Riff of the Day 09/29/15 Early Man – Beware the Circling Fin

Early Man – Beware the Circling Fin (from the EP Beware the Circling Fin, 2008 The End Records) Thrash is alive and well today, thanks to a handful of metal bands. Early Man are one of these bands, led by singer/guitar player Mike Conte. Although it seems like a constant revolving door of drummers and bass players, Conte is the engine that drives this band. The riff from Beware the Circling Fin chugs along like a train, and Conte’s Judas Priest inspired singing style is a force of nature. I have seen Early Man play a couple times, and I was not disappointed. My friend Earl was almost a casualty of an out-of-hand mosh circle the last time we saw the band. Please check out these California thrashers. I guarantee they will have your head bobbing.

T.

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Five Favorite Horror Movie Theme Songs – The Music Makes It

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What element can make an average film great? The musical score. Music can add many things to a movie. The right piece of music can make an action scene that much more exciting. A beautiful score can make the most tender moment that much more heartbreaking. A song or theme can forever be attached to a movie, and make it part of popular culture. Everyone can identify the Star Wars theme. Think of any Quentin Tarantino film, and you could probably name one song that has become part of the films lore, When it comes to horror movies, music is absolutely important. The soundtrack builds tension, and it can also be placed to make the audience aware that danger is imminent. If you want to test that theory, next time you watch a scary movie, plug your ears when the tension builds. The visuals alone are not enough to frighten you. There are a handful of themes that have made their respective fright films that much better. I would like to share with you, my five favorite horror movie themes. I am sure I have left a couple out, but these are the five for me. In no particular order, here they are.

Halloween (Theme composed by John Carpenter, 1978) John Carpenter is the master of atmosphere, and the master of his own soundtrack. Carpenter composes the music for many of his films. Halloween is his best work, creating an instant classic. His other brilliant scores include The Fog, Escape From New York and They Live.

Suspiria (Theme composed and Performed by Goblin, 1977) Italian band Goblin bring Dario Argento’s Susperia to life with their beautiful, eerie, and psychedelic soundtrack. The film requires a soundtrack as equally atmospheric, and Goblin provides it wonderfully. Goblin is frequent collaborators with Argento, most notably in his other films Deep Red and Tenebre.

Exorcist (Tubular Bells – composed and performed by Mike Oldfield, 1973) The theme for The Exorcist, Tubular Bells, was not written for the movie. It was written and recorded for the Mike Oldfield’s 1973 album Tubular Bells. After being selected for The Exorcist, the song became a top ten hit, not to mention help scare the hell out of a lot of cinema goers. The theme is simple, but intense. A great fit with an all-time horror classic.

Phantasm (Theme composed by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrove. 1979) After recently watching Phantasm again, I realize that the theme and music score are the best parts of this film, along with the “Tall Man” played by Angus Scrimm. The film has some creepy elements, but really is not as frightening as I thought 25 years ago, although it is very original.

Jaws (Theme composed by John Williams, 1975) In case you are familiar with John Williams film scores, he is the man responsible for the themes to Fiddler on the Roof, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extraterrestrial and a little space epic called Star Wars. His soundtrack scores are incredible, and appear in many amazing films. The Jaws theme is perfect. If a great white shark needed an entrance theme, this intense piece of music is it. When I see people splashing around at the beach, this theme gets stuck in my head. Now that is an effective theme song!

T.

Top Five Underrated Fright Films – Under-appreciated Horror!

Sam

Most horror films don’t get good reviews. I’d say maybe ten or twenty percent are well received by critics. Fans are a little more forgiving, granting a lot of bad movies a chance. This is why I would sooner listen to fans than critics. It seems that if a horror movie is not original, it is not worth a critic’s time. Some of my favorite horror films got ripped apart by critics. Horror movies, for the most part, are not projects for directors to develop characters, write endearing dialogue, or tug at your emotions. Besides offering up laughs (most of the laughs are unintentional), horror films are meant to scare the crap out of you, and give you the creeps. Fright films pose one question; what lurks in yonder shadows? Basically I am saying give horror a chance! Here are my top five (in no particular order) underrated horror films.

Exorcist III: Legion (directed by William Peter Blatty, 1990) This movie scared to living hell out of me. I saw it in the theater when I was 14, and it affected me more than any other horror movie. No word of a lie, there was a power outage that night because of a storm, and it just made the whole experience a little more hair-raising. Of course, this film can’t touch the original as far as being a complete film, but Legion, has a lot going for it. Jump scares, great tension build, and enough religious imagery to give anyone the creeps. The film is set in the year it was made, but the story connects right back to the end of 1973 classic original, The Exorcist. It also completely ignores the sequel to the original, The Exorcist: Heretic, which was a piece of garbage. Even if you have seen it, give it another shot. It’s worth while.

Lords of Salem (directed by Rob Zombie, 2012) Lords of Salem is a departure from the ultra-violent House of 1,000 Corpses, and the amazing Devil’s Rejects. This almost seems like Rob Zombie wanted to make an art film, as well as homage to Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. The first time I watched it, I lasted ten minutes and was distracted by something shiny, so I shut it off. About a year ago, I decided to give the movie another shot. This time, it sucked me in. The story has holes, and confusing here and there, but the film is beautifully shot. Not to mention, with all Rob Zombie projects, Lords has an amazing soundtrack. Sheri Moon Zombie is great as a radio deejay that becomes the conduit for the witches of Salem to return to present time and get their revenge for being persecuted during the Salem Witch Trials. Great imagery and creepy atmosphere make Lords of Salem worth checking out.

Jason X (directed by James Isaac) Being the ninth sequel in a tired, dying franchise, it should be the worst one, logically thinking. What else could they do with Mr. Voorhees? Well, they decided to put him in space, and give him a robotic/cyber type makeover. Sound ridiculous, right? Well it is. It has bad acting, a really far-fetched story, and some cheesy effects. The film is dumb, but it is dumb in funny, inventive way. The kill scenes are far more entertaining and original than most of the Friday the 13th deaths, and there is humour! This film knows it’s not to be taken seriously, so it throws every cliche at you, and makes fun of it in the process. This is not my favorite installment of the Jason franchise but it is better than at least four of the others.

Idle Hands (directed by Rodman Flender, 1999) Idle Hands is a horror comedy that falls a little more on the comedy side. I think the writers decided to capitalize on two popular genres of the time; the teen horror film, and raunchy teen comedies. This was around the time films like American Pie and Scream were popular date movies. Idle Hands is a little bit of both. I suppose the horror aspect of the movie is used for comedic purposes, but it does the job effectively. Even Seth Green is funny. The main character, Anton, is a lazy teenager with no ambitions, with the exception of his right hand. His hand is possessed and has murderous intentions. This is a nice nod to another possessed appendage film, Evil Dead 2. Gore, violence, nudity, comedy, drug use and a fresh-faced Jessica Alba. What’s not to love?

Trick r Treat (directed by Michael Dougherty, 2007) To be fair, Trick r treat is widely liked by critics, but it does not get the recognition it deserves. The film follows four separate stories on Halloween, but all interweave in some aspect. The common factor in all the stories is Sam, the ambiguous little fellow that wears a burlap sack on his head, who is as deadly as he is adorable. Trick r Treat is right up there with Creepshow and Twilight Zone as far as horror anthology films go, and I’ll even go as far as to say it is my favorite. Anna Paquin and Brian Cox star in this new staple in my Halloween viewing arsenal. Above all things, Trick r Treat teaches us that Halloween traditions should be respected, or bad things can and will happen!

T.

Riff of the Day 09/26/15 Pink Floyd – Fearless

Pink Floyd – Fearless (from the album Meddle, 1971 Harvest) I seem to include this song on a lot of playlists and mix CD’s. Pink Floyd has been part of my life since I was old enough to understand great music. Fearless is a complete feel good song. David Gilmour and Roger Waters wrote this song on an acoustic guitar in the studio one day, and it couldn’t be more perfect. The climbing guitar hook, empowering lyrics, and superimposed soccer chanting all mix together to paint a pretty picture. In case you are wondering, the crowd song is courtesy of the Liverpool FC fans singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. We should all listen to more Pink Floyd. The world would be a better place.

Cool Fact – Pink Floyd only ever performed this song once live. Such a shame.

Riff of the Day 09/25/15 Kamchatka – Mixed Emotions

Kamchatka – Mixed Emotions (from the album Kamchatka, 2005 Grooveyard) If you are a fan of heavy blues, this band might interest you. This Swedish trio draws from past blues, psychedelic, and stoner rock bands. They have definite, Jimi Hendrix and Cream vibe in their songs. The song Mixed Emotions is a great example of Kamchatka’s ability to create a good, heavy groove. They gained some notoriety as the supporting band for Clutch during one of their tours. They have also released six studio albums to date. Check out the covers for Kamchatka’s records if you are a fan of album art. There is some pretty cool stuff happening there.

Riff of the Day 09/20/15 Atomic Bitchwax – Hope You Die

Atomic Bitchwax – Hope You Die (from the album Atomic Bitchwax I, 1999 Tee Pee Records/Meteor City) New Jersey’s Atomic Bitchwax is a little bit of all things good. Take a little stoner rock, some 1970’s guitar rock, and a dash of psychedelic for flavor. Wrap it all up in progressive rock shell, and that’s a tasty dish. These guys are still going strong, and always touring. You can’t keep a good band down. I have yet to see The Atomic Bitchwax live, but you can bet I will be there if they ever decide to venture up this way.

Riff of the Day 09/19/15 T. Rex – 20th Century Boy

T. Rex – 20th Century Boy (released as a single, 1973 EMI) In a time that was dominated by rock n roll machines such as Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon), Led Zeppelin (Houses of the Holy), and The Who (Quadrophenia), a few “Glam” rock bands were embracing style and theatrics into their music. Artists like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, and T. Rex were making rock music more diverse. T. Rex originally made acoustic albums, but turned on the amplifiers for their seminal album Electric Warrior. Marc Bolan and company always managed to keep an organic sound, despite plugging in. 20th Century Boy really isn’t really a “heavy” song, but a great riff is a great riff. Marc Bolan could write a catchy song, that’s for sure. Tragically, Bolan passed away in a car crash in 1977.

Riff of the Day 09/18/15 Sheavy – Virtual Machine

Sheavy – Virtual Machine (from the album The Electric Sleep, 1998 Rise Above Records) If Black Sabbath and Kyuss had an offspring, the song is what would come out of the womb. Sheavy is from St. John’s, Newfoundland and formed in 1993. The riff in Virtual Machine has an almost hypnotic quality, and the huge chorus makes the this song heavy duty. Sheavy is only one of the amazing stoner/sludge/doom to call Canada home. True north; strong and heavy.

Riff of the Day 09/17/15 Rush – Working Man

Rush – Working Man (from the album Rush, 1974 Moon) Even though Neil Peart was not the drummer on Rush’s debut, it is still a great album. Working Man is the best song on the record, and is still one of my favorite Rush songs. Love them or hate them, Rush are not only a legendary Canadian band, but one of the longest standing and well respected groups of all-time. All three members of Rush are accomplished musicians and Alex Lifeson really plays a heavy, dirty riff on Working Man. If you don’t like Rush, it’s too bad, because it means your ears are broken.

Cool Fact – Rush also have many philanthropic interests, donating time and proceeds to many charities and causes. These include human rights, the 2013 southern Alberta flood relief, Tibet, and providing funding for music programs in disadvantaged schools.

08/15/15 Riff of the Day Kylesa – Running Red

Kylesa – Running Red (from the album Static Tensions, 2009 Prosthetic) If I was a professional mixed martial artist, this would be the song that I came down to the ring with. It swells from the opening piano riff into something tribal and sinister. Hailing from Savannah, Georgia, Kylesa opened up for Mastodon during their Crack the Skye tour, and I have been a fan since. Like The Melvins, Kylesa features two drummers. A great live band if you ever get the chance to see them. They also have a new album, Exhausting Fire, releasing on October 2nd via Season of Mist.

T.