Metal and Movies

A look back at a month of big screen releases and metal music - including Godzilla King of the Monsters and the new album from Rammstein

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Although Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile premiered on Netflix this month just about everywhere else in the world, in the UK only Sky Cinema viewers have been able to watch Zac Efron portray notorious serial killer Ted Bundy from the comfort of their home. But now the film has made its way to UK cinemas too. Efron’s performance as the weirdly charismatic Bundy is faultless. Unfortunately less can be said for the rest of the movie.

With the generation who grew up with Pokemon now being in their thirties and Ryan Reynolds, star of foulmouthed antihero Deadpool, voicing the lead, it’s hard to remember that Pokemon Detective Pikachu is a kids film – until you see it. As far as video game movies go, it’s among the top. But it’s a bizarre premise. In a world where Pokemon are real, a young man trying to find his father is helped by a Pikachu that only he (and the audience) can understand.  They missed a trick here by not releasing two versions: one for children and one for the now adults who grew up with Pokemon and got excited when the movie was announced.

Another movie affected by nostalgia is Aladdin. Disney has continued its live action adaptations to mixed reactions and the popularity of the original Aladdin film was always going to make this a difficult project. Will Smith gives it his all as the genie, but unfortunately for him he is going to be compared to one of Robin Williams’ signature performances. But if you can forget about the animated original, this movie is absolutely fine.

If you’ve already seen the first two films and enjoyed them, then Chapter 3 won’t disappoint

Keanu Reeves returns in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, and it’s more John Wickier than ever. If you have never seen the previous two films in this OTT action franchise, this is not the place to start. But if you’ve already seen the first two films and enjoyed them, then Chapter 3 won’t disappoint.

Sometimes action hero, sometimes down to earth, and occasionally funny, the versatile Taron Egerton turns his hand to playing the flamboyant Elton John in Rocketman. Unlike the recent music biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, Egerton actually performs the vocals for the movie’s songs, and does a remarkable job, adding yet another string to his bow.

Closing off this month’s movies is probably the biggest – in stature anyway – Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. This time Godzilla is released to save the planet from the other titan monsters, Rodan, Ghidorah and Mothra. Other than that, full details are still scarce. Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown stars, and Monarch –  the mysterious company involved in the previous movie and hinted at in the recent King Kong movie – plays a part in this destructive romp.

Ahead of their appearance at Download next month, Viking metallers Amon Amarth kicked off the month with their album Berserker. Galloping riffs, gruff vocals, fantasy tales, epic battles and rally cries – there’s nothing new here but the band are honing their craft as they climb up festival line-ups each year. Now fetch me a drinking horn full of mead! Skál!

Rammstein’s new untitled album opens with Deutschland, a typical industrial stomper that sets the tone for the record with lyrics that on first listen sound reminiscent of their big hit Du Hast. Some have slammed Deutschland’s video for depicting the darker side of Germany’s past, but delving into the song it’s clear the often controversial band is far from glorifying things – they are stating that people have cried a lot in a song that is about their love and hate for their country. Whether or not you understand German, there’s no denying that frontman Till Lindemann’s booming deep baritone vocals cut clearly through the heavily distorted rhythmic guitar riffs and retro pop synths, almost to a point where you believe you can understand him. Soft heartfelt tracks break up the industrial headbanging, but there’s nothing remarkably stand out or new here – it’s very familiar. When it comes to albums, Rammstein are still doing what they do, and solidly, but it’s their videos and pyrotechnic-filled live shows where the band really shine, showing themselves as artists and performers rather than just musicians.

Asking Alexandria frontman Danny Worsnop released his second solo album Shades Of Blue in May, and while the Yorkshire band may have been lightening off on each album, going from metalcore to an arena rock sound, Danny has taken things a step further. Previously ditching his flat cap for a stetson on his country-inspired solo debut The Long Road Home, Shades Of Blue sees him pick up a more soulful vibe. It’s certainly well done, but it will possibly come as a shock to a lot of fans of Asking Alexandria’s material.

Eternal Forward Motion is an apt name for the new record from Employed To Serve. Full of energy and angst, the album just keeps going, riff through riff, rolling through breakdowns with unrelenting aggression. Here is a band obviously frustrated with the state of the world. With a varied mix of heavy influences they’ve made an album that can rival some of the year’s big players.

Another unrelenting release, What Defines You by Of Virtue stays around the metalcore area but still shows other influences. Whether in their rhythmic, punching riffs or drawn-out melodic sections, Of Virtue’s confidence in their material shows.

Defying Decay’s Bangkok roots come through in poppy electronic beats and synths

With a name that sounds like a wrestler, Jack Slamer’s self-titled debut is a summer-soaked 1970s rock extravaganza. It’s a throw back to Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the like, yet it doesn’t seem dated. Music to sit in a sunny field and drink beer to.

The classical training of Defying Decay clearly shows in their musicianship and their album Metamorphosis has some carefully crafted stellar moments, but lacks a clear identity. Their Bangkok roots come through in poppy electronic beats, synths and the occasional guitar solo that is rooted in anime and Japanese games. But the western metal influence is also strong, so one moment it’s like listening to Crossfaith, Mad Capsule Markets or Babymetal, then it’s Linkin Park, Deftones or Slipknot. The album has a bit of everything – crushing riffs, singable choruses, catchy hooks, groovy bouncy rhythms, fast bits, slow bits, technical guitar work, sombre melodies and more. It’s all packaged up neatly yet there’s something that doesn’t quite gel.

The fifth album from symphonic death metal band Fleshgod Apocalypse takes the band down a more technical route while keeping to their original sound. Veleno is a more standard affair than this month’s other albums, with choirs, piano, demonic vocals, speed picking and blast beats – there’s no surprises here. If you like death metal tropes, then this ticks all the boxes and you’ll like it. If death metal isn’t your thing, then this probably isn’t the best place to start.

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