Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God (2008).jpgOne of the coolest bands on the metal scene that is repping Viking Metal is none other than the mighty Amon Amarth. I was looking for an album to review for this week’s Album Of The Week and I came across the Swedish Melodic Death Metal kings. I decided that I wanted to cover the band’s seventh studio album Twilight Of The Thunder God which was released on September 30, 2008. The album featured Johan Hegg (Vocals), Olavi Mikkonen (Guitar), Johan Söderberg (Guitar), Ted Lundström (Bass), and Fredrik Andersson (Drums) while the album was produced by Jens Bogren (Moonspell, Kreator). It is said that the album is based on the story of Thor’s slaying of the serpent Jörmungandr. When the album was released it peaked at number 50 on the Billboard Top 200 charts which marked the first time that the band had charted in America while the album peaked at 11 in Sweden which was the band’s highest chart spot there in their native country. The album was also ranked at number six on Metal Hammer Magazine’s Top 50 albums of 2008 marking the band finally making a stamp in the scene with Metal Blade Records on their side.

Twilight-Of-The-Thunder-God-2-picture1.Twilight Of The Thunder God– The title track kicks off the album and it kicks off with one heck of a metal riff before blasting into overdrive. The track is about Thor having to battle Jörmungandr at Ragnarok. The track features one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard and it features Roope Latavala doing the solo. 5/5

2. Free Will Sacrifice– A fierce riff opens up the track that is all about the soldiers of Asgard who are willing to die for Asgard in order to reach Valhalla. 4.5/5

3. Guardians Of Asgard– I love the riffage in these tracks because this is another example of a track that has classic metal written all over it in a track that is all about the men that protect Asgard (the einherjar). The track also features Lars Göran Petrov of Entombed on vocals. 5/5

4. Where Is Your God?– Another thunderous metal riff drives this track that seems to be about when the Vikings raided a land, they would ask where is your God now to protect you from them. I think that is what they are talking about. The track bounces from that metal riff to a more traditional death metal riff with the sonic face melting fast guitar playing. 4.5/5

5. Varyags of Miklagaard– A cool track that is all about the Varangian Guard who were sent to protect the Emperor to the east. 4.5/5

twilight-of-the-thunder-god-4df64327444cb6. Tattered Banners And Bloody Flags– The song starts with a battle like drum and guitar riff in this track that is all about the final battle between the Gods in Ragnarok. You want to hear some bad ass playing then check out this track and that double bass fury. 5/5

7. No Fear For The Setting Sun– Another bad ass metal riff from the band that is hard charging and in your face. The track is about a soldier who realizes that today could be his last day as he is in the middle of battle, but he is ready to make his final stand. 4.5/5

8. The Hero– A very interesting track that seems to be about a man who is a mercenary that is asked to protect a town and he dies doing it. He is then dubbed a hero by the people just because of this one act, but he doesn’t feel that he is because of his past. 5/5

9. Live for the Kill- This has a Judas Priest feel to it at first with the guitar riff which is pretty cool and the track even features Apocalyptica playing cello on it. 4.5/5

10. Embrace of the Endless Ocean– The last track on the album which is a tragic way to end the album not because of whether it’s a good track or not, but because it has an unfortunate ending. The track is about a slave who has finally gained his freedom, but n his way home his ship is struck and he drowns. 5/5

My Final Thoughts– If you are a fan of unbelievable guitar riffs and the technical abilities that Mikkonen and Söderberg possess then this is the album for you. These guys are amazing and they prove it with every album, but this one is special. This is one of my favorite albums from the band who are also great story tellers. Check it out for yourselves and prepare to be blown away. I am giving the album 4.75 stars out of five for a final grade.

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American-Assassin-Poster-croppedI am always looking to spotlight new actors who either take a shot at an action film or are grinding their teeth in the genre a shot here on Ass Whoopin Wednesdays. That is definitely the case for Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) who recently released the action thriller American Assassin into theaters nation and world wide. O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a normal guy whose life is about to change when terrorists attack a vacation resort that he is staying at with his lovely fiance (Charlotte Vega). This has absolutely rocked and destroyed his world so he does what he thinks is best and he decides to retaliate. The CIA finds this to be unbelievable so they capture him and set him with a former Navy Seal in Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) to train. Their training will be put to the test when a a man simply known as Ghost (Taylor Kitsch)  is trying to buy up stolen plutonium. The film also stars Sanaa Lathan (Blade) as Irene Kennedy, David Suchet (A Perfect Murder) as Director Stansfield, Scott Adkins (Hard Target 2) as Victor, Joseph Long (Dracula Untold) as General Rostami, Shiva Negar (The Art Of More) as Annika, Mohammad Bakri (Private) as Ashani, Navid Negahban (Homeland) as Minister Behurz, and the film was directed by Michael Cuesta (Kill The Messenger). Before we get into the review of the film, let’s check out some stats:

American Assassin StatsAmerican-Assassin-00As far as the stats are concerned, he has about 16 total kills in the film and we find out about his origin little by little, but we don’t know a lot. We just know about his parents and the trouble he had with school. This next one is going to answer two questions right off the bat and that is that he does have a love interest and she is killed right off the bat. That is what motivates him to do what it is that he does. The big boss is defeated and it’s a pretty damn good fight by the way so check it out for yourself. Right away, I am going to tell you that if having Dylan O’Brien doesn’t motivate you enough to see this film then at least go see it for the brilliance of Michael Keaton who I think kind of steals the show. The man is simply on fire from the first shot that you see him all the way to the end of the film. Dylan does a pretty good job and it seems like he put in the work so if another film does happen, I’d go see it. There is plenty of action in the film to satisfy an action fan or at least some hand to hand combat as well as the typical CIA operative crap. I do question however if they really did film some scenes in Providence because the camera work makes me think that they didn’t. After all, most of the film was filmed in England. This is definitely one to check out and with that being said I am giving the film four fists out of five for a final grade.

 

jeff dunhamThere is an avenue of comedy that hasn’t really been explored much and that is the act of Ventriloquism. Now I am not saying that it isn’t being practiced, but before 2007 or 05, had you heard of any famous Ventriloquist having comedy specials on Comedy Central? I’ll even let you think for a minute before I give you this next answer. Time is up and I didn’t think so. You couldn’t come up with anyone at the time other than Jeff Dunham, the world famous Ventriloquist with his famous puppets Bubba J, Walter, Peanut, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and more. The only thing is that it has been a couple of years since his last comedy special and now Jeff has a new one that is a Netflix Original stand up special in Jeff Dunham: Relative Disaster where he performs in the country of Ireland and presents all of his friends and even a brand new puppet as they tackle topics like drinking, fatherhood, and even maybe the secret of Jeff’s own beginnings and so much more.

dunhamI am a huge fan of Jeff Dunham and I have laughed so many times at his comedy specials, but this one lives up to the name of the special. The thing that bothered me is that I could see him lipping everything that the dolls were saying. That was an issue for me because I saw a little girl belt out a song on America’s Got Talent and she did a better job than Jeff. That wasn’t the least of his troubles in this special, the problem is that he is trying to grow with the times considering he is a new dad, but it just wasn’t completely funny. The best segments of the special came with the new puppet Baby Sheamus, Peanut, and some of Achmed’s segment. The rest of it was just kind of boring and them going back and forth about Jeff being old and having kids at his age. This isn’t a terrible special, but some comedians just don’t transition well into that fatherhood stage of their careers. The Baby Sheamus was a nice touch and a nice way to win over the crowd in Ireland, it’ll be interesting to see how the show grows with that puppet. I think this special is worth a least one viewing or maybe two at most. I am going to give it an B- for a final grade.

state of euphoriaFor this week’s album of the week, I was inspired by the new hit horror film IT which has broken box office numbers when it came to this week’s record. One of the characters in the film is wearing an Anthrax shirt and one of the scenes features the track Antisocial which is off of this week’s album State Of Euphoria which was released on September 19, 1988. The album featured Joey Belladonna (Vocals), Dan Spitz (Lead Guitar), Scott Ian (Rhythm Guitar), Frank Bello (Bass), and Charlie Benante (Drums) and it was produced by Mark Dodson and the band. The album’s back cover is pretty cool because it was designed by famed caricaturist artist and Mad magazine artist Mort Drucker who drew the band. After the release of the album, it peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Top 200 charts and it was certified Gold selling over 500,000 albums even though critics were not warm to the album. A lot of critics felt that the album didn’t live up to the name of the previous albums even though it contained some amazing tracks.

state1.Be All, End All– The song kicks off with cellist Carol Freedman before the band comes in with a monster riff in a track that is all about controlling your own destiny. 4.5/5

2. Out of Sight, Out of Mind– Another in your face track with a monster bass riff from Bello runs this track that is about bands ripping off other bands. 4.5/5

3. Make Me Laugh– an interesting track on the album where the band attacks TV evangelists like Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker who were targets of a lot of thrash bands at the time. 5/5

4. Antisocial– This is the band’s amazing cover of French band Trust’s classic track, but the thing is the band had to do their best to convert the lyrics from French to English to make it work 5/5

5. Who Cares Wins– The track starts very melodic before it gets heavy in this track that is all about the homeless and their struggle to live. 5/5

state-of-euphoria-50008585db5756. Now It’s Dark– The track starts off with someone breathing before Bello and Spitz lead you right in to this track that is about Dennis Hoppers character in David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet. 4.5/5

7. Schism– The drums fade right in as the track kicks off with some punk laden metal riff where the lyrics talk about if you peel all the layers of labels that society has for us, we are all the same. 4/5

8. Misery Loves Company– This is a track the band wrote based on the novel by Stephen King in Misery. 4/5

9. 13– an instrumental track on the album that the band recorded that was an intro to the next track. 4/5

10. Fīnalē– The aptly titled last track on the record and it features some razor sharp riffs with that insane bass playing from Bello in a track that is all about marrying the wrong person. 4/5

My Final Thoughts– I thought that this was a really good record from the band despite what the critics thought at the time. It features some really amazing tracks that are essential to who Anthrax is. Check it out for yourself, I am giving the record 4.45 stars out of five for a final grade.

marc maronI have preached the brilliance of Netflix for a very long time now whether it be original movies, Original TV Series, documentaries, or even their original comedy specials. Earlier in the summer, Netflix had released a new series entitled G.L.O.W. that is loosely based on the all women’s wrestling show of the 80’s. One of the stars of that show is stand up comedian Marc Maron who is also the host of an amazing podcast called the WTF With Marc Maron. I instantly became a huge fan of his just from watching the show and when I heard that he had a comedy special on Netflix, I had to check it out. So for today’s Tuesday Stand Up, we are checking out his special Marc Maron: Too Real which was recorded at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, CA. In the special, Marc tackles all sorts of topics like Donald Trump, hate groups, making decisions based on how long you have to live, being spiritual/meditating, fun, his father, media, The Rolling Stones, his mother, doctors, The Dave Matthews Band, stupid hats, cats, and so much more.

marc maron 2It has been quite some time since I had seen a comedy special and there have been times when I watch them, but I don’t review them. I knew I wanted to review this one because as I said above, I am a huge fan of his and his work. You don’t have to be smart to watch this comedy special, but it’s a smart comedy special. There is a lot of laughter in the wisdom of the brilliant Marc Maron and only intelligent people will get it for sure. One of my favorite topics that he gets into is when he starts reading his post it notes thoughts that he writes while driving. He gets into this whole conversation about Dave Matthews and I felt instantly like Marc understood my frustration behind that music. You’ll have to watch the special to know what I am referring to, but it was genius. The shtick he does on The Rolling Stones is great as you can see from the pic I provided to you guys in this paragraph. I definitely think you guys should give this special a shot and just check it out. It’s always good to have something different and with all the specials I have watched, he gives me something a little different. I am going to give the special an A for a final grade.

who is that guyIt has been quite some time since since I had watched or even reviewed a Rock Doc so I figured there was no better time than now to start. Normally when I am trying to decide what documentary to watch, I usually do not pick one unless I know the subject matter. That was definitely not the case with today’s choice for Rock Docs entitled Who The Fuck Is That Guy’? The Fabulous Journey Of Michael Alago. To put it in simple terms, the reason I chose to watch this documentary was for the simple fact that it had the word Metallica in the description. The documentary follows the life of a gay Puerto Rican New Yorker who would end up being one of the most important people in the metal industry simply for the fact that he signed Metallica. Watch the documentary as you get testimony straight from the source himself Michael Alago as well as James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Kurdt Vanderhoof, Cyndi Lauper, Mina Caputo, Cherry Vanilla, Cheetah Chrome, Rob Zombie, John Lydon, Eric Bogosian, Mike Gitter, Phil Caivano, Phil Anselmo, Sean Yseult, John Joseph, Joe Sib, Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, and so many more in this amazing doc.

who is that guy 2You may still be wondering just who in the hell Michael Alago is, but he truly is such an important figure for heavy metal because he signed so many acts from Metallica, Metal Church, White Zombie, and so many more. You find out that he was a guy that truly loved music back in the 70’s and 80’s as he describes the night life in New York City and all the legendary clubs that hosted shows back in the day from the L’amour, The Ritz, CBGBs, and so many more. You figure out that all of the names I mentioned above have a huge amount of respect for Michael Alago. He’s a guy who broke down a lot of barriers in the business being a gay man tackling an over-testosteroned genre and he made people understand that it was all about the music. The documentary features interviews, some animation for certain stories he or someone else tells, and a lot of great photos that Michael has had in his collection. You also learn about the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80’s firsthand from someone who survived it in Michael Alago. Check it out on Netflix right now as we speak and I am going to give it an A- for a final grade.

coup de graceI am one of those guys who always loves to discover new music (music that is new to me, not necessarily you) that catches my attention. While listening to Corrosion of Conformity on Spotify, one of the suggested bands to listen to was an English Stoner Metal band by the name of Orange Goblin. Now with a name like that, I just had to check them out for myself and I was blown away by what I heard from the group because I love stoner metal/rock like Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Monster Magnet, and so many more. Now the real question was what album was I going to chose from the band and the one I chose to cover was based on the album cover itself because it reminded me of the cover art for the film Creepshow. Now the album I am referring to is the bands fourth studio album Coup De Grace which was released on June 25, 2002 via Rise Above Records. The album featured Ben Ward (Vocals), Pete O’Malley (Guitar), Joe Hoare (Guitar), Martyn Millard (Bass), and Chris Turner (Drums) with some very cool special guests. As far as I know, the band didn’t have an album on the charts until 2014.

Orange_Goblin-Coup_De_Grace-Trasera1.Your World Will Hate This– The track starts off with a little bit of a punk influence to it as it’s fast paced in a track that is about when you get big the wrong kind of people start to show up. 4/5

2. Monkey Panic– A cool drum beat starts off the track before the band joins in for some fun in a track that is all about avoiding addiction. The track features backing vocals by Tom Davies of Nebula. 4/5

3. Rage Of Angels– A heavy bluesy rock track that is a sort of call and response with the singer (he sings there’s no guitar and when he’s done the guitar comes in). The track has a cool sludge part towards the back end with some cool Sabbath like playing. 5/5

4. Made Of Rats– A cool stoner track that features John Garcia of Kyuss on lead vocals in a track that is about being down on your luck. 4.5/5

5. Whiskey Leach– A cool mid tempo track that seems to be talking about how alcohol can take over and make you do things you normally wouldn’t. 4/5

6. Getting High on the Bad Times– I love the opening bass riff cause it just reminds me os stoner metal, but this is cool track with a nice bluesy feel to it. I do love how the band can just stop then pick up with a cool riff with a swagger to it right after. I think the title is pretty self explanatory. 4.5/5

Orange_Goblin-Coup_De_Grace_(2011)-CD7. Graviton– an instrumental track that just takes you on a musical journey that is absolutely awesome from beginning to end. 5/5

8. Red Web-a very intense track right from the starts with an intro of a man saying that the dead are coming back to life. Safe to say this is about zombies. 4.5/5

9. Born With Big Hands– At first I could have sworn that he’s singing about thee X-Men’s Wolverine with lyrics like “There’s adamantium in those bones. He’s got a jaw that’s made of stone. With his barbarian beliefs, It’s no surprise that he can’t be beat.” You judge it for yourself. 4/5

10. Jesus Beater– This is the other track on the album that features lead vocals by John Garcia that has some swagger to it with the bluesy guitar riff in a track that is about a guy who is happy to be in hell cause he can do whatever he wants. 4.5/5

11. We Bite– The band’s super cool cover of The Misfits track. 5/5

12. Stinkin’ o’ Gin-The intro is about as bluesy as you can get which shows this band has some chops behind them and you can guess what this track is about. 4.5/5

My Final Thoughts– The band gives you the best of all world from having that blues influence to match with their stoner metal sound and on occasion you get some punk thrown in there too. After listening to this record, I’m definitely interested in the rest of their catalog. I am going to give the album 4.45 stars out of five for a final grade.