Monday, December 21, 2009



That's probably the one word that I uttered the most during the nearly 3-hours movie.

I can't help but think of the underlying layer of the movie: that an outsider is able to win the hearts of a people within 3 months. It took me nearly a year before I could come to work later than my official time. And I'm lovable!

People over here will just drool over the insanely amazing graphics (it really does make you forget it's just rendered animation and not real people in elastic suits) yet will never ever know its intended message let alone its other messages.

I really like this article because I think it rightly encapsulates my feelings and thoughts about the movie (I wish I could've written a quarter of what she wrote but due to my limited skills in conveying my thoughts into words hindered any input of the flick. Till now.)

Go and watch it, people. The visuals and sounds are worth it. But if you're planning on dissecting the story like how I did, well, you know where to look if you want to have a talk. Over a cup of hot coffee, no less.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Marc Antoine - Hi-Lo Split

I remember walking down the busy road that is Orchard Road in Singapore and mind was constantly on the lookout for chicks, buildings, sights and sounds and oncoming vehicles. Walking down the road towards my hotel was a short passageway that had trees covering it. I stopped, wiped off the sweat from my forehead and changed to something a little lighter, less pounding on the eardrums. I switched to the ultimate chillout smooth jazz guitar god, Marc Antoine.

The title track of this album is a classic Antoine number; chilled and composed. He even does a duet with himself, acoustic and electric guitar duel! While not exactly Malmsteen in jaw-dropping speed it's still pretty much cool, almost sexy. Sadly, that was the only song I played from the album. You see, the album is good on its own merits, but whence compared to his previous works it falls flat. Very. What's missing is memorability. Apart from the aforementioned, I can't remember anything else. Most of the time it all segues into each other, with the same tempo and temperament. I guess he was trying to get back to his smooth jazz roots after Modern Times, a more experimental album and more straight up jazz.

The problem with this album is that it's safe and rarely steps out of its comfort zone. Antoine is moving with the flow, not once does he veers or goes against it. This is by no means a failure, but rather, a misstep in a journey that was going up and up.

Maybe I expected too much.

Initial Rating: 5/10
Current Rating: 5/10

Monday, July 20, 2009

Order of Ennead - Order of Ennead

It can't be. It surely can't:

Death metal that's, gasp!, intelligent? Thoughtful? Why, it's impossible!

All right, enough of the false incredulity. Order of Ennead (OoE) is basically the coming together of two disciplines: black and death metal. This is not new. In fact, it's been done to death now (pun intended). But what makes OoE different is that they blend the two brilliantly. Also, the other weird thing is that while musical aspect of the band owes very much to the sensibilities of the aforementioned genres, it's the lyrical aspect that is most strikingly different. Normally, you would hear a lot of "Satan loves me and I'm in love with Satan's daughter!" for black metal or "Let's rip the entrails from old women and feed them with special sauce" if it were death metal but you get none of that nonsense here. Instead, if you have retrospective and, blimey, positivity. Yes, you read that right. Even the titles are more meaningful than your run of the mill metal band: Reflection, An Endless Endeavour, As Long As I Have Myself I Am Not Alone, and Introspection And The Loss Of Denial.

But there's no point in having good lyrics if the music is rubbish, right? Fret not, as this is some of the most well-written, well played and hardest hitting blackened death metal you'll hear. You have Deicide's Steve Asheim who blasts through the songs like his ass was being whipped by a thousand demons and is the main reason why this isn't an outright black metal band with a dash of death metal. No, he brings the death metal and he brings them in spades. He's friggin' fast, especially on the last song, Dismantling An Empire, where he literally is smashing his kit to oblivion. He has also slows things down considerably, most notably during the interlude in Conferring With Demons but I always get the feeling that he's not comfortable playing slow, like he's allergic to it.

Kevin Quirion does his best impression of Ihsahn (formerly of Emperor) and slays on the rhythm guitar. His lyrics are succinct; no verbiage or long passages, he just rasps the words with a lot force. The bass playing of Scott Patrick is fairly competent; no Suffocation-like bass wizardry here. However, the real star of the show is the unknown and rather chubby lead guitarist, John Li. Holy smoke from Jakarta that's causing the haze here in KL can this dude rip them solos! If you're like me and you go absolutely apeshit over neoclassical guitar wankery then you'll shit bricks of joy here. The solos here are on par with the other neoclassic wizard, Ralph Santolla, who coincidentally played guitar on Deicide's fantastic The Stench of Redemption. Top of the top stuff.

If you're a fan of extreme metal but are looking for something a little different, you have to listen to this. At least you can tell your friends there is such a thing as intelligent blackened death metal. It'll make you sound smarter.

Provided you have friends to begin with.

Initial Rating: 8/10
Current Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Napalm Death - Time Waits for No Slave

You know, if you kick dog hard it'll either cower in fear or they'll bite you. Napalm Death does neither. Firstly, they'll bust your ass and then make you eat it. Then they'll wallop your body till it's a mushy pulp.

My goodness. Has it been 30 years? They've been around longer than I have but they're still kicking massive amounts of (un)suspecting arses.

The legends are back sounding a bit more pissed. Screw that! They're back and sounding mightily fucking pissed. It seems that even with the departure of the late Jesse Pintado the band is still able to create a brutal wall of sound with just one guitarist. Of note, there seems to be more of Mitch Harris's vocals than before, which, to me has always added that extra bit of forcefulness. In case you're wondering, while vocalist Barney Greenway barks like a giant demonic dog, his high-pitched banshee-like shrieks just rips.

The band is akin to a well-oiled machine; individually solid but downright unbreakable when together. While this may be a case of "if you've heard this before then you've heard this a million times", as the last few albums are rather similar. But I don't know those albums so I'm only going to say what I know about this one. While a more death metal sound has most definitely permeated in recent times the band hasn't forgotten its punk roots. Riffs are fast and in your face. The bass is rarely heard individually but keeps pace with the guitars. Lyrically, it's typical grind fare: fuck politics, fuck the leaders and other fuck this and that.

It has to be said that if you want more speedy and brutal grind, you can look up bands like Gadget, Kill the Client, Mumakil, etc but if you want grind with a strong taste of death metal and meaty as all heck riffs, you have to owe to yourself to get this. No frills extreme metal at its peak.

Initial Rating: 7/10
Current Rating: 7/10

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Heaven and Hell - The Devil You Know

Dear demons and fellow headbangers,

This is the best album of 2009, hands and claws down. Thank you very much.

Hmm, this wouldn't be a Whacker Inc approved blog post without at least a bit of explanation so read on.

Heaven and Hell (shall henceforth be known as H&H) is actually Black Sabbath and Dio. Only guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler are from the original Black Sabbath band where they are joined by Vinnie Appice on drums and, of course, Dio on vocals. To avoid legal trouble and Ozzy Ozbourne from bitching to high hell, they had to use the H&H moniker. But we all know it's Black Sabbath, sound and all. These "four" lads have gotten together after nearly a 20-year hiatus and this is the result. While the greatest hits of the Dio featured 3 new songs, fans everywhere clamoured for a new studio album. With bated breath, every single metalhead worth his salt waited for this. And the wait is over and by golly does this freaking smoke!

While it's not immediately catchy, after repeated listens it becomes quite apparent that this is a monster of an album. It's a lot slower than expected, which is most the common opinion everyone makes upon first listen. As usual, Dio's sometimes peculiar and downright boggling lyrics can get quite distracting. Take this for example:
Taking till you've got no more to give
Building boxes where you used to live

The word out on the street is no delay
Do it today
Come to the meeting

It's true that we're eating the cannibals

Hmm. It's not something Enid Blyton would write that's for sure. But then again, if we wanted esoteric or soppy lyrics we'd be listening to dribble like Coldplay and its ilk, right? Tony Iommi is just plain marvelous. That guitar tone of his is perfect. Perfect, I tell you and compliments Dio's wails wonderfully. Who could forget Geezer Butler's basslines? Absolutely thunderous and probably one of the better bass performances of the year. Vinnie Appice is dependable on the kit as while he really does nothing special his style and accents flows well with the riffs.

There are only a few things in the world that makes me truly happy, and being a metalhead is one of them. So when there's quality metal such as this you'll probably see me smiling widely and have this rather senile-looking face.

This is Heaven and Hell.

Initial Rating: 9/10
Current Rating: 10/10