Dark Moor – Project X

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If you take anything from the new album by Spanish outfit Dark Moor, it’s that they really believe in the existence of extraterrestrials. Flying at improbable speeds and covered in bright flashing lights, their latest flying saucer shaped release, Project X (Scarlet) will capture you in its tractor beam and transport you to an alternate dimension where cheesy ’70s and ’80s influenced Power/Prog rules the galaxy from its bejewelled, golden intergalactic space throne.

After the conclusion of short intro ‘November 3023’, the first proper track, ‘Abduction’ takes over, and although containing nothing new or hugely remarkable (and sounding a little too much like Within Temptation‘s ‘Stand My Ground’ for a while), is still a nice, pacey little number with just the right amount of keyboard and choral backing, while singer Alfred Romero‘s vocals are clear and earnest in their delivery. The opening piano strains of ‘Beyond the Stars’ may get people of a certain age picturing a denim clad Bill Bixby walking alongside a lonely highway, wearing a brown jacket with a backpack slung over his shoulder, trying to control the raging spirit which dwells within him. The track soon changes up a gear though, and with the help of some female backing vocals, quickly turns into a space age version of Grease, complete with a stupidly infectious ‘Greased Lightning’ chorus.

With mentions of Area 51 and Men in Black, ‘Conspiracy Revealed’ opens with a riff reminiscent of Adam Khachaturian‘s ‘Sabre Dance’ and you can almost picture Mulder and Scully putting their differences with the Cigarette Smoking Man aside for five minutes while they all dance their little socks off with big grins and hand jives. Things slow down for a while during ‘I Want to Believe’ as Mulder and Scully dance together slowly, staring into each others eyes, while The Lone Gunmen hold lighters in the air and The Cigarette Smoking Man trudges off into the darkness, alone and muttering threats about abductions and alien implants.

‘Bon Voyage!’ has another movie musical vibe, part Grease and part Rocky Horror Picture Show with a hand-clap section (which bizarrely works), Queen style backing vocals and the most Brian May of all guitar solos, with even a couple of jaunty “WOOOs!” thrown in for good measure, meanwhile probably the heaviest track on the record, ‘Imperial Earth’, features a beefy riff, powerful vocals, big drums and a couple of spoken voice sections reminiscent of those in ‘Flash’ by Queen when dialogue from the film occasionally comes crashing in. It would come as no surprise to absolutely anyone if ‘Imperial Earth’ was to suddenly erupt with cries of “dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body!”

Blatantly stealing that tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, penultimate track ‘Gabriel’ is steady but unspectacular, and really only memorable for that bit of musical pilfery. Things pick up for the grand finale, though, and the album ends with ‘There’s Something In The Skies’, a wonderfully overblown eight minute Prog sandwich, literally dripping with cheese and melodrama.

A more streamlined affair than a lot of Dark Moor’s previous work, some fans may be disappointed with how the band have dialled back the orchestral and female vocal side of things, but the record contains enough quality to keep most people happy and maybe even bring a few new fans into the fold because of it.

 

7.0/10

 

GARY ALCOCK

Nordic Giants – A Thousand Furs: Live at The Deaf Institute, Manchester

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Youthful trio A Thousand Furs mix delicate chords, synth and pulsing alt-rock with a vocal performance soaked in sensitivity. Their charming in between banter concerning graveyards aside, they garner many an approving nod from the near full room. Reminiscent of Jeff Buckley, his wiry frame belies the angelic vocal backed with some fine fretwork. Angular, emotional rock done right. A real one to watch.

Athousandfurs, by Rich Price Phptography

Athousandfurs, by Rich Price Phptography

Athousandfurs, by Rich Price Phptography

Athousandfurs, by Rich Price Phptography

From the moment the strange visuals and haunting electronic pulses begin the audience are captivated. ‘Evolve Or Perish’ sees the two band members draped in attire reminiscent of the “hawkmen” in action hero epic Flash Gordon. Despite the elaborate costumes the feathered duo, let the music speak for itself delivering an astounding sound clash of piano, synth, violin bowed guitars in a truly exhilarating assault on the senses.

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Phptography

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Photography


The strange films that accompany their set were a mysterious ailment causes scuba divers to only be able to breathe e from oxygen tanks who they murder each other for. Their splendid presentation fits their opulent, yet imitate surroundings. Transfixed the audience hang on each sample, eerie monologues augmented by lush piano and tribal rhythms.


‘Rapture’ featuring the exquisite vocals of Beth Cannon lures you into a clandestine world from which you never wish to escape so mesmerising is the experience.

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Photography

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Photography

Much of tonight’s set is derived from debut full length A Séance Of Dark Delusions (Kscope) in its entirety before bringing out some inspired older cuts, like the bewitching ‘Together’. This is a truly electrifying experience which elevates performance art into brave new forms. Two thirds of A Thousand Furs join the ‘Giants for a spellbinding performance of ‘Dissolve’ putting the icing on the cake of a truly momentous evening.

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Photography

Nordic Giants, by Rich Price Photography

WORDS BY ROSS BAKER

PHOTOS BY RICH PRICE PHOTOGRAPHY

Heavy Metal Movies – by Mike “Beardo” McPadden

 

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Heavy Metal Movies (Bazillion Points), written by Mike “Beardo” McPadden is a project the likes of which any metal geek-movie geek fusion would be proud to have accomplished in their lives; proof that they have indeed seen more movies than you, and can tell you how headbangingly awesome each is in their own way. Indeed, this titanic titanium tome does indeed show, rather than tell the sheer amount of neck-snapping cinematography observed by one man needed to even dare a book of this lethal thickness. From A to Z, it’s an outpouring of movie mayhem and magick from teenage stoner boners to Nordic loners; rockumentaries and mockumentaries; canon appearances by the metal gods on screen and on record; from swords to spaceships, and from monsters to Manson (Editor’s note: both Charles and Marilyn), this book packs it all in, dating from the silent era Nosferatu (1922) to the modern Hollywood bombast of The Hobbit (2012) and a whole hell of a lot of stuff in between that inspired distortion, patched denim, leather, and poor hygiene worldwide.

 

No small undertaking, indeed, and it is by no means exhaustive —there’s only so much movie madness a man can take, what with repeated viewings— but after the decades of retinal abuse, surround sound pounding, and mental torment the equivalent of ten thousand screaming Metal shows, with enough theatre expertise to fill a million beer-drown’d dive bars, is it worth viewing?

The first thing to take into account is that not every movie will get equal attention. It’s clear which movies Mike is not entirely familiar with, as some get a full, comprehensive summary, and others read like a short IMDb synopsis. The subjective nature of movies also may lead you to find yourself disagreeing with him from time to time. For instance, he totally trashes the 1995 Judge Dredd, but gives praise to How To Train Your Dragon (2010); no bueno for me there, bud. Nevertheless, you’ll find great joy in flipping through at random, finding movies you’ve either seen and loved/hated or only heard of; from underground foreign titles that only exist on VHS to the readily available titles in a store near you, you’ll not be stuck for heavy viewing material.

 

All eras of metal mania on the big screen are represented, and no genre is left untouched, except perhaps romance, because romance isn’t metal. Half the fun of looking through this book is seeing the posters of movies both familiar and obscure, drinking in all of the imagery and titles that inspired rock, metal, punk and hardcore’s unique sense of aesthetic. While the weight of the book and the inclusion of so many titles show that a lot of thought and work went into its making, it does fall short with the apparent lack of peer editing.

 

For instance, the Eraserhead review reads awkwardly, mentioning Jack Nance’s iconic hairdo twice, in amnesiac fashion. As entertaining as the ‘reasons’ for why a movie is metal are —marked none-too-discretely by pentagrams—, an index would be oh-so helpful; what if I want to specifically flip to more post-apocalyptic movies, movies specifically with metal soundtracks, or ones that deal with censorship, or have fun with possessed nuns? He misses the chance to reference grind band Maruta’s name in relation to Men Behind The Sun (1988); how many other small oversights have there been that steal from the overall potential richness? The book is, frankly, quite messy due to the lack of features that make it easy to selectively navigate, but as I mentioned, it’s best for flipping about aimlessly. Be prepared to hellhound-ear this thing to hell.

 

Where the book fails, however, its strengths are there to remind you that it’s all in good fun. Sure, it’s not a definitive encyclopaedia with every single cool moment delineated scientifically for your judgmental camera of a brain. It’s a book by a geek, geeking out in print, for other geeks to enjoy. Want to know about every Metallica documentary, every Alice Cooper cameo, and just how many Z-grade alien movies you can watch without cooking your brain? If you’re willing to have a chaotically heavy and at times, brutally eggheaded read under 666 pages, by all means, go for it.

mike-blog

7.5/10

Buy Heavy Metal Movies here

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Bazillion Points on Facebook

 

 

SEAN PIERRE-ANTOINE