Tag Archives: Sheffield

Big Dog…Small Bed.

 

Hagrid, our lovely dog, politely annexing his friend Doris’ doggy bed during a recent visit. She’s quite a bit smaller than he is…

On a related note, Mrs Rolling Eyeballs takes you on a journey into our daily routine over at her blog today.

Yes, incredulous readers, there is a Six A.M. every day – and it sometimes looks like the pictures that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs has so taken.  It’s prime dog-walking time for us as fewer people are out taking their pets for a perambulation and it helps us to wake up before heading off to a day of doing something or other in an office.

Plus, you’ve got to let a big guy do his sniffing – he’s quite fond of it.

 

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – film review

“I once caught a bat THIS BIG

I still remember the slightly dazed feeling that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I had after going to the Vue cinema in Sheffield to see Christopher Nolan‘s dizzying, operatic “Batman Begins” sequel, “The Dark Knight“, in summer 2008.

It was a Sunday lunchtime, Batman was in the wind after sorting out the Harvey Dent situation and there was this distinct sense between us of having just been put through the wringer.  Had we just been entertained for two and a half hours or been through a punishing, sensory obstacle course?

The same feeling struck me after emerging from this morning’s screening of the third movie in Nolan’s series based on the DC comics character, The Dark Knight Rises“.

It needs to be said that this is an excellent film – a worthy cherry on top of the proverbial trilogy cake – but it’s an exhausting one which demands a lot of the audience, in terms of memory and ability to not visit the bathroom several times (forego the Super Gulp cup at your concessions stand – you will miss stuff if you have to visit the facilities during the film).  There’s no walking into this film green – you really do have to refresh your memory of “Batman Begins”, as it plays a significant part in proceedings, and it helps to have an appreciation of Harvey Dent, too.  It’s not as though there’s an exam paper to sit as you leave, but it will help to have some recollection of how our hero got to this point in this life and to know who the characters are, as introductions are sketchy at best. This is particularly true if the people in your party are not quite as geeky as the rest of us – you’ll be explaining a lot to them and missing things yourself.

The scale of the enterprise is what surprised me – we’ve all read those pre-release puff-pieces which seek to convince that “Summer Blockbuster X” sets the bar incredibly high and that we’re going to see things that we’ve never seen on-screen before – usually this translates as ‘canned special effects sequence marginally more entertaining than the one in that film we were conned into seeing last year’.  With “The Dark Knight Rises” I actually believe the hype for once – I’ve can’t recall having seen a film which has action set-pieces of the scale and duration seen during the last act in this film.  Big isn’t necessarily better, but Nolan’s taut command of the toy box at his disposal on “TDKR” makes the likes of “Transformers 3” seem even more weightless and juvenile than it already was, despite both films dealing in similar scenes of extended metropolitan destruction.

The performances match up to the apocalyptic imagery on display – Christian Bale is excellent and fully justifies Nolan’s initial decision to cast him with the rounded, nuanced turn he delivers here.  He’s beaten, bloodied and bowed by the demands and toll that his by-night vigilante campaign has taken on his body and mind – this is a Batman who wants out from the life he’s created for himself and finds that a wider world has something quite different to say about that.

Leaving on a jet plane? Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises”

He’s more than complemented by Anne Hathaway, who defies a million dim-witted fanboy forum posts by making the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman her own – slinky, sarcastic, haunted, defiant, conflicted, capable and able to walk in heels that even Lady Gaga might deem a bit complicated, this is a Catwoman quite distinctively different to those we’ve seen before in Bat-Cinema, TV and games.  There’s an exchange of dialogue between her and Joseph Gordon Levitt‘s idealistic policeman mid-way through the film which goes past beyond the sexy cat burglar archetype to hint at Kyle’s essential dilemna in this telling of the tale – she’s brilliant at what she does, but what she does puts her in situations which can’t help but keep her in the mire that she’s trying to escape.

Best Catwoman ever?  Your mileage may vary, but I thought that she was wonderful and that Hathaway did splendid work in the role.  Even the ears worked.  Kind of.

Tom Hardy is fantastic as the force of nature Bane – he’s got layers of character which haven’t been hinted at in the pre-publicity and their unpicking on-screen is a delight, giving this unaccountably posh berserker man-mountain an array of quotable and – get this – easy to understand dialogue.  It’s a strong actor indeed who can command the screen and hold the attention with much of his face replaced by a high-tech dog muzzle and Hardy manages to do it consistently – he’s helped, of course, by his imposing physical presence.  The words ‘Brick’ and ‘Outhouse’ come to mind.

Is this a good ending to the Nolan trilogy?  I would say so – but it’s not without some dodgy moments.  I thought that we were going to have a retread of  the second film’s “Which boat shall we blow up? The one with the rapists and murderers or the ‘Ickle Kittens and Orphans’ cruise?” moral non-quandry at one point, but we got past it swiftly.  There’s some fairly on-the-nose dialogue to contend with, too – you may wonder if Bane’s job is to defeat Batman or engage in some kind of unorthodox, “The Game”-style Billionaire Life Coach programme with him, given the steady stream of tough love aphorisms he delivers in their scenes together.   And Hans Zimmer‘s score is so overwrought that any metalhead listening will wonder why they didn’t save a few bob and just sling some Dimmu Borgir on the soundtrack – the aural, cumulative effect is noticeably similar.

I will want to revisit this film, but I suspect that a little distance will certainly help me to appreciate it all the more – it’s big with a capital B and such an endeavour deserves to have a little gulf between viewings, I think.  If “The Avengers” was like the best chocolate cake ever (with extra sprinkles), “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a delicious pasta dish with such a rich tomato sauce that you can’t face any other course afterwards.

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A Music Addict Writes…

A pox on Amazon and the cheap CD sellers who reside therein – a pox, I tells ye!

In  the first couple of weeks of the month, your humble blogger has found himself purchasing these fine examples of metallic riffery…

The first RoF album that I bought this month…

…and the second.

Inspired by watching last year’s doc about his life, “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” 

I’m seeing ’em in September, Greece’s power metal riffsmiths, Firewind

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s a lot of stuff to wrap my ears around, let me tell you.  The Ozzy best-of, particularly, is a sizeable beast, reflecting a large swathe of his solo career, from the eighties to his “Down to Earth” album from the early noughties.  And as the caption suggests, my purchase was motivated by it being super-cheap and fresh in my mind after watching the “God Bless Ozzy Osbourne” documentary when it was televised on the UK’s BBC Four Arts channel last week.  A great film, too, if you haven’t seen it – it puts the double O in some kind of context for people who thought that they had a handle on him and for those who were only familiar with the rough edges smoothed off version depicted in “The Osbournes” reality series.

I’m also getting a head-start on Firewind’s back catalogue before going to see their gig in Sheffield in September – their album Allegiance is also on the way, and they’ve been in fairly heavy rotation on my Spotify for the last couple of weeks.

I’m sure that this isn’t the end of my musical acquisition spree this month – much to the lamentation of my delightful better half, who’s going to have to use the D.I.Y. side of her brain to figure out some storage solutions quick smart, lest we be drowned in a sea of power metal cd’s…

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Soul Shredder – Support Your Scene!

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Further to my earlier ‘Support Your Scene’ post concerning the local bands we should all try to support, I’ve happened across local Metal band Soul Shredder thanks to the wonders of Google-Fu.

Led by guitarist Stu Gibson, Soul Shredder have a nifty, almost traditional metal sound which I’d compare to Kobra And The Lotus (the band has a female vocalist, Cookie) or 3 Inches Of Blood (the new spin on traditional metal) – the riffs are thick and chunky with excellent solos, the vocals are soaring and melodic and the overall sound blasts along in a punchy and pleasingly dynamic fashion.

“Prepare for Annihilation” has a thrashy chug and great double-bass drum sections, “Kijo” starts with a latter-period, Iron Maiden-esque proggy section before moving into a riff which recalls (in the best way) Hetfield and Hammett riffing from the “Black” album era – they’re both songs that you can listen to on the band’s website as part of their self-titled 2011 EP.

The band are playing in my home city in July as part of the annual “Tram Lines” free music festival – I’d be daft to miss them, and you would be to, if you happen to be in my fair city over the weekend of 20-22nd July 2012.  Of course, given the organisers complete terror of including rock bands in the main line-up (not hipster-friendly enough, it would seem), Soul Shredder are playing out of the main line-up and can be found at West Street Live on Sunday 22nd.

I could bemoan the musical timidity of the organizers, but that’s a subject for another post, perhaps…

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The Simple Things Make You Happy…

Hi folks – normal blog service is now resumed.

It’s a long story involving curtailed holidays, pets and places we won’t be staying in again until Heck freezes over.  Ask me again at some point and I’ll give you the real skinny – it’s probably best to give that particular story some much-needed room to breathe.

No sooner had I arrived back from a nice break in a place that the Internet has yet to arrive than I discovered that Swedish Power Metal loons, Sabaton…

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Plus Swiss Pagan/Folk Metal Ragers, Eluveitie 

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…are playing at Sheffield’s Corporation club on the 11th of November this year.  It’s become quite difficult to type as my fingers are forming involuntary horns.

What with Firewind/Leaves’ Eyes, Nightwish, Epica and now Sabaton/Eluveitie on my gig list for the Autumn, it’s getting difficult to see how my gig-going could get any better for the rest of the year.

Anybody want to persuade Within Temptation and Diabulus In Musica that they really need to tour the UK this year?

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Epica – Symphonic Christmas

More proof, compadres, that Google is your buddy.

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Epica are only playing Corporation in Sheffield just before Christmassymphonic metal festive season frenzy ahoy!

They released their latest record, “Requiem For The Indifferent”, earlier this spring and I fully intend to get around to listening to it in due course – with the prospect of seeing their live show now acting as a strong motivator for me to dig back into the Epica catalogue and test the structural integrity of my already bowing CD shelves by acquiring their stuff (downloading from iTunes isn’t quite the same, to be honest – there’s not the same romance to browsing a PDF of the liner notes that you get from even a cursory glance at the CD booklet).

Think big riffs, soaring female vocals, gruff male singing and a sound composed of equal parts prog noodling, very melodic metal and even some approachable classical influence chucked in for the music students.  Yes, they’re very much a part of the ‘corset metal’ movement recently decried by the Metal Hammer podcast (somebody play them some Machine Head to distract them – stat!), but that’s my favourite style of rock, so I don’t see a problem with the designation.

Wednesday December 12th can’t get here quickly enough…

 

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October Thrashing Mad

In a move which can only confirm their reputation as the nicest Thrash-inspired UK outfit on the block, Yorkshire’s own Evile have confirmed a UK tour for October 2012, with a Sheffield show scheduled in positively indecent proximity to my birthday.  You might say utter coincidence – I’d like to think otherwise, obviously…

Evile lead guitarist Ol Drake

Ol Drake of Evile – fast fingers flying ferociously, don’t you know?

Nonetheless, what absolute legends.

If you’re unfamiliar with Evile – I can see that you might be – let’s do our best to remedy that by directing you to the video for their delightful track “Thrasher”.  Isn’t that just the most face-meltingly quick and bracing slice of Thrashy Metal goodness that you’ve heard all day?  It’s like the mid-eighties never went away and Metallica never made a duff record.  Ahem…

Like an oddly metallic, quite heavy comfort blanket – Evile!

It’s a weird thing to feel oddly comforted by music which is, on the face of it, quite abrasive and the proverbial middle-finger to provincial notions of safety and familiarity but Thrash/Neo-Thrash/Thrash Revival stuff is still as vital and exciting (and quite absurdly soothing) to me as it was back in the eighties when Slayer had dodgy mullets and the mighty Anthrax (always my favourite of the Big Four) were penning glorious odes to Judge Dredd.

I never quite got into Black Metal – the Cookie Monster vocals have been something of a sticking point for me – so Thrash is probably as musically extreme as I go.  Punky energy and occasionally politicised lyrics with the aural comfort blanket of 900 MPH guitar solos and Metal double-bass drums – what’s not to like?

To convince you further as to Evile’s status as princes amongst men and women, have a gander at guitarist Ol Drake fearlessly mashing up Judas Priest and Lady Gaga on YouTube with a version of “Born This Way”.  I’m sure that Mother Monster would approve…

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