Lines In Wax

THIRTEEN YEARS OF UNWANTED OPINION

Month: October 2017

Man Bites Dog (1992)

Man Bites Dog (1992)

Man Bites Dog is a bizarre “noir-mockumentary” in which a young film crew follow a charismatic and disturbingly chipper serial killer who goes by the name of Ben. Black humour is served by the truckload as we document Ben as he kills victims, eats mussels, visits his gran and generally waxes lyrically on subjects of his choosing. At first, the violence is jarring, but as we enter Ben’s world, it starts to become more and more normalized. I think this is the point of the movie, as eventually, the film crew start to become involved in helping him out as he commits more and more serious / gratuitous crime. I won’t go any further into the plot or talk about the ending but the rate at which I was absorbed into the worldview of maybe not so much Ben, but that of the film crew, really disturbed me after the film ended. I was a spectator, along for the ride, joyously desensitized to and involved in the carnage that was being caused by the serial killer. The dark comedy of it all really threw me off as to how disturbing this film is. Interesting stuff! Cinematically, the high-contrast black and white footage is stunning; allowing the film to be gritty and moody, as well as aesthetically pleasing. 

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2000)

Mayhem – A Grand Declaration Of War (2000)

My recent Sehnsucht review reminded me that I have to touch upon Grand Declaration Of War by Mayhem. Contrary to a lot of Mayhem fans, Grand Declaration is my favourite album from the group. The clinical execution, insane song structures and bizarre techno passages are a hundred thousand million miles away from Deathcrush and the like; the fact that this is even the same band (to a degree) is startling. Maniac is not my favourite Mayhem vocalist. In fact, it is quite hard to pick a favourite, as all of them have brought their own dark magic to the proceedings in various different ways. On Grand Declaration Of War, Maniac acts as the perverted ring leader; his surreal, jarring commentary leading the dexterous and intense onslaught with a psychopathic confidence. Meanwhile, Hellhammer Featuring 9000 Triggers lays total and absolute waste to the drum kit. Love him or loathe him, the drumming performance here is nothing short of mind boggling. The guitar work too, is a lot sharper than the barbed wire on the cover art, no doubt, with pure wandering, barbed, terrifying black metal riffage! Stand out tracks for me include the erratic “A Time To Die”, the bizarre “A Bloodsword and a Colder Sun” (parts one and two!) and “Crystalized Pain in Deconstruction”. Whatever your opinion on this experimental album, there can be no doubt that it has pushed the definitions of what can be considered black metal.

Killing Joke – Pylon (2015)

Killing Joke – Pylon (2015)

Pylon is the latest (at time of writing) in a long line of consistently excellent contributions from the legendary Killing Joke. It would be rather cheap of me to say the ol’ “if it ain’t broke…” thing that I always say, but that is somewhat true here: Pylon offers nothing new to the Killing Joke palate of sounds, but that is absolutely not to say that it doesn’t offer a whole new menu of phenomenal tracks, boasting a massive, impressive production thanks to Tom Dalgety (known for working with (uch) Ghost, and having been a producer at Wales’ own Rockfield Studios).  “Autonomous Zone” and “Dawn Of The Hive” kick things off in proper Killing Joke fashion; the former boasting a spine-tingling bass guitar performance. “New Jerusalem” brings more of that Hosannahs… grade brutality’n’chug to the table, whilst tracks like “Big Buzz” show that the band are still more than capable of unfurling massive euphoric choruses. If you are looking for beautifully crafted, slightly weird and paranoid industrial rock, then you really should look no further. 

Faithless – Reverence (1995)

Faithless – Reverence (1995)

I can’t tell you how rare it is that I come across the perfect album, and I mean that in the sense of when on a record every single song is flawless; each piece contributing not only to the overall experience, but able to stand its own ground without just being needless filler. Faithless are not a band that I spin all that often anymore, but if I’m in the mood for this style of music, then I can accept no substitute. Faithless is a bizarre multi-genre affair mixing the work of the DJ Sister Bliss, producer Rollo (who is Dido’s brother) and MC Maxi Jazz. What we get, on Reverence at least, is a strange hybrid of dance, pop and indie. On later records the band’s style would become more sparse and less dance-orientated, but Reverence is 90s Britain to the absolute max. The opening title track mixes lazy, smooth hip hop with throbbing techno, whilst “Salva Mea” is a trip in lush, lucid house; “If Lovin’ You Is Wrong” is a raunchy, jazzy, almost theatrical pop explosion, and “Dirty Old Man” plays on the tropes of dub reggae in the most subtle way. On top of those you’ve got “Flowerstand Man” with Dido on the lead vocals, the life-lesson of “Baseball Cap” and the now legendary “Insomnia”, which catapulted Faithless to the top of the charts upon its release. The fact that “Insomnia” – probably one of the most memorable dance tunes of all time – is such a small part of this album really speaks volumes to the strength of the songwriting on display here. This nearly 9-minute epic is on the same record with ballads such as “Don’t Leave” and “Angeline”, which should be jarring and fractured, but somehow it all just flows perfectly. The audacity of it all, eh? Irregardless of where Faithless went with their sound after this record, I am genuinely strugglingly to think of a stronger debut album from any artist, in any genre.

Kilslug – Sins, Tricks And Lies (2012)

Kilslug – Sins, Tricks And Lies (2012)

Kilslug are a sludgy band from the USA fronted by the mysterious Larry Lifeless, who initially comes across as a mix between Eyehategod’s Mike Williams, Scott Walker and err, Crank Sturgeon or something like that. Kilslug have been around for yeeears, and the Limited Appeal (what a label!) pressing of Sin, Tricks and Lies is so awesome it makes me want to start collecting vinyl again. I mean, just mosy on over to Discogs and look at that cover, and it plays from the inside out, for fuck’s sake! I get an almost Christian Death vibe here (run through a thousand fuzz filters, of course!). The opening croons of “Your God is not real!” sets the bar for the type of journey that we are going on. Imagine if Lou Reed fronted Black Sabbath, just for a second. Really, the comparisons can go on and on, but you should really just listen to this thing, especially now that it is in Spotify. Stand out tracks for me are the opener “Hangman’s List”, and the spoopy “March Of The Skeletons”. 

Inland Empire (2006)

Inland Empire (2006)

Simply put, nobody does dream sequences or dream worlds like David Lynch, and considering this entire film blurs the lines between dream and reality from beginning to end, this is the ultimate expression of that art form. The budget is minuscule, but you will be left questioning what is real, and what it is that really matters, if anything. Laura Dern is excellent, as usual, and there is a pure-Lynchian (sorry to use that term!) scene where she gets stabbed with a screwdriver, and the people around her continue the most morbid conversation, in the most nonchalant way. It is hard to describe, you just have to watch it to see how twisted it is. This is a difficult movie, but one that rewards your attention.

JK Flesh – Nothing Is Free EP (2015)

JK Flesh – Nothing Is Free EP (2015)

Dense, thick, industrial beat loops is the order of the day, from the excellent JK Flesh project. Nothing Is Free seems to have dropped completely the guitar elements that so heavily caressed the beatwork on recordings such as Posthuman, in favour of bringing the beat entirely to the centre-stage. Nothing Is Free is not dissimilar to the work produced by Mick Harris in some of the more transitional and experimental eras of his excellent project Scorn. This record is, ultimately, an experiment in distortion; which not only cloaks the proceedings in a sinister air of mystery, but allows the songs to breathe and expand; allowing much more interesting patterns to emerge from the aural fog. Expect throbbing, rhythmical progressions, sometimes accompanied by sparse synths, although most of the time the beats stand alone, demanding all of your attention. Brilliant stuff. Favourite track: “They Own You”. Nothing Is Free by JK FLESH

Stephen King’s IT (1990)

Stephen King’s IT (1990)

With all the recent hubbub around the It remake I thought it would be worth finally checking out the original. What I didn’t know what that this was essentially two TV movies glued back to back, so I found watching the whole thing in one go was a bit much, especially as the second half kinda wanes and gets lost a bit. I don’t know what it is about Stephen King stories, but they are just more enjoyable when it involves children. It just seems that the type of horror that Mr. King creates is more fitting to a child’s world view (that might be because most of it is a pile of shit that only kids could believe, but there we go). That being said (and probably for that reason, thinking about it), the kids really shine here. The first half of the film is filled with mystery and wonder, but when they are all grown up the characters are boring and annoying. When It turns into a ridiculous (in the best way possible!) giant spider puppet, things start looking up, only to disappoint me when it doesn’t chop half of the cast to tiny pieces with its massive pincers. I did enjoy It, I really did, but I found it very drawn out and I think the whole “PG horror” thing really isn’t for me. On the plus side, Tim Curry was amazing as Pennywise – I wish I had seen this as a kid, that shit would have terrified me!

Halitosis – Decline Of Neural Development (2015)

Halitosis – Decline Of Neural Development (2015)

Oh man this is some sick shit! Welcome to the world of dental-based Hungarian mincing goregrind, friends. Imagine the drill has slipped, and now it is just boring into your gums at full pelt, all the while the dentist is blasting some Agathocles on the stereo in the background; hopefully that will give you some idea of what we are dealing with here. We played/caught two shows with these guys on the Dzhumagaliev tour; once in Slovenia and then in their home-country of Hungary. Keepin’ my eyes peeled for more of their shit – this is fuckin’ class.

Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon (1997)

When I first saw this as a kid it frightened the absolute living shit out of me, and re-watching it 20 years later, I can still see why. Perhaps it is the echo of that fear I developed in my youth, but there is something incredibly unsettling about Event Horizon. Yes, the sci-fi side of things doesn’t really add up, causing enormous continuity errors and goofs, and resulting in this half lost in space adventure / half inter-dimensional psychological horror really hitting the mark – for about only half of the time. The fact that there was a lost 130 minute cut of this 90 minute movie tells me that there was a lot more going on that we weren’t filled in on. A recent journey through the revived Twin Peaks taught me that a deeper sense of satisfaction can be achieved by embracing and perpetuating mystery; that great things can come of events that raise more questions than they set out to solve, but here it still kinda feels like we are being cheated out of finding what truly lies behind that portal into the “hell” dimension. The lost cut is just that; lost, forever, and that bizarre story just adds to the intrigue around this contrasting movie. Maybe we don’t need to find out what “hell” looks like…perhaps we are already there. A highly recommended 90s sci fi horror, give or take some terrible effects and over-use of the word “motherfucker”. 

Sehnsucht ‎– Wüste (2010)

Sehnsucht ‎– Wüste (2010)

Well, now I know what Grand Declaration of War would have sounded like if Maniac was given full creative control! I’m kidding of course; the Richter-like artistic meandering here would be far too much to take for an intolerant little man like Hellhammer (2023 edit: handbags away please, ladies). But, as per always, I digress. Sehnsucht is the experimental / power electronics project between Maniac and his wife Vivian Slaughter, who also plays in Gallhammer. There are a few other musicians also involved in this project, but aurally it seems to center around Maniac and his disturbing prose. Imagine feral electronics meets beret-tipping poetry and dark, dense atmospherics, backed with cutting electronic riffage and doused in stale rose water, or something. “Cunt Queen” makes for some interesting listening, but the best track, hands down, is the epic “Hanging In English Garden”; a ten minute romp through all of the shit listed above. Drastic!

Vektor – Terminal Redux (2016)

Vektor – Terminal Redux (2016)

Ahhh, the twisted and wonderful world of Vektor; coming across like a mix between Voivod and Dragonforce, and packing a vocalist that sounds like Chuck Schuldiner on crystal meth. I’m not really into this breed of hyper-thrash, but the sci-fi elements and the incredible density to the proceedings really adds a whole new edge to things. This is incredibly precise, dream-like yet lightening-fast metal, as if Devin Townsend drank too much coffee and smoked heroin at the same time. Terminal Redux is a concept album. Personally, I’ve not quite scraped below the surface of this story yet, but I enjoyed the album all the same. Highlights for me include the opening / closing tracks and the ‘trio of Ps‘; “Pteropticon”, “Psychotropia” and “Pillar of Sand”.

Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy (2004)

Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy (2004)

Oh my days, what a film! Haha! This is absolute, total trash, in the best possible way, and my first introduction to the world of J-sploitation (surely Japsploitation would be better?). As the title might suggest, the film focuses on a deadly carnivorous parasite that nests inside the vagina of its female human host. It also seems to be able to possess control of whoever it is currently inhabiting. It is never clarified whether or not the monster(s) can inhabit male hosts (that would be messy!); the film chooses to focus on chopping off all the dicks of its male cast instead, because y’know…because it can, I guess.

Lamb of God – New American Gospel (2000)

Lamb of God – New American Gospel (2000)

I’ve never been much of a fan of Lamb of God. I’ve seen them live multiple times, but they never really connected with me. Their fans, and the whole “southern” metal thing really just turned me off. I’m not entirely sure what it was that made me add New American Gospel to my Spotify to-do list, but I finally got around to listening to it all the same. The best thing about Lamb of God is their drummer Chris Adler, who is nothing short of a complete pleasure to listen to. The rhythm section of the band carry the performances, placing the somewhat typical riffing and so-so vocals on very high shoulders indeed. The second half of the record is where stuff really picks up for me. “The Subtle Arts of Murder and Persuasion” is incredible, as is “Confessional”, again where the intense drum work stands out. Overall, the record is very well produced, although I find the vocals to be a bit low in the mix at times for my liking.

Satan’s Revenge On Mankind / Pulmonary Fibrosis – Split CD (2014)

Satan’s Revenge On Mankind / Pulmonary Fibrosis – Split CD (2014)

Groove masters from Germany meet  French goregrind legends on this excellent split CD. SxRxOxMx take it slow and steady as per usual; churning out their snail-paced gore with menacing aplomb. “Wandering Flesh” stands out, with unusually catchy riffage, and terrifying pitchshifter gurgles. Pulmonary Fibrosis open things up sounding like Odour Of Torture-era GUT meeting Creeping! Crawling!-era Plasma, which is a tasty feast for any goregrind nerd. It isn’t the longest split in the world, but if you love both of these bands (or goregrind in general) then you will be rewarded in heaps by giving this a listen. 

Astro-Zombies (1968)

Astro-Zombies (1968)

I primarily checked out The Astro-Zombies because of The Misfits track which shares the same (or very similar) title. This film is, in a word, terrible. The pacing is excruciating, and when anything does happen, it is so badly acted out that it is just laughable, and not in a good way. The plot is paper thin, and the “Astro-Zombie” scenes are incredibly hammy. The titular “Zombie” is just some dude in a plastic mask. This is a B-Movie I know; a world where villains are often just dudes in plastic masks, but it is so casually obvious, with no apparent care or attempt to make it seem less obvious. For the first half of the film I was completely lost in regards to the plot. The mad scientist and his cliche hunchback assistant are nauseatingly boring to watch, but the strangely beautiful Tura Satana keeps things mildly interesting as the enigmatic villain, even though she can’t seem to fire a gun without posing like a complete buffoon. Appalling, but a small part of me wants to see the sequel, for reasons that I cannot even explain to myself…

Disma – Towards The Megalith (2011)

Disma – Towards The Megalith (2011)

Towards The Megalith is a bludgeoning epic in explosive, doom-laden, monolithic (or is that megalithic?) death metal. I’ve gotta be honest, I had never heard of these guys until they were announced for – and then controversially dropped from – the first edition of Netherlands Death Fest, due to accusations that the vocalist is involved in some national socialist noise project. Whether he is or not, I couldn’t really give a fuck (that style of project is so puerile it isn’t even worth acknowledging) – the only thing that the whole fracas achieved in my view was that a whole bunch of people who had never heard of Disma were now checking them out. Great work, kids! Think Disembowelment meets Hooded Menace, or something along those lines. Drawn out, torturous and bleak, yet not boring or droning on. Great stuff!

Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Welcome to the first LIW film post! In the seemingly endless recent downtime I have been thinking of ways to expand on and better this site and incorporating TV/film-speak into the goings on here seemed like the next logical step. LIW started in 2011 as a vinyl-only blog and initially grew to cover CD and cassettes. In 2014, it became “format free”, covering music regardless of format or whether I owned a physical copy of the release, and I started doing festival reviews but not many have been included. Anyway – from today, LIW will contain posts about film and over associated media. Cheers for sticking with LIW (although I guess the site name is irrelevant now!). I’ve recently been on a bit of a kick to catch up on watching films that I’ve been putting off for years, and Zombie (or Zombie Flesh Eaters) was high at the top of the list. Initially, I found that the New York scenes and the scenes in the confines of the boat really didn’t really grab my attention. The scene where Anne and Peter pretend to be lovers to avoid the wrath of the policeman didn’t seem to make much sense at all, but there we go. Things definitely get better towards the second half of the movie, helped in spades by topless scenes of Olga Karlatos as Mrs. Menard and of course, a zombie fighting a fucking shark. As the action ramps up towards the end, the zombies seem to become more and more disgusting. Absolutely fowl creatures! Fulci most definitely created the ultimate zombie; some of them are absolutely disgusting. Brilliant! Bit of a daft ending too, but I really enjoyed this film. The graininess of the footage really lent itself to the content. Classic!

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time (2011)

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time (2011)

Crazy Clown Time is, for the most part, a journey through rusted Americana with treated, dense beats. Repetition is God, repetition is key! Lynch has openly admitted that he is neither a singer nor a guitar player, but it only seems right that the all-encompassing artist releases his own music as well, and it does not disappoint me in the slightest. I mean, I kinda half-braced myself for some Mr. Bungle / John Zorn style freakery, but what we have here is much more fitting into the Lynchian aesthetic. There are good songs, and there are not so good songs. Some of his vocal performances are lacking somewhat; not so much in quality, but in delivery. I love Lynch, and I don’t dislike this record, but as someone who has listened to thousands of albums, I can’t deny a weak vocal performance when I hear one. Lyrically, the man is on point, and the music is smokey and authentic. It’s just the whole thing lacks a little, how should I say it, pizzazz.