Archive for May, 2015

Written and Directed by Oren Peli

Currently available on most Video on Demand platforms

 area 51

Review by Theron Moore

I don’t think I’m going too far when I boldly assert that the new sci-fi thriller, “Area 51,” has been the most talked about, anticipated UFO genre film since Spielberg made “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in 1977.  And when I heard the film was made found footage style with Oren Peli of “Paranormal Activity” fame writing and directing it, I was honestly over the moon, I couldn’t wait.  So the $64,000 question is, did I like it, was it good?  The answer:  An overwhelming YES, I recommend this movie.

Here’s the long and short of it.  A group of young adults, led by the intrepid Reid, hatch a plan to break into Area 51.  Along for the ride is a girl whose father worked at the facility and died under mysterious circumstances.  Amongst the assortment of important papers he left behind is a map that’ll guide our heroes in their quest to discover what secrets are kept at the base. The kids have figured out a way to breach the perimeter and enter the facility.  And if you’re saying to yourself “why haven’t the Russians or Chinese figured this out yet?” that’s called a plot complication.  Leave it alone.  Just go with it.  Remember, it’s only a movie, it’s not meant to be real.

Inside Area 51 we finally see what it looks like.  The first floor is office space.   Everything else beyond that is industrial & scientific.  Lots of concrete, metal piping, gauges, air ducts and vault like rooms.  Nothing fancy.  It’s sparse, even bleak not to mention huge.  It’s located a mile underground with 40+ floors.

Eventually we see a lab chock full of creepy strangeness, a captured UFO and become privy to things we should never be witness to.  And that’s where I stop.  I won’t go any further because I don’t want to give the movie away.  Even if you hate found footage movies give “Area 51” an honest shot.  It has some real, genuine tense moments plus Peli’s vision of Area 51 is quite intriguing in and of itself.

The obvious criticism, though, is that it plays out like a video game, like a “first shooter,” but that’s the downside of making a found footage movie — it’s going to have this look and feel since it’s primarily first person perspective that’s driving the flick.

And like most Oren Peli projects “Area 51” takes its time building the plot before we really get into the “meat” of the movie somewhere around the 35-40 minute mark slowly building suspense and tension in the viewer, priming us for whatever horrors might reside inside the non-existent base later on.

I would also expect the UFO crowd to notice that Peli might’ve taken a little artistic leeway combining bits and pieces of possible Dulce myth with Area 51.  Not enough to sway the movie one way or another but enough nuance to cue in to it if you know what you’re looking for.  To his credit, though, the scene where the kids touch the UFO might be loosely based on David Adair’s experience at Area 51 back in the early 70’s, so kudos to Peli for that great inclusion if indeed he intended to do that.

And we briefly see the aliens, quick shots, that’s it; Peli’s signature technique he developed with his “Paranormal Activity” franchise, showing us only what we need to see and nothing more.   I know this bothered many people who were expecting some kind of big CGI reveal but it’s the fleeting glimpse of whatever these creatures are that get inside your head and play mind games with you.  It’s not necessarily what you see that frightens you but rather what you don’t see that may be hiding or watching you from afar, that truly terrifies you.  Peli has effectively used the power of mystery as a weapon to attack the viewer with.

Reid and Janna

The movie was shot in three distinct acts – Act I:  Introduction to the characters.   Act II:  The build up to Area 51.  Act III:  Inside Area 51.  He also did a fantastic job blending genres with this film effectively making “Area 51” both a horror movie and sci-fi thriller, treading that fine line without going too far in either direction. I use the term “horror movie” in the sense that the actual facility in the film can be thought of as a gigantic haunted house — there’s “something” evil in there, maybe many evil “things;” lurking, waiting.  And our protagonists have to enter Area 51, the “haunted house,” complete their mission, confront the evil and live to tell the tale.

The sci-fi thriller aspect of “Area 51” is what drives the movie and triggers the horror component creating suspense, allowing it to build slowly, methodically, upping the scare factor so when we do see the aliens, what little we do see, we’re taken aback, and when we see the UFO or the mad scientist lab we’re properly shocked and amazed.

I’ve read negative reviews of “Area 51” and I think it may have to do with the fact that a lot of moviegoers have been brainwashed by Hollywood and their overuse of CGI special FX.  Nowadays movie plots seem secondary to the special effects which more often than not are tasked with telling a story and in some cases, become characters within the film itself.   It’s almost like we’ve become so used to the big Hollywood FX that when it comes to this style of film making we instantly go ADHD and hate the film.

Peli makes movies the old fashioned way.  He tells stories and he takes time telling you these stories.  He builds suspense, hits you with a kidney punch then ends the movie abruptly, not allowing you to process what you’ve seen.  He makes you feel uncomfortable and he’s good at it.

From what I was told, there was no script per se, just a treatment.  The actors were basically told to improvise their parts with the majority of the movie being shot in one take giving the film that “real time,” quick feel to it, as if it’s happening right here, right now. Peli also included appearances by Glenn Campbell, Norio Hayakawa and George Knapp, well-respected individuals in the UFO community to give the film that extra boost of authenticity, which they did, and very well I might add.  Peli did his homework with this film and I commend him for that.  It’s always the details that we take notice of.

If you’re looking for fast food movie making with lots of big, loud, flashy CGI and need a UFO fix, watch “Independence Day.”  Show Will Smith a little love.  If you’re interested in something more, something with teeth and edge, watch “Area 51.”  Appreciate it for what it is.  It won’t win academy awards but it damn well entertains.

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By Theron Moore

morta skuld logo

One of the bands I really got into back in the late 80’s / early 90’s was Milwaukee’s Morta Skuld.  I saw them covered in another zine and decided to check them out myself.  They were and still are an amazing band.  For me personally, they epitomized what death metal was all about.

So I got hold of one of two demos they had available – “Prolong the Agony.”  “Gory Departure” was the other one.  And it didn’t disappoint.  It lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Dave Gregor and Morta Skuld have always been, in my opinion, one of the most unsung, underrated bands in the death metal genre.  They’re as heavy now as they were back in the day.

Church of the Necronomicon (COTN):  Please introduce yourself.  What instrument do you play in Morta Skuld?

 

Dave Gregor:  I’m Dave Gregor Guitarist/ vocalist.

COTN:  Do you think Milwaukee ever had an opportunity between ’91 and 2000 to become the next nationally recognized metal scene?

Dave Gregor:  I do and think it got to a certain point and then the music shifted as it normally does.  And with the Metal fest it put Milwaukee on the map.

COTN:  Had Morta Skuld enjoyed national success do you think it would’ve drawn attention to Milwaukee and turned that into the next hot metal scene perhaps? If not how close was Milwaukee to enjoying that kind of national success?  I mean Metalfest was a huge magnet to the city.  Do you think it had a huge influence on the metal scene in Milwaukee?

Dave Gregor:  I think not touring hurt us and the fact that we played the metal fest almost every year helped us to stay viable in the death metal scene.  And with metal fest being here it made Milwaukee a hot spot for many years. And I do think it had big influence on the scene for sure.

COTN:  I’ve been a fan of you guys going all the back to your “Prolong the Agony” demo.  Why didn’t it happen for you on a national level, on an MTV type scale?

 

Dave Gregor:  The type of music we play wasn’t played on MTV back in the day and we never did any videos to be played anyway. Our main label was Peaceville which we put out 3 albums on then moved to Pavement music. Right now we are working with local label Dread Records.

COTN:  Tell me about Jack Koshick and Morta Skuld.  I would imagine he is / was an amazing mentor / friend.  How has he helped you guys and how significant / important has Jack been in the Milwaukee metal scene in your opinion?

Dave Gregor:  Jack was awesome and took care of us very well.  He got us a lot of shows at the Rave with the best death metal bands at that time.  He wasn’t a mentor but more a manager, and he in my opinion put the fest on the map as well as the town.  So he was big part of the scene and where it was going.

prolong the agony

COTN:  What drove the Milwaukee metal scene to develop as strong and influential as it did in the late 80’s, early 90’s?  Do you think the alt / punk scene helped or influence it?

Dave Gregor:  I just think all of us who were into the music scene wanted to do something cool and new and at that time death metal was new. There were a lot of classic demos released in the scene in 1990 and that I think that paved the way for each band to feed off one another’s music and energy.

COTN:  Looking back on the Milwaukee metal scene of the 80’s and 90’s, was it as strong and dynamic as you remember it or if not, how do you remember it and how do you it see now?

Dave Gregor:  It was much better back then and more fruitful, but then again I was much younger and my view on things have changed a lot since then. But I remember a lot of shows and just tons of kids coming out and music being so much more a way of life then I do now. Now it’s “Can I afford to pay the rent or car payment?” versus “let’s get drunk and write a demo.”

COTN:  What’s the scene like today compared to back then?  Better, worse…

Dave Gregor:  It’s not what it once was but then again a lot of us are older and have kids and families so in that aspect things are much different. But I feel it was much more dynamic and organic back then as opposed to today. I do feel the bands are really trying to make the scene bigger and a lot of bands supporting one another.

COTN:  Tell me about Morta Skuld in the 90’s.  I remember you making a few records and then…it kind of stopped.

Dave Gregor:  Well we were on fire and wrote four albums in eight years so things were great until we found out one of the band guys didn’t want to tour. That hurt us and we didn’t realize it until the band was almost done. We passed up a lot of good opportunities.

COTN:  When did you know it was time to end Morta Skuld?  What were the events leading up to the band’s demise?  You formed another band after MS, right?

Dave Gregor:  We went on tour and our first gig was supporting Slayer at the Eagles ballroom. Then as we got closer to our second gig our drummer had some issues and then it was known he wasn’t into touring and we had to cancel everything and come home to no label no manager and no band. Sucked as we would be on the road today if things would have been different.

COTN:  And what convinced you to reunite and give the band a second shot?  What’s the status of the band now?

Dave Gregor:  Our old manager wanted to have the first two demos on CD and we went into studio and remastered it and then Eric Grief got us a deal with Relapse and that sparked us to get the band back together and perform. We are active and currently writing a new album with the new line up.

morta skuld group photo

COTN:  When you’re not playing in Morta Skuld what day jobs do you guys hold down?

Dave Gregor:  Nothing exciting just average jobs, factory warehouse etc.

COTN:  What label are you on today, what records do you have out and are you considering touring?

Dave Gregor:  We are on Dread Records and released an EP last year. We would love to tour but it is hard with no support and we all know to tour you need money. We are doing out of state gigs this year to expand our fan base and hopefully tour next year.  Thank you for this interview and your support and thank you to all the fans that allow us to do this and bring the music to the ears of people whom want to hear it. Cheers!

By Theron Moore

Vulcano

Bloody Vengeance

Greyhaze Records

Release Date May 18 2015

Vulcano BV Cover_WEB

Greyhaze Records is set to unearth Bloody Vengeance, the 1986 full-length debut from Brazilian death metal pioneers VULCANO.

Formed in 1980, VULCANO is thought to be the first band from Brazil, and possibly South America, to play extreme metal. An early influence for the likes of SEPULTURA and SARCOFAGO, VULCANO’s primal blend of black, thrash and death metal sparked a flame that quickly spread across the mid-80s underground metal community.

Considered one of the most important albums in South American (and beyond) extreme metal, Bloody Vengeance is being reintroduced to a new generation of maniacs. Fully remastered and restored, the album is accompanied by a DVD that features a live performance from the 1986 Festival Da Morte. Greyhaze Records will reissue this cult classic as a six-panel digipak CD/DVD on May 18.

The above was the press release.  Here’s the review:  “Bloody Vengeance” kicks ass.  I dig going back to the roots of anything I’m into and this record paints a great picture of where thrash was in 1986.  Tight, fast and aggressive in the vein of Possessed and maybe early Death as well.  I guess it’d be labelled “primitive” by today’s standards but I’ll take primitive over technical or progressive or whatever the hell we’re calling today’s more extreme types of metal.  Vulcano strips away the outer core of bullshit that tends to constrain a lot of today’s bands and plays from the heart.  No frills, no effects, just music.  Buy this record.

www.facebook.com/vulcanometal

www.greyhazerecords.com

www.facebook.com/greyhazerecords

Kastasyde

Gnosis

Self-Released

Release Date June 2 2015

kastasyde

Wow.  First track of “Gnosis,” “Natural State,” goes right for the throat with just a hint of old school punk, maybe?  I swear I heard trace glimpses of Minor Threat throughout this record.  “Gnosis” marks the third release from Chicago’s own Kastasyde.

There’s a lot going on here with this record musically.  It’s not thrash and I’m not even sure if it’s metal.  It’s loud, heavy rock that isn’t afraid to explore different sonic territories.  Tracks 3 and 4, “Gnosis” and “In the Spiral” are, dare I say, the slower tracks on the record.  “Gnosis” starts out quiet and grows in ferocity even taking a groove approach at times while “In the Spiral” is a doomy, acoustic piece that revels in what I took to be anger and sadness, with an almost introspective type vibe.

I like “Gnosis” as a record a lot.  It’s not purporting to be anything but heavy, loud, well thought out and well executed rock N roll.  They hit the mark with this record.  Check this band out and definitely pick up “Gnosis” ASAP.

www.facebook.com/kastasyde

Dysentery

Fragments

Comatose Music

Release Date July 10 2015

dysentery

I love death metal especially when it’s done the right way.  “Fragments” defines my last statement.  Gutteral vocals that accentuate the band’s juggernaut approach, musically crushing their way through each song.  This one’s heavy.  Certainly in the vein of bands like Pathology, Katalepsy and one of my favorites, Abominable Putridity.  There’s not a bad track on here which makes this a must for true death metal fans.  Posers beware.

From the press release:  Fragments was engineered, mixed and mastered by Adam Rourke at the RedRoom in Waltham, MA to ensure a high quality aural clobbering. To match the musical intensity, the band enlisted Marco Hasmann (Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septycal Gorge) to help bring the visual pummeling to life with the cover art. In support of the release, the band will be making their way all over the US in 2015 to spread their volatile death metal attack. Appearances at the Las Vegas Deathfest, Building Temples From Death Fest, Colorado Gutfest, New Jersey Deathfest and a tour of the west coast are just the beginning of their campaign of carnage. With the subtlety of a brick to the face, DYSENTERY are primed to once again to decimate eardrums with Fragments.

www.facebook.com/dysenterygrind

www.comatosemusic.com

www.facebook.com/comatosemusiclabel

 

Undead

False Prophecies

Listenable

Release: 12 May 2015

undead

Goddamn “False Prophecies” is kick ass!  Fast, moshy, heavy death metal with spot on perfect vocals.  Undead reminds me of a faster, heavier Venom or early Death but fuck it, this band is all its own, they follow no one.  “False Prophecies” is that type of record where you can’t stop listening to it; it gets in your head and demands to be listened to over and over.

Everything from the vocals to the music itself is spot on perfection with Undead’s “False Prophecies.”  This record is in my top ten best of the year right now regardless of what’s to come.

www.undeadofficial.com www.listenablerecords.net

www.facebook.com/listenablerecs

Witch of the Waste

Made of Teeth

Self-Release

Release: 24 March 2015

witch of the waste art

From the press release:  The band’s influence are diverse, ranging from CONVERGE to ULCERATE to RUSSIAN CIRCLES, and many points in between. WITCH OF THE WASTE’s stage show is a ferocious one, to say the least, recalling acts like THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and CEPHALIC CARNAGE.

My review:  Loud, chaotic and frantic.  It’s an experiment in aural anxiety that’s owing as much to the bands mentioned above as well as some black metal as well.  But is it good?   Hell yes.  Is it thrash or metal?  No.  It’s what I’d call “Noize Rock” straddling metal, post hardcore, and even some grind elements.  And Witch of the Waste is good at it.  They’ve taken this somewhat new genre and made it their own with “Made of Teeth,” which is an apt description of their music, lots of edge, and lots of teeth.  Buy it, check it out, it’s worth your attention.  Fits nicely in between Converge, Dillinger Escape Plan, even Helmet.

https://witchofthewaste.bandcamp.com/ https://www.youtube.com/user/WitchOfTheWasteBand https://twitter.com/TheWotw https://soundcloud.com/witchofthewaste http://witchofthewaste.bigcartel.com/ https://instagram.com/wotwband/ https://www.facebook.com/witchofthewaste http://witchofthewaste.com/