he is likely to go is unclear at the time being (source)
  • L Dram is missing in action, but known to be pondering if readers will ever understand this whole L Dram scenario's.
  • Random Fact: Consumption of TNT turns urine amber or deep red, which people often mistake for blood.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Orphaned Aggression (Gridlink, Orphan 2011)

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Amber Grey by far and wide, is renowned for being a technical masterpiece of mind blowing proportions. Backed by a legendary cast, Gridlink put 2008 in the history books, by recording a release that offered a technical masterpiece in a fast paced rhythmic manner, the end product being the grindcore equivalent of Paganini's 24 caprices. Of which their 11 minutes of splintering precision trumped the decades of effort of contenders and was named in true democratic fashion the King's of Grind. So the very thought and anticipation of Amber Grey's heir; Orphan, was enough to send large chunks of the Grindcore community in a spiritual state of zen whilst drooling and muttering babel and the very thought of it. So how did this second heir to the third Chang Dynasty fare?
Basically this is everything Amber Grey was, this time round one minute longer, packed with more dexterous precision, harmonious flow and enough condensed passion to inspire a thousand playwrights.
Jon Chang as ever screams forth his inner nerd in a blazing series of shrieks  all of which coded in an enigma and flurry of obscure cultural referencing, leaving each new deciphered word to askew your original interpretation of the message. Heavy on the treble guitar work weaves in and out of various moods, retaining that riff and shred inducing cacaphonic bliss and admiration that made we were first plunged out of the blue head first back in 08.
The drum works beats frantically in a scattering, yet somehow military precision (S.A.S. styled) coordinated rampage, creating an immediate sense of urgency, and pincering down the rate of fire that is discharged to a recognisable level. Vocals are the same vocal chord shredding we expect and love, this time round on occasion sporting the rare low pitched bellow to reflect the moments of a dark mood.
Now this next bit in the review is probably the moment I am going to regret and receive hate mail from the John Chang cult for the next dozen years, or until the Phelps idiocracy finally pick a bone with grindcore.
Although I would agree 100% that Orphan is more precise, technical, faster, coordinated and overall better on a theoretical basis. I can't help but feel they abandoned or left out the aggressive overtones they had back in Amber Grey. This feels more to me like a Hayaino Daisuki meets some elements of grindcore release than what I felt they offered earlier. It was the aggression of Amber Grey, whether intentional or a byproduct of what they did that grounded it all and gave it a direction I really liked, this time round the aggression has been superseded with a frantic feel of mixed emotion with a gross discharge of adrenaline, which I must commend is executed fantastically and they really do immerse the listener in such a vibe, just I personally preferred the emotive threading of the earlier. Perhaps I am just the odd one out on this one.
In any case, Orphan is a fantastic release that does not fail in expanding on everything that made Gridlink the masters of the realm and without a doubt is up there in the albums that people will idolise decades afterwards, unless of course the Chinese World Empire of 2045 doesn't wipe it out.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Film Review: Source Code

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Science Fiction has its droves of devotees, but it has become such a broad term that Sci-Fi fans continue to do what they do best and moan up a storm about its current state. Inception had elements of it, and the Star Trek reboot was packed with it. But many of these somewhat Sci-Fi films cater more for the mainstream than the people with Silent Running posters on their walls. Their plots are based around fantastical technology over its theoretical possible counterpart. Then in 2009 we got Moon, a reclamation of the Sci-Fi genre by one of its biggest devotees: Duncan Jones. Well we all think he’s a devotee but in truth he became the Science Fiction Messiah so quickly that we’re still learning about him. I’m one of the legions of people that can easily wax poetic about Moon. Explorations of solace, morality and identity amidst a rich Sci-Fi background fronted by Sam Rockwell and scored by Clint Mansell, it was mind blowing. Even its film poster is one of my all-time favourites. Blatant homages and use of genre tropes made it an instant modern Sci-Fi classic. With its story revolving around the mining of Helium-3 it possessed scientific accuracies that even NASA had to admit were impressive (the film was screened for NASA at their request). All eyes were on Jones following one of the strongest directorial debuts in recent years, he reeked of potential and now had a budget big enough to show it.

Source Code is a testament to the broadness of the Science Fiction tag, while Jones had originally been at the forefront of those seeking a return to storytelling based in the technological potential of the human race, Source Code exists comfortably as a more fantastical narrative. The technology that drives the plot could never happen; it exists merely as a way to explain and ground something that is often a mystical occurrence. Brief techno babble explanations are given to allow more time for action. It’s not a natural progression from Moon but Jones maintains his Sci-Fi crown for the time being, saved by the wide criteria of his favourite genre. Source Code is a thriller film, it dedicates little time to what powers it and instead opts for a popcorn action feel.

Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) opens his eyes to find himself on a Chicago train. He has no memory of what brought him there. The beautiful stranger opposite him however seems to know him, but not as the person that he thinks he is. She is Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan) who is apparently a friend of his, but why is she calling him Sean and why does the ID in his wallet say Sean Fentress? You don’t want to know these answers before watching the film so you might want to stop reading. I’m not going to spoil any major plot points but knowing nothing at all will certainly help your enjoyment. Colter is meant to know nothing and unravelling the plot along with him must be the best way to approach the film. This is unfortunately a luxury that the current state of film trailers deprived me of.

Overwhelming confusion and disorientation leads him to the trains’ toilet, and a reluctant stare into the mirror confirms his fears. He isn’t Captain Colter Stevens. The man looking back at him is Sean Fentress, who is visually represented as a different actor in reflections to achieve this effect. The Gyllenhaal-less reflection only makes his state of mind more fucked and before we can speculate if he’s insane or not he’s dead as an explosion rips through the train killing everyone aboard. Yet he now finds himself suspended in his familiar army attire in an unfamiliar chamber. He is now himself but this mental health shattering morning continues when Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) appears on a screen and demands to know who destroyed the train. Finally granted a reprieve by proving he knows nothing, this poor man is made privy to exactly what the fuck is going on with extensive exposition. He is inside Source Code a program that allows a participant to exist within the last eight minutes of a person’s life. Entrants maintain their free will, and can move freely and take actions that the original possessor of the memories didn’t do. Colter just experienced the last eight minutes of Sean Fentress’ life. A passenger who was killed on a train bombing that morning. The attack was the first in series of proposed attacks in Chicago with the attackers responsible promising to make their next suckers nuclear. Colter must go back into the Source Code and locate the bomber so the following attacks can be prevented. He remains unsure but is quickly convinced to serve his country and retries the Source Code. Several repetitions of Fentress’ final minutes are seen with Colter’s growing familiarity of it becoming a vital part of his arsenal.

Source Code finds time to explore themes of human relationships and the concepts of strangers in spite of its rapid pacing. The rapidity doesn’t even phase its romance subplot; Colter has intercepted a budding relationship between Sean and Christina, with him seemingly awakening in the middle of one of their many flirtatious conversations on their daily commute. Christina has been waiting for him to make his move, mistaking Colter’s weird behaviour for a new found spontaneity in Sean. All the groundwork has been done, enabling Colter to come in and sweep her straight off of her feet. Colter can see it and seeing her openly forward interest in him his own interests change suite, setting himself the task of saving her and everyone aboard the train by ignoring insistences that he can’t change the past. It’s a unique romance, from Christina’s perspective it’s completely just. She has all the pretext. Colter develops his romantic interest through a series of eight minute sequences with her memory being reset every time. He must have the perfect eight minutes to get what he wants. You can argue that he’s taking advantage of her, negating to tell her that he isn’t the man she originally fell for; this could’ve destroyed the romance plot thread if it weren’t for Gyllenhaal’s abundance of charm.

Jake Gyllenhaal is much more of a drawing force for Source Code than Duncan Jones is, and he rightly gets to play leading man. His performance seems a result of a collaboration with Jones rather than of following instructions. An approach similar to how he worked with Sam Rockwell in Moon. Jones lets the film be actor lead rather than an auteur piece. The direction is brilliant but the character is as Jake Gyllenhaal as any of his other performances, semi-serious and light hearted. With such a high concept anything else would be unwise, in a reality with no consequences why would you have any fear of, or a regard for public perception? Humanity bleeds into his character during emotional revelations that break down any concerns over his number of dimensions. Developing from maniac confusion to gleeful exploitation his character is a joy to watch. Ridiculously gorgeous Michelle Monaghan is another highlight with her repeated flirtations never failing to be sweet and Vera Farmiga adds an unavoidable ethical element with her torn loyalties.

Jones has created a more modern Sci-Fi film rather than following the themes established in his revivalist debut. This change in focus may not be a necessarily conscious one as Source Code wasn’t penned by him unlike Moon, it was written by newcomer Ben Ripley. While it’s a great script you have to think that Jones is producing other people’s scripts as a way of further proving himself. He got to show what he can do with a substantial budget but not with one of his own scripts and when that project happens it’s going to be exciting. He’s a great director of actors and his traits can now be identified as his body of work increases, including a strange auteur identifier involving Chesney Hawkes and beautiful uses of freeze frame. Source Codes presentation is pretty seamless, with only mild and unimportant niggles residing in an ending that would’ve benefited from a better sense of ambiguity and an incredibly mixed musical score: which shouts loudly in your face to remind you you’re in an action film.

Jones moves onwards on his quest to make interesting Science Fiction films. A quest that he has so far achieved in both Indie and big budget studio contexts, considering he’s a newcomer in both areas that’s impressive. His second feature is a form of intelligent filmmaking that’s worth reliving again and again.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A Feat of Extreme Technicality (Obscura, Omnivium, 2011)

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In a world of extreme technical competition amid a myriad of diverse Metal bands, those who prevail become masters of the art. This is exactly what German Death Metal band Obscura have done. With their latest release Omnivium, these lads have deemed themselves the almighty authority of technical assault. The super group lineup of this powerful mass of musicians is a force to be reckoned with indeed. On all of the bands previous releases (Retribution 2006, Cosmogenesis 2009) the supremacy of skill behind the instruments involved created a feeling of impossibility in terms to the realm of comparison or progression. However with the release of Omnivium, this feat has been surpassed. “Feat” (Definition: a remarkable act or achievement involving courage, skill, or strength) being the perfect keyword to describe the all around musicianship on this album. The review style that I have thus far enacted upon is not fitting to this type of album due to the fact that there is much to exemplify and would create one tiring read. Therefore, I have decided to speak upon the album as a whole and exploit the key elements within the album that which deserve massive praise.

Songwriting and song structure can be lost within the most technical of works in today’s monarchy of extreme bands. With Omnivium, Obscura have not only perfected the songwriting and structural integrity of this genre, but they have exemplified upon it. In regard to the overall tone of the instruments and resonance that is emitted through said instruments, the sound is smooth and vibrant. Within the previous albums by this band tone has been something that is one of the strong points, and this album demonstrates similar strength. The guitarwork is a forceful assault on its own, the riffs are catchy, the melodies are spine chilling, and the solos are incomparable to all analogous others. In observance to the vocals and lyrical themes much is to be said. The vocals on this album emulate the melodies that the guitars emit with great triumph and yet are screamed and growled with raw, insane power.

All around this album may not be to the critical among us, the “most technical” or “heaviest” album of all time, but due to the excessively talented and perfected musicianship that is shown through the compositions within, this work of technical art will be locked in the death metal catacombs as one of the most triumphant of its kind to rape the ears of the meek among us.



Saturday, 9 April 2011

Why I Grind.

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In order that I might avoid repeating content and occupy yet more internet space reviewing dirge I thought instead to pose a question: Why does one like Grindcore?

The underlying motivation for this can be sourced at various springs, but recently I have found it necessary to go over the tired old quota of qualifiers as to why this particular form isn't the same as Death Metal or Punk- often this becomes a conversation more about defending and justifying grind's existence rather than extolling it's virtues.

To overcome this, then, I elect to note features of Grind that I deem to be it's property, the 'unique selling points' to borrow from the very ungrind world of marketing terminology. The identified aspects are just a beginning, I hope people will contribute their own ideas.

Without getting bogged down in the kung-fu competitiveness of drumming technique and speed, for me the foremost aspect of Grind is it's hyperactive, fidgety attitude.
This surfaces in many ways- perhaps most obviously in the ubiquitous 'microsong' - and permeates not only the actual music itself but also the aesthetic at large.
The nature of Grind's songs is frantic: the structures change very quickly and usually provide no quarter for the musician's ability, often benefitting from ignoring said abilities in favour of just banging it out as fast as possible.
To contrast this have you ever noticed how despite incredible drumming much Death Metal seems plodding and slow?

Music as a whole is beset by code.
Flowing not only from the audiences requirements of having their entertainment product clearly labelled, but pouring top-down from bands trying to set out attainable goals for their music. This includes Grind, like virtually any other anything ever.
However the rules that get fucked are the rules of the music business.
Grindcore operates in a way that ERODES the values of other music- ignoring the behest of quality and production. Again it benefits from from this counteraction; much of the best grind is incredibly under-produced, and packaged in simple black-and-white imagery. Ok so this is undoubtedly leftover genetics from Punk DNA, however Grind evolved this idea- bound the concept of anti-quality up with a fierce attitude to create a non-style.
The minute you start to properly produce a Grind band BAM!!! oh shit they have become Death Metal, or Punk or Crust etc etc ad nauseum.
Perhaps true Grind is platonic: an unobtainable idea that can never be corrupted into being.

Grind is fun.
Sure but so are a lot of genres, right?
Grind is like being held hostage by fun!
The music is so lively and energetic that the natural reaction is to start smashing shit the fuck up. And I mean that in a the best of ways, unlike the live scenes of the other extreme genres. Maniacal screaming, catchy riffs and blastbeats combine with a force strong enough to blur the boundaries of positive crowd behaviour and negative toughguy postures- resulting in a delightful mix of crowd surfing and silly wrestling. This is because the music is IMMEDIATE and FUN.
Due to Grind's disregard of quality and chaotic nature the live spectacle will probably be an exhilarating mess. It won't matter, don't let your mate who's well into Meshuggah whine about the instrument levels and things going in-and-out of key (or lacking one in the first place). These attributes are the entire reason to be seeing a Grind band in the first place- they are going to be as worn out as up-river salmon after 15 mins of playing their guts out (and if they are TRUE like say, Wormrot, having watched the entire gig from the front) so band and audience will come together in a commune of blissful exhaustion. Or you could go to a Metal gig and watch people nod a bit and buy expensive t-shirts, it's you life.

Those are my thoughts, GIVE ME YOURS.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Play Fast and Lot's of Noise (Cogs and Sprockets, Arms for the Poor, 2011)

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With thousands of media and cultural impression of Las Vegas on any given individual, we more or less all know it to be a flashing neon hub of  idolised excessive vice of industrial proportions amongst the vast bleak and harsh desert of the Mojave, Las Vegas never sleeps, life there is fast, loud, hectic and sinful.
Transposing this Vegas experience is its very own native Cog's and Sprockets, who offer's a one man music crash course into the world of sleaze economics in a relentlessly fast paced noisy sonic abuse.
Racking up a grand total of 2 and half minutes, this little release sure does pack quite the punch, it noisecore twanging and hissing is non stop, and progresses in such a fashion you might very well think the entirety of the EP is in fact just one song. Quite on the short side of things, I hear you say, maybe so, but subjecting myself this to this certainly left a rattling noise in my ear, of which repeated loud listening to I am sure will subject you to some level of damaged hearing.
The cover itself being a grey scale reality of the growing homelessness problem in Nevada, which has spawned the infamous Cardboard City, and an uncanny vegas reference with the site to purchase their merchandise being Waste Your Earnings. Instant inspiration is once again the infamous Agoraphobic Nosebleed approach this time round with a lo fi production value and I am not quite sure if thats a drum machine playing fast human pace percussion, or just an actual person playing the drums, too lo fi to tell.
There isn't really much one can say with 2 minutes and 30 seconds of material, other than its loud and humanely fast, and best of all its free on Grindcore Karaoke!


Film Review: Panic Room

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The filmography of David Fincher is downright strange if you look at it long enough. Sort of when you look at a common word closer than usual and it freaks you out. He’s made modern day classics such as Fight Club and Seven, but sitting right next to them is Alien 3 and the Oscar baiting The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (13 Nominations, 3 Wins). I like both movies just fine, but it kind of blows my mind that this revolutionary director could have made an inoffensive humble film about a man who ages backwards, on top of the third instalment in the Alien series (which I do like more than most). Regardless of how ground-breaking his films are they are all pretty damn solid. But there was one that insinuated being an even bigger black sheep than the rest. Fincher’s 2002 film Panic Room.

For a long time this was the only David Fincher film that I had never seen, and for an even longer time I had no idea that he had directed it. When I was 11 or 12 I have a random memory of sitting in the back of my Dad’s car when a blockbuster advert came on the radio plugging the new DVD releases. One of these was Panic Room, I don’t remember anything that was said about the film other than a brief plot outline and actors names that meant nothing (they probably said “thrilling” too much also), but for some reason this memory has stuck with me. My memory tends to work like that with me having recollections of some of the most mundane things. This distinctive memory has always given me a heightened interest in the film. I didn’t beg my parents for it or anything, and it wasn’t constantly at the forefront of my mind but I definitely maintained a curiosity about it.

Not until my interest in film increased did I finally see it. It wasn’t until I saw Zodiac that I took notice of exactly who David Fincher was, I had seen Fight Club and Seven, feeling like I knew what points they were trying to make under the surface. But I never considered them being made by the same person, the whole concept of an Auteur never really crossed my mind until I was maybe 15 and discovered Martin Scorsese. So here I was looking at Fincher’s filmography and there was Panic Room, and again I didn’t rush to watch it. Mainly because I had never actually heard a good thing about it and my only knowledge on it was based on some half recalled mundane occurrence. Then I saw The Social Network and that being as good as its dialog is fast I delved into all things David Fincher once again and finally watched it.

It’s a thriller through and through, even resembling an indie film with b-movie leanings. Strange when considering it had as reported budget of 48 Million Dollars. There are definitely minimalist elements which give the film an interesting style when viewed solely as a David Fincher film. It is set almost entirely in the same New York Residence, with only the film’s opening and ending showing different locations. Fight Club went just about everywhere, with Tyler Durden’s jet setting ways being a major part of the plot. This has 1 major location where 99% of the story takes place. You almost get the impression that Fincher wanted a break after Fight Club and chose a project where he could stay in the same place for a few months (as Fight Club precedes Panic room in his Filmography). Fincher gets to show his directorial talents in a completely new way. Just how can you make a film visually interesting when the same interiors are in almost every shot? He easily answers this. He mixes several styles giving the film a unique edge. Impossible camera movements, that can only be digital, see it flying through walls, floors and objects, anything really, physical space is treated as a non-obstacle. The long take that follows the criminal’s ascent up the exterior of the building from the interior is a fantastic watch. Mixed with this style is a more standard directorial approach that captures the criminal’s intense relationship with one another, and finally realist footage from the houses security system viewed from within the panic room.

Oh yeah, the panic room. While seeing past my directorial love affair with David Fincher is hard this film actually does have a story. Recent divorcee Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) and her young daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) have just moved into a big ass New York residence. Prior to this a scene sees them being shown around and told about the previous owner, a paranoid millionaire. His paranoia resulted in him installing a panic room (actually called safe rooms but that doesn’t make for a catchy title). On their first night in their new residence a trio of criminals break in. They are: grandson of the previous owner Junior (Jared Leto), a security company employee Burnham (Forest Whitaker), and unpredictable third party Raoul (Dwight Yoakam). This three are there to steal an ever changing amount of money (due to Junior’s ever changing honesty) from the panic room. They of course discover the sleeping Altman’s and decide to continue regardless, but they alert the two who run to safety and lock themselves in the panic room. They want what’s in that room and construct various attempts to expel them from the room. The remainder of the film sees a cat and mouse like story between the girls and the criminals, with the sides changing on occasion.

The story isn’t amazingly original but it has enough twists and turns to maintain interest. It initially appears to run the risk of viewers feeling frustrated at the actions the characters are taking, but it is refreshing to see characters that aren’t flawed by their own stupidity. They act how you would expect them to in these extraordinary situations. They aren’t the stupid victims that you would find in a generic slasher film, they act with a form of intelligence on both sides of the moral spectrum. This is aided by the films strong acting talents. Foster exhibits both a distraught mother and a quick thinking survivalist ultimately handing in a solid performance. You genuinely believe that a middle aged mother is a worthy opponent for an armed criminal. Her on screen daughter Kristen Stewart plays the exact level of fear and boldness that the story requires, it’s in line with her age rather than her being inexplicable wise beyond her year as many child actors are. The criminals crumbling unity is rightfully shown as inevitable. Leto embodies pure greed, Yoakam pure psychosis and Whitaker pure reluctance but need. Their mistrust makes their ability to be felled and overcome believable.

Despite my history with the film I never really expected it to be up to much, so my expectations were unaffected by my long standing curiosity in it. I went in neutral and was surprised. It’s your standard Hollywood thriller film brought above average by its brilliant direction, nowhere near his finest work but possessing that undeniable touch of quality that every David Fincher film seems to have.


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Don't Be Swindle Podcast

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This is the 2nd instalment of Will Butlers of TLAL/Fastcore Photos/Don't be Swindle (quite the dedication there), noisy punk overdose podcast, which I am really starting to dig, basically expect nothing short of an amazing selection of tracks!


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Grinders Digest

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  • Hydrahead are reissuing a number of releases including the grindful masterpiece The Inalienable Dreamless (here).
  • Earache and Wormrot and have decided to allow free download of Dirge (here)
  • Gridlink Karaoke Winnner is here
  • Wanna See Rotten Sound in a burger competition, well suprisingly decibel did on for them here.
  • G&P has reached letter H on its quest for the ultimate collection of Grindcore (here)
  • Not neccesarily Music related news, but blogger related news, but blogger is going to unleash some really cool features a showcase of some is here (you can click on the drop down menu to change the view), addittionally this post with a video shows even more planned features.
  • Amazon has released Cloud Player, using cloud storage and DRM free file formats to host your music and files here
  • Google is planning something big it claims will trump Amazon's Cloud Player here.
  • Musical Economic boffins claim that legitimate purchasing of digital formats will exceed physical in 2012 here.
  • I guest posted on TNOTB on ASRA's The Way of All Flesh here
  • L Dram was spotted in the greater Cardiff Area yesterday harassing movie goers with his personal solo recital of Lord of the Rings.
  • Random Fact of the Day: Kittens are born both blind and deaf.


Friday, 1 April 2011

Second Dish of Abuse (Wormrot, Dirge 2011)

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Dirge, possibly holds the title of the most looked forward to Grindcore release ever, period, even more so than the rumoured debut release of a super Grindcore band featuring the Pope, Trevor McDonald and Conan the Barbarian. Literally when Dirge was released, every rss feed and every tweet before my eyes all stated the same two things: a) DIRGE HAS BEEN RELEASED OMG! b) OMG DIRGE IS AMAZING! So expanding on conjecture b, here is my following review.
I hardly feel words are sufficiently powerful enough to describe in depth the raw explosive feel that Dirge offers in its inhumane rampage of powerviolence on speed approach to grindcore. If you thought you knew bands who played fast, think again, I am pretty sure that Dirge, laps your fastest track a few times over as a warm up run, before it then proceeds to tear it to shreds with its superior grind bashing fury. 
Dirge is basically what would happen if you mixed a heavy influx of Insect Warfare's torrential top heavy grind with the screaming frantic uzi rampage of Hellnation, spiced up a tad with a small vibe of Magrudergrind. The Grindcore formula of Abuse has become heavily distorted with much weight and emphasis on an excessive spewing of Powerviolence, perhaps best described by the band themselves with the track Overpowered Violence, with the fantastic execution and dynamic of Abuse being the only keepsake. In fact I am pretty sure Wormrot's song naming policy on Dirge, is part inspired as a descriptive title to its upscale brutality, Meteor to the Face and Ferocious Bombardment are all words I would of used to describe this release, had Wormrot not beaten me to the chase!
Fuck traditional song development, and threading rhythmic sectors, interloping verses etc This is grind, the way it was meant to be! Wormrot chuck at your face a furious cacophony composed off  hundreds of fast paced riffs and endless beats, all the whilst screams of primitive emotion are belted out throughout, as for what is stopping the release from tearing apart the space time continuum located around your speakers, certainly stumps me.
The extensive drum work of Fitri's dexterous bash and smash rampage is worthy of grindcore commendation giving that barbaric ferocity a sophisticated demeanour that gives the tried and tested blast beats a more fruitful yield to the tradtional bang bang bang approach employed by many a band. While Rasyid jumps from one crushing punk oozing riff to another in quick succession, with Arifs hell bent screaming in probably the most passionate masculine screaming I have ever heard. Imagine the final theartre scene of Godfather 3, and replace all that sadness with pure Ichor and aggression, double its power and you probably are somewhere just shy of understanding the blistering fury that is vehemently yelled out at sensory shattering proportions. How that man is able to talk or not induce a heart attack as he screams, is beyond me.
Punching in just over 18 minutes across 25 slices of over the top powerviolency grind, Earache have really put out a release worthy of being equal to their early back catalogue, and perhaps this amazing piece of Grindcore will be a wake up call, and pave the way for a reconnection between the genre defining label and its former disenfranchised adherents. 
However I all know what you really came to read this review for, in fact all you have already heard Dirge, and you search something specific amongst this review, you search for an answer you are not quite sure yourself and are looking for someone man enough to take up the mantle and answer it, and that something is "Does this trump Abuse?" Quite simply personally I feel it doesn't. Call me a drunkard, blasphemer, or claim I am suffering from a hallucinatory state from listening to Dirge too often, if that softens the blow for you, but either way personally I prefer Abuse. Not that this release is far from Abuse, its right up there in the kick ass factor infintiy quadrant, but I feel Abuse just had a sort of better dynamic going for it, this despite all the intense craftsmanship seems very rushed and not thought out 100%. However I do feel it perhaps not just to compare the two, each play on very different styles, this one being a more rapid contortion of irksome punk orientated noise, and abuse being a more progressive flow of  colossal proportions. 
Dirge regardless of if you prefer it to Abuse or not is undoubtedly a fantastic release, that offers an intensely amazing amount of quality that many a great grind band, hardly achieve in their lifetime. The galloping drums, raw passionate yells and lightspeed riffs all come together fantastically well in establishing some of the most fast and heavy grind there is on the market, so brace yourselves lads and ladettes, your second serving of Abuse is here, and this little bastard doesnt like to play nice!


Thursday, 31 March 2011

Without the Extreme, Humanity Would Decay. (Regurgitate Life, Condemned From The Beginning, 2010)

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One of the great pleasures of having a fascination for extreme music is that there is always more to explore. I have found that even though the fan bases of Death Metal and Grindcore may be limited in numbers, the dedication of most fans and bands reaches far beyond that of the more (Pop)ular of the music genres. Through the exploration of many different sub-genres of these extreme music’s it is to be seen that some of the most chilling brutal experiences that can affect the human mind are found within the underground. I also have seen that within these extreme communities many strong bonds can be found. Alex Layzell has given me the opportunity to come across and review some fantastic bands on a fanfuckingtastic site now for a bit, and for that I thank him. I also send cheers to him for showing me the band Regurgitate Life and If my sources serve me pertinent the band forming in the U.K. (of course) and including Sammy Urwin (Decrepit Womb, Defective Brain) and Sam Yates (Ingested, Decrepit Womb) personifies the meanings behind the words “Brutal” and “Epic”. Not sure exactly when the band has played with a full lineup live, but I do know that for right now it is a one man band for shows. This review is on the bands 2010 EP: Condemned from the Beginning.

The first track Unprovoked Violence/Decaying Humanity opens the album with a mystical sounding intro and moves into some of the heaviest slams that the Brutal Death world has seen to date. The vocals are percussive, clean, and help assist in the super-groove of the guitar’s excellence. Track two Hear You No More begins with a clean guitar chord progression that causes my dark heart to melt. It’s chilling yet beautiful and accomplishes an astonishingly melodic mood. The song transitions with a blisteringly fast explosion into an epic riff that causes the teeth to grind. This song especially reminds me of an early Cattle Decapitation sound with the mix of guttural vocals, grindy guitar riffs, and speedy drums. This Deathgrind sound seems to continue throughout the remainder of the violently excellent piece of art. Test your ears capacity to withhold its blood by finding and listening to this album of epic proportions.

I would highly suggest checking this band out and if you live in the U.K. area go see them destroy with Putrid Pile and many others at the London Death Fest 12.