The Savage Animal 10.10.12: First Impression of In This Moment
Wrestling isn’t fun right now. The WWE is dreadful. I’ve fought through years of wrestling and lately it’s just not worth the effort. They have great talent and great production, but there just isn’t anything going on that’s enthralling or entertaining. I know feuds like Punk and Cena are going to always be around and always beat the dead horse. It’s lame and boring now. I was lame and boring three months ago. The fans want to cheer for CM Punk and boo for Cena, but for whatever reason that’s too easy. Sheamus and Del Rio had a million matches. Now we’re supposed to pretend Sheamus and Big Show is an attraction. The biggest farse is the Ryback stuff. His slogan shouldn’t be “Feed Me More” it should be “Force Feed Me More!” because the dude has been shoved down our throats. The fake bullshit chants, the really forced generic action figure arm motions, the lack of moveset or skill, and all of this leads to disaster. He’s going to have to be REALLY protected for anyone to get any value out of him. Can he wrestle a 12 minute match against someone he can’t squash? The shock and awe of his Goldberg con is going to wear off and the little kids will quickly realize he’s still the same Skip Sheffield who was quickly forgotten from the Nexus. This is just me nitpicking. The problem is that the bad outweights the good. Why watch something for five to ten minutes of enjoyment and have to sit through a million hours of torture? There is just too many hours to take in to really absorb all that’s going on. The three hours of RAW, two for Smackdown, one for Main Event, one for NXT, and tons of supplemental stuff. Keeping up with is not worth the time. That’s just the WWE though. The shitfest doesn’t end there…
TNA is TNA. No matter what, the show will always revolve around Hulk Hogan. Austin Aries is champion? Let’s showcase how proud Hogan is! It goes on and on. No matter what the old guard is featured in the heart of the show and if anything cool happens outside of that shit they’ll sprinkle in the old guy and Hogan stuff as much as possible. The biker stuff, the lack of general direction, the constant re-pushing of Jeff Hardy, the boredom of an AJ Styles, and the WCW feel of this product and production makes it impossible to ever consider them as a legitimate option.
Ring of Honor has a few really awesome performers who are coming into their own in Adam Cole, Mike Bennett, and a few others. I always enjoy seeing the Briscos get in there with someone on their level, which is few. The Kevin Steen thing is going weird. They want him to be the bad guy, but he’s really over with the crowd. Then they’re trying really hard to make the fans switch over. It’s like the opposite of John Cena. The fans hate Cena, but he’s pushed as the face. The weird booking around it didn’t make me care either way. They have so much going for them, but they just don’t seem to get going in the right direction. It’s really hard to watch Ring of Honor. As much as I like a few of the mentioned talents, I don’t know if it’s worth anyone’s time anymore.
The better alternative is DGUSA/Evolve. For some reason a lot of the internet wrestling writers want to either ignore this product’s awesomeness or find a reason to nit-pick whatever Gabe Sapolsky says. Sadly, I think he’s one of the only few people out there who “get it” anymore. His shows ARE what ROH should be and what the real heart of what ECW was all about. The DGUSA shows are cool because we get a few awesome Japanese guys over here, but the Evolve shows and talent is where it’s at. The talent roster of Johnny Gargano, AR Fox, Chuck Taylor, Sami Callihan, Ricochet, Uhaa Nation, Rich Swann, El Generico, and Jigsaw is my favorite group of wrestlers to watch today. People forget that “Daniel Bryan” was there before WWE, not Ring of Honor. Same with “Dean Ambrose”. Please wrestling fans, stop sleeping on Evolve.
Tommy Dreamer’s promotion seemed to do a lot better than Shane Douglas’s promotion. Both are relying on using established independent stars mixed in with old WCW, WWF/E, and ECW people. There is nothing new about this formula. The idea behind it is generally “we’ll draw in the fans with the names their familiar with (from that 10 minutes of air time they got in 2005) and then treat them to all of these new guys they’ve never heard of (if they don’t use the internet… at all).” This can work to a great amount of success, but I’d rather see a group of new faces get their own ball to run with. THAT is what made ECW awesome. We all love Terry Funk, of course we do, but he was never ever the reason I tuned in at 2 AM on grainy access TV in the Chicagoland area to watch ECW TV. I wanted to see the Shane Douglas’, the Ravens, the Sabus, the Tommy Dreamers, etc. The same people who loved ECW would mock the hell out of a Ric Flair or Hogan going on past their prime and eating up the spotlight. Isn’t that the same thing going on here? Take a page out of the Funkster’s book. To really open the doors and let wrestling move on to whatever it needs to, try helping and complimenting the product don’t present it. I’m confident both groups will find their own unique voice, but right now these nostalgia acts need to stop before we start rethinking about why were into it all to begin with.
Something cool has to be out there…
The New Spooky?Over the past few years I’ve taken it upon myself to educate myself on bands and artists I’ve missed the boat on. This means that every few weeks I’ll take a listen to a band’s entire studio discography. I go with bands with three to six studio albums just to not kill myself on time. These aren’t just bands I’m not too familiar with for whatever reason or another. It’s not always because I hate the single or two I hear. Sometimes my path just doesn’t cross with a random act. This will lead to be discovering a new great band to add to my repertoire or I learn specifically why I want to stab my ears while listening to other bands. The only way I’ll find out is to listen!
Why In This Moment?
I recently was recommended to give them a listen by someone who I thought was cool. I’m not so sure about that anymore, but I’m still going to give this band a listen. I always read the name in articles and all over the place. I’ve always heard people bring them up in a positive manner. I just never gave In This Moment a listen. I think I’ve even been to a concert where they were on a supporting stage, but I couldn’t tell you one song of theirs. I’ve seen their pictures and know what they look like. Their “image” has a darker and goth-like style. I’m open to that. I know they’re female fronted. Again, I’m open to that.
My worry is the “extent of growl” so to speak. I know they’re metal, but I’m weary of newer metal bands whose vocals are “growl heavy”. It’s just not my thing. If that’s what I’m in for, it’s going to be a long three hours. I’m hoping for something melodic, but who knows? I’m optimistic though.
Just to be safe, I am invoking Savage Animal Rule #205. Savage Animal Rule #205 states: “Listener can abandon headphones at any time if music starts sounding like Evanescence” .
Now where were we…
(2007 – 42 minutes) – The debut studio release starts off with “Whispers of October”, the sound of rain coming down with quiet whispers echoing in the background. It slowly builds as the vocals gain harmony. From there, their first big single, “Prayers” kicks in. I’ll be honest and I say I don’t recognize it at all. It’s a good intense metal track. While Maria Brink does do the metalcore scream, it is their genre; I can still clearly hear the vocals. The music is really solid as well. “Beautiful Tragedy” starts off with a down tempo intro and breaks into a straight forward rock song. I have to note that Brink’s vocals on this one are really spectacular. The song breaks about two and a half minutes in and pulls you back in. In a weird way this song reminds me of a 30 Seconds to Mars song. I don’t know how I feel about that. “Ashes” is a big more abrasive and rocking. The guitar melody makes it really easy to grove to and then the primal energy of Brink’s screams makes it easy to head bang. What a dilemma. I got lost in the electro-madness that is “Daddy’s Falling Angel”. I credit the drums especially, and then the vocals, and then the crazy guitar solo work. This is easily the best song on this album so far. “The Legacy of Odio” has a haunting opening where Brink shows off some really soulful chops. It breaks down and decays in some really bad ass pained and frantic screams… and back again. That kind of change up can backfire most times. It was awesome in this song. It’s not that “This Moment” is a bad song. It’s just a big drop in enthrallment from the general epic-ness of that last track. I’m brought back into the album by the opening drive of “Next Life”. It’s a balls out track that does not hold back on the drum pedal. I wasn’t feeling “He Said Eternity” until about a minute and a half in when it broke down a little. “Circles” is good, but it never really grabs me. The album closes out with “When the Storm Subsides”, an acoustic track that bitch slaps you with Brink’s emotional cries. It’s a beautiful ballad and a nice closer. For me, the second half of this album needed the pick-up. I’m hoping I’m not already burnt out on this band after one album. There is plenty of really good stuff and a song or two that I’d want to hear again on my normal everyday playlists. They had a good balance of metalcore, metal, hard rock, ballads, and more but at the end I found myself getting bored and wanting to hear something different. A lot of bands with the genre label of “metalcore” tend to just keep rehashing the same shit over and over. The positives outweigh the bad for sure and there is too much talent and energy here for me to not hold on to optimism.
(2008 – 43 minutes) – After a really impressive debut, the band’s sophomore album starts “The Rabbit Hole”, a one minute intro. It’s an eerie opening with quiet whispers in the background. It reminds me of atmosphere music from the movie “Queen of the Damned”. “Forever” has an addicting guitar melody. Brink’s vocals are more layered and seem more in the forefront of this song. As I listen, I’m reading that this album gets away from the screamy vocals. That is the best thing this listener could read at this point. Her voice is dominant its own to need to resort to destroying her voice. I like the building open of “All for You”, but it quickly goes into a really poppy area that I wasn’t expecting or wanting. The soul-filled guitar work about two and half minutes in makes up for it though. I listened to “Lost at Sea” and paid attention. Nothing about it made me want to type a sentence to describe it. It’s well crafted, I can clearly hear the hook in the song, but it feels like it goes in one bored ear and out the other. Almost instantly “Mechanical Love” wakes me up with an aggressive opening that goes into one of the better tunes on this album so far. I love the guitar break down in it and Brink’s vocals are just that much better than everything else so far. “Her Kiss” has a throbbing baseline that grows as Brink’s delicate rage is put out there. Then it breaks it into a pretty standard fare chorus and back and again. I got into the fun part of it, but it lost me in the chorus stuff. It goes from the coolest of Korn songs to a typical Taylor Swift song in like 2 seconds and back and forth. It’s a bummer. “Into the Light” is a really light and fluffy ballad. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or anything like that, but the lady has a damn fine voice. This is one of those songs you’d see on an award show where it’d be her, a piano, a spotlight, and then a lot of shocked assholes in the crowd clapping like crazy at the end. Is Maria Brink in the right genre? The tempo gets to a nice high school prom-like level with “You Always Believed”. It’s a pop-rock song about someone who has always been there for Brink. The theme is fine, but the lyrics bother me. They are so straight forward, unimaginative, and generic that it might as well be a country song. I’m not asking for a lot. Just a little bit of metaphorical word play or poetic approach would have helped. Shit gets bonkers on “The Great Divide”. The growls and screams return to let us know what’s up. I even dare say those screams could out punch any of the first albums. It breaks towards a more harmonious area and back and forth in true metalcore fashion. I needed the pick-me-up. “Violet Skies” is awesome. The opening is cool and then the weird distorted vocals lead into a head bang worth guitar melody. It has the accessibility of the mainstream sound they seem to be really trying for on this album, but it still maintains a certain edge to it that doesn’t make it sound generic. The rally call stuff at the beginning and in the middle is potentially the coolest thing on this record. I think this would have been a better single than the two they went with. The album closes with “The Dream”. We hear notes in the distance as we’re taken a drift by a really well done quiet guitar and calming vocal combo. It’s called “The Dream” and that’s kind of what it feels like. I like this closer a lot. It’s stripped down just enough to really showcase everyone’s natural skills, but not stripped down to the point of sounding like it should be on my mom’s playlist or in a dramatic scene on a teen Nickelodeon show. The album had some high points, especially the last track, but all in all it wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s a WAY catchier album with what feels like a fabricated radio-friendly sound. It’s not bad and definitely better than Evanescence, but it’s getting closer to that general area at times. I’m not writing this off yet, but I’m cautious going into this next one…
A Star-Crossed Wasteland
(2010 – 42 minutes) – The band’s third album starts off with “The Gun Show”. I’m automatically a fan of it just because of the title. It has a slow brooding opening. It gives an evil “pending doom” vibe and then Brink screams “Welcome to the gun show”. Count me in. This song is already more bad ass than anything on the last album. It’s an all-out audio assault. Great opener! “Just Drive” has a frantic energy to it until it breaks down to its harmonious chorus. It’s almost punk-like, but in a good non-sloppy way. Next up is “The Promise”. We get guest vocals in this eerie ballad from Adrian Patrick of Otherwise. He’s not bad and I’ll have to check his band out down the line sometime. I like the song. “Standing Alone” gets back to the more “hard rock” approach to things. A bit more accessible, but not as soft sounding as some of the stuff on the last album. “A Star-Crossed Wasteland” is a multilayered journey. It pulls you along for the ride and gives some of Brink’s best lyrical work and some really cool music. It feels like you’re on a raft just floating through her dark, twisted, and pretty fucking hot mind. At first I wasn’t feeling “Blazin'”, but by the end of it I was head banging along and rocking out. It’s got that gritty and raw punk edge to it, but with a foundation of Brink’s enormous vocals and some stellar solo work. “The Road” gives me a chance to chill out. It’s a down tempo song that doesn’t do much to pull me in. It’s not bad, but there seems to be a trend here where I’m completely pulled in and enthralled and then I’m not. Respectfully, this song is a “not”. “Iron Army” blasts the listener away. Brink’s vocals almost get scary here as her primal shrieks make the heart race a bit. This is a standard “metalcore” type of song. The growls and harmonious breaks are there, but at one point I thought the continuous scream of Maria Brink was going to make my glasses crack. Intense shit. I absolutely love “The Last Cowboy”. The quaint spoken word portion stands out and is another new trick up this band’s sleeve. I like how they keep sneaking in new stuff to their already impressive repertoire of metal-licous chops. This album ends with “World In Flames”. It’s a crooning down tempo ballad with a nice and calming sprinkle of melodic soul underneath it. This is another one of those songs that reminds us that this “screaming rock chick” has a beautiful voice. It’s almost out of place, but it’s too good to dismiss. What a huge difference a few years and an album can make. This album is the progression a metal fan, at least this one, would have hoped from after that really promising debut. I don’t hear much on the album that I couldn’t imagine being popular on the radio, but they didn’t have to sacrifice the balls of their music to get there. I can’t wait to listen to this next one.
(2012 – 48 minutes) – The bands most recent album came out in August of 2012 so it’s still pretty damn fresh. If it’s anything like the last album then I’m excited, but even if it’s in the general ballpark then I’ll be good to go. It starts off with “Rise With Me”. It starts as a creepy instrumental intro track that vaguely reminds me of the iconic Terminator score. About a minute in, strained whispered vocals begin to haunt us as Brink lets her voice weave through the mystique. “Blood” kicks in with a vicious rant that builds with guitars at arm. It breaks into a bad ass metal tune with a nice hint of industrial. It’s a love song. It’s a hate song. It’s a lust song. I love it. “Adrenalize” blasts right off into some heavy drums and dirty guitars. It breaks into a really seductive metal song. When it’s not being seductive it’s being catchy as hell. “Whore” kicks in with a vicious and painful rant and goes into what I guess is an S&M-based ballad song. I’m not sure if it’s for it or against it. At one point it sounds hateful and the other part it sounds desperate. That’s interesting contrast. “You’re Gonna’ Listen” is a head banging rock out with a nice balance of Brink’s seductively-murderous vocals. Something about the song makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong. “It Is Written” is snuck in there. It’s a short 30 second track of background chaos that ends with Brink making a request most guys and a lot of girls wouldn’t say no to. This leads us to “Burn”. It’s a slow starter and then bam! It kicks in with one of the most emotive songs of this discography. I’m a fan of the programming on this one too. It’s casual and quaint, but the atmosphere adds a lot to the tone to give it an “epic” vibe. “Scarlet” starts with some scurries of plucking and is quickly joined by controlled vocals. A minute in it breaks to a slightly higher tempo with added layers of eerie. The chorus breaks and does the same thing, just another slightly higher tempo. It’s a really easy song to listen to and take in. “Aries” is another interlude. It’s forty one seconds as Maria quietly speaks in the background. It takes us into “From The Ashes”. The opening of it makes me think about 30 Seconds To Mars and then bad ass guitar kicks in and that thought is tossed out. The pacing of the song feels restrained and precise and then the chorus goes into something with a fuller sound. I still can’t help but think about 30 Seconds to Mars, a band I’m not all that into, on some of the vocal inflections. Maybe I’m just weird. “Beast Within” is a pretty cool song. The tempo makes you want to shake your fist like a 1980’s montage, but it gets really sultry and gritty real quick. The bass intro of “Comanche” is the epitome of danger. The vocals go into a droned out area that others have tried(PM5K), but only people like Manson can get into. Maria Brink hits those levels of dreary drones and it’s damn impressive. It’s a battle cry that would rally the dead straight to the pit. “The Blood Legion” has a weird intro that leads into softly sung vocals. It breaks and before I know it the four and half minute song is over. Good stuff. The final track on this album is titled “11:11”. It has a dreary drone of angelic tones in the background that is eventually joined by Maria Brink letting her soul take over the wheel. She hits notes in this song that force you to feel her pain. It’s a great display of everything she has in her and leaves you drained, fulfilled, and a little sweaty at the end. Holy shit. I was a big fan of In This Moment’s third album, but I think I can safely say that this album was my favorite of theirs thus far.
(2005 – present) – I think the best way to describe Maria Brink’s voice is to say that it soars. No matter the vocal style she’s presenting you are not given a choice not to listen. If you’ve never listened to this band and want to casually check them out then I’d say give A Star-Crossed Wasteland a listen. “The Gun Show” is bad ass and the album is a great introduction of what the band seems to be all about. Blood is my favorite album of theirs, which is awesome because it’s their most recent. How often does someone’s most current work stack up as their best these days? Not very fucking often. “Blood” is a magnificent single, for lack of better adjective. I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times since the initial first impression. I was worried they’d wallow in the same style and level of quality. A lot of bands put out something and that’s their sound and the most they’ll ever really put themselves out there. I’m happy as hell there is some evolution, growth, and development in this very good band. Chances are taken. When taking in a band’s discography like I do all of that is a huge perk. Even if I don’t fall absolutely in love with a band it’s always nice to take in and appreciation something that reeks of passion. I’m not going to claim to be In This Moment’s newest biggest fan or anything. I can only be honest. I really dug a good portion of it, I didn’t like some of it, and there is some stuff that I know is going to stick with me and make me go back to it in the future. I REALLY want to see these guys in concert sometime next time they get close to Chicago. An interview even. This was a good experience that I needed as a music fan. Sometimes music is the perfect patchwork to keep things together. I found a new band I like and I honestly feel their best work is still to come. I know I’m late to the bandwagon, but it’s one worth getting on.
This story is set in the mid-60’s. A twelve year old orphaned outcast is at “Khaki Scout” summer camp. Nothing seems to be going his way except for his long distance relationship with Suzy, a girl he met a year ago. They exchange letters and eventually decide to run away together. This leads to her parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), a cop (Bruce Willis), and the boy’s scout master (Edward Norton) go on a search for them. Meanwhile the kid’s fellow scouts go after him as well. The boy and girl camp out, talk, swim, French kiss, and just hang out. It’s a sweet time for sure. Jared Gilman does a great job as the awkward “Sam”. He’s like a little Jason Schwartzman, which in my book is a compliment. Kara Hayward plays “Suzy” and just about steals the show. She has that acting skill of telling a story with her eyes that the biggest stars still haven’t really gotten down. If both chose to continue with acting then I’ll surely check them out. On the merit of the two young leads alone, the casting of the movie should be rewarded and praised. Then again, this IS a Wes Anderson movie. Wes Anderson’s films are truly his own. They have a very distinct style with very distinct characters and a very distinct voice. The distinction is the beauty. He paints the screen with imagery, memorable characters, and some of the sharpest dialogue you’re going to find. If you love Wes Anderson movies then you’re going to love Moonrise Kingdom. It’s everything we’ve grown to love and expect from a Wes Anderson movie. It’s a very well-crafted movie with all the insecure quirks we all relate to. The casting is cool, the soundtrack is hip, and the warmth of Anderson’s artistic heart is in great abundance. The pacing is like a cucumber. A lot is going on, but at the same time we’re given a chance to eat up the visuals. I know I’d probably get harassed for it, but I thought “The Darjeeling Limited” was a better movie. I liked the story of this movie better, but overall I was just more absorbed in his last live-action movie. That doesn’t change the fact that this was a really great movie. See it if you have any appreciation for great film and/or specifically the magnificence of a Wes Anderson project. Like all mass-released art, there is a flip-side to this. If you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson films then I’m not sure how it would be judged. The slower pace of it would be boring. The sharper dialogue wouldn’t stand out as much because it’s not as poppy as a Diablo Cody-“Juno” style. The casting wouldn’t be as impressive outside of the bigger names like Willis, Norton, and Murray. The Michael Bay crowd would hate this movie and not understand it. Thankfully, Wes Anderson doesn’t seem to be making movies for those people. He has developed a nice niche in the filmmaking business that allows him to work with cool people, work in cool locations, and continue to make what he wants to make. If you watch this movie and don’t appreciate it then you’re just wrong. Cut and dry wrong. A-
Dolph Ziggler is clearly one of the best and brightest stars the WWE has had in a long time. He’s an athletic machine and is really coming into his own. Someone important had to agree and get behind him because at Money In the Bank 2012 he won the big blue briefcase. Eventually he’s going to have to cash that shit in.
Here is what shouldn’t, but could happen. After a long reign as World Champion, Sheamus will defend his title against Randy Orton in a big “good guy vs. good guy” match. Let’s say at Survivor Series 2012. They have a long match where the Great Khali shows up and gets involved. Why? Because it would suck! Sheamus gets the win after a long grueling match. Orton snaps and gives RKOs to both Khali, sending him out of the ring, and then Sheamus, leaving him lying in the ring.
Enter Dolph Ziggler. He walks right by Randy Orton with no interaction. Dolph gets inside the ring and stumbles! The brief case flies from his hands to the outside where Khali is. The ref is confused and never starts the match. Dolph gets Sheamus to his feet and hits his finishing move. He goes to cover and the ref doesn’t count the three. Dolph is freaking out! Meanwhile, The Great Khali WITH THE BRIEF CASE enters the ring and hands it over the ref. The ref starts the match as Dolph continues to lay on Sheamus wanting the three count. Khali simply steps on Dolph and the ref counts three! Dolph Ziggler celebrates. He grabs the belt and is the NEEEEW WWE World Champion!… Or not! The ref rules that Khali cashed in the briefcase and is responsible for the legal pin. Therefore, the new WWE Champion is The Great Khali!
From there, Khali would hold onto the title until WrestleMania 29 where he would defend it against Mark Henry in a “Two Out of Three Falls” Match. Khali would retain with two pins in a row after twenty minutes of chain wrestling. Meanwhile, Dolph Ziggler will be in the YouTube dark match battle royal and is quietly eliminated by Ezekiel Jackson.
Great pay off, huh?
I’m a big fan of dark comedies. The problem is that dark comedies are hard to come by. So when a new one comes out I try to pay attention and give it a shot. This doesn’t even mean the dark comedy is going to be good, but I’m at least excited for the potential. This movie looks like it’s going to be a good one. The cast is really solid. We get Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Colin Farrell, Tom Waits, Kevin Corrigan, and a slew of others. The plot looks to be quirky fun. Colin Farrell is a struggling writer and Sam Rockwell is a struggling actor-slash-dog thief. Rockwell takes Farrell on a journey to help inspire him to finish his screenplay. You got to love movies about writing movies! I’m sure dark hijinks ensue, everyone gets in over their heads, and everyone has wacky misunderstandings. I think that’s the key to a solid dark comedy. The trailer gives me no reason to not expect AT LEAST a “solid” movie, but I have a feeling I’ll really like this.