Four Letter Nerd

Author - Stephen Andrew

Black Metal 101

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I was about 15 or 16 the first time I was fully aware of what black metal was. As I’ve mentioned in probably 89 other articles, I grew up in a religious household, so I really wasn’t exposed to extreme music of any kind. Up to my mid-teenage years, the extent of my heavy metal knowledge was pretty much just Metallica and Pantera, with a little light Slayer thrown in for good measure. A dude I went to school with introduced me to Cradle of Filth (who will come up again later) and I was like, “OK, I dig the vibe, but the sound isn’t really grabbing me.” So then he put on some Dimmu Borgir (who will also come up again later)… “Aaaaaand I’m in.” The very first black metal album I ever really liked was Dimmu’s “Stormblåst.” After that, I began digging into everything black metal had to offer and I’m excited to share it with you!

Now, to clarify, this isn’t a necessarily intended to be a primer or a history lesson on black metal. If you need more history on the genre, and it’s origins, you could check out the Black Metal Wikipedia page or pick up a book on the genre (there’s also a great documentary you can watch called Until The Light Takes Us). This is simply a list of black metal artists and albums that you should check out if your interested in the genre but not sure where to start. I will offer some minor background info as I see fit, but I do strongly encourage you to look more into any band that might catch your attention.

For those of you who are metal fans and are only looking at this to see who I chose and if I know what I’m talking about, I promise you I know the differences between black metal, death metal, grindcore, thrash, etc. You’ll find some bands on here that blend genres but still qualify in the black metal category. Also, if you notice me describe something is a very simplistic fashion, please understand that it’s just so the newbies can understand it better.

OK, now that all that is out of the way, let’s hail Satan and get started!

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Credit: Keith Carlson, via Metal Injection

 

THE EIGHTIES

First you’ll want to go back to the beginning. Generally considered the Godfathers of Black Metal, Venom’s album “Black Metal” is a must listen, but you should also check out “Welcome to Hell” and “At War With Satan“.

 

There’s also, Mercyful Fate, and their lead vocalist King Diamond, who went on to solo career after the band separated. Check out “Abigail” by King Diamond , and “Melissa” by Mercyful Fate.

 

One of the greatest pioneers of black metal is Tom G. Warrior, who led both Hellhammer and Celtic Frost. The latter is important because they’ll actually pop up again later on as well, but for now, I’m going to recommend you check out their 1985 album, “To Mega Therion.”

 

Rounding out our 80’s black metal bands is none other than the almighty Bathory. I saved them for last because their self-titled debut album was a HUGE influence on the early 90’s black metal scene, but it was 1988’s Blood Fire Death that really solidified their place as juggernauts in black metal history.

 

THE NINETIES 

The 90’s were… a weird time for everyone. Black metal however, experienced some incredibly defining moments during the first half of the decade. Probably the most notorious band of the 90’s black metal scene was Mayhem (seriously, read up on them). While founded in the mid 80’s it wasn’t until 1994 that they put out one of the most influential black metal albums of all time, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”.

 

Dropping the same year, and equally as influential, was Darkthrone’s “Transilvanian Hunger.” (The album cover is the featured image for this article.) The band had previously released two fantastic albums, 1992’s “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” and 1993’s “Under a Funeral Moon” which you should also hear.

 

Another very influential album from the early 90’s era is “In the Nightside Eclipse” by Emperor. For me, this is definitely my favorite of all their records. The first time I heard the track “I Am The Black Wizards” it blew me away.

 

Burzum (which is basically just notorious black metal musician Varg Vikernes), was another important black metal band from the early 90’s. I recommend you check out “Hvis lyset tar oss.” It’s more atmospheric than the Mayhem and Darkthrone albums, and honestly more than a lot of the other early 90’s black metal albums, so if that’s more your thing than blast beat drumming and thrash guitar riffs, I think you’ll dig it.

 

If you prefer your metal more epic than raw I suggest you check out Immortal. Their best 90’s album, by far, was “Pure Holocaust”.

 

The last band I’m including in the 90’s section is Cradle of Filth, but I’d like to explain why. See, CoF gained most of their popularity in the 2000’s with well received albums like “Nymphetamine” in 2004, and “Thornography” in 2006. But it was 1998’s Cruelty and the Beast that the majority black metal fans will point at as a genre essential.

 

Before we move into the 2000’s, I’d like to include some “honorable mentions”, as it were. These artists and albums are in no way inferior to the ones listed above, I just can’t specifically list every single one that I’d really like.

GorgorothPentagram, and Antichrist

EnslavedFrost

Carpathian Forest – Black Shining Leather

Old Man’s Child – The Pagan Prosperity

 

THE TWO-THOUSAND’S

The early 2000’s saw many black metal bands who actually started in the 90’s start to put out some incredible albums, which in turn began to see the genre gain more legitimacy in the mainstream. Cradle of Filth’s “Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder” (2008) peaked at #48 on the Billboard 200, and Dimmu Borgir’s “Abrahadabra” (2010) peaked at #42. Just two years before that, however, Dimmu’s “In Sorte Diaboli”, which is easily one of the best epic black metal albums of all time, peaked at #43 on the Billboard charts.

I really want to mention another Dimmu album too, before I move on. As I said before, their album “Stormblåst” was what really got me interested in black metal, but not long after I heard that they put out “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” (2001). This is one that you have to listen to if you’re even a little bit curious about black metal.

 

In 2001, British black metal band Anaal Nathrakh put out their first album, “The Codex Necro.” They’ve released several great albums since (most recently, just this year, “The Whole of the Law“), but this is one band that you definitely wanna start at the beginning for.

 

Also in 2001, US black metal band Averse Sefira dropped their sophomore album, “Battle’s Clarion.” It’s kind of hard to find but if you can you should jam it. Check out their final album, from 2008, “Advent Parallax.”

 

This next band is the one I’ve been eagerly waiting to tell you about. They are my absolute favorite black metal band in the whole f—ing world. BEHEMOTH. They the total black metal package. Blast beat drumming, but still melodic. They’re symphonic and dramatic, but never lose an ounce of raw, honest aggression. They make you feel their pure, unadulterated hatred without sacrificing the quality of their music. They ARE black metal. They started way back in the 90’s, however, while I think you should go back and listen to it all so that you can better understand how much they’ve evolved, I’m going to recommend, first, my favorite album, from 2004, Demigod, and, second, their most recent album, from 2014, The Satanist.

 

Again, I can’t list EVERY album and artist I really want to, or this article would never end. But here’s a couple more honorable mentions from between 2000 and 2010:

Celtic Frost – Monotheist. Most people will say that this 2006 album is closer to doom metal than black metal, and they’re not entirely wrong, but there’s still plenty of black for this to qualify.

Immortal – Sons of Northern Darkness. I mentioned Immortal previously, but I’m including this album from 2002 because it’s my personal favorite of theirs.

Belphegor – Pestapokalypse VI. I got to see Belphegor play live last year and it was incredible. This is their 2006 album, which was their third release with Nuclear Blast records.

Leviathan – Tentacles of Whorror. This 2004 album was one of the first ambient black metal albums I ever remember listening to. I feel like it’s best consumed by listening through headphones.

 

THE TWO-THOUSAND-TEN’S

The past several years have been interesting for black metal. The lines have definitely been more blurred on what most people constitute “black metal” to be. Still though, it’s not like every era has been *exactly* like the one before it. It started pretty theatrical, then got MORE theatrical while also getting more serious and intense, then the serious theatrics took a turn toward epic but with a focus on the sentiment instilled in the 90’s, and now we find ourselves in a place where it’s started mostly being about homage, and an unadulterated love of the genre. Maybe not *the first* but definitely leading the pack is Deafheaven, form San Francisco. While they are inherently very different bands, I love Deafheaven just as much as I love Behemoth. I’ve seen them three times in the past few years. Like a lot of other black metal bands these days, Deafheaven evenly blends shoegaze into their style. If you’re not familiar with shoegaze, it’s often described as “a wall of sound.” So… blackgaze…? Anyway, you HAVE to listen to their 2013 album Sunbather.

 

Pre-dating Deafheaven, another great modern black metal band you need to check out is Krallice. Their 2009 album Dimensional Bleedthrough is phenomenal, but you should also hear their newest project, 2015’s Ygg huur.

 

Up in NY, around 2008, emerged Liturgy. They push the boundaries of transcendental black metal in ways that no normal mind can fully fathom, and believe me, I’ve tried. Their 2011 album Aesthethica is an absolute masterpiece, and coincidentally was produced by Colin Marston, the guitarist for Krallice.

 

Probably one of the most unique and distinctive artists in black metal right now is Myrkur. Danish musician Amalie Bruun is the mind and voice behind this one-woman black metal project. It’s epic, it’s dark, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Listen to the 2015 album, M.

 

Next up is Washington’s Wolves In The Throne Room. These dudes have been around since 2003 and have had a huge impact on the most recent wave of black metal bands. Every single one of their albums is fantastic, especially their first, Diadem of 12 Stars, but for this I’m recommending their 2001 album, Celestial Lineage.

 

Full-disclosure… I actually have been periodically working on this piece for a few months and originally had ended this section with WITTR, but then I heard about Zeal & Ardor and a whole new world opened up to me. So, there’s quite a story behind this band, and I strongly encourage to read it here, but suffice to say, Zeal & Ardor blend black metal with old negro spirituals and blues, among other genres. When I heard it I was instantly hooked. It’s maybe the most brilliant genre-bending I’ve heard since… hell, it may be the best genre-bending I’ve EVER heard. Listen to/download the entire album here (I highly recommend “Blood in the River” and “Come On Down”), and check out the music video for “Devil is Fine” below.

 

Honorable mentions:

Ghost Bath – Moonlover. This band is also often considered “blackgaze.”

Coldworld – Autumn. Amazing new black metal band from Germany.

Svart Crown – Profane. Hailing from France, Svart Crown is a little closer to death metal than black, but that’s why they call it “blackened death metal.”

Young And In The Way – When Life Comes To Death. YAITW blend black metal and crust punk. They’re one of the most poetically bleak bands I’ve ever listened to. I saw them live and it was probably the only time I’ve ever felt genuine uneasiness while watching a band perform. I can’t really explain it well enough. You just have to see it for yourself. Trust me.

 

OK, so… I know there’s a lot here to consume and digest, but I sincerely hope that, if you are someone who wants to get into black metal, you feel like I’ve given you some adequate options on where to start. I know there’s a whole lot of bands here but, just like any genre, each one has nuances that set it apart from other black metal bands so maybe this will at least help you narrow down your interests to which style and era is most intriguing to you.

Finally, I want to say one more thing to those of you who are long-time, committed, and possible “purists” of the genre. I know I left of a shit ton of great bands, like Satyricon, and Watain, and Dark Funeral (there, I found a way to include them). It wasn’t necessarily on purpose. There’s just so many great ones that it’s damn near impossible to list them all. But also, part of the fun of becoming a fan of new music is discovering bands yourself, so my hope is that new fans will stumble upon bands we’ve all loved for years and be invigorated by their discovery. We all have to start somewhere. Like, perhaps, with Marduk…?

Another New Year, Another New 4LN! Kind of…

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Happy New Year! Yes, I know it’s February already, but honestly, I’ve been drinking since November so I’m lucky to even be wearing pants right now sitting up straight right now. Even though it’s closer to Valentine’s Day than New Years Day, I still wanted to take some time out and share with all you wonderful nerds what’s up with us here at 4LN. I did this little “State of 4LN Address” last year (“New Year, New 4LN“) and it’s just a way that I can keep those of you who might be interested up-to-date on where we are right now and what our foreseeable plans are.

Writing something about 4LN is complicated because we have two core readerships: People who know us in our personal lives and support us even if they aren’t invested in our content, and people who really don’t give a s–t who we are and only check out the site BECAUSE of the content. And we’re OK with that. We appreciate all of you equally and we’re grateful when even only a few of you read something we publish. Honestly, if you fall into the latter category, you could probably just stop reading here, or skip to the bottom. I 100% can’t blame you for not giving a s–t about who we are individually, and the rest of this could come across as self-indulgent to you. I only say that to try and give you a fair heads up on what you’re about to get into. The rest of you, the ones who do know us personally, you have to keep reading. It’s mandatory.

Our appreciation and gratitude in spite of only getting a handful of views on something is afforded to us because we make absolutely no money, no monetary gain whatsoever, off of this website. Since we really have nothing to lose, it’s a pleasure for us when any of you take the time to read a comic review or TV episode recap, or check out one of our unboxing videos. However… the fact that we do no profit from our posts means that 4LN cannot always be the top priority for us. It’s unfortunate, but hey, that’s life. We have jobs and families, and responsibilities that will always require more attention than this website, and as (mostly) responsible adults, we know that our everyday life commitments are more important than this. It’s the reason a review may go out a couple days later than planned, or a YouTube video might get published a week past the date we would’ve liked. Preserving our way of life, and taking care of our families comes first. Every time. We’ve never had any misconceptions that 4LN would be our ticket to “the Big Time,” whatever that means. Sure, we’ve had high hopes and dreams, but not once did we ever assume that this website would become the sole means of income for any of us, let alone ALL of us. We’re not THAT delusional. We’ve cultivated it as much as we can, when we can, and abandoned things that didn’t work or weren’t viable for us. We consider anything we at least tried a success because it means we weren’t cowards.

Another reason things can be “feast or famine” around here is because it’s very easy for us to get overwhelmed and burned out, which can lead to weeks where there’s only one or two articles posted, and then others where we have something every single day. Admittedly, lately, it’s been more famine than feast. It’s not something we lament though. It’s a side effect that comes from only having a few regular writers, and occasional guest contributors. Like with literally anything that you do, if you do it a lot, it can begin to feel unfulfilling and you need to step back, breathe, reevaluate, and then proceed accordingly. For all of us, at one time or another, focusing less on 4LN was the way to “proceed accordingly.” At first, when one of us would express these feelings, I think the rest of us saw it as mutiny, but once our time in the chair came, we better understood those feelings. It’s completely natural and we’re all accepting of that now. I say all this to provide an explanation, not an excuse. We’re not looking for pity. Honestly, we’re not even sorry. We’ve chosen to make 4LN fit into our lives, rather than forcing our lives to revolve around it and these are simply side effects.

So, what does all this mean for 4LN? Well, it means… it means that we’re done. We’re ending. The time has come for us to put this venture to rest. It’s definitely tough. I mean, how do I say goodbye to what we had? The good times that made us laugh outweigh the bad. I thought we’d get to see forever, but forever’s gone away. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday…

Ha! JK! LOLZ! We’re not f–king going anywhere, BITCHES!

I’ve had people ask me about what happened to 4LN and why we aren’t doing as much. The honest answer is… we don’t take it as seriously now. Sure, we may never have expected that we’d ride this ship to “internet success and fortune” but we certainly attempted the “dress for the job you want” philosophy. We forced out content just because it was there to take up space and make us look busier. We’ve taken hard stances on things that, in hindsight, were trivial, and we’ve fought to the point of almost destroying friendships over things like… Batman (who isn’t a superhero, by the way). We just realized that none of this, no comic or movie or superhero, is worth being that rigid.

Last year we decided that we were going to be more open with our content and post about things that fell outside of the “nerd” label. That will continue. I anticipate there may be more music articles, as well as more lifestyle themed pieces. We’re also hoping to continue developing our video projects. We had a blast filming at Warped Tour last year, and we always enjoy shooting unboxing videos, so make sure to follow our Youtube page for whatever may pop up there.

We will also keep our “Positivity clause” in effect indefinitely. That’s the one thing that makes all of this worth it. Our only goal at this point, is to write about what we love, what we care about, what we want YOU to love and care about. It’s why we started, and it’s the sentiment we’re back to now. We have no desire to waste your time with negative and disparaging clickbait. 4LN exists, inherently, not because we’re all narcissistic pieces of garbage who craved 15 minutes of mediocre, ill-begotten fame (not *all* of us), but because we genuinely want to talk about what we love. It used to be just comics, games, and other typical “nerd” stuff. But we’ve evolved (or maybe devolved, depending on who you ask) and we can either quit or adapt. We’ve chosen to adapt. So yes, there will still be weeks we don’t post much, and then there will be weeks that we post an article every day. 2 years ago when we’d post an article a day, most weeks 3 out of those 5 articles were, frankly, bulls–t (maybe “superfluous” is a more sophisticated word?), and we were all probably just as indifferent to them as you were. That won’t happen anymore.

To summarize: 4LN is exactly what we want it to be right now. Casual. We’ve always identified as casual nerds, we enjoy nerd culture but we aren’t defined by it. 4LN will go forward reflecting that ideology. We’ll write, and shoot videos, when it’s convenient, and when it’s something we’re passionate about. To that affect, 4LN articles will, admittedly, not always be classified as “nerd”, but we guarantee they’ll always be written by nerds.

With Gratitude,
Stephen Andrew

4LN Comic Review – MARCH: Book One

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There aren’t a lot of comics that you *need* to read. There are a lot of comics that you *want* to read, and love to read, but most of those comics ultimately have no genuine impact on your life other than giving you something to talk about with your comic reading friends who (surprise, surprise) also already loved them. Most of the time you’ll forget those comics within days of having read them. Rarely does a comic, or graphic novel, come along that you *need*, I mean really, for the sake of your own social and cultural betterment, NEED to read. The ones you need to read are the ones that have a lasting impact beyond briefly being mentioned in those comic Facebook groups you’re in. MARCH is one of those “need” books. In fact, and this is quite a big claim, it might be the most “need” comic/graphic novel of all-time.

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The first entry in a trilogy of graphic novels, MARCH: Book One tells the life-story of Congressman John Lewis, with a focus on his childhood and his journey to becoming a leading fighter on the front lines of the civil rights movement. The story unfolds as Rep. Lewis is telling two kids from his district about how he got to where he is, and the setting is Jan. 20th, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated.

The opening of the book is a depiction of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, where Lewis walked side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as about 600 other marchers, in a peaceful protest, but they were blocked by state troopers and consequently attacked and beaten. It’s important that the narrative begin here because this was an pinnacle moment in Rep. Lewis’ life, and in the civil rights movement overall. The incident in Selma was broadcast all over television and shed a national light on the type of inhumane cruelty the black community had been suffering.

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Rep. Lewis lead a fascinating life. MARCH shows us what he was like as a young man, in his own words, and how even as a young boy he had a deep, intuitive understanding of the how precious life is, and how mistreating it can’t be justified.

Also, as someone who resides in a suburb of Nashville, it was bittersweet for me to see how our city is so closely tied to the fight for civil rights. Much of this volume of the story focuses on the peaceful sit-ins that Lewis helped organize at diners right here in the Tennessee capitol. I honestly had no idea that ever happened just outside my own backyard, and I, admittedly, felt a little shame that it wasn’t taught to me when I was in school, and that I hadn’t taken the time on my own to learn about it.

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Luckily for us, we have movies like Selma and The Butler to help us understand what life was like for the people paving the way for civil rights, and what life was like during that era, but there’s only so much a 2 hour movie can show you, and then on top of that they’re being told by artists. MARCH is an opportunity for you to see and hear what was going on through the eyes and words of a man who was actually there, fighting at the forefront of the movement. Sometimes it’s hard to witness, to see what they were enduring, but it is a historical part of this great country of ours, and one we need to be reminded of.

Recently, the trilogy set of MARCH has begun to sell out, so tracking down a physical copy of that might be tough, but it looks you can get a copy of Book One, as well as Book Two & Book Three (the first comic to win a National Book Award), through Amazon, and I’m sure places like Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million might have them as well. You can also check with your local comic shop to see if they have any in stock. If you can’t get a physical copy, all three are available in Amazon’s Kindle format, and through Comixology.

I want to strongly recommend that you get this and read it, and I even urge you to consider getting it for any kid in your life (son, daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.) from middle-school-age on. I believe it could teach them a lot about a time period in the U.S. that they may struggle to comprehend otherwise.

In addition to the crucial historical information, Rep. Lewis’ life is immensely inspiring, from his wise maturity at a young age through his firm resolve to fight for desegregation. At 76 years old he continues to be a man of strong determination and action. His story will open your eyes and give you hope. Get a hold of MARCH, by any means necessary, and let it move you, but more than that… let it motivate you.

Our Favorite Movies from 2016

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2016 has been… well, it’s left a lot to be desired. And even that is a *drastic* understatement. If you could personify the year it would easily be King Joffrey; A cruel, inherently evil little $h1+ with no regard for human life that we all just want to watch die a painful, painful death.

That being said, there have actually been some cinematic bright-spots on this incest-born bastard of a year, and we decided to share a few of our favorites with you, our beautiful, adoring tolerating readers! Enjoy!

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Actual photo of 2016

 

Jeff

Captain America: Civil War

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I wrote in the summer of 2015 of my fear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be over saturating us with too many movies and too many heroes.

“Civil War” proved my fears to be foolish. The third Captain America movie was arguably the best MCU movie so far. And it wouldn’t have been if it hadn’t been for all those previous installments developing the characters so their appearance in “Civil War” could be so effective.

Though it wasn’t perfect, “Civil War” put the MCU in a new direction that will keep those large box office gates rolling in.

 

Deadpool

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While “Civil War” was the champion of the traditional modern era superhero movie, 2016 also featured darker, more mature super hero fare. And leading the pack among these darker pictures was “Deadpool.”

“Deadpool” ignored every convention the MCU has created in the last decade. Earning an “R” rating for its mature themes and violence, “Deadpool” was what so many traditional comic book fans have been calling for in a superhero movie.

Throw in a fantastic performance from Ryan Reynolds, some well-deserved mocking of other Marvel properties, and a promotional campaign that might have been the year’s best helped make Deadpool one of the early hits of 2016.

 

Cam

Rogue One

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Man, what a fantastic ride “Rogue One” was. Not only are introduced to some really awesome characters, we also get to see Vader really let his hair down… you know, if he still had hair instead of a mess of burn scars and regret. Anyway, I loved that so many characters from both the prequels and the original trilogy made appearances – Red and Gold leader (from “A New Hope”) are leading their squadrons during the attack on Scarif, Dr. Evazan and his butt-chinned friend are still jerks, and NYPD Blue’s Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa – plus Felicity Jones is great as the lead role, and K-2SO is just, like, so sassy. Ultimately though, it’s Donnie Yen that steals the show. His blind monk/defender of the Temple of the Whills is just so awesome. Rogue One definitely sets the bar really high for the Star Wars anthologies.

 

Passengers

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I was originally going to use my second spot to talk about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (it’s great you should see it), but “Passengers” isn’t getting the love I think it deserves, so here we are.

“Passengers” is a really fun sci-fi film, with an interesting premise, a great cast, and a sleek-as-hell spacecraft.  If you look up the reviews (particularly the critic reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes, you will notice that it is hovering around 30% right now, while the unprofessional simpletons known as the ‘audience’ seem to enjoy it, giving it an average of 70%.  I must be more simple than most, because I loved it.  In a world filled with sequels, movies based on books, movies based on videogames, and the ever constant reboot, it’s refreshing to see something original.  And if that doesn’t win you over, you get to see Chris Pratt’s butt.

Honorable Mention – “The Hollars” with John Kr.. Kraz… Jim from “The Office” is a really great independent Dramedy that was more emotional than expected.

 

Stephen

Here’s the thing… if I’m being honest, most of my favorite movies this year are ones I already wrote entire reviews on (The Witch, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane), so I’d like to mention a couple movies that I loved this year but haven’t already “waxed eloquent” about. (Don’t act so surprised. I did the same thing last year.)

Arrival

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There are alien invasion movies, your standard Independence Day type invasion movies, and then there’s Arrival. It plays more like a modernized Twilight Zone story than it does like War of the Worlds. Not that I’m bashing those other flicks. They’re fun in their own way. Arrival is just… more substantial. It’s actually hard to talk about, or even compare to other films, without giving anything away. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who is the brilliant mind behind Sicario, as well as the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Time will tell how that turns out (I have high hopes), but for now, as much as I loved Sicaro, Arrival stands as his masterpiece. It has depth and emotion that alien invasion movies just haven’t ever captured, or even attempted to capture, before. The main cast is Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Adams plays a linguist who is brought in to attempt communication with aliens who’ve landed on earth, Renner is a theoretical physicist with whom she is partnered, and Whitaker is the military colonel who brings them in. Near the end, as the hidden elements of the story begin to reveal themselves, you just kind of sit there stunned, jaw hanging down, and the emotion hits you hard, and heavy. Arrival isn’t just good, it’s beautiful.

 

Don’t Breathe

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I love horror movies, of all kinds. Slasher, monster, demonic possession, torture, etc. If it’s scary and violent, it’s for me. The best, though, is when a horror movie can be intense without anything supernatural, and even attempt to be almost realistic, or are based on something real. Ravenous was like that, Kevin Smith’s Red State is like that, and Don’t Breathe is like that. It’s directed by Fede Alvarez, who made the Evil Dead reboot from a few years ago (which was absolutely perfect). Don’t Breathe is about three people break into a blind man’s house with the intention of robbing him, but they get much, MUCH more than they bargained for. Again, as with Arrival, I can’t say too much, but suffice to say, the ending is @#$%ing CRAZY, and there is an item used, in an abstract way of the word “used”, that you never see coming, and will never be able to forget. If there is one 2016 movie that I wish everyone would see, it’s this one.

4LN Music Review – Okilly Dokilly: “Howdilly Doodilly”

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For a while now, word has been travelling far and wide of the best darn-diddly Ned Flanders themed metal band this side of Ogdenville. I think the first time I became aware of them was when this O.C. Weekly profile piece started trending about a year ago. As a long time metalhead, and even longer time as a Simpsons-head (that nickname needs work), I could not have been more excited. At the time the band only had some demo tracks available, but those showed how much potential the whole thing had. This past week, Okilly Dokilly released their first full-length album “Howdilly Doodilly”, and it’s clear those demos were barely scratching the surface of possibilities.

 

 

The band, (rumored to hail from North Haverbrook, “Where the Monorail is King!”) self-describes themselves as the world’s only Nedal band (Ned+metal). I would almost 100% agree this is true. Their commitment to the tribute is admirable, as the members all go by “Ned” as well. There’s Head Ned on vocals, Stead Ned on guitar, Red Ned handling synths and keyboards, Thread Ned slaps the bass, and Bled Ned pummels away at the drums. (Even their manager gets in on it, going by Reverend Killjoy.)

Per the band themselves, “The lyrics are 75% Ned quotes and 25% other characters/original.” So right off the bat this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for Simpsons fans everywhere. If you are one of those die-hard Simpsons fans, you should consider getting the CD from their online store because in the liner’s they include exactly what season and episode each set of lyrics are from. With classics like “Ann Landers is a boring old biddy” and “I don’t want any damn vegetables”, you’ll be singing (screaming? growling?) along at the top of your lungs.

 

 

The spirit of the whole thing is probably somewhere between Tenacious D and Dethklok. It’s sort of parody and sort of homage, but they create something completely original out of it. Obviously their sound would fall closer to Dethklok, but there’s a playfulness that gives it that “Tribute” sense.

Musically, the band is pretty eclectic but, if I have to generalize, I’d say that overall the sound feels like “Burned Alive By Time“-era Evergreen Terrace mixed with some influence by 70’s Black Sabbath. It’s very early-mid 2000’s metalcore, but the synth and keys add a classic metal vibe to it. As I said though, it’s very eclectic, and you can pick out lots of different influences. For example, “You’re a Jerk” has a punk feel and sounds like it could’ve been a 90’s-era-AFI song,  “Press Destruct Button” reminded me of something off of Showbread’s “No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical“, and the song “Panic Room” starts with a ZZ Top-esque riff, but then when the “We’ll be safe inside our fortress when they come” verse kicks in the song hilariously changes to a Country Western style, borrowing from “She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain when she comes.” (Sadly there are no noticeable Andy Williams influences on the record.)

The first single off of the album is “White Wine Spritzer”, which they also shot a music video for that you can see right here!

 

 

“Howdilly Doodilly” is everything you’d expect a Simpsons themed metal album to be, and more. I haven’t stopped listening to it all week long. It’s heavy, fun, and delvers plenty of catchy tunes that I guarantee you’ll find yourself singing randomly throughout your day, which is pretty much what we already do with Simpsons quotes anyway, only now they’ll have melodies to go along with them!

The band has made the album available on Spotify, but I would strongly encourage you to buy it directly from them through their Bandcamp or their online store, the “Online Leftorium Superstore“. They’re completely independent and it’s really important to support independent music so that the artists you love (be they parody or otherwise) can keep serving up great jams. Also, this would make make a great holiday gift for that Simpsons lover/metalhead in your life. Just sayin…

You can get the album from iTunes and Amazon as well.

They’ve also announced that they’ll be supporting Mac Sabbath and Metalachi on the “Mockstrosity 2017 Tour“, so make sure you head out and catch them if they roll through your town! I know I’m going to!

 

4LN Movie Review – Doctor Strange (SPOILER FREE)

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Doctor Strange was the first comic book character that I loved beyond just fantasizing about flying, or being super-strong or fast. I loved him for existential reasons. I mean, I was a kid so it wasn’t like I understood it that way at the time, but I was drawn to the way he saw into realms that no other “superhero” could. He protected the world from invisible threats, and that fascinated me. The idea that he spent day after day risking his life to safeguard the world from things it never even knew existed, and it was mostly a thankless responsibility. I also was drawn to how he earned his powers through a process of learning to open his mind, rather than just through some accident or experiment. To add on top of all that the fact that he spent his entire life as an arrogant prick before being humbled by an accident and then going on to be the Sorcerer Supreme… It was like this “Saul to Paul” story, and for a kid who grew up in church, that resonated with me. (Also, his real first name is Stephen, and I’m pretty narcissistic so…)

Before I go any further, I will say that, while this isn’t a spoiler review and I will not reveal any specific plot points from the film, there will be some vague references and generalizations, as well as a few comparisons, that could still divulge more than you want to know. Read on at your own risk.

Film Synopsis: “Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.”

The film is pretty much a straightforward origin story (think Captain America: The First Avenger). We learn about the threat the motivates the second and third acts, and we meet Stephen Strange and get a sense of how incomparably talented he is as a surgeon and as an egotistical dick. Then we follow him on his journey through humility to reclaim his former glory, but along the way he realizes he’s destined for so much more.

I understand that the basic plot structure and story development feel a little… safe… for some people, but I comprehend it a little differently. Remember I mentioned “Saul to Paul” in the intro? Well, if you’re not familiar with that reference I’ll explain. The Paul spoken of is the Paul from the Bible. The one who wrote anywhere from 8 – 13 books of it (depending on who you ask). The story is that, before becoming a passionate apostle for Jesus Christ, Paul was named Saul and actually spent his life punishing those who claimed to follow Christ until one day he’s blinded and hears the voice of God telling him to quite being such a dick (I’m paraphrasing here). He then goes on to be what some would say was the greatest evangelist of the Christian gospel. The parallels between his story and the one given to Stephen Strange are quite apparent (and I would imagine that it could be on purpose, but that’s something you’d have to ask Stan “The Man” Lee). Stephen is a man of great talent, who puts his entire trust in science and reason, but finds himself crippled and unable to continue living the life he’s built. He goes in search of anything that could restore him but ends up discovering a whole new, more purposeful fate. I’m not staying it’s an exact replica, but there are many similarities.

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So, you’re probably thinking, “Dude, what’s with the f***ing bible story?” First, you should be ashamed of yourself for using that off-color language. Second, I’m getting to it, so don’t get your f***ing panties in a wad. The main reason I spent so much time on the Biblical comparisons was to better explain why Scott Derrickson was not just the best choice for director, he was the only choice. You see, Scott, from what I can tell, seems to have a legalistically religious background, which is something I share in common with him. From Wikipedia: “He graduated from Biola University (the Bible Institute Of Los Angeles) with a B.A. in Humanities, with an emphasis on literature and philosophy, and a B.A. in Communications, with an emphasis on film, and a minor in theological studies.” (Afterwards, he went on to earn a Masters in film production from USC School of Cinematic Arts.) He made The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which isn’t like any other demonic possession horror film out there, and he also made the tragically underrated Deliver Us From Evil. As I mentioned in my review for the later, Scott is very, very good at blending the supernatural with reality because he genuinely comprehends both of them differently than the average person, and Doctor Strange is proof that he perceives the possibilities and literal application of their coexistence. Scott also grasps the nature of Stephen Strange better than any other director that could’ve been considered because I think he sees those same biblical similarities that initially captivated me.

I understand that by using words like “biblical” and “religious” I could potentially be frightening you on what awaits in the film. I assure you, as someone who is no longer religious in any way, there is no propaganda or indoctrination. I just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to show you why this guy was the clear choice to take on the project.

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OK, so moving on to the acting performances. They’re all fantastic. There isn’t one weak link in the entire cast. I rarely make the right call when it comes to speculating on who should take on a comic book character role, but I actually called Benedict Cumberbatch early on and he didn’t let me down. I’d even go so far as to say that this is his least Cumberbatch-ian performance to date. I know that his Sherlock Holmes would probably make you think he’s perfect for Strange but they really are very different characters. The way he plays Sherlock is more smart and socially awkward. Sherlock isn’t really an asshole, he’s just so brilliant that his intellect dominates his personality. Stephen Strange, while also very brilliant and intellectual, really is just an asshole. Like, he could choose not to be, but he doesn’t. Benny (I call him that), also nails the emotional range for the character. There’s a moment when Strange is meeting The Ancient One for the first time and he begins to realize that, even though he was told to forget everything he thinks he knows, this is nothing like what he imagined it to be and he begins to lash out in a way that anyone who’s ever lost hope or faith can relate to 100%. In that scene, Cumberbatch makes you feel in your own soul the level of hopelessness that Strange is experiencing. I was moved by it.

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Aside from ol’ Benny, there’s Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, who in the comics is mostly Strange’s adversary but here we see him in more of a co-mentor role. He does a great job of playing the strong compatriot to Strange’s ever-questioning student. Tilda Swinton really shines as The Ancient One. She’s wise and unaffected by Strange’s skepticism, but even though you know there’s more to her than what’s on the surface there’s still more you don’t expect hiding underneath that. The character’s layers run deep and she shows each of them to us with authority and grace. Mads Mikkelsen plays Kaecilius, a zealous former student of The Ancient One. I love Mikkelsen in pretty much everything he’s in, and he serves his role well here. Kaecilius is harded and angry, he fights with merciless fury, but there is a moment that you briefly see the vulnerability that forged the path he chose and it’s easily Mikkelsen’s best performance of the whole movie. I’ve heard people say that Rachel McAdams’ role as Strange’s colleague, and former girlfriend, Christine Palmer was underused, but I argue that she served a very crucial element of the film, which is Strange’s remorse for his past behavior. They already have a rocky past, but after his car accident and ensuing spiral into depression, he treats her very cruelly and comes to regret that. Her forgiveness is a key element in shaping him into the man he becomes by the end. Easily the best standout in the film, though, is Benedict Wong as… well, Wong. In the comics Wong is more of a manservant/butler type, which is an unfortunate representation of the time in which the story was first created, but here he’s the librarian for Kamar-Taj, which is the name of the monastery where The Ancient One and the other sorcerers train and reside. He’s a no-nonsense dude with an invaluable wealth a knowledge. Also, he helps to make the movie so damn funny. His serious, “straight-man” performance to Cumberatch’s “awkward white guy” moments make for comedy gold.

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Probably the most compelling aspect of the film is the visuals. There are no words in any language that I’m aware of that when strung together could accurately and sufficiently describe what you’re seeing in this movie, but by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth I’m gonna try. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like the cinematography in this film, and I’m pretty certain that no film up to this point has ever been as ambitions as it is with the CGI. There’s never a moment where you think, “That looks fake.” It all looks completely real, every rotating building and collapsing floor. Even the mind-bending alternate realms have this structure and layering about them that make them feel almost believable. There are moments where you have to look down at the floor or at something else in the theater just to remind yourself that no one spiked your slushie or Twizzlers with LSD. It’s that hypnotizing. (I imagine that anyone who dropped acid while listening to “Led Zeppelin IV” or “Dark Side of The Moon” has already encounter most of what’s on display here.)

I saw the film in the IMAX 3-D format, and I know that most people don’t love the price tag that comes along with that, I sure don’t, but I would strongly encourage you to see it this way. I don’t think I’ve ever recommended the IMAX 3-D over the standard format in all of my time writing reviews, but this one was made to be seen this way. It’s not just a movie, it’s an experience. There were times that I found myself completely entranced with the depth and scope of the film. As someone who puts zero faith or interest in industry award ceremonies, if this movie doesn’t at least get some recognition for it’s cinematic visual achievements, then there is absolutely no justice in the world.

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All-in-all, Doctor Strange is a visual achievement, not just within the Marvel Cinematic Universe but the whole of film in general. The acting is superb, with Benedict Cumberbatch delivering what is maybe his most diverse performance to date, and the rest if the cast standing very strong alongside him. Scott Derrickson and Marvel Studios have crafted a magnificent film that threatens to consume you with astonishing visuals, but keeps you firmly grounded with a story that attempts to imagine the perseverance of the human condition on a realistically emotional level.

Also, when you head out to see the movie this weekend, make sure you stick around after the credits start to roll because their are 2 scenes you’ll miss if you leave early, and they’re both clues to what the MCU has in store going forward…

4LN Movie Review – Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories

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While trying to come up with the best way to describe Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, a line from a song I’ve always loved came to my mind. The song is called “Shake, Rattle (Snake), and Roll!“, by A Girl A Gun A Ghost, and the lyric is, “We’ll spill your blood. We’ll haunt your dreams.” Like, it’s so fitting that it should be on the film’s poster. The only way a lyric could more perfectly capture the tone of the movie is if there was a song called “Just A Whole Bunch Of Gore”, and the lyrics we’re something like, “Hey girl, I like your pretty face. But I’d like it better in pieces all over the place. Hey boy, that’s a cute smile you have. It’d be a shame if someone gave you a Colombian necktie and then literally stabbed you through the a**hole with a butcher knife before also repeatedly stabbing you in the chest and abdomen areas.” (I’m still working on the melody, but these lyrics are straight fire. Maybe I can the film’s composer Rocky Gray to help me track it.)

Last year I reviewed this film’s predecessor, Volumes of Blood, and called it “a clever, creative, and gore-tastic piece of film-work…” I genuinely love VoB, and to this day I 100% stand behind that review. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of VoB2:Horror Stories, excited about how it would expand on the original film, but what I couldn’t have imagined is the level of complexity that the filmmakers were weaving the story into this time around.

(There are potential MINOR SPOILERS ahead, but I’ve genuinely tried to avoid revealing too much. Read on at your own risk though.)

At it’s most basic, the plot of Horror Stories is about a house that harbors some dark secrets and terrible cruelty. Really though, the overall plot structure is actually very intricate. So much so that if you start trying to think about how all the segments of each film fit together to make up the entire picture, as it were, you will go absolutely insane. Like, Jim Carrey in The Number 23 level of insane. It’s like if Saw and Inception had a torrid love affair that produced a child, and that child grew up watching nothing but 80’s slasher flicks and then had a child of it’s own with another hypothetical movie-child that was the product of a one-night-stand between Donnie Darko and Memento, THAT child would be Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories. It’s almost as complex as this analogy.

There’s kind of an “anti-point” to the the film’s use of story complexity though. It’s intricate for fun, not to be pretentious, or because you actually have to know the timeline in order to care about what’s happening. All that really matters is the blood; and, by god, they don’t spare one drop.

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The movie is a blood bath. Literally. One of the segments is titled “Blood Bath” and it is about a killer bathtub. That’s f**king brilliant. I’ve used that term for over half of my life and the idea of an actual murderous bathtub never once dawned on me.

I don’t particularly *like* choosing a favorite segment, but if you twisted my arm (to the point of snapping it off and showering all those in my direct vicinity with blood) then I supposed I’d have to say it was “Fear, For Sinners Here.” This segment takes place around Christmas, and is about a woman who is clearly suffering some great anxiety, but you’re not entirely sure what. She’s greeted by some carolers at her door, which briefly lifts her spirits, but she returns to her anxious state once they leave. Coincidentally, her name is actually Carol. Later she hears singing again and believing they’ve returned she opens her door, only to find one, lone, ominous woman in a hooded cloak singing to her. This woman turns out to have some less-than-merry intentions toward Carol, and proceeds to deck her ever-loving halls. I’m trying not to give too much away here, but I wanted you to know about it enough for me to say that the actress who plays the Cruel Caroler, Julie Streble, was absolutely fantastic. The entire thing was amazing, and both women did great, but the way her character has almost two completely different personalities was well crafted and she executed it perfectly.

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There’s no way I can go into giving each and every segment of VoB2 the praise it deserves because this review would end up being 20,000 words long and none of us have time for that. Besides, once you see it you’ll understand why. The movie is summed up best in it’s final 10 or so minutes. It’s a barrage of violence that isn’t pointless, but is senseless in the most satisfying way. Allow me to explain what I mean… Most horror movies need a reason or point, or at least a slasher/killer that has one. Jigsaw has his need to impose self-righteous “lessons” to those with moral turpitude. In It Follows the “entity” is killing teenagers that have sex. Even Classic horror films aren’t exempt from the formula. Pinhead murders for punishment. Freddy and Jason are both basically killing in the pursuit of revenge. (Michael Myers is arguably the only one that seems to murder out of genuine instinct. He kills for the sake of killing, not for any tangible reason. But that’s a lengthy discussion for another day.) The VoB series has “The Face”, and he clearly kills with no real discrimination. In the last section of the film he serves up a spree of slaughter so excessively gruesome and hilariously violent that it makes Chucky look like a Monster High doll.

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If we gave out some ostentatious score or rating I’d certainly mark this one high. VoB:Horror Stories doesn’t pretend to be other movies, but it pays homage to the films that influenced it. It knows exactly what it is, and it indulges in it’s own self-actualization. You’ll cringe. You’ll laugh. From story to story you’ll find yourself enthralled and captivated. Assuming, that is, you have the stomach for it…

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Keep an eye out for Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories and make sure you catch a screening if it plays at a film festival near you!

Scumdogs of the Multiverse: An Interview with GWAR Comics Writer Matt Miner

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I’m a huge GWAR fan. The first time I ever heard them was on the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack, when I was like 15. My dad took me to see the movie and afterwards we went looking for the soundtrack. Once we found it I noticed a few bands that I was sort of familiar with, like Megadeth and Anthrax, but most of them I didn’t really know. I grew up in a “religious” household so R-rated movies and heavy metal weren’t a part of my life until my teen years (which, come to think about it, might actually still be normal even for kids who didn’t grow up in church), and so this was a real turning point for me. After listening to the whole CD a few times I found a couple songs that I really gravitated toward. One was “Crush ‘Em” by Megadeth, and the other was “Sadam A Go-Go“, by GWAR. There was just something about it that I loved so much. I started buying GWAR albums every time I got allowance money, and I’ve been a “Bohab” ever since.

As you all probably already know, earlier this week it was announced that The Scumdogs of the Universe themselves, the unholy GWAR, would be putting out their very own comic! A Kickstarter was launched, and mass pandemonium ensued. Here at 4LN, we were lucky enough to get ahold of Mr. Matt Miner, who has assembled the creative team and is handling writing duties on GWAR the Comic, AKA “Orgasmageddon”, and we asked him about his career, how this gore-tastic project came to be, and coffee. Check out our convo below!

 

 

4LN: When did you first get into comics? Was it something you discovered as a kid, or later on in life?

Matt Miner: Like I presume is true with most comic readers, it’s something I got into as a kid. I was that quintessential bullied young kid who escaped into a world of comics, punk and heavy metal, cartoons, computers (before they were cool), D&D, and pretty much every other nerdy thing I could find.

 

4LN: How did you initially get started writing comics professionally?

Matt: A few years ago. I kind of had an epiphany that was like “hey, dummy, you’ve always wanted to write professionally and you love comics, so why the Hell aren’t you writing comics?” I bought a bunch of books on comic writing, comic art, screenwriting, etc – I went and took a class from Scott Snyder – I took it seriously and went all in.

 

4LN: Your newest project has set the internet all abuzz since it was announced. You’ve partnered with the almighty GWAR for a Kickstarter project that would see them spill their brutality into the comic book world. I’m dying to know how this collaboration came to be.

Matt: Well, remember when I said I was a bullied kid who was into nerdy shit? Enter my love of GWAR that has remained for more than half my life, now. Back when I got into comics I had this idea that I wanted to do GWAR comics some day, if there was any possible way. I knew I was too new in the comics world back then, but after a few years in and several series under my belt I decided the time was right to approach them. I went down to Richmond and a mutual friend made the intros and we went from there.

 

Issue 1 standard cover - art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, color by Josh Jensen

 

4LN: The preview pages look incredible, and those #1 variants are amazing. Can you tell us a little about the rest of the creative team you’re working with on “Orgasmageddon”?

Matt: Sure! Jonathan Brandon Sawyer is a buddy who worked with me on Critical Hit, a book we did at Black Mask. He’s a punk and metal guy and when I started getting serious about pitching a GWAR book to the band, I went to him first. I love working with him and I think we make good comics together. When looking for colorists in my circle of friends, my first question was “are you a GWAR fan?” before I’d continue – I wanted to be sure most everyone working on the book is a fan who “gets it.” Lo and behold, Marissa Louise digs GWAR and man, her colors are just something else, especially on Jonathan’s lines. Taylor Esposito is a pal and a hell talented letterer who’s working with me on another book right now and he brought some really cool stylistic choices to the GWAR pages to give folks like Sawborg Destructo and Mr. Perfect a really unique looking voice. The only person who wasn’t already a fan was the editor Brendan Wright, but that choice was by design. It’s important that people who aren’t familiar with the band, and are just fans of good comics, can jump right into these books and have a great time. I knew from his work editing Archie vs. Predator and the Grindhouse books that he’d understand the spirit of the GWAR books and be a great fit on the team.

 

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4LN: It seems like more bands and musicians are jumping into the comics world these days. Four Year Strong and The Devil Wears Prada both produced comics to go along with projects they put out, Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance) basically runs his own imprint at DC, and even Slayer have jumped into the game with a comic based on their album “Repentless” coming out later this year. Not to mention, your “Liberator” project with hardcore legends Earth Crisis from a couple of years ago. What do you think has caused this shift in the landscape for music and comics that has opened both mediums up for more collaborative pursuits?

Matt: A friend of mine nailed this down the other day – right now we’re at a time when punk rock and comics are kind of overlapping, and the people who were spiky haired punks in their youth are creating comics now. The venn diagram of comics fans and punk and metal fans is overlapping a lot and I love it. There’s not a lot I’m more passionate about than dog rescue, writing, and punk rock and metal music.

 

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4LN: This next set of questions is our Lightning Round (short, mostly random questions; gut answers) Well I obviously have to ask, what’s your favorite GWAR Album? (I have to go with “Violence Has Arrived“, personally.)
Matt: Mine’s still “Scumdogs of the Universe” though I really love “Battle Maximus”. Their sound evolves but stays true to its roots.

4LN: What current comic should people definitely be reading?
Matt: Gerard Way’s Doom Patrol is one that comes to mind right away. I like Gerard, I like his comics.

4LN: I couldn’t think of a good enough question to work them in, but do you remember Caninus?
Matt: More dogs in bands, please. Woof.

4LN: Who actually has “The World’s Best Cup Of Coffee”?
Matt: I make a pretty great cup, myself. In fact, it’s about that time.

4LN: What was the last horror movie you watched?
Matt: Last one was Wes Craven’s Shocker, but last new one was probably The Witch or Conjuring 2. Most fun I’ve had with a horror movie lately is Deathgasm, hands down. Any GWAR fan would love that one.

4LN: Finally, After having worked with both Earth Crisis and GWAR, if you had your choice of band to collaborate on a comic with who would you choose?
Matt: Iron Maiden. Right? Right.

 

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to Matt for chatting with us! Click that Kickstarter link up at the top of the page to support “Orgasmageddon” and help make GWAR comics a reality!

Who Should Direct Deadpool 2?

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It was recently announced that Tim Miller, the director of Deadpool, had left the film’s sequel due to the commonly used explanation of “creative differences.” Apparently there just happened to be so many people simultaneously trying not to do any work, or pay attention to their loved ones, and therefore this seemingly innocuous news sent the internet into eruption! “MY GOD HOW WILL WE GO ON!” I myself wasn’t immune to the uproar. I believe my initial reaction, without having all the details, was mostly a barrage of expletive-laced insults aimed at the FOX executives. Then upon hearing that it was actually “creative differences” with Deadpool star, and all-around great guy, Ryan Reynolds my insults redirected from FOX execs and took aim at Miller himself. I’m #TeamReynolds all the way and I will not stand for that s**t. Finally, I ate a Snickers, calmed my tits, and reminded myself that this is all just business and there’s no cause for alarm. Tim Miller did a phenomenal job on Deadpool, but the extent of his involvement on the sequel, at this point anyway, was script work. He hadn’t actually signed on to direct yet anyway, so it’s not quite as crucial as myself, and all the other bored neckbeards made it out to be.

(Side note: There are also rumors that his departure could have been due to a disagreement with FOX over what the budget of the film should be.)

Then came the petition… Apparently, some asshat thought it would be a good idea to get people all riled up over the possibility of Quentin Tarantino taking on directing duties for Deadpool 2. First: sit the f**k down, Tarantino wouldn’t do this in a million years, or for any amount of money that FOX could possibly afford. Second: His style is so different from the tone of Deadpool that it would never feel right. Just because someone is a good film-maker doesn’t mean that they should do everything you want them too. I love The Witch, but it wouldn’t be a good idea for the director, Robert Eggers, to take on a Spider-Man film, because what he’s great at and what the nature of that character requires are two completely different things. (Although, I will say, I bet he could direct the s**t out of a Morbius short film. Get at me, Rob. I gots some ideas fo ya.)

Apparently, people are also throwing out names like Mathew Vaughn, Guy Ritchie, Edgar Wright (OK this one I could actually see working out), and even Seth Rogen & Adam Goldberg. Plus, there’s people out there who are clearly great at action-comedies, like Paul Feig and Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Again, all great people who have done great work, but none of them have quite the right… Je Ne Sais Quoi… to capture what Deadpool requires.

So where does that leave us… Well, just who would be qualified to direct Deadpool 2? Deadpool was Tim Miller’s first time directing. That was a gamble with a YUGE payoff in the end. For the sequel you want someone who has at least a couple projects under their belt; someone with a fresh perspective, who has proven that they can at least maintain the tone of the first film but also add their own special touch and expand beyond what we’ve already seen. They also need to be able to sync well with Ryan  Reynolds, because the man IS Deadpool. He rightly deserves to have at least half of the creative input for the character since he’s the man under the mask. Plus, Deadpool 2 has to be literally the funniest f**king movie on the planet.

I have scoured my brain to bring you a list of “up-and-comers” and some established filmmakers who I believe have the ability and vision to take Wade by his tiny baby hand and walk with him into the world of “Successful Sequels That Are At Least Comparable The First.” (We’re still working on that label name.) The list in no particular order is as follows:

 

Tommy Wirkola

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Wirkola would be most known for writing and directing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. A film that, while didn’t garner much critical acclaim, was received decently by audiences, as it made over $225 million off of a budget of about $50 million. What you may not know is that he’s also responsible for the cult hits Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead. Both films have been massive critical successes. Wirkola knows how to make a funny movie with an balanced level of action and fright. Not that Deadpool 2 would need the added fear-factor, but hey, it doesn’t hurt to have someone around who has a knack for it, especially if they wanted to introduce lesser known villains like Black Talon or Slayback.

 

Eli Craig

Craig started out acting in films like The Rage: Carrie 2, and Space Cowboys, where he played the younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ character Hawk. He went on to make the brilliant and hilarious Tucker and Dale vs Evil in 2010. After that film turned out to be a critical hit he was tapped to helm the pilot for the Zombieland TV show. That wasn’t quite as well received. I maintain that this is in no way a misstep on Craig’s part. Look, SOMEBODY was gonna make that show. He gave it his absolute best and there are some quality jokes in there, but recreating the dynamic of that phenomenal cast with actors you can pay a whole lot less was always gonna be a problem, and there was nothing he could’ve done about that. (He’s currently shooting a film titled Little Evil, with Evangeline Lily and Adam Scott, that not much is known about.) T&D is one of the funniest horror-comedies that’s ever been made, and I think Craig absolutely has what it takes to keep Deadpool’s middle-school sense of humor feeling fresh while capturing intense, smaller scale action sequences.

 

Rawson Marshall Thurber

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Not only is Thurber a handsome bastard the will steal not only your girlfriend but your sister, mom, cute aunt, ugly aunt, AND gam-gam, he’s also a seasoned writer and director with films like We’re The Millers and Central Intelligence in his repertoire. Oh yeah, and a little movie called DODGEBALL. Ever heard of it? Of course you’ve f***ing heard of it. It’s the actual definition of awesome. It solidified Vince Vaughn’s place as a comedy juggernaut, gave us the closest thing we’d ever get to Ben Stiller replaying Tony Perkis, and might be one of Rip Torn’s all-time best performances ever. Central Intelligence came out earlier this year and has already secured a spot as one of the best action-comedies this decade. Even We’re The Millers was a massive financial success, making $270 million off of a budget of $37 million. The guy knows funny, plus he’s proven he can craft an action film, AND who wouldn’t want to see that dapper fella standing next to Ryan Reynolds on the red carpet…?

 

David Gordon Green

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Green is easily the most experienced of this bunch. He’s produced several comedy series, including Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, and he directed Pineapple Express, which has some of the best lines Danny McBride has ever delivered on screen, and is also responsible (alongside Hot Fuzz and Tropic Thunder) for reigniting the R-rated Action/Comedy craze we’ve been enjoying. He’s also the brains behind the movie Joe, from a few years ago, which saw Nic Cage give his best performance since… hell, I don’t know… Adaptation? If he can do THAT, he can do ANYTHING. Green is a master of making funnier things either remain as funny or be funnier, plus he has an understanding of how to apply action movie dynamics to that formula. He also, however, knows how to make a dramatic film with tension, and Wade has some things in his past, some very emotionally heavy things, that would be brutal to see explored on screen alongside all the brain-exploding-headshots and fart jokes. It’s all about balance, people.

 

Christopher Landon

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You’re looking at that name and you’re all, “Landon… Landon… that sounds so familiar.” Well, you’re right. Chris is the son of Bonanza‘s own “Little Joe”, Michael Landon. Hollywood heritage aside, Christopher is an extremely talented writer and director. He wrote Disturbia (No, not that one. This one.), as well as many of the Paranormal Activity films, and he even directed Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. The main reason he makes my list, though, is Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. That movie made made me laugh so hard, and it had some really incredible small-medium scale stunts that I think show he’s capable of taking on bigger ones. The humor of that flick though, man, it almost dead on matches the humor of Deadpool, which is just basically just grown-ups making middle school style jokes with adult content, and Scouts is high-schoolers making middle school style jokes with adult content, so… I think you catch my drift.

 

Jason Lei Howden

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Howden isn’t just the final name on my list chronologically, he was actually a last minute addition entirely. While I was researching some other films mentioned above I was reminded of his directorial debut Deathgasm, and decided to look into his past work more. Now, Deathgasm is probably one of my favorite movies of the last few years, and not just because it revolves around dudes who play in a black/death metal band (I’m a HUGE metalhead), or because it’s one of the most beautifully gruesome horror movies to grace the screen in years. Well… OK, maybe it’s entirely because of both of those things. But once I began researching Howden’s career I instantly realized why he’d be perfect to take on Deadpool 2. See, Howden was a part of the visual effects teams on films such as Man of SteelGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, and The Wolverine; as well as Prometheus, and all 3 Hobbit films. I mean… right? Say what you will about some of these flicks, but it’s 100% undeniable that they are all massive visual accomplishments. Tim Miller also had visual effects work in his background before taking on Deadpool. (He worked on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and was the second-unit director on Thor: The Dark World.) When you think back to that car chase/crash sequence, or the ending where the “helicarrier” comes crashing down and all the insanity of that, and what must’ve gone into visualizing those scene… It starts to make sense that someone with that skill set would be a perfect choice. Plus, much like with Scouts Guide, Howden proves in Deathgasm that he can capture “lewd” humor in way that doesn’t feel like you’re just hearing the same 4 dick and fart jokes over and over, which is something Deadpool also easily achieved. Plus again, I just really like the idea of the director of Deadpool 2 being a metalhead so that there’s a possibility for a Cryptopsy cameo. (They’re Canadian just like Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool! THIS HAS TO HAPPEN.)

 

Look, I get that at this point there may seem like no perfect choice. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t even have complete faith in *all* of my picks. There was no way of knowing how it would work out with Miller on the original though, and I think that risk is what made Deadpool so exciting and such a success. They threw caution to the wind and made a bat-s**t-crazy flick with outlandish humor and excessive violence and now it’s, among many other accolades, the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. So let’s just all try to agree that a lower-profile director provides us the best chance at risky film-making which in turn provides us the biggest opportunity for a grand payoff. Or, I guess, it also provides us the best chance for a massive failure… huh. S**t.