Favourite Rock and Metal Albums of 2018 Vol. 1

Cynics may continue to cry foul at imitators and sellouts in the rock scene, but I stand my ground that 2018 has been good to music fans. Too good, if I dare to be bold. As labels shower us with gifts of addictive blast beats and criminally catchy hooks, I hesitate at the difficult task of playing favourites.

Music lists are tougher still for an indecisive audiophile, who holds on dearly to ancient favourites while craving for new ones. But I’ll take any excuse to re-listen to some of the best records this year:

10. Avatar – Avatar Country

I will always regret missing Avatar live at Download Festival. With their seventh album Avatar Country, the band is set to steal the title of the greatest showmen on the metal stage. Emulating the early persona of the revered Alice Cooper, the born performers are just a hell lot of fun to watch.

Granted that they may play up on the dramatic, their dress-up games never come at the cost of musicality.  Their latest record is full of groove-laden bangers, albeit softer than before. If there is a single track that sums up their serious musicianship alongside their love for fun, get in on The King Welcomes You to Avatar Country.

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Favourite Movies of 2018

2018 would be incomplete without a look back on some of the most stellar movies of the year. Blessed be the filmmakers who have produced something brilliant for everyone, be it for the good ol’ cinema or Netflix, the wondrously odd or the charmingly conventional.

At the time of writing, I have not had the pleasure of seeing Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which I have a feeling that I would enjoy tremendously. Regardless, here goes a quick countdown of what I have seen and liked.

10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (dir. The Coen Brothers)

Anthologies are often collections of hits and misses, but not The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The Coen Brothers deftly binds the six distinct chapters on the western front with the consistency of their signature dark humour, topped with a familiar dose of cynicism.

As the pages turn, light absurdity shifts into bleak tragedy and sudden violence, all underscored by Carter Burwell’s stirring score. In what would certainly dismay the optimistic crowd, their tar-tinted lens reveals more about human nature than we wish to admit, drawing in the ones who care to know.

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Review: The Night Comes For Us (2018)

The Night Comes for Us (dir. Timo Tjahjanto, 2018) – Turning on his mission, Ito falls out of favour with his Triad crime family.

Verdict

Following in the boisterous footsteps of The Raid, The Night Comes for Us invites controversy in its relentless savagery, which never lessens the evocative weight of familial bonds.

4/5

Review

Determined to escape a life of murders on the Triad’s orders, Ito (Joe Taslim) goes on the run after sparing a child’s life. A prolonged bloodbath ensues. Sure enough, horror no longer monopolises gore in film these days. The Night Comes For Us comes at the tail end of a New Indonesian Extreme in the action scene, following the unexpected success of Gareth Evans’ ultra-violent The Raid.

As Evans moves into a more atmospheric and considerably less bloody territory with Apostle, director Timo Tjahjanto comfortably takes his place at the forefront of bone-snapping, throat-slitting, and tendon-slicing brutality. Not that he needed the cue from Evans in the first place.

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Review: Revenge (2018)

Revenge (dir. Coralie Fargeat, 2018) – Left for dead in the desert, a young woman survives her assault and goes on a bloody manhunt for the wealthy businessmen responsible.

Verdict

Revenge wears a bright warning against strait-laced individuals, who takes offence at jet-black humour and a generous amount of violence.

4/5

Review

A good horror movie does not necessitate blood, but a gallon of the deep red sure is a hell lot of fun. In its retread of vile rape-revenge fantasy I Spit On Your GraveRevenge puts forward a final girl who shares both an insatiable thirst for retribution and a name with the notorious anti-heroine.

Things are set in motion when Richard (Kevin Janssens) attempts to silence his mistress, whom his hunting partners had sexually assaulted. Jen (Matilda Lutz) tries to escape, but ends up brutally impaled through her gut at the bottom of a cliff.

Unlike its inspiration, the transgressive genre entry takes itself less seriously thereafter. What follows takes on a sheath of dark humour, and unleashes an early test of whether one is to enjoy the rest of the vengeful minutes.

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Short Film Review: Nervous Breakdown

Many cases of disappearances around the world go unresolved every day. Clues often point to crime, yet answers remain indefinite when there is no body found. People are curious creatures, and interest surround these cases even over years, as evident in the proliferation of armchair detectives and their public speculations especially online.

Nervous Breakdown finds inspiration in these disappearing acts, and the more sinister speculations behind them. Set in 1983, the story’s missing person is a young woman June, whose only trace left behind was her abandoned car. Five years later, the investigators are nowhere near an explanation for her mysterious vanishing. But her twin sister Jane (Melissa Blackwell) is resolute that something supernatural had been at work that night.

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