Music

Mnemic: Sons of the System

On their fourth full-length album, Danish industrial metal gurus bring their sound together, combining old and new elements to deliver some of their best material yet.


Mnemic

Sons of the System

Label: Nuclear Blast
UK Release Date: 2010-01-15
US Release Date: 2010-01-26
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Mnemic are among industrial metal's elite few that can rank with genre originators Fear Factory in terms of musicality and staying power. When they burst onto the scene with 2003's Mechanical Spin Phenomena, fans and critics had high hopes for the band. 2004's The Audio Injected Soul only raised expectations, as the band appeared poised for a huge breakout. However, after the departure of original vocalist Michael Bøgballe and the introduction of his replacement, Guillaume Bideau, on 2007's Passenger, a split emerged among fans. Some claimed that Mnemic were becoming a sellout band and were transitioning towards playing metalcore, while others praised Bideau for helping the band to grow and keep their sound fresh. In the end, two groups emerged: those who aligned themselves with the old sound of the first two albums, and those who chose the new sound of Passenger. However, Mnemic should be able to bridge the divide between these groups with their newest album, Sons of the System, which brings together the disparate elements of their previous work and creates a cohesive, intense sound.

This album shows a lot of vocal advancement on the part of Bideau. His singing is much more focused than it was on Passenger, and his screams reach Bøgballe's level of rawness while maintaining clarity. The lyrics on this album still deal with Mnemic's standard topics of the human mind, evolution, and futuristic themes, but the delivery is stronger with Bideau's new and improved technique. Musically, this album succeeds because the band shows significant growth and expansion in their sound and influences. The most noticeable and best-fitting growth is in the addition of strong groove metal elements to the band's sound. Tracks like "The Erasing" and "Hero(in)" showcase these elements best. The post-chorus riff on "The Erasing" is incredibly catchy and makes the whole song more interesting. "Hero(in)" uses the groove of its lead line to offset the irregular beat of the song, making the song more atmospheric without getting lost in its own arrangement.

Many tracks also utilize the catchy chorus style of Passenger paired with intricate, technical verse riffs like those found on Mechanical Spin Phenomena. The title track is the best example of this, coupling a fast, thrashy verse riff with a chorus designed for a sing-along. "Mnightmare", "Fate", and "Within" also accomplish this feat, contrasting nicely with the songs that rely more heavily on groove to keep the album engaging for listeners. And while Sons of the System does have some forgettable moments (such as the dragging ending on "March of the Tripods"), the vast majority of the album is high-quality industrial metal at its finest.

Mnemic have definitely re-established themselves in fine form with this album, and hopefully both old and new fans will find this album to be enjoyable. Sons of the System proves that when Mnemic are good, they're at the top of the heap, and even when they're not so good, they still have a lot going for them. The growth of their sound also indicates that the band is ready to expand into even bigger creative territory, and this trend will hopefully continue on future albums.

7

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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