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Devil

DevilScoreCD

Devil – Music by Fernando Velázquez

Varèse Sarabande – 2011

 

 

 

From the first pulse pounding note of this score “Devil” roars with authority.  I’m guessing Fernando Velázquez has made Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock smile up in cinema heaven.  This first cue is engineered and mixed by Steve McLaughlin to absolute perfection. The way the grimacing brass is separated from the driving strings to the booming drums that hit unexpectedly, it’s audio done at its finest.

“Rosary” has swaying suspense music that could be compared to a hungry spider patiently waiting to strike on its web.  The low bassoon and percussion keeps the threat of something lethal always near.

I marvel at Velázquez’s grasp of the orchestra.  The way he uses silence and softer orchestration in “Broken Glass” is stunning.

The orchestra moans deep counter balancing the brass streaking across “Jesus in a Pancake.”

When Velázquez strikes in “Jelly toast” you feel the power because of the quietness leading up to and after the moment.

The slashing style with the strings in “Firetruck” while the orchestra is at a low rumble is a highly effective way of supercharging suspense.  The strings picking is another technique Velázquez chooses to ratchet up the intensity.

“The Mechanic” charges forward with thrilling result.  The strings, which at moments tip side to side will scare you.  The middle of this cue has some dreamy moments that offer emotional balance.

There is a tug-of-war of momentum in “Blood on the Ceiling.”  One second you are dashing forward and then the next being dragged slowly back.  Velázquez manipulates these movements expertly.

“Hanging” is a six-minute high-wire act of anticipation.  You can feel that something is going to happen, it’s just a matter of time.

Suspicion is high as any character could be dangerous one in “The Person Closest To You.”  Doubt, fear and uncertainly are played to the max in this eleventh cue.

Fernando Velázquez doesn’t give anything away, making you work and sweat out “Twist.”  His composition takes you in one direction and then doubles back to flip the tables just when you’ve thought you figured out where the track is going.

The orchestra is controlled to tell of the dramatic story of the “The Accident.”  The way this is achieved is subtly powerful.  Potently somber, Velázquez captures tragedy with vicious soft strokes.

The dark cloud of terror drifts away somewhat as “Rescue” plays.

The last track is an (Alternate Mix) of the title “Devil.”  Nasty teeth baring brass and deep orchestral power growls as strings slash and drums pound.  This is classic suspense music with completely modern sounds and styling.  Fernando Velázquez has certainly learned from the masters and his work shows tremendous command over the language of film composing.  What I think is most impressive about this is not the trendy sounds or touches that many composers use today.  Rather he helps tell the story of this beautifully dark suspenseful film.

DEVIL score is in no way something you hear often in films.  It’s composed with a connection to the movie in ways that make Fernando Velázquez stand out as a composer that could reach the level of the all-time greats.  I can’t say enough good things about the score.  It’s my favorite score that I’ve reviewed so far this year and DEVIL was my favorite film from last year.

www.VarseSarabande.com

Evergrey – Glorious Collision

EvergreyGloriousCollision

 

Evergrey – Glorious Collision

SPV/Steamhammer Records – 2011

 

Incredibly consistent with massive heavy riffs, one of the best voices in all of heavy metal and top-flight song writing are just a few of the reasons why Evergrey is my second favorite band.

A lesser band might have panicked when losing three-fifths of their line-up.  Not the Gothenburg, Sweden powerhouse, as they have re-grouped and come back better than ever with Glorious Collision.

In the more than capable hands of mastermind Tom S. Englund and his stalwart keyboardist Rikard Zander, Glorious Collision is multi-layered juggernaut of beautiful keyboards, heavy guitars, pounding drums and driving bass.

Guitars thunder across “Leave It Behind Us” with Zander’s keyboard alternating between delicate piano and a fluctuating electronic signal.  The majestic background vocals from Englund’s wife Carina, set a grand stage for new guitarist Marcus Jidell and Tom Englund to solo with blinding hair-raising effect.

The dark heavy riff of “You” sounds remarkable against Zander’s soft keyboard touch.  The dual soloing is insanely fast and when they take turns trading off, each guitarist brings a unique approach.  I can’t forget the terrific drum work by Hannes Van Dahl.  The parts of the song where he kicks the double bass pedals with heavy guitar rhythm will kick your ass!

I love when the band cuts back the heaviness to allow the piano and percussion breathe softly in “Wrong.”  On the other hand, the double bass drums kick the harder parts with authority.

Speaking of drums, they fall on top of you like an avalanche in “Frozen.”  The stop and go of heavy distortion and free space is presented as an art-form in this fourth tune.  One of the guitars speaks together with the keyboard to create beautiful instrumental voicing.  I think the little keyboard sounds in this track are absolutely genius.

Though it’s heavy, I haven’t got the faintest idea why “Restoring the Loss” isn’t played on every rock radio station across the globe.  It’s melodic with hook power to snare anyone.  This fifth song should reach the masses.  If it doesn’t, it is a criminal act of negligence by radio programmers.

Try not banging your head to the colossal riffs and drum beat in “To Fit the Mold.”  The lead guitar work is fluid and played with outpouring of emotion.

“Out of Reach” has such an amazing melody that  it felt like I recognized it on a subconscious level.  It’s pure Evergrey with Englund telling a story while the guitars fire away from two sides.  The drums and Johan Niemann’s bass unite for a Tour de Force of a song.

An acoustic guitar plays while Englund sings with great sensitivity in “The Phantom Letters.”  The harder parts of the song punctuate the tune with the band’s aggressive inflection.  I love how the picking guitar rhythm plays along with the kick of the bass drum.  The speed picking guitar runs are just wicked quick.

The muted distorted guitar in the back of the keyboard is an awesome intro to “The Disease.”  Zander’s keyboard and Van Dahl’s drums take turns leading the way for the band to rip it.  Englund and Jidell’s dual harmony towards the end is Maidenish.

Carina Englund’s voice beams from heaven before an onslaught of instrumental power strikes like a hailstorm of sledgehammers in “It Comes From Within.”

The opening keyboard in “Free” has almost a cool 70s soundtrack tone (ala John Carpenter ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13).  The layers of vocals fit nicely with the acoustic guitars and the drums are mixed just right to not overpower the softer instrumentation.

I’m astonished how the soft, fluffy keyboard mixes right in with the vicious distorted guitars of “I’m Drowning Alone.”  The harmonic heavy riffage is breathtaking!  The break with the child singing before the big riffs come back is brilliantly conceived and executed.

Tom & Carina Englund sing a duet in “…And the Distance.”  I like how it’s not just a ballad but infused with Evergrey’s attacking instrumental fortitude.

As you already know from the beginning of this review, Evergrey is my second favorite band.  I like and even love everything they have recorded and released.  Their album In Search of Truth is a masterwork of a concept album.  I regard Monday Morning Apocalypse in the tip-top selection of my all-time favorite albums.  But to be brutally honest, Glorious Collision just might be the best album Evergrey has done so far.

www.spv.de/

www.evergrey.net

Attack the Black (Blu-ray)

AttackTheBlockBR

Attack The Block (Blu-ray)

 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – 2011

Written & Directed by Joe Cornish

 

Starring
Jodie Whittaker
John Boyega
Alex Esmail
Franz Drameh
Leeon Jones
Simon Howard
Luke Treadaway
Jumayn Hunter
Nick Frost

This film has received universal acclaim and rightly so.  I’d give it a 10 on a scale to 10.  Imagine crossing BOYZ N THE HOOD with CRITTERS and then add a pinch of THE GOONIES.

The producers of SHAUN OF THE DEAD have given Joe Cornish his directing debut and the talented British filmmaker hits the ball out of the park.  Cornish has written and directed a highly entertaining film that is very well plotted with scenes that interconnect seamlessly.

A motley crew of riff raff kids in South London are forced to defend their turf when a nasty species of aliens crash land in their territory.

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The potty-mouth youth use their bravado (hoodies & all) to stand up and fight the jet black furred aliens that sport glowing neon blue colored eyes and fangs.  If that doesn’t sound like fun then you shouldn’t be on this site.

The movie is played totally straight with R-rated violence but you’ll laugh many times over the course of this film’s length.  The humor comes naturally within the flow of the hard-hitting action.  There’s no wink-wink or spoofing here.

I really enjoyed listening to the heavy accented language and use of THE BLOCK slang.  You might have to put on the subtitles just to get it all but believe it or not their way of speaking actually enhances the experience.

The look of the film is dazzling with color and the score is really cool combining modern urban styling with horror action.  This is not a low budget movie but thankfully it’s not a brain-dead Hollywood blockbuster either.  The production values sparkle in every way.

To be honest with you the young cast is absolutely brilliant.  John Boyega stands out as Moses the leader of the ruffians.  His stern but quiet demeanor works to his considerable advantage as he uses his body language and cold stare to intimidate others.  I actually think he looks like a very young Denzel Washington.  I’d be shocked if he doesn’t become a major star.

Jodie Whitaker plays Sam, the young nurse who is mugged by the young gang of teenagers at the beginning.  Then she’s sort of forced to stay with them as she gets trapped in the action.  Whitaker has a fresh face and she flows believably with what happens to her character.

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The other members of the gang are fantastically cast, which each young performer bringing something special to the table.  Alex Esmail is utterly hilarious as Pest (an aptly named character seen in the bottom right of the above photo).  The skinny little guy shows no fear even in the most intense situations, which will have you rolling in your seat.

Franz Drameh plays Dennis with conviction, the character is kind of the second in charge and an extension of Moses.  Leon Jones makes Jerome (bottom left in photo above) the intellect/Teddy Bear of the group and he plays it perfectly.  Simon Howard is Biggz, who just cracks me up.  What is so great about these performances is though the characters are troubled, aggressive hoodlums who are totally up to no good, you still end up caring about them.  This is because under the surface they are kids trying to survive in a brutal world.  It becomes apparent, though never said, their toughness is actually necessary for them to get by.  I credit the actors for pulling this off and the script written by Cornish and his extraordinary direction.

Local drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost) and his boss Hi-Hatz (Jumayn Hunter) appropriately bring creditability as the neighborhood thug kings and without them the movie wouldn’t work the same.

The two 10-year old wanna-be-thugs Probs (Sammy Williams) and Mayhem (Michael Ajao), who use a water-gun filled with petrol and flame to torch the creatures are hysterical.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment gives this the love it deserves by including a slew of cool features to get inside the alien invasion!  The hour-long Behind The Block documentary gives everyone a chance to tell their side of the production story and I enjoyed every moment of it.  I was especially impressed the way Writer/Director Joe Cornish answers Sammy Williams & Michael Ajao’s question of what made him write this screenplay.  Cornish says that he was inspired by SIGNS and he does this while practically whispering in between shots on the outdoor shooting location.   Creature Features – Special Effects looks at the work done to make the aliens and other visual effects seen in the film.  Lead Creature and Movement Choreographer Terry Notary is shown doing all the amazing physical things to make the creatures real.  We also get to see Paul Hyett’s very impressive make-up FX work.  Meet The Gang chronicles this amazing cast of actors and they get to talk about what they did to portray their respective roles.  Unfilmed Action – Unfilmed Sequences From the Movie is just as described.  That’s a Rap – Fun with the Cast on Set and finally Filmmaker and Cast Audio Commentaries round up the stellar extras.

ATTACK THE BLOCK is the Best Film I’ve seen this year.

www.SonyPictures.com/bluray