Music

Urgehal: Aeons in Sodom

Urgehal has never relented in its musical quests. This latest release is guaranteed to provide an abundance of eternal torture and dark satisfaction.


Urgehal

Aeons in Sodom

Label: Season of Mist
US Release Date: 2016-02-12
UK Release Date: 2016-02-12
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Urgehal's Salute to Late Founder Is Dark Metal Masterpiece

Aeons in Sodom is the first release from Norway’s Urgehal since 2009 and also the first from the band since founding member, guitarist/vocalist Nefas passed in 2012. Determined to deliver a statement commensurate with the late dark lord’s accomplishments while walking this planet, remaining members Enzifer (guitars/other instruments) and Uruz (drums) retreated to the hallowed halls and go to work. The result is a collection of 10 originals and two covers that surpasses expectations. No doubt Nefas would flash a grim and wicked smile.

The late guitarist penned half of the material here while Enzifer takes up the other half. Friends from Darkthrone, Carpathian Forest, Shining and Sadistic Intent join in the proceedings and provide a thrilling record that combines the best elements of black metal and a punk-like energy that provides some of the most memorable moments.

The wicked guitar tones here are some of the best you could expect, especially on “Blood of the Legion” (featuring M. Shax of Endezzma on vocals). The rhythm parts are crusty, gurgling bobs of blood and guts that buoy the track at a breathtaking pace while Uruz’s drumming drives us into unholy territories that become more agonizingly delicious with each passing measure. But perhaps more important than all that, there are several times you find yourself humming those rhythm figures and, of course, throwing horns when the soloing kicks in. The same might be said for the punk-ish “Sulfur Black Haze”, a wild ride of terror and rage featuring Hoest of Taake behind the mic and more harrowing rhythms and moods from the band’s core. The most harrowing of those moments are the eerie lead guitar lines as they creep along, inching their way into your psychic core until, like a malevolent parasite, they’ve found purchase and will not leave. It’s a cool trick and one that is achieved by avoiding the obvious which, here, would be a babbling million notes a second. Instead the band comes of perfectly in sync here, tight, memorable and perfectly miserable.

“Lord of Horns” imagines what might have happened if Metallica recorded a black metal album around the time of Ride the Lightning with a bed of hairpin rhythms and lyrics demand that the listener sing along. But it’s some of the album’s longer, more in-depth moments that offer the greatest thrills, namely “Thy Daemon Incarnate”, a track filled with pure trademark Norwegian darkness and featuring Sorath Northgrove of Beatcraft and Vulture Lord. Of all the vocalists here, he’s the one that delivers the most frightening and vile performance, the one that convinces you that you might have actually opened a gate to hell just by letting your media player happen upon this tune.

“Endetid”, which immediately follows, could serve as a second part to that track, albeit an angrier, nastier second part and one that sends the listener sailing back across the ages to the classic era of San Francisco Bay Area thrash while also remaining deeply rooted in present day black effin’ metal. “Psychedelic Evil”, the album’s longest and most experimental track is also easily its best, if for no other reason than it compiles all the best parts from the other tunes and presents them in a fashion that keeps the listener on the edge of his (or her) throne amid surprising twists, turns and blows to the gut.

An ace cover of Sepultura’s “Funeral Rites” and brilliant reading of Autopsy’s “Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay” (on which the drums sound, appropriately enough, as though they were recorded inside a coffin and played by a decaying corpse) close out the collection, leaving us with just enough energy and curiosity to go back to the beginning and take the ride again.

8

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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