Movie Review in Retrospect: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

My childhood circulated around a few cartoons, one of which was Scooby-Doo. As an adult, it is not my cup of tea as my tastes have darkened, it has left the gang and their dog behind. Recently, I discovered the best thing the franchise ever did, Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, was on Netflix, which brought me to rewatching an old favorite of mine. While some things don’t hold up for a grown man who can see some dicey flaws, it still gave me all of the nostalgic emotions I need to feel.

Fair warning, this is a straight to DVD movie from the 90s, so expect spoilers. Also, if you have never seen this classic, then shame on you.

The gang has split up after Daphne Blake (Mary Kay Bergman) has grown tired of not finding real monsters, so she and Fred Jones (Frank Welker) start-up a reality series that is like Ghosthunters, but real, which does not go according to plan. After getting a tip and gathering Scooby (Scott Innes), Norville “Shaggy” Rodgers (Billy West), and Velma Dinkley (B.J. Ward) head South to find ghouls and other horrors. A woman, Lena Dupree (Tara Strong), takes them to an island where spirits creep to the surface, and the dead begin to rise; finally, the crew meet a threat that not only makes the hottest member regret her decision, it makes fans like myself thankful for this darker turn.

The cast is small but quite strong in both its actors and characters. The chemistry between the members of Mystery Incorporated is what I remember with some of the best villains they have faced. Simone Lenoir (Adrienne Barbeau) and Lena are both intriguingly devilish. Meanwhile, you get a questionable Cajun accent from Jim Cummings as Jaques, the boat driver who helps Simone and Lena suck the life out of others with their cat rituals. I heard a mix of influences, mostly Danny Trejo, but I got used to it.

The biggest missed opportunity is to utilize Mark Hamill’s wild talents. Snakebite Scruggs is the only character who goes nowhere except for an antagonist for the sake of being an asshole who wants a catfish, yet sucks so bad he cannot catch it. Nonetheless, Luke Fisherman Skywalker is still a treat once I realized he starred in this iconic Scooby-Doo adventure.

Detective Beau Neville (Cam Clarke) is a generic suspect who turns out to be an undercover cop, but I have always liked him. He will easily fool the children, or me, a man who remembers everything in this movie except for the twist of him being one of the good guys. I just hope he bangs Velma, they had that type of chemistry.

Speaking of sex, Daphne certainly is bisexual with a weird comment when Velma is floating by tormented ghosts. She wants Fred yet has desires for her nerdy friend. Let’s get this relationship going if we ever can get anything good out of Scooby-Doo again.

Another miss that my dumb child brain paid attention to is that somehow even the confederate shamblers are good guys too. I buy the zombies not being the villains but not that. Come on, David Doi and Glenn Leopold, you two could have written it as dead Union soldiers instead of racists who betrayed our country.

I wish the climax went a little longer. It felt shortly cut with the action. An extra 15 or so minutes would leave me satisfied to see more of the zombies fight off the cats who are trying to sacrifice our heroes.

I know the music in both the shows and movies has always been cheesy, but some here hit or miss in what it is trying to achieve. Some songs hit the right mark, then others go too deep for me that takes me out of certain moments.

The art style sadly declines in future iterations, but Zombie Island still looks fantastic. It has creepy elements with its darker tones. The classic characters look fantastic, with some revisions to some of their outfits like Fred’s. The issue I ran into is the aspect ratio being so small on my TV as it is 2020, not 1998.

Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island is everything I remember as a kid. Sure, the darkness does not hold up entirely, but it is the perfect introduction into horror or to the monster hunting gang. If only we could get more of this and less of the overly family-friendly adventures that the world is subjected to today.

Score: 7/10

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Top 12 Heavy Metal Screamers

Metal has a reputation of not being accessible, mostly due to the heavier genres taking things a step further with the screaming. Most may not like it, but it is my drug, I am addicted to heavy music with this harsh style of vocalization. I had to do a lot of thinking on this one, and it may change later this year or in a few years when I discover new bands, but as of now, these are my top favorites of the masters of brutality.

#12: Caleb Shomo (Beartooth)

Caleb Shomo has a phenomenal voice, but I feel his regular singing is better than his screams, yet they work so well with Beartooth’s hardcore inspired style.

Along with the music, he loads up every lyric with so much emotion that it makes his passion standout to make for some of the most powerful metal music in the scene. He makes me feel as I bang my head every time.

#11: Johan Hegg (Amon Amarth)

Johan’s vocals match well with his Viking and Norse mythological inspired lyrics. His monstrous voice could easily come from a creature that the ancient pillagers believed in as he goes over his fascination with these themes.

#10: Corey Taylor (Slipknot)

Of course, I had to put Corey Mother Fucking Taylor on this list. His range brightens through his clean vocals then dulls out in his screams, like Shomo. What he lacks is made up based on his iconic voice that has inspired almost every metal band that has popped up since the release of Slipknot’s second album Iowa.

#9: Winston McCall (Parkway Drive)

Unlike most metalcore groups, McCall’s delivery gives some resemblance to heavier genres like death metal as he belts out booming screams and some spine chilling highs. When it comes to his neck of the woods in the metal underworld, it is hard to beat the Australian vocalist.

#8: Spencer Charnas (Ice Nine Kills)

The horror-loving frontman of Ice Nine Kills has a distinguishable approach to his style of vocalization. Death metal-inspired highs and lows certainly can be heard while he does classic medium registered screams and then hops into that weird middle ground of screaming and clean singing every other word. I feel like he is not fully appreciated, and anyone who has not heard INK then you better start with their last album, The Silver Scream.

#7: Spencer Sotelo (Periphery)

Arguably one of the best singers/screamers in modern metal, this other Spencer from Periphery can flip back and forth from smooth, beautiful singing to a shocking monster unlike anyone else in metalcore. He has a bold range but has his own sound that is hard to replicate.

#6: Randy Blythe (Lamb of God)

Not having Randy Blythe on here is like not having Corey Taylor. Of course, I had to put this legend here. The dreadlocked singer stands out not only with his impressive talent but from his signature sound that drops jaws every time he opens his mouth.

Interesting enough, unlike everyone else who has to learn the art of brutal vocals, Randy told Loudwire that he simply can make that sound. It started as a joke, and here he is, a punk guy who is a metal God.

#5: Scott Ian Lewis (Carnifex)

Carnifex, like some others, leads deathcore from its origins and continues to do so today. Fronted by Scott Ian Lewis, who has a classic voice for anyone who listens to the genre or the inspiration of this extreme movement, death metal. His voice makes his profoundly sorrowful lyrics more impactful. While some in this area of metal lean one way or another of doing higher or lower registered vocals better, Lewis can do every part equally as brutally with nothing getting left behind.

#4: Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder)

Metal haters may think all screamers sound the same, and while many sounds similar, that is because they want to imitate their influences like George “Corpsegrinder,” Phil Bozeman, or whoever else that person seeks out as their inspiration. Then you get Trevor Strnad, who proves those people wrong.

His distinctive lows are one thing, but it is his highs that I think makes him such a legend. Those wicked witch vocals sound unlike anyone else out there. Replicating him would be foolish as everyone should strive to be an individual, like this death metal veteran. There is a reason The Black Dahlia Murder are a mighty force in the dark depths of blood, guts, and nightmares.

#3: Ben Duerr (Shadow of Intent)

I am calling here, Shadow of Intent will be new leaders of deathcore and Ben Duerr is the guy everyone will look to as he is breaking ground in the genre. I have not heard gutturals so good since Phil Bozeman, and I have certainly not heard anyone who has this type of range in a while. Keep your eyes open because this band, and vocalist, are the next big thing for fans wanting the heaviest metal possible.

#2: Phil Bozeman (Whitechapel)

Speaking of Bozeman and groundbreaking vocals, the Whitechapel singer goes above and beyond with his vocal performance with every album. His highs are good, but nothing impressive. What makes the Tenessee native an idol to all screamers who have formed since the release of The Somatic Defilement comes from his lows and gutturals. He has his own voice with techniques to create demonic sounds that boggle minds since 2007.

On top of that, the man can actually sing shockingly well. I wonder what other secret talents he is hiding from his fans.

#1: Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation)

I could be wrong, but I think Ryan is the most innovative vocalist in death metal/deathgrind/deathcore. Nobody in this extreme level of heaviness has a range like him. Whether it is his Cookie Monster lows, his brutal gutturals, shrieking highs, or his weirdly melodic vocals, he can do it all to the point I think nobody else can reach.

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15 Games That Allow You to Pet Dogs

Dogs are one of the most redeemable things on the planet as humans have to deal with so many atrocities day in and day out. Video games are another way to let go of that darkness, so nothing beats when a developer allows its player base to pet dogs in that world. If you want to play and give furry friends a little pat on the head or a good belly rub, then here are 15 that you will need to put on your list if you have not already.

#15: Runescape

Yes, of all the games I am starting with, Runescape is the first on the list. It might be hard for most people to even look at its pixelated graphics as the game has been out of date for years, but you can pet dogs, so there is an excellent reason to play if you want some nostalgia.

#14: A Plague Tale: Innocence

After a brief introduction, the first thing you get to do in this stealth game is to pet a dog named Lion. Now that is a way to start an otherwise depressing game. Just watch out for everything that occurs shortly after.

#13: Blair Witch

The biggest selling point to this horror title is the dog, Bullet. Not only can you pet the good boy, but there are also other interactions with him to ease the pain of playing a spooky game.

#12: Darksiders: Genesis

In this top and down hack and slasher, you can take a brief break from the killing to pet a demonic doggy. The creatures may look scary, but they are friendly enough to let you give them some love.

#11: Divinity: Original Sin 2

This RPG was highly acclaimed back in 2017. Though I missed out, I do have an urge to play it despite knowing little to nothing at all. But I cannot possibly miss out on a dog waiting for me to pet his or her’s little head.

#10: Far Cry 5

I did not end up loving Far Cry 5 the more I played it as it fell flat after its incredible beginning. That said, having the various pets made it much more tolerable, especially Boomer, the doggo. He can grab new guns for his owner that he loves so much, then you reward him with a few pats on his body, which seems fair enough.

#9: The Sims 4

I know the other Sims games have pets, but I am just talking about the latest one that most people will likely still play. Either way, you can get a dog to pet and make sure he/she has the best life possible. You better build a giant house just for your furry companion.

Plus you have so many options to choose. Give me a dozen corgis, please.

#8: Stunt Corgi VR

Nothing more immersive in virtual reality that petting a corgi who does insane stunts. How am I hearing about this now when this game came out back in 2018? I am disappointed with myself.

#7: Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition

I know almost nothing about the Dragon Quest games except for the things I hear about from its passionate fans. Well, whatever reasons they have for loving this franchise, I understand to a degree because you know, dogs.

#6: Luigi’s Mansion 3

Not all ghosts are bad, as this spiritual pooch will revive you and let you pet his/her. Though, I do question how Luigi is physically touching a ghost.

#5: Overcooked 2

In between intense cooking matches to save the world, why not take a break to give some love to man’s best friend?

Also, you can play a level where you cook for a dog. I need to buy this game now.

#4: Red Dead Redemption 2

Rockstar Games’ latest masterpiece is a sprawling world with so much to do, plus petting a wide range of animals. The dogs in this Western are not one breed, you can find multiple kinds of friends who would love to let you give them some pat, pat, pat on their side, and rub their faces.

#3: The Walking Dead: The Final Season

I never finished TellTale’s The Walking Dead series. Maybe I should go back and play the finale for, you know, reasons like zombies, perhaps the story, or perhaps something else that barks and likes receiving treats.

#2: Life is Strange 2

I know the gist of Life is Strange, but now that I know about the dog, I may have to give it a shot. Thanks for the motivation to try it out devs.

#1: League of Legends

How have I dismissed one of the most popular games in the world when there are dogs in it? Now I need to reevaluate League of Legends after this news.

What are some games I missed? Let me know in the comments.

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Trailer Impressions: A Quiet Place Part II

When John Krasinski came out with his debut into horror with A Quiet Place, I felt the whole world was telling me that it is incredible. I saw it about a year later and enjoyed myself but felt underwhelmed due to the hype and some holes in its plot. Nonetheless, I do applaud him for the unique premise, his team for creating iconic looking creatures, and the acting from him, his movie and real-life wife, Emily Blunt (who I adore in every way), and the children Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. The trailer for its sequel starts off 2020, and I am thoroughly impressed with its bigger scope and level of intensity, with some anxious feelings lingering as I did not fall for the 2018 film like everyone else.

Things start off on an interesting note, we see the first day of the invasion. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) is driving two of her children through a busy street until one of the blind monsters comes crashing down on the car in front of them. This scene goes on for longer than expected, pumping adrenaline into me every step of the way. I hope to see more of those early days while not taking away from the flow of the story.

Now it is modern times, taking place seconds after the death of their father and husband Lee (John Krasinski). The family goes through the wreckage of their home to find somewhere safe. After activating a sound trap and getting spotted by a sniper, the survivors meet a man, who turns out to be reasonably friendly. It looks to be less intimate than the first film with introductions of characters who are not strange old men who scream then get themselves killed for making a racket.

After seeing the baby in the box, the man decides to guide the Abbott clan to somewhere, seriously, where do they think they are going in an apocalypse?

Anyways, they hear some radio signals of people out there. The mystery guide warns them that there are dangerous people out there not worth saving, even though Evelyn believes otherwise. A montage of the crew running and going to different environments meets up with a shot of monsters attacking wildly at a large group of people. Now I am wondering if this is a camp of survivors or another shot of the past, either way, I am excited for things to grow after the smaller focus from its predecessor.

More people who undoubtedly are trying to live in this world during the present appear from a black family. They seem friendly enough but with the last line, “The people that are left, are not the kind of people worth savin’,” before Blunt pulls out her shotgun certainly makes me wonder if we have seen these dangerous people in this trailer or the curtain is still down on these new threats.

I do like the idea of people being a source of danger. Doing another movie of the same thing would get stale, but adding more characters, friendly and otherwise, will combine for a more dynamic story that keeps the same personal tone while growing in depth. I have hopes for this sequel as long as it can avoid the issues of the first entry.

A Quiet Place Part II comes out March 20.

What do you think of the trailer? Watch it below:

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Image via Paramount Pictures

12 Best Movies of 2019

2019 was full of ups and downs in the film world. Letdown horror flicks with some superb executions, epic superhero conclusions with some not so stellar origin stories, and then a mixed bag of indies that either shined or fell through the cracks. The first quarter to half of the year did not impress me, but by the end, I can look back satisfied by the quality released.

I did slightly spoil this in my best-of list for the decade, but I am sure most of you may not have read that. Nonetheless, the rest of the entries may surprise.

Due to time constraints and retail being utter hell during the holiday season, some films will get skipped as I have not seen Richard Jewell, Little Women, or 1917. You bet I will try to knock those all out once the Academy Awards pop up.

Prepare to either cheer or bring out your pitchforks with my top movies of the year. I am sure someone will be happy or furious on my picks as this list is mostly going off of my enjoyment with a sprinkle of critical reasoning behind the brilliant techniques many of these films utilized to be worthy of making it on my subpar blog.

Honorable mentions: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, Detective Pikachu, IT Chapter 2, Stuber, Zombieland Double Tap, Captain Marvel, and Shazam!

#12: Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus

This nostalgia trip with one of my favorite childhood shows was a blast. The years since the final episode before its cancelation has aged well as Enter the Florpus feels like nothing has changed with all of its weirdness and darkness that Invader Zim was known for in the early 2000s.

Please, Nickelodeon, give me more.

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Image via Netflix/Nickelodeon

#11: Us 

It may not have had the same punch as Jordan Peele’s horror debut Get Out, but Us is easily one of the best horror films of the year. Cranking up the intensity and gore from his 2017 masterpiece, this still keeps the comedian’s style of social commentary, a focus on people of color, and a dash of humor to level out the terrifying experience. The message may not be as impactful, but it certainly delivers a heart-pounding viewing that goes into the weirder depth of the filmmaker’s demented mind.

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Image via Universal Pictures

#10: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

Breaking Bad had a satisfying finale to Walter White’s arc along with plenty of other characters, but Jesse. Aaron Paul got a chance to seal off that narrative that was initially left in the darkness. I felt it could have been left alone as my stomach was full on this meth filled world, but I ate every second up of El Camino with its compelling presentation. I could not resist one final goodbye to Jesse Pinkman.

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Image via Netflix

#9: Blinded by the Light

This wholesome look at a fan of Bruce Springsteen has more to offer than what it appears. The power of music can change someone’s life, even a whole family’s dynamic. Blinded by the Light has plenty to say that warmed my heart despite not being a fan of the legendary musician. It may not be an actual award, but this gets a mental trophy from me for being the most delightful movie of 2019.

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

#8: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It may not be my favorite Tarantino film as it did not have the consistent humor I find so attractive in his projects. Still, I can’t complain too much as I am happy for another release by the legendary director and writer.

What it lacks, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has the memorable characters with phenomenal acting that is expected across his filmography. It is no Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained, but it is still Tarantino in all of his foot fetish filled glory.

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Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

#7: Ready or Not

A horror comedy with commentary on the rich and powerful, what’s not to love? Seriously, this is a wild ride of gore, intensity, and laugh out loud moments that filled my eyes with tears. Full of quirky characters to remember who make the slower spots not die out in between the hunting for the bride.

Everyone knocks it out of the park, but Samara Weaving rightfully takes the spotlight as a funny heroine who can be grippingly compelling in the most dramatic of moments then turn around to be the ass-kicker of this wealthy Satan-worshipping family that I did not realize I needed so much. Rarely one performance sells me on one’s talent, well, Weaving will be that exception as she was phenomenal every step of the way.

Now it is time for me to look through her IMDB page and watch more films she has starred in. Maybe The Babysitter or Guns Akimbo will be next on the list.

This is the moment where I realized she was in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and feel dumb as hell.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

#7: Spider-Man: Far From Home

The MCU take on Spider-Man has swung past my wildest expectations, much of which is due to Tom Holland being the best Peter Parker/Spidey imaginable. Far From Home takes twists and turns that I did not expect (seriously, that after-credits scene took me so much by surprise that I think I lost a few years off my life).

The cherry on top of this sequel is that it goes from one of my favorite actors as the antagonist in Homecoming with Michael Keaton as the Vulture, and now Spider-Man’s second standalone tackles the beautiful Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, that is what I am talking about boys.

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Image via Marvel Studios/Disney

#6: Joker

I know it got divisive, but I thought Joker was incredible. The superhero genre has plenty to push it forward, and this did exactly what I hoped it could achieve. A crime drama that feels like comic bookey and more like a real-life look at a man’s descent into madness and violence.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of this controversial origin story, Joaquin Phoenix is one of the best Jokers depicted on the big screen. I still have to give Heath Ledger the win out of the live-action movies, and Mark Hamill will live on to be the greatest to ever portray the iconic villain.

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Image via DC/Warner Bros.

#5: Avengers: Endgame

The most epic and satisfying conclusion I have ever experienced came from the end of the Infinity Saga. The Avengers facing off with Thanos one more time defied expectations I had for it. Resolving Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow was an emotional rollercoaster that closed out their character arcs respectfully.

I have seen depressing movies before, but nothing has made me cry more than Endgame. That is right, go ahead and judge me that I cried harder over superheroes than I did when I watched Manchester by the Sea.

Now I am waiting for the next phase to see what the future holds for the MCU.

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Image via Marvel Studios/Disney

#4: Midsommar

Ari Aster’s second feature continues his moody tone, religious and mental illness related themes, and brings down a hammer of emotional abuse to both his characters and audience. Midsommar is much more artsy and weird compared to Hereditary, making it the only movie here that I have a hard time recommending despite it making to number four on the list. If all of this sounds like your jam, then check it out, if not then avoid this folk horror film.

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Image via A24

#3: Knives Out

This whodunit is an absolute blast from start to finish. Rian Johnson had many moviegoers question his abilities due to the divisive Last Jedi, but I knew he would deliver something brilliant.

Outside of having the best cast of the year, Knives Out is both delightful and thrilling with its murder mystery. Nothing feels overly serious or goofy, the tone feels perfect settled in between to make it as accessible as possible. Not many of the entries on this list I would rewatch over and over, but Johnson’s later film can get looked over dozens of times without getting bored.

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Image via Lionsgate

#2: Parasite

Parasite is an unusual type of thriller, as it seems to have such low stakes that end up skyrocketing by the end. I went in, knowing nearly nothing and was blown away by this experience. If there were to be one film that could bridge the mainstream and artsy audiences, you are looking at it right here.

Interesting enough, 2019 had enough with rich people as this is the third film on my list that has commentary on socioeconomic statuses.

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Image via NEON

#1: Jojo Rabbit

Both hilarious and moving enough to rip out my heart, Taika Waititi has outdone himself as a director, writer, and actor. Unlike many WW2 movies, this is one of the most nuanced perspectives on a war without having to go into large scale battles. It keeps the setting intimate yet looks at the bigger picture of its subject manner. Jojo Rabbit may seem like a silly choice to put as my movie of the year, but it packs a punch in more ways than one while being as rewatchable as Knives Out or Endgame.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

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Album Review: The Acacia Strain – It Comes in Waves

Right when the year is about to be over, The Acacia Strain surprises the world by dropping a seven-track album that makes for a clean 30-minute experience unlike most of the material they have created throughout their long career. I always had great admiration for the band but never fell deeply into their discovery as they don’t match what I seek in what I consume; then I heard It Comes in Waves, which goes against their nature while fitting in their style that has been established over the years. It may fall short in many areas, but it certainly is a nice breath of fresh air from the metal veterans.

Starting things off comes from Our. The introduction coming together with a mix of an industrial buzz and a haunting choir sets the mood perfectly for what’s to come. It bursts open with fire and fury with a range of impressive vocal and instrumental variety that is usually not found on any TAS record. A grander production comes together nicely, but the atmospheric moodiness does get stained slightly by repetitive lyrics that the band has a tendency to do with a breakdown that overstays its welcome.

A mix of heavy and light riffs open up Only that is accompanied by a mellow, yet headbanging worthy tempo. Doom inspires much of the record, but this is the first taste with plenty of dynamic work to let the vocals and instrumentation sit back for moments then jump back in for an assault.

Sin starts off quite somber with delightful guitar work then shifts gears into pure aggression. Every song features some kind of different vocal work from Vincent Bennett, but this is the first off ICIW that took me by surprise. While the doom elements still remain, much of this has a death metal vibe that still has the TAS stamp on it.

An unholy performance and epicness come from Was. It’s mighty feel steps back with a focus on the melody with an added argument between some people in the background. This standout hit has more depth to its story due to the muffled voices that go in between Bennett along with its stance on intensity without having to go overly brutal or lightning fast.

On the flip side, Giving goes into a more violent direction. It has a long, ominous introduction before diving into a complete bloodbath. Its steady pace makes up for the too long of an introduction, which took up too much time out of the two minutes and 55 seconds that lays out this song.

The closest to their signature sound comes in from the shortest track, Them.  It has that relentless aggression but feels more hollow compared to the other more dynamic entries.

The longest and most dangerous sounding concludes the record. Names deceivingly set up a peaceful mood then sets that meadow into flames once the action starts. Consistent changes in performances from every member kept me on my toes for what’s to come next. It builds up to a climax that ends up dying softly before taking a few more breaths of air until it fades away, ending the band’s latest release.

The most impressive aspect is less about the band’s experimentation but more on how everything flows together. Each song stands on its own while sounding like one 30 minute rollercoaster of doom and death.

While I find problems with Bennett’s lyrics, I think this is him at his most poignant. The emotion can be felt here without some goofy line that takes away the meaning like much of their older material. On top of that, it is his best vocal performance as he dives into various styles alongside his signature sound.

I appreciate the change in style across the board from The Acacia Strain. It has the same issues I have always had from the band when it comes to simplicity, especially with the lyrics and parts of the instrumentation. Still, it is a great improvement as the group wants to expand upon their identity in the metal scene.

They have another album recorded entirely, which is supposed to launch next year, so keep an eye out as It Comes in Waves is just the beginning of a new era.

Score: 7/10

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The Obstacle That Star Wars Needs to Overcome

Since Disney bought Lucasfilm and started its own saga of Star Wars films, some division has begun within the fan base. Like anything, many factors go into heavy criticism across critics or audiences, in some cases both. The new entries have plenty of problems, but the main obstacle that is in the way is nostalgia.

The original trilogy may not be perfect, it may have some dated material, but that does not stop it from being incredible to this day. The story is beyond familiar, yet its charming heroes and large scale production were beyond anything that was created back in the day. Decades later, the loathed prequels come along that stir up issues in the canon, then Mickey Mouse flies in on his X-wing to start up a new series within this beloved universe.

That distance between the original and new trilogies causes an issue where people have a filter of nostalgia, making George Lucas’ big hit in the 70s and 80s on top of Everest, an untouchable milestone in blockbuster history. It is almost impossible to add to this saga and not let millions of people down.

The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker essentially take A New Hope and Return of the Jedi into a modern twist with some differences here and there for TROS. It may seem like a better idea to go into a new direction to separate the latest films and the classics. We may never know if that is the right decision or not due to the hatred towards The Last Jedi, which attempted to change things up and did not live up to many people’s hopes.

You can argue against or in favor of recycling old ideas from Abrams or root for or shout at Johnson for trying something different. Either way, it divided up the fanbase instead of everyone uniting over their love for the franchise. We are getting new Star Wars, which is amazing, yet a big chunk of that is a disaster due to the audience and the mix of risky and safe choices made by the filmmakers.

Having Abrams or Johnson direct all three films would have been a smarter decision on Lucasfilm and Disney’s part. Splitting their ideas with Abrams directing the first and third film while Johnson gets the middle slice caused tension between two entirely different visions of what should happen by the end of this storyline.

The studio execs are to blame too. Other franchises like Harry Potter and Marvel may have source material to lean on, but it also had a clear idea of where things would go for Harry’s journey and for the epic conclusion to defeating Thanos. Lucasfilm and Disney should have pulled in the reigns to balance creative power for the directors and writers while still guiding them to a general idea to avoid the mistakes made across the new saga.

The nuanced issues within Star Wars can go on and on, but the world has a perspective on how these films should go. People have their own desires for Luke Skywalker, which was not completely satisfied for many in TLJ, and too much pandering in TROS let down many fans, like me, due to the seething reaction Johnson’s entry received. Everyone looks for something that they want, resulting in admiration or hate for a movie, which is the beauty of varying opinions.

Moderation is key to much of life, even a movie franchise of space Nazis and rebels with robots that they can understand despite making beeping noises instead of words. Having that fan service makes for wonderful callbacks, but you need to move forward to create something new and special to make the series live on. Star Wars is floating in the cosmos, not sure to use the force call for help to Obi-Wan or to reach out to Rey.

The damage done can be repaired because millions of people, many of whom work on these films, care deeply about this universe and the characters flying around in it. It will take a lot of effort to fix it, so we don’t have another Star Wars entry bomb like Solo or get a reaction that divides people up like The Last Jedi. Maybe with hope, we can get back to what it used to be, people being together loving Star Wars for what it is, not what it used to be or could become.

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Header image via Lucasfilm/Disney