Friday, October 31, 2008

Concert Review: Blackest of the Black Tour 2008, Featuring Danzig & Dimmu Borgir, Dallas, TX

Thursday, October 30, 2008
Blackest of the Black Tour 2008 Featuring: Danzig & Dimmu Borgir @
Dallas, TX - The Palladium Ballroom

       Rarely does such a perfect grouping of the darkest of heavy metal bands perform together but on October 30th, the legendary Devil’s Night, the “Blackest of the Black Tour 2008” came to Dallas, Texas, featuring Danzig and Dimmu Borgir with Moonspell, Winds of Plague and Skeletonwitch. All the supporting bands were exceptional but the biggest draw came with Dimmu Borgir and Danzig, the headliners for this night of dark revelry. Like a black mass did fans of Norway’s black metal band Dimmu Borgir take the stage around 9:00pm with a huge banner depicting the cover art to last years album In Sorte Diaboli depicting a 10-foot-tall satanic goat surrounded by a host of faceless clergy and flying fallen angels behind them. As the band gathered, the smoke rising and the light effects creating an eerie glow they began with their epic “Progenies of the Great Apocalypse” from 2003’s Death Cult Armageddon. With vocalist Shagrath, Galder on guitar, I.C.S. Vortex on Bass and backup vocals, Mustis on Keyboards, unfortunately, lead guitarist Silenoz, along with their usual drummer Hellhammer were not present at this concert. Instead, a guitarist and drummer from Suspiria played with DB.
            DB followed with a long set including older and newer songs such as The Serpentine Offering, The Sacrilgous Scorn, In Sorte Diaboli, Reptile, Kings of the Carnival Creation, Puritania, and Spellbound. With an impressive set and usual macabre theatrical performance, DB prepared the crowd for the main headliner Danzig, after an unusually long setup period by the stagehands Danzig was ready to take the stage around 11:00. As the stage was decorated with the classic Danzig skull on basic black and the newer skull with tentacle design from 2004’s “Circle of Snakes”, they began with Wotan’s Procession from the same album before opening with Skincarver from the same album. Danzig then proceeded to play a multitude of songs chronologically from his first, second, third and fourth albums such as Twist of Cain, Am I Demon, Killer Wolf, Her Black Wings, How the Gods Kill, Brand New God, along with Lilin from Danzig 6. Surprisingly they did not perform any songs from Danzig 5 or 7.
            As this tour commemorates the band Danzig’s 20th anniversary (1988-2008), most do not recall his time as the front man of "Samhain” (1983-1986) after the breakup of the original punk legend “The Misfits” (1977-1983) which Glenn Danzig founded but has since estranged himself from any association with his former band. Look for last years release of Danzig’s double-disc “The Lost Tracks of Danzig” album, which is featured prominently on this years tour T-shirt.

The “Blackest of the Black Tour” 2008 is definitely the most diabolical metal tour in years and as Dimmu Borgir gain more notoriety here in the U.S., so too will Danzig hope to continue shredding for more years to come!

Friday, August 15, 2008


   When a group of popular actors embarks upon a controversial Vietnam War movie they are thrown unawares into a real jungle warzone! This whole movie is a hilarious satire on Hollywood, actors, and what the business of movies in general, has become. Director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan), unsatisfied with the films progress and his constant berating by the films producer Les Grossman (Tom Cruise), decides to take the crew out of the studio and into the jungle to film the rest of the movie when everything goes horribly wrong and the whole cast encounters a Cambodian opium ring and has to fight their way out with fake guns and no catering!
    Ben Stiller stars as Tugg Speedman, a popular action star whose dwindling action career after a string of over the top action "Scorcher" movies and one serious drama as a "retarded" farmhand leads him to portray John "Four Leaf" Tayback (Nick Noltes alter ego) a supposed Vietnam War hero who whose book about his heroic efforts and the "alleged" loss of his hands. Robert Downey Jr. stars as Kirk Lazarus, a talented, Oscar-winning, Australian actor known for his highly controversial parts and his deep commitment to his roles, plays Sgt. Osiris, but in order to play this role he transforms himself with surgery and make-up to become black/African-American, and never breaks character! Jack Black plays Jeff "Fatty" Portnoy, a drug-addicted excess driven comedian/actor known for his movies "The Fatties". Brandon T. Jackson plays hip-hop entertainer turned actor Alpa Chino, who makes millions of his product endorsements.
    Both Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stillers' characters are the epitome of this films pop-culture satire as Downy plays the actor who will do anything to win an Oscar and Stiller as the actor that becomes so type-casted as a character that he cannot escape it and ruins his life and career forever. With an all-star cast, this movie, despite its initial negative criticism, is not just some fun comedy, it has a profound underlying criticism of Hollywood and celebrities.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Very rarely does a movie sequel prove to be better than it's original. Lately, with the trend of popular comic book film adaptations, the sequel, very often, has been much more successful, such as X-Men 2 (2003) and Spider-man 2 (2004). With the release of Batman Begins (2005), the comic book adaptation and DC comics ushered in a new beginning in comic films. Unlike Superman Returns (2006), while trying to cash in on the same concept, met with much more criticism and less success. The much-anticipated sequel to the Batman franchise began with not just the announcement of the return of director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman but with the announcement of a new villain. As in Batman Begins the introduction and first-time movie appearance of second-string villains such as Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul (although fan favorites, and mine!) the next villain had to be a major one to be a success and they found one with actor: Heath Ledger as The Joker! With past bat-villain flops such as Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, both film-makers and fans knew it would be hard to give new life to Batman's number one arch-nemesis having so impressively been played by Jack Nicholson in 1989's Batman. With the new Ledger-Joker, the most dangerous and psychotic of Batman's villains, gives more of an intensely disturbing depiction with Ledger's overly eccentric and scarred Joker. Not only would young actor's role give even more hype and excitement to the movie but also would Ledgers untimely and tragic demise (Jan. 22, 2008) six months before the initial release of the film.
  Although the focus of the movie is on Joker, as he almost steals the show; the plot of "The Dark Knight" is about Batman dealing with the reputation he's created in Gotham City and how his presence has affected the crime rate. With bands of roaming vigilantes dressed up as Batman are creating havoc alongside the chaos of the Joker and his rise in the crime world it proves what Gordon, now police commissioner said in the last scene of Batman Begins foreshadowed: "escalation". All of the cast of Batman Begins returns but with one exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes instead of Katie Holmes and the addition of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and as the new secondary villain: Two-Face (previously played by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever (1997). The Dark Knight is a long and intense movie with an impressive story and deeply thought provoking themes. If not for Batman, you would almost mistake it for a blockbuster true-crime story which make it all the more real and disturbing and great!

    Since its release, "The Dark Knight" has become the #2 all-time in the USA box office (above Star Wars (1977) and just below Titanic (1997) and remains the most popular comic book movie as previously held by Spider-man (2002), now in the 8 spot.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


    I first became a "Hellboy" fan in 2001 when I discovered the first graphic novel while working at a local comic book store. Since then I have been a devoted fan of all things Hellboy, including anything B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) related! When the first movie was released in 2004, I was blown away by director Guillermo del Toro's film until then the I had only seen Del Toro's American film "Mimic" (1997) and would search out his Spanish-language films such as "The Devil's Backbone" (2001) and later "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006). Already impressed by del Toro's vision and imagery I was eagerly awaiting Hellboy's sequel this summer.
    I have realized over the years being both a moviegoer and comic book fan that the line between comics and movies has been severely twisted. With older classics such as Richard Donner's "Superman" and Tim Burton's "Batman" (1989), which I had grown up adoring. I was always aware that any comic book adaptation has to have an equal mixing of both the comic book and the moviemaker in order to work. Like "Batman" (1989) which was delightfully dark as Batman should be it was also very Burton, ("Beetleguise", "Edward Scissorhands") at that time still a young filmmaker. And in recent years with Marvel comics burst of film franchises like "Spider-man" and "X-Men" which were very successful although somewhat dwindling the third time around, all has the directors style but still remains devoted to the comics original flavor.
    Like "Hellboy", whose original creator Mike Mignola had a lot of involvement with the first "Hellboy" movie as well as the sequel, however it is noticeable that Mignola's presence is somewhat lesser and del Toro's style has completely overtaken the film. Not only has del Toro taken liberties with the film but he used this sequel as an opportunity to have a little "Fun" with "Hellboy" which, as far as I'm concerned, is too much!
    "Hellboy 2: The Golden Army" is remarkable, the special effects the imagery, the inventiveness. Its downright overwhelming, its no longer dark and mysterious as the Hellboy comics were originally, now, its bright and funny!? What happened!? Don't get me wrong, Ron Perlman as Hellboy is fantastic, I met him shortly after at a convention. Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) is incredible. I was even overjoyed that this movie would introduce a new B.P.R.D. agent from the comics into the movies: Dr. Johan Krauss! On first seeing his ectoplasm suit and hearing hi voice (although humorously voiced by "Family Guy"/"American Dad" creator and voice: Seth MacFarlane. Although Krauss now sounds more like Klauss, the goldfish from American Dad, which I enjoy watching.)
    The failing of Hellboy 2 starts with the soap-opera level love story between Hellboy and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and not to mention Abe Sapien becoming smitten with the new character Princess Nuala, which goes so far as to have him begin drinking and singing annoying love songs (Come on! WTF!)
     The final stab is the overly convoluted story that has no basis in the Hellboy comics! We've gone so far from the original concept of Hellboy and a far turn from the original film that I dread to see if and when there will be a Hellboy 3, will Hellboy return to his roots marked with dark, Lovecraftian stories or will be off to the north pole to fight an evil Santa Claus. Guillermo del Toro, stop please and re-evaluate your situation before it gets too much for us to handle. I cannot even think about what's going to happen when his vision of "The Hobbit" will be released in 2011 (Really!) and they've already slated for "The Hobbit" in 2012! I can't wait…