CD Review: Alestorm “No Grave But the Sea”

“No Grave But The Sea”
Alestorm
Napalm Records
Tracks: 10

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Ahoy, mateys! Gather ‘round for Alestorm’s 5th full-length album: “No Grave But The Sea”! An adventure filled to the brim with awesome pirate tales and party tunes from this trusted metal band. The album’s 10 new tracks contain a lot of what we know and love from Alestorm, but with some new added flair. There are plenty of great metal jams throughout, with just as many anthems and catchy choruses. The album embraces more use of harsh vocals on some tracks, blending them together with frontman Captain Chris Bowes’ great piratey vocals he’s known for.

Alestorm stays fun with jams like “Mexico”, which has a hilarious video, “Pegleg Potion”, and as to be expected their rager “Alestorm,” which is also a great blend of old and new in the band’s sound. Anthems are also present on songs like the title track and one of my new favorite Alestorm songs: “Treasure Island.” The whole albums leads you to an almost 8 minute long epic pirate metal masterpiece that has to be blowing out your speakers this summer.

Fans will love these songs paired with the rest of the band’s back catalog, adding more tales to the metal pirate journey. At some points the pirate tales begin to sound the same, but the band does a great job at really emphasizing on the newer additions. “No Grave But The Sea” is a ton of fun and definitely worth checking out. You can also catch Alestorm on Vans Warped Tour this summer!

Track Listing:
1.) No Grave But The Sea
2.) Mexico
3.) To the End of the World
4.) Alestorm
5.) Bar und Imbiss
6.) Fucked with an Anchor
7.) Pegleg Potion
8.) Man the Pumps
9.) Rage of the Pentahook
10.) Treasure Island

Casey Orr talks about Rigor Mortis’ new album “Slaves to the Grave”

Casey Orr is the bassist for the band Warbeast. He has also been a member of such bands as GWAR, Ministry, Ex-Cops and thrash/metal legends Rigor Mortis. Media Mikes spoke with Casey recently about Rigor Mortis’ new album (their first in 23 years) titled “Slaves to the Grave”. We also spoke about the hardships which occurred during its creation and the whether or not the band plans to continue despite the death of guitarist/founding member Mike Scaccia in 2012.

Adam Lawton: Tell us about the new album and the struggles you encountered during the recording process?
Casey Orr: It’s been a pretty fucked up turn of events. We lost our guitarist Mike Saccia in December of 2012. He had actually been in the studio 3 days before he died and signed off on all of his parts for the album. He had finished everything he had to do and was happy with his work. Even still it was hard to really say that the album was done. We spent a lot of time listening to it and tweaking things and we got it to where we think it’s perfect but Mike’s not here to enjoy it with us. That really sucks because after all the years and ups and downs we were excited to hit the road and work on more new material. It’s bitter sweet. We are glad the record is coming out but it’s the end of an era.

AL: From start to finish how long did the writing/recording process take?
CO: It was relatively short. We had a couple songs we were working on for about a year before they were recorded. The majority of the record was written about 3 months prior to it being recorded. We did do some last minute arrangement stuff. We wanted that type of element to the album. We didn’t want it to be like we spent months and months on the album. That just wasn’t the vibe we were going for. We had a window of studio time become available and we just went in and did it. We did a lot of work and the crew we worked with was really great.

AL: How long after Mike’s passing did you wait to start working again on the record?
CO: We went back in after about two weeks to listen to what we had. We didn’t really do any work that first time back and from there it was kind of a slow process. It was hard to listen to Mike’s playing. There’s some real heartfelt playing on there. Mike could transition from style to style and just sound great. That was really his strong suit. We knew Mike would have wanted us to finish these tracks and that was our drive to get things done.

AL: Tell us about the decision to use IndieGogo to help with the release of the album?
CO: Rigor Mortis never had a business plan or a bank account. At the end of the night we split the money and went to the bar. Things were just so loose and punk rock. It was so wrong. (Laughs) We were going to shop the record to a label and start talking to people however a lot of the interest we had thought was going to be there just wasn’t. We weren’t asking for a lot of money or anything we just wanted to get this record out. Even before Mike died the interest was just sort of gone. We got a lot of positive feedback but because there wasn’t going to be a tour or anything behind it places didn’t want to take the risk. We said “fuck it” and we did it ourselves. We rolled the dice and went for it. We reached our goal and we were able to do things just right. Now I have to fill all the requests for paintings from the campaign as that was one of the things people could choose. I have to do 10 original paintings! It’s going to be fun.

AL: Can you tell us about the bonus DVD which will be included?
CO: There’s a short 30 minute DVD that comes with the record. There’s some behind the scenes stuff from the studio. There’s some other really cool stuff on along with a live song performance. It’s not a full length by any means but we are working on something bigger for the future.

AL: Has the band thought further about performing any of this material live?
CO: After Mike died it wasn’t even a thought. We just weren’t going to perform as Rigor Mortis again because without Mike it isn’t the same. We did a benefit as a one off thing calling ourselves “The Scotchinators”. Doyle our second singer came out as did Mikes guitar tech who really captured Mike’s style and sound. The show resulted in getting offers to do more shows. It’s fine line because we don’t want to come off as a tribute band of ourselves but we don’t want to let the music die either. My thoughts are if we are going to continue on then we start a new band and create new material to go along with the other stuff. Nothing is really long term at this point but the thought is there.

AL: Can you give us a quick update about your other projects?
CO: My band Warbeast will be performing at the House Core Festival this year. We are also slowly in the process of writing a new record. I haven’t been able to be much help as the Rigor Mortis stuff has kept me pretty busy. Shelby our guitarist who’s a brilliant writer has been working hard on that. I also will be reuniting with my punk band The Hellions for a show in December with D.R.I. We might be starting a new version of The Hellions as some of the original lineups aren’t able to continue. Guys will be moving around and we also are changing the name. Things are really busy right now.

Blu-ray Review “I Spit On Your Grave 2”

Actors: Jemma Dallender, Joe Absolom
Directors: Steven Monroe
Rated: Unrated
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Run Time: 106 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1 out of 5 stars

I think I may have mellowed out in my taste for certain types of films. When I saw the original “I Spit On Your Grave” from the late 70’s, I thought it was like nothing I have ever seen. In 2010, the film was remade by director Steven R. Monroe and I enjoyed it. It took the film to a new place and gave it an updated feel but the themes were a little too strong for me personally. This time around, I thought it was a bit of overkill (maybe it is having a newborn daughter). Jemma Dallender does a great job in this very trying and difficult role. I enjoy horror but this brand is getting a little much for me to stomach recently. This feels a little bit unnecessary.

Official Premise: “I Spit On Your Grave 2” stars beautiful newcomer Jemma Dallender (“Community”) as Katie, a beautiful girl on her own in NY, who is trying to make it in the cutthroat world of modeling. When Katie innocently accepts an offer to have new photos taken for her portfolio, the experience quickly turns into an unthinkable nightmare. Severely beaten, battered, bruised, and broken, she will have to tap into the darkest places of the human psyche to not only survive her ordeal, but to ultimately find the strength to exact her brutal revenge.

Anchor Bay delivered this film as a combo pack with a Blu-ray and DVD. The 1080p transfer looks good despite the gritty feel of the film. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also delivers the suspense from Corey Allen Jackson’s score (He also did the score for 2010’s “I Spit On Your Grave”. In terms of special features, there is nothing like besides a few deleted scenes. I think this could have benefits from a behind-the-scene featurette or even a commentary track from cast/crew.

Blu-ray Review "Grave Encounters 2"

Actors: Richard Harmon, Sean Rogerson, Leanne Lapp, Dylan Playfair, Stephanie Bennett
Directors: John Poliquin
Rated: Unrated
Studio: NEW VIDEO GROUP
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 98 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I watch a lot of crappy horror movies and I am a fan of “Grace Encounters”, which was not one of them.  So when I heard that there was a second film in the works, I was thrilled.  “Grave Encounters 2” takes what was good about the first film and then really builds on its success. This film really takes a cool and unique approach to the story and comes packed with bigger scares and some great twists. The first film was written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, click here for our interview with them, but on this film they stepped aside from directing and focused on writing. This was a good move as the film is much smarter. Even though, this didn’t really leave me with the same “WTF” feeling watching it a second time, it is still a blast and a must watch for any fans or hater of the first film!

Official Premise: “Grave Encounters” was a found-footage horror phenomenon that many people believed was just a movie. Film student Alex Wright is out to prove them wrong in “Grave Encounters 2″. Alex is as obsessed with the first film, as the 20 million people who viewed its viral trailer on YouTube. While he and his friends research the events and visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film, they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil, banking on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel.

This release comes as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  The 1080p transfer works well with the darkness of the film but you have to remember this was shot handheld and made to look raw. So it’s not perfect but is sharp and delivers with the way it is meant to look. At least New Video released “Grave Encounters 2” on Blu-ray since they only gave the first film a DVD release. The special features are a bit of a let down. The only thing included is “An Interview with The Vicious Brothers, Presented by American Express”. Having spoken with these guys, they are very entertaining and fun but I would have loved to seen a commentary track or some featurettes. Either way I am still counting down the days till “Grave Encounters 3″! Bring it on!

Blu-ray Review “Grave of the Fireflies”

Actors: Ayano Shiraishi, Tsutomu Tatsumi, Akemi Yamaguchi, Yoshiko Shinohara, J. Robert Spencer
Directors: Isao Takahata
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Section 23
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Run Time: 89 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

“Grave of the Fireflies” is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. Sentai Filmworks is the company behind this fantastic release.  They  know their anime and you know that a film/series is in good hands when they are handling it. This has been labeled is one of the top twelve anime of all time by Empire. It has always been a favorite of mine.  It is sweet, yet harsh and powerful.  It tells such a strong story and the animation is just amazing.  For this Blu-ray release, there is also a new English dub track included, but I am still partial to the original Japanese track. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of this film, I highly recommend this release.

Official Premise: As the Empire of the Sun crumbles upon itself and a rain of firebombs falls upon Japan, the final death march of a nation is echoed in millions of smaller tragedies. This is the story of Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, two children born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and now cast adrift in a world that lacks not the care to shelter them, but simply the resources. Forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of fires that swept entire cities from the face of the earth, their doomed struggle is both a tribute to the human spirit and the stuff of nightmares. Beautiful, yet at times brutal and horrifying.

This Blu-ray release has a superb 1080p transfer.  The animation really pops out and the colors look stunning.  The film is not extremely bright though due to its circumstances but it still has that “Wow factor”.  Whether you are a fan of the Japanese of English audio, they both have very sharp DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks.  Also included is the original English 2.0 track if you were a fan of that one from the DVD. Besides a stunning Blu-ray presentation, there is not a lot going on in the special features front though.  There is some cool storyboards for the film, as well as deleted scenes in storyboard format. Lastly, there is the Japanese theatrical trailer included.

Film Review “Grave Encounters 2”

Directed by: John Poliquin
Starring: Richard Harmon, Sean Rogerson, Stephanie Bennett, Dylan Playfair, Leanne Lapp, Howard Lai, Ben Wilkinson
Distributed by: Tribeca Film
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 99 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first saw the film “Grace Encounters”, I thought I was in for just another shitty horror film.  I was really pleasantly surprised.  The film had a lot of good jumps and feels a lot bigger than it is.  The film is low budget though the quality seems a lot higher.  So now we have “Grave Encounters 2″, is this just another shitty sequel? That answer is definitely no.  This film takes a unique approach to the found-footage genre and even improves on the film before it.  There are bigger scares, a bigger (and clever) plot and bigger production. Don’t miss this one!

Official Premise: Grave Encounters” was a found-footage horror phenomenon that many people believed was just a movie. Film student Alex Wright is out to prove them wrong in “Grave Encounters 2”. Alex is as obsessed with the first film, as the 20 million people who viewed its viral trailer on YouTube. While he and his friends research the events and visit the real psychiatric hospital depicted in the original film, they find themselves face-to-face with unspeakable evil, banking on the hope that their knowledge of the original film will help them survive the sequel.

The first film was written and directed by The Vicious Brothers, read out interview with them here.  On the sequel, the duo stepped aside from directing and focused on writing.  This really worked well for the sequel, since they had time to focus on the script and make it really kick ass.  These guys are going to be huge, they really know how to setup a horror film and execute it well. John Poliquin steps in the director’s chair and he also really nails it. Tribeca Film is one of my favorite studios.  They have been releasing a lot of quality films and have become a force to be reckoned with distributed independent films. All I have to say is I want “Grave Encounters 3”!

Vicious Brothers talks about their sequel to “Grave Encounters”

Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz make up the Vicious Brothers.  They are the Writers/Directors of “Grave Encounters” and Writers of “Grave Encounters 2”. The first film has already become a cult classic after a very short time.  “Grave Encounters” is an awesome found-footage horror film and the sequel is twice as good as he first one. Keep an eye out for these guys because they are going to be huge. The guys took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about their sequel and what we can expect next.

Mike Gencarelli: Where you guys get the name the Vicious Brothers from?
Stuart Ortiz: When we were close to being done with “Grave Encounters”, we figured we should come up with a directing handle. Since if you have just two dudes names it is too much information for the audience to take in.
Colin Minihan: Dude, just tell him the honest answer. He was coming out of a huge bender…
SO: [laughs]
CM: …and he woke up one morning had the name in his mind and just wouldn’t shut up about it. I just went along with it. [laughs]

MG: Are you surprised with the quick cult status the the first film has achieved?
CM: Yeah it has been really cool to see all the different countries take to it. We are very excited for them to see the sequel?

MG: Why did you step aside on this film and let John Poliquin take over directing?
SO: The main reason was that right when “Grave Encounters 2” became a reality and we were going to move forward. We are also at the same time finishing up another project that is a sort of proof-of-concept trailer that we made for a film we are trying to get off the ground right now. It would have been too much having to go into production on “Grave Encounters 2” and then finishing up the other project. We just didn’t want to be able to commit 100% to it. We have known JP along time. He is a great director and we were friends with him anyway. After one conversation with us, he totally got the material. It really seemed to make sense.

MG: Tell us about the production on “Grave Encounters 2” and how it compares to the first film?
CM: The production definitely differed a fair bit [laughs]. On the first one, Stu and I just were just constantly writing and make “Grave Encounters” almost out of necessity almost with no money. It was literally Stu and I running around a mental institution with the actors. It became a success and allowed us to do the things we wanted to do on the first film but didn’t have the manpower or visual effects budget. I think as a result we really crammed this movie with as much stuff as we could. We stretched this budget way further than we thought we could, while still staying sane and pulling it off. I am definitely glad we didn’t pussy out and make something safe. We really pushed the limit and made JP’s life challenging for sure.

MG: Shooting at the mental institution, any things creepy happen during production?
CM: I definitely below in ghosts and have had a few weird occurrences in my life for sure. I am one of these people that can walk into a house and if I am not paying attention I can pick up a vibe.
SO: Colin has a radar for that shit. Down to the point if we go something I would ask “Yo, you getting a haunted vibe?” He will look around, squint his eyes and say yes or no”. We were just in London a few weeks ago and he was just freaking out the whole time saying “This whole city is haunted man!” [laughs].
CM: As far as the building goes, when there is so much energy and people on set, in order to experience something you really need to be alone and in a quiet place. Otherwise, there is too much distraction.

MG: Tell us about the decision to bring back Lance Preston?
SO: We kept a tight relationship with the actor, Sean Rogerson. We would hang out all the time. Even from the very beginning, after we finished “Grave Encounters”, we knew from the get-go that no matter what we did, Sean was going to be in it.

MG: The ghosts in the film are super creepy, tell us about how they were conceived?
CM: I think when you are writing it you just try and do to a dark place and find out what is going to scare ourselves. We tried to visualize it with some sketches and then just put on the makeup and hoped that when you turn the lights off and hit the night vision that it is as effective as it is in your head.

MG: “Grave Encounters 2” takes a real clever approach to found-footage genre, what were you concerned about most that you wanted to accomplish when writing the sequel?
SO: There was a couple of different things. We didn’t want to retrace our foot steps and it was important for us to do something different. There was so many possibilities especially if you are talking about a found-footage or mockumentary approach. You can go even farther than a convention film. It seemed like a waste just to do the same thing again. First and foremost was just to do something fresh. They Colin came up with this idea to be set in the “real world”, where people know about the movie and there is this conspiracy. That was the #1 priority. The #2 was that one we were in the building was to actually how that the building is a character and has an agenda and purpose of its own.

MG:What do you two have planned next?
SO: We are keeping very tight lipped on it now. But we are waiting on financing to close by the end of the year. We have a sci-fi horror movie called “The Visitors” that Colin and I wrote and will co-direct again. It is a lot different than “Grave Encounters”, it is not found footage in full but does have a little bit of found footage for the most part it is a classically cinematic film. We are hoping to get that started next year.

DVD Review “Grave Encounters”

Directed by: The Vicious Brothers
Starring: Sean Rogerson, Juan Riedinger, Ashleigh Gryzko, Mackenzie Gray, Merwin Mondesir
Distributed by Tribeca Film Festival
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 95 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I am sure everyone has had their fare share of first person POV shaky hand fake documentary films but this one stands out from the lesser imitations. If you like “Ghost Hunters” and all those paranormal shows, then you will like this for sure. This packs some decent scares and good visual effects for a low budget film. The film sags a little bit in the middle but there are also some good twists throughout the film that keeps it moving.

The story is simple and done before but this one packs a different little twist. it is told in “true story/missing footage format” ala “the Blair Witch Project” or “Paranormal Activity”. We follow the crew of TV series “Grave Encounters” as they prepare to shoot an episode inside the abandoned psychiatric hospital. Of course once they check-in to the hospital…they might have a hard time checking out.

The extras are short but definitely enjoyable with an interview with the Vicious Brothers and Producer Shawn Angelski. It is definitely informative and gives insight into the film. I also enjoyed the “Making of Grave Encounters”, which is obviously a behind the scenes into the production.