Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Belated Halloween!

Happy Belated Halloween everyone! Since its that time of year again, we’re gonna look at something in tune with the season. This is the Top 8 Scariest Moments in Gaming!

Honorable Mention: The Pack from Dead Space 2

Is there anything scarier than a demonic little monster kid who’s trying to kill you? The answer to that is no. The only reason these little bastards are only an honorable mention is because I only played the demo for this game. But holy crap, are they scary. I mean, the regular necromorphs are freaky and whatnot, but you throw a little kid version in there, and that ups the nightmare-fuel by about a thousand. Add to the fact they come in rather large groups, and you have a whole roomful of these things ready to tear you limb from limb.

Honorable Mention 2- Old Tien’s Landing- Jade Empire

Old Tien’s Landing is a town that was flooded by the building of a dam. And the people in charge graciously declined to tell the people living there that they were going to get flooded out. As a result, when the floodgates closed, nobody was prepared and a lot of people drowned. Add to that fact the dead are unable to rest, and you have a nice little setup for creepiness. Now it isn’t so much that the ghosts do anything. They don’t attack you, they don’t talk to you (with only two exceptions), they just float around in the air above you. And there’s just something eerie and weird about it. There’s some ghostly ambience, but it’s not everywhere or all that loud, so they’re more or less just drift about silently. 

8. Baal’s reveal from Diablo II

It may be twelve years since its release, and maybe technology has improved since then, but I still love the between-act cinematics for Diablo II. In them, this guy named Marius is relating to the Archangel Tyrael, his story in how he got caught up with the Dark Wanderer (Diablo in disguise) and the events that transpired. For the epilogue cinematic of act 4, which is the end of the game, it is revealed that Marius isn’t talking to Tyrael at all, but Baal, one of the Prime Evils. This of course leads into the expansion, or act 5. Just that one flash of the light when you realize “oh shit, this was Baal all along”, and what follows, really sets up the idea that this shit just got real. It’s a really nice cliffhanger sort of end to the original game and a great setup to the Lord of Destruction expansion.

7. Scarecrow hallucinations- Batman: Arkham Asylum

  What’s more fun than running around the outside of a square area trying to get from one end to the other? How about doing so with a giant, needle-fingered Scarecrow that’s trying to kill you? And this one is not nearly as charming as Cilian Murphy. And it just happens, you get thrown into a nightmare, such as the death of your parents, the ‘death’ of Commissioner Gordon, and replaying the first scene of the game with Batman and Joker’s places switched. Dr. Jonathan Crane is a master of fear, and this game makes sure you don’t forget that.

6. The Dead Hand- the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

This game has a lot of weird, odd, and even downright cartoony villains. But creepy, that title goes to the Dead Hand. This thing looks like it crawled out of a Resident Evil game; long clawed tentacle arms around the room that grab you, a mutated, deformed looking body that looks like its covered in blood, the arms on the body ending in spikes. Even the way it moves, when on the surface, is creepy. Oh yes, the damn thing moves underground. You only encounter this creature twice in the game, but that’s more than enough to get freaked out by this survival-horror escapee.

5. Children’s Library- Ghostbusters (2009)

This part is both creepy and sad. In the library level, you go into the children’s reading room. In there you can hear ghost children talking, there’s some poltergeist action, and handprints appear on the wall. When you leave the room, one of the voices says “Bye”. That, in combination with the fact its dark , just cements that this is the eeriest, and saddest, room you’ll encounter.

4. Ravenholm- Half Life 2 
                                      This is a double-speed Yakety Sax run. You've been warned.
Ah, Ravenholm. A nice little town. Well-lit, safe, with friendly locals just waiting to greet you, and a lovely ambience. So pack up the car, bring the kids, and come on down to Ravenholm, a great place for the whole family. Okay, back to serious. This place has creepy written all over it. This is the poster-child for fucking creepy. 

3. “Welcome” to Rapture- Bioshock. 
After a very cool cinematic in which your bathysphere shows you the sights and majesty of Rapture, you find yourself docked in a very dark room (at 5:25 in this video). With this lovely lady, who after eviscerating some nameless son of a bitch, proceeds to try and give you her own personal welcome to the city. It’s then you realize, maybe this isn’t going to be as pleasant as I’d hoped. And then the game actually starts and you realize you’ve jumped from the plane crash into the underwater city full of drugged-up psychos. Good times.

2. Hespith’s Chant- Dragon Age: Origins

I don’t know what’s more terrifying about this entry; the thing itself, or the implications of it. In the Deep Roads (one of my favorite parts of the game), you encounter Hespith, who is apparently the last survivor of the party led by the Paragon Branka (whom you are looking for). After reciting her rhyme to you while unseen, you'll later find her and talk to her in person. She tells you about what the darkspawn do to female prisoners. Not long after, you encounter the broodmother, formerly a dwarven woman named Laryn. In my first playthrough of the game, I did so as a Dwarf Noble (also my favorite origin). When I got to this part, I came to the realization of "holy shit, that could have been me! If not for the Wardens, that would be my character!" So not only was Hespith herself creepy, and the broodmothers and their creation unsettling, but the realization that this was almost the fate of my own character, puts this at number 2. 

1. David Archer: Project Overlord- Mass Effect 2
                                          Skip to 5:26 to see what I mean

Maybe it's my fault for playing this late at night. But I tell you, when that computer static started shrieking at me, and then the giant pixel face, I nearly shit myself. And it happens several times. And then shit like this (at 13:52) goes down and you're thinking WTF is going on here? Once you do find out what's going on, it's no less horrifying, except now the reasons are different. This ending gives you one of BroShep's best performances as well, so that's gotta say something right there*. Not matter how you end this, even Paragon like me, you can't help but feel sad and horrified by the whole thing. And you realize that if in a Bioware game, never trust a character voiced by Simon Templemann. It's pretty intense. But as far as creepy goes, those damn jump scares really did it. 

 *Despite my being an exclusive player of FemShep.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed the list, despite being rather late for Halloween. Until next time all!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top 10 Anticipated Games of 2010 Follow-Up

Well since we are starting into August, I thought it was high time to do a bit of a follow-up to the list I did at the beginning of the year on the CWTC blog regarding my most anticipated games of 2011. I outlined 10 games slated for release this year, and why it was I was looking forward to them. Now that the year is a bit more than half over, let’s see what kind of progress we have made on that list I put together back in December. In addition to that, I am including a mini demo review of a game that while it didn’t make my personal top 10, it was one that a lot of people have been waiting a long time for.

11. Demo Review- Duke Nukem Forever

This game has been a long time coming. Twelve years in fact, stuck in development hell and passed around from developer to developer. Now it’s here. I know the full game is out now, but I am going from the demo, which I played at my sister’s the other day. Let me say, I’m not impressed. Welcome to yet another modern first person shooter, to join the countless ranks already present. Well, this one is a little different. It’s incredibly crude and juvenile. If you’re looking for crude humor that’s got some wit to it, this is not your game. This is middle-school, sniggering teenage boy in sex ed humor. I didn’t have high hopes for the game when it begins with you having the option to use a urinal, or fling feces if you’re inclined. Sorry Duke, I’m not sure it was worth the wait. Give it a try if you’re a fan, but if you’re not, I’d say skip it.

10. Max Payne 3

Much like poor Duke Nukem above, this game has been rumoured and floating around for years. Unlike Duke Nukem, we’re still waiting to see if Max will get a third instalment. Apparently the game is still in development, but who knows when, if it ever, gets released. So we’ll have to see.

9. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

This one we are still waiting on, as it is scheduled for Q4 of this year. Also, I’m still without a Wii console, so that might make things tricky.

8. Batman: Arkham City

I’m sure the Cynic and/or I will let you all know how this one is when it comes out in October. Until then, there is a five-issue comic arc that connects this to the first game written by Paul Dini (for anyone not in the know, the writer from Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the first game and much, much more). If we can get our hands on said comics, I’m sure the Cynic will let you all know how they are.

7. Marvel vs. Capcom 3

I hate to say it, but this game was rather disappointing. It was bare, with few features to make it stand out, and did not live up to the legacy of the first two games. The art style was pretty cool, using similar graphics to Street Fighter IV, but the lack of play modes really dragged it down. Now apparently there is an ultimate edition coming in November with new character, modes, and stages, stuff which probably should have been in the game to begin with. At least we still have Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (thank you X-Box Live!)

6. Star Wars: The Old Republic

And here I was itching to get back into MMO’s. This game has been pushed back, at least to around Christmas time, although next year wouldn’t surprise me either. So we go back to the waiting game. I guess I’ll just have to be patient about getting my Twi’lek Jedi Guardian. *sigh*

5. Portal 2

Now I should have already played this game. Unfortunately, there was a bunch of moving BS and gaming kind of got pushed to the back burner. Now that things have calmed down, I will try and get my hands on this and see how it is. I’m still very excited for this game, and hopefully can give it a try soon.

4. Mass Effect 3

Everybody who wanted this for Christmas, put it on your Easter lists instead. We’re looking at next March before we get to play our Shepards through the third and final game of the series. While it sucks we have to wait a couple extra months, I believe it will all be worth it in the end. And it gives me a chance to do a few more ME and ME2 run-throughs, not to mention some of that DLC.

3. Diablo III

If I know Blizzard, I’d say don’t expect this anytime soon. Beta testing is projected to begin Q3 of this year. ’Nuff said. Still, very excited, as I recently began playing Diablo II again and I can’t wait for my lady Barbarian so I can wreak havoc.

2. Mortal Kombat

I’ve already written my views on that game, so I’ll reiterate. Holy shit! This is a fighting game. This is what Marvel vs. Capcom 3 should have been. This is Mortal Kombat and fighting games at their finest, no doubt about that. Even Roland loved it, and he’ll still exclaim ‘Kaba!’ whenever he sees something MK related. As soon as we can, this is a definite buy. And to Netherrealm Studios: you guys did a beyond awesome job. Thanks for giving one of my favorite franchises the love it deserves.

1. Dragon Age II

Now this game met with mixed reviews. But I’ve made my opinions perfectly clear. BioWare characters suck me in, the cultures suck me in, and the voice acting is always superb. Really, you don’t need to hear me gush any more.

So there you have it folks, a quick rundown of my anticipated games of this year and how they've turned out so far. Stay tuned for updates as I will talk about the forthcoming games as they are released, or as we get closer to said release dates. Cause really, that's about all we can do.

Until next time!

(Sorry about the lack of pictures. The slow as molasses dial-up internet makes the process almost impossible.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

30 (Day) Song Challenge

Since I've been away from the blog for awhile, I thought I would do something up while I have the opportunity. The Cynic did one of these for movies on the CWTC blog a little while ago, and that got me thinking. However, music is more my thing, so I found the music version of the 30 day challenge, and let's get cracking!

1. Your Favorite Song- Foolin' by Def Leppard
My favorite song of the moment changes by day, but overall, I have to go with Foolin'. Given that Def Leppard is my favorite band, that should be no surprise. My first Leppard album was Pyromania, taped from vinyl backwards so this was the first song. I just love it every time I hear it, and I've even had the privilege to see it performed live twice. You can't beat it.

2. Your Least Favorite Song- Blah, Blah, Blah by K$sha
This has got to be the most irritating, grating, sonic assault on the planet. From the inane, trashy lyrics, to the cringe-worthy beat to Kesha's nails-on-a-chalkboard vocals you just want to stick sharp pencils in your ears. Yuck.

3. A Song that Makes You Happy- Still Alive from the game Portal
The female robot boss from the game Portal singing a cheerful little song about how you didn't actually manage to kill her. Twisted, but you can't help but smile. A close second to this would be the level music from Plants vs. Zombies with is both cute and cheerful, just like the plants themselves.

4. A Song that Makes You Sad- the Christmas Shoes song
I don't know who sings this, but it has got to be the saddest, most depressing song ever. The worst part is that it's a Christmas song. I nearly started bawling at work one time when this was on (although I was pregnant). But even now, it's still way to sad, especially for a season that's supposed to be about joy.

5. A Song that Reminds you of Someone- Sister Christian by Night Ranger
This is kind of an in joke between me and my sister, and this song makes me think of her everytime.

6. A Song that Reminds you of Somewhere- Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry
This song was huge when I still went to the bar. Couldn't really think of anything else.

7. A Song that Reminds you of a Certain Event- Rock On by Def Leppard
I remember seeing this song live at my first ever concert. I remember how the title clicked (it's a cover of the old David Essex song) during Rick Savage's bass intro. Good times.

8. A Song you Know All the Words To- anything by Def Leppard
I know the words to lots and lots and lots of songs lol.

9. A Song that You Can Dance To- Stricken by Disturbed
For some reason I have to at least bob my head to this song. I don't 'dance' per se, as I lack the coordination. Something about it makes me want to move.

10. A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep- Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer
I am NOT a fan of the 'frat guy with a guitar' type of music, and something about John Mayer is alternatively irritating and boring. This song is both, with an emphasis on boring. Come on man, pick up the friggin' pace on this one, or wake me up once it's done.

11. A Song From Your Favorite Band- Work it Out by Def Leppard
A great song with a cool video from an underappreciated album (Slang). Well worth checking out.

12. A Song from a Band You Hate- Viva La Vida by Coldplay
I hate Coldplay with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

13. A Song that is a Guilty Pleasure- E.T (Futuristic Lover) by Katy Perry
My sister played this one for me earlier today. I'm referring to the non-Kanye version. Katy Perry's singing is overwrought and the lyrics are beyond silly, but I kinda dig the beat. I feel dirty now.

14. A Song that No One Would Expect you to Love- Step Into the Light by Darren Hayes
I was hooked on Darren Hayes from the first Savage Garden album and into his solo career. I know a lot of people see me as solely a classic rock/metalhead, but here is where I make an exception. This is no guilty pleasure, I genuinely love his music and I have no problem proclaiming it.

15. A Song that Describes You- Livin' After Midnight by Judas Priest
Simply for my night owl ways, not so much the all-night partying (any more lol).

16. A Song that You Used to Love But now Hate- What I've Done by Linkin Park
Now I don't think I hate this song, but think it's just kind of blah. It just seems a waste of the talents of the whole band. It's meh at best.

17. A Song You Hear Often on the Radio-Sorry to say, but I don't listen to the radio

18. A Song you Wish You Heard on the Radio- Indestructible by Disturbed
I never hear any Disturbed on the radio. Someone should change that.

19. A Song from Your Favorite Album- Touch of Evil by Judas Priest
If I had to go on favorite album by how many times I've listened to it, it would be Painkiller due to the fact it makes excellent driving music so it's put on in the car a lot. And Roland likes it.

20. A Song You Listen to When Your Angry- Mein Teil by Rammstein
There is nothing better for a bad mood than Rammstein. You just let it wash over you, rock out, and then you feel better.

21. A Song You Listen to When Your Happy- Trust by Megadeth
I've become quite a bit of a Megadeth fan in the last little while. It's always a good time for Megadeth.

22. A Song You Listen to When Your Sad- I just listen to whatever I usually listen to. I song I listened to that made me sad was when I heard Bon Jovi on the country station. That was a sad day indeed.

23. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Wedding- My Curse by Killswitch Engage
It's mine and the Cynic's song. It will be played.
I also would put Angel by Judas Priest here too.

24. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Funeral- A Tout le Monde by Megadeth ft. Cristina Scabbia
Good song and it would fit.

25. A Song that Makes You Laugh- S&M by Rihanna.
Thanks to one Todd in the Shadows from, I can't hear this song without cracking up. Especially the chorus. Totally ruined the song but totally worth it. (you can watch his review here)

26. A Song that You Can Play on an Instrument- none. I can't carry a tune in a suitcase.

27. A Song You Wish you Could Play- Gods of War by Def Leppard
I would love to play this on guitar.

28. A Song that Makes YOu Feel Guilty- I don't know of any song that makes me feel guilty. That's a weird question.

29. A Song From Your Childhood- Don't Turn Around by Ace of Base
Roxette + ABBA = Ace of Base. I remember when this song was big. Did I really listen to this crap? Well, I guess we all did.

30. Your Favorite Song at this time last year- probably the same as it is right now lol. This time last year I was getting pretty excited for Disturbed's Asylum album, so I was picking up whatever there was to be had from that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Is Going to Get Ugly- A Review of Lady Gaga's "Judas"

So in lieu of the fact we spent quite literally all day in the car (we looked at an apartment and applied for some jobs two hours away. Moving is fun!), we are taking it easy tonight on the cleaning, packing, and organizing. So I figured I'd hack out a new blog for you guys. And so, because the computer is acting up (apparently the hard drive is going) and won't let me open Microsoft Word or Movie Maker so I can work on our Flood Watch video, I'm going to do a little written version of my "This is Going to Get Ugly" segment. Cue the Megadeth intro!

Today we are going to talk about Lady Gaga. Now, I've been avoiding talking about her because 1) it's too damn easy 2) As a metalhead/classic rocker, I can already hear the whining about how "mean" I am and how I don't "get her", 3) I have friends that like Lady Gaga, 4) I try to respect people's opinions on music even if I personally loathe that particular thing and 5) I don't listen to pop music, and for the most part, don't like it, therefore, I don't feel particularly qualified to talk about it. That being said, I think we need to have a little talk about this particular song, Ms. Gaga.

Now Ms. Gaga, or Lady, whatever you prefer, I think it's time we had a chat. And no, I think enough people have pointed out the whole debacle about this song sounding like this one and this one. I'm not even going to talk about the awful "Born this Way" single cover that looks like a bad Photoshop rip off of the Painkiller cover. It's okay, I'll leave that one alone for now. We're going to talk about your song "Judas".

You can say what you like about my musical tastes, and how I should shut my cake-hole, as I am not a fan of pop music to begin with. But honey, this is a horrible mess. First off, let's talk about the autotune. To be honest with you, I didn't understand a single word you said while that shitty gimmick was being used. It's awful, and we both know you're better than that. I've heard you sing with none of this noise accompanying you, and you've got a decent set of pipes on you. So why you use that horrible autotune is beyond me. And don't give me that "everyone else is doing it!" B.S, I'm a mom, that shit doesn't fly with me.

Second, we need to do something about that background noise. That's all it is, an ugly jumble of noise. The chorus is fine (maybe because it sounds more like that other artists, whatshersname?), but everything else is just a discordant mess . And the chanting and yowling? I'm unsurprised, but still disappointed. That's just a lazy way to make filler that sounds like it has some meaning. I have no problem with such things, but when it takes up half the song, it really feels like you just wanted to pad it out because you don't actually have anything to say but needed to fill time.

Okay, and here's the big one. I didn't want to bring this up again after I mentioned it earlier, but we have to talk about this lyrics, Lady. After I looked them up because I didn't understand half of them, the other half that isn't lazy padding is... problematic. Now, I know you come from a genre where songs don't really need to have any kind of meaning, and I understand that. What I'm saying is that be that as it may, a bunch of incoherent thoughts and biblical references thrown randomly together does not a song make. Now I know you're going for the whole shock value thing, being all controversial and such, but at least make a statement that we can understand. Speaking of the shock value, the whole releasing the single around Easter. Now I'm not some evangelical bible-thumper or anything. I believe what I do and respect other people's beliefs and would never seek to push my own agenda on others. But really? Releasing a song called "Judas", with that accompanying video, around Easter? I think that might be a little much, even for you. But perhaps that's just my opinion and I will digress.

I'm not going to talk abut the video. I'm just going to pass along the suggestion that maybe you should look into some new dance moves. It's just, it's the same ones from every other music video I've seen of yours. I'm just saying, if you're going to market your physical image so heavily, you might want to go a little further than how to incorporate the things you find in the alley behind your house into your wardrobe. Food for thought, perhaps?

Well Lady Gaga, I'm glad we've had this talk. I'm not saying any of this to be mean, I just want to put some thoughts out there for consideration.

Okay, no more writing in that ridiculous conversation-style. These are just my thoughts, and you are free to disagree. I welcome any comments/thoughts. Even the angry ones. It's all cool.

Till then, I am your rather tired Scholar, and I told you this was going to get ugly.

(For srs, if you want to listen to something with "Judas" in the title and features amazing talent, go listen to some Judas Priest. There is no questioning the superior vocal abilities of one Mr. Rob Halford, nor the melodic abilities of the rest of the band.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Thoughts: Mortal Kombat (2011)

So I got a chance the other day to give this game a whirl. And I think I can sum up my feelings on this game with this image:


Now I liked that last entry into the series (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) but it was just missing that extra something that makes MK so magical. Hardcore violence and fatalities of epic proportions, of course! and MK 2011 makes up for this in spades. Netherrealm Studios (formerly Midway) brings MK back to it's roots in some aspects, but keeps the good from previous games later in the series, such as Deception, Armageddon, and MK vs. DC.

First off, this game is a hard M rating, there is no two ways about it. Some people will get up in arms about this and bitch, but really, this is the game franchise responsible for the ESRB, what did you expect? Add to that the fact that the ladies barely wear enough to cover their naughty bits in most cases. So if you have some sort of moral objection, now is the time to quit reading.

For those of you still with me, let's take a quick look at the game. You have a total of 27 playable characters (on the PS3 version there is a bonus "guest" character. No such love for us on the 360) . I would show you a picture of the roster, but I can't seem to find one that doesn't include a massive spoiler that I don't want to give away.
These are the various awesome playable game modes:
1) Story mode with 16 chapters. Similar to MK vs. DC where you play a different character each chapter
2) Tournament ladder with unique endings for each character
3) Training mode
4) Challenge Tower- a 300-mission behemoth where you do various fights and other challenges for Koins and an ultimate reward.
5) Fatality Training mode- to practice your all your favorite finishers
6) Mini-games- Test Your Might, Test Your Sight, Test Your Luck, and Test Your Strike.
7) Online- with a King of the Hill mode where XBox 360 players can actually import their avatars to use while watching matches.
8) The Krypt- where you can spend all those hard earned Koins on various unlockables

Fatalities- each character has two Fatalities in the game, as well as the humorous babalities. There was a rumor Friendships would be included, but it appears that is all it turned out to be. Along with this is the X-ray attack, a kind of supermove that shows the internal damage caused by the various hits of the combo (which does more damage that usual). It is charged on a bar at the bottom of the screen, similar to the way the slamming move charges in the Ghostbusters game (2009). These are rendered with care and brutality, showing bones breaking and organs destroyed.

part of Raiden's X-Ray Attack- a skull- cracking good time!

Gameplay is overall very good, and easy to pick up. The moves list now shows the Fatality combos, which is really nice. The fighting is back on a 2-D plane, so anyone tired of side-stepping and 3-D arenas can breathe easy. Classic stages such as The Pit, the Living Forest, and the Dead Pool all make a comeback (among many others), as do the Stage Fatalities where applicable. The game, for all it's new features and shiny new look, will feel like an old friend to long-time fans of the franchise.

The story- the story is kind of like the new Star Trek movie, in that the timeline of the MK universe is altered. It begins immediately after the events of Armageddon before moving back in time and you essentially replay the first three Mortal Kombat games with a vastly different outcome as Raiden tries to avoid that particular future. A very cool concept, and I am very excited to see how they go forward with this into further games.

My only complaint is some of the character models look goofy in game. Raiden looks awesome, like they just lifted him out of MK vs. DC. Kung Lao and Liu Kang in particular look a bit off, it's something in the facial renders, they don't look good. Some of Kitana's expressions are as well. They're just kind of ugly, to be honest, although when fighting you don't really notice. Favorites like Sub-Zero and Scorpion look really good though, as do all the ladies (minus Kitana's funny faces sometimes). One of my favorite looks for this game is Ermac, who looks badass and menacing, and with a very cool alternate costume that can be unlocked (as you can do for all characters- except for Mileena who has 4 different costumes).

So my final verdict? GO PLAY. NOW. This game is amazing, and for Mortal Kombat fans, a great entry into the franchise. This makes up for every wuss out "Heroic Brutality" we had to put up with in MK vs. DC. It's also an interesting story, can Raiden really change the past and prevent Armageddon? What is the cost of this alteration? Where does the story go from here? There is a ton of content here, and this game truly exemplifies why Mortal Kombat is (in my mind, at least) superior to all other fighting games. Is it brutal? Hells yes! And that's just the way Mortal Kombat should be.

To end this I'll leave you with two things. First is the most kick-ass use of a techno beat ever:

The second is a bit of my own personal geekdom. I got this done about three years ago. This is what it looked like brand new (it's the best pic of it I have lol):

Well that's all for now folks! See you next time!

*EDIT*- Forgot to throw this on too. Mortal Kombat: Legacy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Top 10 Most Metal Songs

Hey everyone, to make up for my absence for the past week or so, I've compiled a bit of a Top 10 list for your enjoyment. So here are my Top 10 songs (and 2 honorable mentions) that embody the spirit of metal. As a note, I have a fairly picky description of what counts as metal and that had a bit of an effect on the list. But with so many great metal acts out there, it wasn't hard to fill a top 10. I chose songs that I thought embodied the idea of heavy metal. I'm sure we won't necessarily agree, this is just my opinion. So enjoy the list for what it is, a celebration of great music. :D

Honorable Mention 1: Progenies of the Great Apocalypse- Dimmu Borgir

I first heard this song playing the game Brutal Legend. And I was blown away, it was so huge and operatic, I wasn't expecting it. What kills it for me is the vocals. I'm not a fan of the death-metal guttural snarl vocal-style. I have nothing against any of those elements, but I guess I'm just picky I like to be able to understand what the hell a vocalist is saying. But then at about the 2 minute mark, something amazing happens. Beautiful, soaring vocals from guest singer Abbath from the band Immortal. Why couldn't the whole song be sung like that?

Honorable Mention 2: For Whom the Bell Tolls- Metallica

For some reason, I tend to rag on Metallica. I really don't know why, it's not like I don't like them. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. Maybe I'm a bad metalhead for putting them in the honorable mentions, but that's just how things turned out. I really liked the album Ride the Lightning, and this song is probably my favorite Metallica song. I mean, it was inspired by an Ernest Hemingway novel, which I think is really cool. I love it when songs are about something, especially when it's a little more profound than booze, sex, and partying (I'm looking at you pop music), not that I don't like those kind of songs as well, but something a little deeper is always nice.

10: Back At the Funny Farm- Motorhead

This is another song featured in Brutal Legend (this game's soundtrack is phenomenal!). This is a very fun song, a tongue-in-cheek kind of song about an insane asylum. I included this song, not just because of how awesome it is, but to show how not all metal is all doom, scary things, and evil. A lot of new bands (especially in the doom/death/black genre) have gone this way in regards to look, style, and lyrics, but metal can be a lot of fun too. Ace of Spades may be more well-known, but by all means, look into this song too!

9. Beautiful Mourning- Machine Head

I'll admit, the first time I heard people talking about listening to Machine Head, I thought they meant the Deep Purple album. Then I heard some of their stuff. This is a great song because it mixes the shouting-screaming type of metal with the more soaring lyrics I mentioned earlier. And you can understand what he's talking about throughout. I don't listen to a lot of newer bands, especially in metal, but this is one group I will gladly make exception for. This song is on the album The Blackening, which also contains the song Aesthetics of Hate, which I am going to make a post about later, so it doesn't crowd out this article.

8. When Darkness Falls- Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage is a band that the Cynic and I got each other into. When we first started dating, I don't recall who started it, but someone sent the other a song, and a few others followed. Then I went out and bought an album. The rest is history. This is the newest band on this list, and incorporates the screaming-and-singing style much like Machine Head. They also do a pretty nifty cover of Dio's Holy Diver. And Killswitch is great driving music, too!

7. The Trooper- Iron Maiden

Ah, The Trooper. The song is about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, and inspired by Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And it's by Iron Maiden. So naturally it found it's way onto this list. I'm not sure what else needs to be said. This one is stood out to me for this list over personal favorites like Fear of the Dark, I can't really explain it. So just enjoy the song :D

6. Dawn of Battle- Manowar

I'll admit it, I'm a big fantasy, swords-and-sorcery geek. Enter Manowar, a band whose discography is rife with mythology, battle, fantasy, and Norse themes. And you can call me sold. If this song doesn't get your blood pumping, you should probably go check and make sure you still have a pulse. Epic and with a touch of thrash, you can't go wrong with Manowar.

5. A New Level- Pantera

Now Pantera is more the Cynic's thing, but this is probably my favorite of their songs. It's so heavy it assails you and beats you into the ground. And you'll love it. With it's raw power and aggression, A New Level is a no-brainer for this list. Really, it speaks for itself better than I can. If you like, also check out this cover done by Five Finger Death Punch for the album Getcha Pull: A Tribute to Dimebag Darrell.

4. Holy Wars... The Punishment Due- Megadeth

As with most of the bands on this list, how do you pick just one song? This was an issue I had with Megadeth. Sometimes it just comes down to listening to a few songs and going "this is the one". That's what happened here. The frenetic pace and solo of this particular song won it out over others. If you need a reason why Megadeth is part of the Big Four of Thrash, look no further than Holy Wars... The Punishment Due. Speaking of which, the Cynic and I both very highly recommend the Big 4 DVD as an excellent investment for any metal fan (my favorite performances: Megadeth and Anthrax).

3. Reise, Reise- Rammstein

This was the second Rammstein song I ever heard, and the one that made me utterly fall in love with the band. Between the epic feel, the heavy as hell guitars, and Till Lindemann's incredible vocals, I knew I must have more. The fact that they sing almost exclusively in German just makes them more awesome. This song found me at just at the right moment, when I had begun to look to metal to build upon my classic rock roots (I didn't really get into metal until I moved out on my own, minus a few bands I would consider more like hard rock now). This song, indeed this whole album, is one I have no qualms about recommending you look into, if not acquire outright. For lyric translations, I found a great site here for that.

2. Iron Man- Black Sabbath

You can't have a list of metal songs and NOT include one from the progenitors of the genre. This song grinds like a train inexorably towards it's finale: a rocking, minute and a half, instrumental outro. Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne have long been synonymous with heavy metal, so this choice is a no-brainer.

And finally....

1. Painkiller- Judas Priest

If you want a song that's metal personified, it's Painkiller. From the pounding bass and drums (see the Cynic attempt to play the drum chart here) to the alternatively screaming and rhythmic guitars, accentuated by Rob Halford's glass-shattering shriek, this song is pure fucking metal. One could argue that other Judas Priest or Halford songs might be heavier, like Judas Rising or The Mower, but there's something in the way Painkiller just grabs you right from the opening drums to the last second without ever letting up that just gives it the edge. You cannot listen to a single second of this song and not know that it is pure, undiluted metal. Only another progenitor of the genre (in look as well as sound) could get past the others and be my number 1.

I hope you've all enjoyed this list. I love music and I love sharing great songs with all of you. Now, if you'll indulge me, I will leave you with one last song. Due to an unforgivable oversight on my part, this list is devoid of the late, great, Ronnie James Dio. Allow me to fix that. So, as a special bonus, Heaven and Hell by Dio-fronted Black Sabbath. I hope you enjoy all the music and we'll see you next time, as I will try to post more regularly again.

And the dates are showing up screwy again. This was actually posted April 16th at 12:41am. Bah.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Of Value Village Hauls and New Family Additions

So this was supposed to be a new P.M.S Cooks! but instead I thought I'd do something a little fluffier. We went to Value Village yesterday, and I think I made out pretty good. I figured while I was at it I could show off some really awesome things I got there a little while ago. Also, the Cynic and I became Aunt and Uncle for the second time yesterday, and I have a little pseudo-craft to go along with that.

Okay, so for the haul. Well, I dunno if you'd call three things a haul, but I will for the purpose of this post. First was this:

I'd like to try and get my hair kind of the way it was when it was cut. So I found this straightener (which even matches my hair dryer! :O ) and I will give it a go.

The second thing is something I've wanted for a while, but could never find in my size. Yay shoes!

These are not quite my dream shoe, but they are damn close. It's ridiculous, no one seems to carry red heels in sizes 9 1/2-10. It sucks. That's why I was so happy to find these.

This next thing is a sweet piece of geekdom if I may say so:

An original Episode IV VHS? Yes please! And in good shape, too. It was just too cool to pass up.

That leads to me the next thing. I actually bought it quite a while ago but put it in a safe pocket in my purse and didn't find it again until yesterday. Oops lol.

Simple and pretty. I've been reading Lord of the Rings lately, and it makes me think of the elven cloak pins from Lothlorien. Yeah, I know, I'm a big dork. But I like it.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, the Cynic and I became an Aunt and Uncle for the second time. So I'd like to congratulate the Cynic's brother and sister-in-law on the new arrival. As I did when my sister had her little guy last fall, I put together a little something for our new nephew (lol, it's 3/3 for boys so far). Here's a quick rundown, and it's more or less the same thing as I did last time.

This is what I started with. Clockwise from the top left: a basket, tub toys, ribbon, cute onsie, bib, cute charm with baby's name (I used a soother last time as I couldn't find a name charm), towel, and bear with a "congratulations" cupcake.

Everything got packed in nice and tight, as it will have a bit of a trip ahead of it. But it was arranged to make a nice little nest in the center.

Which was a perfect little spot for the bear to sit nice and comfortably. Also stably, and less likely to fall out.
And then the final touches:

Don't mind my foot in the picture lol. The ribbon is actually gold, but the flash from the camera with the blue basket turned it that funky purple in the picture. I like the little charm, I wish I could have found one for my other nephew (although he got a nice new soother that I think he got more use out of, to be honest). So there it is, a simple gift basket for baby. I know you can buy them pre-made, but I like putting together my own, to make it more personal and less matchy-matchy, mass-produced feeling.

Well I was going to put up some records I got a while ago, but I think that will have to be a separate post. Maybe I'll do a post of my vinyl collection. We'll see. Anyways, I WILL do that P.M.S Cooks! next, I promises. So look out for that very soon. Maybe tomorrow!