Geek in the City

Mixing pop culture news, reviews, and socially biting commentary with mildly amusing entertainment.

Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross – Review

aka… Shedding the Blood of the Saxon Men!

Like all good drama nerds and RPG freaks, I have a mad love for European Prod Metal. Give me an album that only has one or two tracks, but tells metallic tales of storming Asgard or battles upon the fields of Ireland, I’m in! Fans of this type of music fall into one of a few camps. The frustrated musician with three separate music theory degrees, is huge in Belgium, but has to deliver pizza back in the states. There is the dill hole that finds this kind of music simply amusing, something to play for their friends in their iPod while waiting in line for Modest Mouse. Then, there are people like me. We don’t know music theory. We don’t get listening for ironies sake. What we do get it epic. We love it. We simply know epic when we hear it, we want to share it with all our RPG friends!

Enter Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross

Sir Christopher Lee’s newest endeavour with composer and musical producer Marco Sabiu, is a metal concept album of the highest caliber.

The title says exactly what you will find within this most glorious of releases – This is a symphonic metal re-telling of Charlemagne’s rise to power and why history recounts his rule as the one that united Europe.

Sabiu does pull off a rather daunting task. He is able to meld a 200 person orchestra with traditional Metal trappings, narration, and honest to God medieval battle sound effects.

Truly, history has never sounded for damn epic. Seriously – I’m pretty certain you earn 200 Experience Points with each listening.

What did shock me was Sir Christopher Lee. We all know he has that stunning voice and presence. I mean, how many actors can claim to have personified Saruman, Dracula, the Man with Golden Gun, and a Sith Lord with such power? What I didn’t expect was that at 87 years-old, his Lordship can hold one hell of a note. Indeed, an album such as Charlemagne will succeed or fail on Lee’s performance. It really shouldn’t have surprised me after all these years that Lee brings a skill and dignity that requires all involved to rise.

This is an album you wish one would stage as a full theatrical performance, but for that to occur, Sir Lee will need to live forever – Something that just might happen considering his work ethic. The man simply doesn’t want to stop working.

Like all historical performances, we witness the rise and fall of King Charlemagne. By the Sword and the Cross takes an interesting approach of starting at Charlemagne’s death bed to tell his epic tale. If the album had one flaw, it is the female narration. It is not her voice that distracts, but Sabiu’s choice to have her simply speak the connecting narrations; rather than an operatic bridge. As a listener, I know these moments are required to move the story along, but they pull the listener from the musical world of Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross.

Thankfully, the symphonic metal kicks in rather quickly. Soon followed by Christopher Lee’s booming voice. (I know I keep going on about this, but he truly does sound epic). Yes, I will be honest, there will be times when you hear “You will not know pain, you will not know fear. You will taste man-flesh!” Still, those moments are fleeting and in a strange way only enhance the overall impact of the album.

Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross is not background listening. Charlemagne, the King of the Franks, demands your full attention.

The album is available now for download or you can buy a physical copy on April 20 – In the Year of Our Lord 2010.


Wee Bit ‘O Housekeeping

Greetings Programs. First, the bad news. Due to rogue dog tales and power cords, there won’t be a new Issue of GeekintheCity Radio this week, to make up for it we’ve already startted planning for a double-sized annual for next week!

But now the good news. GeekintheCity is hiring! Kinda.

We’re looking for someone with a passion for music to be the sites next Music Review Geek. We’ve got a stack of scores coming our way with nary the personal to listen and review them. Maybe that person is you? The pay? Well, that all depends on how many people read and respond to your reviews. That, and you get to keep all the CDs we receive. (Trust me, if you’re into movie scores, that is a lot of CDs).

So, if you want to take a shot at Internet glory (heh), head on over to the Contact page and drop me a line.


Tis Tha’ Captain’s Birthday!

That’s right friends, join your friendly neighborhood Geek in wishing the best of birthdays to the one and only, Dan Clark. Or, as his drunken brethren call him, Captain Redgoat! (Don’t ask, it won’t make any sense unless you’re 3 grogs in).

What better way to celebrate than to welcome our newest sponsor, Things From Another World. See that shiny banner up there? That is but a sample of the massive savings you will find this coming Friday (11/27). Why is this a good way to celebrate Dan’s birthday? Simple, now I can afford to get him a belated birthday gift. Pop on over to the Things From Another World site, check out their swag and thank them for supporting GeekintheCity and local Portland media!

Okay, so maybe there is another way you can join the bearded captain as he checks off another year.

HeathenFest at the Hawthorne Theater. No, this isn’t some Wiccan drum-circle with women and men in robes* dumping bees on Nicholas Cage… On no, it is far more epic and glorious! Five, count them, five ear thrashing pagan metal bands from across the pond have made landing in Portland, OR to bring the savagery that is umlaut metal to the masses.

Come see Dan and his crew in their natural habitat… Yelling and drinking with many wenches as these bands destroy your ears. It all starts tonight at 7pm! I’ll be there, you should too. (Damn, I am so gonna’ want to game after tonight)

Milorg [American Trailer]

Vreid | MySpace Music Videos

Kivimetsän Druidi – Jäässä Varttunut official music video

Kivimetsän Druidi (at Heathenfest America now) | MySpace Music Videos


BELPHEGOR [ New Album Out! ] | MySpace Music Videos


* Okay, so maybe a few people in robes, but you get my point.

Mayhem of the Music Meister…or…

…how to get your kid to prance and sing while tossing Batarangs at their little sister! (Because she totally deserved it! I mean, she was about to rob the First Bank of Greyskull)!

Mayhem of the Music Meister Cover

Let me make an admission right now. An admission that will elicit a grip of “wah” from all sides of the Bat-Universe. First, while I can appreciate the Baby Boomer love of the Adam West Batman series, I’m not the biggest fan. Second, I am a massive fan of Batman’s newest animated representation: The Brave and the Bold. I mean, within a season we had Gorilla Bats riding a Tyrannosaurs Rex with Plastic Man, Batman and Wesley Crusher, Batman and Bat-Mite. Bat-Mite people! And now? Now we get a Broadway style musical episode starring the most awesome part of Starship Troopers that doesn’t involve boobies or Michael Ironside. Neil Patrick Harris is the dastardly, despicable, disturbingly, and inexplicable MUSIC MEISTER!

Sorry, got a little wrapped up in the moment. Once a drama nerd, always a drama nerd.

Not going to bother with an episode recap, short of saying the Music Meister can control anyone with his melodic voice. Not only can he command them, but they also must sing and dance as they carry out his nefarious plans.

How awesome is that?

Thankfully, the folks at Warner Brothers Music were savvy enough to know that we comic book nerds have a love of the theatrical and released a soundtrack to the episode.

Track 1 – Batman: The Brave and the Bold Theme – Andy Sturmer’s theme is top notch superhero excitement, even if it does feel slightly “inspired” by The Incredibles Theme.

Track 2 – I’m the Music Meister – A classic opening tune. The players, good and bad, revealed; with the villain receiving a bombastic appearance! I mean, how many other musical numbers can you think of include Green Arrow and Gorilla Grodd in a West Side Story style dance number? Yeah, I know, epic!

Track 3 – Drives us Bats – Apart from track 2, this is my favorite track in the score. A musical lament from the various villains that inhabit Gotham City, Drives Us Bats is a big, wet, and dorky kiss to old school Batman fans. Batusi? Check. Shark Repellent? Yup. Egghead? Well, no, that would just be over the top.

Track 4 – If Only – Black Canary gives us listeners a superhero love ballad that reminds us that every superheroes need tender love and companionship. Um, after swinging from rooftops and busting hoods. They can save the world, but can they save their hearts? (Insert “ahhhh”).

Track 5 – Death Trap – What’s that I hear? Yup, it is denouement time theater lovers! The vile Music Meister belts out all the horrendous ways he intends to drop the final curtain on the Caped Crusader. You just try and not strut down the isle to this little diddy.

Track 6 – The World is Mine – Oh no! Evil has won! Let the felonious monologuing begin, with Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass backing him up. (Okay, it isn’t really Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, but it sure sounds like it and we drama dorks are better for it). Thankfully, Batman doesn’t just train his body and mind for overcoming evil. Oh no, The Dark Knight Detective is also one hell of a Tenor. Glass shatters! The Bat-Voice saves the day! Huzzah!

Track 7 – If Only (reprise) – Batman may have saved the skilled Black Canary, but it is Green Arrow that caught her heart. Batman fights and sings, as always, alone.

Track 8 – and Drive Us Bats (End Credits) – An Arkham Chorus Line. What more need I write?

If you love big, loud, and slightly self-referential musicals; then you really should run out and pick up a copy of Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Mayhem of the Music Meister. Just don’t blame me if you get caught prancing about your home in a home-made Batman cape. Not that I would know anything about that.

Geek in the City Radio Issue 39 – Final GitC Horror Show!

Thrill as Aaron, Scott, & Dan delve into their favorite whimsical horror films. (Well, except Dan, but it isn’t his fault). Then, kick back and chill as Aaron talks about Michael Jackson’s final performance in the film This Is It. Next, Scott gives his thoughts on recent PDX Radio “Unpleasantness”. All that plus talking with goats and an invasion by a long-time “friend” of Geek in the City Radio! Don’t forget to email for your chance at a DVD copy of Battlestar Galactica – The Plan. Where else but GeekintheCity Radio!?

This weeks musical breaks are:

Terror at the Red Wolf InnAaron Omen

In the GraveyardChurch For Sinners

Remember, if you are in a band or know of one that you’d like to hear on GeekintheCity Radio – Drop Aaron an email here.

Download the new issue HERE

Toy of the Week - October 30