Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cinema Terrible: 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon 2014 (Part 1)

Here I sit in the aftermath of this past weekend's 24 Hour B-Movie Marathon. For an unknown reason, my friends and I enjoy suffering through terrible, terrible movies, and we've made an annual tradition of participating in a 24 hour marathon of schlock, bad acting, and awkward 80's nudity. That's 24 straight hours of movies, with the only rules being that as soon as a movie ends, the next must begin and that somebody must be watching the TV at all times.

Since my friends and I are all old fogies now, we didn't play many of the drinking games that are associated with movies of this ilk. For you youngsters out there who really want to party, I will include any drinking games I know alongside each movie's review. However, be warned, if you want to play with drinking games, your marathon will probably go like this:

1. Start your first movie. Yeah! Drinking!
2. Keep drinking.
3. No, seriously, you don't get a break here. Keep drinking.
4. Re-evaluate your life choices as you forcefully gulp down your 13th beer in 30 minutes and realize that you have twenty-three and a half more hours of this.

Naturally, all of us fell asleep at one point or another (except for friend and fellow blogger Fyfelife), but every part of every movie did get watched, and that's all that matters. This was our second ever marathon, running from exactly 1:02 PM Saturday, October 25th until 1:07 PM Sunday, October 26th. We burned our way through 15 movies, 3 XL pizzas, maybe about $100 worth of Bulk Barn candy, and most of our sanity. This is our story.

The Room (Dir. Tommy Wiseau)

One of the triumvirate of movies dubbed "the worst movies ever made", The Room is a disasterpiece of a drama. Written, directed, and starring the enigmatic and eccentric Tommy Wiseau, this movie is about a young couple, Johnny and Lisa, who are to be engaged soon. Unfortunately for Johnny, his bride-to-be is cheating on him with his best friend! That's it. That's the entire plot of the movie. For what The Room lacks in exciting plot, it more than makes up for in terrible dialogue and acting, usually delivered by Mr. Wiseau himself. I mean, seriously, this man is on a whole other level. How this movie was made is a mystery to me (a common theme among the movies watched), but I'm glad it exists. This is the movie that first got me into bad movies, and to this day it still holds a special place in my heart.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Lisa is referred to as "hot" or "sexy".
2. Anytime Mark is referred to as Johnny's best friend.
3. Anytime Lisa says she doesn't love Johnny anymore.
4. Anytime Johnny says "Oh hai, [Character]!"
5. Anytime you see an establishing shot of San Francisco.

Troll 2 (Dir. Claudio Fragasso)

The second of our trinity of infamous so-bad-they're-good movies, Troll 2 is an unrelated sequel to Troll, which I have not watched. Also, see that cover off the left of the screen? That isn't the main kid in the movie. That isn't the troll in the movie. In fact, there aren't actually any trolls in Troll 2. Mind blown, right? Troll 2 is actually about a country town of goblins disguised as people that terrorize a young family from the city so that they can eat them. Before they eat them, they need to turn them into half-plant-half-human because Goblins are apparently vegetarian and can't do basic fraction math.

Troll 2 is incredibly fun to watch, and unlike most B-movies, there is very little downtime or painful sections to sit through. Grab some popcorn, a double-decker balogna sandwich, and strap in for the ride of your life.

The Drinking Game

1. Anytime Grandpa Seth wizards the shit out of the scene like a motherfucking boss (Spoiler: He never does it any other way).
2. Anytime you see the one extra derpy-faced goblin.
3. Anytime you see green goo/ food with green goo on it.
4. Anytime you get lost or confused by the what's happening on screen.
5. Finish your drink at the pivotal "OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOODDDDDDD" and "Popcorn" scenes.

Foodfight! (Dir. Lawrence Kasanoff)

This movie. This freaking movie. This movie has been blacklisted from my household because of how terrible it is. It's easily the worst animated movie of all time, and somehow managed to hire on one of the most star studded casts of all time. Between Charlie "Tiger's Blood" Sheen, Hilary Duff, Christopher Lloyd, Wayne Brady, and Eva Longoria, you'd think there'd be some redeeming qualities to this movie, but there aren't. This movie is painful. If you want to get the gist of the movie without losing your ability to smile or feel joy ever again, watch JonTron's excellent review of it.

The Drinking Game

1. Lie down.
2. Try not to cry.
3. Cry.

So there we are. We've begun our odyssey through 24 hours of terrible movies. I hope you're prepared. Next time, we cover the surprisingly awesome Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, the unsurprising terrible Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and the heart-wrenchingly disappointing Samurai Cop.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in hell.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Festival Review Number Two: Graspop Metal Meeting

     When selecting which festivals to attend while on a month long Europe trip, there's quite a lot to take into consideration. It seems as if every country in Europe has it's own legendary metal festival, and choosing which lineup is the best can be torture for a music fan. After extensive internal debate, I determined the second festival I would attend. Graspop Metal Meeting is the premier metal festival in Belgium and made the cut for the festivals I would attend for two simple reasons: Meshuggah and Black Sabbath.

    Graspop Metal Meeting takes place the small town of Dessel in the north of Belgium. The festival is primarily a dutch speaking festival, as it is both in the dutch area of Belgium and attracts many metal fans from the Netherlands. While the language barrier did get in the way a few times and definitely limited by social interactions with the rest of the crowd, it was fascinating to experience a metal festival in country with different language and culture. Graspop had the feeling of a true European metal festival with foreign languages, a festival location in the middle of nowhere, and a lineup stacked with all the Power Metal and Black Metal you'd expect in the European metal scene.

     Going in I knew little about Graspop Metal Meeting, but the lineup this year was too good to pass up. Getting to the festival grounds took 4 trains, a shuttle bus, and a twenty minute walk. Unlike Download, which was right beside an international airport, GMM is truly a middle of nowhere metal campout. Once I finally arrived at the festival grounds I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that unlike Download, the campsite and main festival areas were right next to each other. You receive a micro-chipped wristband upon arrival that allows you to freely go wherever you'd like without needing to deal with security. I'd say this is a fairly representative characteristic of GMM, it feels like you are completely free, while there is still enough security to keep things from diving into chaos.

     The tone for Graspop was clear before even arriving at the festival, this was a REAL metal festival. While I had loved the crowd at Download, it certainly wasn't the die hard metal fan base that were storming into Dessel for GMM. Black shirts, tattoos, piercings, and the type of people who would scare the shit out of middle class white collar workers. While I might not look the part of a typical metalhead, I've always loved the metal culture and there is no place better than a festival to experience it. I was surrounded by a language I didn't know a single word of, in a country I'd only just arrived in that morning, yet I felt right at home. 

Next week I'll be reviewing the Day 1 bands,

Thanks for reading,
David, I'll see you at a distinct point in spacetime,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Track Reviews: Run The Jewels - "Blockbuster Night Part 1" + "Oh My Darling Don't Cry" + "Close Your Eyes"

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. We're exactly one week away until one of underground hip-hop's most anticipated albums drop. Run The Jewels 2, the second offering from Brooklyn duo Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P) has had three of it's songs released, and holy Christ almighty, are they amazing. Prepare for some fangirling.

RTJ2 threw "Blockbuster Night Part 1" about a month ago, and boy, was it was a curveball. It's slower than any other RTJ song, and it's main swing rhythm can make even the most stonefaced person bob their head. As usual, Mike and El kill it with the bragging and violent lyricism, for example, the final verse by Killer Mike:

This Run The Jewels is, murder, mayhem, melodic music
Psychotics use it then lose it, junkies simply abuse it
That's word to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, I'm pushin coffin
I probably smell like a pound when they put me in a coffin
The gates of hell are pugnaciously pacin', waitin'
I give a fuck if I'm late, tell Satan be patient
But I ain't here for durations, I'm just taking vacations
And tell 'em fuck 'em, I never loved 'em and salutations
Between shit talking Satan himself and that little stinging Phillip Seymour Hoffman reference, Killer Mike slays this first single.

Now we're shifting into higher gears. Trap beats dominate this track up until the final third where El-P's signature noisy sci-fi production shift into overdrive with some heavy distorted bass to drive home the final few verses. "Oh My Darling" is loaded with hyperbolic lines once again, telling the world how Run The Jewels stand as the defenders of real rap from the watered down mainstream scene.

This is Run The Jewels at their peak. Mixing their typical brags with some biting social commentary on the police, the juridical, and prison systems of the United States, this song brings in fellow anarchist Zack De La Rocha for the final verse. De La Rocha fits "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" perfectly considering his track record for social and political commentary and his blatant antiestablishmentarianism. Yes I needed a dictionary to spell that. The beat to this song (which samples De La Rocha) has to be one of my favorite El-P produced tracks. Between the boom-bap drums and the overdriven bass licks, this has got to be one of Run The Jewels' heaviest songs.

I hope that now you're all as excited for Run The Jewels 2 as I am. Based on what I've heard so far, I think El and Mike might end up stealing my spot for best album of the year two years in a row.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you down the line.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Download Festival Review part 5: Food+drink, facilities, organisation, and atmosphere

   Thus far I've covered all the bands and notable performances from my Download experience, but there's more to a festival than simply the bands. While yes, no festival would succeed without a great lineup, I've found there are several other core areas which have a huge impact on the whole festival experience. I've broken these factors into 4 categories in order to keep them consistent across all festival reviews.

Food + Drink

     Living off of festival food for an entire weekend was a bit of a scary idea going into the trip. Based off my Heavy T.O., Mayhem fest and Ozzfest experiences, I expected insanely overpriced poor quality food while minimal selection. Thankfully it turned out that European festivals are more along the lines of overpriced mediocre food with huge selection. There was the occasional food stand with top notch restaurant quality food, but you had to search and sample for a few days before you found them. I tried a different food stand for each meal of each day, and was rarely disappointed. The food was still quite expensive, ranging from 3£ for something small to 10£ for multi-item meal, but relative to the generally higher cost-of-living in England, the festival food prices were barely inflated compared to North American festival food. Beers weren't too overpriced for a festival at 4.50£ for a pint. Selection was poor with the choice of beer or cider and no brand selection but the sponsor brands Tuborg and Somersby were quite satisfactory.

Best thing I ate: Falafel
Falafel's were among the cheapest foods available and some of the vegetarian food stands served and the one dedicated Falafel stand (they made nothing else) made falafel's on a whole other level from any falafel I've ever had.

Worth thing I ate: Burger
It's a good sign that it took me several minutes to think of any meal that i didn't enjoy, but at last I remembered my first lunch of the first day: a very boring burger. It wasn't bad by any means, but tasted like a cheap burger and bun combo only reserved for school fundraisers and employee appreciation bbqs.



     Never underestimate the importance of the facilities at a festival, it doesn't take much for 60 000 people to turn a clean lineup of toilets into a disaster zone. Download had some of the best festival facilities of my trip, even including a complimentary new pile of toilet paper ever morning (while other festivals expected you to pay for toilet rolls at the festival shops). Download did have free showers but they were oddly located in the middle of the festival village, so for some it was a 15 minute walk to and from the shower. Free clean showers were tough to complain about though.

     The campsite itself was incredibly packed, with about 10x the tent-density that I would later see at Sonisphere, but this just lead to making a lot of random friends with everyone around you. The campsite grounds were a field of long grass, so it was a decently comfortable bedding, but it was near impossible to sleep so that added little benefit. 

     Download was possibly the hardest place to sleep imaginable, with a metal circus in the village blasting music, parties all around that raged all night and low flying planes to wake you up every hour or so. I attempted to get a solid amount of sleep the first night but quickly gave up and decided to join the party and survive a weekend replacing sleep with caffeine. 



     Nothing turns a festival from great to terrible faster than poor organisation. It's one of the worst things in live music when you go hoping to see all these amazing bands and end up missing 3/4 of them due to them all playing at the same time, switching time slots or any of the other ailments that frequently plague festival lineups. To my pleasant surprise, the organisation at Download was on a whole other level from North American festivals. 

     Download posted the stage schedules on the side stages rather than requiring you to purchase a schedule. More importantly the bands stuck to the schedule, and it was very rare that two bands I was interested in seeing were on stage in the same time slot. Download organizers seemed to actually understand how different bands will attract different people and usually slotted the heaviest and most extreme bands at the same time as pop punk or radio rock acts. Any bands I missed at Download were because I like most genres, but as an example I couldn't blame Download for putting Behemoth on at the same time as Linkin Park; the two bands don't share too many common fans. 



     Now here's where Download annihilated the other festivals, the general feeling of the entire experience. I knew no one going into the festival and felt like I was friends with every single person coming out. Download had me smiling non-stop for the entire weekend, with subtle acts like checking wristbands by high five-ing security giving the festival an incredible cheery and friendly vibe. There were also several on-going jokes throughout the festival amongst the crowd, such if at any point during the day, if anyone yelled "STEVE", the sound of people yelling for Steve would carry for miles, followed immediately with many more joining in with yelling ALLEN in response. It all started right infront of me on the first day when someone was genuinely looking for their friend Steve, and the whole thing got hilariously out of hand from there. Another common random occurrence were points in the night when the sea of tents would perform what can best be described as a shouting-wave. Similar to how sports crowds raise their arms and do "the wave", but this involved random yelling and everyone joining in when the noise got near to them. No one ever knew why the shouting started, but you could listen as the sweet sound of random drunk shouting carried across the hills. The crowd were fantastic during live sets with everything from insane mosh madness to beautiful sing-alongs. The 60 000 mass of people felt as if it were one huge community of music fans. Random events in the middle of the day such as medieval fights also gave the festival a unique atmostphere. 


Ultimately Download was one of the best weekends of my life, I would recommend it to anyone, and would go again in a heartbeat if I ever get the opportunity to do so.

This brings an end to my Download review.
Thanks for reading!

David, I'll see you when I see you,


Gupta's Best of 2014 So Far

It's October, and you know what that means: we're halfway through the year! No, wait. That isn't right. This is just fluff text because I can't think of a joke to make light of the fact that my Best of 2014 So Far list is coming in 4 months late. Punchline.

List time! In no particular order:

Mastodon - Once More 'Round the Sun

The 'Don is back! Their twerktastic new album is exactly what I hoped The Hunter would be. 'Round the Sun sounds like the natural extension of Crack the Skye, toning down the proggy breakouts and stepping up the addictive hooks and psychedelic spaciness.

Brann Dailor takes up majority of the vocal duties on this album, which is great because he's stepped up his singing game tenfold since The Hunter. While I don't consider 'Round the Sun to be better than Crack the Skye, Mastodon have definitely put out one of their best albums to date. Listen: The Motherload

Iron Reagan - The Tyranny of Will

For those of you who don't know, Iron Reagan is a hardcore supergroup featuring members of Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour and Mammoth Grinder. Ultimately, this is Municipal Waste with more of a punk sound and politically heavy lyricism, but just because they're more serious, doesn't mean they aren't as much fun. Listen: Miserable Failure

'68 - In Humor and Sadness

Rising immediately out of the ashes of The Chariot, Josh Scogin has paired up with drummer Michael McClellan (of no fame whatsoever) to drop some of the noisiest rock music of the year. The whole founding of the band was based on being the loudest duo, and considering Scogin's live set-up has him running through two guitar rigs and a bass rig, I think they've accomplished that stunningly.

Don't expect this to sound a lick like The Chariot, though. Black Keys meets Black Flag is the name of this album's game. Listen: Three Is A Crowd

Body Count - Manslaughter

First off, I non-ironically love Body Count. Ice-T may seem like the least likely frontman for a hardcore group, but between his time in this band and his outstanding performance in Leprechaun 5: In Da Hood, he's quickly become one of my favorite celebrities.

Manslaughter is exactly what you'd expect for Body Count in 2014. Caveman riffs, d-beats, and Ice yelling about murdering people in horrific ways. This album does take an uplifting turn, surprisingly, with songs like "Back to Rehab", and "Get a Job", and their covers of "99 Problems" and "Institutionalized" are A+. Listen: Talk Shit, Get Shot

Electric Wizard - Time to Die

The Wizard returns with the newest offering of hazy, fuzz filled, crushing doom. This time, things take a turn for the psychedelic with Jus, Liz and crew working with layers and layers of effect-ridden guitar tracks rather than simple, lumbering leviathan riffs. The end result is the same: your speakers will give you a contact high, and your walls will be shaking from the sheer heaviness of the sound.

Legalize drugs and murder. Listen: I Am Nothing

Gridlink - Longhena

 In my typical fashion, I'm going to quote myself because I'm lazy:

Longhena sets the bar to an impossibly high level for any band that plays this strain of grindcore. Chang's banshee vocals, Matsubara's rhythm playing that somehow fits under the category of "shred guitar" (not to mention his actual lead playing), Fajardo's accompanying drumming, the string sections, the interlude track, holy shit people, everything fits so nicely together that I honestly cannot find a weak point to this album. It even comes with a set of "karaoke versions" of the tracks for those of you who hate Jon Chang. Listen: Look To Windward

Earth - Primitive and Deadly

Dylan Carlson and co. have always had hit-or-miss releases as far as I'm concerned. While I love albums like The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull and Hex; Or Printing in the Infernal Method, their earlier drone material and their latest bland offerings don't quite enthrall me in the same capacity.

Primitive and Deadly seems to take a page out of Earth 2's heaviness, mix it with some of their mid-career cowboy riffage, and introduce some great guest vocals for an album that stirs up images of lonely foggy nights and smokey dive bars. Listen: From The Zodiacal Light

So there you have it. These albums have stood out to me so far this year, and I'm sure there'll be a couple of more albums to add to the list by year's end. God knows how pumped I am for the new At The Gates and Run The Jewels records; I'm certain both will end up on my big list.

What do you guys think? Do you like the albums I chose, or do you think my taste in music is utter shit (more likely the latter)? What were your favorite albums this year so far? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!

That's all for now, folks. Jeremy, I'll see you whenever.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Download Festival Review part 4: Day 3 Bands

Day 3

Thy Art is Murder

     Day 3 began with a mighty hangover and a series of mediocre performances. Thankfully it wasn't too long until Australian Deathcore band Thy Art is Murder were set to perform on the Pepsi Max stage, so I cured my hangover with the good old fashion strategy of just getting right back to drinking and headed over to the stage. While as a genre Deathcore became rather stale after only about a year in the spotlight, Thy Art is Murder have managed to breathe new life into the genre with a hilariously hateful album titled "Hate". Thy Art hit the stage with power, furious energy and a stage presence that perfectly matched their extreme and hateful lyrics. The crowd were spot on with every hook line, the most comical of them all being the classic: "ERADICATION OF THEM ALL, WHORE TO A CHAINSAW", which left onlookers terrified and confused. I had heard some negative reviews of TAIM's live show, but at Download they were spot on, with deadly accuracy on guitars and drums, and devastating vocals. If you're a deathcore fan, Thy Art is Murder bring everything to a live show you could possibly hope for, a few things you wouldn't expect.

Quick Review: Amazing live sound and an endless slew of hook line breakdown combos create one of the best live deathcore experiences you could imagine



    The middle of Day 3 was a little lacking in excitement so I decided to head over and check out a few bands that I wasn't particularity fond of but was interested in how they would perform live. The first of these performances was American rock band Skillet, best known for having an incredibly attractive female drummer. While I didn't have any knowledge of studio recordings to compare the live sound to, Skillet's bassist and lead vocalist had a powerful and dead-on vocal delivery, while both backing female vocalists weren't nearly as impressive. Probably the most interesting element of the performance was the use of string instruments, as the band brought out a cellist and violinist to accompany the band on a handful of songs. Unfortunately in a moment of poor judgement the band decided to also add synth string effects, which drowned out any live strings and rendered the additional musicians as nothing more than something to look at while listening to digital string sounds.

Quick Review: Skillet were an average rock band with a great vocalist and poor judgement on what produces a good live sound



     I also decided to randomly go see Emmure live. I had heard some people insist that if you shut off your brain and just jump into the pits with the intention of having a good time that Emmure can be a great live experience, so I decided to test the theory myself. I managed to get through the set without passing any judgement on the excessive use of opens notes, but I still found myself feeling rather bored by Emmure's live show. It was the same repeated breakdown frenzy for 30 minutes, and when compared to Thy Art is Murder's breakdown frenzy earlier in the day, Emmure had absolutely nothing to get excited about. I've never understood the appeal to Emmure's vocal delivery and live it was even worse than on record. The vocals had me cringing more than they had me feeling any kind of aggression. I tried so hard to shut my brain off and enjoy but I still ended up bored out of my mind.


Memphis May Fire

    So my experiment to check out bands I wasn't fond of didn't produce anything great, so I was back to the Pepsi Max stage to check out a band I knew for sure I liked. I've been a Memphis May Fire band since their debut EP, and had even been one of the few fans who liked Matty Mullins when he first joined (believe it or not, he was quite hated by old school fans before the scene girls made him the face of the band). This was my first time catching MMF live and I was stoked to finally get to hear how the band captures their sound on the live stage. The band took to the stage to a piercing cry from the hundreds of 14 year old girls swooning over Matty and opened with their new single Unconditional. To my surprise rather than hearing the punchy accurate rhythms and wonderful vocal lines I was expecting I was struck with weak energy, a live mix that only left drums audible and an off-key Matty Mullins. I spent the entire set attempting to comprehend exactly what was so bad about their live sound, but regardless of the cause, MMF put on what was quite possibly the most disappointing live show I've ever seen. The barely audible guitars were only noticeable when they made mistakes, played when they should have cut out and had feedback issues during quiet sections. While in many venues a poor live mix would be excusable and blamed on a bad sound guy, Download had consistently had incredible sound for every band over the last two days. It became clear that the band attempts to make up for their awful live sound by simply cranking the kick drum as loud as it can go, and attempting to drown out everything else in the process. I expected BMTH to be the band with bad live sound that still manages to impress scene girls, but MMF took their place.

Quick Review: While a few bands had been boring and mediocre at Download, MMF was the only actually BAD live performance and were by far the most disappointing band of my entire trip


Against Me!

     While the reviews of Day 3 might make it seem like this was a bad day, the afternoon was simply a dull point in what was otherwise a great day. The night filled with great performances began with American punk band Against Me! taking the stage. While I wasn't particularity fond of AM!'s newer material, I had loved some of their old albums and was very intrigued to see how their vocalist changing genders would influence their live presence. Against Me! performed to a mid sized, but very enthusiastic crowd and played a mix of songs of their new album and New Wave (because apparently even the band is aware the album in between those two was rather bland). Laura did a stellar job as a front-woman and came across as passionate and energetic in every song and very appreciative for the support in speeches between songs. Black Me Out live was absolutely incredible live as the amount of emphasis Laura pushed into the line "I want to piss on the walls of your house" gave the song an energy live that is just simply not there on the record. As much as I wish they'd play old material again, I was happy to hear a strong presence of songs off New Wave and the new songs sounded fantastic live.

Quick Review: Against Me! turned things around on Day 3 and put on a wonderful passionate punk rock performance


Suicide Silence

     In an odd combination of bands, immediately following Against Me on the Pepsi Max stage was American Deathcore kings Suicide Silence, featuring their new vocalist Eddy Hermida. Since I had already been close to the front for AM, I was able to get right up the barrier for Suicide Silence. Suicide Silence opened with Unanswered and the crowd exploded, squishing me to the point where I was struggling to breathe. I squeezed back a bit in the crowd and found a more comfortable spot to witness the madness, and when I say madness, I mean all hell breaking loose. The mosh pit was at least 20 meters across, packed full of people. There were crowd surfers on top of other crowd surfers, with hundreds of people climbing up to all simultaneously attempt to make their way to the front. There were moments when I genuinely feared for my safety and had to use every ounce of energy in my body to support the endless stream of crowd surfers. There was a moment when someone was frantically trying to make some floor space for something, and as a logical conclusion based off the craziness of the show, me and several others all concluded someone had fallen and been knocked unconscious. It turned out to just be someone looking for a lost phone, but the immediate logical jump to someone loosing consciousness rather than someone simply losing a possession brilliantly displays the insanity that took place during this set. Somehow this element of a genuinely scary live show seemed perfectly suited for Suicide Silence. I'd seen SS live before and knew the band would be stellar, the real question on everyone's mind was how would Eddy perform as their new front-man (especially since this was prior to the release of the new album). It took only about 3 songs for the crowd to begin chanting "EDDY! EDDY! EDDY!" as Mr. Hermida was unquestionably killing it. I'd even go as far as saying Eddy sounded better live than when I saw Mitch years back. This was a performance I felt thankful to have just survived, but I'd be more than happy to do it all over again if given the chance. 

Quick Review: Devastatingly heavy performance with Eddy doing a fantastic job as their new vocalist


The Dillinger Escape Plan

     Headlining the side stage on the final day were Mathcore legends, who are frequently described as the best live band in the world: The Dillinger Escape Plan. TDEP are among my favorite bands, with their new album being the best album of 2013 in my books. I had heard so many stories of the madness that takes place at their live shows and was barely able to contain my excitement. I'm very pleased to say that TDEP did not disappoint at all, and are definitely deserving of their reputation as one of the best live bands out there. As much as this might be a cheap cop-out for a review, I have to say that TDEP's live show can't be described in words, there's too much going on, too much chaos, improvisation and madness to put into words. I will however take this moment to brag about a small but amazing moment that happened during the song Room Full of Eyes. Most of the crowd were losing their minds but didn't know the words to many songs other than the occasional chorus, so when it came to the slow part in Room Full of Eyes, I was essentially a one man crowd, belting the lyrics as loud as I could (I absolutely destroyed my voice right then and there). Greg was busy climbing the rafters, so he wasn't even singing the vocals at that point, but apparently I was loud enough to that Greg took notice, looked right at me, said "well I guess I don't need this" and tossed the mic to me (from about 40 feet up in the air). Unfortunately he slightly missed and the mic ended up in someone else's hands but to have one of my favorite vocalists single me out like that was insane. In classic Dillinger style, they ended their set with Sunshine the Werewolf and brought out Thy Art is Murder's vocalist CJ to join in on guest vocals, which added a whole new level of brutality to that song. TDEP were a perfect final set to end an insane first festival experience.

Getting a non-blurry photo of TDEP is damn near impossible

Quick Review: There are no words for how good The Dillinger Escape Plan are live



     I stumbled out of the Pepsi Max to find out that Aerosmith still had a handful of songs left, so I decided to see if the classic rock band still had the chops to pull off a great festival closing set. Within 5 seconds of me deciding to go watch Aerosmith they broke into their classic ballad Don't Wanna Miss a Thing. To my pleasant surprise, despite looking terrible, Steven Tyler still has a great voice. I ended up being extremely happy that I stayed and watched Aerosmith, as simply looking at the size of the crowd was something incredible. Witnessing 60 000 fans all packed into one field was a big part of the reason I wanted to attend these European festivals and it was a beautiful sight to behold in person. Aerosmith continued to play all the hits you'd expect them to save for the end of the set and encored with Dream On. They sounded great, had a lot of energy for their age and were a well suited final band for the festival. 

Quick Review: Despite Steven Tyler looking like his face has been run over by a truck, Aerosmith still manage to put on a great live show


Thus ends the list of memorable performances from Download 2014. Next Tuesday I'll post one final summary that reviews the campsite, facilities and other aspects of the festival experience.

Thanks for reading!
David, I'll see you tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Download Festival Review part 3: Day 2 band reviews

Day 2

Dying Fetus

     Day 2 began with a full English breakfast, coffee and American Death Metal. Dying Fetus got things started with a bang on the Main Stage, with their over-the-top, cranked to 11, in your face style giving everyone a reason to wake the fuck up. I'm not much of a fan of DF, but they display incredible talent and it was just great to see a Death Metal band take the Main Stage, even if it was early in the day.

Quick Review: Loud, unapologetic and played with superb accuracy. A Great way to get the blood flowing and kick start Day 2.



     Chevelle has been one of my favorite bands since mid-way through High School, and quite possibly takes the cake as my favorite "rock" band. These American rockers bring a cross of post-grunge and Tool and blend it all together in a straight forward and memorable rock format. Chevelle took to the Second Stage in front of a mid sized crowd (mid-sized for a festival, the crowd was still larger than any venue could support). To my surprise I appeared to be BY FAR the biggest Chevelle fan in the audience. Most of the crowd still appeared to be waking up and attempting to cure their hangovers, while a very select few were pressed up against the barrier rocking out and singing along with full force. Chevelle's set was short but sweet, performing a well balanced mix of songs off their discography and their live sound was damn near album quality. I loved what I saw but found myself dying to see more.

Quick Review: Amazing live sound that left me begging for more. Apparently 99% England doesn't know who Chevelle are though.


The Black Dahlia Murder

More American Death Metal? Fuck Yea!
In all seriousness I'm not that big of a Death Metal fan, but when experiencing European music festivals, I wanted to push my own boundaries and explore some music I don't actively listen to. I arrived 5 minutes late (beer>being on time) and arrived to discover TBDM already tearing apart the Pepsi Max tent. Their sound was loud, fast, technical and 100% album quality. I began the set quietly nodding my head at the back of the tent and by the end of the set I wound up in the middle of the mosh pit covered in sweat and beer. TBDM had an uncontrollably and infectious live energy, it spread to everyone in ear shot and they experienced one of the fastest growing crowds of the day, with every passer by stopping to check out the madness. 

Quick Review: Incredible live energy, jaw dropping talent and an atmosphere that felt aggressive but strangely had you smiling the whole set


Bury Tomorrow

     Now that I was fully pumped up by two excelled side stage performances, it was back to the Main Stage to check out two of the hottest metalcore bands in Britain (Bury Tomorrow and While She Sleeps). Bury Tomorrow have always been in the shadow of American and Australian bands with similar styles, with their early albums sounding like Atreyu bonus material and their newer material being shrugged off as "Parkway Drive with Clean vocals". However make no mistake, Bury Tomorrow are a top tier metalcore act, bringing devastating low growls, great riffs, breakdowns and euphoric catchy clean vocals together in a polished mixed. BT took the Main stage to an audience who mostly seemed clueless of one their country's best modern metal bands. While the crowd was hesitant at first, Bury Tomorrow's riffs are infectious, and their breakdowns quickly sparked an explosion of mosh pits. Bury Tomorrow had possibly more pits than any non-headliner and had people jumping around and rocking out from back to front. Most people described them as the best surprise of Day 2, but I expected no less from BT. Their live sound was superb, with tight musicianship and two stellar live vocalists. 

Quick Review: Perfect metalcore style live show, with riffage that forced your head to nod, breakdowns that had everyone moving and wonderful clean vocal passages for everyone to sing along to.


While She Sleeps

     With the crowd all pumped up from Bury Tomorrow performance, it was now time for one of Britain's finest modern Hardcore acts to take the Main Stage by storm. WSS shirts were everywhere you looked; people had even brought homemade WSS flags! With While She Sleeps constantly writing about how amazing their fan base is, I was beyond excited to see one of my favorite hardcore bands performed in front of thousands of the fans they love so dearly. With the haunting intro guitar of their bonus track Death Toll, thousands upon thousands of fans all leaped off their feet and barely returned to the ground for the entire set. WSS style of relentless fast paced hardcore riffing was absolutely exhausting but the band themselves rocks out harder than anyone and inspires the crowd to push themselves harder. While mosh pits and circles pits were all around me I frequently found myself just basking in the experience of being there among that many fans. The band pretty clearly writes their music with the intention of the crowd joining in on many vocal lines and with a festival size crowd these crowd chants and sing-a-longs became a things of beauty. Seven Hills, one of their many odes to their early fans, gave me shivers so hard I'm not entirely sure it wasn't a full on orgasm. While She Sleeps ended their set by grabbing one of the flags the audience brought and planting it as high up on the tv tower as the vocalist could climb.

The Homemade WSS Flags

Quick Review: A stellar performance that brought the passion of small hardcore shows and delivered in on massive scale of festivals.



     India's premier djent/progressive metal act were at Download and there was no way I was going to miss it. While they unfortunately were playing at the same time as Killswitch Engage, I've seen KSE countless times and was more excited to see a band that may never make it to North America. Skyharbor's performance was atmospheric, loaded with harsh djent grooves and filled with stellar musicianship. There is however no doubt that Skyharbor's main attraction is their vocalist Dan Thomkins, who is better known for his work as TesseracT's vocal lead. Dan's vocals were jam droppingly good and he frequently had people applauding and cheering in the middle of songs as his challenging vocal parts were performed to absolute perfection. While Skyharbor writes some tasteful music, the only really memorable aspect of their performance was Dan's vocals

Quick Review: The best part of India's best metal band is their British singer


Twisted Sister

     I may not be big fan of Glam Metal, but given the chance there was no way I was going to miss Twisted Sister. The band is obviously aging and rely on front-man Dee Snider to be the entire source of live entertainment while the rest of the band stands in one place. Thankfully Dee is one of the best frontmen in the industry and still appears to have the vocal chops that got him famous back in the day. Dee is an obvious veteran of festival performances and had complete control of the crowd and had everyone laughing, cheering, chanting and jumping on command. Twisted Sister delivered everything you'd expect from a veteran stadium rock band, a great live show filled with crowd interactions to keep everyone entertained. Their live performance only had one hiccup, as the band was apparently one of the few performers who failed to realize that the festival grounds are right beside an international airport. Festival go-ers had become quite accustom to low flying planes soaring overhead, but Twisted Sister didn't get the memo and thought they were witnessing a plane crash, stopping mid-way through a song to point out the plane. The whole ordeal came off as quite hilarious and the band finished strong with I Want To Rock.

Quick Review: While the musicians in the band have evidently aged and don't seem to be the party animals they once were, Dee Snider is charismatic and talented enough to more than make up for it.


Bring Me The Horizon

     Now here's a band that I would normally pass on seeing live, as I'm both not a fan of the music and have seen studio videos that display exactly how atrocious Oli Sykes is at performing his own music. However with a "when in Britain" type of attitude I decided it could be a cool experience to witness the UK's most popular hardcore act in front of their home crowd. I was expecting a poor performance that would still manage to impress the hoards of scene girls, however I was pleasantly surprised by BMTH actually putting on a good live show. Through a combination of Oli handing off the mic when vocal lines he can't sing come up, an INSANE crowd, and Oli actually coming across as genuinely passionate performer (rather than an overly emotional scene kid), BMTH put on a thoroughly entertaining show.

Quick Review: Expected to hate it but ended up actually enjoying the performance. They definitely got the craziest crowd reaction out the festival


Linkin Park

     Speaking of nu-metal nostalgia, Linkin Park were headlining the Main Stage on Day 2, performing Hybrid Theory start-to-finish. Hybrid Theory was possibly the first remotely aggressive album I ever bought, so getting to witness it live 10+ years later was a wonderful nostalgic experience. Linkin Park performed their debut album as if it were brand new, sounding as excited to play these old songs again as the fans were excited to hear them. LP also brought what was easily the most impressive light show of the festival. I found myself in a state of pure nostalgic joy for the entire Hybrid Theory performance. The band played stellar, the choruses were magical with the tens of thousands of fans singing along, and the whole experience was a dream come true for my 12 year old self, but 22 year old me still enjoyed every minute of it. Linkin Park also played some new material and other hits once they finished Hybrid Theory but I had more important business to attend to and had to run off to the Red Bull stage to catch...

Quick Review: Nostalgic awesomeness



     The British progressive metal gods took the stage for the first time in almost 10 years at Download. As I said in part 1 of this review, Sikth was the main reason I was at Download, and after months of waiting for this moment, it was finally here. The crowd began chanting long before the band took to the stage, and were almost too loud as it took everyone a few seconds to realize the Bland Street Bloom intro had begun playing through the speakers. While I've used the expression "[insert band name] tore apart the stage" many times, Sikth fans did so quite literally. The entire Red Bull stage became one giant mosh pit and what was once a grass field became a concave dirt hole. Smiles never faded from faces of the crowd or the band, it was like re-uniting with a long lost friend; a crazy metal band re-uniting with their crazy fans. The crowd sung along to every word and even occasionally all sang along to guitar riffs (including a breakdown, imagine a festival crowd singing DUN DUN DUNDUNDUNDUN...). It was a special experience for the band and the fans, with the band taking pictures of the crowd as often as the crowd took pictures of the band. After Sikth left the stage the chants for "One More Song" didn't end for about 20 minutes, even after the band repeatedly said they can't. Unfortunately festival rules don't allow encores but it was a great display of how happy Sikth fans were to have their heros back and how eager they all were to see more.

Quick Review: A live experience as crazy as a Sikth reunion deserves


Day 3 band reviews coming Tomorrow,
Thanks for reading,

David I'll see you on Friday,


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Download Festival Review part 2: This time I actually review things

Since my last post was a long winded intro, this week I'm just gonna jump straight in and review every memorable (for better or worse) live set I saw at Download Festival.

Day 1:


After starting the day with setting up my campsite and checking out some random side stage acts, I decided to indulge in some nu-metal nostalgia and watch the UK based reggae infused nu-metal act Skindred tear it up on the main stage. I knew two songs going in and wasn't expecting much. I figured once they played "Nobody" I could join in my first pitting experience of the festival. After all the chorus of the song is "Nobody gets out of this pit alive", so I figured it'd be a good time. However to my pleasant surprise Skindred killed it, start to finish, and everything in between. They displayed some of the best crowd interaction you could imagine and became the first band of the festival to use the size of the main stage crowd to its full advantage. They had the entire crowd on their feet, taking off their shirts, chanting, dancing, singing along, jumping, you name it. Skindred were conducting a several thousand person crowd with ease. 

Quick Review: Skindred were the best surprise of Download festival, easily in the top 5 bands of the weekend 


Crowd in front of me

Crowd behind me

The Amity Affliction

After a few more beers and random bands, I was off to the Pepsi Max tent. In reality I was just waiting for letlive to take the stage, but I was more than willing to check out Australian metalcore act The Amity Affliction. While TAA aren't exactly my cup of tea, they put on a great show and seemed genuinely overwhelmed with happiness from the size of the crowd (with about 3x the crowd of any band previous on the Pepsi Max stage). It's always fun to watch a band who's enjoying the experience as much as any fan.

Quick Review: Solid performance and the crowd was loud enough that the clean vocals didn't bother me as much as they do on record



letlive. made their triumphant return to Download after 3 years ago their vocalist was almost not allowed on stage and had to literally fight event security to make it to the stage (Footage). This California hardcore band has a live performance that truly has to be seen to be believed. I had seen them live 3 times prior to Download, and consider them to be among the best live performers on the planet. The crowd had grown even larger since The Amity Affliction and there was electricity in the air as an overfilled Pepsi Max tent awaited what many knew was inevitably going to be one of the best performances of the weekend. There was a brief moment of disappointment when vocalist Jason Butler hobbled onto the stage on crutches, but with the first notes of The 27 Club the crutches flew through the air into the crowd and Jason powered through the performance as crazy as ever. Letlive claimed that Download was the best crowd of their career and I genuinely believe it. Any time I looked around I saw a sea of people who all knew every word to every song as well as I did. One of the most beautiful moments of the performance came when the band started into Pheremone Cvlt, and the crowd all rose their voices so loud that Jason dropped the mic, covered his mouth with both hands and was frozen in a state of complete disbelief. The crowd was louder than anything coming through the loudspeaker and the band let the crowd take the vocal lead for the majority of the song. While I'm already a huge fan and it didn't take much to sell me on letlive, seeing them get such a monstrous crowd reaction was something truly special and something I will never forget.

Quick Review: letlive is one of the best live bands on the planet and Download was probably the best crowd of their career


Black Label Society

Beards! Metal! Guitar Solos! Denim patched jackets! 
This was my first time seeing BLS live and I was initially very excited (likely due to heavy intoxication by this point in the day). I crammed through the Main Stage crowd to get as close to the front as I could and prepared to have my face shredded. BLS took the stage with a wall of amps, skull shaped microphones and a handful of other cliches which seemingly beckoned an epic metal performance. As far as the live sound goes, they sounded great! However they were really quite boring to watch. There didn't seem to be any energy put into the live performance and there was near no interaction with the crowd. This lead to a stand-still crowd and me regretting my decision to go right up front. They still played great and shredded face with their solos, but it was a performance better spent looking for food rather than actually looking at the band.

Quick Review: Sounded great, but didn't move an inch


Rob Zombie

The first day of Download featured the king of goth rock as a secondary headliner. Rob Zombie is known for great theatrics, makeup and horror infused stage props, so I was eager to see what the most theatrical band of the day had in store. Mr. Zombie and his crew of oddly dressed backing musicians took the stage to a ferocious roar from the crowd. While Rob Zombie's live show did deliver everything that you would expect, with classic songs every knows, gross out theatrics and a pretty impressive stage show, nothing could quite make up Mr. Zombie's vocals. He has a unique vocal style that works brilliantly on record, but live it simply came across as "I'm watching someone who can't sing, at all". He seemed to struggle through every line and usually resorted to simply speaking the lyrics. All and all it wasn't a bad performance, but the crowd was evidently not super impressed and displayed a small fraction of the enthused for the supporting headliner as they showed for Skindred. 

Quick Review: Entertaining performance with the only weak element being Mr. Zombie himself (unfortunately that's a pretty key piece of the band)



Swedish progressive metal gods headlined the Pepsi Max stage and were an amazing end to the first day. They mostly stuck to newer material, so the performance was more of an atmospheric chill end to the day, rather than complete an utter exhaustion that would end days 2 and 3. The band played an absolutely stellar performance and made a large side stage crowd feel like a small intimate performance with some nice improvised banter between songs. Opeth ended the set with two old songs and made all the old school fans happy. As much as I still dream of being able to see more than 1 song of Blackwater Park live, they performed The Funeral Portrait with such perfection that I was completely satisfied. 

Quick Review: Epic and atmospheric, a beautiful way to end off the day


Note: I also saw half of Avenged Sevenfold's set after Opeth, but I caught the entire set at Graspop Metal Meeting and nothing changed in the set (including scripted banter between songs), so I'll talk about it when I review Graspop bands.

I'm feeling like this post is already long enough to test a readers patience, so rather than hammering through all 3 days in one go as I originally planned, I will post Day 2 tomorrow, and Day 3 on Thursday. 

David already broke the rules of this Tuesday and Friday arrangement, so I'm breaking them even harder.

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out what giant flying object stopped Twisted Sister mid-song.

Thanks for reading,

David, I will see you on Friday,
Actually I'll see myself tomorrow,
This is your punishment for breaking the rules,
You now have to put up with three of my posts in one week,


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Album Review: Live In Regret - "Find A Solution"

Shut up, I know it's not Friday. I'm going to be up in the grim and frostbitten north of Onaping, Ontario from this Thursday to Sunday so I figured I'd post now rather than wait 'til next week. As punishment, Jeremy, I will fully listen to and review any album you want me to for next Friday.

That being said, let's get down to the very first album review for this newly reinvigorated blog!

This is what going to school for engineering feels like.
 A week or so ago, Live In Regret dropped a new album chocked full of mathy, noisy, hardcore goodness. These UK chaps have been partaking in some of the old ultra-violence since 2008 now, and Find a Solution marks their second full length album. Two years ago they dropped Let Go, a solid hardcore album whose opening track "Coward" was featured on our very own Grindhouse Vol. 1! The band is a three-piece, with their guitarist taking over studio bass duties.

There's a certain amount of Converge worship these days with most noisy hardcore and metalcore bands, but Live In Regret manages to pull it off with a little bit of personal flair. The band seems to take after the spastic stylings of The Chariot, although they keep it coherent, as the songs don't seem to feel like they're about to fall apart. I typically group bands that sound like The Chariot with bands that sound like Dillinger Escape Plan as well, but Live In Regret have that looseness that traditional 80s and 90s hardcore has. Not every note is as meticulously planned out as "Sugar Coated Sour" is, which is a refreshing thing to hear from a mathy band. It seems that bands that play this style of music are typically so wrapped up in playing in as many stupid time signatures as possible or playing the most technically complex music they can that they forget to feel. Seriously. I know this sounds like hippy-dippy bullshit, but hardcore is one of the most emotionally evocative genres out there. When bands prog it up to the point where it sounds like robots are playing, it kind of defeats the purpose of the music. So kudos to Live In Regret for helping to bring the human element back to mathcore.

I have to commend all the members of the band for some solid performances and songwriting. While each song doesn't last particularly long (the longest clocks in at 2:02, the shortest at 0:39), they ebb and flow naturally, with enough distance between the mathy, noodly bits and enough variance between everything else to keep things interesting. I'm a very big fan of the drumming on this album, because the drums are played with the guitar and bass, not underneath them.

I do find the production kind of lacking for this album, but considering this is a relatively new band's second full length, I con't complain too much that they didn't get to record at God City Studios or anything. The production isn't bad, but if the drums could be a bit more articulate and the bass raised in the mix, I think it would help a ton with their sound.

You can catch Live In Regret on Facebook, Bandcamp, and you can buy a customized teddy bear on their very own webzone. I hear this world wide web is going to be the next big thing!

Jeremy, I'll see you on Tuesday.