Comics, Video Games and Death Metal.....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Metal Month

Last month I got the opportunity to see two bands that I have always wanted to see in concert, but have always missed my chance to see. Either I didn’t have the money to see them, or found out about the show too late or some other stupid thing happened keeping me from going to the show. Well apparently April was my time! I got to see both Cannibal Corpse, and GWAR within a two-week period (Cannibal Corpse on the 5th and GWAR on the 18th). Both shows were completely fucking awesome and easily the two best shows I’ve ever been to. Like any good show I wanted to see each band again right after they played their last song.
As a big fan of death metal (betcha’ couldn’t tell could ya?) I have enjoyed Cannibal Corpse’s music for years and have wanted to catch them in concert after first hearing one of their albums. So I was ecstatic when my wife called me at work and told me that not only were they playing at a small venue not far from our house, but that they were also playing with Exhumed. Fucking Cannibal Corpse and Exhumed in one show! I was sold, and I knew that I was not going to miss this opportunity. My wife also told me that GWAR was playing at the same venue two weeks later. The metal gods were truly smiling down upon me with their jagged, pointy-toothed grins.
Cannibal Corpse and Exhumed with special guests Abysmal Dawn and Arkaik
The day of the show I had a very hard time focusing at work and the clock dragged ass all day. We got to the show just in time to hear the last two songs of a band that I can’t remember the name of and that I’d never heard before. They weren’t bad, but I was too preoccupied with finding the perfect spot for the rest of the show to pay much attention to them.

  Arkaik set up, did a quick sound check and kicked off their set with Womb of Perception. They played a great set in their 30 -45 minutes; A lot of stuff from their 2010 album Reflections Within Dissonance, and a few cuts of their forthcoming album, Metamorphignition. They are a very tight band, have good stage presence and play some very good Tech-Death. I enjoyed their set and I would see them again in concert.
            Abysmal Dawn took the stage and wasted no time launching into Programmed to Consume the lead track from the album of the same name. I was stoked about this, because I really like that song and was growling right along with the band. Abysmal Dawn is a three-piece band that plays very guttural, straightforward Death Metal. Their stuff at times almost veers into Melodic Death territory with some vaguely Black Metal vocals. Great band that I would absolutely go see again.
            Exhumed are absolute showmen and with out a doubt LOVE playing to the crowd. They opened up with As Hammer to Anvil from 2011’s album All Guts, No Glory (their first full album since 2005). Their style, or particular brand of Metal has changed over the years from complete Goregrind to a style that incorporates their gory roots, American Death Metal, and overtones of Swedish Death Metal. They put on a really great show; interacting with the crowd them selves, bringing out a Chainsaw wielding Maniac to menace the audience, and looking like they were having the time of their lives on that stage. The look of pure enjoyment on all the band members faces was very cool to see. Bands that have been playing for as long as Exhumed has can become jaded and forget the simple joys of rocking a venue. Matt Harvey has definitely not forgotten and still enjoys playing the music he loves for a cheering crowd. Can’t wait to see them again.

            Cannibal Corpse were absent on stage one minute as the lights went down and the next minute when the lights came up there they were blasting out Demented Aggression the lead track off of Torture; louder and heavier than I thought possible and larger than life! They played 4 songs in quick succession before taking a short break so Corpse Grinder could cajole the crowd. “This song is about stabbing people…” Corpse Grinder starts but a roaring cheer from the audience cuts him off. “You like that shit?” Another cheer. “You’re all a bunch of sick fucks!” He laughs and then the band begins shredding through As Deep As The Knife Will Go, my personal favorite cut from their new album. Their set contained a great mix of old and new stuff. Obviously they were out promoting their new album, but they also know that their fans want to hear the classics too. Over the course of their 20 song set list they played every song I had hope to hear and a couple I wasn’t expecting; they ended the show with Hammer Smashed Face and Stripped, Raped, and Strangled. I had hoped that they would play the former and had not expected the latter. I had figured that those songs were too old and they were likely as not trying to just do newer stuff, but the Corpse did not disappoint. I left the venue in a state of euphoric, ringing-ear, metal bliss. Seriously my ears were still ringing by Monday morning. Corpse Grinder and company put on a hell of a show that I won’t soon forget. Without question I will be seeing them again when they come back to my area.

GWAR with GHOUL, Kylesa and Legacy of Disorder
Fast-forward to the 18th and again I am having trouble concentrating at work because I am again pumped to see a band I’ve listened to for years, but never gotten a chance to see. Of course on that day I had to stay a little later than usual to finish something that could not wait for the next day; Murphy’s Law eh? (Damn you Murphy!) It worked out, because we got to the venue just after Legacy of Disorder got done with their set. Which was fine with me, because I do not like their music at all.
GHOUL took the stage and had a brief intro where a black garbed, shroud faced “priest” condemned the Ghouls of Creepsylvania, and the rest of the audience, to hell. So they knocked his head off, and as his neck sprayed blood everywhere, they began playing Off With Their Head from Transmission Zero
Their set was about half Transmission Zero and half a mix of their other albums. During their set they had various characters come out and spray, slosh, and dump a plethora of clothes staining substances on the crowd, that I’m sure smelled lovely. GHOUL put on a great show that was full of humor, tongue in cheek gore and some fantastic Thrash (or SplatterThrash) Metal that I would absolutely go see again with out hesitation.

After GHOUL finished their set I thought that GWAR would take the stage… nope. I had to suffer through Kylesa first… meh. They took half an hour to set up and do their sound check, and then once they started, it was impossible to understand what the fuck the chick lead singer was saying. Not that I particularly cared mind you, but if I had come to see them and they had sounded like that I’d want my money back. Seriously… they sucked, and I have no idea why they were playing with GWAR in the first place. My guess is that the only reason that Oderus let them on the tour is because they had some really good weed... just a theory.

GWAR walked out on sage in all their hideous glory to roaring cheers from the crowd. They jumped into Zomibes March!, the first track off of Bloody Pit of Horror. It’s a song that is not only a great opener, but also shows just how fucking awesome and incredibly talented a guitar player Corey Smoot (Flattus Maximus) was. They played all my favorite tracks from Bloody Pit in their set (except Tick-Tits) and Balsac really stepped up, filling in for Corey. Their sound is not exactly how it was with two guitarists, but that did not stop them from tearing the roof off, and I think that GWAR works as a four-piece band for the time being. Their set contained lot of older gems as well. Some songs that I had felt certain they would play (like Jagermonsta) and some that I had not expected (Crack in the Egg). I flipped out a bit (in a good way) when they played Bring Back the Bomb and War Party. Through out their whole set there was of course gallons upon gallons of blood sprayed from various hacked off limbs, cut throats, and skinned torsos. 
The Cuddle Fish Spurts
"Snookie" Skinned
I’ll admit it; there was no small part of savage glee that welled up inside me when "Snookie" waddled out on stage to be skinned and have her mutant two headed baby ripped from her womb and swung around by it’s umbilical cord like a fleshy, red noisemaker. Techno Destructo showed up to menace the group and fight with Bonesnapper. This of course led to more freshets of blood spurting out onto the crowd. And speaking of spurting onto the crowd, toward the end of the show, one of the slaves hooked up Oderus’ “sack” allowing his Cuddle Fish of Cthulhu to spray an endless stream of blood directly into the faces of the happily awaiting audience while the band performed The Road Behind, which the band dedicated to Flattus Maximus and was their last song. During that last song one of the slaves had set up Corey’s guitar in a stand on one of the back monitors. 

To Flattus Maximus - Forever Missed
Corey's Guitar
The stage went dark as the band left the stage and Corey’s guitar was cast in a spotlight while Frank Sinatra’s My Way played softly in the background. The band came back out to the wings sans costumes and makeup to hold their lighters up in honor of their absent brother. It was a wonderful, bittersweet way to end the show, but absolutely effective in making one realize exactly how much was lost when Corey passed. Come back soon GWAR!
  I left the venue once again with my ears ringing and a huge grin on my face. April was indeed a great month to be a metal head. Now if only Dying Fetus or Fleshgod Apocalypse would come play shows near me.
Photos by De'Vera Phoenix

Friday, April 27, 2012

Color Me Zed

      Hey there ladies, gents, and horrorhounds of all ages I'm got a pretty to show you! World renown artist extrodinare Tommy Castillo (@castillo_tommy ) has a fun filled, gore soaked, activity laden coloring adventure for all of you! I already have my copy of The Coloring Book of the Dead so you should get one too, either at a convention, from or here. While your at it why not take a look at Tommy's Gallery and pick up a print or two.
Zombie Coloring Fun for the whole Family!
      Zombies are the "it" monster/creature right now, and everybody thinks they can do zombies. I'm here to tell you that nobody does zombies like Tommy does zombies. Tommy's zombies are some of the most gore caked, oozing, shuffling stiffs you'll find this side of an old George Romero Movie. But it's not just the torn-off cheeks, missing appendages, and copious consumption of brains that make Tommy's zombies better than all the rest. No, it's the former humanity that is clearly visible in every zombie that he draws. It's the sheer terror you feel for some poor sap foolish enough to have been caught by a group of these marching maggot piles. It's the texture lovingly (menacingly?) rendered in each image that sets Tommy's work apart from the rest of the mindless z-heard.
      If you have any love for zombies, the macabre, or horror movies in general then this book is for you. This book is for the twisted little kid inside us all that used to stay up late to sneak and watch those bloody gory movies that your parents said said would scar you for life. It's full of dark humor, pretty (gross) images and activities! what more could you want?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A "Torture"ous Review

“If vomit were a movie, this would be the soundtrack” is apparently what a reviewer said of one Cannibal Corpse’s early efforts. Clearly that person had no appreciation for Death Metal, but back in those days few did. Early reviews like that have never deterred the Corpse from unabashedly playing their music, their way. Which is a good thing because they are fucking great at it. You either love Cannibal Corpse or you hate them and I fucking love ‘em. Their new album Torture has been on constant rotation in my truck and at home.
Go get this album right fucking now!!
   The album is a fantastic blast beat driven ride through a horrific, gore soaked landscape of carnage and death. The first track Demented Aggression sets the tone for the album with its unrelenting drum and vocal attack. Through out the entire album Paul Mazurkiewicz’s drumming stands out and gives a solid base for Patrick O’Brein’s guitar work to charge along at break-neck speed and occasionally take flight into wicked solos. Rob Barrett’s rhythm guitar adds substance to the songs, filing them out and adding strength to the flow of the entire album. I was particularly impressed with Alex Webster’s bass playing on this album and found some of the baselines utterly fantastic (specifically in the middle of Strangulation Chair). Then there’s George “CorpeGrinder” Fisher who wraps up the entire gruesome package with raw throated growl that is no nonsense and no bullshit in its delivery; guttural, powerful, and utterly brutal.
            In fact that is how I would describe the entire album. Cannibal Corpse has never be overly technical in their approach to Death Metal and as such they have a perfect balance of technical prowess and unrestrained power. Also, the hooks in this album are they type that make you want to head bang until you have an aneurysm. A perfect example of this is my favorite track from Torture; As Deep As The Knife Will Go. Other tracks that I’m sure will become classics are Encased in Concrete, Followed Home Then Killed, and Rabid. I say this because these songs are constantly stuck in my head and are quintessential Corpse songs.
The guys knocked it out of the park with Torture and I think that anybody that has a true appreciation for Death Metal in its purest forms would agree.

The Tower 

Here's the first Official Video from Torture : Encased in Concrete

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

State of the Industry 02-15-2012

Comic Books are an amazing medium. They have such versatility and subtlety when done right. The creators (writers, artists, inkers, etc.) have a virtually unlimited pallet with which to mold and shape their story. Comparisons between movies and comic are made all the time due to the nature of visual storytelling. Hell storyboards are essentially long form comics where all the panels are the same shape and size. However, comics are not movies. Even though a great number of films are based off of comics. I hear you saying ‘It can’t be that many.’ Listen really hard and you’ll hear me laughing manically. There are more than you think and some you would never suspect. But that is a topic for another day.
            In the movie biz it is common of for somebody to have a great idea and start to work with others to bring said idea to fruition. That’s how it works in comics as well. Wondering where I’m going with this? Good. Stick around and you’ll understand. In the movie biz it is likewise not unheard of for someone to completely screw another involved party (like a co-creator) out of a decent (or any) share of the profits when it comes time to strike deals with studios. This is where comics are drastically different. As an industry comic creators are a pretty tight group. They look out for one another and communicate with one another unlike any other community of creative individuals in the world. Like I said drastically different from Hollywood....until now.
The only Walking Dead trade worth reading
            I’m sure that you’ve all heard of ‘The Walking Dead’, but if you’ve been living in a cave in the bottom of Mariana Trench allow me to elucidate. The Walking Dead started life as a black and white comic book written by Robert Kirkman, with artwork by Tony Moore. It was FANTASTIC… for 6 issues. Then Moore left the book and a new artist was brought in. I don’t know why Moore left the book, and I also don’t understand why Kirkman brought in an artist with such a drastically different style to replace Moore, but that’s what happened. I also can’t speak to bait and switch tactics on Kirkman’s part or if he just wanted to have the issues cranked out as fast as possible; don’t know, and honestly don’t care. No offense to Charlie Adlard but my eyes would SCREAM in agony every time I looked at the book from issue 7 on. Now the book is nearing issue 100 and is also a major TV show on AMC garnering much praise and making money hand over fist.
            I hear you saying ‘Yay, a comic book becomes an awesome TV that people love and the creators are being well paid for their creation. What’s the problem?’ Well firstly Robert Kirkman is being well paid for his and Tony Moore’s creation. Moore however is getting completely shafted when it comes to a share of the profits from the TV show. Kirkman apparently refuses to give Moore his due as far as a share of the profits. So Moore has now taken the only recourse he has and filed suit against Kirman to get the money that he is rightfully owed. Also Kirkman’s lawyers are apparently going to go after Moore for $17k for court costs. You can do an Internet search to find out the particulars of the case; meanwhile I have more pressing concerns. #PayTonyMoore

Marvel Spotlight #5

            This whole Kirkman vs. Moore thing is part a disturbing trend I have noticed in the comics industry lately; creators getting screwed out of their creations. Another example of this is Gary Friedrich vs. Marvel. This whole situation breaks my heart (YES, I actually do have a heart!). Gary created Ghost Rider way back in 1968 in the pages of Marvel Spotlight #5. Gary went on to write and draw many stories with his character for Marvel. Gary is now in his 60’s. He is trying to make ends meet by selling his own artwork of Ghost Rider at conventions and online. In 2007 Gary filed suit against Marvel, Columbia Pictures, Hasbro and other companies claiming that the rights to the character had reverted back to him in 2001 due to Marvel not registering the first appearance in Spotlight #5 with the Copyright office. Marvel counter sued in 2010 and on Feb 6th of this year the court found in favor of Marvel and enforced Marvel’s demand for Friedrich to pay $17,000 in damages (this is what they claim he has made from the sale of his unauthorized merch). Also Friedrich cannot call himself Ghost Rider’s creator for monetary gain, nor can he sell ANYTHING with GR’s image on it (doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of original artwork or not), and can only sell autographs on officially Marvel licensed GR merchandise. I order to help Gary in this difficult time Steve Niles has started a donation drive. Please check out the page (, spread the word and donate if you can. #GaryGhostRider
            Now I can understand that Marvel wants to protect it’s IP (Intellectual Property; for those wondering) but for fuck sake Marvel, $17,000 from a guy that is barely making ends meet as it is? ‘Cause you know, you don’t have a new Ghost Rider movie coming out THIS FUCKING WEEKEND that is sure to make more than $17K on it’s opening night alone! I suppose that this is what is to be expected now that HIMLER mouse has control. But the sale of original artwork at conventions and online is what makes me worried. A huge part of conventions is artist alley where you can get an original sketch (made just for you) by a talented artist of any character you’d like. Not only do you go home with a piece of artwork that NOBODY else has, but you’re also helping to supplement the income of said artist.
            However if this new decree by Marvel takes precedent then that wonderful part of EVERY convention goes they way of the dodo. This makes me doubly sad because I am and have always been a Marvel Zombie. But now that Disney owns Marvel, I’m torn straight down the middle. I want to continue to enjoy my books and the characters within, but I don’t want to support a company has no sense of honor and decency. I don’t want to see the comics industry become soulless and empty. As fans we need to speak out against garbage like this and let companies know that we will not allow them to ruin the sense of community that this industry was built upon.

Here are some links to check out that pertain to the topics I discussed in this post:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Get Damaged

Corruption, Politics, a Molotov cocktail, and a rouge cop dealing out his own brand of justice. What do all these things add up to? A damn good comic. i.e. Damaged #5 from RadicalPublishing.
Damaged #5 - A damn Good Comic
            This hard boiled story of intrigue, honor, duty, justice, loss and revenge would be perfectly at home on the big screen, standing shoulder to shoulder with the other great cop dramas of our time.
            The story has four main characters. Frank Lincoln and Jack Cassidy, the good guys, are hunting Henry Lincoln (Frank’s Brother) and Isaac Lordsman. Henry and Isaac are doling out Vigilante justice on San Francisco’s criminal underworld until Isaac decides it’s time to go after the scum hiding behind the badge.
            I won’t spoil anything in this issue because it needs to be read to truly get to scope and depth of emotion the characters put forth. David Lapham does an expert job of making each character’s motivation feel real and fully fleshed out. Whether the characters are on the right side of the law or not you can understand why they do what they do and you want them to succeed. Granted, you know that Lordsman is going to far and has crossed a line, but you clearly understand his motivation. It takes a good writer to make the audience feel for the crazed vigilante.
            The other thing about this book that I love is the artwork. Leonard Manco does fantastic job of creating a balance between the gritty crime infested streets of the city and the softer, safer, suburbs. His action is well paced and the eye flow of his pages keep you moving from one page to the next with out pause. I would love the artwork even if this book was in black and white, but the coloring team of Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo, and Sansan Saw add a brilliant level of depth to the already fantastic pages. Sometimes colors in a book can overwhelm the original artwork, but that’s not the case in this book. The colors complement the line work smoothly and seamlessly.
            Damaged #5 is another solid issue in an already great series. Only one issue left in this mini, and I bet it’s going to be an explosive finish.