Genre: Technical Death Metal Label: Self-production Playing time: 43:47 Band homepage: -
I– E – R
Born To Resist
Destroyed By Fear
Nick Of Time
NOEIN is a quite unique newcomer band from Rouen in Upper Normandy, France that just released its first full length release entitled “Infection – Erasure – Replacement”. Musically, I would describe the band as a Technical Death Metal band. The two women and three men work a lot with dark and industrial atmospheres, fast and pitiless riffs and the powerful female growls that make of course think of a band like ARCH ENEMY.
The first album is a conceptual release about a post-apocalyptic world in which a pitiless corporation produces masses of clones that start to control the remains of humanity that finally starts to fight back the system in an epic war to save its faith. There is no doubt that the topic is really intriguing. The atmosphere is definitely appropriated to the topic on this release. The lyrics are interesting as well but you have to read them with the help of a booklet as the vocals are pretty much incomprehensive.
The problem is that the topic seems a little bit overambitious to me for a newcomer. NOEIN clearly didn’t choose the easy way out and it’s impressive that they wanted to break new grounds from the beginning on. The thing is that the whole concept in intellectually appealing but musically extremely hard to digest and to follow. Of course, there is a guiding line in form of the atmosphere and the whole album is divided into three or four sections introduced by short and not very appealing instrumentals.
The opening instrumental “I – E – R” is definitely too long and complex to start an album with for example. The song simply goes straight nowhere for me. After less than two minutes, I already wanted to skip to the next track because the opening song is even the longest piece of music on here with a running time of over five minutes. Picking a track like this as an opener is commercial suicide and also an error if you pretend to not have any commercial purposes which of course isn’t true. Any band wants to get new fans and sell its music to them. The potential new fan might though get a negative impression right from the start with this kind of opener. The entire album is so atmospheric and conceptually orientated that it simply doesn’t need some sort of introduction to get you in the right mood. To keep it short: this opener is completely useless.
When I tell you that this whole piece of art is quite challenging I mean that the single songs often sound quite alike. They don’t include any hooks in form of catchy choruses, any engaging melodies or any surprising breaks. There is nothing you can fix on. There are no highlights. There aren’t any outstanding passages. Apart of the atmosphere and the concept, there isn’t much in here. The album simply rushes by and you don’t have the choice but to listen to the whole thing in one shot which can become quite annoying after a while. It seems to me that the band focused so much on the concept that they forgot about the song writing for each track on here.
Even though the musical and lyrical concept of the band is interesting and maybe even rather innovative or let’s say unorthodox for a newcomer band the music itself is of an average quality at best. This band has lots of ideas and talent but they were not yet able to work on their potential on a professional basis. This release sounds somewhat inapproachable and even though the band probably wanted to introduce the world to such a cold and distant universe, it’s just plain wrong to put out such a radical and at some point even closed-minded first effort. Intellectually, NOEIN are truly open-minded but musically and professionally they are quite closed-minded. That’s why this record feels so weird. I guess only a few metal maniacs might adore this kind of music but those who do so might probably praise this release as their new bible. Anyone else and I talk about a clear majority can give this release an open-minded try but shouldn’t expect too much and is probably better off skipping this release in the end.
Queensrÿche Frequency Unknown 2013 Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
It’s quite hard to not talk about all the drama that happened inside and all around Queensrÿche last year, because it all led to the existence of two different bands with the same name in concurrence with each other. On one side there are several Queensrÿche musicians who hired the young and dynamic Todd La Torre of Crimson Glory fame, and then there is the band led by Queensrÿche singer Geoff Tate, who has gathered a total of nineteen (!) musicians and singers around him to put out this new record called Frequency Unknown. Let’s not forget that a total of twelve (!) other staff members such as cover artists and producers have been involved in this project as well! It’s quite clear that the album was recorded and released in a hurry to put out a new release before the other Queensrÿche formation could do so, and it’s also quite obvious that there is still quite a lot of hate inside Geoff Tate towards his old band members and friends. The abbreviation of the record (“F.U.”) can be seen on the front cover alongside a fist and the original Queensrÿche logo. Geoff Tate even went so far as to add four cover tracks of vintage Queensrÿche songs to this new release to prove to the world that his new project is the one and only true incarnation of that band. Let’s add to all this that many lyrics on this release can easily be related to the conflict between the two bands as well. Just take a look on the song titles and you might understand what I mean. These details are definitely no coincidences, and Geoff Tate tries to take advantage of the media attention brought to this somewhat childish conflict. I’m intrigued to see if the plan works out, and if this record sells more copies than the lukewarm previous outputs.
Despite this context, I would like to judge this record without comparing it to the other Queensrÿche outfit, and also without comparing this release to the band’s classic outputs as well (apart from the four cover songs). Many fans say that the true Queensrÿche died almost twenty years ago after the Promised Land release, and they didn’t accept the new style of the band. That’s a quite popular, but also closed-minded attitude. Despite some line up changes and internal affairs, Queensrÿche has always remained the same band, even though they have wandered away from heavy and progressive metal to a more hard rock and alternative metal sound. Dear old school metal maniacs: let’s face the fact that we are living in 2013 and that the years 1982 to 1988 are beautiful memories of the past that won’t come back, even if one of the two bands tried as hard as they could. Welcome to the new millennium, and please adopt a more tolerant view on things instead of becoming bitter “true metal” grandfathers that don’t quit talking about the glorious eighties. Today, metal music has become more diversified and original than ever and there are loads of things to find for every taste.
Let’s now talk about the only thing that really counts: the music on this release. When I listened to the album opener “Cold”, three things came to my mind that resume the record very well. First of all, Geoff Tate tries to sound harder and more metal than on the last two Queensrÿche records (likely in an attempt to please all the old fans he has lost). He tries to dig into the past, and that’s already a bad approach because you can’t bring back those days. The second thing that struck me were the weak vocals by this once outstanding singer. His vocal lines don’t fit at all into the verses of the opener. They sound thin and struggle with tone. It’s strange to say, but the weakest point of that song is the main attraction and mastermind behind this release himself. The third thing that I realized when I listened to the chorus was that this record is, despite all the efforts to go back to the roots, a rather modern-sounding release that follows the path taken with the previous records American Soldier and Dedicated To Chaos. The songs are compact and short, have a modern but somewhat lifeless production job, and feature dominant choruses that are sometimes repeated to death.
On the upside here is the instrumental work. Despite all the different musicians and producers involved in this release, there are a few well-elaborated song ideas, gripping melodies, and atmospheric tracks to be had. The record is nevertheless missing a measure of coherence, but it’s less weird than the previous effort that was perfectly entitled Dedicated To Chaos. From that point of view, almost each song on here has something interesting to offer. We can listen to modern radio rock sounds as seen on “Cold”, more experimental and modern tunes in “Everything” (that could almost have come from Linkin Park), or atmospheric, eerie, and even slightly progressive tracks like “The Weight Of The World” that are not a far call from traditional Queensrÿche. The diversity is definitely there, and old and new fans alike could at least find something interesting here.
On the other hand, the vocals here go from bad to worse. A truly outstanding album highlight is missing, and the record remains rather mediocre and unimpressive on the whole. The worst things here though, are the four cover songs. They just can’t keep up with the original version. You can clearly hear how badly Geoff Tate sings here in comparison to the original. The best example, and at the same time most horrible, is probably the new version of “I Don’t Believe In Love”. Any Queensrÿche cover band would have created a better rendition of this classic, and I think that almost any singer would have brought in a more passionate performance of it. It makes me sad to listen to this version.
What we have here is an average record with many great instrumental song ideas which shows a surprising amount of diversity. This part could have been even better if the record weren’t recorded in a hurry and by so many different people. Many cooks spoil the broth, they say, but for what it is, I was rather positively surprised by the the musical quality of this album. What really harms Frequency Unknown is the mediocre to poor vocal performance on many tracks. Sometimes, Geoff Tate puts forth a solid effort and one can recognize the excellent talent of his past, but most of this release lacks conviction, emotion, and even technique. The biggest failure comes in the form of the four horrible cover tracks. If I didn’t know that they were cover songs, I would class them as the worst songs on this record anyways, and probably take them for some unbalanced b-sides. Hence, there are more negative than positive things to say about this release on the whole. Frequency Unknown is not the horror that some magazines would like to suggest, but it’s not a far cry from it either. This release is only for collectors and fans of the last few Queensrÿche releases.
Queensrÿche Queensrÿche 2013 Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
Here it is. After the lukewarm Frequency Unknown record by Geoff Tate’s Queensrÿche, his old band mates have united forces with singer Todd La Torre of Crimson Glory fame and put out their first release after the big bang, which is simply entitled Queensrÿche. The band seems to want to make clear that this is a new beginning, and at the same time a sort of return to the band’s roots after many controversial records. That is, in fact, what it is.
The name of the record isn’t original (there was already a self-titled EP, after all), the album artwork is rather simplistic, and one only gets thirty-five minutes of music – including two short and atmospheric instrumental tracks that are great, but that don’t fit in with the nine regular songs. That’s not what I would call value for your money, but at least the band didn’t decide to cover some of its classics like Geoff Tate did. If you were hoping for a few more thought-epics, you’re going to be disappointed. All tracks on here are short, precise and mostly predictable.
There are a few more negative things to touch on. I think that Todd La Torre sounds way too close to the original singer Geoff Tate on this record, and I would have liked a different and fresh touch added to the concept. Add to this that the first few songs that were released as singles were among the weakest, and made me expect the worst. I might also advise you that this record has a very commercial touch, and isn’t the return to the metal years that many people were hoping for. It sounds more as if it was influenced by commercially successful records like Empire or Promised Land. There is also an occasional influence of the last few Queensrÿche records, which can be heard in here from time to time. From that point of view, this record can at least be seen as something of a logical continuation of the band. It’s a very typical Queensrÿche record, but I expected more from a band that has written some of the most important progressive metal records back in the eighties, and that allegedly wanted to take a step back in that influential direction, using all of those song ideas that had gone unused during the last years due to Geoff Tate’s stubborn attitude. In fact, the new songs have all been written by the new line-up, and no old or unused material can be heard on this record. I expected the final result to be a little bit more courageous, edgier, and energizing.
This doesn’t mean that the record is all bad. In fact, almost all songs are technically well performed, especially the melodic mid tempo guitar playing, which has that certain Queensrÿche signature sound that has always distinguished that band. The soothing vocals by Todd La Torre are by far superior to the current abilities of his predecessor. I, for one, don’t miss Tate for a second. This record could have easily been released in the middle of the nineties by this same band – the songs here are all very short and never get boring. All of them have a very catchy and warm feeling, and could have been potential singles. The band varies its output from more laid back ballads like the closing “Open Road”, to typical melodic metal anthems like “Don’t Look Back”, and on to exceptionally more progressive and thought-out tracks like the catchy “Vindication”. This latter, a positive surprise, is also by far my favorite song on this album. The thirty-five minutes are very entertaining overall, and, if nothing else, include no filler material or stinkers. There are many catchy tunes, most of which have a strong tendency to grow on the listener.
In the end, this record not only goes back to the early and mid-nineties of the band’s career, but also connects that period with a few of the better songs from the last output or two. It’s a logical step for the band, and this release has all the trademarks that people have always liked about Queensrÿche (and that had become less prominent on the last few releases). This is where the simplistic album title and cover become logical. Fans will judge this record as a return to form, and will by far prefer this record to the output of Geoff Tate’s Queensrÿche.
Personally, I have some mixed feelings. I expected a more metal approach, or at least a few more progressive songs. The record is solid, but coming from a band with a back catalogue like Queensrÿche’s, it’s only of an average quality, and far from being groundbreaking. This is, in fact, one of the most commercial and poppy metal releases I have heard in quite a while. In comparison to this, the latest records from Helloween and Stratovarius were far more gripping, and Black Sabbath also managed to sound more energizing. This here is not the comeback of the year, sorry. The new Queensrÿche prefers a more traditional, laid back but also boring approach. I still like this album, but I must admit that I’m disappointed by the final result. This record is sort of a safe play, although the tactic will definitely work in the band’s favor. After all and despite its obvious flaws, this record sounds absolutely honest, and is a good definition of what Queensrÿche has been about throughout its career.
Teenie and high school horror movies were quite popular in North America during the nineties and that vague somehow hit the Asian continent one decade later and many amazing but sometimes also redundant twisted supernatural movies flooded the market. This film goes back to the basics in a refreshing way. The movie keeps the concept of a popular and smart high school student and the morbid and mysterious outsider girl who must resolve the the murder of one of their class mates in only forty minutes during the dinner break before the rest of the class comes back and discovers the body. The two pupils soon find out that not only a couple of class mates but even several teachers had a solid reason to kill the victim who had a couple of sinister secrets. The two main characters who have a good chemistry have to find the true killer before time runs out.
This film is a fast paced thriller without any supernatural gimmicks such as demons or ghosts. It convinces with a solid introduction portraying the rough everyday life in Korean high schools but the film quickly gets a sinister turn. The rest of the movie is a very entertaining killer chase with several little twists and flashbacks. There are maybe a few too many scenes where the two main characters are just running across the entire school without getting all too tired but that's the only evident flaw in here. Of course, a sympathetic and not too distracting love story comes around as well. The film also includes a small number of humorous passages. It's a typically Asian humour somewhere between weird situations and a few slapstick moments. I like this kind of humour but it could happen that it rather distracts or disturbs other viewers. In my opinion, these scenes help to lighten up the tension filled atmosphere that keeps growing until the final conclusion that you probably won't see coming.
After all, this convincing teenie thriller never gets boring and features a thought out down-to-earth story line, a quite solid choice of actors, a fitting soundtrack and finally a great genre mixture of action scenes, tension filled moments, funny sidekicks and a smoothly evolving romantic part. This kind of movie won't reinvent the genre or leave a deeper impression but it's very addicting and entertaining. I guess you get what I mean: I'm quite glad I've watched it once and would also recommend it to my friends but I wouldn't purchase the movie in order to watch it over and over again. Fans of traditional crime flicks and Asian cinema maniacs should both check out this movie and won't be disappointed. Those who expect a horror film or a sinister slasher should though look elsewhere.
"Kuchisake-onna 2" is often seen as a prequel to the first part but this is wrong. The story line and even the genre are completely different and there is almost no connection between both movies. Instead of a possessed mother that tortures her own children and starts to kidnap pupils, we see a wonderful and emotionally driven tragic drama. The story is centred around a famous sixteen year old girl who lives a great life. She is close to her two older sisters and her parents, she has two best friends at school, is adored by the boys, has a crush on the gorgeous captain of the track team who is about to leave for a college in Tokyo and she is the fastest girl of her high school. One day, she becomes an innocent victim of a tragic crime that changes her whole life. Her friends turn away from her, her crush changes town, the boys start to laugh about her, the pupils spread cruel rumours about her, her father falls into morbid depression and her sisters rather care about their own problems and leave her alone. At the same time, the lone girl starts to see a strange young woman in a red dress that starts to haunt her. The strange appearance seems to have a connection to the murder of several pupils at school and soon the entire town is struck by terror.
As you can guess, the movie has almost no similar points to the first parts and kicks off in a slow mood that portrays very well the beautiful and calm everyday life of the main actress who is incarnated by an excellent young actress called Asuka Rin. One really should keep an eye on this great actress in the near future. The first part is almost a little bit like an innocent teenager movie or a well done romantic flick that could come straight from a popular manga. The first thirty minutes or so in this movie really lead you on a wrong trace and may be hard to sit through for those who are expecting a horror film but these thirty minutes are absolutely essential for the scenes that follow. The horror of this movie almost strikes from one moment to the other and that's why it hits so hard and leaves the viewers almost speechless. What follows is a brutally detailed focus on the new everyday life of the main actress who goes through hell. A series of more than just tragic events kicks off and really touches the viewers. This intense drama gets darker and tension filled. A few sinister slashing scenes only kick off at the very end of the movie that has an amazing ending as well that you won't forget anytime soon.
Everything about this drama is close to perfection: the slow mood and the sudden change of atmosphere, the outstanding main actress as well as a very good job by the secondary actors, the atmospheric soundtrack and the calm and down-to earth way the movie is filmed. What makes this movie even greater from my point of view is the detailed view on everyday life in Japan at the end of the seventies. I'm not sure if this part was purely intentional or not but it simply puts the cherry on the cake. One sees a brutal analyze of a highly competitive and cold society caught between traditions and progress. This analyze happens without any moral or philosophical parts and isn't boring or pretentious at all. This movie rather shows us a well thought out story in a cold and precise way without judging or making comments. That remains remains the job of the viewers who might feel a little bit shaken up by this surprisingly outstanding movie.
In the end, this film is far more than a prequel, a horror movie or an ordinary slasher. This flick is an excellent and gripping drama that really touches the viewers and that includes an unpretentious analyze of the Japanese society of the late seventies and its values. You really don't need to watch the first movie because they almost have nothing in common apart of the final slashing scenes in the last ten minutes or so that are truly excellent and surpass many genre flicks. In fact, the movie shouldn't have been related to the first movie because it's fairly different and in my opinion clearly better. At the same time, I'm personally happy that both movies are related because I would have missed this excellent flick that I had checked out because I appreciated the first movie as well. To keep this short, any fan of Asian and especially Japanese cinema should watch this intense drama and will surely have a great time.
This is the first relevant "Kuchisake-Onna" movie. It's a dark slasher vaguely inspired by true events that hit Japan back in the seventies. Several pupils are kidnapped on their way home. Soon rumours are spread about a possessed woman with a long trench coat that wears a mask to cover its mutilated face that kidnaps the children to cut their mouths up to the ears as that evil woman has lived the same torture in the past. The police doesn't find any relevant trace but several pupils seem to know more about that mysterious woman. A young and sometimes unstable female teacher who has been through a difficult divorce and who has a troubled relationship with her daughter joins a shy and young male teacher who seems to have telepathic powers and who hears the voice of that mysterious woman but always arrives a little bit too late at the scene of the crime. Together, they try to find the hideout of that evil woman. They soon realize that the evil woman is more some sort of a spirit that can easily possess anybody if her head isn't definitely cut off. As more and more innocent people die or get kidnapped, the young male teacher understands that he has a very special connection to the killer and that the final showdown will lead to unnameable sacrifices for both teachers.
I really found this first movie very intriguing. It convinces with a very dark atmosphere and a good balance between gripping slasher scenes and a surprisingly well done character development. The two young teachers incarnated by Eriko Sato and Haruhiko Kato play quite convincing roles and both characters have to face their own inner demons before they confront that evil woman. The movie doesn't only belong to the horror genre but has also a few dramatic and emotional moments. I really liked the unconventional attitude of this movie. One could think that a soft love story would develop between the two young teachers but this isn't the case and one doesn't get distracted from the solid main story line. The film also includes some minor twists and some tension filled and unexpected moments. I also like the polarizing ending of the movie that really send shivers down my spine. I guess that this ending wants to make sure that you won't forget this movie all too soon.
All in all, this is a very atmospheric and well played dark slasher movie that also focuses on some dramatic scenes and a very well done character development. This mixture of two distinctive genres is very well done and makes this flick more accessible to a larger crowd in my opinion. It's nothing revolutionary after all but surely a quite gripping and entertaining movie. Fans of Asian horror cinema should surely grab this solid movie and will have quite some fun.