October Music Series: Finsterforst – Urquell

…zum Tode hin was the most pleasant surprise of 2009. Like Turisas in 2007 and Nekrogoblikon in 2011, Finsterforst managed to rise from the depths of mediocrity to greatness in a single album. I’d spun Weltenkraft often enough to know them when I heard them, but there was absolutely nothing special about it. I only grabbed …zum Tode hin in the first place because I was very actively keeping up with metal in general at the time, and it ended up on my top 10 list come the end of the year.

…zum Tode hin adopts a folk-black sound which should immediately appeal to fans of Moonsorrow, while maintaining the strong emphasis on accordion that characterized Weltenkraft. But unlike Moonsorrow (at least for me), Finsterforst’s melodies are extraordinarily memorable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got Urquell stuck in my head, and this never proves a nuisance. Looking over my 2009 list again, …zum Tode hin is fairly unique in having stood the test of time. I still have yet to grow tired of listening to it.

Finsterforst are a German band that formed in 2004. Their name means “dark forest”. The album title translates to “Towards Death”, and this particular track to “Original Source”. They haven’t released an album since …zum Tode hin, and singer Marco Schomas has since left the band. That’s a bit disconcerting, because his vocals fit their style perfectly, but the good news is a new record’s finally on its way. “Rastlos” should be available by November 27th. Cheers.

Which Way Forward For The “Batman” Movie Franchise? Take Thirteen : A Brief Aside, Followed By A Recap Of Where We Are Now


By most, if not all. accounts, Neal Adams is one of the most significant artists to ever draw the Caped Crusader — some might even argue the most significant. You’d never guess as much, though, if you were unfamiliar with Adams’ previous work and  all you ever saw of his art was the picture of a rather deranged-looking Bruce Wayne reproduced above.  To be fair, though, said panel is from the pages of Batman : Odyssey, truly one of the most flabbergasting superhero comics I’ve ever laid eyes on, and which DC will be collecting in hardcover format just a few short days from now (assuming they stick to their publishing schedule, which is sometimes a rather iffy proposition).

When word first got out that Adams was returning to Batman, reaction in the fan community was ecstatic — when the first issue of the series itself came out, though, reality set in and people suddenly remembered that while Adams was — and for the most part remains, don’t let that pic sway you too much — a fantastic visual storyteller, he’s also, well — a unique, shall we say, writer, as evidenced in the past by his creations such as Ms. Mystic (still the only comic I’ve ever seen that shows a deer in the woods throwing up!) and the astonishingly stupid  Skateman. Needless to say, once it became  apparent  (like, on page one of issue one) that Batman : Odyssey was going to have a lot more to do with Adams riding his many personal hobby-horses than it was going to concern itself with indulging in trivialities like telling an actual coherent story, negative reaction was both swift and merciless.

On the most liminal level, I suppose, the numerous (and voluminous) critics are right — there’s no doubt that Batman : Odyssey is a tremendously self-indulgent work, with Adams ensuring prominent roles for all his favorite supporting characters such as Ra’s Al Ghul (who he co-created) and contriving a “plot,” painfully circuitous as it is, that somehow manages to get Batman riding on the back of a fucking pterodactyl inside the center of the Earth, thus ensuring that he gets a chance to expound — at great length! — about the “hollow Earth,” or, as he prefers to call them, “expanding Earth,” theories that he holds near and dear to his heart. I’ve even seen this series referred to as the comics equivalent of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room on more than one occasion.

But you know what? I’m here today to tell you that all the naysayers out there are wrong. Sort of. Sure, Batman : Odyssey makes no rational sense whatsoever — that’s the best thing about it! Whatever happened to liking a book just because it’s pure, stupid, unadulterated fun? We’re talking about a guy who dresses up like a bat and fights crime! It’s too late to demand to “grittiness” and “realism” in a Batman story from the very outset! Just roll with it, folks, and enjoy the unhinged ride! Besides, if Grant Morrison wrote a comic that featured Batman riding around on dinosaurs inside the center of the Earth, he’d be getting praise heaped on him for being “post-ironic,” and for “celebrating the nonsensical values inherent in the super-hero genre” — yet when Adams does it it’s proof that he’s “lost a step,” is “out of touch with the modern comics readership,” and, most insultingly, that he might be just plain “losing his grip on reality.” What’s up with that double-standard?

Okay, yes, Neal’s older now, and his art is a lot more —- uhhhmmmm — “free-form,” to be generous about it,  and loosey-goosey than it used to be, but it’s still head and shoulders above any of the guys working on the monthly Bat-books today, all of whom are determined to reflect in their visual renderings the oh-so-somber tones of the uber-serious writers like Scott Snyder who are handling  the scripting chores. All in all, while it admittedly goes waaaaayyyyy too far in the other direction, Batman : Odyssey is the perfect antidote to the modern version of the Dark Knight Detective, which has become mired in the act of taking itself far too seriously for its own good.

Most of the book, too, is narrated by a curiously shirtless Bruce Wayne, which brings us around to , I suppose, the actual subject of today’s post, which is the next step in the plot of our hypothetical Batman I movie, namely the “official” return of Bruce Wayne to Gotham City.

As you’ll recall if you’ve been following this series of posts, when last we left things, our guy Bruce had hopped a train west in preparation for catching a flight back home that was to signal the public end to his decade-plus-long sojourn to parts unknown. Needless to say, we know what the press and public doesn’t, which is that Gotham’s favorite (read : wealthiest) son has actually been ducking in and out of town for a couple years putting his “batcave” together, and setting to work as the as-yet-unnamed “bat-vigilante” in the evenings, as well (so as to avoid one rather obvious, but to my knowledge never-before-asked, question, namely : isn’t it awfully convenient that the Batman starts to turn up in town at pretty much the same time as the return of the prodigal Mr. Wayne?). We then segued into a series of brief introductory segments featuring  most of the more prominent members of the series’ supporting cast — Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Selina Kyle/Catwoman, respectively — and now it’s time to pick things back up with the media circus that’s sure to greet Brucie-Boy from the moment he touches down on the tarmac.

We’ll get to all that tomorrow, though. For now, I leave you with one last thought vis a vis all the Neal Adams-bashing that’s been going on in the comics world over the last year-plus : guess who’s getting the last laugh? Neal Adams, “senile and over the hill” as he is, just inked an apparently-quite-lucrative deal to write and draw a six-part, sure-to-be-heavily-promoted, X-Men “event”-style miniseries for Marvel. It’ll probably be scoffed at by the quasi-sophisticated “elite” readership out there — you know, the folks  who, if they were so fucking discerning, wouldn’t be reading superhero comics in the first place — but sell like hotcakes regardless. And while it’s sure to make very little, if any, conventionally-defined sense, it’ll probably still be better than Avengers Vs. X-Men by a ludicrously wide margin.

Horror Trailer: V/H/S (Red Band)

This film has already been making the film festival circuit so for genre fans it’s nothing new, but for the general public are probably still not aware that it even exists.

V/H/S is another one of those “found footage” films that everyone either hates or loves. I’m sort of straddling the fence between the two. I can dig well made ones, but some have been awful. From what I’ve been hearing about this horror anthology the reactions seem to run the gamut of it being good to almost great. I keep hearing and reading that despite flaws and unevenness in the way the five stories were told (each with it’s own filmmaker directing the segment) the film overall should satisfy genre fans everywhere. Like having so many different segments with a different filmmaker and storytelling style should give at least someone watching one good thing to like if not more.

The one thing about this film that has me interested in making it one of my must-see for this October is the fact that one of the filmmakers doing a segment in the film is none other than Ti West. His horror work has been sparse but eah one he’s released has become favorite of mine. Here’s to hoping his segment in V/H/S is not one of the flawed ones.