Album Review: Hatebreed – Weight of the False Self (Nuclear Blast Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

It’s been four years since hardcore heavyweights Hatebreed unleashed new material upon the world, and if 2020 needed anything, it was new music from them. On their eighth full-length effort, the band have perfected their own unique style of metalcore that they started so long ago.

True to form, Weight of the False Self is instantly relentless, with “Instinctive (Slaughterlust)” kicking things off as brutal as ever. From then on, it’s one unforgiving track to the next. Numbers like “Set It Right (Start with Yourself),” “Cling to Life,” and “This I Earned” are testaments to inner strength, while “Wings of the Vulture” and “Invoking Dominance” are among some of the band’s best work in years.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Hatebreed live, and equally lucky to even (briefly) meet frontman Jamey Jasta. Hatebreed are undoubtedly a breed all their own, and should not be taken lightly; proceed with caution in the best way possible.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Interview with L.A. Guns Drummer Steve Riley By Jesse Striewski

Earlier this year, I spoke with L.A. Guns bassist Kelly Nickels, where we discussed the band’s then-upcoming new studio album, Renegades, and why this version of the band – lead by long-time drummer Steve Riley – deserves to still use the name as much as the Tracii Guns/Philip Lewis incarnation (Riley, who still owns fifty percent of the L.A. Guns name, maintains he never left the band, but rather Lewis had instead to join up with Guns, the two of them deciding to use the name shortly after).

So rather than cover the same topics Nickels and I previously had, I decided to focus my conversation with Riley on two specific subjects; said new album, and Riley’s storied career as a rock drummer that expands as far back as the 1970’s. With Renegades having just been released on November 13, one of the first things I wanted to ask Riley when I spoke to him from his California home was just how the album’s been received so far. He tells me; “We feel great! We were originally set to release the album and start touring in March (before everything started happening), but when we found out everything was going to be postponed until at least next year, we had to go into another mode, so we had to just release a single every couple of months or so. But now that the entire album’s out we feel so good…we just couldn’t wait for everyone to hear the entire thing!”

I was also curious if Riley had a favorite track on the new album. He explains; “You know, I’m SO in to the whole thing! We picked ten songs out of forty that we had, so I really love a lot of the tracks on it. Some of my favorites though are “Well Oiled Machine,” “Crawl,” “Lost Boys,” and I like the way “You Can’t Walk Away” turned out. Our singer Kurt brought in the song “Would,” and it’s a great acoustic track. I’m really digging the way the whole thing turned out. We really made a conscientious decision to make this album true to the L.A. Guns sound, and didn’t want to stray too far from what we really are.”

As I had mentioned earlier, Riley’s career began long before he joined L.A. Guns in 1987. In the ’70s he recorded with a number of acts that didn’t quite take off before joining a revived version of Steppenwolf by the end of the decade. He explains; “I was in a bunch of one-off bands in the mid-late ’70s where we would record an album, and then the band wouldn’t be able to continue for one reason or another. Then around ’78, a couple of the original guys from Steppenwolf called and asked me if I wanted to go out on tour with them, and I did that until ’79. I was a big fan, so it was a blast going out there and playing those old Steppenwolf songs!”

A little later down the line, Riley was with the band Keel long enough to record on their 1985 effort The Right to Rock (produced by Gene Simmons) before joining up with one of my personal favorite metal bands, W.A.S.P.. I wanted to know why his time with Keel was so brief, and how he went right from them to W.A.S.P. so quickly. He explains; “I had been doing session work in the early ’80s after doing a bunch of one-offs even after Steppenwolf. One of the guys I was doing sessions work with told me to go down and audition for this band Keel. I went down, got the gig, and recorded all my tracks for the album, even doing background vocals for it with Gene! But while I was in the studio, I got a call from (W.A.S.P. frontman) Blackie Lawless, and he asked me to come by and listen to what they were doing at the time.”

He continues; I was already familar with W.A.S.P. – they were all over the magazines and getting all this press – and I had even gone to see them live here in L.A. And Blackie asked me if I wanted to join up, and told me that they were about to leave for Europe in a few weeks. I was in such a weird (but good!) predicament with the situation with Keel. So I had to make a decision, and I think I made the right call because I ended up joining W.A.S.P. and doing the world tour with them for the first album, and then recording three more albums with them. It was a hard decision because the guys in Keel are great, it was a really good set up, and I really enjoyed working with Gene (Simmons). But even the guys in Keel (I’m still great friends with them today) knew I made the right call at the time.”

Like with L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P. has had a revolving door lineup over the years, with frontman Blackie Lawless being the only constant member. So I was curious if Riley still kept in touch with Blackie (who just happens to also be the first major interviewee I ever did back in 2010). He tells me; “I hadn’t seen him for a long time after I had left W.A.S.P. since we were both so busy with our own bands. Then maybe eight or nine years after I was out of W.A.S.P., L.A. Guns did a few shows with them, and it was really great seeing him (and all those guys) again.”

And finally, considering it’s not everyday I get the chance to speak with someone who was actually involved with a Ghoulies movie, I had to ask Riley what his thoughts were looking back on recording the track “Scream Until You Like It” with W.A.S.P. for the 1987 horror/comedy film, Ghoulies II. He says; “It’s funny, I’ve been on a lot of songs that have been in movies before, but that was just a campy flick (and kind of a campy song, too!), and just a lot of fun!”

Interview with Actress/Filmmaker Deborah Voorhees By Jesse Striewski

I remember it clearly; it was around Halloween time, and I was no older than ten at best. I sneaked out of the living room into my older brother’s room, where he and a friend were watching a “Jason” flick (something I had only heard of, but had not yet seen). The exact entry they were watching, and my introduction to the series and Jason Voorhees (although technically he does not really appear in it) was Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.

I couldn’t believe what my young eyes were witnessing…the amount of graphic gore and female flesh (I’m almost positive I had seen nudity before, but not that much at once!) was almost overwhelming my senses. One such scene (and young lady) that really stood out and made a huge impression on me was the very naked/grisly demise of Tina, played by the lovely Deborah Voorhees.

After a few more roles in films such as 1985’s Appointment with Fear, and a recurring stint on the widely popular prime time TV drama Dallas, Voorhees stepped away from the spotlight to pursue work in the journalism field, and even took on some teaching jobs before her previous acting career came to light and cancel culture reared it’s ugly head over her involvement in the Friday the 13th series. But Voorhees has since re-emerged victoriously, first appearing in her own 2014 directorial debut, Billy Shakespeare, and now nearing completion of the ultimate meta Jason flick, 13 Fanboy, which she also directed and co-wrote along with Joel Paul Reisig.

One of the first things I wanted to know when I recently caught up with Voorhees from her New Mexico home, was just what it was like working with so much Friday… alumni on 13 Fanboy. She tells me; “It’s an intense thriller/slasher/classic ‘whodunit’ type film, and we have an amazing, talented cast from the series and the horror genre as a whole, including Corey Feldman, C.J. Graham, Kane Hodder, Tracie Savage, and (previous Rewind It Magazine interviewee), Dee Wallace.” She continues; “I directed, co-wrote, produced, and really was involved with every aspect of it, from appearing in it, down to the editing process.”

But even exceptional talent is not immune to the effects of 2020. When asked about a potential release date, Voorhees informs me; “Production has definitely slowed down due to Covid, and with a lot of theaters and things not being open right now, it’s been very problematic. But we’re hoping to have it out by August, which is when the next doable Friday the 13th lands. I think we’ve got a really good shot at that, so that’s what we’re aiming for right now. I feel pretty good about it though, and think everything should be wrapped up by then.”

I was also curious if Voorhees was a fan of the series prior to filming A New Beginning, and how she felt looking back on her appearance in the series today. She explains; “Beforehand I had only seen the first one, so it wasn’t until later on that I saw the other parts in the series. I think I’m most impressed with the fan base. Horror fans in general are just really terrific people, and the fans that love slasher films and Friday the 13th have been really good to me over the years, and I’m very grateful for that.” And although Part V contains a brief cameo by ’80s superstar Corey Feldman, it wasn’t until much later the two would actually meet. She tells me; “I met him before at a horror convention, but this was the first time I actually got to spend time with him during the production of 13 Fanboy.”

And I also wanted to know if there were any actors approached for 13 Fanboy who declined. She says; “Adrienne King was initially excited and wanted to do it, but after reading the script, decided it was too close to her given situation having had a stalker in the past, and just wasn’t comfortable doing it. Lar Park Lincoln (who also appears in 13 Fanboy) had one too, but everybody handles that sort of thing differently.”

Lastly, I asked Voorhees just how her path lead her back to filmmaking, and she says; “After I had finished with journalism (at the time), I had decided I wanted to ‘give back’ a little by teaching. While I enjoyed it very much, I ended up being thrown out of two high schools because a lot of people just had a problem with my past (and especially the nudity I had done), so I just decided I was going to go on my own, and that took me back to flimmaking in general. I did love teaching, but I’m happier doing what I’m doing now. It was a good experience for me, but it feels good to get back to where I belong, which was writing/telling stories, and making movies.”

Album Review: L.A. Guns – Renegades (Golden Robot Records)

By: Jesse Striewski

When listeners got their first taste earlier this year of what the Steve Riley-led version of L.A. Guns were up to via the hook-laden track “Crawl,” they were given a fairly accurate idea of what was to come. But with follow-up single “Well Oiled Machine” failing to generate as much excitement, I was concerned they may have peaked early. But aside from a filler track or two, for the most part I was wrong.

Subsequent third single and title track “Renegades” is a blues-ly self portrait that paints a perfect picture of the band’s current status. Other tracks like “All That You Are,” “Lost Boys,” and the power ballad-ish “You Can’t Walk Away” are all worthy contenders from this version of the band.

You can close off your mind and scoff at the notion of there being two versions of L.A. Guns. Or, you could choose to look at things the way I do; we’re lucky enough to be living at a time where we not only have the option to be a fan of one or the other (or both/neither), but we have twice the music from one great band! Choose wisely.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Album Review: AC/DC – Power Up (Columbia)

By: Jesse Striewski

AC/DC were one of the pivotal bands that introduced me into rock n’ roll. Their massive 1980 effort Back in Black was, to the best of my knowledge, the second rock album I ever owned. And in 1996, they became the first band I ever saw live when a group of friends and I drove down south to West Palm Beach to catch them in concert. But in all honestly, the band hasn’t released anything that’s really excited me since 1990’s The Razor’s Edge album…until now anyway.

Power Up is the first studio album from the band since original founding guitarist Malcolm Young, sadly passed in 2017, and serves as a tribute to him. However, his presence is still greatly felt; co-founder/brother Angus Young complied each of the record’s tracks from non-recorded material the two had previously worked on together, while their nephew Stevie Young once again steps in in Malcolm’s place. The permanent returns of vocalist Brian Johnson, bassist Cliff Williams, and drummer Phil Rudd give the album a sort of ‘comeback’ feel as well.

“Shot in the Dark” served as an appropriate first taste of what was to come from the Power Up. Other numbers like “Demon Fire,” “Systems Down,” and “Witch’s Spell” are reminiscent of 1981’s For Those About to Rock… album (still my personal favorite release from the Johnson era). Make no mistakes about it; AC/DC are back, and with a roar.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Book Review: A Shot of Poison By Christopher Long (CG Publishing)

By: Jesse Striewski

This newly-released, slightly updated version of Christopher Long’s 2010 book chronicling his time spent as a working crew member for one of the most pivotal hard rock/glam bands to emerge from the ’80s Sunset Strip, Poison, is everything it’s title is cracked up to be.

Part memoir, part biography, Long explains in great detail how he originally landed his coveted position within the band’s ranks after years of friendship with bassist Bobby Dall, before becoming his “go-to” guy on tour. Long eventually lives out the ultimate music journalists’ dream a la Almost Famous, and it’s impossible not to relate many of the stories to my very own experiences over the years. Each new revealing tale leaves you yearning to get to the next page as quickly as possible.

I must admit, I didn’t catch the original edition of this book the first time around, but I’m definitely glad I was finally able to catch up on it. In a recent conversation, Long clarified the differences between the two editions to me; “The stories are generally the same, however the overall writing has been polished from top to bottom, and the entire 25-page closing chapter is all-new content.”

So whether or not you’re even a fan of the band Poison themselves per se, there should be something for everyone here who’s even had a remote interest in rock music. So put down the worries of every day life, and pick up A Shot of Poison for “Nothin’ but a Good Time!”

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Interview with Actress Dee Wallace By Jesse Striewski

By all accounts, actress Dee Wallace should need little to no introduction. In the world of horror films, she’s regarded as one of all-time top scream queens, appearing in such classics as The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983), and Critters (1986). But of her nearly two-hundred acting credits, she will perhaps forever best be known for her role in the 1982 Steven Speilberg blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Last week, I had the chance to speak with Dee over the phone from her California home, where I was honored to ask her about many of said previous films, as well as her more recent, inspiring work in the self-help field.

And I was lucky enough to catch her just at the right time; at the very start of our conversation, Wallace informs me with glee; “I’m heading out to do a film, so you’re my very last, good little thing I get to do before I hop on a plane!” I also wanted Dee to know how much I had learned about her prior to our interview while doing background research, to which she delightfully chuckled before proclaiming, “That’s funny, everybody says that! Well thank you for doing your research!”

One of the first things I wanted to know was what made Wallace decide to step into the world of motivational speaking. She tells me; “Well, when you’re called, you have to answer that call! That’s the best way I can put it. Really when I look back on my entire life, it’s all lead up to this. I used to get messages when I was a little girl – which a lot of kids do. Then later in life when I met Christopher (Stone, Dee’s late husband), he and I got involved in a philosophy called conceptology, and we studied that for a couple of years. Cut to later in life; when he died, I basically dropped to my knees and said, ‘I don’t want to be a victim or angry.’ And the first message I got literally within seconds was to ‘use the light within you to heal yourself.'”

She continues; “So I’ve kind of been expanding on that ever since. I had the largest acting studio in LA at the time, and I would start getting downloads about stuff, and they were always right-on. So then families began wanting to work with me once they saw my students lives’ were changing, and now here I am 30 years later with clients all over the world. I’m quite an oxymoron, actually; half my life I do horror films, the other half I try to teach people how to deal with fear (laughs)! But it’s pretty empowering work, I can tell you that. It’s definitely changed my life!” Dee also hosts a worldwide radio call-in show discussing many of these subjects, which airs online every Sunday at 9am PST.

By now I felt like it was as good a time as any to finally segue into her film career, and I wanted to know if the horror genre was something Wallace had pursued personally, or if it had more or less ‘found’ her. She tells me; “It definitely found me! That genre is one of the easier ones to get started in when you’re beginning your acting career. Ironically, the first film I ever did was a religious one called All the King’s Men – and then I booked The Hills Have Eyes – which again, it sort of explains the dichotomy of Dee, here! (laughs). But I love doing emotional work, and the horror genre gives you the opportunity to do that better than many others. It found me, and then I found out that I loved it!”

I was curious what it was like stepping back into the Critters film series last year when Dee appeared in the fifth entry, Critters Attack! (her first time returning since the 1986 original). She informs me; “It was a lot of fun. My first question for them was ‘are you doing the Critters CGI?,’ because if they were I wouldn’t have done it, and I think the fans would have been disappointed. But I read the script and met with the director, and I got to go to Cape Town, South Africa, so how bad could it be?!” (Laughs). I was also curious if Dee had kept up much with the various other sequels in the series, as well as the other long-standing horror franchise she had kicked off the original with (The Howling). She says; “Yeah, I was kind of like, been there, done that (laughs). Especially with The Howling series, they just had a different quality that didn’t really fit with who I am.”

I also wondered if it was odd for her at all to step into the role of a villain for the 1996 film The Frighteners. She says; “Oh God, I had so much fun doing that! I love to explore all of the different sides of me, and the psyche, and I just loved that arc of going from the little victim, to becoming the killer towards the end!”

Dee has also done a number of films with director Rob Zombie (who, coincidentally, I had also interviewed when I first got into journalism), and I always wondered how that relationship had originally developed. She explains; Well, “Rob loves to work with older, established, actors. He came after me for Halloween, and then he wrote the part of Sonny for me in Lords of Salem. And more recently he wanted to know if I would do this tough gal-type for 3 From Hell. He just always brings me interesting things, and doesn’t lock me into the same cubby holes a lot of people want to put me in.”

Knowing by now Wallace has probably been asked every question under the sun about her legendary role in E.T., I wanted to ask her something that perhaps she hadn’t heard before. So, I simply inquired what it was like to re-visit such a classic film all these years later. She tells me honestly; “I still cry, I still laugh. As we all know it’s just a magical movie, and has become a part of our consciousness. I never get tired of it, or talking about it – and I can’t say that about all of my movies (laughs). It opens hearts and reminds people of what’s really important, and we just need a lot more of that these days.”

And lastly, with Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to know if Dee considered E.T. a ‘Halloween’ movie. She replied; “It’s an everyday movie! It crosses all of the years, and all of the holidays, no matter what time of year it is!” Oh, and as far as that movie Dee was setting off to film? She leaves us with a cliffhanger; “I wish I could tell you what it is, but I can say it’s part of a franchise that hasn’t been visited in awhile, and I think fans are going to be very excited!” I can however say to check out the short film Stay Home, which Dee produced during the quarantine (check it out on Bloody Disgustings website today!).

Album Review: Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos (Loma Vista/Concord)

By: Jesse Striewski

Although I’m far from the Marilyn Manson fan I might have once been when I was fourteen, there’s still that part of me that will always be intrigued by what Manson does these days. I’m glad I took the time to listen to the band’s eleventh studio release, We Are Chaos, which sees them taking some surprisingly interesting new avenues with their sound.

One thing that has been disappointing about Manson in more recent times is the fact there’s no real “band” to speak of anymore, rather just random, faceless musicians that come and go through the fold. But despite this, Manson finds songwriting help via collaboration with Shooter Jennings, who definitely helps add new dimensions here. The two manage to unleash some dark, Bowie-inspired numbers in the form of “Broken Needle,” “Keep My Head Together,” and the title track.

But the standout here hands-down goes to “Don’t Chase the Dead,” which not only echos early ’80s Ministry, it also features a sleek music video featuring The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus and photographer Lindsay Usich. I always say to go in to things with an open mind, and the same applies with everything here. Give it a chance and you might find something you like.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Album Review: The Damned – The Rockfield Files EP (Spinefarm)

By: Jesse Striewski

My first introduction to The Damned back in the day came via their 1980 effort The Black Album, so the lineup my mind forever goes to is the one on that album, consisting of Vanian/Sensible/Scabies/Gray. Although it’s still not that exact same lineup here, having bassist Paul Gray back in the fold, as well as recording in the same place as said record (and its two follow-up releases), does give The Rockfield Files a hint of nostalgia to it.

“Keep ’em Alive” starts off this four track EP promising enough, but ultimately gets lost in its own repetitiveness. But “Manipulator” quickly puts things back into the right direction, while “The Spider the Fly” and “Black is the Night” each hearken back to the band’s most goth days, with the latter being the overall standout.

The Damned’s music may not be for everybody, but those familiar with their stuff should be able to appreciate something here. And having seen the band live a couple of times myself (the last time being well over 15 years ago now), it would definitely be interesting to see this lineup go out on the road, whenever the world finally gets back to those days.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Film Review: Hubie Halloween (Netflix/Happy Madison Productions)

By: Jesse Striewski

Adam Sandler is back to do his best, well, Adam Sandler, in this zany new Netflix romp (and just in time for Halloween). Directed by Steven Brill, the film follows the same formula of many a Sandler flick (even referencing several of his older films like Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison), but this time with a spooky twist.

Sandler plays the titular role of Hubie, a do-good “Halloween Helper” type who takes it upon himself to monitor his hometown (which of course is Salem, MA) on the big day, despite constant ridicule from his fellow townspeople. Things take a shift when his new neighbor Walter (played by Steve Buscemi) begins to display some “questionable” traits. From then on, Hubie progresses through virtually every Halloween cliche imaginable, including a drive-in, a Halloween party, and even a haunted house. A large ensemble cast that includes everyone from Kevin James, Julie Bowen, Tim Meadows, and even Shaq, help move the pacing along.

The film no doubt asks its viewers to suspend reality, and those actually willing to do it should find this a fun festive ride. Not overly crass, and harmless enough for older kids to enjoy, it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than what it actually is, and there’s no annoying hidden agendas in an effort to try to make it timely. If you grew up on holiday classics like Ernest Scared Stupid, this should be up your alley. So take a break from the endless social justice wars on social media (do they ever really change anyone’s opinions anyway?!) and take some time to just be a kid again.

Rating: 3/5 Stars