A Salute To Rise Above Records

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2017 by A handfull of napalm

Within seven years Ghost went from hip underground band to Rock Radio Act. They have won a Grammy, headlined large theaters in the U.S. and are opening for Iron Maiden on their current tour. Despite their bump in popularity Ghost has still managed to retain the essence of their sound intact. I’m o.k. with sharing a band I like with the masses. Even if it feels as if the masses don’t GET the band the way I do. I’m just glad to hear some new music on the radio that isn’t as dreadful as fucking Five Finger Death Punch. But, for every fair weather fan who only wants to hear the hits, there is always a handful of new people that ‘get it.’ New people who will use a band like Ghost as a catalyst to go deeper underground in search of similar tasting strange fruit. In the spirit of musical exploration, I give you the record label that helped Ghost haunt its way into the mainstream: Rise Above records.


Rise Above Records was started by former Napalm Death singer Lee Dorian. Mr. Dorian named the record after one of the songs on the last ep he did with Napalm Death. Intially, the goal of the label was to released a few 7 inch singles of Napalm Death as well as other grindcore and hardcore acts.

After leaving Napal Death, Dorian formed Cathedral, a Doom Metal band with Death Metal vocals. Their first record, Forest of Equilibrium SOUNDS miserable. As if the band was forced to watch their pets die while they were recording it.

On their second record, The Ethereal Mirror, Cathedral decided to have some fun. The music is still Doomy and Metal but with a 90’s version of a 70’s rock groove. Lee dorian’s voice went from the growling of the Napalm Death days to something along the lines of Lemmy Kilmister meets The muppets. The band looked as if they blew a chunk of their label’s money hunting for the grooviest 70’s clothes they could find. The video for the song “Midnight Mountain” had the band DISCO DANCING in a room full of people dressed like extras from some 60’s Vincent Price movie. This change in sound coincided with their label at the time, Earache Records making a distribution deal with major label Columbia. The potential was there for Cathedral to reach a wider audience. The videos for “Midnight Mountain” and “Ride” got some decent airplay on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball (which is where I discovered them). Sadly for Cathedral, the potential was not met . Cathedral went back to the indies in the mid 90’s and continued making records until they quietly disbanded in 2012.


The move Dorian made from from the grindcore of napalm death to Doom Metal with cathedral was reflected with the acts on his label. In a way, the band’s on the label are an extention of Dorian’s work with Cathedral. It took some twenty years but the mainstream rock audience that didn’t know what to think of Cathedral in the 90’s are all about Ghost now. Hopefully serves as some form of vindication.

Electric Wizard

Electric Wizard are one of Rise Above’s early successes. They started out as a conventional Doom Metal band but then something CLICKED. Starting with their second album ‘Come My Fanatics,’ Electric Wizard embarked on a quest to write the sludgiest, heaviest music they could come up with. This is a band that has no problem stretching a slow crawling guitar riff into an eleven minute song. Song titles like “Dopethrone,” “Satanic Rites of Dracula,” “Legalize Drugs and Murder” and “We Hate You” speak for themselves. Electric Wizard’s music requires patience on behalf of the listener in order to get its full effect. But if you let it do its thing it will fuck with your head…in a good way.

Rise Above Relics

Rise Above has a subsidiary label called Rise Above Relics. Relics specialices on reissues from obscure artists from the early days of Heavy Metal. Artists who didn’t get the recognition of bands like Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. Bands like Horse whose album For ‘Twisted Minds Only’ was previously avbailable only as a poor quality but still expensive bootleg. Horse’s early 70’s Metal sound blends in nicely with the current acts on the label’s roster. The difference being that Horse is an actual 70’s band instead of merely sounding ‘retro’.


The Oath/Lucifer

The Oath consists of vocalist Johanna Sadonis and guitarist Linnea Olsson. They made an album that owes just as much to the (not so) New Wave of British Heavy Metal as it does to the first six Black Sabbath records. The Oath seemed poised to become the next breakout band from Rise Above but they disbanded before the record was released. A most unfortunate event since the one record they made was pretty good.

Not one to dwell on what could have been, Vocalist Johanna Sadonis quickly formed Lucifer with former Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings. Their sound is a little more gloomy than doomy but Lucifer has managed to stay together long enough to tour and work on an upcoming second record with Nickie Andersson from the Hellacopters/Entombed on drums and Robin Tiderbrink replacing Gaz Jennings on guitar.


Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats

Uncle Acid remind me a little bit of Electric Wizard. Both bands have that sludgy doom sound with vocals that are buried under mountains of reverb. I bet both bands love a lot of the same 70’s exploitation movies. To me, the difference between the two is that Electric Wizard seems more about ‘The Sound’ where Uncle Acid’s is more song driven. Uncle Acid’s singer songwriter sensibilities does make their music a little more relatable to people who aren’t strictly fans of Sludgy Stoner Doom Metal. As ‘reletable’ as a band that writes a concept album about a mysterious serial killer can be… Creepy concepts aside, these guys do write some catchy jams like “Melody Lane” and vocalist Kevin Starrs sounds a little like John Lennon. If Lennon got his ass dumped by Yoko for refusing to go “Cold Turkey.”

Not That Kind Of Band

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2017 by A handfull of napalm

It’s tempting to dismiss Stryper as some sort 80’s Hair Band joke. The yellow and black outfits, the bible throwing shtick, the fact that singer Michael Sweet looked more feminine than the majority of his Glam Metal peers in the 80’s  WITHOUT MAKEUP, that “Honestly” song… There reasons to not take these guys seriously are legion. YET there is some truth in what Stryper does. Their music is driven by that same conflict that has driven Rock N Roll (and the Blues before it) for over a century: How to remain good Christian Men while playing ‘The Devil’s Music.’

This dilemma was front row and center on Stryper’s 1990 album Against The Law. After becoming the most successful Christian Metal band of the 80’s and going as commercial as they want to be on 1988’s In God We Trust, Stryper decided it was time to shake things up. On Against The Law, Stryper ditches the yellow and black outfits, tones down the glam look and Christian rhetoric while cranking up the guitars. Their lead single was a cover of Earth Wind And Fire’s “Shinning Star.” I’m guessing this was Stryper’s attempt to release a single with commercial appeal and a positive message that without coming off preachy. The song could have also provided an opportunity for Stryper to musically show off. Saying to MTV land: ‘Look at us!!! We are doing a Hard Rock version of a 70’s R&B song! Aren’t we great?!’

The song on Against The Law that to me best captures Stryper’s struggle between their Christian Faith and primal Rock instincts is “Not That Kind of Guy.” Musically, the song is a blatant Van Halen knockoff; but it’s a really good Van Halen knockoff. The kind that wouldn’t be out of place in Van Halen I. This is the work of a band who not only loved Van Halen when they were kids but STUDIED THAT SHIT. Spent countless hours dissecting them old VH records trying to figure out how to play them songs.

Where the song gets interesting is in the lyrics. Normally, during this kind of song, Diamond David Lee Roth (and his countless imitators) would boast about being ‘the one you love’ or wanting to see Yankee Rose’s ‘bright lights and city lights (all right);’ but that sort of sexually aggressive talk would isn’t very Christian. Instead Michael Sweet comes up with some story about an attractive Woman that is checking him out and wanting to do more than hold hands and study the Bible. But since sex before marriage is a sin and Mr. Sweet is not the type of guy to answer that booty call. If that wasn’t odd enough, Mr. Sweet sings his little tale with every bit of celibate swagger that a God fearing Rock N Roll singer can muster. As if he’s trying to convince people that: CELIBACY ROCKS! The way he wails and shouts his way through the song he mind as well be singing about all the flavors he has that are guranteieieieieieieieieied…to satisfy.

People who Died 2016

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2017 by A handfull of napalm

One thing the year 2016 taught me without question is that the musicians I looked up to when I was young are getting old. Not only are these people getting old, but they’re not going to be ar…

Source: People who Died 2016

People who Died 2016

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by A handfull of napalm

One thing the year 2016 taught me without question is that the musicians I looked up to when I was young are getting old. Not only are these people getting old, but they’re not going to be around forever. In a year that had a musical body count that would make Jason Vorhees jealous, I salute some of my favorite musicians who are no longer with us.

Jason Mackenroth

Before Henry Rollins decided to dedicate his time entirely to non musical pursuits he did two records with LA hard rock band Mother Superior. Records that featured Jason Mckenroth on drums and saxophone. I love these two records because they were heavily influenced by three of my favorite bands: The Stooges, The MC5 and Thin Lizzy (they even covered Lizzy’s are you ready?). On those records Rollins (slightly) tone down his hardcore motivational speaker shtick in order to HAVE SOME FUN. Apart from his work with the Rollins band Mckenmorth also worked with Meatloaf, The Blue Man Group and his own project Mac the Band (which featured former Slaughter drummer Blas Elias on drums). He died in January 3rd 2016 from prostate cancer.


David Bowie

The first time I saw the Blackstar video my intial reaction was: Bowie is starting to look pretty old. But I figured the guy WAS pushing 70 so this sort of thing is to be expected. What I did not expect was for Bowie to die three days after seeing the video. Or that he was quietly fighting cancer in his final years. I’m still holding out hope that one of these days Bowie will pop out and say: JUUUST KIDDING! I’m still alive bitches!! He death seems unreal to me. Then again, his LIFE was unreal.

Glenn Frey

The Eagles are alright. I love the song “Hotel California” and they had a few other songs I dig such as “One of these Nights” and “Witchy Woman.” But when I think of Glenn Frey I immediately think of “Smugler’s Blues,” the Miami Vice episode Glenn Frey acted and the song. “Smuggler’s Blues” is the THE JAM.


Prince

The late Bill Hicks used to say that Jimi Hendrix was an Alien who was brough to Earth to school people on the electric guitar. That instead of dying he merely returned to his planet of origin. The same can be said about Prince; that man was unreal. In his prime, Prince could have kicked anyone’s ass on ANY musical instrument while running around and doing splits in high heels. I assumed that Prince had at least 40 more years left to live and 50 more records to make but maybe the Aliens had other plans. They could have gone to Prince and said: “Dude you need to come home NOW. You’re making these people look bad. If you leave now it will still still take like 20 years for them to catch up with the shit you left behind. Even Bowie would take a break every now and then.” Prince was a musician’s musician who wrote numerous hits for himself and other artists. He started in one really good (and two o.k.) major motion picture. He wrote and recorded new music until the very end and no matter what style of music he did it always sounded like Prince. The man is his own music genre.

Nick Menza

Nick Menza was the drummer during Megadeth’s most successful era. From the Rust in Peace album up to Cryptic Writings. I don’t know much about drum technique but what I liked about Menza was that he could play just as fast as any thrash drummer but hit hard and FUCKING GROOVE like a solid rock drummer. Menza had a fatal heart attack while performing with his current band OHM. If that sentence didn’t sound Spinal Tap enough Menza had replaced a drummer who also died of heart problems. What a drag it is getting old…

Alan Vega

Alan Vega was not a household name but if you like any form of dark, noisy, experimental music then Alan Vega and his band Suicide were a big influence in some if not all your favorite bands. My introduction to Suicide was through Rollins Band’s cover of “Ghost Rider” and it took me like FIFTEEN YEARS to realize it was a cover. Suicide was part of the original New York Punk scene and were one of the first bands to use the term punk to describe/promote their music. They recorded minimalist, scary sounding electronic music that paved the way for what is now known as goth, new wave, industrial and any other form of dark weird music you can think of. Alan Vega also worked as a visual artist and did his share of solo recordings.


Sandy Pearlman

Sandy Pearlman was best remembered for the work he did with Blue Oyster Cult. He helped form the band, managed it, cowrote and produced some of Blue Oyster Cult’s best known material. Pearlman also produced the Clash’s second album “Give Em Enough Rope” and worked with the Dictators. One of the unsung heroes of the original New York punk scene. Apart from his production work, Pearlman was also the founding vice president of eMusic.com and a professor at McGill University in Montreal. He died at age 72 from pneumonia due to stroke related complications.

Leonard Cohen
I first became aware of Leonard Cohen through the movies Pump Up The Volume and Natural Bork Killers. I loved the deep voice reciting some twisted lyrics over cheesy easy listening music on “Everybody Knows” and “Waiting For a Miracle.” Being that I was a teenage Metalhead when I heard these songs, it took a while for Cohen’s music to sink in. But once it did it became one of my favorite things in the world. I even got the HONOR to see Cohen do his thing in concert a few years back. Like Bowie, Cohen was also quietly fighting cancer yet remained creatively active until the end of his life. His last album “You Want it Darker” seems even ‘Darker’ within the context of his passing but Mr. Cohen wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones started her solo career later in life. Made her first solo recording at the age of 40. And it ended abruptly due to cancer. But Ms. Jones made the most out of her little window of time. Making Soul music with a strong emphasis on the word SOUL. Because you can pull all the vocal acrobatics you want but it don’t mean shit if you ain’t feeling it. I got to see her live the last time she came through town and it was a REVELATION. I’m sure if there is a God and a heaven that there is spot on the choir with her name on it.

George Michael

I never hated George Michael’s music but I did take it for granted. Which is easy to do when something is familiar. It took many years before I was able to listen to his music without prejudice (yeah I went there). Say all you want about him shaking his ass on that video but “Faith” is a pretty genius song. He was able to effortlessly combine 50’s rock with 80’s pop in the space of three minutes and forty three seconds. Thus creating a song that was very much of its era yet timeless. Homeboy also wrote one of his biggest hits (careless whisper) AT THE AGE OF SEVENTEEN. I remember trying to write songs at that age AND THOSE SONGS SUCKED. Georgieboy on the other hand wrote a break up song that became an international hit.

10 Songs that made 2016 suck less.

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2017 by A handfull of napalm

 

There were a lot of things that sucked about the year 2016, but it wasn’t a bad year for music. Especially if you are an Old School Metalhead who was serious when he or she said they were METAL FOR LIFE. Three of the big Four thrash bands from the 80’s released new quality music. I didn’t think I would ever say this, but even the new Metallica didn’t completely suck. Testsament, Death Angel and Metal Church were also among the old school acts that released  great new albums. I had some difficulty narrowing the list down. Here are ten songs that came out in 2016 that made the year suck a little less.

 

Gojira: Stranded

From what I understand, the newest Gojira record (Magma) is a bit of a departure for the band. The kind of musical detour that puts Metalheads against Metalheads in internet death matches. I don’t have much stake in this game since Magma is the first Gojira record I bothered to listen all the way through. What I do know, is that I REALLY like the song “Stranded.” It gives off an early 90’s Post Hardcore vibe which agrees with some of the stuff I’ve been into lately, like the debut from Miami’s Wrong which CRUSHES ASS. The riff in this song is equal parts noisy and heavy and it warms my blackened heart.

Anthrax: Breathing Lightning

“Breathing Lightning” reminds me a little of the John Bush era. Where Anthrax would write a song or two per album that could get played in contemporary radio while still sounding ‘Metal’ enough to keep (most) Anthrax fans from crying sell out. This led to some interesting material like “Catharsis” of Volume 8, “Safe Home” of We’ve come for you all, “Nothing” of Stomp 442 and “Only” of Sound of White Noise. Of those songs “Only” was the only (haha) one that became anything close to a hit. Which is a shame because those other songs were pretty good too. “Breathing Lighting” with it’s crunchy guitar riffs and big chorus has the potential to be a ‘hit single.’ If I had any kind of pull on Clear Channel, I mean I heart Radio I would put this song on heavy rotation instead of Five Finger Death Punch or Hell Yeah.

Abbath: Winterbane

It sucks that Abbath and his Immortal band mates parted under unfriendly circumstances but what doesn’t suck is Abbath’s debut solo record. Abbath made a record that was true to his Norwegian Black Metal roots without sounding like shit. Even the Priest cover (Riding the Wild Wind) was solid. If all you know about Abbath are the endless internet memes that have used their likeness give this album a chance.


D Generation: 21st Century Blues

To me D Generation was what Motley Crue would have sounded like if they were based out of NY instead of LA and if every member in the band worshiped Johnny Thunders instead of just Nikki Sixx. For a brief moment in the 90’s, Rock critics were championing D Generation as the next big thing. But the hype did not translated into record sales. Which sucks since I loved them three records they made back in the day. I’m glad singer Jesse Malin was able to have a bit of a career as an indi singer songwriter but it wasn’t the same. I’m very glad Mr. Malin and the rest of D Generation released a new album “Nothing is Anywhere” some 17 years after going their separate ways. “Nothing is Anywhere” mixes old school punk attitude with bluesy Stones inspired swagger and introspective singer songwriter angst.

Suicidal Tendencies: Living for Life

I’m still mad that Slayer fired Dave Lombardo but kudos to Suicidal Psycho Myko Muir for giving Dave a steady gig. He also wasted no time getting Lombardo in the studio to record a new Suicidal record. What sets apart Lombardo from the army of extreme metal drummers he influenced comes down to feel and groove. You know, the things that separate a drummer from a drum machine. Lombardo does wonders with Suicidal’s new material. Adding enough flair to make the songs pop but without overdoing it. He takes what would have otherwise been an o.k. Suicidal record into being pretty damn good.

Ghost: Square Hammer

Those bastards did it again. Last year, their single “Cirice” got stuck in my head for months. This year it was “Square Hammer” the one original composition in their otherwise covers EP Popestar. The song does sound a little poppier than the average Ghost song while still retaining its trademark spooky vibe and Satanic Lyrics. I’ve listened to this on you tube more times than I care to count. ARE YOU READY TO STAND RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW FOR THE DEVIL!!!

Pretty Reckless: Mad Love

I’m glad the Pretty Reckless are around. To us old timers, they might not be doing anything particularly new but this music is not meant for us old farts. IT’S FOR THE KIDS!! Taylor Momsem and her crew are doing their best to educate the youth of today on the evil powers of Rock N Roll. For that we should applaud them. Taylor Momsen has gotten a lot of shit for being a former child actress but she attacks the stage like the illegitimate love child of Stevie Nicks and Alice Cooper. She also sings it like she means it and that works for me. On their newest album, “Who you selling For” the band trade the contemporary 80’s metal sound of their previous record “Going To Hell” for something closer to 70’s Rock. The music is still dark and aggressive when it needs to be, but the band seems to be going for a blusier more organic sound. There is also a bit of a motown influence on Wicked city and dash of laid back funk on the closing number Mad Love.

Iggy Pop: American Valhalla

David Bowie is gone. The old Dum Dum Boys are busy with their great gig in the sky. But The World’s Forgotten Boy still wants to “live a little bit longer.” Iggy Pop hooked up with Kyuss/Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Holme to make an album in which they channel the spirit of the two records Bowie and Pop did in Berlin through Homme’s guitar sound. The end result being Post Pop Depression, one of the best records Iggy has done as a solo artist.

Entombed A.D. Hubris Fall

Dead Dawn provides plenty of the dirty, raw Death N Roll that people come to expect from this Swedish Metal institution. What I didn’t expect was for Entombed AD to bust out with a ‘ballad’. To be fair, I am using the term ‘ballad’ loosely. “Hubris Down” is closer to “Fade To Black” than say “Open Arms.” It’s also pretty heavy and doomy offering a slight change of pace from the rest of the record without derailing it into cheesy territory.

Barry Gibb: Blowin A Fuse

With all the high profile musician deaths in 2016, it’s nice to know that former Bee Gee Barry Gibb is indeed ‘staying alive.’ He even managed to release a solo record called “In The Now.” Gibb’s trademark falsetto and songwriting skills are still on point. The title track can hold its own next to old school Bee Gee jams such as “Nights on Broadway” and “Jive Talking.” There is a tribute to his deceased brothers and former bandmates called “End of The Rainbow” that will have you feeling things weather you want to or not. But in between all the silly love songs, light funk and mature sounding stuff Gibb also manages to rock out a little on “Grand Illusion” and “Blowin A Fuse.”

The Saint Still Marches.

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

The fact that Symbol of Salvation did not do for Armored Saint what the Black album did for Metallica is an injustice to Heavy Metal. Scratch that, the fact that “Rein of Fire” isn’t getting as much mainstream rock radio love as “Enter Sandman” STILL DOES is a disservice TO ROCK N ROLL. Symbol of Salvation has the groove of Appetite era Guns N Roses, the traditional twin lead attack of classic Metal bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest with the guitar crunch of vintage Metallica. Essentially, it’s the record that Avenge Sevenfold has been trying to make since 2005’s City of Evil. Although A7x  has sold more records than Armored Saint they have yet to make an album as good as Symbol of Salvation.

Armored Saint had spent the 80’s working their way up the music business ladder, paying their dues and so forth; Armored Saint were hoping that Symbol would be the album to take them from being a respectable metal act to the big time arena headliner status. So when that didn’t happen it must have taken the wind out of their sails. By 1992 vocalist John Bush left Saint for Anthrax where he the chance to bat a few innings in the majors. It also led to Armored Saint going on an extended hiatus.

Close to ten years after the release of Symbol Armored Saint regrouped to record Revelation.Since then, whenever inspiration hits, and the guys have a break from their other projects/dayjobs Armored Saint records a few new songs and does a little bit of touring. In 2015 Armored Saint released their newest album Win Hands Down.

Armored Saint play Heavy Metal. Not gonna Technical Deathcore trash, Dubstep Doom, Pagan Industrial Melodic Grind or any similarly silly nonsense. What you get instead is pure unadulterated no bullshit Heavy Fucking Metal. Win Hands Down is no exception to the Armored Saint rule. The band sounds solid as fuck and John Bush still sings his raspy throat off.  Hearing John  Bush sing always makes me happy. John Bush is one of my favorite Metal singers and in my opinion he’s the best singer Anthrax ever had (although Belladona is still cool as fuck). To me, Bush is what James Hetfield could have been if he hadn’t let his ego get in the way of his singing.

To me what stands out about Wins Hands Down is the lyrics. These the words of grown ass men. Men who have lived life and gone through highs and lows and all the bullshit in between. No fantasy dragon shit or cheesy Satanic imagery. Just real life shit. the lyrics on the album can be hard and they can be serious but they are done with a sense of humor. There is a song called “That was then, way back then” which gives you an idea of what the vibe is like on the album. So the 21st Century version might be old and cranky. And they probably spend a little too much time talking about the old days after having a few drinks. But the Saints are still Marching and they can STILL deliver.

Sympathy For The Critics

Posted in Movies, Uncategorized on August 22, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

After watching a few trailers for the Suicide Squad movie I was pretty stoked. It appeared as if DC/Warner Bros FINALLY got the memo. That what worked on the Watchmen IS NOT going to work ON EVERY FUCKING COMIC BOOK MOVIE. That it’s cool to be dark and gritty and serious as long as you don’t forget that COMIC BOOK MOVIES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Then came the bad reviews….

 

I’m not the one to let bad reviews prevent me from watching a movie. Or start some dumb petition bitching that Rotten Tomatoes  was ‘unfair’ to Suicide Squad, that shit is just silly. Still, I was surprised to discover that (infamous so bad it’s genius cult movie)  The Room has a higher percentage on rotten tomatoes did raise an eyebrow. I couldn’t help but wonder: Is Suicide Squad THAT bad?

 

After watching the movie I had to admit that the bad reviews I read raised some valid points. The trailers were better than the actual movie.  The people who made Suicide Squad took what is a pretty cool premise (The Dirty Dozen with Supervillains) and micromanaged it into mediocrity. It is a given that every action/comic book hero needs an interesting villain to play off. Otherwise you’d be stuck in a shitty Steven Segal movie…So you figured that a movie in which the villains are the protagonists that they would have some superbadass mecca villain to defeat. But nooooooooo they had to find a way to fuck that up. I have to agree with pretty much every review I’ve read that the main villain in the movie (the Enchantress and her bother Incubus) are WEAK AS FUCK and that Ghostbusters knockoff showdown at the end was complete and total bullshit.

Another thing that was weak was the writing. The movie barely bothers to place all the members in the same room before it expects them to go on a mission, work as a team and act as some sort of misfit family. I’m all for suspension of disbelief and rooting for ‘the bad guys’ but a little bit of pacing goes a long way.The dialogue in the movie was every bit as wack as that boomerang guy whose only purpose in the movie was to be a dumb Australian stereotype. If I had a dollar for every time the movie felt obligated to tell the audience that the members of the Suicide Squad ‘were the bad guys.’ I could have gotten my ticket reimbursed.

There were some things I did like about Suicide Squad, Viola Davis being one of them. Ms. Davis completely owns that shit as Amanda Weller, the one bad mothe-hush yo mouth who comes up with the Suicide Squad idea. She is to Suicide Squad what Ernest Borgnerine’s character was to the Dirty Dozen. Her performance is an indicator of what the Suicide Squad could have been if it was allowed to live up to its potential. Margot Robbie is on point as Harley Quinn. She gets into it, looks the part and tries add some  much needed humor and personality into the movie. But like Hugh Jackman with Wolverine before her Ms Robbie is being held back from showing what she could do with the character. I don’t often s eye to eye with Rolling Stone magazine (in print or online) but agree with the article David Fear wrote in which he argues that Harley Quinn is the best thing about Suicide Squad and its biggest missed opportunity. I sure hope they don’t fuck up that rumored Harley Quinn movie. It’d be cool watching her and the Joker go all Mickey and Mallory. If it’s done right.

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/how-suicide-squad-messed-up-harley-quinn-w432939

I don’t get why the Suicide Squad movie goes through all the trouble of reintroducing the Joker (arguably the best known comic book villain) and hyping Jared Leto’s performance ONLY TO HAVE HIM IN A SUPPORTING ROLE. Especially when the main villain turned out to be such a fucking dud. Just thinking of the royally wasted opportunity aggravates me. Imagine this: The Suicide Squad is sent to stop the Joker’s latest scheme while competing with a pissed off Batman. Meanwhile Harley Quinn gets to be the wild card who plays both sides…That sounds to me like a Box Office Bulls-eye. HOW COULD THESE PEOPLE MISS WHAT WAS SO FUCKING OBVIOUS?

I’m on the fence about Jared Leto’s performance. Even with all the tattoos , shiny suits, silver teeth and method acting stories it still feels as if he’s pulling an o.k. Heath Ledger impersonation. On the other hand the times Leto’s Joker is on screen he does provide some of the maniacal energy the trailers promised but the actual movie sorely lacks.  Maybe if he was more screen time he could have further developed his own take on The Joker. From what I read there were plenty of Joker moments left on the editing room. Maybe enough to show Leto finding his own groove as ‘Mister Jay.’

If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that bad reviews are not the end of the world. I was still able to enjoy (to some extent)Suicide Squad despite agreeing with most of the bad reviews. I’m that I enjoyed the movie more because of the bad reviews. The lowered my expectations enough to almost overlook the fact that the Suicide Squad movie didn’t live up to what the trailers promised.  I know it’s tempting to hate a critic when they trash a movie you love (I’ve been there) but critics are people too. They’re merely giving their opinion on a movie. You don’t have to agree with it. Wanting to shut down Rotten Tomatoes over a bad review just makes you look like a dick. The main difference between them and you and your friends is that critics get published and (usually) paid.

 

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