Archive for May, 2012


Music Review: Six Feet Under – Undead

Chris Barnes gets the band almost back on track with simple and consistent pummeling

It’s been so long since Six Feet Under released a few songs worthy of my ears that this feels right. SFU, with their new lineup, take things back to how they were on the first three albums, and throw in a few riffs that could have been on Cannibal Corpse‘s early work. 18 Days, for example. The band sounds in control even as vocalist Chris Barnes starts barking midway as if to protect his weed from pesky stray dogs in the lane.

Barnes, revered for the phenomenal growling he did as the first vocalist of Cannibal Corpse, is now also known for his poor singing on and the silly lyrics he wrote for Six Feet Under‘s last many albums. He sounds just fine singing about his ‘victims’ and their state (missing, lifeless, raped, limbless and other such joyful conditions) and not so fine ranting against anti-drug laws and the criminalization of marijuana users (even if we consider Victim Of The Paranoid one of SFU‘s better songs). He sounds so comfortable singing about how he feels free to kill on Blood On My Hands that you believe the pothead has a fantasy of murdering and getting away with it.

Most of the songs on Undead are not even worth a second listen unless you’re a big fan of Six Feet Under. The album wants to go death n’ roll but doesn’t stop trying to be CC of the Barnes era. The guy must be stoned all the time if he can’t tell how bad his highs (we’re talking about his singing) are, and not even a three-year-old would be scared by the way he goes “Eeeee!”. SFU‘s early work showed an effort at songwriting: it was groovy and catchy as fuck, with Barnes vomiting golden lines like, “I pull your insides out through your lipless mouth.”

It’s weird that the new lineup hasn’t made all that much of a difference to Six Feet Under‘s output. Still, Undead is not as bad as you’d expect a new album from SFU to be, and would be likable if it wasn’t such a disjointed effort. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t use words like ‘disjointed’, for they might make Barnes rasp all the way to the studio for another bong hit.

RATING: 2.5/5

FREE LISTEN: Solar Deity’s In The Name Of Satan

Music Review: Cannibal Corpse’s Torture

Movie Review: Department


Film Review: The Grey

Liam Neeson teaches blizzards and a pack of wolves that he is too fucking alpha for them

“You’re not the animals. We’re the animals!” shouts a man into the darkness. He severs the head of the wolf the group is roasting and flings it to the eyes that see them but they can’t see. Silence respects that moment of anger, and acknowledges the men’s collective will to overcome the hardships they are yet face and to come out of their ordeal alive. The silence is then broken by the dark forest howling back at them, and the group of men understands that they can’t intimidate what is hunting them down one by one.

“The Grey” is hardly a movie about wolves. It’s a movie about something much more than fighting wild animals in terrible weather.

Liam Neeson plays a sharpshooter who guards people from wolves. After a plane crash in an icy region, he leads a group of survivors from the wreckage to a forest far away where they might be sheltered not only from the wolves, whose den they are close to, but also the blizzards that give the men a break only once every few hours. The blizzards are relentless because that’s how nature can be, and the wolves are pissed off because the group is in their territory. Of the seven survivors, a few are torn apart by the pack of wolves, while some die in accidents trying to find their way out, and one gives up and chooses to not return to his life of drilling in the day and drinking at night and stops by the lake from where he can see the trees and mountains and decides that the spot will be his final resting place.

Proving too alpha for the weather and the animals, however, is Mr Liam Neeson. He takes charge right from the start: getting the men to leave the wreckage before they freeze to death, making everyone take turns at keeping guard while the others sleep, telling them the psychology of wolves, and showing them how to make weapons to fight the pack. Neeson’s the alpha of the human pack, the top dog who keeps hopes up and makes things happen.

The film goes beyond what is expected from the story. The men, around the bonfire, have their tales to tell, and the conversations often move to their questioning of faith and belief in higher powers. Near the end of The Grey, Neeson, the last remaining survivor looks to the clear sky above and demands that “God” show him something real if he’s there, that he needs it then and not later, but of course we all know how effective prayers and requests to “God” are…

The Grey moves at a slow pace without any pauses or gaps. The thrills don’t come by the minute, but prove heavy when they do come. So it’s wolves attacking when they’re least expected to be around, and having to jump off cliffs because there doesn’t seem to be another way down to the gushing water, and when the men are safe from the blizzards, it’s the beautiful mountains and trees that are as dangerous a setting. It’s men dying one after another, killed by animals or accidents or by giving up hope. It’s a movie with a heart, and has people talking about their loved ones and looking at photographs in wallets.

The movie is a lesson in alpha-male behaviour taught by an alpha male. Ottway (Neeson) is a nice guy fighting for survival in a tough situation, and this is highlighted in the last scene, when you learn why he’s been thinking about his wife so much, when he realizes that where he has stopped is the wolf den that they’d all been wanting to get very far away from. The wolves that surround Ottaway leave when the leader of the pack shows up, and the two alphas make eye contact and get ready for the final battle.


MOVIE REVIEWS: Men In Black 3 | Department | Vicky Donor


Music Review: Slash – Apocalyptic Love

I can’t believe how much like GN’R Apocalyptic Love sounds. Slash has gotten himself a vocalist who sings exactly like Axl Rose. Myles Kennedy does everything Axl would do, and if he had Axl’s voice, you would hear me clapping and whistling, because it’s Rose’s yowling I want to hear over Slash’s riffs. The riffs are good, by the way – and Apocalyptic Love starts off sounding like Appetite For Destruction and turns into Use Your Illusion III midway. But Axl’s not here. Axl’s busy fucking around with those other guitar hotshots, stretching his idea of Guns N’ Roses. No complaints about Myles Kennedy though. He’s got Axl’s style and sings really well, and I can’t say I want him to sing any other way. No, that’s not true… I’m just fooling myself.

When I reviewed GN’R‘s Chinese Democracy, I admitted at some point that I didn’t miss Slash at all. Guns N’ Roses did everything right on Chinese Democracy: Axl wore his attitude and wrote great lyrics and sang like a dream as was expected of him, and the other dudes did just like the big boss had instructed them to. But listening to all these riffs and solos on Apocalyptic Love, I’m once again slapped with the realization that the most rocking rock n’ roll band ever was built by Axl Rose and Slash, with those other cool guys Izzy Stradlin, Dizzy Reed, Gilby Clarke, Matt Sorum and Steven Adler.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this review. There’s nothing to say about Slash‘s “Apocalyptic Love” except that it’s GN’R without Axl Rose. How much of a difference Axl’s presence would have made here is for the listener to imagine: the songs would have a lot more energy – the combination of Axl and Slash would make the songs pumping – hell, they’d be electrifying – given Axl’s inability to control his madness and Slash’s dazzling guitar-playing. I’m just being terribly unfair to Slash and Myles, but Guns N’ Roses was the first rock band I fell in love with. Also, after almost 10 years of being in a band (today is 9 years) I can finally understand why two individuals who made magic together might not be able to stand the sight or even a mention of each other.

It’s very saddening to hear a man who doesn’t sound like Axl Rose sing like Axl Rose over Slash’s licks. As a fan of GN’R, I find it very depressing and want Myles Kennedy (yeah, I know he’s famous, but fuck you) to make an effort to sing like somebody other than Axl Rose, so that I can listen to Slash’s solo work without being reminded all the time how much I miss Guns N’ Roses. Listen to Apocalyptic Love and tell me it doesn’t remind you of and make you miss the world’s coolest rock n’ roll band.

RATING: 3.5/5


Film Review: Men In Black 3

MIB 3  takes Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back to the sixties and comes back successful

If you’ve ever wondered why Tommy Lee Jones is the way he is (or how he became like that), MIB 3 will give you the answers. The third installment of the “Men In Black” franchise sees Agent J (Will Smith) go back to 1969 to save Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) from Boris, the baddest guy from an alien race that destroys planets in its path. Boris has been pissed off for all of the forty years he’s spent in the prison on the moon, and wants to go back in time to save his left arm, which Agent K blew off. With one of those space guns – y’know, one of many the gadgets you expect to see in movies like Men In Black. There’s also a time-travel device which would make James Bond very happy. And a car that contains two motorcycles, on which Bond and Batman could go broke-backing together.

But more importantly, MIB 3 works better than 1 and 2 did. It’s not Boris (who hates being called Boris – The Animal), but the younger Agent K, played by Josh Brolin, who makes the film worth watching. Brolin slips into his Agent K of the 60s so easily that the 3D effects and the Austin-Powerish jokes fade into the background. It’s like he’s making fun of Tommy Lee Jones while showing that he can act well. The planet-destroying aliens are hardly a threat in this movie; it’s about what Agent K did with Agent O (Alice Eve, the younger O, is hot!), and Men In Black 3 gets it right by having just a few main characters and a good script, and by not pretending that it’s more than a fun story about saving the world.


Movie Review: ShanghaiMovie Review: Department | Movie Review: Vicky Donor


In The Shadow Of The Heathen Beast

Having taken their names from three atheistic schools of Hinduism, an angry antitheistic force is penetrating deeper into the emptiness of religion

The sound of the tabla on Contaminating The Ganges is the most ominous part on Drowning The Elephant God, a direct shot at the mythological deity Ganesh, whose idols are immersed in water bodies every year either during or after the nine-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. While Maharashtrians won’t take too kindly to this critical attack, Heathen Beast have a much more extreme force to deal with: their third song on their new release is called Bakras To The Slaughter, a sensitive topic for Muslims who won’t react sensitively to this diatribe. Not exactly the poster boys of vegetarianism themselves, Heathen Beast explain their stance by clarifying that they are meat-eaters against inhumane slaughter.

The tables are on the song about Bakri Eid as well, and even in the middle of the title track, and why not? Heathen Beast are no strangers to Indian musical instruments. Samkhya – the bassist, and Mimamsa – the drummer, are brothers born to parents who are heavily into Indian classical music and own and run a studio. It is at this studio that Heathen Beast records its religion-bashing metal. When there is no commercial work on, and the vocalist/guitarist Carvaka, who works in an advertising firm in Kolkata, is in Mumbai, the studio emanates hellish sounds as the trio captures the blasphemy to unleash it upon this god-fearing world.

More direct than on their debut, Ayodhya Burns, the band moves away from questioning Blind Faith and criticizing Religious Genocide, and pulls up three religions for their destructive practices. The Marathis are made fun of for Ganpati Visarjan, the celebration of which cause pollution of air, sound and water; the Brahmin caste is criticized for polluting the Ganga, the holiest river of India; and Islam is attacked for the mass slaughter of goats and cows on Bakra Eid. How the religious faithful will react to this music if they come to know of its existence is debatable. Some will accept it as freedom of speech while the response from others might be harsh, and maybe even violent, which is why Heathen Beast aren’t revealing their true identities. The members operate under the names Carvaka, Samkhya and Mimamsa – the three atheistic schools of Hinduism, and even their friends who know the three musicians jam every now and then aren’t aware that these young men who graduated from college last year are the extreme force known to the underground metal scene as Heathen Beast.

Obfuscating details about their lives, Heathen Beast say that who they are and what they look like is not important, and instead talk about all that drives them to create music of this nature and the meaning behind it. With only EPs being released from their ordnance, Heathen Beast‘s fury may seem fugacious, but its relevance cannot be questioned. May the short blasts lead to loud explosions and eventually a big bang that empowers many more people to reject religion without hesitation, to challenge the notion that an almighty god exists and controls this world from high heaven and that hell awaits the heathen unbelievers; to be free from the shackles of faiths that only chain and divide, and to draw strength from within without fearing wrath from above.

“The Drowning Of The Elephant God” releases 23rd May, 2012, and can be downloaded along with Heathen Beast‘s 2010 debut “Ayodhya Burns”  from HEATHENBEAST.BANDCAMP.COM

MORE FREE DOWNLOADS: Solar Deity‘s In The Name Of Satan | Solar Deity‘s Snowless


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Film Review: Department

“Department” (2012)

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Rana Daggubati, Vijay Raaz, Abhimanyu Singh, Laxmi Manchu, Madhu Shalini, Anjana Sukhani, Nathalia Kaur, Deepak Tijori

Even though Department is derived from his directorial successes Shiva, Satya, Company, Sarkar, and one of his productions, Ab Tak Chhappan, Ram Gopal Varma can’t come anywhere close to delivering as the promising filmmaker he was once touted as. Skin show is one thing you’ll never hear me complain about, but the way he goes overboard with the camera is too much to handle. The guy has no respect for subtlety and destroys a potent story (even if it’s a rehash) because he’s too busy having fun.

“Department” is another blank RGV has fired from his factory. Wasting the star power of Sanjay Dutt, the freshness of Rana Daggubatti, and the chance to pack a punch, Ram Gopal Varma chooses on showing you every little detail through his eyes. His camera travels all over the city of Mumbai, through the gutters, over the sand on a beach, even showing a crow picking up corn with its beak; the camera moves all over Sanjay Dutt as he drinks tea, it runs over his pants, shows a shot from behind his head as he lifts the cup to his mouth; Amitabh Bachchan can be seen from the bottom of his tea cup, stirring and talking, and you’re also treated to a close top view of his head while scratches his scalp. This is not even ten percent of the bizarre camerawork.

The characters are many and they’re heaped with such lines that everybody sounds wise and overconfident. There isn’t one character you warm up to, even though you’ve seen similar people in RGV’s hits. But RGV has forgotten what made those movies click; that he had stories to tell back then, and that he knew how to tell them. In Department, Ram Gopal Varma is fulfilling all his desires, mainly those of watching men fight and shoot each other, fleshy women flicking their tongues and sucking kulfi bars suggestively and exaggerating the ass-shake while walking or even standing.

Sanjay Dutt, the non actor  that he’s always been, uses his bulk as usual. Pointing his gun at people, delivering unimpressively over-smart lines in his same old way and dancing to drinking songs like a buffoon come naturally to him. Can’t really blame him, because the director is wondering whose cleavage the camera should dive into next. I’m shocked that he didn’t send it up Sanjay Dutt’s anus to observe his bowel movement and take a tour of his rectum.

Rana Daggubati is one who’ll get the most mileage here. He plays the pawn the big players use for their benefit. As one of the three actors who put in an effort (Vijay Raaz and Abhimanyu Singh try hard but become jokes), Rana Daggubati is the guy who walks out of Department unscathed.

Amitabh Bachchan is having even more fun than Ram Gopal Varma in Department. The biggest movie superstar of all time gets paid to play a gangster-turned-politician who wears a tiny bell around his right wrist, laugh in his inimitable style, distribute knowledge to anyone who’s unfortunate enough to be around, and show his dance moves. The man could have had yet another brilliant drunk scene to add to his list, but RGV was focusing on some god-fucked angle to switch the camera on and off from. Amitabh Bachchan has nothing to lose here; he would’ve been applauded if the movie had clicked, but RGV will take the beating now that it’s turned out like this.

Despite all that’s going against it, Department shows a few sparks of brilliance in a couple of places. It makes me cringe to realize what Ram Gopal Varma can still do in terms of filmmaking, and it makes me cringe even more when I understand that he’s the only one in the world who can do it. No Anurag Kashyap, not Christopher Nolan, not your favorite director; there is genius in RGV that nobody else has, but it’s buried under the pile of shit which makes the guy feel he needs loud background music and ghaati songs and item numbers and unbearably annoying characters to make his movies punchy.

Ram Gopal Varma obviously doesn’t know what to do with just a good script, so somebody give him a tight screenplay along with it, please. But only after he comes back from a long holiday on which he gets to play to his content with his two favorite toys: his dick and his camera.


REVIEWS OF RGV’S OTHER FILMS: Satya Review | Company Review | Rann Review | Not A Love Story Review

FOOD: Karim | Pind Balluchi | Sitaram Diwanchand | Havemore | Mango Tree | Koli Seafood Festival

SLIDESHOWS: Krishna Temple (Hampi) | Bhandardara Lake | Sunday Under A Dying Waterfall

BEER: Oktoberfest | International Beer Festival | 10 Beers You Should Drink

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