Saturday, July 18, 2015

Protest The Hero - Volition

♫ Well there was an undeniable time where I simply referred to new music as: "meh… I've heard all this before" or why should I bother even trying when someone already recorded a better version of it. So I explored rather the past as discovering new music. To be honest, now I realize I wasn’t quite ready for it. I've known PTH for quite some time but didn't give damn about it… reason explained in the paragraph above.

♫ I consider Volition their best effort, I had listened to it like zillion times and it still keeps me shaking till this day. The sonic speeding, the Nintendo sounding guitars, clean emotional yet aggressive singing style with occasional growl, sick drumming style and the virtuosic guitar tapping. Altogether creating maybe not so inventional sounding piece as it had been years before but it took some time for the whole band to grow into this. Not to mention the sound and production might be the perfect fit for the band and their style. It just feels and sounds right. This effort came out the best sounding of their 4 albums released till this day. PTH combines the sonic elements of hard core, metal core, math metal, heavy metal, djent to a very unique degree. It goes for me as the best album so far I heard in the last 5 years. Producer Cameron McLellan contributed also heavily alongside his obvious duties by performing several instruments on the album and also being active as composer, which also became a huge factor. ♫ To be honest my obsession with is album became so big that I not only bought the digipack version of the album but also ordered the digital book with transcribed guitar parts and made a t-shirt with the limited edition album cover.

Here goes the track by track review:

* 1. Clarity - first track of the album which I adored. It has the most memorable intro riff from whole album and as a concept it's just well-balanced in its dynamics, full of mood changes and great story telling.

* 2. Drumhead Trial - Love the tight beat in the intro, the sonic Nintendo like sounding guitars are most audible here :).

* 3. Tilting Against Windmills

* 4. Without Prejudice

* 5. Yellow teeth - double bass drum beat throughout the whole song with grooving rhythm for head banging and builds up very nicely to the end.

* 6. Plato's Tripartite - one of the mellowest songs on here, with nice trade off with female vocals in the end. Great melodic sing a long chorus.

* 7. A Life Embossed - exact opposite of number six, the thin air, aggressive vocals, different changes of moods, lot of political views.

* 8. Mist - A tribute / ode to one of the bands favorite places to play - New Found Land, mellowest song and most radio-friendly one on the album.

* 9. Underbite - Lyrics tell a parody to all the bands playing out of nostalgia and posers. Most hardcore influenced song on the album.

* 10.Animal Bones - Might be considered a filler on the album if we had to pick one but very strong song though.

* 11. Skies - Albums closer with every ingredients needed, dramatic build up till the end. A definite statement at the end.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

RETRO REVIEW: Mother Love Bone - Apple (1990) "Transition from glam rock to grunge at change of the decades"

♫ After listening to this album and being able to truly appreciate it, I always ask my question what could have been… At the time of its original release it was just an album with… But now looking back, with a more historical view you can easily put it between the 80's hair metal sound and 90's grunge or alternative rock if you like as some fusion of the two worlds that won't collide (at least that's the precedence). But this collision makes perfect sense to me.

♫ I knew about this album for very long, but couldn’t set up my mind to comprehend it. It had this sleazy yet anxious vocals, it was fun, yet deep, it was funky yet straight forward and had many more of those opposites attributes, which left me constrained. Basically I couldn't classify this record in my own personal library - I mean, I appreciate music to be diverse and unique and don't like to toss bands in one bag and tag them with one genre, but this one just didn't fit. I love each decade of music for what it was and listen to grunge and glam with equal passion.

♫ I would put this record on par with Alice in Chains' Facelift which manage to fuse those genres on their debut as well but somehow that one was more obvious. That's why I love Mother Love Bone's effort so much, it has their deceased singer personality all over it, the temporary state of the rock sound, the whole mixture just blends together tastefully. As mentioned this album has strong historical meaning to me, it surely made his mark, but I would put in a rock 'n roll encyclopedia with the note for every newbie saying that this sound marks the natural transition of the decades, which was hardly replicated later.

♫ Lead singer of this band named Andrew Wood died prior of this album's release, like other rock stars, it was drug related, but this is just a fact. The album created hype, sold very well (Platinum in the US) considering this to be a disbanded act at the time of its release. The unanswered question is, what impact would it have if the band would go on tour and promote the album and would this album be the defining one of the 90's or their subsequent release. That's the mystery it creates for me when you listen to it. But like from any other bad thing, something beautiful is born which proofs that the circle of life exists in music as well. The newborn was Pearl Jam, which started out little but came out big, but that's another story.

  • 10 out of 10 Earphorical Points
  • Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Black Mesa - MOD - Half-Life REMASTERED at its finest !!!

    First off I 'd like to start with my appreciation for Half Life. The most of us are aware of what landmark this game had and continues to have on the gaming industry.

    • Back in the day when I've got my first computer, friends kept throwing games at me which just came out or which had been available when the dark ages of dial-up internet connection was still disturbing our PC's peaceful spinning hard drive and fan noise with its robotic-analog Morse code like sounds.

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    • I remember grabbing a bunch of cd's with games as soon as my friends left and let me play a game which wasn't so hot back then. I made my choice - Half Life it said. It was already an established in multiplayer genre and making its cut with it Counter Strike which I couldn't stand at all as it was just too boring for me in the meant time. CS might also had been the reason why I had given a shot for the game in the first place and also because our computer classes were more about shooting our pie holes in the multiplayer of this game - more specific - the map Crossfire, than truly being able to learn what computers can do for us and not just consider them as an entertaining platform.

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    • Well after inserting the disk into the drive and finally making it through its short installation process until hitting the shortcut to start the game, I made it through the intro section of the game which to this day I find a disgrace for not being able to skip it to get to the more interactive part. While the excitement level still was at the hesitation of hitting quit and let it rest on desktop for a while until hitting uninstall before disk space comes short, I managed to survive through the intro, which of course I was able to fully appreciate later after I could appreciate a computer game as a "Work of Art !" some time later.

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    • As for black mesa, I was hyped for this mod for so long. It kept on winning upcoming mod of the year awards year after year and after being able to take a deep breath when realizing its development's still not dead, I passed until a release date was set. By that time a I was such a huge fan of the series that I took a day off from work, just to be able to download the mod as fast as possible and play it the first thing in the morning. At least that were my imagination of what it should have been.

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    • I remember the release date just like yesterday… As I'm from Europe, the downloads were not open until late afternoon and in addition to that, their server just couldn't handle the demand. Finally a torrent was uploaded and saved the day for me.

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    • As much as I have been looking forward to play the mod I could not appreciate it with its beauty and I couldn't get rid of that feeling of disappointment while I was still trying to have as much fun as possible. I remember setting my expectation wrong as I was looking for something which made the game a port into a new engine with richer environment while keeping its main element - story line - true to the original. Not to mention that the chapter "On a rail" and few other level were cut in comparison to the original. Its final chapter "Xen" was also completely left out and is still omitted from the mod, but this was known prior to its release and I didn’t care much for it. So the initial impression after completing the game were miserable although I knew that my judgment wasn't objective and I wasn't able to process the experience for what it was either. So I put it aside with the thought I will get back to it one day. The last thing I remembered was that mod ran horrible in its final scene prior teleporting yourself as the mighty Gordon Freeman to Xen where the mod also ended. It was a slideshow at its best. Found out later that this was actually a a bug and still remains in the most recent version. As soon as you are killed and there is some intensive fight going on, then the framerate drops to 15 FPS and below after you load your last save, making it hardly playable. Same goes for the Nihilanth (final boss) fight at the very end of the game.

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    • Since the release date, new content has been added while Xen is still missing from the game and being in its alpha development stage (a quite impressive one for an alpha), it now feels as complete as possible. So I recently done a re-play of the whole package available as of now and was stunned.

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    • I'm not the biggest fan of remastered games but at the same time it's important to keep their legacy alive, while there is no doubt that Half Life will not be forgotten anytime soon, it deserved a bit of a revamp as much as any other gem in the gaming industry. I hope that Black Mesa gets more support and will be more refined in the future, because let's not forget that the project was freely available while offering a paid-game experience.

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    •Last but not least, the modders thought of everything and created their own soundtrack for the game, which of course doens't leave a single doubt about the greatness of this project.

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      • So what could be done to improve it:
    • ♦ MAPS AND LOCATIONS: while I know this game by heart, there are some sections that were left out, although I can't point specific parts, but some transition between levels or maps seem weird and my sense still tells me that there is something missing.
    • ♦ ENEMY AI: Not to mention gameplay difficulty seems somehow easier and other times unbalanced, but there is a lack of proper scripting as for behaviour of the enemies. I had often find myself to discover NPC's standing still I didn't approach them by certain paths. On the other hand I must praise the AI as it's different from original HL yet caught me by surprise and the movement can't be predicted.
    • ♦ VALVE SUPPORT: This game was one of the first to be voted for Steam's green light yet it's still missing from the steam library. I would really expect more support from Valve for such a masterpiece of a mod, but we all know how unpredictable this company is. I still believe one day it will show up on Steam and will be finally marked as completed to reach even a wider audience.
    • ♦ XEN: A game changer that is, if you already thought that the game has become repetitive by running through the facilities of Black Mesa, it serves you even a bigger surprise and you have to adapt your game play style now of rather wide open world than the one of a lab rat.

    ☺ RATING: Priceless - something made by pure enthusiasts and fanatics to create some kind of tribute to one of the greatest. You still have to own HL2 though, which every steam library should contain.

    Black Mesa

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    Foo Fighter - Sonic Highways REVIEW

    Sonic Highways unifies the the most prominent sights of each
    each of the cities where the album was recorded a is the kind
    you can stare for long and still discover something new.
    Making it a CLASSIC already.
    • Over the last couple of years Dave Grohl has become a very well respected person colliding with a rock legend which this man already is as the drummer of THE defining band of the 90's. Although it took him a few of years until he lost his brand of his previous assignment and started to be fully respected for what his doing, which was well deserved.
    • The Foo Fighters are a new wave and punk influenced rock band which some people still would call grunge, but they had developed their own very distinctive sound and since their debut album remain stellar sounding 20 years later which isn't a bad thing as they were able to keep things interesting more or less on every album and tend to avoid sound very repetitive.
    • This means that you can't expect anything new in terms of direction or progression on this album, but needless to say, you get exactly what you looking for. THIS is a Foo's record at its finest. Basically every song is so distinctive and tells its own story like the accompanying Grohl's document Sonic Highways which is being broadcasted on HBO and leaves you with a much stronger impression of the whole 9 song package. It's a very clever marketing decision but if it there so much undeniable quality to all of it, you're left with a very little to no chance to hesitate that these guys are true to what they are doing. Regardless of the media attention to this release, which is huge for a rock band these days… the Foo Fighters hit their pinnacle. It might not be their commercial height but this just makes them the ultimate rock band of today and they pretty much secured their spot in rock 'n roll chronicles. If you want to disagree then name a band which recorded their album in 8 different cities and made a tribute to each one of them by recording a song and shooting a insightful documentary about their contemporary music scene.
    • 9 out of 10 Earphorical Points