Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Boy Of Locked Gardens And The Woman Spread Thin (A Children's Story)

The Boy of Locked Gardens and The Woman Spread Thin
There once was a boy who had many beautiful gardens. He would spend hours and hours in his gardens, joyfully frollicking amonst the flowers and leaves, saturating himself with the scents of earth and blossoms. There was a problem with his gardens, however. He was the only one that could see them. He tried many times to show his friends and family the gardens he had grown, eagerly gesturing past the main gate to the treasures within. And many times they left shaking their heads in confusion or anger, shaming him for what they thought he had imagined. The boy became discouraged and lessened his visits to the gardens. He soon stopped visiting at all. The gardens grew unkempt and soon impassable. The boy found one day, when he tried to return, that he had even lost the key to enter the main gate. He had been careless in his pain, unable to share his pleasures with others.
Then one day, while the boy walked along the crumbling outer walls of his gardens, longing for the halcion days he once spent inside their confines, he noticed something new. He felt something or someone nearby, but could see nothing. "It's like trying to find a candle in the dark" he thought, "except you don't know if the candle is really there." Little by little, a form materialized in front of him. It was a woman! She stretched out over the whole valley, over the horizon even and the boy could not see the end of her, though she was spread so thin that there was hardly any of her left to see. "How come I can barely see you?" he asked. "I have had my pieces spread out far and wide, stretched many miles until I am nearly a ghost, invisible to most people who look upon me," she replied. "But how'd you get that way?" the boy persisted. "A great many of my pieces were taken from me, those who did not have enough body of their own would steal some of mine and run far away with it. Sometimes I would give my pieces away to those that needed it more than I. Thus my body would become stretched thin and taut," she answered. "Like not enough butter over too much bread?" asked the boy. "Precisely," she agreed. As the boy and the woman became friendly and learned of each other, the boy came to understand that the woman had given quite a bit of herself up to others, in fact, it seemed as though every moment she became more tangible with the gaining back of some piece of her body, some other part of her would slip away just as fast. He found it much like watching fog blow into a room through a door and then out again through a window.
She in fact gave some of herself to his gardens, as he always found his flowers more upright and less wrinkled, brighter and less dull after her every visit. Soon he found he had vibrant gardens once again. They had not yet risen to their former glory but they were too strong now to lapse back into their former state, excepting for seasonal changes of course. With the woman's help, the boy took down the gate to the garden so he could never be locked out again.
This continued for some time, the woman visiting the boy and his gardens growing healthier and healthier, until one day he noticed the woman let out a sigh. It was a painful sigh, one of much tiredness and weariness. He then realized how awfully, dreadfully tiring it must to hold oneself up so long over many miles, especially when ones legs where not underneath. He decided then that he would go on a quest. A quest to help her return the stolen peices to herself, so she could be happy again and not have to strain so hard just to stand up. She had done so much for him and he found that he cared for her so deeply that he was compelled to help. As she was the first in a long time to see his gardens and the beauty possible therein, so too did he see her coporeal and majestic beauty waiting to be returned.
He traveled for many days that became months that became years. Sometimes he stumbled and hurt himself but the woman would appear and lend him a part if he needed it. His gardens stayed beautiful overall, tending themselves with open gates. Some people even began to visit and love it and help with the tending. This brought the boy and the woman much joy for his gardens truly were a wondrous place, though the boy was often too bashful to admit it. He continued on his quest, not noticing that not only did his garden grow and not only did the woman become more solid as she walked alongside him during their visits, but he grew too. One day he found that he had grown into a man. Eager to show his friend, the woman, he waited in a familiar grove for her arrival. Finally she did, and for the first time, he saw all of her present and together. Speechless with awe, he took her into his arms and held her close. She knew then that someone saw all of her, even the pieces that were not yet there.
Together, the man, the woman, and the garden all grew together larger and larger, more beautiful than anything anyone had ever seen before. Many people came to visit. Some were rejuvenated by the wealth they generated, others left some of their own wealth for others. All in all the gardens were a happy place, tended to and grown with love and care for all to share and adore.
THE END


*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Iceland Trip, Days 2-5

So, back to Iceland info! Day 2 consisted of getting up extra early, catching a taxi to the local airport (though the hotel was located adjacent to the airfield, the terminal was on the far side), and flying north to Akureyri (~40 km from the arctic circle!). We were greeted at the airport by Disa of the Skjaldarvik Guesthouse, where we stayed for two days. If you take nothing else from these Iceland posts, hear this: STAY AT THIS GUESTHOUSE! Disa and her husband were super-nice, that is superbly-para-humanoid nice. Given, we were almost the only people staying at the guesthouse at that time so we perhaps got special attention, but it was very evident that Disa takes care of her guests.
Details? Well, firstly you should know that it is a converted retirement/long-term managed care center though it has been remodeled beautifully so that the only evidence is in the large industrial bathrooms which still have some grab bars and associated paraphernalia. As a Physical Therapist by trade, I actually quite appreciated this and hope that the bathrooms remain accessible to all. Apparently the history of the guesthouse is well known locally (but then Iceland is so small everyone practically knows everything about everybody it seems). This was made plain by several jokes made by tour guides as they picked us up or dropped us off.
There is also an honor system bar, a lounge with telescope, an above-ground geothermally warmed hot tub, two very friendly dogs, a horse, and many chickens. The fjord on which the guesthouse sits is also very gorgeous, everywhere I looked, it was like living in a National Geographic issue.

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

http://www.skjaldarvik.is/en/

That night we attempted to see the Northern Lights, but alas, were mostly thwarted by clouds. We did spy some flashes behind the clouds, it looked to me a bit like concentrated heat lightning. Interestingly, we met a couple from our neck of New York who we kept encountering throughout the rest of our trip, including on the plane home. Small world!

The next morning we were off mega-early for a day of touring the countryside. We saw several remarkable sights, including some boiling mud pits (smelled like rotten eggs because of the sulfur), a dormant volcano with a lake in the basin, a natural springs underground convict hide-away in a hillside, a cow farm where we had geyser bread (bread baked by burying it underground near a geothermal heat source) and milk straight from the source, a hot spring lagoon (they are just as blue as pictured!), the God Falls, and the Dimmu Borgir! Our tour guide was pretty cool and apparently likes Rock Music. He related an awesome story from when he used to be an air traffic controller and actually guided in Bruce Dickinson!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
  Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

We booked our trip through Icelandic Farm Holidays, who basically did all the planning work for us, I recommend them:
http://www.farmholidays.is/

We opted out of a second round of Northern Lights spotting that night, partly due to fatigue after our day of travels but mostly due to the still cloudy sky. The next afternoon we were off to Reykjavik again for our last day in Iceland.
We again visited downtown and had some good, cheap Asian fusion food (though Icelanders can't handle spicy food it seems, their 'spicy' was like a 'mild' to my tongue). We also visited the oldest cemetery in town, which is host to several endangered ferns and mosses!
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photos copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

We enjoyed another night in the domestic airport hotel, then took the shuttle to the international airport and were on our way back to New York. Iceland was truly a moving experience and I highly recommend a trip there to anyone even remotely considering it. The locals tell me it gets quite busy in the summer, so if you handle the cold, go in the off season like we did.

Until next time,
-Sam


*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013, unless otherwise noted*

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Broken Hope "Omen of Disease" (2013 album review) + BONUS live reviews

I just listened to the new Broken Hope album today, and YES it is killer! It certainly lived up to the hype for me. The songs are short and brutal with the classic mash up of chunky slow grooves and rapid-fire leads with blistering solos. The new line-up really works well together.

Let me say that I have been a Broken Hope fan since the early 2000's so I was super pumped when they announced a reunion tour, though I was skeptical of how they would sound without their original singer, who tragically died many years ago. The live show delivered, both in support of Obituary and at MDF 2013. Thankfully, these performances seem to have brought a whole bunch of new fans to the band. If you like stuff from the early 2nd wave of American Death Metal, such as Immolation, old Cannibal Corpse, old Suffocation, etc then you NEED to check out Broken Hope.


I haven't yet decided where the new album falls in relation to the other releases, one listen isn't enough. I will say that "Swamped In Gore" and "Bowels of Repugnance" are quite hard to top for me so this album will probably fall somewhere after them. Don't let that discourage you from listening to the new album though, it truly is brutal and has some disgusting lyrics (as always) which might be some of their best!

As for the above show, I saw the tour at the Gramercy Theatre in Manhattan, at great venue with sloping floor so General Admission people can see pretty much anywhere. There are also seats for those who want them. Obituary DEMOLISHED live, they played a long, long set and the crowd rewarded them by going appropriately bananas. Decrepit Birth was a little to 'technical' with way too many blast beats for me (meaning that the notes to brutality ratio was unbalanced in favor of the notes), Jungle Rot was great and had a solid set (as always, I've seen them at least 3x) though their sound was not as good this show (I blame the sound guy). Encrust was interesting, sounding like Death Metal and Crust as their name implies but not combining and of the best elements of either to me so they also fell short of amazing me. I will say all the bands put on an energetic show, I just didn't get into Decrepit Birth or Encrust.

http://www.brokenhope.com/HOME.html


*Review and photo copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Monday, October 7, 2013

A FABLE

I found myself in a secluded village during my life's journey, pondering the progression of my life and lamenting over its state of perceived futility and fragility. An old man in the town in which I was staying told me an interesting tale. He told me that there was a mighty drake that soared through the skies on certain evenings and that he was indescribably beautiful and old. Furthermore, if one were able to kill the drake, that person would inherit the drake's immortality.
As I had been of late much concerned with my own mortality and age, I decided to await the drake on the appointed nights with a magical weapon in hand. This spear had been forged by the local armorsmith, a man of legendary weaponry, and blessed by a powerful local shaman. Eager to have the matter of my trial against the drake over as quickly as possible, I paid these local experts to prepare these items for me. Wealth I had, eternity I did not.
After some nights of failure to spot the drake, waiting impatiently on sparse wind-bitten steppes, I finally caught sight of my prey. He was indeed beyond any words I know and likely beyond any that exist in the tongues of man. Nonetheless, I can say that he gracefully wound across the whole sky, back and forth, too quick to fully interpret his moves yet too slow to be unawed at their magnificence. He cast color about in all directions, lingering longest where he had last wound and coiled his titan form across the welkin.
He suddenly yet purposefully turned back towards me as though he was aware of his challenger but wished to display his grandeur before approaching in his regal fashion. This all after he wound ahead for what appeared many miles, though speed and distance were hard to judge, owing to his massive size and aforementioned timeless motions.
Picking up speed, he appeared to instantaneously grow many sizes larger, though I quickly realized this was because he was charging at me. As his tremendous bulk struck the ground I managed to leap and perchance land upon his body, clining barely with my extremities. Though the force with which he seemed to strike the ground was shattering, if he left any marks upon that virgin though spartan land, I did not see them and could not find any later. It was as though his force was concentrated only upon me and my mission, that we existed in a realm beyond that around us.
I managed to find projections and undulations to grip and maneuver about his body, though the wind as we rushed over the landscape was fierce and though his light was blinding against the ever-dark backdrop of the clear night sky. Once I had adequate purchase, I looked about for a weak spot from which the drake might be dispatched. I was raised my magical weapon as I looked, ready to attack at a moment's notice.
Then I lowered my weapon as my actions and their consequences seeped into my head like a gentle breeze against a fog bank. I could not bring myself to injure this creature, though it was quite doubtful I could at all, even marring his hide to claim some victory over his might would be fleeting. This besides, neither satisfaction, however great, nor life, however long, could compare with the pleasure of knowing such a beautiful creature existed untainted and untamed. I might live forever, but the drake's beauty would be lost forever to people the world over. I could not be so selfish nor could I feel fufilled were I to injure the drake.
He seemed to sense this change and wrapped me in light and warmth til I was blinded. It was as though I floated in a cloud on the sun. Then I saw a dark opening in the light and approached it, knowing intuitively that it led to the reality I had left when I first began battle with the drake. Though it was most comforting here, I realized that I must leave this place. Though it was serene it was also void of all other things. I needed to bring the lesson of the drake to the peoples of the world, something I could not do from deep in its bowels. I hesitated for only a moment to draw a deep breath, then I plunged into the darkness of the surrounding night.
I emerged upon a high hilltop near where my evening began, weapon alongside me. I looked up in time to see the drake sailing over a nearby mountain range. Though I cannot be sure if it was the wind in my ears, I fancy I heard some roar of acknowledgement from the drake as he departed. I made my way back to town feeling like a man reborn.
The next day I encountered the old man who had told me about the drake. He had a large smile and held up his hand to silence me before I had opportunity to tell my tale. He said, "Tell others what you have learned and live by it yourself. For no man can live forever in seclusion nor should he live to steal beauty. Beauty will come to him in its own time and a man's life is his own eternity for the universe is made only of his own perceptions and thus is born and dies with him." I then thought I heard a faint stirring of the wind like the voice of the drake and turned to look. Seeing nothing I turned back to the old man who had vanished. I returned to my life and home and lived happily by these lessons and the many that followed in their wake.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, October 4, 2013

ICELAND Trip, Day 1

"We're in... Iceland!" Very much unlike Wayne & Garth's not so excellent adventure in Delaware, I am super-excited to be in Iceland for the next few days. Though there was way too many last minute issues because yours truly can't plan a trip to save his life, I arrived in Iceland today with my beautiful partner to celebrate one year of marriage. On that note, perhaps I should post some photos of it someday. I dressed as a viking and cut a viking head-shaped cake with a sword, not to mention that we had a libation with a drinking horn.

We landed in Reykjavik at what amounted to about 2 AM our time, 6 AM local time and rode from Keflavik airport on a shuttle bus to downtown Reykjavik and our hotel. This in itself was somewhat confusing as their is a domestic airport right in downtown Reykjavik as well so if you ever travel here, be sure to check your airports!

Once checked in, we ate and crashed hard for a few hours. Thankfully 100 ISK go for roughly $0.82 USD currently so it didn't hurt THAT much to pay a ridiculous amount for hotel food. After our power nap, we headed downtown to shop and eat. Apart from some souvenirs for friends and family, I bought some excellent socks with a helm-of-awe and a viking head on them as well as a statue of the Icelandic female Krampus for myself. The statue is an old hag troll with goat's hooves, horns, and a bag of naughty children dragging behind. And right around Yule time too, perfect! Gruess Von Krampus! You KNOW that will be on display year-round at home!

All the staff at the hotel and at the shops downtown as well as all the citizens and fellow travelers we have met have been incredibly friendly and helpful, not to mention the air quality and view are markedly improved from our home near Manhattan. The water is crystal clear and the purest I've ever had anywhere. For dinner tonight we ate at Cafe Loki (how awesome?!). I ordered what was basically a traditional Icelandic Christmas dinner: lamb (smoked and both in texture and flavor indescribably blissful), boiled potatoes in cream sauce, red boiled cabbage, and peas. I washed it down with more water and birch tea. Yum!!

As of now, we are considering going out to try and spot the Northern Lights over Reykjavik tonight, but if not our next two nights are in Akureyri specifically for them so it's not necessary. Expect many more posts with pictures to follow as available. I guarantee a review of Icelandic lamb hot dogs, so be prepared!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

This is right outside our hotel!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

 This church was pretty beautiful. Though I am an atheist, I can appreciate the art of many religions, not to mention many cultures in general. I really liked how this place managed to be so spartan but so pretty. I also especially liked that the organ had some horizontally projecting tubes. Unfortunately, I was not treated to any dirges issuing from it...

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

 Dinner, day 1!

Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.
 Photo copyright Maureen Shockey, 2013.

Leif Eriksson statue! Yes, I am stoked to be there.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013, unless otherwise noted*

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nocturno Culto new solo release!

It came to my attention today that Ted Skjellum AKA Nocturno Culto (notably of Norwegian Metal band Darkthrone) will release a solo album via Peaceville Records on Oct 28th 2013! See the link for details as I am too busy cleaning the shit out my pants since I heard about this! For those of you unfamiliar, Nocturno Culto has also been busy with the Sarke, in which he provides vocals. Though he took no credit for song-writing on the 1st album, the riffs suit him quite a bit. Since Sarke (with Nocturno!!!) are playing Maryland Deathfest this year (2014), this is the year of Nocturno! Ted had also been busy this summer trying to fund a film idea, 'SAGA,' a biker-chick-zombie-viking-Heavy Metal film. Yeah, that awesome. Co-written by and starring Nocturno. How this didn't get enough funding, I don't know except that it was poorly advertised. I contributed, but alas, not enough money was raised to start filming. Hopefully, this year's MDF appearance and sales of his album will help funding but artists make precious little on their releases so it will probably only put food on his table. One can hope, though...

I would also recommend to all readers interested in the Norwegian Black Metal scene to view Nocturno Culto's film "The Misanthrope" which is available on DVD and in a CD/DVD set with the soundtrack (written by Nocturno) included. I have the CD/DVD set and suggest it, the music is great eerie ambient electronica. The film itself has a heavy David Lynch vibe at times, alternating with a very honest, simple, fly-on-the-wall feel as the viewer watches Nocturno go about his business ice-fishing with members of Enslaved, seeing Gallhammer in Japan, and having a Tyrant Syndicate (his now-defunct label co-operated by Fenriz) 'meeting' which amounted to a gathering of Norwegian Metal legends gathering around a fire and talking. Do not miss Apollyon pissing on the fire, hilarity ensues! If you found "Until The Light Takes Us" interesting, I you MUST see "The Misanthrope" to see what life is currently like for Nocturno and friends.

To Pre-order:
https://www.burningshed.com/store/peaceville/product/233/5076/

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Death In June LIVE in Brooklyn Sept 20th 2013

The Blackened Series brought me another gem this week, as I FINALLY got to see Death In June live! Firstly, if anyone has every said that DIJ is a fascist band, they were wrong, they are quite the opposite. Don't believe me? See the early Crisis stuff (pre-DIJ punk band). Yes, one former member DID go super right-wing, but DIJ itself and certainly founder Douglas P. never have.

THAT said, DIJ has had several styles over the years, progressing from the punk sound of Crisis on very early recordings, to stripped-down mostly martial percussive drones, to noisey electronics, to acoustic folk, to any combination of the above. The lion's share is the acoustic folk, usually consisting of Douglas P. singing over an acoustic guitar with minimal background accompaniment, often sparse percussion, chimes, bells, horns, etc. The subject matter of the lyrics is usually depressive, utilizing metaphors, symbols, ideas/ideals from Nordic and Germanic culture to create a unique and personal gestalt that is something like sad-man paganism. I do also love that Douglas P. is openly gay. One (of many!) quirk(s) in their history that I would like to discuss is the extensive collaboration with Boyd Rice. I am not super familiar with him but from I gather of his public persona, he likes to annoy people simply for his own amusement. I give him credit for his sound experimentation and for having (at the very least) interesting and different ideas, but I have yet to find anything that really makes me like him much. ANYWAY, Death In June is awesome and so was the show.

The set started and ended with songs in the martial drumming style with acoustic bits throughout the majority of the set. I was happy with the mix of songs, with some from pretty much every major release. Douglas even asked for and delivered some requests! The sound was great too, which I had been a bit worried about since the acoustic stuff takes careful miking to broadcast.

As for stage show, there was a back drop of a huge American flag with  the death's head symbol used by DIJ in the blue field. The same design with alternation between the death's head and the DIJ 'whip hand' symbol decorated the drums on stage. Performers were Douglas and a percussionist. Both of course were wearing all camouflage and Douglas began by performing in his signature DIJ mask. Of note, it was interesting to see him play in a long flectar camo jacket with shorts and high socks! Throughout most of the set though he wore no mask but instead a hat and dark glasses with his camo get-up. I was well pleased with the show and felt satisfied with the set.

Songs included (in no order) but not limited to:
Giddy Giddy Carosel, She Said Destroy, Symbols of the Sun, 13 Years of Carrion, Roseclouds of Holocaust (check out the Nachtmystium cover!), Fall Apart (check out the cover by Ikon!), Good Mourning Sun, To Drown a Rose, Death of The West, We Drive East, Ku Ku Ku, But What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?, My Black Angel, All Pigs Must Die, The Enemy Within

http://www.deathinjune.net/

http://www.blackenedmusic.com/

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Medicine LIVE at Williamsburg Music Hall 2013

So, firstly, this show was a BIG DEAL in the apartment. My partner turned me on to this band early on in our dating days. Medicine is noisy and experimental rock group that stands out from others in the shoegaze genre in that they are able to mix huge walls of sound with dreamy, pop-like vocals in a way I haven't heard any other band do as well. Prior to listening to Medicine, I was familiar with bands like My Bloody Valentine, (loosely with) The Jesus And Mary Chain, etc. though my tastes run more towards darker variants of the style such as many Wolves In The Throne Room releases (Black Metal seems to lend itself well to shoegaze as it is already pretty tilted towards guitar experimentation from the 2nd wave, from Scandanavia i.e. "De Mysteriis.." era Mayhem, Thorns, even Darkthrone's early Black Metal releases have a droney, wall-of-sound style, though I'd argue that this had more to do with crust punk sensibilities and limited access to equipment.

Anyway, Medicine does what they do very well, big guitars with many, many layers and ethereal vocals that are just a few notches short of the Cocteau Twins to me. After about 13 years of silence, they returned with a new album that, to me, at least matches their back catalog. As songs were released to fans (a small but loyal base, from what I've seen), I listened and digested. I was most impressed that the availability of newer technology did nothing to ruin the Medicine sound, instead, it was improved: more layers, better noise.

As for the show itself, I will start off saying that I was not impressed with the opener (to the point that I don't even remember their name) which consisted of about 10 hipsters on stage with an incredible redundancy of instrumentation that didn't come through the mix anyway. So, for Medicine! The live sound was excellent, so my hat's off to the sound technician, they are a difficult sound to manage. It was not as good as the album, but certainly better than I expected for live (and I had high hopes). Part of the treat was just to see the guitar/effects rig being used. The set was a solid mix of new and old songs as I recall. In short, if you like Medicine and somehow get a chance to see one of their exceedingly rare live shows, do it! The sound will not disappoint. Additionally, everyone had excellent showmanship and exuded heavy energy the whole show.

I also appreciated that the band members were super-approachable and mingled with the crowd afterwards, talking with friends and fans present for more than an hour after the set, as they were able with stage break-down.

Medicine Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Medicine-Band/148976065123004

Pictures of the above show via Brooklyn Vegan:
http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2013/08/medicine_played.html

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DOA Live in NYC for last time (sort of) Sept 13 2013

I am a recent fan of DOA (about 10 months) though I've heard them spoken of often and highly by sources I trust. Anyway, this tour was intended as a farewell party as founding member Joey Shithead is going to run for office in Canada next election season. Here's what I love about DOA: they do indeed back their talk with action (they have an album named for it), they are proud of their influences (Joey had  a Pink Floyd sticker on his guitar and is also a big Bob Dylan fan, for example), and, finally, they know how to ROCK! So many artists the world over (myself included!) have a hard time composing songs that are dynamic but in what I consider true rock form, DOA always delivers. The songs go somewhere; there is tension built and released, structured progression of notes and volume, etc. The newest DOA cuts on "We Come In Peace" are no exception so if are already like them, I think you dig it. If you've never listened to them, this is a great place to start!

Hopefully we can look forward to more DOA shows in the future, though I want Joey to have as much positive influence on this world as he can (and so should we all) so I will try to keep perspective in mind. DOA can be full of surprises though, take this show for example: it was supposed to be their last NY show (held at Brooklyn's Europa Club, which has hosted the Casualties, the English Dogs, Antisect, and many other great acts!) but there was a secret 2nd show at the Grand Victory right after (I didn't go, subway travel was FUBAR, I was a tired old man at an ancient 26 years of age, and Grand Victory shows have always started WAY late for both shows I've seen there (Koffin Kats and Gene Loves Jezebel) though the venue is intimate and loud).

https://myspace.com/doapunk/music/songs

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sacrifice Pt 2 (Saxon live)

So SAXON has released a new beast on the world, with their 2013 release, "Sacrifice." It has been kicking my ass since I bought it at the show.

Regarding the CD: the production is tight and heavy, but don't worry it doesn't feel clinical, just that the producer knew what he/she/it was doing. Stand out tracks are 'Sacrifice' 'Made In Belfast' and 'Wheels of Terror' though 'Waiting in a Queue' gets humor points.

Regarding the show: the set list was picked by a fan, as there was some contest on the Saxon facebook that I missed. Whoever arranged it, the set was KILLER! They opened with 'Sacrifice' followed by 'Wheels of Terror' and it wasn't long before we shared some of the "Power & the Glory." The band was in excellent form and was extra-energetic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d_6BkhKPAk

Fozzy opened, which to my dismay and confusion did NOT involve any muppets. Fozzy is a little to soft for me, they seem to always 'almost' make it, but that's just my taste. I WILL say that they put EVERYTHING into their live show, they were interacting constantly with fans, jumping all over the place, and in general having great showmanship. So if a non-fan is saying they are great live, I suggest that any fan gets their hide to a Fozzy show, poste-haste!

The show was at BB Kings Bar & Grill which I like as a venue except for the fact that you get major bottle-necking trying to exit and if you sit at a table (optional) there's some annoying minimum purchase required ($15, I think?). On the other hand, they get and I have seen some great acts there, including Morbid Angel, Grave, Dark Funeral (one show!) and The Minions of Gozer (a Ghostbusters Shadowcast, you should see them!).

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

"Sacrifice" Pt. 1 (Triton Fest 2013, NY)

Firstly, yes, it HAS been a long while since I've posted. That said, let's get on with it! I recently had opportunity to attend the 2013 edition of Triton Fest in NY, which is a big goth rock/dark electronic fest held yearly. This year it was a 3 day event starting off at Gramercy Theatre in NYC for Thursday and Irving Plaza for Friday and Saturday. It couldn't be all 3 days at Irving as they were hosting The Mission (UK) on Thursday... but more on that to come below (yes, that IS what she said...).

Right, get on with it,  I arrived at Irving without tickets as my plans had been in flux re: how days I would attend. This worked out to my advantage as I was able to score a sold-out VIP pass for the price of a regular ticket from someone with extra. I was thus advanced from lowly ticket-less attendee-hopeful to backstage-buddy, as the VIP ticket allowed me to meet all the bands. I had one goal: meet Sean Brennan of London After Midnight. Mission accomplished (no, I am not punning a tease on the show reviewed below, be patient). Conveniently, I had brought the booklet for 2007's (their most recent release) "Violent Acts Of Beauty" in the off-chance that I ran in to him. He signed it and was super-friendly and approachable. He talked to me about previous LAM shows in the region over the years as well as discussed the artwork for the album. Insider info: the photo in the center IS him as a child, taken by his father with a '3D camera' so you have to hold it at arm's length and cross your eyes, etc. to see the '3D.' Sean also looked incredible, I must say. Apparently exercise and a vegan diet are working well for him!
So, to the show: all the bands were enjoyable, but special mention goes out to Psyclon Nine for their energy. They are a little to 'chuggity-wuggity' with their guitar riffs to keep me interested long or to become a huge fan (though there was certainly some great bits for me), but they have talent and massive energy so even if you don't care for them musically (as I don't), I recommend seeing them live if you get the chance. I also give them credit for trying to bring American-style Black Metal to dark electronic fans. ANYWAY, I have been a fan of London After Midnight since the mid-2000's and was mega-stoked to see them. They delivered, too. There was a running film for all the songs, reminding me of Sean's film/visual background (they ARE named after an obscure and basically lost silent film, after all!) which was entertaining, however the band kept it hard to take my eyes off them. The set was solid, with choices of all my favorite cuts from each album. I can't complain except that I would have wanted more songs. This of course was impossible as each band had a tight slot to play and LAM had to leave time for Birthday Massacre and Dawn of Ashes. I will add that LAM had some sound issues but Sean explained that there was a too-brief sound check. Honestly, they still sounded great to me, but then I am used to shows with sloppy sound (this being a benefit in some cases). Since nothing from the remaining bands could top that performance for me I skedaddled afterwords. I HIGHLY recommend London After Midnight (the band) if you like ANY 90's Goth Rock (and I think they are one of the best). What sets them apart is their political lyrics, most notable on "Violent Acts..." and catchy melancholy that doesn't forget how to rock. LAM closed their set with their classic "Sacrifice"  and I will do the same:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HmTLx4nuq4
http://www.londonaftermidnight.com/

NOW, about the Mission. I will first say that I did get to see The Sisters Of Mercy on Halloween about 7 or so years ago, so now seeing Wayne Hussey perform, it's almost like I got to see the "First, Last, and Always" line-up of SOM. Sort of. That's besides the point of this post though, the Mission stand strong on their own. Wayne's jangly guitars always interest me and he really knocks it home with some melodies on many of their songs. This was my first time seeing them and I loved every minute of it! I also got to introduce a friend to them via the show. I am quite jealous as his first exposure to them was a live performance! The tour was to support their new album "The Brightest Light" which I must say was quite enjoyable. Very catchy, delivered just about as well for me as their classic early albums (though "God's Own Medicine" will probably always be untoppable for me, I just relate too much it). The new song 'Black Cat Bone' sticks out for me quite a bit from the album.

Wayne had some interesting choices for the set as they opened AND closed with new songs though we did have to wait for 'Wasteland.' There was at least one encore (there may have been a second but I had work at 8 AM at it was already about midnight, yes I'm like an old man). The short of it is that the Mission still delivers a great live show and a great album so if you're already a fan, try to share both with them, if you're not a fan, check them out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7EkNmUb7Tc
http://www.themissionuk.com/

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Events of Late

Due to the steaming sidewalks of New York City area closely resembling the surface of Venus, I have not been venturing out and about as much. Here's some updates of my recent escapades:

Agent Cooper moment July 20th 2013: ate at Sunset Diner in Brooklyn. I of course waited until after the clouds poured their hydrating lifeblood (in liquid format) upon the scorched earth, thus making it possible for non-extremophiles to travel outside their hermetically sealed, temperature moderated domiciles. Anyway, the diner is very affordable, has GREAT food with good selection and is open 24 hrs. Located near several bus and subway stops, get your ass over here if in the area! The staff is always fantastic, with some particularly stand-out comedians and genuinely nice wait-staff. I had the chicken souvlaki platter, which consisted of (you guessed it) CHICKEN with pita bread, a greek salad, and french fries for $9.50. It was (as always) a TON of food, challenging my gastric walls to their utmost limits and was fairly priced considering it wasn't even a special. I of course finished with one of their FAMOUS donuts, made on premise (yes, many Twin Peaks reference were had); a boston creme. They deliver too, so you really don't have an excuse. GO THERE!!!

http://www.yelp.com/biz/sunset-park-diner-and-donuts-brooklyn

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I also  spent a good 4+ hrs. listening to mid 80's Hawkwind releases in (very premature) preparation for seeing them LIVE (!!!!!) in October. I am trying to swing some craziness where I see Velvet Acid Christ on the Friday before, but it is looking bleak currently. I NEED to see VAC. It is the first tour in 13 years! I am slightly regretting not flying out to Denver to see the very first show last year which kicked off the west coast tour. I am going to miss the NYC show due to travel to Iceland, but I consider that a very fair trade. Best year for many years for Northern Lights, on a tour specific to them, in ICELAND??? Definitely a swell time and worth missing VAC. Any of you who know me know my obsession with VAC, a fairly indescribable electronic band with many of the same influences in the goth, industrial, and electronic (and occasionally metal) scenes as me that blends the aforementioned genres into a unique hybrid of psychadelic bizarreness that can be beautiful, ugly, fast, slow, sad, angry, and more; all at once even. It's hard to pick a favorite album, but "BTE: Volume 3" (a collection of rare and favorite tracks in a 4 part set) and "Calling Ov The Dead" were my first listenings, followed closely by "Lust For Blood." These show a pretty good mix of VAC's abilities, but all the albums are good in my opinion. Be mindful that on "The Art of Breaking Apart" (sound familiar NIN and Soft Cell fans?) there is a fair amount of acoustic guitar parts ala Death In June but they are spectacular. The album is a bit unbalanced with the remainder being fairly dancey bits but if you have listened to VAC before the sounds are familiar and so are some surprises. It's a great album, but I don't recommend starting with it.

http://www.velvetacidchrist.com/

I have also been listening to the early Burzum albums "Burzum," "Aske," and "Hvis Lyset Tarr Oss." While I really like Burzum's music and lyrics, as well as respect his place in Metal (and electronica) music history, I must say, he is an asshole of a person. He is a huge bigot and I am glad I have never met him. His music has been less appealing lately too, with the albums feeling very rushed. I haven't listened to the most recent outing, but I am in no hurry; I get more disgusted with Varg all the time. That said, if I like your music I will support you. If you have things I disagree with in your lyrics/iconography, etc, I will take them on a case basis to determine if I will support you. It should be said that some artists' contributions are simply so important to the development of their art that you overlook some of their flaws. I would cite Richard Wagner as an example. Your private life is your own, but what you make public in your products is another (this is why I don't buy any of Varg's racist conspiracy-theory books, etc.). Additionally, I support your right to say whatever the fuck you want. It is when actions follow words that things become more real, obviously. If you want to profess bigoted messages, that is your own (confused) business. If you burn a cross on someone's lawn, that is a different story. Coming back to Black Metal, this is a complex issue in the case of some Norwegian band members (Varg included) being involved in Church burnings. The rationale was that the churches were constructed on ancient pagan holy ground and were put there after shedding much pagan blood and forcing religious change. This is true. At the same time, these events happened many many years prior. It would be more topical for them to burn a Swedish embassy, for example, as Norway was still owned by Sweden until 1905. Back to topic though (did I have a topic?) For an example of supporting Heavy Metal music with themes that are somewhat foreign to my own, read the following: I love the band Trouble who are a professed Christian Heavy Metal band. Their doomy metal is outstanding and the message, when overtly religious, is usually stuff I get behind if I take the Christian name off it (like many major tenents of many religions); i.e. living by the golden rule and 'your freedom extends as far as my nose.' Plus they get doom; slow, colossal, and with a depressive edge. I do NOT like Stryper, they are far too non-secular and their music SUCKS MAJORLY. Its description is beyond any eye rolls, sounds of disgust, or words that I currently know or have in my power to produce. As a further example (outside of music), HP Lovecraft was racist but thankfully little of it appears in his works. Additionally, his is important work in the development of horror fiction (though many of his ideas came from older authors) which allows me to overlook this flaw a bit. Also, take Robert Heinlein, he writes incredibly strong female characters often, yet is stuck in a very gender-biased mindset despite some interesting propositions and ideas about relationship opportunities (see "Stranger In A Strange Land" UNCUT edition). He's like an apologist, almost. Anyway, profess what you believe and stand for it. I will continue to like and listen to Burzum records that don't contain Varg's bigoted messages, and I will continue not to read his books that do, extrapolate ad infinitum to life in general.
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In preparation (sort of) for my upcoming transition to part outpatient, part inpatient work schedule, I decided to briefly review the history of medicine, pan-culturally! Yes, I am that boring and tedious. Anyway, I was reminded of my marked lack of Vesalius' "De Humani Corporis Fabrica" in my collection. Helpfully, it can be viewed here:

http://vesalius.northwestern.edu/index.html

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Recent Concert Reviews: Martyrdom Festival (Fri & Sat), (Micheal Aston's) GLJ, Weep

Last week was a big one for shows, so here's some brief reviews:

1. Martyrdom Festival II
I was unable to attend the Thursday pre-show or the Sunday show due to late set times and 7AM work, not to mention feeling fairly beat after Friday and Saturday's multiple hour onslaughts. Both days had good bands on their lineups but standouts for me are as follows:

FRIDAY (*in giant "The Shining" letters)
Decrepitaph- US doomy death metal done simple, done right. If you like Impetigo, Cianide, and old Incantation, you are in for a treat. I am a fan of Elekrokutioner's work in Tombstones, Father Befouled, and Encoffination so it was a treat to see this show. Not to mention it was their last as well. Way to go out with a bang, dudes, I feel privileged and honored to have been a part of it. I caught Elektrokutioner after a band on Saturday, very approachable, to ask for a signature on my Tombstones cd. After granting my request, I asked what projects he was currently working on. His main project is now Ghoulgotha. He was going to get their demo for me, but he couldn't find the guitarist to get the car keys. Oh well! I will try to get it from them on facebook. I would say a thing about the music that's posted but I can't get their player to work.
http://decrepitaph.com/
https://www.facebook.com/ghoulgotha666

Morbosidad- US brutal and interesting death/black metal, often with Spanish lyrics. They threw x2 pigs' heads into the crowd, Mayhem-style, and also ripped up and burned part of a bible. So there's that. The pigs' heads became instant mosh-pit favorites and a game of 'capture-the-head' quickly ensued. I did not participate, as I did not know how sanitary those heads indeed were. The live sound was awesome and I felt the vocal delivery was far more intense in person. How Tomas Stench was able to shake and fist bump so many fans without impaling anyone on his impressive forearm spikes remains a mystery.
https://www.facebook.com/MORBOSIDADOFFICIALPAGE

Kommandant- US political Black Metal that uses Fascist imagery to challenge and satirize the current state of American government and way of life. I have tons of respect for this band and they deserve (and will have!) their own review. The first half of the set was a bit sloppy (for them, which still means very tight), but the second half was well-rehearsed and impressive, though I think that of the three times I've seen them, the first (at Martyrdom Festival I, the second being at MDF 2013) was the best.
http://kommandant.us/

Of note, several bands (including and most notably Hellgoat) apparently decided to ritually cut their arms with razors prior to playing.

SATURDAY (*also in giant "The Shining" letters)
Shitfucker- dirty metal punk with a FOAD attitude. 'Nuff said.
http://shitfucker.bandcamp.com/

 Morpheus Descends-a fantastic NY death metal band that through circumstance missed out on being better known. I would call their sound a mix between old Incantation and old Immolation, which is quite a powerhouse! Brutal stuff. They recently reformed and did not disappoint.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Morpheus-Descends/121585741278159

Bestial Mockery- dirty, nasty, Swedish Blackened Thrash, great style when done right, as it is here! I was a big fan of their chainsaw. Thankfully they didn't think they were GISM so the chain wasn't actually on it. It did smell an awfully lot like cut grass and shrubberies though, so I guess that tool has seen some use. Members are also in Rawhide (who played Sunday) a fantastic rock n' roll band, which I recommend for Motorhead and punk fans in the metal community. Considering they (Rawhide) have a song about Twin Peaks, how could I NOT like them? Interestingly, I got into both bands independently so it was a bit of a head trip to realize the connection.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bestial-Mockery/214759051908988
http://www.patacrecords.com/distro/rawhide-branded-for-life-7-vinyl-ep-bestial-mockery-kill


2. (Micheal Aston's) Gene Loves Jezebel.
I don't care that they are a glam-goth band and are totally lame and not metal. I like them. Even the Jay Aston stuff (much more pop-oriented). The band was formed by two twin brothers who eventually broke up the band due to disagreements and (long story short) run independent versions of the band. I prefer the stuff that Micheal writes so this was awesome. He still looks pretty good and is a humorous frontman by the way! The crowd was small and pretty mixed age-wise but everybody there was super-stoked so that made for a great show! I mean, come one, they opened with 'Heartache'! They also played 'Cow,' 'Loving You Is The Best Revenge' and closed with 'Desire.' The songs sounded better live than any other version I've heard. This was due not just to the sound production and talent of the musicians, but also due to the band's ability to adjust to the crowd and adjust to maximize crowd participation, anticipation, and enjoyment. My only complaint was that they only played for about 40 minutes.
http://www.genelovesjezebel.com/Welcome.html

3. Weep
Okay, forget that this is band is the brainchild of talented painter and co-creator of the Venture Bros. TV show, Doc Hammer. Let's talk about the band. This is a modern goth rock band that sounds like it fell out of the 80's. I hear a fair amount of Joy Division AND New Order, though the band obviously takes quite a bit of influence from the likes of classics like Siouxie, Bauhaus, Southern Death Cult, Echo & the Bunnymen, etc. Very rock oriented, which I like. Doc's vocals are really the centerpiece for me though, some of the melodies are crazy-catchy and mega-melancholic. I definitely hear more of a UK sound (especially in the guitar tone) than an American one which is interesting from a US band.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weep/192814451603

Thanks for reading, and if you find anything worth checking out here, I hope you support it! Expect regular updates (for real now), I am shooting for x1 massive update/wk.

Be seeing you,
-Sam

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Agent Cooper Moment: April 6th 2013

After work in downtown Manhattan, stopped for treats near Union Square:
1. slice of grandma pie from Little Itlay Pizza III
http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/little-italy-pizza-iii/
REVIEW: best grandma pie I've had in New York. And I've tried A LOT of places.That is all.

2. one small Italian thick hot dark chocolate (expecting a different word than chocolate at the end of those adjectives? Get your head out of the gutter!) at Max Brenner's in Union Square:
http://shop.maxbrenner.com/storelocation/index/edit/id/3/
REVIEW: very viscous, extremely flavorful, hyper-chocolaty. Best hot chocolate I have EVER had. And that's saying a lot.

For those of you who have not spoken to me long enough (about 5 minutes) to know, pizza and chocolate are my favorite foods on earth, or elsewhere in the cosmos for that matter. I live for them, I'd die for them, I'd have sex with them. I am like a TMNTCOTR (teenage mutant ninja turtle constantly on the rag) and that's a fact. Especially the ninja part.

 *Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Agent Cooper Moment July 1 2013

Due to some circumstances of scheduling, I found myself hungry and in search of sustenance in the Union Square area of Manhattan. As I had been craving kielbasa for about a week prior and since I knew of a place of good reputation in the area that served such stuff, I made a stop at Little Poland. Their Yelp page can be found here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/little-poland-new-york.

 I ordered one of the specials, which included 2 pieces of kielbasa boiled then finished on the grill and wrapped in x1 piece of bacon each, along with soup (I got borsch) and x2 'veggies' (I ordered potato salad and sauerkraut). It was, excuse me, DAMN FINE food, Diane. The preparation of the kielbasa was ideal, not to mention high quality. The borsch was good, with a higher amount of veggie content than I am used to, more like I would expect of a beef stew but that someone had exchanged a letter to be a beet stew. The potato salad was more good and not at all disappointing but was not remarkable. The sauerkraut was, however, as it was a bit more on the sweet side and had carrots which made it a bit different for me, as I am accustomed to more straight cabbage and onion varieties. The service was good and fast, though admittedly I was there at about 4 PM with only about four other customers present.
NOTE: for you vegetarians and vegans out there, options here seemed very limited from my quick perusal of the menu.

Long story short: GO THERE, GET KIELBASA, EXIT HAPPY.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, May 17, 2013

Saturday May 11th, Great Day of Shows and plants!

(8am-4pm) On this day I visited the Bronx Botanical Garden with friends, got some photos before my incredibly awesome and well-functioning batteries promptly died. Then resurrected. Then died. Then dickered around deciding which they wanted to be. I got some delicious free breakfast and Garden passes from my aforementioned friends and we just beat a storm on the way home, which added satiety and fortuitousness (respectively) to the trip.






(4pm-LATE) I returned home, ate some more foodstuffs (this time courtesy of my skilled wife because I am lucky enough to get fed often). Following this, I embarked on concert extravaganza. Firstly, I made my way to Manhattan's Webster Hall for Ghost (B.C.) and Ides of Gemini (highly recommended if you like doomy occult-laden Heavy Metal bands. Highly talented female bassist/singer and drummer = BONUS.

 Reminds me of something like Royal Thunder mixed with Devil's Blood to use modern comparisons). This was of course mind-blowingly awesome. I am still absorbing Ghost's new album (which is certainly good and a competent sophomore outing), however I so far like the debut better. While not only having a terribly clever title, Opus Eponymous had thicker guitar sounds and better slow, doomy guitar slides that I love in some classic sounding rock/metal of primordial 70's sounds.


My evening not yet completed, I scurried over to Brooklyn's Saint Vitus bar for some LEGENDS. That is, I saw October 31st (for the second time!) AAAAND....(drum roll, please) OZ! Both bands sounded awesome and rocked my socks clean off. I was super worried that I would miss one or both bands as the show got announced AFTER I bought Ghost tickets so I was glad I didn't have to choose. I did miss some opening bands at the second show, but I have already seen and supported most of them.

Oz blew me away, of note having 2 very new and very young members which did NOT stop them from being awesome or cracking jokes, such as the new guitarist stating, "We wrote this one about 2 years before I was born..." I have been a fan of Oz for sometime, long having destroyed my cassette of "Fire In The Brain" through listening (not that it was in great shape for starters, that tape was battle-worn, and for good reason!). Which, I might add Marc Ruffneck signed after giving me one of his drumsticks. Mega-bonus!!! I met a different friend of mine for this show and that added a great bit for me as I stupidly grinned and headbanged away with many a fistpump, etc. even though he didn't dig either band much. However, I did get to see 2 rabbits and a cat that he was sitting, even petted one rabbit plus had one beer so this closed a fantastic, packed, well-rounded day of majestic victories!

*Review and photos (except flyers!) copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Agent Cooper Moment 5-1-13 and 5-2-13

May Day: The Wicker Man and pizza! Not traditional or complimentary, but seriously, pizza and a movie. A DAMN FINE movie. Finally watched the documentary too, and I must say  extra-thanks to Christopher Lee for not only acting in this movie for free but for practically building its cult following with your tireless belief in its quality. May the original uncut negatives be found and restored. Hail the Goddess of the Fields!

5-2-13: Northland brand Cranberry juice (100% juice, of course!) and Cadbury Royal Dark style dark chocolate after watching the long-playing Good Eats episode about dark chocolate. I was well-pleased that Alton referenced not only Star Wars (twice) but also the ancient Mayan (psychoactive) drink which became hot chocolate.
Special mention: listening to the vinyl re-issue of Suffocation's classic 'Human Waste' EP from Relapse Records (of course, its original release was the first CD release on Relapse). It is BY FAR my favorite release by Suffocation, the balance of the primitive and the technical (heavier on the primitive compared to later releases) is perfectly executed. Necessary listening for me! Since I haven't listened to the album in a while either, my old copy lost to the ages, this was an extra special treat.

*Content copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, April 26, 2013

Recent and future dearth of posts

I am currently in mass-study mode as I review topics for a possible adjustment in job position and responsibilities. Therefore, and continuation of minimal postings for the next week or two is to be expected. Never fear, frequent reader, posting will continue and upswing soon enough! Expect further Hellraiser postings and coverage of Maryland Deathfest XI when I return. That's all for now!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hellraiser Movies & More REVIEWED

Firstly, appy-polly-oggies for the dearth of posting lately. I have been busy as usual with going to concerts, listening to music (like the new Ghost album, 'Infestissumam,' for example) reading (currently "The Plague Dogs" by Richard Adams), sewing, still trying to learn to knit (attempting to make a plushy of Aylmer from the film 'Braindamage'), and etc. However, I have been dealing with some personal issues too such as a death in the family. Anyway, expect a return to regular postings and Agent Cooper stylings. I would like to add to any of my readers out there, in hard times or otherwise, the following out-of-context advice from the late Jack Horkheimer: keep looking up.

Now for something COMPLETELY different.

Hellrasier! In the thunder and heat. Hellraiser! Rock you back in your seat. Hellraiser! And I'll make it come true. Hellraiser! I'll put a spell on you.

GET ON WITH IT!!!!

Ok, ok, so I am OBSESSED with Hellraiser and associated projects. If you've known me for more than a few seconds (or especially if you've ever been to my home) this is likely VERY obvious. I imagine the posters, figurine shrine surrounded by whips and chains, and books are a decent give-away though.

Right, right, so the first Hellraiser film, released in 1987 (my birthing year!) is an undisputed classic. It expanded the way many of us thought about heaven, hell, demons, and angels. It was different but oh-too-familiar, surreal and bitingly visceral. Based on Clive Barker's short novella, "The Hellbound Heart" Hellraiser the film's main change from the book was the dynamic of the Kirsty-Rory-Julia triangle. In the novella, Kirsty is a friend and distant admirer of Rory's, never brave enough to make a move. In the film, Julia took a decidedly evil step-mother twist that served the sequel well. Both have great elements and both work well in their individual elements. However, the film was designed to open up the mythos for sequels.  Now to critique of individual elements of the film:
Characters: We have Rory figured from the start, he's designed to be simple and boring. Julia develops nicely over course of the film as we learn of her affair with Frank and as she decides  to aid him through murder. Kirsty is a MUCH stronger female character in the film and is thus interesting to watch. I do approve how her character developed throughout the series, but more on that to come. Frank is also very one-sided but you love to hate him (or maybe the reverse?). Of course the Cenobites are interesting, mystical quasi-human purveyors of experience who push all limits, with a decided tilt towards the painful. Let us now take time to remember the homeless man. He was creepy and revolting (eating a handful of live grasshoppers), but what I really dug is the sound of flying birds as he appeared or disappeared, giving him an otherworld, psychopomp-type flavor. Of course, when he morphs into a huge dragon skeleton that was pretty cool. A bit over the top and slightly misplaced I think, but cool anyway. Whatever your opinion on his demonic alter-appearance, the use of him as a spirit person who carries the box to the next user/victim was interesting.
All the parts in the film were well acted with special props to Clare Higgins as Julia.

Special Effects: best of the series (though II and IV come close), cenobite make-up included. Note Pinhead's dirty teeth. I guess the devil IS in the details. Special appreciation to the guy in the skinless Frank suit. That must have sucked.

Sets: also my favorite (also with close runners-up in II and IV, plastic brick walls in II included), the homestead really became a character in itself, the attic with and without Cenobite accoutrements was moody and effective (not to mention the lighting, THE LIGHTING).

Music: Christopher Young did probably his best work on this one (again, close follow-up on II) with tenderness, grandiosity, perversity all rolled together. It always works. Great job! Note, Coil was originally commissioned to do the soundtrack, but it was rejected. The material was later released and is interesting I think. It would have made the movie very atmospheric but I think it would have lacked the emotional pull that Young pulled off.


HELLRAISER II: HELLBOUND (1988)
Most of the crew from the 1st hung around, with Clive Barker writing though not directing this outing. Pinhead's backstory is 'fleshed' out, hahaha, nice and graphic-like. The fiery hammer was a great touch. The basic plot is that Kirsty has been committed after the events of the 1st film. The head Psychiatrist at the ward has been following the box (LeMarchand's Box or the Lament Configuration) for some time and seeks to exploit Kirsty and his patients to unleash its power. Most of the film takes place in the hell of the cenobites, 'The Labyrinth.' Kirsty gets tougher and Julia gets bitchier while also crushing her former lover, tormentor, and enslaver, Frank Cotton. This film basically turns into 2 female wills pitted against each other for the honor of the Cotton family while 2 male wills (Channard the Psychiatrist and Pinhead) duke it out for control of hell (Julia's place is apparently well cemented). Interestingly, 2 female wills team up against Pinhead in the 3rd film. The story is a bit contrived and sloppy compared to the 1st film, but the results are fun anyway. If you liked the 1st film, SEE this one too. Note, there is a ton of lost footage including some where the Cenobites wear surgical gowns. This was featured on some of the VHS packaging (and I believe some other promo shots/press kits) though the scenes never made it into the film.

Characters: decent development of existing characters and some interesting new ones, though I wish we discovered more about Tiffany.

Special Effects/Makeup: probably equally as good as the 1st. Skinless Julia looks great and I love the maggot skin, not to mention Channard's penis tube head thing.

Sets: good, a bit overdone or underdone for the hell scenes, you gotta love the flimsy walls and matte paintings.

Music: fantastic continuation of the themes from the 1st, Young expands them and creates new ones to give the film more grandiosity and majesty, as we are dealing much more closely with Hell itself. Note, he used Morse code for G-O-D on horns when Leviathan, Lord of the Labyrinth appears. Brilliant.

HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992)
Plot: The pillar that Pinhead was encased in at the end of HII: HB is purchased by a nightclub owner who accidentally releases the Cenobite to run amok in NYC while a reporter is covering the news thusly created. Features a great scene of Pinhead desecrating a church.

Characters: Joey was supposed to be tough but she was kind of boring. Terri was attractive but took a bit too long to get her shit together and fight back against her abusive boyfriend. I would love to have had more development of her character. It goes without saying that every fanboy would have loved to have more development of her relationship with Joey (hinted, but not confirmed). JP was one-sided but he was supposed to be. His acting was still a bit lame at parts though. Doug Bradley's dual performance as Pinhead and Elliot Spencer was cool, with an interesting albeit confusing  and poorly explained separation of the collective entity into these two characters. Some decent lines in this one, but overall weaker than the previous which was weaker than the 1st. Of course a set up for a sequel was left in the end. Note, 3 versions of this film exist. The is a standard cut, an 'uncut' one, and a truly 'uncut' one. The standard version was available on VHS and a shitty (Canadian?) DVD for a number of years. The 'uncut' version was released a few years ago on DVD and features some more gore (though not much) and some extended scenes. The REAL uncut one is to my knowledge only available on VHS and though it contains minimal extra gore, it does have a tiny bit more nudity. Mostly though it is extended or build up scenes. You are fine with the DVD version.

Sets: Church and nightclub (pre- and post-massacre) well done. Otherwise, I would have liked to see more of NYC get devastated. The film is called 'Hell On Earth' after all, not 'Hell in a Nightclub, Churhc, and a Reporters' Dreams.' Special nod to the Pillar that Pinhead rests in, excellent improvement from the end of HII: HB.

Special Effects/Makeup: Pinhead's pins are too wobbly through most of the film and his scars aren't deep enough. The Cenobites are also the dullest of the series, though that's a concept problem. I did like the ''Barbie" Cenobite and the Terri Cenobite was interesting but we didn't get enough screen time.  The massacre scene has some decent props but the execution of the violence was weak, minimal squibs and most of it was props to look at with minimal movement to give the makeup life.

Music: The film had a score by Randy Miller that mostly took from Christopher Young's work but added some darker, gothier overtones. Not enough originality for me to go bonkers over it but what he did was good regarding Pinhead. Regarding scenes of chaos and destruction: way too weak and cheesy. The film also had a soundtrack featuring Motorhead performing Hellraiser (not Ozzy), another Motorhead tune 'Hell on Earth' which was very slow and moody, an interesting piece in Motorhead's catalog. Also features 'Ooh La La' by KMFDM, but that's one of my least favorite of their songs and turned me off them for a while since it was the first tune I ever heard by them. However, the film does feature the only good song by Triumph I've ever heard, 'Troublemaker.'

THAT'S ALL FOR NOW. More Hellraiser and related stuff to come. The rest should come more quickly, it goes downhill pretty quickly at this point, with some exceptions. Until then, patience. "Some things have to be endured, that's what makes the pleasures so sweet..."
I have such sights to show you....

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recent Agent Cooper Moments

April 6th 2013 (Union Square treats):

Slice of Grandma pie from Little Italy III pizza. Fair $$$. I love their sauce, their is something magical in it that might be beef broth. I don't care, it's damn good pizza. Sauce is sweet with a late tang and savory finish. Crust is light with gentle crunch and good give-away; not overly crunchy and not soppy spongy either. Cheese is well balanced but it is not what makes the pizza. I recommend it if you are in the area, but it's probably not worth the trip out if you aren't nearby. I am a bona-fide TMNT-quality pizza lover, so expect some future pizza reviews.

menu, directions, etc. on the web:
http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/little-italy-pizza-iii/menu

Italian Thick Hot Chocolate (Dark Chocolate) from Max Brenner's. Expensive $$$, but worth it. I REALLY like hot chocolate and this is the BEST I've ever had. Max makes great chocolate in general, but this is remarkable. The flavor on any of their varieties (white, regular, dark chocolate) is intense and creamy. The thickness is perfect too, the beverage has legitimate density as it passes your mouth. I don't have the words to accurately describe the mouthgasm you will have if you like hot chocolate. GET ONE!

website for chain:
http://www.maxbrenner.com/

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
April 7th, 2013.

I found a mulberry-scented candle at a local drugstore in Sunset Park, Brooklyn from Old Williamsburgh Candle. It was cheap, locally made, and the scent interested me so I checked it out. WOW, powerful scent and very clean, no waxy undercurrent. I had it lit all day. The after-scent in the room after I extinguished it was also quite enjoyable and potent (though not offensively so). The drugstore had also several fruity scents such as watermelon, black cherry, strawberry, etc. All were super-vibrant and authentic. The website lists several more scents, so I need to check these candle-makers out some more.

http://www.oldwilliamsburgh.com/

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Saturday, April 6, 2013

...And Now For Something COMPLETELY Different...

Different from the recent lack of posting, that is. I've been VERY busy lately, working on a new (1st finished) Susto track (Death Metal) for a planned EP, working on a new patch jacket (back finished, just a few more left on front for now), going to shows (such as April 5th's incredible show: Evil Army w support from Birth A.D, Brooklyn Militia, and Bomb Scare and March 30th's unbelievable show: Incantation with Evoken, Derketa, and Funerus), working extra late and extra hard, NOT sleeping, making cooking fails (velveeta and noodle casserole, why did you ever seem like a good idea???), committing a faux pas in a Santeria store, listening to and digitally transferring some Heavy Metal from my vinyl collection, watching Peter Cushing movies (Frankenstein Created Woman, House of Long Shadows), taking photos of knit creatures and learning to knit myself (I cannot yet), and (of course) having Agent Cooper moments. Expect some posts describing some of these events in detail and chronicling new ones. I also need to do a post reviewing the ENTIRE Hellraiser film series, The Hellbound Heart novella, and select comics. Maybe even some of the posters and soundtracks. Toys even. YES I am obsessed. ...I have such sights to show you...

Until then, keep vigilant faithful readers!
-Sam

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Agent Cooper Moment Wednesday March 27th 2013

1. pot of Lapsang Souchong tea from Ten Ren (Brooklyn)- tastes an awful lot like drinking a campfire. Strong, dark, and robust tea that happens to be my favorite tea ever to pass my mouth.
LINK: http://www.tenren.com/newyork.html

2. "Astral Mantras of Dyslexia" (Funeral In Heaven/Plecto Aliquem Capite split album on vinyl)- Sri Lankan psychedelic Black Metal. What atmosphere! What ambience! Includes very 'traditional' sounds and is steeped in Sri Lankan occultism. If this sounds even remotely interesting, don't bother reading a review full of spoilers, just get it! ...Or listen to it on youtube. THEN get it!!!!
LINKS: https://www.facebook.com/funeralinheaven, https://www.facebook.com/plectoaliquemcapite

3. Reading the previously reviewed "Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants."

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Monday, March 25, 2013

Mortillery (Band Review)

Mortillery (Canada)- Thrash Metal
WEBSITE: http://www.mortillery.com/

DISCOGRAPHY:
Mortillery (demo)
Murder Death Kill
Origin of Extinction

A ripe old band formed way back in 2009, Mortillery's still got lots to offer. Female-fronted, (Cara McCutchen. She also sings for Minax, worth checking out for some Thrash with even more traditional Heavy Metal overtones if that sounds appealing and you like her voice) with a female bassist, I am already interested! I love it when the gals show the guys that they are just as (or more!) tough. On that topic, Cara's vocals are probably my favorite part of this band. What a scream! Great raspy near-talking singing drops for some near-growls and screams. She's no King Diamond, nor is she trying to be, just damn good raspy vocals with a respectable range and good control. The guitars have some nice hooks and the drumming has a fair bit of punk tinge (as I think it should). You won't find the most ripping tracks ever here (at least not all the time!) but the albums are definitely worth a listen if you like Thrash and the idea of a 2/5 female band sounds exciting. I have ordered from the band directly for a shirt and the demo, they were super-appreciative and shipped my stuff quickly. So order with confidence. There are several colored vinyl versions of the 2 full-lengths, so check out their site if you want them (they look awesome, I am envious as I have the CD versions of all releases).

Favorite songs:
"Nuclear Disaster" from Mortillery demo. Decent hooks and speed, sticks in my head somehow more than the other tracks from the release. Sound quality more than acceptable, almost as good as the full-lengths except that the bass is barely audible in the mix.

"Murder Death Kill" title track from 1st full-length, the first Mortillery song I heard. Opening riff is nice and dirty then adds some Speed Metal elements over a gurgling bass, we get a break then the song takes off with a scream and some decent riffage throughout with good tempo changes. "Fritz's Cellar" also off Murder Death Kill, DEFINITELY has thick Speed Metal sound, catchy as hell. On the selfsame album, "Countless Suicide" has a great main riff but the song doesn't vary enough to make it a major stand-out track but I like it anyway. "Without Weapons" has an interesting opening riff that feels distinctly to me like early Metallica and with a little patience we get some nice vocal work here that makes me really like this track.

Now for the 'Origin of Extinction' album! "Battle March" is a great instrumental intro with an interesting time signature, followed by some melodic guitar work on "No Way Out" that breaks into some good mid-paced Thrash with NWOBHM touches. Nice. Next is "Cease to Exist" with a tough riff notable, but otherwise not stand-out for me. The next two tracks continue on in enjoyable Mortillery-style but again don't stand-out. "Feed the Fire" gives us a slow but short chunky guitar intro followed by some fast riffage that keeps fairly interesting but I think this song would be even better if shorter to keep its power up, but that's just me. "The Hunter's Lair" is tough and fast, really like this one. Vocals again dance with NWOBHM along with the very Bathory-esque delivery and high screams. SOLID. "F.O.A.D." also super-solid with fast drum intro and in-your-face delivery of all instruments with great hooks. "Maniac" has a good chorus and bridge but a tiny let-down after the last 2 tracks. "Sunday Morning Slasher" has a solid bass intro and catchy tough riffage that is an acceptable album closer that speeds up nicely to cervical strain levels for you headbangers out there.

In short, Mortillery has a fantastic vocalist and bassist with exciting guitar hooks and tight punk-tinged drumming with song structures that are at their best when the band plays with tempo and lets their Speed and Heavy Metal influences shine alongside their thrash and punk ones.

NOTE: digipack version of 'Origin of Extinction' has 3 cover songs (Razor, Anthrax, and Angelwitch). The Angelwitch is my favorite (probably because out of the original versions it is also my favorite, ha!), Cara makes the chorus even catchier than it was before, I think. So I have been in an Angelwitch mood now, thanks Mortillery!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Music Care and Protection Materials- Recommended Site

THE WEBSITE: http://www.sleevecityusa.com/
They sell all sorts of music archival and care products.

THE STORY:
Due to an overwhelming hoard of musical treasures, I decided to look into some protection and storage options. Specifically for this review, I decided to remove all the jewel cases from applicable CDs and replace with plastic sleeves to decrease the amount of space my CDs consume. This is especially important in my tiny Brooklyn, NY apartment. Since I MUST save all relevant artwork, INCLUDING the back art, regular CD booklets and most sleeves do not allow this. After searching around the internet for 5x6 in sleeves, finding several independent stores and ebay sellers, etc., I discovered Sleeve City USA. After perusing the website, the company's mission statements, satisfaction guarantee, and so forth, I decided to order some sleeves.

THE ORDER:
I ordered 25 bags of 100 sleeves to cover my collection and leave me about 500 extra. The order shipped EXTREMELY quickly and arrived precisely as they described. Shipping charges were exactly what it cost them at the post office. The cost of the sleeves was cheaper per unit than anywhere else on the internet that I could find, however the company offered an ADDITIONAL reduction in price for orders over 5 units. Oh bliss and satisfaction, I found ye here. There total price cost me about $99 with shipping, whereas about 2000 would have cost me around $150 WITHOUT shipping.

FINAL WORD:
Order from these guys if you need any of their products!

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

"The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and It's Applications" by Christian Ratsch (Book Review)

ISBN #: 978-089281978-2


Long have I lusted after this book, having discovered it in a 'used' bin at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area, but that is another posting, I suppose). For some time psychoactive substances and culture have been of interest to me, even moreso now in my profession as a Physical Therapist as I see the effects of various medications on my clients. What I love about this book is that it combines the history, biology, chemistry, and cultural significance and use of the plants it discusses (as the title suggests, haha). It has already helped to bridge my understanding of various topics because it is wondrously pan-disciplinary (and I am just starting it!). Though I would ordinarily refuse to review anything before I've finished it, I feel confident making a review having so far only read the forward, introduction (etc, etc) and a few plant entries as the rest of the entries follow the same set-up and a quick perusal ensured the same quality. The author's style is extremely knowledgeable, based on a lifetime of academic research and personal experiences; direct and informative. My kind of writing (though not yet my style, ha!).

If you are interested in the use of psychoactive plants or even in ritual/magical practices across various cultures, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Criticisms: PRICE. This book will set you back at least $70+ but it is SO worth it.

P.S. special thanks to my partner for buying this for me for my birthday. NO THANKS to the USPS for losing it once.

*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

1st "Agent Cooper" moment of the day

As suggested by my hero, Agent Cooper in the TV Series, "Twin Peaks," once a day, treat yourself, whether it be a new tie or a cup of coffee. Don't plan it, just let it happen.

Today's was a cup of Celestial Seasonings 'Lemon Zinger' tea with a drop of honey added, served with Bora Bay (artificial) banana flavored thin crisps. I am usually a loud opponent of artificial banana flavors (Runts be gone!) but this was acceptable and added to the flavor.

On the topic of Twin Peaks, for those of you Peaks Freaks in Readerland that don't already have it, pick up the Gold Edition of the series, it is worth every cent and has everything you need (except the TP:FWWM film), including BOTH versions of the pilot and ALL Log Lady intros. The volume of the episodes is still jumpy (probably moreso than on the VHS if memory serves) but that's David Lynch's preferred way to present it, from near inaudible admissions to near-painful blasts.

Right, to the treats for me!

*Reviews copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*

Friday, March 22, 2013

Horror Vacui (Band review)

Horror Vacui (Italy)- Death Rock
MEMBERS:
 The Sheriff - vocals
Andrew - Guitar
Mrs. Vacui - Guitar
Pandora - Bass
Henry - Drums

SOUNDS LIKE: Chameleons (UK), Nosferatu (UK), Christian Death/Rozz Williams (California, USA).
The guitars have the great catchiness of The Chameleons, Nosferatu, and Christian Death with the masterful use of effects that The Chameleons possess. Heavy atmospheres as per Chameleons and Rozz Williams' early Christian Death work. The song structures are similar to all three aforementioned bands in that they are direct and on the simpler side which makes for straight-forward listening. The band takes a strong and clear stance against fascism, sexism, and racism which is greatly appreciated by yours truly. The lyrics are good, not as obscure as Chameleons or Christian Death, but I like them better than Nosferatu's limited (though enjoyable!) fare. As for a criticism, the songs are a bit similar in sound, but the same can be said for Nosferatu I think. I contacted the band to order the live album, they are SUPER-friendly and I had no problems getting it shipped from Italy to USA. I recommend getting some releases from the band and ordering the full-length from HPGD (expect positive of many of their releases from me in the future!), I will closely be following this group for sure!!!

RELEASES:
Black Rivers (demo)- CD, 2011
Can You Still See Reality- 7", 2011
In Darkness You Will Feel Alright- debut full-length CD, 2011
(Full-length available at http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/store/hpgd053.html)

A tape is available from the band that combines the LP and 7" as well as a live show from December 2012. To obtain, contact the band on their fb at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Horror-Vacui/230480293648769

*Review and photos copyright The Samnambulist, 2013*