'Ad Lucem' Mini Movie
Roger Berzerk Fauske
Seattle rockers Queensrÿche, never ones to rest on their laurels, released 'Ad Lucem', their 'mini movie' with the tracks 'Spore', 'Midnight Lullaby', 'A World Without' and 'X2' providing the score to the 10-plus minute story.
The band of course are well known for their storytelling (that's 'Operation Mindcrime' rather than Jackanory) and taking mostly successful directions with their music that other bands just don't think of. So after their return to former glory with the self titled album released earlier this year, complete with new line-up and the Tate days long behind them, musically if not legally, another standard album should have been the last thing to be expected from the band.
The film was created by Veva Entertainment Co. with director Daniel Andres Gomez Bagby and producer Marco De Molina and was filmed on location at Central City Stages in Los Angeles.
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Vocalist Todd LaTorre had this to say about the film: "The overall theme of the song 'Spore' is one that deals with personal demons, relationship struggles, career pressures, personal/professional morals and ethical dilemmas. These are issues we all face on some level and the video touches upon them all.
"'Midnight Lullaby'/'A World Without' deals with the loss of a mother during childbirth, leaving a father as a single parent and struggling to move forward through the turmoil. X2, though it opens up our album, provides for a nice outro to it all. The end result is a roller coaster of emotion in an effort to find a healthy resolve. Given our history, we feel that this multifaceted conceptual video, along with a great cast of actors to suit, will really resonate with our fans."
The first question, albeit one of semantics, is whether film or video is the right word to use. Lengthwise it is no longer than a lot of single song music videos, but the subject matter and content goes a lot further than could be covered with one song. And the music isn't the overriding factor, the film content stands up on its own so it is a lot more than a mere music video. Now that is out of the way, what is it all about?
At the beginning of the film, there is more than just a mild throwback to 'Mindcrime' – phone ringing, whispered voice on phone, only this is police not a hospital. The feel of it is very 'Mindcrime' like, and there will be some who claim that the band are still living off that and using its essence in this.
They may have a point if it were a different band, but it is still Queensrÿche, albeit in a different guise and 'Mindcrime' was several light years ahead of its time so stylistically it isn't at all dated.
The initial scene involves two brothers, one turning the other in, a cop gone bad (aren't they all) and subsequently beating several bells out of his sibling who not surprisingly ends up in a hospital. In hospital, he has a rather attractive blonde nurse (I'm sick, I really am, take me to that ward) and things develop between the two of them, but not in a syringe and medication kind of a way.
The track 'Spore' is the backing track to this segment and works very well indeed, lyrically and musically.
As the film moves on, the two of them end up getting married and a couple of dirty deeds later she is on the hospital bed about to give birth. This part of it has 'Midnight Lullaby'/'A World Without' as the music and given the tone of the film, it will come as no surprise that seconds after hearing the new born baby's first screams, the new mother dies and the main protagonist of the film, her husband, goes into an alcohol fuelled depression, seeing visions of his dead wife looking after the baby and that vision stopping him blowing his brains out.
Four years later, one of the early scenes is repeated with him leaving his office, going down to the basement car park and encountering his brother again, only this time he embraces him rather than battering him. And that is that.
There are a few poignant and well placed images in the film, such as the original picture on his desk of him and his brother now replaced by one of his daughter but you will have to watch it to see them all.
It seems a little strange in a way to be reviewing something by one of my all time favourite bands and not mentioning the music too much. That has been covered in the review of the album and in case you wondered it is a damn fine album (if you did wonder, why the hell do you not own it yet).
But the storyline and film itself is really what this is all about. Yes, without the music and its poignant lyrics this wouldn't have happened, but it is almost a graphical representation, or more correctly one of many possible representations, of the music.
And the best bit is that the film side stands up on its own – it may be short but it would be easy to imagine a longer version and I can honestly say it kept me on the edge of my seat.
There may be the question of some being disappointed because the music does take a back seat with talking over the top of it, but it is not merely a vehicle to promote the tracks, rather a package of film and music.
As I already mentioned, there are several points in proceedings that Mindcrime is revisited, although not in content, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Watch it and judge for yourself.
All in all this is another impressive bit of work from the Seattle fellas. There must be something they don't do very well but I have yet to find out exactly what it is. Now there's a thought, both the UK and over the pond in the USA are a bit screwed up so I just wondered if the boys had ever thought of going into politics. Revolution calling anyone?