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Showing posts from March, 2018

Judas Priest, Firepower (2018): Review, part 2

Here is part two of my review for Firepower (2018), Judas Priest's latest album. Part one examined the album more generally and retrospectively. Part two shall examine it, track by track.

"Firepower" is probably pound-for-pound, the strongest track on the album. That being said, the riff, right off the bat, sounds very similar to "Dragonaut" (2014). "Firepower" is, on its own, short and sweet, though—barely over three minutes, with a trademark opening shriek by Halford, run through a phaser. There's also steady double-bass from Travis during the chorus, a lovely bridge with a standard-issue circle-of-fourths arpeggiated progression ("Dragonaut" saved it for the solo, and was played by Tipton, on that album). Not to mention, there's lots of small hooks and changes, including a harmonized riff towards the end sounding as though it was pulled directly from "Between the Hammer and the Anvil" (1990). Yeah, "Firepower" …

Judas Priest, Firepower (2018): Review, part 1

I generally don't do music reviews, on here. With Judas Priest's latest album, Firepower (2018), I thought I'd make an exception. Part one will examine the album more generally and retrospectively. Part two will examine it, track by track.

I never thought I'd be listening to another Judas Priest album, following Redeemer of Souls (2014). But Priest are survivors. Following the second coming of the self-titled "metal god," I felt the band to have entered a new phase of experimentation that, at the same time, routinely tried to recapture the magic of the good old days. For most people, this equates to the aforementioned Painkiller, written at what was meant to be the end of their career—a career that had already experienced plenty of ups and downs.


For me, it's impossible to listen to Firepower without comparing it to everything they're written, since day one. For some, this would seem to be at the album's disadvantage. For me, it's not, given h…

Bad Day for the Cut (2017): Review, part 2

Here is part two of my two-part review of Chris Baugh's excellent movie, Bad Day for the Cut (2017). 

In part one, I was describing how Donal is grappling with a gangster whose stronger and faster than he. At the last second, he's saved by some unexpected help. When he is, we're meant to sigh in relief, having thought him a goner. It's precisely because the scene was so dire that made it equally enjoyable.


I already explained one way to make a situation seem dire: to show the "help" as helpless. Another way to do it is to hide the help, outright. In Blade Runner (1982), Rachel saves Deckard, but only at the last possible second. Until that point, Leon has Deckard on the hip, telling him "Wake up. Time to die!" Then, he starts to push in his eyeballs.

Before he can, a loud bang thunders and Leon's forehead explodes. Behind him, Rachel is shown, holding Deckard's pistol. The entire time, Ridley kept her out of the shot, so that we truly believ…

Bad Day for the Cut (2017): Review, part 1

Here is part one of my two-part review of Chris Baugh's excellent movie, Bad Day for the Cut (2017). It will summarize the film, as well as examine its nonchalant delivery and nondescript hero (spoilers); part two shall take it further, explaining why the movie is so visually and thematically impactful—not just holding up after repeat viewings, but becoming more effective with each.

Everyone knows that Conan the Barbarian is brave; no one will question his ability to get up after being being pinned to the Tree of Woe and continue his quest for revenge. The man looks built for the role. Not just his muscles, but the look in his eyes. Or Angel Eyes from Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966): to gaze into the hungry stare of Lee Van Cleef is see greed itself—unquestioned because it's just damn so implacable. In stories like these, no one doubts what these men are capable of. On the other hand, Baugh's movie is effectively a tale of revenge, from an odd sou…

Fargo (miniseries, 2014): Review, part 2

This is part two of my review of Noah Hawley's Fargo miniseries (2014-present). Part one discussed how the show's ineffective tricks bothered me. For part two, I wanted to examine the show closerand talk about Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1995), a movie made by a director who pulls off similar tricks, albeit with aplomb.

Hawley strives for meaningful chaos, in Fargo. Yet, for all the tricks he pulls, it adds up to peanuts. Such modernism works a lot better in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Yes, there are odd things in that movie—mishaps that transpire out of the blue, in sudden, volcanic tangents. Nothing appears to add up ("appears" being the key word, here); in all actuality it does, existing as a wholly engaging work. There aren't any heroes, in the black-and-white sense, and talk of God is limited—mercifully punctuated with random violence that, in and of itself, serves as a brain-splattering punchline to a joke no one saw coming (see: Travolta, belo…

Fargo (miniseries, 2014): Review, part 1

I've finally seen Noah Hawley's Fargo miniseries (2014-present)—all thirty episodes' worth. I won't be reviewing them individually. Instead, I'm going to focus on the series, as a whole. I'll discuss how the show's tricks bothered me, in part one; in part two, I'll discuss someone who can actually pull off these tricks with aplomb: Quentin Tarantino, and his movie, Pulp Fiction (1995).

Fargo is all promise, little pay-off. To be fair, the original movie(1996) wasn't my favorite, but still works much better than Hawley's work—a shame, considering how much time Hawley and his crew have spent, faithfully shading in the patented Coen brothers' coloring book. The problem here isn't the book, itself, but the inconsistent, sporadic coloring job. At times, it supersedes any expectation to shade inside the lines. Largely uncommitted, though, their spotty efforts yield equally checkered results—crazy in spots but not enough to accomplish what Hawle…