Tag Archives: Rihanna

Transhuman Infinity and the Theory of Everything

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Keen followers of this  blog, ardent devotees of the nascent Scandinavian Symphonic Melocore scene and random Elize Ryd pervs duped this way via your custom Google searches – lend me your consciousness and read, won’t you please, an appreciation of the new Amaranthe album, “The Nexus”.

Without wishing to damn the band with the faintest of praise from the outset, their sound might best be described as that most hedged of bets, ‘musically diverse’.  The last time that I heard a band this keen to go off on one and veer between genres from song to song was on New Radicals‘ classic album “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too?” and that was a properly exhausting listening experience.  Amaranthe’s love of dropping in different musical elements is perhaps a bit more confined to metal and its sub-genres, but in its own way this album (and band) is equally capable of banjaxing casual listeners unprepared for the extent to which the group populate songs with everything and the kitchen sink.

Amaranthe start as they mean to go on with opener “Afterlife”, which bounces along on a wave of upfront synths, near blast-beat drums and Amaranthe’s unique selling point, a trio of male and female singers who cover the clean (Jake E.), harsh scream (Andy) and symphonic female (Elize) elements of the sonic spectrum.  Even the most casual music fan couldn’t help but notice the band’s energy and desire to make their tunes leap out of the speakers – and that’s where some metal fans may encounter a problem.

You might want to whisper it quietly around any more sensitive metalheads of your acquaintance, but Amaranthe have a distinct pop sensibility inherent in their music – I don’t know what they put in the water supply in Sweden and Denmark, but it’s resulted in a sophomore album so stuffed to the gills with once heard never forgotten, rock club dance floor-filling  ear-worms that the likes of Halestorm will be casting a nervous glance over their shoulders.

Sure, “The Nexus” is a nominally heavier proposition than the Pennsylvanian quartet’s “The Strange Case Of…” set from 2012, but the pop sensibility and command of state-of-the-art rock dynamics commanded by this European group is just as pronounced.  It’s not difficult to imagine an R & B diva like Rihanna covering soaring mid-tempo ballad “Burn With Me” – even the title sounds like one of her tunes – and having a huge smash with it.  Similarly, “Theory of Everything” has Gaga’s name written all over it – it’s a pop glam stomper just ripe for reinterpretation, but I’d be quite happy to see some enterprising radio station or music channel taking a punt on turning this band into the next crossover act.  Any body who likes a bit of Evanescence wouldn’t have too much difficulty getting into this wholly melodic and refreshingly direct band.

If you like your metal catchy, sonically ludicrously upbeat, lyrically driven by vaguely futuristic sci-fi positivity (it’s like cyberpunk self-help up in this joint!) and camper than an episode of “Strictly Come Dancing” with Justin Hawkins sporting a lilac Lycra catsuit, “The Nexus” is absolutely for you.  My love of Power Metal is well documented on these pages and extended listening to Amaranthe’s second album leads me to conclude that they’ve just CTRL + C’d the dragons and elves out of a classic rock record and royally CTRL + V’d them with songs about love, digital ultra-worlds and stuff.

TL: DR version – essential spring listening for any fan of massive, widescreen metal insanity and choruses which lodge themselves in your head and won’t bugger off afterwards.

 

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“Battleship” box office bomb baffles Berg

In “No shizz, Sherlock” news today comes “Battleship” director Peter Berg‘s assertion that his film flopped so that “The Avengers” could soar at the box office, like Tony Stark carting Hawkeye up to a better vantage point.  Or something.

“The reviews! They burn!”

Citing the unprecedented success of the Marvel Studios superhero epic having a knock-on effect on other would-be summer blockbuster fare in the marketplace, Berg still holds out hope for a sequel based on decent international business – the film’s US performance makes for less hopeful reading to anybody but the terminally optimistic.

Well, you can’t argue against a US box office take of $600 million but to cite “The Avengers” as the sole reason for your film under-performing is to ignore the rather more accurate idea that “Battleship” is so asinine, noisy and dim-witted that it makes your average Joel Schumacher/Rob Cohen/Michael Bay popcorn flick look like a Ken Loach film and reduces the IQ of anybody unlucky enough to be exposed to it for more than two minutes.

I like stupid, undemanding, glitzy genre crap – see my Resident Evil/“Underworld” fandom for ample evidence of that – and even I couldn’t drag myself to a cineplex to behold the spectacle of Rihanna pretending to be a naval officer and various aliens mocking our Earth Physics in the name of entertainment.

Once it comes to DVD and Blu-Ray, I might give the film a go but I don’t expect it to be anything more than shrill and silly, uber-patriotic fluff.  Weirdly, Peter Berg seems to believe that he’s made an important film.  One of us is right, and I don’t think that it’s him…

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“Battleship” movie reviews are in – it’s great!

Psych!

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The review embargo seems to have expired for Universal‘s would-be blockbusterBattleship“, which is being unleashed on an unwitting Europe a month or so ahead of its Stateside release. Surprisingly, for a film based on a board game, the critical word is…not kind.  Go figure?

Empire’s two-star evisceration is typical of many reactions – “An event movie so lunk-headed – both in concept and execution  – that it’s hard not to suspect director Peter Berg of pulling a prank”.  

And SFX fairly damn it with distinctly faint praise by concluding “If you love military hardware, it’s a great naval gazing exercise. But as a blockbuster it’s all a bit half-mast.”  Hmm…I do see what they did there.

The kindest review that I’ve found is from my nerdy soul-mates at Den of Geek, who have at least found some modest, geeky thrills from a film which looks like some kind of meta-tribute to Michael Bay‘s recent, Hasbro inspired oeuvre.

Den of Geek’s viewBattleship eventually delivers the requisite salty charm and occasional ripples of excitement you’d expect from an expensive summer blockbuster”.

How bad can a movie based on a board game starring a pop star-turned-actress and a model really be?  Ahem…

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Trailered – “Battleship”

Intent, 'looking at something on monitor' acting for the win!

After a less-than-enthusiastically received teaser trailer in the Summer, Universal and Hasbro’s franchise-in-waiting “Battleship” has posted a second trailer and we’ve now got a better idea of what this film will be like.

And what it will be like is the wildly successful “Transformers”  series, oddly enough.  It’s as though Hasbro and their film-making partners are working to a template or something.

In case you thought that you were watching the new Lars Von Trier movie...

From the beginning of the trailer, we’ve got mysterious goings-on under the Ocean – lots of murky malevolence and things half-glimpsed which ain’t quite human – and the now-obligatory, post “Inception” low-frequency ‘Honk!‘ on the soundtrack.

I still have my heart set on 'Ker-Plunk! - the Movie'...

In short order, we get the regulation helicopter shots of the fleet at sea, sailors in dress whites, the young and attractive leads …

Young white kids in love - it's a cinematic revolution...

When the deep-sea alien shizzle hits the fan, you’ll be stunned to learn that a Dubstep track also begins to kick in and the edits get so quick that you may think that you’re having an auditory hallucination with a sweet Skrillex soundtrack.  Is Dubstep becoming as generic a choice on action trailers as Adele is on a “Greys Anatomy” advert?

Boom!

Depending on your point of view, Universal, director Peter Berg and Hasbro have neatly side-stepped the essentially absurd notion of making a narrative film out of a board game by making this an out-and-out genre film which eschews the concerns of the real world and avoids any concerns that potential audience members might have about supporting yet another action movie which seems to have a hawkish, ‘might is right’, US-centric world view which is at odds with their own.

That doesn't look too friendly...

Your mileage may vary, of course.  For ‘alien’, some may read ‘foreign’ and there’s more than enough essays available on the internet which will tell you that films like this prime their young and impressionable audiences to accept military aggression in real life by depicting those forces in fiction as sexy, young, heroic, technologically advanced and capable or usurping enemies in double-quick time and with perfectly timed quips to boot.

That's a terrorist ship, I'm telling you! It could even be European....

I’m just going to assume that this a stupid action movie and not expect it to convert me to any cause.  And I say this as somebody who was able to enjoy Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” back in the 90’s despite feeling as though my brains were slowly dribbling out of my ears as I watched the heroic Labrador outrunning the fireball, Will Smith punching out a downed alien and the universal, Mac-based operating system employed by Alien mother ships.

Yep, that's a big old Alien interloper, all right.

In fact, if you’re not getting an Emmerich vibe from this new movie from the trailer, you might have clicked on a link to the last Woody Allen film by mistake.  Not that you would be doing anything wrong by watching that film, just saying…

A quiet, reflective scene from the trailer for "Battleship"...

It all looks reasonably entertaining, but if you weren’t able to get through any of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” flicks without feeling an uncontrollable urge to switch the movie off, destroy the disc and generally do something more positive with your brief time on earth, I get the sense that you should probably skip this one when it opens next Summer.

Yep, no echoes of Emmerich's action blockbusters here, then...

 

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