Evil Lies Within

“The Canal” is a 2014 Irish/Welsh produced horror film directed by Ivan Kavanagh (“The Fading Light”).

the-canal-poster

Rupert Evans
Rupert Evans

David (Rupert Evans – “The Incident”, “Hellboy”) is a film archivist, who whilst cataloguing some old crime film reels discovers that the house in which he lives with his wife Alice (Hannah Hoekstra – “App”) and five year old son Billy (Calum Heath) has a dark history.

Hannah Hoekstra & Calum Heath
Hannah Hoekstra & Calum Heath

A father killed his family and their nanny there over 100 years before. Following this David starts seeing and hearing things that could be delusions or echoes of the past, and it’s not long before he is delving into local crime history and uncovering more crimes committed in his house or around the nearby canal.

Rupert Evans & Hannah Hoekstra
Rupert Evans & Hannah Hoekstra

David’s life takes a real turn for the worse when he begins to suspect that Alice is having an affair with a work colleague. He follows her and sees her meet up with her lover, following them back to a house near the canal. Feeling nauseous, David runs into a public toilet block at the side of the canal to throw up and starts to have strange hallucinations. While this is happening, his wife disappears.

Rupert Evans
Rupert Evans

Under suspicion from the police over Alice’s disappearance, David suspects that the dark spirits of his home and the contents of the old film reels are connected to what’s happening in the present. The more he digs to unveil the shadows hidden behind the walls, the more unhinged and dangerous the situation seems to become, and he believes that Billy and his young nanny Sophie (Kelly Byrne) are at grave risk of harm.

Rupert Evans & Antonia Campbell-Hughes
Rupert Evans & Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Despite support from his workmate Claire (Antonia Campbell-Hughes – “3096 Days”), David struggles with his sanity throughout his desperate search for the truth and his need to make anyone else understand what he believes is going on, even as events are leading to their climax…

This is a decently acted film, with a good sense of suspense, nice cinematography and enough chilling visual hallucinations to ensure that you keep questioning what is actually happening and how it will all play out in the end. Unfortunately, come the end things are left a little muddled, and the answer to the question of whether David is the victim of an unbroken cycle of otherworldly evil, or is rather less innocent is left to be rather ambiguous.

Despite that, however, I found the film to be very entertaining…

The_Canal-702417986-large

Advertisements

Secrets Of Angels

pW2bPeW

Rachel Jones & Ian Jones
Rachel Jones & Ian Jones

Karnataka are a progressive rock band, formed in Wales in 1997 by singer Rachel Jones, keyboard player Jonathan Edwards and bassist/guitarist Ian Jones.

With the addition of drummer Gavin Griffiths and guitarist Paul Davies the band recorded their debut album “Karnataka” which was released in 1998 year, and followed it with far superior “The Storm” two years later. The latter album particularly had a celtic tinge to it and both were solid progressive albums with some similarities to the likes of Mostly Autumn.

Karnataka In 2003
Karnataka In 2003

By the time the third album, “Delicate Flame Of Desire” was recorded and released in 2003 the line-up had expanded to include Anne-Marie Helder on flute and additional vocals. Again a huge leap forward from the previous record, and benefiting from some wonderful harmony vocal work between Rachel and Anne-Marie, the album was their must successful to that point, and gained wider media coverage than before as well as some radio play. However, in the summer of 2004 the band announced their decision to disband.

Rachel Jones In The Reasoning
Rachel Jones In The Reasoning

Rachel went on to join fellow Welsh progressive rock band The Reasoning, whilst Jonathan , Gavin , Paul and Annie-Marie formed a new band, Panic Room. Gavin has also played with Mostly Autumn. Annie-Marie is also currently a member of Mostly Autumn, and has an acoustic side project with Jonathan under then moniker Luna Rossa.

Lisa Fury
Lisa Fury

Ian resurrected Karnataka in 2007, teaming up with keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera, drummer Ian Harris, guitarist Enrico Pinna and singer Lisa Fury. The new line-up recorded and released the band’s fourth studio album “The Gathering Light” in 2010.

Moving on and building on “Delicate Flame Of Desire”, this was the group’s most progressive and ambitious album thus far and took their sound into a slightly heavier direction too. However, later that year Gonzalo, Ian Harris and Lisa all departed the band.

Hayley Griffiths
Hayley Griffiths

Now, in 2015, comes the band’s fifth studio record, “Secrets Of Angels”. With the core line-up of Ian (Jones) and Enrico completed with singer Hayley Griffiths, keyboardist Cagri Tozluoglu and new drummer Jimmy Pallagrosi, the group have delivered undoubtedly the best album of their career to date.

Further developing the heavier aspects of “The Gathering Light”, the likes of “Poison Ivy” echoing aspects of the sound of bands such as Epica and Within Temptation. However, it doesn’t reach the metallic sounds of those bands. Nonetheless, this is excellent up to date sounding stuff.

There are some fantastic memorable melodies here, with tracks such as “Because Of You”, “Forbidden Dreams” and “Feels Like Home” being notable examples, and Hayley’s vocals are strong and crystal clear throughout. In fact, all five members of the band shine on this album which is full of top class performances and compositions.

The record’s final track, “Secrets Of Angels”, is a seven part twenty minute epic. Beginning with some gentle celtic sounding instrumentation before Hayley’s vocals come in, the track ebbs and flows through the various sections beautifully, and despite its length, the track remains as instantly accessible as the rest of the album, which is no mean feat for a progressive rock record.

Karnataka
Karnataka In 2015

Drawing on all the great things that the band have done throughout their history, whilst still sounding very much a band relevant to today, “Secrets Of Angels” deserves to move Karnataka up a league or two and bring them much wider recognition than they have enjoyed previously.

This really is an excellent modern sounding progressive record album. Give it a spin, you won’t be disappointed…

tourfb“Secrets Of Angels” tracklist:

1. Road To Cairo / 2. Because Of You / 3. Poison Ivy / 4. Forbidden Dreams / 5. Borderline / 6. Fairytale Lies / 7. Feels Like Home / 8. Secrets Of Angels (I The Temptress / II Crimson Tears / III Last Dawn / IV The Battlefield / V Requiem For Life / VI In The Name Of God / VII Secrets Of Angels)

Casual Gets Complicated

“That Awkward Moment” is a 2014 romantic comedy film, the directorial debut of Tom Gormican.

That-Awkward-Moment-posterJason (Zac Efron – “Bad Neighbours”, “17 Again”), Daniel (Miles Teller – “Whiplash”, “Divergence”)and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan – “Fruitvale Station”) are three best friends who find themselves at that confusing moment in every relationship when you have to decide “so… where is this going?”.

Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan & Zac Efron
Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan & Zac Efron

Mikey’s is a young doctor who’s been married since the end of college, who suddenly finds that his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas – “Pompeii”) wants a divorce. He meets up with his best friends Jason and Daniel, who work together designing book covers, and neither of whom have steady girlfriends – preferring to keep a “roster” of friends with benefits on the go at the same time.

Mackenzie Davis Miles Teller
Mackenzie Davis & Miles Teller

Now that Mikey is effectively single too, the three make a pact to stay that way and head to a bar to celebrate Mikey being unattached, where they meet up with Daniel’s female wingman, Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis – “Breathe In”) and start to try to get Mikey’s mind off his wife.

Chelsea fixes Daniel up with a blonde, Mikey manages to get the phone number of a girl with glasses, and Jason hooks up with Ellie (Imogen Poots – “Filth”, “The Look Of Love”), an author. And that’s where the problems begin.

Imogen Poots
Imogen Poots

Despite initially making a huge mistake in guessing how Ellie makes her living, Jason soon finds himself drawn to her more and more. At the same time Mikey works on trying to win his wife back and Daniel tries to come to terms with his deepening feelings towards Chelsea. Naturally, as they have agreed to all stay single, none of the three let the others in on what’s going on. Many complications ensue as they pursue their goals whilst trying to keep things secret from their friend…

The three male lead characters are well played, with Miles Teller particularly continuing to impress with his ability. Imogen Poots does her thing well too, portraying Ellie with a wonderful mix of vulnerability with a steely undertone, although in truth both Mackenzie Davis and Jessica Lucas have less to work with in terms of character development.

This certainly isn’t the most original storyline ever. However, having what is essentially a romantic comedy portrayed mainly from the males’ perspectives makes a difference. The scenes where Jason and Daniel interact with their boss, Fred (Josh Pais – “Touchy Feely”) are a hoot, and there are some very funny scenes indeed throughout the movie.

Don’t miss the bloopers during the final credits either…

ARE_RR_J01alt_1Sht_KeyArt_AR_K04_MRE01_CS01C.psd

2010 – My Top Ten Albums Of The Year

It’s been a while, but welcome to the third in my occasional series of posts on the subject of my favourite top ten albums from a particular year. This time I’m not looking back quite so far, only five years.

2010 was easier to choose a top ten from than for my previous posts, 1995 and 1987, perhaps because it’s that much more recent so there is less nostalgia for, or emotional attachment to, certain records? In any event, here we go – my top ten albums of 2010, in alphabetical order…

1. Alter Bridge “AB III”

Alter Bridge - AB III
Alter Bridge – AB III

The third album from the American hard rock band Alter Bridge, formed by singer Myles Kennedy (also known for his work with Slash) and three former members of Creed. This record has a loose lyrical concept dealing with struggles with faith and, to quote Kennedy, “touches on the thoughts and emotions of someone who has come to question everything that was once regarded as an absolute truth”.

Both Kennedy and Mark Tremonti provide some stunning guitar playing, and Tremonti also provides some quality vocals to support Kennedy’s as always superb delivery, sharing lead vocals on “Words Darker Than Their Wings”.

Standout tracks include lead single “Isolation”, “Ghost Of Days Gone By”, “Slip To The Void” and the wonderful, emotional “Wonderful Life”, a song that truly shows what a brilliant singer Kennedy is.

2. Black Country Communion “Black Country Communion”

Black Country Communion - Black Country Communion
Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion

The debut album from a short-lived bluesy hard rock supergroup which included former Deep Purple singer/bassist Glenn Hughes, blues guitar superstar Joe Bonamassa, former Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and drummer Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, and a really good drummer in his own right.

A 1970s style hard rock record, with similarities to the likes of Deep Purple, this is a great showcase for the individual talents in the band, with some really good material too. Bonamassa’s playing is heavier than normal heard on his solo material, and the vocal performance from Hughes is also far noticeably more hard rock than is often the case.

The best tracks are “Black Country”, “Song Of Yesterday” (with Bonamassa taking lead vocals), “Stand (At The Burning Tree)” and the epic eleven minute closing track”Too Late For The Sun”. They may not have lasted long, partly due to Bonamassa’s decision not to tour as his solo career remains his priority, but all three Black Country Communion albums are certainly worthwhile investments.

3. The Black Crowes “Croweology”

The Black Crowes - Croweology
The Black Crowes – Croweology

Released just before the band went onto their second hiatus (with a third break to follow earlier this year), this 20 track double album featured mainly acoustic re-workings of tunes from the Black Crowes’ back catalogue.

There is more space on this record than to be found on the original source albums, and some of the numbers such as “Ballad In Urgency”, “Wiser Time” and “Thorn In My Pride” are several minutes longer than their original versions, and definitely benefit from the extra room to breathe. Even if you have the original versions of these songs, this collection of re-recordings is a valuable addition, showing once more just how good Chris Robinson and Rich Robinson can be when they are able to work together!

4. Cathedral “The Guessing Game”

Cathedral - The Guessing Game
Cathedral – The Guessing Game

Arguably the heaviest album on this list, “The Guessing Game” is British doom metal band Cathedral at their best. Coming five years after their previous album, the brilliant “The Garden Of Unearthly Delights”, this release was the band’s only double studio album.

Amongst the doomy guitar motifs there are numerous musical styles to be found, including progressive rock, folk and psychedelia, and sounds like it could well have originated in the 1970s, whilst still being recognisably a Cathedral album.

“Funeral Of Dreams”, “Cats, Incense, Candles & Wine” and “Requiem For The Voiceless” are amongst the inventive highlights of this album, and the quality only really dips a little for closing track “Journeys Into Jade” which lyrically is a look back over the band’s history and a bit pedestrian musically. Still, up to that point this is a near flawless progressive doomy folky psychedelic trip…

5. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals “Grace Potter & The Nocturnals”

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Grace Potter and her Nocturnals first introduced themselves to my conciousness via their cover version of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” which was featured on the soundtrack album “Almost Alice” in 2010.

This was followed by the sassy “Paris (Ooh La La)”, the video for which demonstrated that not only does Grace possess a great voice and instrumental ability (keyboards and guitars) but also a great pair of legs.

Fortunately, there sounds more than hold their own without the visuals, and this is a great album from start to finish. My favourite tracks include the aforementioned “Paris (Ooh La La)”, “Medicine”, “Tiny Light” and “Hot Summer Night”

6. Imelda May “Mayhem”

Imelda May - Mayhem
Imelda May – Mayhem

“Mayhem” is the third album from Dublin-born rockabilly singer Imelda May. Reputedly recorded in just two weeks, the album features Imelda with her usual band – Imelda’s guitarist husband Darrel Higham, bassist Al Gare, drummer Steve Rushton and Dave Prismeman on trumpet, flugelhorn and percussion.

The album produced five singles, “Psycho”, “Mayhem”, “Kentish Town Waltz”, “Sneaky Freak” and a remixed version of “Inside Out”, in addition to which this album features live favourite “Proud And Humble”, “Eternity” (a track written by Darrel that channels the Everly Brothers), the slinky and sensuous “All For You” and a spirited cover of the classic “Tainted Love”. A simply excellent album.

7. Iron Maiden “The Final Frontier”

Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier

Coming four years after “A Matter Of Life And Death”, this is, to date, the longest Iron Maiden album, clocking in at a little over 76 minutes, and became the band’s fourth UK number 1 album.

The record also continued Maiden’s run of strong album releases since vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith had returned to the line-up in 1999.

Containing mainly lengthy, somewhat progressive, tracks, the highlights of the album for me are “Satellite 15… The Final Frontier”, “El Dorado”, “Coming Home”, “The Talisman” and “When The Wild Wind Blows”.

8. Joe Bonamassa “Black Rock”

Joe Bonamassa - Black Rock
Joe Bonamassa – Black Rock

“Black Rock” was Bonamassa’s 8th studio album, his 12th release (including live albums) in just ten years. Despite the regularity with which he tours and releases music, there is no drop in standards to be found here. In fact, both his singing and guitar playing seem to keep on improving.

As is often the case, this album is a mixture of Bonamassa originals and tastefully done cover versions. Of the former, my favourites are “Blue And Evil”, “Quarryman’s Lament” and the acoustic piece “Athens To Athens”.

Of the covers, “Steal Your Heart Away”, “Spanish Boots”, “Three Times A Fool”, “Night Life” (featuring the legendary B.B. King) and the atmospheric “Bird On A Wire” are standouts.

9. Mostly Autumn “Go Well Diamond Heart”

Mostly Autumn - Go Well Diamond Heart
Mostly Autumn – Go Well Diamond Heart

The ninth studio album from British progressive rock band Mostly Autumn, “Go Well Diamond Heart” was the first album released since original vocalist Heather Findlay had left the band in early 2010 and backing vocalist Olivia Sparnenn had taken over lead vocal duties.

The album was released in two versions – initially a double album version only available from the band’s website, which was followed by a single disc version available through retailers.

Although Heather had been an integral part of the Mostly Autumn sound, Olivia’s pure, yet sensual vocals helped the band develop their sound still further, and although this could be considered a transitional album it is nonetheless a very solid record with some great material from the band’s founder, guitarist/vocalist Bryan Josh.

The strongest of the tracks are “For All We Shared”, “Go Well Diamond Heart”, “Back To Life”, “Hold The Sun” ,”And When The War Is Over…” and “Ice”.

10. Saint Jude “Diary Of A Soul Fiend”

Saint Jude - Diary Of A Soul Fiend
Saint Jude – Diary Of A Soul Fiend

“Diary Of A Soul Fiend” is the debut, and to date only, album by British rock band Saint Jude. Since the release of the record, guitarist Adam Green has died, and the bassist and keyboard player featured on it have left the band. This may go some way to explaining why, although all three were replaced, there seems to be little in the way of activity from the band.

The album, though, is a corker. Soulful vocals from Lynne Jackaman over the top of some great bluesy instrumentation from drummer Lee Cook and the aforementioned trio make a potent combination.

“Down And Out” is the absolute highlight of the record without a doubt, but “Soul On Fire”, “Rivers And Streams”, “Parallel Life” and “Southern Belles” all keep up the high quality of this album

So, there you have it – my top ten albums of 2010. The year in which the David Cameron was became British Prime Minister in a coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, Chelsea replaced Manchester United as Premier League champions, Matt Smith made his debut as the 11th Dr, Who, and top film releases included “Toy Story 3”, “Inception”, “Despicable Me” and “Iron Man 2″…

Never Bet Against A Man With A Killer Hand

“Wild Card” is an American crime thriller movie, directed by Simon West (“The Mechanic”, “The Expendables 2”), a re-make of the 1986 film “Heat”, which starred Burt Reynolds and was itself an adaptation of the 1985 novel of the same name by William Goldman. Goldman also wrote the screenplays for both movie versions.

wild-card-2015.34441

Jason Statham
Jason Statham

Jason Statham (“Snatch”, The Transporter”), who also produced the movie, plays the lead role of Nick Wild, a former military man living in Las Vegas and earning a living as a chaperone / body guard for hire. He also has dreams of leaving it all behind and starting a new life in Corsica.

Sofia Vergara
Sofia Vergara

At the start of the movie Nick is drinking in a bar and hitting on a woman, Doris (Sofia Vergara – “Chef”, “Fading Gigolo”) despite the fact that she is with another man – Osgood (Max Casella – “Inside Llewyn Davis”). Despite appearing physically stronger and tougher than Osgood, Nick is beaten in the fight that ensues. It is later revealed that Osgood hired Nick to start the fight, and let him win, so that he would be able to impress Doris.

Michael Angarano
Michael Angarano

He is hired by a timid young man, Cyrus Kinnick (Michael Angarano – “The Brass Teapot”) to show him around the city and be at his side for protection whilst he gambles. Kinnick, we learn is a self-made millionaire who rally wants Nick to teach him how to be brave.

Dominik García-Lorido
Dominik García-Lorido

Meanwhile, Holly (Dominik García-Lorido – “Magic City Memoirs”) wants Nick to help her find the man who brutally raped her and then had his henchmen work her over and dump her outside the hospital, as he knows everyone on the seedy side of life in Vegas. Holly is an escort who once loved Nick, and when he had previously hit rock bottom, she’d nursed him back to health, so Nick feels indebted to her.

Milo Ventimiglia
Milo Ventimiglia

Nick tracks down the man responsible, Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia – “Heroes”, “Killing Season”) and subdues and restrains him and his two henchmen so that Holly can come and extract her revenge. She thinks about cutting off DeMarco’s manhood, but having humiliated him she eventually chooses not to, instead taking US$50,000.00 from his desk. She splits the cash with Nick and then leaves town.

Jason Statham
Jason Statham

Nick takes his share of the cash to a casino and, watched by Kinnick, begins to win big, with US$506,000.00 in casino chips. However, he has a crisis of confidence over his Corsica plans and decides that he needs more cash to avoid having to one day return to Vegas, so goes back to the tables…

Sofia Vergara
Sofia Vergara

There are a number of well known names in fleeting roles, such as mobb boss Baby (Stanley Tucci – “Hunger Games”), waitress Roxy (Anne Heche – “Six Days Seven Nights”) and lawyer Pinky (Jason Alexander – “Seinfeld”, “Pretty Woman”) none of whom get much to do, and I personally felt that the obvious talents of Sofia Vergara were under-used too!

The problem with this movie is that, whilst it’s entertaining enough, it doesn’t seem to really know what it’s all about – or maybe I just didn’t get it?!

Is it a buddy movie (Nick and Kinnick’s friendship), a revenge movie (Holly’s revenge), an action movie (Nick’s various fight scenes), an escape from the baddies movie (Nick and DeMarco), a drama…??

There was much potential here, but the end result, in my opinion, is just a bit too muddled and vague.

B8oEN4UCQAAOAKN

Good Folks. Bad Deeds

“Cut Bank” is a thriller film, directed by Matt Shakman (“It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”), due for limited release in the US in April.

cut_bank

Liam Hemsworth
Liam Hemsworth

Dwayne McLaren (Liam Hemsworth – “Paranoia”, “The Hunger Games”) is a disaffected former high school football star who is caring for his very ill father whilst also working as an auto mechanic for his girlfriend Cassandra’s father, Stan Steeley (Billy Bob Thornton – “Parkland”, “Eagle Eye”).

He has long been harbouring dreams of leaving his small hometown of Cut Bank, Montana (“the coldest spot in the nation”) for a new life in California with Cassandra.

Teresa Palmer & Liam Hemsworth
Teresa Palmer & Liam Hemsworth

Dwayne doesn’t seem to have any way of achieving his dream until one day, whilst out in the fields shooting a homemade tourism video starring Cassandra (Teresa Palmer – “Take Me Home Tonight”, “Warm Bodies”), he manages to capture on tape the murder of elderly local postman Georgie Wits (Bruce Dern – “”Nebraska”, “Down In The Valley”), who is shot and then taken away in his mail van.

John Malkovich
John Malkovich

Dwayne and Cassandra take the videotape back to the Steeley home, and they call Sheriff Vogel (John Malkovich – “Burn After Reading, “RED”) who is ill-prepared to deal with the first murder that the town has ever had.

It transpires that anyone who can provide evidence of harm to a postal employee can claim a reward of US$100,000.00 so, having filled out the necessary paperwork, Dwayne just needs to wait for the postal inspector to bring his reward before he and Cassandra can leave town for their new life in the sun.

However, things aren’t all they appear to be, and problems begin when the postal inspector declares that he needs to see Georgie’s body to release the reward funds.

Michael Stuhlbarg
Michael Stuhlbarg

To further complicate the situation, local reclusive taxidermist Derby Milton (Michael Stuhlbarg – “Seven Psychopaths”, “Men In Black 3”) emerges from his self imposed exile, very determined to track down a parcel that he was expecting that went missing together with Georgie, his van and the rest of Georgie’s undelivered mail.

Teresa Palmer
Teresa Palmer

While Sheriff Vogel tries to get to the bottom of everything, and while Cassandra aims to win the “Miss Cut Bank” pageant, Dwayne suddenly finds himself out of his depth as it becomes all too apparent that his attempts to improve his life have set in motion a series of events that will change his life and his hometown forever.

A nice little small-town thriller, with a good dose of black humour thrown in. The acting performances are pretty good – with Bruce Dern and Michael Stuhlbarg perhaps having the most fun with their characters. Certainly worth a viewing…

cut_bank_ver2

War Of Kings

Europe_War_of_Kings_album“War Of Kings” is the new, tenth, studio album from Swedish hard rock legends Europe, probably best known for their 1986 hit single “The Final Countdown”.

Milton Keynes 1989 Poster
Milton Keynes 1989 Poster

I have very fond memories of seeing Europe performing as headliners at the Birmingham N.E.C. in 1988, and then as special guests to Bon Jovi at the Milton Keynes Bowl in the summer of 1989, on a bill also featuring Skid Row and Vixen. To my mind they were easily the best band that day, having included a couple of new songs set for their upcoming album, “Prisoners In Paradise”, as well as storming versions of the Elvis number “Hound Dog” plus “The Flight Of The Bumblebee” as guitar feature. They certainly eclipsed Bon Jovi that day.

However, any momentum that had been built on the back on the successful “The Final Countdown” and “Out Of This World” albums had been lost by the time “Prisoners In Paradise” was finally released in late 1991, particularly as grunge was huge by then, with many of the biggest hard rock bands of the 1980s suddenly finding life very tough! Splitting in 1992, no more was heard from Europe until late 2003 when the band announced their reformation and the recording of a new album, “Start From The Dark”. Whilst that album featured a detuned guitar sound, the band have been steadily developing a classic hard rock direction since then with a string of solid releases.

Joey Tempest & John Norum
Joey Tempest & John Norum

This new album continues in that vein. It is very much a classic sounding hard rock record, with echoes the great rock bands of the 70s to be heard. The use of hammond organ and a massive drum sound add to this perception. Front man Joey Tempest’s vocals are as powerful and soaring now as they ever were and guitarist John Norum delivers some seriously tasty lead guitar solos. The highlights of this record, for me, are “War Of Kings”, “Nothin’ To Ya”, “California 405”, “Rainbow Bridge” and “Light Me Up”, but in truth this is a very good album from the opening sound effects through to the reprise of the title track at the end of closing instrumental number “Vasastan”. Excellent stuff!

Europe
Europe

“War Of Kings” tracklist: 1. War Of Kings / 2. Hole In My Pocket / 3. Second Day / 4. Praise You / 5. Nothin’ To Ya / 6. California 405 / 7. Days Of Rock ‘N’ Roll / 8. Children Of The Mind / 9. Rainbow Bridge / 10. Angels (With Broken Hearts) / 11. Light Me Up / 12. Vasastan

The Right Place To Do Wrong

“The Loft” is a 2014 thriller film, directed by Erik Van Looy, and is a remake of the 2008 Dutch language movie “Loft” which was also directed by Van Looy.

loft_ver2_xlgFive married men secretly share an upmarket apartment, the loft, which they use for discreet affairs and to indulge their fantasies – thus avoiding the need for hotel rooms and awkward to explain credit card payments.

Wentworth Miller, Mar
Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Karl Urban, Matthias Schoenaerts & Chris Marsden

The five – Vincent (Karl Urban – “Dredd”, “Star Trek”), Chris (James Marsden – “Straw Dogs”, “Accidental Love”), Chris’s half-brother Philip (Matthias Schoenaerts “The Drop”, and the original version of “Loft”), Luke (Wentworth Miller – “Prison Break”) and Marty (Eric Stonestreet – “Modern Family”) – each have one of the only five security-protected keys for the apartment.

Amerikaanse-release-The-Loft-1When Luke walks into the apartment one morning to find the bloodied corpse of a young woman handcuffed to the bed, with a latin inscription meaning “Fate Will Unite Us” daubed on the headboard in blood, things begin to quickly unravel.

Once they are all present at the loft, the men start to realise that they not know each other as well as they originally believed and begin to suspect each other of having committed the crime, and also of the possibility that someone is trying to frame them. Nonetheless, they remain very keen to keep their knowledge and use of the loft a secret from the outside world.

Told through a mixture of scenes from the present and flashbacks throughout the previous twelve months, we gradually learn more about the relationships between the five, with their respective wives.

Rachael Taylor
Rachael Taylor

Added to the mix we discover distraction for Chris, who is a psychiatrist, in the shape of Anne Morris (Rachel Taylor – “666 Park Avenue”, “Grey’s Anatomy”), the sister of a deceased former client.

Recently married Philip’s father-in-law is a rich and powerful property developer with secrets of his own to hide, and Philip has a younger sister of whom he is very protective.

Isabel Lucas
Isabel Lucas

Vincent is entangled with a young woman named Sarah Deakins (Isabel Lucas – “Immortals”, “Transformers – Revenge Of The Fallen”) who may want more than Vincent is prepared to give, and Marty has a habit of getting drunk and being less than discrete.

All told, this is not a bad thriller. There are plenty of possible murder suspects and motives for the murder and potential set-up, which enables the makers to lead our thoughts in different directions as the various strands of the story are gradually revealed, leading to more than one unexpected outcome…

the_loft_2014_poster

In Times

Enslaved-In-Times“In Times” is the new album from Norwegian progressive black / viking metal band Enslaved.

Enslaved
Enslaved

This band are no strangers to stretching themselves musically, particularly during their more lengthy compositions – more so than many of their contemporaries.

The tracks on this album are no exception. There are a mere six tracks – but none shorter than eight minutes in length, and one at almost eleven minutes. What this means is that there is plenty of room for a variety of moods and tempos and for the band to really show what they are capable of.

Grutle Kjellson
Grutle Kjellson

Starting with the track most representative of their black metal origins, “Thurisaz Dreaming”, the band – comprising founder members Grutle Kjellson (vocals / bass guitar) and Ivar Bjørnson (guitars), together with Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (guitars), Herbrand Larsen (keyboards / vocals) and Cato Bekkevold (drums) instantly demonstrate that they mean business.

Ivar Bjørnson
Ivar Bjørnson

“Building With Fire” begins with a simpler style, before adding more chaotic passages to the mix, and is followed by the more viking metal sounding “One Thousand Years Of Rain” which is the first real epic on the record, the superb title track being the other. I can imagine the material on this album would, as with a lot of Enslaved’s previous work, function very well as a soundtrack to the likes of “Vikings”.

It would be hard to pick specific highlights from this record, since all six tracks are of a very high quality and have plenty to offer the listener – with lots of variety of style and pace without straying too far from the black / viking metal foundations – but if pushed I would probably go for “Daylight”, “In Times” and “One Thousand Years Of Rain”. In terms of the sound of the record, the individual performances and the material presented, this album is excellent. It is a progressive metal album in the truest sense and one well worth immersing oneself in.

enslaved-grand-magus-tour

“In Times” tracklist:

1. Thurisaz Dreaming / 2. Building With Fire / 3. One Thousand Years Of Rain / 4. Nauthir Bleeding / 5. In Times / 6. Daylight

No One Gets Out Alive

“Tower Block” is a 2012 British urban thriller film, directed by James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, and written by James Moran.

affiche-Tower-Block-2012-1At the start of the film we are told that after World War II, starting in the early 1950s, blocks of flats started to be built as affordable accommodation which were initially welcomed and desired for the improved views. However, as time went on the buildings started to fall into disrepair and gain a reputation for crime and violence. Developers were now demolishing the blocks, however in Serenity House the residents of the top floor have thus far refused to leave, despite the developer’s best efforts.

Sheridan Smith
Sheridan Smith

One night a 15 year old boy is fatally beaten in the corridor of the top floor by two masked individuals. Whilst most residents stay locked behind their doors, turning off lights, one – Becky (Sheridan Smith – “Jonathan Creek”, “Cilla”) tries to go to his aid, only to be knocked unconscious by the attackers. When police try to identify the culprits and look for witnesses, they find that the residents won’t speak out for fear.

Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey

One Saturday morning, three months later, Becky and the other top floor residents, including alcoholic Paul (Russell Tovey – “Blackwood”), and protection racketeer / drug dealer Kurtis (Jack O’Connell – “’71”) all find themselves suddenly under attack from a sniper hidden somewhere nearby shooting through their windows.

Jack OConnell
Jack O’Connell

Seeking refuge in the hallway, and realising that all communications are cut off, the lift is out of order and the stairway is outside the building (and thus unprotected from the sniper’s view), they try to band together to figure out who may be targeting them, why, and how to escape with their lives…

This was a pretty enjoyable thriller, with a good sense of tension. Sheridan Smith and Jack O’Connell are the stand-outs in the cast, Smith acting as default leader of the residents as they try to find a way out, and O’Connell perfectly capturing his part as an unapologetic bad boy.

I did feel that the ending was a slight let down, and was unconvinced once the identity of the sniper was finally revealed – it perhaps being a little too unlikely – but, hey, it’s not real, it’s only a film, and despite this reservation it’s still an enjoyable watch…

485164c0f8a4fa4c011a3be5abc51eeb

%d bloggers like this: