Review: Insidious

The Paranormal Activity movies are part of this new stream of movies about haunting, demons, the supernatural. “Insidious” is different.
Everyone seems to find this movie the most frightening thing under the sun. Honestly, it’s not. Spirits try to cross dimensions to invade the bodies of a son, and later his father, while they are astrol-projecting. It is just a spooky movie, and anyone familiar with the Discovery channel’s “A Haunting”, the similar show now broadcast on Animal Plannet, are familiar with the caliber of “Insidious”.
What is well-done is the dialog. The conversations in this movie, the fairly simple plot line, provide for an unchallenging viewing experience. There is clearly research done here as well. The woman called to explain the inherited gift for astrol-projection delivers information about how it can happen in sleep, how spirits can jump dimensional boundries when there is an opportunity. This is what saves this from being a run-of-the-mill spook movie. Honestly, this is a movie full of spooky figures, spooky rooms, and a little good paranormal discussion.
The soundtrack of this movie has its highs and lows. The sliding notes of string instruments at key moments can send a chill down your spine. Other than that, it doesn’t grab you.

75/100
Check it out.
http://www.amazon.com/Insidious/dp/B0055D3EOG/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1313882913&sr=1-1

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Interview: Brian Reynolds (Creation’s Tears)

After reviewing Creation’s Tears’s album “Methods to End it All,” I got in touch with vocalist Brian Reynolds, to ask him about the band and the creation of the album.

–Hello, Brian. Thanks for taking the time for the interview. This is the first interview to be published by the Pantry.
I’m honored; thank you. I greatly appreciate the support of websites and blogs such as yours no matter how big or small. It’s very humbling to know there are writers / bloggers all over the world who are willing to devote the time and energy to helping raise awareness of Creation’s Tears.
–Recently, you mentioned the Iron Maiden concert in Belfast. How do legendary acts like Iron Maiden influence Creation’s Tears?
I recently watched Iron Maiden in Belfast and while I’d love to have seen more of the “greatest hits,” it’s good that Iron Maiden appear to be passionate about their new material and that they still play with such a high level of energy. I’ve seen Maiden several times and for me, this was one of their best performances. The fact that they can attract such a diversity of fans from kids to grannies is important for Heavy Metal music as a whole and it’s through iconic bands like this that people then go out and discover other metal bands.
I think all the major bands; Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer have all had some kind of influence on Creation’s Tears to some extent though I don’t think that would be overly obvious. We use a lot of guitar harmony and Iron Maiden are masters of that. Metallica is the reason why I picked up guitar in the first instance so Hetfield has definitely had a major bearing on my guitar playing, whether that can be heard in Creation’s Tears or not. Similarly bands like Paradise Lost (Icon / Draconian Times) and Anathema (have also played a big role in how I write music.
–How did the Apathy track “Creation’s Tears” become the name of your band?
I always liked the title of the song Creation’s Tears that I’d written for my previous band Apathy. Apathy was around in the early 1990s, before the internet era (at least for us in Northern Ireland), so when I was forming a new band in 2002, I’d considered the name Apathy again, but found (via the internet) that there were several other bands called Apathy. Beyond that, the style of music I was writing in 2002 was different from what I’d been doing in the Apathy days. Although there were some common threads, I think there is a significant change in the sound, especially the vocal delivery, so new start – new name.
–Looking into the band’s history, there are large stretches of time between the Apathy album “Inertia” from which the name Creation’s Tears comes, to the formation of the band, and finally to the release of your debut album “Methods to End it All”. How did you keep the idea of the band alive?
I didn’t. Apathy disbanded in 1997 after the drummer and bassist left. I didn’t pick up the guitar much thereafter. In 2002, after a blazing row with my then partner, I remember picking up the guitar and strumming some chords (albeit a bit rusty) and this became the foundation for a song called “Years Apart”. I had intended for Years Apart to be on the Methods to End It All album, but that didn’t happen (a long story for another time).
I contacted my old friend and former Apathy bassist Ian Coulter and we started to jam “Years Apart” and it just felt right. It was time to do something again, and this was the birth of the band, Creation’s Tears. We managed to find a great line-up at that time and just a couple of months after we formed we played our first gig supporting Vader in Belfast. I remember being confused that night as to the band’s direction. I had one foot still stuck in the Death Metal roots of Apathy and another foot in a more progressive and melodic camp. I opted for the latter. After only a handful of gigs and no recorded output, Creation’s Tears split in 2004/2005 after a couple of the band members relocated.
By this point, I was pretty sick of trying to keep four guys on the same page and again my guitar case wasn’t opened again for a few years until 2008. Untimely Reminder was one of the early songs of this new period. My music comes from my heart and I feel that I write my most honest material during the difficult periods in my life. My guitar becomes my outlet – I can’t write when I’m happy!
I started jamming with Ian Coulter (former Apathy bassist) again in 2009, and this time we decided that the mission would be to record a 3 track demo and whether or not there would be a full band line-up was secondary. We set out on that mission and in January 2010 I was en route to Sweden’s Fascination Street Studios to make a full-length album with Jens Bogren and David Castillo (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork etc) and some musicians I’d only ever dreamt of jamming with.
–Laura Reynolds sang the female vocal parts on the original “Creation’s Tears”. How did it come about that Sarah Jezebel Deva recorded the track this time around? Also, what inspired the changes between the two versions?
Laura’s fee was too high this time 😉 I really enjoyed Sarah Jezebel Deva’s vocals on the Angtoria album God Has a Plan For Us All and since hearing it, I really wanted to work with her. The track “Creation’s Tears” was one I’d written in the early 90s for my former band Apathy (NI). I sent her the original Apathy version of the track and she loved it. She compared it to early Anathema and from that point, she was in. We were really lucky to get Sarah on board. You can see her studio session with Creation’s Tears at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfowTNO8JkU
Musically as I’d said before, Creation’s Tears has some similarities musically to my former band, but vocally it’s very different. I thought the song was still very valid and relevant today, but for me it needed to be restructured to fit in with the feel of Methods to End It All. Most people don’t realize that the track is so old as it sits so comfortably on the Methods To End It All album.
–The recording of “Methods to End it All” seems surrounded by well-known figures in the metal world, such as Paradise Lost drummer Lee Morris. How did he become the drummer for Creation’s Tears?
We couldn’t find a drummer here in Northern Ireland and I was determined that wouldn’t stop this project. I was a huge fan of Paradise Lost’s, Draconian Times album and the new dynamic Lee brought to their sound on that, his first album with the band. I think he’s hugely under-rated. I just couldn’t help but take notice of the guy on Draconian Times, especially in songs like “Enchantment” and “Shadowkings.” For me, given the similarities between Paradise Lost and Creation’s Tears, Lee Morris was the obvious choice. He’s such a gentleman and very modest too; he was the perfect choice and he surpassed my expectations; I look forward to working with him again. Actually, there’s some behind-the-scenes footage of Lee’s sessions at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gz6CJn6Zm6Y
–Every magazine who has reviewed “Methods to End it All” seems to have a different take. Even I do. I’ve heard people mention everything from gothic to thrash. If you had to define the style of music Creation’s Tears creates, how would you?
As far as I’m concerned, Methods To End It All is definitely NOT a Gothic Metal album. A few writers have stuck that label on it and while I’m not adverse to that label, I don’t think it’s wholly fitting. I think that the Gothic tag stems from the connection to the various well-known names who are associated with the album.
Every band wants to be different, but I honestly believe that you couldn’t listen to one individual track from Methods To End It All and expect it to be representative of the entire album. The band’s sound links songs like Another Collision, Odyssey (OPUS IX), I Fail and Parody Paradigm, but the actual songs are very different from each other.
I think that the diversity in the songs is what makes it difficult for writers to pigeon-hole the band hence there have been all kinds of suggestions; Dark Rock, Thrash influenced, Progressive, Goth etc. There is Goth, Doom, Thrash, Death and even an acoustic track but I don’t think we fit neatly into any of those genres. The songs are short and direct and you’ve got to give the album a few spins before you truly discover all the layers and meanings. It’s hard even for me to say exactly what it is that we do.
–Brian, there are a lot of lyrics in “Methods to End it All” that people can relate to. Tell me about where the major themes of your album come from.
The topics in all those songs are very real as are the people they are about. All the songs are about events in my life.
A lot of the meanings are suggestive without being overly direct, where others are more “heart-on-sleeve.” I like the lyrics to be formulated in such a way that they are open to the listener’s interpretation.
–When you listen to the album, what do you feel? Are their any tracks on “Methods to End it All” that you play more often than others because of their meaning to you?
There’s such a range of material and influences on Methods To End It All that it really depends on what mood I’m in at the time of listening, but all the songs are personal to me. Some of the songs sting even now. Sometimes it’s the emotiveness of “Odyssey (OPUS IX)” especially the guitar solo. Despite the hooks of the chorus, “Parody Paradigm” is a more gutsy “fuck you while I let out my frustrations” type song and I love Lee’s drumming on it. “I Fail” and “No Saviour Here” (UK spelling of Saviour) are two songs with a lot of depth for me. I also get a huge rush from the closing riff in “Untimely Reminder” with the more extreme vocal – it’s a fun song to play live.
My favorite track varies from day to day. The album definitely is deeply rooted in my soul lyrically and musically, but, musically I wrote it in such a way that hopefully it’s not too much of a dirge! I’m not a fan of Doom Metal so despite the negativity in the lyrics, the music has some “pacey” moments too.
–Since the release of “Methods to End it All”, how have local fans responded?
Creation’s Tears is the only band that I’m aware of to be playing this kind of music in Northern Ireland or possibly Ireland as a whole. It’s not that we set out to be different intentionally, it’s just that what I write is different from what other bands here do. As is the case with any other band, there are those who love what we do and those who don’t. It’s the same with Metallica’s Black album which for me is a masterpiece and even 20 years on, it remains as the best production in Metal music ever in my opinion. There are people who have hated Metallica from the moment they heard the 1st note of Sandman. Such is life; we can’t all like the same thing. I don’t try to write a number 1 hit single, I write music that is often painful and therefore it’s not typically mainstream.
The scene here in Northern Ireland is small and many bands are from a more extreme genre. Some of those bands are very talented, but opportunities are scarce here. Metal gigs here tend to be poorly supported.
Creation’s Tears don’t gig often, but we did play a gig in Belfast recently and the band was very happy with the turnout and the feedback. Our biggest fan base isn’t in Ireland though. We’ve had a lot of positivity coming from England, Germany and USA, and I’m really excited about that. It’s nice to hear from people who have bought Methods To End It All and been moved by it in some way.
–After this album, what’s in store for Creation’s Tears?
Bankruptcy 😉
As I mentioned earlier, the initial plan was just to record a 3 track demo which then became a full length album with all the obvious names attached to it. I really didn’t have a grand master plan thereafter. It would be great to tour as a lot of people have really embraced Methods To End It All. Maybe a second album after that, who knows – just whatever life brings.
With Methods To End It All, I’ve achieved everything that I had set out to do, so anything extra is a bonus.
–Brian, if you could see in the future to the biggest show of your musical career, where would the band play, and who would you have play in the crowd before your set?
I’ve done what I set out to do and Methods To End It All represents that. But, let me allow my imagination to run wild… We’re not precious about having to be the headlining band. I’d love the opportunity to play with Metal icons, Metallica and Iron Maiden. I’ll join a long queue 😉
–Earlier, I asked you about the influence of symbolic acts such as Iron Maiden. What message or influence would you like to offer bands trying to break through the ice?
Do what you do and play what you play, don’t try to be a parody of whatever is the “in” thing at any given time. There’s always going to be people who’ll want to see you fall on your face. Let there negativity be your positivity.
–Brian, thanks again for your time. I’ll be watching for news of Creation’s Tears, and hope you make it to the States sometime soon.
I haven’t been in the USA for a couple of years now but I love going over there. I’m really happy about the positive response Creation’s Tears have been receiving from over there. It would be cool to do some shows there.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me and I appreciate you giving us the space to introduce Creation’s Tears to your readers.

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Review: Chaos in Paradise “Let the Bliss Remain”

Here is an interesting combination of genres. Listening to “Let the Bliss Remain,” it sounds like good old American metalcore in the vein of bands like It Dies Today or Ashes of Erin. But I also hear something else—an overtone of progressive metal, that adds twists and turns to every one of these tracks, kind of like By Blood Alone. It’s an odd pairing, that makes this an unpredictable listen.
“Let the Bliss Remain” opens with an atmospheric intro, before the next track turns up the heat and steps on the gas peddle. From then on it’s a roller coaster of highs and lows, startling melodies, and a few unexpected instrumental elements, like an unplugged electric, the opener that sounds a little like a spooky music box.
The labyrinth this ep follows is multi-facited. Not only are the instrumental elements and beats unpredictable, but you never know if you will get melodic vocals or razor-sharp screaming. This is a very challenging listen.
Chaos in Paradise has created music that is both intense and unpredictable, and its hard to get your barings. Once you do, it is like any other roller coaster—one crazy ride.

80/100

Check them out!
http://www.myspace.com/chaosinparadiseband

And here is the EP.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0058ZI48M/ref=sr_1_album_1_rd?ie=UTF8&child=B0058ZI87O&qid=1313257588&sr=1-1

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Hot and Fresh: Bittersweet Metal News

I haven’t done one of my segments in a while.
However, it’s time for a new one.
THe bad news first.
David Draiman of Disturbed says the band is going on an indefinite break.
They have a final week in South America, according to his interview with Revolver Magazine. I’m glad I saw them back in January before this happened.

This part isn’t news, I am just gathering all sides of the story together.
Rumors are flying that Breaking Benjamin has broken up, and/or just fired a couple of members. Benjamin himself says on Myspace that they haven’t, but the comment isn’t dated, and this stuff came out in June after a missed show in Atlanta. I hope they get strong again.

Now for the good news.

Stained, Five Finger Death Punch, and Evanescence are all releasing new material this fall. In fact, 5FDP and Evanescence are releasing on the same day, October 11.
Here are videos of their singles.

Stained

They seem to return to their more fiery roots here.

Five Finger Death Punch

Similar in feel to War is the Answer, in the best way.

Evanescence

Not much to go on, but sounds beautiful.

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Review: Disembrace “Scratching the Surface”

Predictable can become so boring; on the other hand, when people get creative, sometimes it is jarring. Disembrace does not fall into either of these traps.
What hits you first, is the solid, adrenaline-charged riffs, thick bass line, and rolling solos, sort of like what you can expect from Godsmack, also a little like Slipknot. That is, however, the predictable part. Though passages of each song are well-linked, there is no a-b-a-b kind of rpetition.
What is predictable, but in the best way possible, are the vocals delivered by Carmen LaFevers, which alternate between soaring and solid, eerie and angry. Her style is clear and powerful. What’s more, the lyrics are always completely understandable, and some of the tracks are downright thought-provoking, such as “Hero,” “Beautiful,” and “Disphoria,” while others such as “Play” put me in mind of stiletoes and leather lingerie. There are plenty of metaphors in tracks like these, as well as some images that are more literal, but not so much that it’s off-putting if you’re not in the right frame of mind. We’re even offered a few slower tracks concerning love lost like “the Ever After”. That one took a little getting used to, but “Scratching the Surface” is an album I can listen to all the way through.
If there were one thing that I think could have added even more, it would have been one or two acoustic tracks at the end, just to showcase the band’s talents in a different way. As it is, this is amazing. “Scratching the Surface” is a debut that is cathardic, adrenaline-charged, and fairly easy to listen to. Very few in my library leapt out and hooked me this way.

9.75/10
Check them out!
http://www.amazon.com/
http://www.disembrace.com

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Comparison: The ruins Vs. the Movie Version

I’ve spent so much time on music lately, that The Pantry is ready for a change of pace. Scott Smith’s “The Ruins” is a well-crafted short novel. Stephen King even approved of Smith’s second novel, his first being “A Simple Plan”. What I’m really impressed with is, that the movie version, while altering the plot in a few major ways, mainly sticks to the storyline, portraying the depths of character conflict, and not just the most obvious one—that six people find themselves stranded on a hill covered in flowers. Sounds lovely, right?

“The Ruins” (novel) by Scott Sands
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307390276/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Scott Sands sets up his tale on a beach in Mexico, and from there he builds his characters. The realistic, resourceful Jeff and his moody girlfriend, Amy; the flaky Stacey and her own easygoing boyfriend Eric; and we have the wise German Methias and the Greeks, who speak no English. We see all but two of these last (of whom there are three) half-heartedly leave the resort to find Methias’s wayward brother, who left with an archaeologist to dig up a ruined mine in the jungles. And this, is where we find them, stranded on a hill covered in pretty red flowers, surrounded by guys with guns and arrows and the barriers of language. And as the scenes of blood and death begin to arrive in spades, out of a melancholy novel that portrays the heat and unhealthy vibes of their experience, character conflicts begin to arise. Stacey’s cheating, Amy’s inability to focus in a bad situation, the bare communication between Eric, Jeff and Methias.
This is, in effect, a novel more about the drama of youth, exaserbated by tropical heat. Though deaths occur, and the gore is well-enough written to make you cringe, this isn’t the best read unless you’re going through a rough patch yourself and need to sympathize.

7/10

The Ruins (Movie)
http://www.amazon.com/Ruins-Unrated-Shawn-Ashmore/dp/B001DIAXA0/ref=sr_1_1_vod_0_ren?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1312330941&sr=1-1
I have to say that I enjoyed the movie a little better than the book, and would gladly watch it, even if something about my own life isn’t rotten—which nothing is. Scenes are added to explain and set up conflict, such as the party the night before they leave. Of course, roles are a little altered, Amy being the unfaithful one, flirting with Methias (instead of Stacey with one of the Greek tourists), and it is Stacey, not Eric, who ends up butchering herself. And of course, because as Americans we love even an attempt at a happy ending, Amy attempts to escape, rather than commit suicide, which is what SOMEONE does in the novel. I’ve already given away too much, however. The point is, the movie evokes first the sleepy atmosphere of a summer resort vecation in Mexico, then the suffocating heat of the jungle, in which the bloodshed and conflict arise.

9/10

Overall, Scott Smith’s novel was detail-dense, but easy to follow. He managed to evoke certain emotions, but failed at the overtones of the environment. The movie made from the book, however, proves that on occasion, it can be better.

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Review: Blame Yourself (single)

If I spent time on singles, I’d always be in front of this laptop. This one, however, is worth it. Opening up with distorted lead guitar over a shredding rhythm, and a powerful beat, “Blame Yourself” is a peace of metal heaven. There is nothing sweet and ethereal here. For the most part, aggressive death metal vocals are arranged under the powerful, clean alto offered by Chrystal, who’s style is similar to that of…actually no one I can think of.
Rather than the ethereal, melancholy style of many bands within the female-fronted genre, this is the kind of track that builds up adrenaline in your veins, and it’s cathardic. Big, heavy, and powerful, yet loaded with energy and at times an eerie vibe to the melody. Anoxia’s “Blame Yourself” is an excelent one for blasting until your walls vibrate and your neighbors get scared.

10/10
Check them out!
http://www.reverbnation.com/anoxia

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