Concert Review: Voodoo Glow Skulls w/ The Uncouth 3-5-17

Any Concert that lets me where a ridiculous Lucha Libre mask during the show (see above picture), is an A+ in my book! Thankfully, the Voodoo Glow Skulls happened to have some at their merch table, so I was all set. In fact, Lucha masks should really become the new hot fashion tend, I think it’s well past time for it to fall into popularity. All Joking aside, I was able to attend a outdoor night show at a local music venue called The Riot Room this past weekend, one of my first punk shows (I usually do metal shows). I don’t normally attend punk shows, mostly because the type of punk I like is largely not super popular anymore. I’ve never been a huge fan of hardcore, despite liking a few bands, and that pop-punk explosion in the nineties was something I think most old-school punks would have utterly hated as it was basically Hot-Topic in audio form. Thankfully, this show happened to be both types I actually like listening to conveniently in one small package.

This was a very short show for two bands (two hours and some change) so I don’t have a ton to talk about, so think of this as a punk version of one of my reviews on here – short and sweet. As usual, get ready for bad cellphone pictures galore.


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Opener: The Uncouth

 

Here is the band’s Facebook Page

Bandcamp page

Oi! is the old-school UK punk music scene that popped up in the working class areas back in the late 1970’s and 1980’s with the direct goal of uniting all working class punks. The prevalent ideology of the original Oi! movement was a rough brand of working-class rebellion. Lyrical topics included unemployment, workers’ rights, harassment by police and other authorities, and oppression by the government. This is exactly the sort of music the Uncouth specializes in. Being a big fan of eighties music, I was amazed that a modern band could capture that sound so well as this concert.

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Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, The Uncouth take the banner of all of their predecessors, and add a mid-western American flair to it – while the accent is different the sentiment is the same. One reason I don’t enjoy a lot of modern punk music is that it’s a bunch of songs about being a tough guy or losing a girlfriend, and thankfully this sort of band takes everything back to it’s roots. For instance, a song like Jonesy’s War is about a veteran of the Afghanistan war coming home to find that he can’t readjust to his old life. Resorting to drinking and other self-destructive tendencies, Jonesy is still basically at war, and as the chorus shouts, “Jonesy’s a prisoner of war!” It’s a far cry from bands like Sum 41 and Blink 182.


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Headliner: The Voodoo Glow Skulls

Their website

The other kind of punk music I like is ska-punk because I’m a huge fan of old-school ska music (and I’ll be getting to see The English beat in a few weeks). When most folks think of this type of music, they tehy of the sort of stuff that always plays at the Van’s Warped Tour every year, bands like Reel Big Fish. Not being a fan of those guys, I wwas pumped to see The Voodoo Glow Skulls coming to Kansas City after a buddy of mine showed me some of their stuff a while back. And honestly, any band where the lead singer sings a few songs wearing a lucha mask is great.

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Outside of California, this Mexican-American ska punk band is perhaps best known for having some of their songs pop up in movie soundtracks.The song “Shoot the Moon” from the band’s Firme album was used in the Pauly Shore movie Bio-Dome and the band’s version of “Used to Love Her” (originally written and recorded by Guns N’ Roses) is featured in the Mr. & Mrs. Smith soundtrack. They mix a lot of old school ska styling (they sort of remind me a bit of Bad Manners) with their Latino heritage into something  awesome. I feel like the United States is due to another ska revival after the one in the mid 90’s fizzled out – here’s hoping they sound like these guys!

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This show had a small, but great crowd, and I saw my first ska version of a mosh pit. Since I’m too old to jump in there (I usually mess my back up moshing) I admired it from afar, doing my standard head-banging that I usually bust out at shows. I will have to keep tabs on the local punk scene more, because if bands like this are starting to get big in Kansas City, I may have to attend more shows.


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Mortis Mutilati – Mélopée Funèbre [2015]

“This sets the stage for an album that coveys a disturbing correlation between love and death – and a hint that perhaps they are not mutually exclusive”

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Cover – Credit Bandcamp

 

 

For my first review on Screams of the Forest, I wanted to immediately take myself out of my comfort zone and review a band I had never heard of. When I first decided to do this site, my intention was to help myself appreciate a lot of the digital music I’ve been listening to as of late, and hopefully share bands with other people that may not have heard of them. Granted, this blog is going to mainly be a blog devoted to bands that lie somewhere in the neighborhood of black metal, mostly atmospheric, folk, pagan, or depressive black metal, but I feel that we are in the midst of a new era for this genre, and there is plenty of variation out there to cover such a seemingly narrow topic. Being an unexperienced hack when it comes to music writing, I feel like this is a good way to hopefully allow myself to produce decent articles that are a bit out of the mainstream as well as avoiding the numerous clichés that I see most music writers doing.

With that out of the way, now for the topic at hand.

Aside from Gojira, I will admit that I am fairly oblivious to the French metal scene (feel free to recommend bands). One always hears about numerous European countries in most metal discussions, but rarely have I heard any talk about French musicians that aren’t pop singers. Many years ago, I was somewhat scared away from French music altogether under a somewhat unfortunate circumstance.

You see, I once had a roommate that listened to French Hip Hop 24/7, a genre that was simply not my cup of tea at all. This was made especially odd, considering the fact that I am not, not have I ever lived in France – I’m American and so was he. I actually tolerate rap and hip-hop in small doses, but there was something disingenuous about the French variety that completely killed it for me. Perhaps writing off an entire country due to my dislike for a narrow genre of music was somewhat immature, and I now see my mistake every time I travel to Bandcamp.

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Macabre – Credit – official Facebook Page

I stumbled upon Mortis Mutilati under a somewhat silly circumstance, in that I fell in love with the album art for Mélopée Funèbre, the very album we are going to discuss today. Despite the inherent shallowness of choosing to listen to a band based on either a cool logo or a cool cover, I immediately enjoyed what I heard. This was a band, that had a different sound than what I was used to when thinking about “standard black metal” if such a thing even exists. The man behind this aural funeral procession calls himself Macabre and has released three full length albums so far including 2012’s Sombre Neurasthénie [Dark Neurasthenia], 2013’s Nameless Here for Evermore and a handful of demos and splits.

The album starts with a somber acoustic piece entitled Mélopée Funèbre, the title track, which paints a melancholic tone with faded out guitars and haunting angelic voices. This sets the stage for an album that conveys a disturbing correlation between love and death – and a hint that perhaps they are not mutually exclusive. Other songs Such as Ophelia, and Eros and Thanatos continue this theme without a single musical note straying from the overall tone of the concept.

Rather than employing the often-muddy “wall of sound” artistic style found in a lot of black metal, Macabre paints a “dirgy” soundscape full of melodic guitar riffs peppered with aggressive drum beats. While I bet there are many other bands that sound far more similar, my mind immediately drew a connection to the way a Ukrainian band called Drudkh sounds most of the time, and their use of guitar and solos vs the harshness of other black metal bands. This harmony of sound styles somehow works in a way that conveys the theme of death and funerals without succumbing to the clichés of most depressive black metal – being angry for no reason, or too heavy to elicit the feelings that the genre is supposed to bring out. It also helps that Macabre, himself, pierces his music with a sorrowful set of vocals that really help convey the tone.

I mentioned the acoustic piece earlier, but there are a few more notable stylistic choices found on the album including piano pieces, and even a section found on the final track of the album (Fingers of Death) starting with a section that would most normally be heard in a drone metal album. This shows me that Macabre is not a slave to the tried and true “paint by numbers” approach to black metal, but this isn’t some sort of pretentious “experimentation for the sake of it” affair either.

All-in-all this was a solid listen and one of my favorite albums of 2015 – I highly recommend it.

Attack the Block (2011)

 

As much as I like big budget sci-fi films, there has been a sad trend lately where they all have to cost hundreds of millions of dollars with no substance, and many fall by this fact. In the case of John Carter of Mars, Disney set it up so that it would have to gross over 600 million smackaroos just to break even (!), a fact that makes me mad and reminds me that these Hollywood folks have no idea what they are doing. It’s no wonder that some of the better, more talented directors of our time have had to deal with smaller budgets in foreign markets and as a result have come up with better films.  Recently we had District 9 from South Africa, District B-13 from France (neither are related ..lol), and a new movie (for me) called Attack The Block from Great Britain. These films struck me as far more endearing than a lot of recent big budget Hollywood sci-fi films in that they did not rely on cookie cutter action heroes, and looked a lot “cooler”, more vibrant, and more expensive than their Hollywood brethren.

Since I mentioned atypical heroes, nothing can get less “mainstream” than a gang of juvenile delinquents. And no I don’t mean the whitewashed leather jacket and cigarette smoking kind of delinquent found in many 90’s teen movies trying to be edgy (or the Fonze); we’re talking foul-mouthed criminals that deal drugs and get in fights. In fact, we first find our group of protagonists engaging in a mugging at knife point! In no way does the film try to glamorize this fact, or lessen the fact they these are generally bad people, and this becomes a big plot point in the film. This mugging is broken up by an alien crashing into a nearby car, to which our gang of reckless heroes kicks it’s skull in. what they don’t know is that their arrogant display of faux invincibility has brought repercussions that they couldn’t dream of. In their quest to make a ton of money selling the dead alien, they have unwittingly brought an alien invasion to their council tower block.

This plot set up vaguely reminds me of the initial set up for the immensely popular anime film Akira, in which a biker gang composed of drug dealers ends up saving the world. This always seems to work better for me than your normal action plot in that it has built-in character development. Why waste time coming up with a way to have your chiseled jawed dopey eyed action hero fall from grace, when you can have your heroes literally start out at the bottom of the barrel. Our main character Moses, as played by John Boyega, is struggling to avoid falling into the traps of organized crime within his community. He’s getting increasingly into worse activities like drug dealing via the local self-styled “boss” of the flats Hi-Hatz. He feels bad about trying to mug the aforementioned nurse Sam, and we follow the character as he “grows up” and realizes that there are always effects for the things you do.

Aside from the plot, Attack the Block succeeds in having a good-looking alien menace to contend with. Instead of human-like creatures we have a race of gorilla-wolf monstrosities with no eyes, glowing teeth, and shaggy black hair. The animalistic nature of these creatures coupled with the few gory scenes of people getting ripped out throats makes these guys fairly intimidating. Good thing our rag-tag gang of misfits has a ton of “teenager weapons” like Katanas bought off the internet, illegal fireworks, and super-soakers filled with gasoline.

Last, but not least, we can’t forget the great job in directing that Joe Cornish did. It was amazing to realize that this was actually his first big film, although he did help write the very awesome Tintin movie last year. Nothing is wasted in the direction, and it doesn’t feel padded out at all. The flashy up-tempo style reminds me a bit of other UK directors like Edgar Wright and Guy Ritchie, but not so derivative that it seems like a copy. If Cornish decides to revisit this movie, I would love to see a sequel, as it ends in a sufficient manner to end the narrative, but leaves it open to more alien killing “badassery.”

Bottom Line: this has been on Starz lately here in the U.S., check it out!

Here’s a trailer from Youtube: