What I'm Doing Right Now

Sunday, July 31, 2011

One in a million buy: At the Underground Market

Check this out: At the Seattle, WA: Starlight Drive flea market (or underground / black market), we were able to obtain an original copy of the Seattle times reporting Neil Armstrong landing on the moon. Usually, you could buy this stuff for at least over $100 or $200. But this was the total price:

ONE DOLLAR


You wouldn't be able to find that anywhere else, now would you? Many people pay high money on this, so it is a great sell on eBay. Total score, right?

Other neat stuff we bought:


- A geddy lee signed Fly by Night vinyl cover (Happy b day man)
-   An entire CD collection of over 100 classic discs for only $49.99
-   An orange
-    Some crap we don't need

And we then we went to B&I.

To be continued....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon review

Band name: Pink Floyd
Album: The Dark Side of the Moon
Release Date: March 1, 1973 (Original) / July 8, 1981 (Second release in UK)

Since the second release was thirty years ago in the UK, I present possibly the biggest album ever. And my thoughts.


As it were, Dark Side of the Moon has become one of the most vital statements the music industry has ever seen come from a musical group. Ever. To simply say the album impacted rock music thereafter is not enough. Not only did this, the most successful album of the mighty Pink Floyd's career, catapult them into a world of renowned super-stardom, but it also did much to further the evolution of progressive rock as well as (in many a person's eyes) perfect the theme of a concept album. Indeed, to this day the album continues to sell an average 8,000 copies a week, and is firmly cemented as the 20th best selling record of all-time in the United States. Quite the feat for a nine-track long concept album, right? As for me, I'm torn. Numerous times in the past, I found myself endlessly listening to the groups' albums like Wish You Were Here and Dark Side of the Moon and struggling to understand the attraction; the subtle force that turned a small band from London into a multi-million dollar outfit with the force and presence of an atomic bomb. I often slagged off on the album, deriding it as dull and beyond self-indulgent whiles simultaneously labeling them as geniuses for their more straight-forward pieces like Money. As of late, I've found myself absent-mindedly putting the album on; only realizing it as Breathe kicks in with its' subtle, tranquil, and overall serenading qualities. After much deliberation and endless musing, I think I've reached a suitable conclusion about the band that created this massive statement, or at least the statement itself.


When I say, "I'll see you on the dark side of the moon", what I mean

is... 'If you feel that you're the only one, that you seem crazy, 'cause

you think everything is crazy, you're not alone, you know?'


- Roger Waters


Perhaps the central theme of the album being insanity and all that happens in life that can drive one to it isn't surprising. After all, everyone is aware of The Pink Floyd Sound and their original anti-hero frontman, the late Syd Barrett. The tale has been told countless times over the 42 years since his departure, from the depths of grimy pubs to the annals of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, and perhaps most commonly, in the homes and apartments of the fans themselves. Virtually everyone is required to at the very least know the basic premise of the tale. And so it was, some 42 years ago, the band known as Pink Floyd, with Barrett at the helm both spiritually and musically parted ways with their beloved leader, due to his rapidly deteriorating mental condition brought out but not necessarily caused by the ever-potent and horrifying effects of the psychedelic drug known as Lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly referred to as LSD, acid, and ironically enough, 'cid. Upon Barrets' mental collapse, the group decided to carry on, and enlisted the help of a local guitarist by the name of David Gilmour. It is with this line-up, consisting of Roger Waters (bass/vocals), David Gilmour (guitar/vocals), Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards/trippy noises) that the band would go on to create their most beloved masterpieces with, including The Wall and the Syd Barret tribute, Wish You Were Here. Yes, sanity can be a delicate thing, as the band found at an alarmingly close proximity. As such, it is to be expected that Waters (the groups' chief conceptualist and future de-facto Josef Stalin) would have some fixation with the fragile balance between the rational and the non-sensical, and nowhere is that fixation in more vibrant display than the very album I'm reviewing.


Yes, like many of Pink Floyd's records, Dark Side of the Moon is a concept album. That's all very well and good. It's been proven time and again that the group (and perhaps Waters, in particular) was brilliant at devising musical soundscape and lyrics to make an overall theme or point. One of the main questions, and criticisms thereof, regards the music itself. Indeed, what makes a 23 minute, slow and meandering jam so worth while? What makes random tape loops and perturbing sound effects (as found in On the Run) even worthy of my listening time? Unfortunately, these are points that resonate quite clearly, and can't truly be explained away. From my experiences, I have found that to truly appreciate a song like Time (with it's scathingly long introduction anyway), you simply have to quit caring. Once I just started throwing the album on and not paying any attention to it, I'd find myself noticing how much I enjoyed it; how delectable it was to get lost in the otherwise thoroughly dull and pretentious noises that On the Run and plenty of other Pink Floyd tunes offered up. Rather self-defeating, I admit, but there you are. Crap noises and dramatic endeavors aside, each individual band member has proven time and again how commendable their skills on their respective instrument, and Dark Side of the Moon is an album that displays these traits. Indeed, David Gilmour delivers what is considered by many as the best solo of his career on Time with his searing and celebrated vibrato capturing your attention, not to relinquish it until it has had its say, while Roger Waters gives us the thumping introduction bass line to the now rocking, spacey and ever-popular anthem Money. Nick Mason doesn't particularly offer up anything mind-blowing on his drum set, though he does remain consistent throughout, and Richard Wright allows us to witness his brilliance at keyboard manipulation on the positively psychedelic Any Colour You like. Many of these sort of song styles (for instance the jazzy saxophone solo in Money) were still relatively new for the time, and many still hold up remarkably well. It may be true that combining otherwise superb musicianship with over-dramatic and ridiculously long jams may not have been the greatest idea (understatement), but it is also true that not one rock group from the late 60's and 70's isn't guilty of jamming for over twenty minutes on a single song. Now I ask you, would you prefer mindless pentatonic shredding ala Eric Clapton or would you prefer subtle jamming with feeling?


With that doting out of the way, I do believe it is time to address the majesty factor. One of the many things that critics and audiences alike commended the band and album for was its' dramatic sense; the feel that something indescribably majestic has just occurred. To me, this theory is both undeniably true and simultaneously heinously false. To consider a song like Brain Damage majestic and profound is nothing short of absurd. While it is very soothing with its gentle and cascading chord progression and soft, ethereal vocals, it is certainly not worthy of the title of eponymous. However, the song it so eloquently segues into, Eclipse is perhaps the most stirring and insightful album closer ever to grace a rock album. Musically, the tune combines nearly everything featured on the album thus far, from the subtle guitar playing and the trippy effects to the wailing female back-up vocals found on The Great Gig In the Sky as Roger lists off everything that we as humans inevitably do, before concluding on the rather depressing note of "And everything under the sun is in tune; but the sun is eclipsed by the moon". Eclipse also features perhaps the best example of Pink Floyd's supreme melodicism, a trait which unfortunately the band doesn't use all too often. Perhaps that is for the best though, as when they do, it has a very big impact; and proves itself a delightful treat. For those of you who are very grammatically capable: yes, I made the word "melodicism" up. For those who aren't: ignore that statement. If I'm willing to admit that this album obviously has flaws, flaws that normally could completely destroy a band and their crappy progressive album, why is this one any different? More over, why is it regarded as classic? Quite honestly, I don't know. Pink Floyd's musicianship and the statements they make tend to make up for the former, but I can't see Gilmour being a rock master and Waters' being an assertive conceptualist and solid bassist being enough to warrant this album the title of "classic". Us and Them is perhaps the worst tune to be found here in the sense that it doesn't offer much that hasn't been already been offered by Time and its Breathe reprise. As far as the concept goes, the piece is vital, but musically it doesn't assert itself as a work of genius in any way other than the dynamics that can be found on it and the layers of effects that reside with it. 


It does, however, preserve and continue the unusually precise flow of the album, and in that sense is very important in its own right.

___________________________________


I couldn't recommend this album to anyone. Not to any single one of you who are reading this, granted most of you have long since heard it and formed your own opinion on it. I've pondered for a good two years why this band is as popular as they are, and while I can't say I've reached a fully satisfying conclusion, I have determined a number of things. First of is that to truly enjoy a Pink Floyd album, you have to listen to it, shall we say, differently than you would a regular rock record. Instead of expecting a hook or a catchy synthesizer fill, let yourself get lost in the beat and in the feeling of the song provided. This is not to say that catchy hooks or straight-forward rock tunes are uncommon, as they can be found on the album in the forms of Money, Time, and the stunning instrumental Any Colour You Like. I suppose the point I'm attempting to make (and more than likely failing at) is that the prize concerning the band known as Pink Floyd doesn't lay within any given song or musical hook, or for that matter any hitherto recognized form of musical perception (at least for me, dear reader). I've come to the long overdue conclusion that Pink Floyd is about the feel that you get, the sounds that they make, and the overall theme of the album you listen to. Getting lost in a seemingly never-ending piece of music tends to be way more satisfying than enjoying an ear-catching, two-minute long pop song. And that's how it truly is, as it were.



 8.6 / 10

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review

Title: Catching Fire, Hunger Games Pt. 2
Pages: 391
Formats: Hardcover, Large Print / Paperback / Audio CD / September 1 Edition
Languages Available: Available in most of the world, over 25 languages
Price: $10.70 [Buy and Save at Amazon]

Some books are undeniably important. Some say that there are various books that are a landmark of our generation, books that can undeniably shock us with how amazing it is. Some say it is the storyline, no matter how modern or far-fetched. Some say it may be the power of the writing, or the overall atmosphere. Numerous books have been called so, like The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone with the Wind. The absence of said popularity has otherwise made modern day books more desirable, wondering which one will be the next big hit.

Unfortunately, this is not one of those.

You probably thought I was going to lead up a large, fanboyish paragraph that would honor this book as one of the modern day achievements. But guess what: it's not. In fact, this is otherwise rehashed material forgotten from the last, remarkable book. Many of Collins' followers, and critics alike, call this an adventure book that can not be topped, as one of the single darkest, most emotionally packed books of the summer, even better than the first. Unfortunately, this is not another Maze Runner or another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and so on. This can be considered surplus from the first book.

Perhaps unfitting to this book is the fact that you already know what to expect. The first half is significantly better than the second, with more progression. Here's how it begins: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have survived the Hunger Games, for the first time in the history of the seventy-three years before it. The president of Panem, Snow, does not approve. He is very angry, and so is the Capitol. She has survived against all the odds, made them basically a laughing stock of the Districts. But this is just as depressing as the first bummer games. Katniss has become all but paranoid: she is distrustful of her mother, hostile towards her mentor, Haymitch, blatantly forgets her relationship with Peeta more than once, after that dumb bitch stood him up in the last book, when he blindly admitted love for her. Everybody else she hates or wish they'd die. She only cares for Prim and her friend Gale, who are ironically the weakest characters in the book, in my opinion. And the former is all but explained in this book. It isn't until the third book you know more about Prim, so thankfully that seemingly important character wouldn't be a "third time's the charm case".

So Snow finally becomes so angry, that the Capitol issues a punishment for Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. And it isn't torture, it isn't public execution. I bet you can guess what it is, fellow readers. Yeah, Hunger Games never was deep in full story exploration, and Catching Fire otherwise confuses it. First, why is the Capitol so violent? Second, wouldn't the citizens of the Districts be careful about what they say? Why are they so offended by her actions when, in actuality, they execute anybody who talks about them negatively. So they'd know to watch their mouths. And third, how can one girl cause them to rage war against an entire section of the United States. The story furthers its confusing plotline, and it is more choppy than the first.

And when Katniss does her punishment, it becomes far too deja vu. Yeah, you guessed it: she goes back to the stage of history, this time in the form of a beach. In defense, Katniss and Peeta are explored further. Right before entering, the two lovers rehash. (I wonder if they know they've had more of a rocky relationship than Sam and Diana from Cheers?) But they're just friends. Yeah, right. They meet a bunch of weird, violent people again, and you already know what to expect: District 2 is violent, District 11 is lighter, and everybody gets killed. That starts to change after the initial build up, though.

This is basically the more action-packed version of it, but the action scenes don't make sense. Acid rain, monkeys, and electric fences called forcefields. Okay? Whatever the hell that means.

Again in the defense of this book, the writing is top-notch. The details of the book are spot on, describing a very depressing, violent, angsty dystopia. But compared to the first book, where everything you loved and didn't expect, is just rehashed here, until the very surprising end. If anything, this is like Star Wars. If The Empire Strikes Back had more plot, than this is number III: a lot of explosions, no plot. Oh well. The third book will later improve everything by a longshot. For now, though, kick back your sandals, turn on that kindle, and read through this flawed piece of art.

One of the most suspenseful moments: "I'm staring into the snakelike eyes of President Snow".
Best line in the book: "I'm Katniss Everdeen. I hate everybody and I'm about as entertaining as a dead sloth." Oh wait, that's not a line. Dammit.

2.5 / 5

The Aftermath of XYZ

The TF141 Media crew has returned from the XYZ convention. Apparently I wasn't invited, but whatever. Not that I don't care, but I was far too busy that night. However, I did get a lot of the scoop.

Apparently, the XYZ festival started as a street label that recorded underground mixtapes. Eventually it became a gaming convention for unnoticed studios, do to their interest in people or groups not recognized in the face of the industry. So it later started in 2002, and soon became popular. This year, the XYZ festival was hosted in England, due to the cover art being a shot of "The Tube" train in London. Rock group Axel Rudi Pell performed live doing an entire performance of their 1998 underground hit Oceans of Time, and their less successful 2004 album Kings and Queens. It was a sight to see for rockers around the world.

Later on, after about an hour, the awards were announced. Here are the categories:

- Independent Studio of the Year
- Best Independent Studio working under a Major Label
- Best Independent Music Label
- Best Underground Work
- Best Production of Games
- Best Production of Music
- Best Production of Film Soundtrack or Feature Presentations
- The Most Active Independent Studio of the Year

Although a festival, this was for invite only. The TF141 Media crew was nominated in three categories out of ten nominees each: Best Independent Studio working under a Major Label, Best Production of Games, and The Most Active Independent Studio of the Year. We had won the latter, due to our minor, yet significant work for Fallout: New Vegas, Killzone 3, Crysis II, inFamous II, Fable 3, Halo: Reach, and production on music albums England Keep My Bones, The King of Limbs, Fly from Here, and Nostradamus. We had barely beaten Raven Softworks, who nearly had won with eight major projects significantly finished. Derek Carter performed the speech, and apparently he stuttered once. Shame!

And Finn Smith was invited by Johnny Gioeli to go sing the chorus of 'Sea of Evil' with him. Good for him and all, but Rudi Pell and Gioeli can not be beat, even with Smith's stirring voice...... -_-


Yes, indeed, I heard it twas a fine night. But it was the part where Rudi Pell and the group began to use synthetic fire to begin the shows, and took it indoors, became the real eye-catcher. For me at least. It seemed like Johnny Gioeli was really on fire, and Rudi Pell's guitar was really lit. So it was definitely a stage presence from the gods of underground metal. These guys are seriously underrated, I swear it..

That is just barely topped by the part where Carter comes up to do a little song he wrote in just a case that they won an honor. Of course there was no reward, he used one of Rudi Pell's instruments, under supervision, of course, but it is the most retarded thing in the history of mankind. Next to Limp Bizkit, of course. He even dressed for the occasion: he dressed like someone from the hair metal era, and performed it not knowing how to use a guitar. Definitely something worth seeing.

Last but not least, they had vodka. Hooray.



Well, at least I got brought back this:

One of their best albums signed by one of the best vocalists of rock. Ever. Well, these guys officially have someone buying a ticket to their next show.

After I see Maiden, of course...

Anyways, that's the scoop of the XYZ festival.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No Sleep til XYZ

Finally being able to buy a new tour bus, the TF141 Media crew has been hard at work lately. We have finished off multiple small projects in the past few months, such as the SMART mastering in the below average Brink, our help in character designs and animations in inFamous II, and two trusted members of ours, Roland King and Rachel Mika, have both done production on two impressive albums: Frank Turner's England Keep My Bones, and Yes's Fly from Here, respectively.

In honor of our community work, we were then invited by members of the XYZ Award Community to be awarded for our achievements. We had then gotten enough money to buy ourselves a new studio, bus, and lighting rig for the TF141 Media band. (Will be explained in later post) The invasion there begins in four days, still waiting for our return. Considering how far everybody has grown over the years, and a Gathering will be held tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Number of the Beast

Requested by my good friend RavenRock, who gave me various news over the years. But this takes the cake. A story of his got knocked off Sputnik Music (fucking grow up, Sputnik, we just want to have some fun), and he asked for this to be posted as a just-in-case.

---

Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast (Released in 1982)

This is the tale of Guido Gonzalez and his fight for survival.

As I woke up, it took a while for my vision to be fully clear. I had strands of my hair in my eyes like black silk. I had an awful stomachache and I didn't have any shoes on. My eyes felt heavy, and my arms felt weak. I'm in a moving god damn jeep. "Where the hell AM I?", I screamed into the open air, due to there being no cover over the car. The last thing I remember was being on the back of a Honda, leaning out the window with a shotgun. That's all I ever remembered before this Jeep slammed into us, knocking me out. I looked down at my chest, and a blob of red still lay there. I gulped.

"Ah good, you're awake.", I heard a voice hiss to the left of me. I yelped and whipped to the left, and I was looking at what looked like a zombie, with his bones only. His eyes were an intense gold-and-black, and brown hair that dangled over it's ears. He was wearing a long-sleeved white t-shirt that said: "I Pity Me", blue jeans. That's all I could register while I was still looking. The unknown captor smirked. "You know me. I'm Eddie, remember, hermano?", he said in my accent, which he clearly heard when they were chasing us. I looked in the back of the jeep, and saw Caesar and Dominik. Caesar's black hair hung from his hair, and he looked angry yet unfocused, and his black tanktop was dirty and ragged. Dominik's red hair was ruffled, and he bore a jacket with a green shirt underneath, smothered with blood.

"What do you want from us?", Caesar asked hesitantly, taking the words right out of my mouth. I looked around where we were. The addresses said "22 Acacia Avenue". Great, now there's a street parodying the song.

"I'm actually not here to hurt you. I'm not the one that drove that Ford into your truck.", Eddie hissed, almost indifferently, as he somewhat shifted in his seat. "In fact, you should be lucky you're in my jeep. If I wasn't here to back them off, you'd be sitting in prison cells with your entire torso doused in acid."
All I could do was gulp. "Oh Jesús, ¿qué he hecho para merecer un destino como éste?", I spoke in my spanish accent. Dominik looked at me. "I think it was that blonde you dumped the other day.", he said, smirking. He could understand Spanish.

"Shut up, the both of you.", Eddie yelled. It wasn't angry, it was calm. Which made it a little more threatening. "This is serious. Now listen, and don't talk until I'm finished. The band members of Iron Maiden are currently holed up in a little hideout in Acacia Avenue. They're trying to storm up ideas for their next album, but the Justin Biebah Resistance Fan Club has joined forces with the Gleeks Club, the ones who assaulted you, they had captured me, and the Followers of the RIAA. They're staging an attack against the people we're with, the Metal Militia. We're supposed to help stop them. I gathered you twits in the back to help fend off the Resistance. And as for you, Guido, there's a special assignment for you. Now, if you want a Q&A, make it quick, because we're nearing the hideout." I was able to nab a peek at the hideout. It was tiled with orange and gray stone, with windows barely above the underground, almost like an underground hideout. There was a metal circle, which led to a hatch. Probably the entrance.

"Why are we chosen to do this?", Caesar asked.
"You originally joined the Metal Militia when your dad signed you up."
"What do I have to do?", was all I could ask at the time. Sweat had broken through my forehead and neck.
"Ah, yeah. Guido, guido, guido. What you're doing for this war will be VITAL. In fact, if you do complete your task, it will end it." This got me interested. "You have to write a review of an Iron Maiden CD." My mouth gaped, as did Caesar's and Dominik's.

"¿Qué demonios?", I harshly backmasked.

But, Eddie knew his Spanish. "Listen, the Justin Bieber Resistance Fan Club took control of the RCA and General Electric about a half a year ago. The leader of the Magazine Enclave, El Dorado, was captured. He was savagely beaten in front of the Militia, and was forced to shut down every metal magazine possible, including the Hit Parader mags. Rolling Stone and Q were also overtaken. Nowadays, writing rock and metal reviews is strictly forbidden. What you have to do is write a review for this little cassette in here", the bony fingers patted a nearby metal suitcase, "and we'll do the rest of the work for all of you."

I felt I had a spike castrate my brain then have a bee sting me in the ballsack. This was absolutely horrific. Now I knew I would have to be as valuable to the war effort as possible. Idecided to go ahead and trust Eddie.

"Aight, we're here.", Eddie muttered, stopping the car. He stepped out, and nabbed the metal suitcase, handing it to me. "Kid, this is the Miltia Incorporation Survival Kit, or the MISK. This has everything you need." He walked to the trunk, and pulled out three machine guns, handed two of them to Caesar and Dominik, which I could respectively identify as a PPsh-41 and an AUG HBAR, with hollow lead. Eddie had an ACR with a knife.

I looked at the suitacase. "Open it, kid.", Eddie said, leading me and Caesar into the hatch. Caesar went in first, and it looked kind of like a slide, much with much more turbulance. As I got adjusted in my metal seat, which popped right back up after Caesar landed, I opened the suitcase as the marble circle covered me. What was in it surprised me. A pen with four pieces of paper, a just-in-case M16 with ten clips, and the CD Eddie was talking about: without any censors or different covers: The Number of the Beast, just sitting there in its cassette glory.

As I slid down, that track listing burning an image into my brain, I was introduced to an underground bar-ish atmosphere. Iron Maiden was on stage, Dickinson and Harris singing "Fear of the Dork", Metallica on another stage singing, "The Day That Will Never Freaking Come", and what's left of Black Sabbath, much to my surprise, singing "I Am The Ice Cream Man". It was absolutely brilliant. There were sexy blondes and brunettes everywhere, people were just having a good time, and I actually felt at home for a minute there.
Caesar tapped my shoulder. "Remember, Guido, you lost your memory, so you don't know anybody here, but they know you. Just go with it." Oh yeah, I had lost my memory about three years ago. I gained a little of it back, like where I lived, went to school at, who my family was, friends, all of that jazz. Eddie strolled up to me. "Well, we all got about ten minutes, so enjoy yourself!", he slapped me on the back before walking off to get a Vodka.

That case still mesmerized me, so I set it down next to Dominik. I noticed a red-haired caucasian strolling up towards me, in a black shirt that said, "Hit Parader", blue jeans, and brown shoes. That look struck a memory in my mind. She was really good looking. Teresa, was it? "Hey, Guido.", she said, in a husky accent. "You look like shit.", she snickered.

"Hey... Teresa, right?", I said, struggling to figure out the details. "Oh, I was in a... chase." That would probably sound viciously stupid.

"Yeah. I was your girlfriend way back when. Memory lapse, right?", she smiled at me as she understood my situation. Such a good smile. I put my arm around her as a guy with blonde hair, his nametag read 'Max', I recognized him as Secretary of Communications in the Militia, brought me a Blue Curaçao, while all I noticed in Teresa's drink was Coca-Cola. We drank, enjoying ourselves, as Faith No More came on the stage and performed the beautiful 'Just A Man'.

It had been six minutes, and the stages had closed up. On the radio overhead, they announced that all soldiers of the Metal Militia report to the barracks. It was time. Eddie strolled up to me. I finally got a good look at his shirt: it was a Krokus T-Shirt, from their fourteenth album. Nice change of pace. He patted my shoulder and said, "Okay, kid, it's time. Get in there." I was shoved into a room. I tried to say one last thank-you to Eddie for saving my life, but he was already dashing up the stairs. I stared at the cassette. Realizing there was no time left, I grabbed the cassette and yanked it open, then shoved it into the player, then hooking in my earbuds. I prepared myself, for this next two hours would be crucial. As they exited out the door, they wished me good luck and I heard rampaging outside and the smell of fire. I was safe, but alone with Teresa.

She gave me a kiss, then grabbed a chair and sat next to me, looking kickass in body armor. I gave her one earbud, and one pen. We sat back and took a deep breath.
---
Review:
The Number of the Beast, released in 1982, was Iron Maiden's third album. They were just getting onto the metal scene, and on a high note. And once The Number of the Beast was released, with new vocalist Bruce Dickinson, the band were instantly metal superstars. It exploded onto the UK Album Charts at #1, and although it was met with fair controversy for satanic content, it is considered one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and one of the most influential of all time.

The Number of the Beast noted an uprise in the instrumental content in the songs: the riffs were excellent. With progressive melodies and thunderous solos, unforgiving drum clashes, and deep, echoing bass audio, it was different from the first two albums, Iron Maiden and Killer.

The addition of Bruce Dickinson marked an everlasting change in the band's history, and quite possibly, in heavy metal. Dickinson's voice is mature and haunting, it carries on through each song with a pitch and inflection like none other, almost wailing. The low-pitched notes the man could reach, with wails that would rage through stereos worldwide, and a chilling seriousness in the tone, Dickinson is an extraordinary singer. The guitar and bass work from Steve, Adrian, and Dave, all together, is superbly brilliant. Dual solos from Dave and Adrian completely explode into a crackle of fire, shredding along at amazing flow, and chugging basslines from Steve Harris are fine like Cliff Burton: with thuds grinding across the strings that would echo through audiosystems for days, mixed in with the guitars and fantastic drum beatings from Clive, is some of the greatest bass work ever presented in metal history.

And the songs show the amazing quality of this band. "Invaders", clocking in at nearly four minutes, is a song divided into mini-solos over eerie drum beats and a dark pitch tone from Dickinson himself. "The Number of the Beast" is run over cataclysmic screams from Dickinson over smooth guitar lines and drum beats, while he wails, "SIX! SIX, SIX! THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!" This is a metal album that is nearly without flaw. The production is amazing: the vocals are crisp, the guitar work is loud and clear. Everything can be heard perfectly: a nod to the terrific proudcer Martin Birch, who later became infamous for this album.

"Hallowed Be Thy Name" could be one of the greatest metal songs of all time, and the best in Iron Maiden's career. Over gothic church bells and a haunting bass line, Bruce progresses in a chilling voice where a guilty man would be taken to the gallows. As Dickinson wails "The sands of time for me are running loooooooooooow", BANG! It erupts into a great dual guitar riff from Adrian and Dave, exerting into mini-solos in later verses, dealing with the convicted man's execution, until the solo completely lashes out onto the scene, the tempo progresses at a powerful rate, as Dickinson howls into the microphone, "Hallowed be thy name....." It's wicked stuff, absolutely.

The music we have nowadays is utterly humiliating. Iron Maiden is still an amazing band, and it shows it here. The Number of the Beast, one of the single greatest metal albums of all time. Where Iron Maiden became the juggernauts that they are.
---
I checked the clock. Teresa had begun to shuffle the papers load in her gun. It had been over an hour and a half. I armed my M16 and loaded it with incendiary ammunition, then stormed out of the hideout. It was an absolute warfield. Bodies were littering the ground like dropped soda cans. The sky had turned an ugly crimson, like the blood, and gunfire, arrows, explosions, lazers, and jet planes took over the skies, and fire burned somewhere.

I caught Eddie's eye. As he ran toward me, throwing an explosive out to the crowd, I saw Followers progressing towards me with a redhead giant. Me and Teresa erupting gunfire as we continued to plow through the crowds. I felt so guilty, but they deserved this. They've taken away innocent eyes.
Eddie snatched the review from my hands, and ordered the rest of the Militia to the beach. I joined Dominik and Caesar. Dom and Teresa watched the sides, Caesar the back, and I lead in the front. I shot a burst at a Resistance member that got far too close, and crushed his iPod in retaliation, which was bursting Nickelback. Ugh.

"Attention Command, we have the review! Bring down the elevator!" We arrived at a large building. I read it: The Command of Music Central. We held the upcoming members off, until I had no clips left. Everybody else looked pretty empty.

"Eddie! We're out!", I snarled. The elevator came.

"HURRY!", Eddie shouted, but then a redhead giant shot an explosive at everyone, obliterating each one of the soldiers. I was hit and blasted back, nearly paralyzed by the blow, before Caesar caught me dragged me to the elevator, where I saw four other soldiers with Eddie shooting at the rest of the Resistance and Gleeks. I looked at Teresa's knocked out body, along with Dominik's dead body, and passed out.
I woke up in the hospital. Teresa was in a nearby bed, with bandages covering several parts of her body. I had gauze from the upper torso to my waist. Eddie came in. "Hey. I'm sorry about Dominik. I didn't mean to get you involved." I half-smiled. I really didn't care, I'm just glad not everybody died.
"We presented the review to the nation, and it gave back strength to the BPI, ARIA, and RIAA. They're currently staging a war against the Resistance, Gleeks, and Followers, but the Militia is pretty much done for. Out of the 200 soldiers we had, there's only 36 left. I'm sorry, if I had been quicker..."
"It's kay.", I said.
That's all I remember before blacking out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bethesda Softworks - Brink Special Features

Well, our work on Brink and revealing of our work earned Logan Frario an interview, who informed said website about the game itself. Many thanks to TheLP for his awesome interview.

LP: 1. What exactly is the storyline of Brink? What are you progressing through so far, being a fellow storyboard artist?

Logan: It's set in a future city in the sky called The Ark, a little west between San Francisco and San Diego. The people of the city are disappointed with lack of natural supplies, and the people form their own faction, simply known as "The Resistance", who are intertwined in a war with the Ark leaders, or known as "Security", and the Resistance arms themselves to storm the Capitol. You'll play in between the factions, decide which one benefits and which one suffers, like in New Vegas.

LP: 2. Is the game going to be similar to Fallout 3 or New Vegas in any way?

Logan: Theoretically, no. There's the same mechanics in several ways: the character customization system, weapon design, and various elements that seem familiar: like who benefits and who suffers. But, it's not supposed to be Fallout. It's supposed to be something different: if they just kept giving us the same mechanics outside of the series, fans are eventually going to get bored.

TheLP: 3. What's included in Brink?

There's going to be the 16-player multiplayer, both competitive, against bots, and cooperative modes. It's a completely free game as well: there's a lot of distances to travel, running around with your rifle is supposed to have a sense of freedom, in the SMART system, which stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain, and you can still gain XP, and this can be used to upgrade weapons or further customize your character.

There's different classes throughout the game, like the Medic class, which can increase health and help revive incapacitated players,  the soldier class, who uses explosives and resupplies magazines. Engineers place turrets for a brief time and can help repair weapons from their standard condition, and the Operative class is kind of an all-around: the player can disguise him / herself in the enemies' armor and is able to gain intel by interrogation, my personal favorite.



TheLP: 4. Sounds great, who's all involved in the project?

So far everybody. We're working on this like we worked on Fallout 3 four-five years ago: with a goal to achieve, ambitions to set, and expectations to be met. Bethesda is a terrific studio. We've been sending in character models, scripts, animations, art, cooperative designs, and a lot of other design options for the game. Splash Damage is also a great studio, they can certainly multi-task.

TheLP: 5. What systems will it be released on, and when?

Around mid-2011 on the 360, playstation 3, and PC. It's going to be released in May 10th in the Americas, and the 13th for Europe and Oceania. It'll be rated 16 outside of the Americas, but in the Americas, the ESRB will be T.

TheLP: 6. One last question: what will the engine be?

The updated id Tech, which was used in other games like Quake 4 and Doom. So expect a lot from the game, and thanks for having me.

Thanks to TheLP for posting this today.
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Cartoon Crap - Ren and Stimpy: Hermit Ren

I'm going to hold off on games information for now and take a look at what could be the biggest cartoon humiliation since American Dad officially got an airing deal. Ren & Stimpy I never really could understand some of the time: the jokes were great and the writing was superb, not to mention the artwork, but what the cartoons lacked was precision. The first two seasons, though they are some of the finest pieces of animation ever shown on television, could really benefit from some serious editing, not to mention restoration of the numerous cuts.

Then John Kricfalusi and his Spumco team got fired. Then the Ren and Stimpy Show, once the best cartoon since the Looney Tunes era, completely went over the edge. Watching Ren and Stimpy like this became the worst four years of my life since World War I.

Now this Season Four episode, "Hermit Ren", an incredibly brief two-parter, backed up by a nearly 5-minute skit, is a great example of taking an average idea and beating it to death. To the point of oblivion. Seriously, whoever wrote this story needs to be hanged. So, I'll do a Boycott-esque review and run through the entire episode sec-by-sec.

Ren and Stimpy, in this episode, live in a cow carcass. Seriously, what the fuck? Was this some cheap joke added in at the last minute? A five-year old on high amounts of sugar could think up a more unique gag.

Anyways, the cartoon opens with Stimpy stupidly singing a "comebya" beat on an accordion. Look at him for one second, then turn away, because I swear, he will get stuck in your head for days and days.

They live in a very poor house. You can obliviously see there's cracks and smears on the walls about a minute into the cartoon. Ren comes home, voiced by Billy West, who sounds less tolerable than Urkel on crack. Sweet fucking jesus, you call that acting? Anyways, he comes home, and he's busy beating a dog that's pissing on his lawn and yells at a raging car.

The chihuahua's in an obvious wreck, as he's got bloodshot eyes, breathing heavily like he just got home after he was raped, wearing a tie that he SOMEHOW manages to win, even though he's more naked than Ron Jeremy, and slammed the door open so hard he knocked down the 'Home Sweet Home' sign, revealing YET another crack. So far, not so good. He notices Stimpy being his regular stupid self, and is annoyed by it again. Okay, we've seen this before, WHAT THE FUCK ELSE IS NEW? You know, that brings me back to something: Ren and Stimpy was the second best Nicktoon, even though I couldn't stand Doug and Rugrats I looked at once or twice. The jokes were just random, no matter who directed the damned seasons. John K rants on about how Games Animation is the reason. They grabbed one obvious joke (Ren hates Stimpy, Stimpy's too stupid) and beats it to death.

He then is greeted by Stimpy, who shows off another stupid work, and explains that Ren's dinner is in the oven. Ren forces himself to the kitchen.

He pulls out the chicken, which looks burned to the point of oblivion, and absentmindedly drags it to the table, then begins to chow down on said chicken, but then the burn's so intense it blisters his tongue. Look at it now before your tongue and eyes get an infection.

And you know what's amazing? The fool keeps it in his mouth for two-three seconds more. Logic never was present in R&S.

He spits it out, begs for something to drink by rapidly screaming like a half-naked freak at a mental asylum. Stimpy gets the hint and gets him a glass of milk, which turns out to be a gooey, past-expired date, and it looks so grotesque it makes mud seem like a tasty wine. Really, look at it.

The idiot downs the whole drink, then spits it out. That's another problem that was present 90% of the time when John K left. They used gross jokes for no absolute reason. Check out the commentary on Stimpy's Cartoon Show, and you'll know what I mean. Ren then screams that he just wants to be left alone, and then dashes off while Stimpy finishes off Ren's vomited, expired milk. Absolutely sickening. Ren's in a gross bathroom, which I SWEAR could be smeared with blood. Perhaps Ren finally figured out how shitty this damn cartoon turned out to be.

He looks around for his razor, which is really stupid because he doesn't have a fuckin' beard. I never noticed once dot of facial hair on Ren throughout the entire five seasons despite the occasional stuble. Stimpy then gives Ren a razor which he has been absentmindedly using as a hammer to nail up the sign Ren made fall down, so it's got more jagged edges than Ron Jeremy's dick.

It's too obvious you know what comes up next.

Ren storms out of the bathroom, looking really angry, in an expression that I've seen before, in a mood that's far too common. The personalities of the characters rarely changed in Ren and Stimpy, maybe the biggest change I saw in characters' moods was in cartoons like "Stimpy's Fan Club" and "Son of Stimpy", partly because they delved a little more emotionally than other cartoons. Oh, wait, those were actually GOOD cartoons.

Ren prepares to charge at the dumbass cat, and the only thing that saves the cat from a certain death by strangling, a very fucking well-deserved death, is when Ren glues his foot into an accordion, that Stimpy dropped. How he dropped it all the way to the fucking bathroom door is beyond me. He then takes in the world around him: the telephone repetitively ringing, Stimpy being an idiot (oh, wait, we learned that about three years ago, idiot writers), and bad television. He then lets out a scream enough to annoy Donald Sutherland, and storms out with the accordion still on his foot. He packs his suitcase and runs out, claiming he's never coming back.

Which is ironic, we already know he will.

He then gets his own personal cave (you've got to be trolling me), from the Hermit Union. The images are so stupid it's not even worth MENTIONING. He has to have no friends, no outside time at all, blah, blah, blah. And the cave is locked by a boulder that's activated by a button. Umm... a button activates a thing of nature? That's another thing: Ren and Stimpy took logic and raped it. Completely raped it up the arse.

As the story progresses, he goes insane: he becomes best friends with a scarecrow that was laid in the cave somehow, mistakes bats for cow utters, and sees some random dude called Old Man Hoek, who doesn't even look related to Ren, he just looks like some random street hobo put in a farmer's outfit. Stimpy's a wreck, and now makes dinners out of telephones.

Which is really stupid: he made dinners all by himself. Probably put in as a cheap gag.

Ren's all alone, and after hallucinating like he's taken six hardcore bags of valium and mushrooms mixed together: he makes a pile of BAT DROPPINGS into a shape like Stimpy. I was about ready to turn it off here because of the horrible one-liner the bat later follows.

The scarecrow then tells Ren he must bring out his three personalities: and brings out his anger side, his fear side, and his ignorance side, all of which every character possesses, and they're all interpreted as other chihuahuas, with angry Ren as a steaming-red, ready-to-explode, very hostile, fearful Ren as a skinny, cowardly bag of bones, and ignorant Ren with his eyes completely all over the place and somewhat fatter. Yeah, ignorant characters nowadays look just like that.

They play a blackjack game with a table that they just randomly pull of their assholes. Ren slowly becomes paranoid with the hallucinations around him, which is really stupid because they're reflecting what he really is, but hey, this is a schizophrenic cartoon. (And, in this moment, comes the only good line spoken in this cartoon,  by Angry Ren:  "I'm cheating? YOUR WHOLE LIFE'S A CHEAT!") He then rips off the arm of the scarecrow and beats the pretend sides of him, and then the Hermit Union leader comes in and forces him to leave because of friends. Is the human really that fucking ignorant to know that the friends were rocks?

Ren leaves with the fur on his back and that pile of bat shit he made Stimpy out of. He comes home to see Stimpy still living in the dead cow, wearing cowboy boots with a short skirt and green dress, with lipstick on his face, running around with a pile of ear wax shaped like Ren. I turned the cartoon off right here.

That was the worst seventeen minutes of my life since I was tortured. I don't care what you think: but this cartoon had an idea pulled right out of their spine and beaten with a rusty cane. I would rather poke a spike through my own brain while watching the Jerry Springer Show. That was horrid. I don't care what you think about Ren & Stimpy: it was shitty from the start, but it had tweaks of decency throughout that helped it through the otherwise puzzling two seasons.

At least John K can't be blamed for how crappy Ren and Stimpy is.

Section 8: Prejudice - Verdict

Title: Section 8 - Prejudice
Systems: Downloadable Game: Xbox Live
Format: HDTV available, Online Multiplayer, No Co-Op, Subtitles
Release Date: April 20th 2011

There's a certain passion I've had over the years for downloadable games. I mean, the addition of buying Games on Demand, for cheaper prices and not having to actually go to the store to pick it up sounds great. We're all lazy and don't want to leave our house, right? Well, so far there's been no victor for a singular downloadable game, in my opinion. The PS3 has games like Flower, and the 360 has games like Torchlight. Section 8: Prejudice, a sequel to the surprisingly impressive Section 8 from last year, fails to impress, and is an excellent example of a mixed bag.

I'll let this out right here: I like the story in Prejudice. Soldiers have been launched from a space cannon when they intergalatically traveled to tame it (how the fuck you do that though, I have no idea) from the Section 8 military section. And... that's it, though. It's too short, and I could see why: The first problem evident is that there's several unoriginal level design flaws. You go from Point A to B, shoot x number of AI enemies, with the annoying training modes that will pop up. Though it is lessened from the first game, there's no point to train for multiplayer that some gamers will probably play the minute they get the game.

And it's repetitive. Throughout the single player campaign, hordes of enemies will launch out at you, and homing missiles that will blow your genitals off. At least they walked towards something different from the last game: they went from mind-numbingly boring to mind-numbingly difficult. What an improvement. Every mission you take feels like the last one: it seems to follow the same flow with slightly different tasks. It feels like most of the missions were slapped on the package.

 The graphics are really good: from the snow, grass, and dirt. Playing this on an HDTV is amazing.

On the upside, there's some improvements made to your special suit. You can use the jetpack, which I think is really useful, and dash, which is barely tolerable, as additional weapons of mass destruction against the incredible amount of enemies that just SOMEHOW don't seem to stay damn dead. Unlike the tight, on-the-click button responses that games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have, but they're rather dragging onward, like it got injured along they way and limps instead of jogs, so to speak. (Terrible metaphor, I know.)
There's a ton of weapons available: assault rifles, machine guns, SMGs, shotguns, explosives, and different kinds of ammunition, like in Borderlands, and each have different properties and damage against the environment like vehicles, armor, and other baddies, but it doesn't have the desired effect.

Thankfully, however, the multiplayer is slightly amped up from the last game. Conquest comes in as a returning mode, the objective-based missions, like Stockpile in Halo or Domination in COD. If you complete a side objective, kill enemies, or defend this position enough, you're able to call in supply points for various weapons, like turrets, jeeps, aircraft, etc. This system, intertwined with the defend-the-position mode, sounds interesting enough on paper, but doesn't go through in the way most would expect. At times, the modes feel very repetitive (even in multiplayer), and aren't as exciting as other multiplayer matches online gamers have come to love.

Swarm is probably the redemption point in this game, and maybe alone worth the price of pay. In a last stand mode reminiscent of the survival mode in the Left 4 Dead series, with a select number of players against the environment, where you stockpile on weapons in a fight-or-flight. It's a really entertaining cooperative mode, and should keep you busy if you have downloaded the game.

 Swarm is a highly impressive mode, and a great addition to the series.

On a positive note, the graphics look really good. The textures are strong and the cinema is bolder. The digital system looks great in its 4:3 format, from the lush backgrounds. Many thanks to the ever-popular Unreal Engine, and it's a good surprise. The soundtrack and sound effects also kick off at a progressively good rate, the rattling gunfire sounds as good as you'd expect. But the voice acting is more drab than Vin Diesel's entire career.

If you have some money to spare, and you're looking for a game to download and waste the weeks on, I can't recommend Section 8: Prejudice entirely. I did have a lot of fun: Conquest is actually really nice, and Swarm is superior. But there's just not a lot of material and the single player mode is arguably worth skipping entirely. It has potential, but doesn't show it. I'd have to, nonetheless, give it a very mixed recommended.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Alec gets an interview, world shocked

Another interview from Underground Gamers rolls in to us, this time a little interesting. Thanks to the staff.

Could you explain your jump from Bethesda's New Vegas to Masthead's Online?

While TF141 Media was doing work for Fallout as our main project, and also doing side-projects for games like Red Faction: Armageddon, Crysis 2, and Black Ops, due to TF141 Media being an independent studio. The notorious argument of Bethesda vs. Interplay got far too extended to the point of insanity, so our supervising editors, Elinor and Gregg, made a call to Masthead hard at work. After that, we got to work with some character models, weapon design, scripts, animations, and multiplayer function. Since Masthead is all in Europe, there was no need for overseas shipping. Here and there, we'll need to send in some boards or audio sound effects to Interplay, and maybe some weapon designs, but other than that, it's nice to have a studio in the same continent, compared to us constantly sending items over to Bethesda.

How is it working with Pete, Emil, Todd, and everybody at Bethesda?

Oh, they're all great. Obsidian and Bethesda can definitely multi-task, not to mention be very creative in their mechanics. Even people at the studio who hate their games love the studio. An interesting look at it. When you play Fallout 3 and go through events like the Radio missions or escaping Raven Rock, or even going out into the wasteland out of the Vault for the first time, you know it's going to be one of the best games ever, that is, when Fallout 4 inevitably comes out in the not-too-far future.

Two things in particular stood out in the Fallout games for me: one, the ability for endless freedom, and two, the story progression in every game, from One to Tactics to New Vegas. Were there any kind of boundaries you guys thought three would break?

Well of course. Fallout was and is supposed to be a game where you have complete freedom, compared to other games where you're stuck in one spot until you complete this objective. Granted, you're forced to go through a few missions, but other than that, Fallout's got almost unlimited freedom in the Capital and Western Coast Wastelands. The stories throughout the games were also supposed to have.

And the combat was also supposed to be different, a balance between real-time and first-person perspectives in the games were supposed to make a difference, like the additions of V.A.T.S. or the amounts of survival you are forced to put in the game, like the need for stimpacks, layers of body armor, and weapon maintenance. Unlike other games, where you just grab a gun and you've already finished 70% of the game, Fallout requires to be extra-cautious, no matter what level.

Do you consider Online will be more ambitious than any other Fallout game?

Yes. In fact, I think it's the most ambitious Fallout moments of all time since FALLOUT 3 was announced several years ago. Fans will be expecting something major different, more in part due to the brand new concept of multiplayer in the Fallout games, and it's not aiming for a bandwagon. It's also an MMO instead of the RPG concept that made the series so popular. It's really hard to tell if it will meet the high expectations, but it's certainly setting some ambitions.

Similarly, multiplayer for a game that's been single-player for 11+ years sound more like an experiment in the genre rather than an actual addition to the game. It's not about raising more popularity, it's about the gameplay. Unless there's some kind of cooperative addition, this seems completely like an attempt a game. You have to give credit for adding an inventive idea, an ambitious one at that, and make sure it goes through, but after 6 plus years, let's hope it beats Modern Warfare 2, which is right now the fastest-selling game in the UK.

So you don't agree with the war between Bethesda and Interplay, and that the whole project might very well be ditched?

Right now, Masthead's working HARD on this website, but they've so far updated nothing about Fallout on their website, and the production has been delayed more times than Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Making a good game is about getting lost in the gameplay and adding mechanics that everybody can like, make an atmosphere that everybody gets hooked into. That's why MMOs rarely work: they focus solely on the other players. You couldn't cross the streets without being asked for a fight or spammed, and entirely based on, as the genre's name explains, the massive multiplayer.

Thanks a lot!

Weirdest Rap Story of all Time

Ever Since Life and Lyrics.

Found this at sputnik music.

I recall this tale very violently once before, in a time, place, and world where everyone was mentally screwed up by rap. So, here's what happened.

EXCLAIMER: This is completely and totally REAL.

----

I walked across the hallway down the Upper Penisula Hospital, located outside of Detroit. I took note of the two patients I was forced to work with today: Marshall Mathers the Third, who has been subject to being a misogynist, homophobe, violent, psychotic outlaw, rapist, murderer, and insult to humanity. I had experienced worse. He was locked up in a literal cell of an office with Rihanna and Lil' Wayne, both of which have had complete mental meltdowns due to harsh criticism and subject to mass media stupidity. I peered inside the metal circle of the metal door, and saw Mr. Mathers absentmindedly freestyling while peeling a rotting spanish onion, while Rihanna has brief seizures and half-singing the chorus to 'Love The Way You Lie' and half-slitting-her-own-wrists. He opened the door and saw the machine tubes strapped to Lil' Wayne, who's true name has never been revealed. Marshall began to make crack out of the rotting onions.
"Uh, hello, Mr. Mathers?", I silently asked for his attention. "THAT'S SLIM SHADY TO YOU, DAWG.", his voice tweaked as he violently twitched upward. I rolled my eyes, I got tired of that nickname the minute I listened to TSSLP. "Whatever, Shady,", shuttering as I said it, "we need you to-" He then got lost in his own world again. "HI, MY NAME IS-" "Okay, Slim, please, please just SHUT UP. Go hang yourself if you're going to keep that up.", I said back to him in my irritable tone, one that I rarely use towards patients, if not never. "Ah... I like your attitude. I need you to do something for me, Doc.", he smirked. Whenever he asks a request and smirks, I know it's something ridiculous. "What? You want me to get you more mushrooms, or maybe get you a paper to write another rap?", I asked with a hint of displeasure in my voice.
"No. Now, here's the deal,", he said, spitting at Lil' Wayne to shut him up. I twitched. "If you don't do this for me, I'm going to jump out this window, and detonate some hidden bombs here, therefore blowing up every single newborn child here and crippled patient. Anybody who's alive, I'm going to sing Untitled to them whilst cutting their eye out and forcing them to eat it." My jaw gaped. "How.. where... when?" Marshall then finished it for me: "I hid it underneath the floorboard in the main hall, and another one near the ambulances." I then wondered why I ever let him wander around the office. I was forced to put a shot into Rihanna to shut her the HELL up, and I then put an end to that tirade of hers as he continued to talk. "This is my request, dawg. Listen loud and clear."
"I released the Recovery album back in 2010. I then re-released it the next day, after after a series of re-releases, I currently had to end it at the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re release, which featured an uncensored censor on an uncensored album next to the censored uncensored bonus uncensored track of the censored album to the uncensored double album." Listening to him was mind-boggling. I'd rather poke a spike through my brain then choke on Chicken Rotesserie while bashing my teeth against a hammer. "So, after the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-RE release which was featured in an underground album near the underground scene on an underground, but not-underground underground EP, it changed one lyric in "25 to Life"'s third verse, sentence 19. That officially caused Pandemonium near 54 Sound Studios in Detroit. The head of Vulgar Music, Justin Bieber Ph.D. declared a quarantine of the area around 54. So, this is what you need to do: we need my new re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-RE release of the album that added in a four-second skit. I'll talk to you on this handmade radio I made out of parts of my di-I mean, wood. And if you don't do this, I'll rape your girlfriend while nuking the entire state of Wyoming and sending a bunch of rappers to shoot up the Red Cross building." I actually knew he would do it. He had once blew up the Eiffel Tower by accident, and has killed over 1400 people with his own voice. "Oh, and if you try to rip off that radio, it's attached with a microscopic bomb, dawg. If you even remotely take it off, unless you drop it by accident, well... let's just say you'll be hearing my albums in hell."
I rolled my eyes, but on the inside, I was kind of excited. "What to I have to deal with?", I nervously asked. "You gotta leave first, bird-face. Oh, and I want you to write a review of Recovery somewhere on your way." Although I didn't understand bird face I knew everything he commanded me to do he wanted done.
"Fine. I'll be at the metro by 8:30." "Contact me there, stud.", he said smirking. This skit he's adding better be worldwide-changing. I storm out the doors from the reception center, ignoring everyone's questions, then strip off my doctor's gown, revealing a black shirt, with my gray pants still on. 'Hey, Bird-face!', a scratched audio blurted from the radio. I snatched it out of my jeans pocket before opening the door to my jeep. "WHAT?!", I asked, irritated to the point of oblivion. "There's a weapon I snuck in at the glove compartment of your car. Use it on your way, you'll need it. Nobody crosses the border unless you're part of the Justin Bieber Supporter Squadron, or they might misidentify you as part of the Aftermath Resistance. And trust me, you do NOT want that to happen."
I groaned at got in the car, opening the glove compartment and sorting through the first aid supplies, packets, and papers, and found a SPAS-12 shotgun with a total of six full magazines. "I really need to watch where you go now. If you didn't place that bomb in the hospital, I would report your ass and they'd hall you off to Arkham.", I bitterly announced in the radio. "Just drive. I'll talk to you there." I pumped the shotgun, hearing the satisfying CLACK as it loaded the last magazine, put it in the seat next to me, driving off into the rainy evening.
---
On the border outside of Detroit, 8:26:39
---
I brushed back my blonde hair, then peered down at the metro station, an underground subway, not like the metro rail I'm used to. I step down the gravel, conceal my shotgun in my backpack full of first aid and protective armor, then unholster the radio. "Marshall? You awake?" The sound of his confused groan, and stumbling for his radio tells me otherwise. "Y-yeah, I'm here,", he yawned. "Alright, listen. Everybody's asleep, and that metro's going to come in about two minutes. I want you to make sure you have everything you need."
I took off my pack and sorted through it. A couple layers of protective armor, metro rail tickets, first aid supplies, the shotgun, two Mack-11s he SOMEHOW put into my backpack, and some spare change with extra money. I also had a small case containing a knife. It seemed good enough. "Yeah, pretty much, Marshall.", I said, absently chilling in the cold night. I should have brought a jacket. "When you get on that metro, there's no turning back. You're sure you're entirely packed?" It seemed like I had everything, so I explained all the supplies I had. "Anything I'm missing, Mr. Terrorist?", watching as the train came down the spiked railway to the left. "Just need to make sure your dignity's still in check. Anyways, when you arrive at the very outside of Detroit, talk to Tupac." "Whoa, I thought he was dead!", I exclaimed, incredously raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, well... I went back in time to save him. By the way, I ate your lunch in the hospital." I shook my head, about willing to believe anything at this point. I'd rather believe Chuck Norris went to Mars and conquered the universe than believe 2pac's alive, but I nonetheless responded, "Time Travel? A lot of stuff I don't know about you." "The train's here, Mathers. This is where we go."
"I'll be in contact, bird face. Just be careful.", he said, but he sounded so much more mature than the usual teenage sneer in his voice all the time, the sarcastic vocal capacity he seems to famously hold, almost hallow. I waited as the metal doors slided open, then gave the train ticketeer the tickets, and sat on a nearby chair, breathing nervously as the green walls seemed to stare at me, and I stared out the metal circle, saying goodbye to the Upper Pennisula.
I found a pack of food in my outer packet, began to chew on some chips, very crunchy and good. "HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!! MY NAME'S HAROOOOOOOOOOLD!", I had a gleeful screech from the left of me, and looked at the left. He was fat, wearing a stupid hat, and in the worse clothes I had ever witnessed: brown lipstick, red hair, yellow jeans, and a pink shirt, which stated "I follow Mega***!", a metal band made by Dave Mustaine. Surprisingly, we were the only people on this train, apart from a wandering Labrador which I could only guess was his. "Hi...", I said, already annoyed. "U WANNA BE FRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENDSSSSSSS?", he extended his sentence, getting saliva in my gray eyes. "Yeah, whatever...." "AWEEEEEEEEEEESOOOOOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEE! I usually end up raping and looting everybody who turns me down, but I have a feeling about you!" I was just about to plug in my iPod and deafen myself, before Marshall spoke in a dark tone this time, so serious I actually follow.
"Kill the fat weirdo." I grabbed my Mack-11 and blew a cap. There was a dog licking my brown shoes, I couldn't help but shoo the dog away before he started to lay down on his master's body. Definitely saddening, but nonetheless boring. I feel into a deep sleep.
---
Outside of Detroit, On the Train: 3:28 am
---
I was awakened by an annoying computerized sound: "NOW STOPPING OUTSIDE OF DETROIT. PLEASE EXIT TO THE LEFT, AND EXIT WHEN THE DOORS HAVE OPEN. HAVE FUN!" I wanted to strangle whoever that was. I then peeked over at Harold, who's dog had eventually got bored of and was absentmindedly biting his loose shoelace. Kind of creepy.
I was then introduced to Tupac. I couldn't believe it. His black skin looked flawless and without any bullet holes, and that deep black moustache still remained on him. He was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes. He looked better than ever, so I wondered how old he was now. Probably in his 40's. "Sup, dawg, I've been expecting you. Follow me. We're going to 22 Aracia Avenue."
This made me groan even more, but Tupac knew that it was an ironic groan. That was the name of an Iron Maiden song. "So, what are we going up against?", I asked after a long perioid of silence.
"Well, we're neutral in this conflict. We've got the Justin Bieber Supporter Squadron, run by Justin Bieber, Ph.D. It's made up of at least one hundred members, now it's been reduced to sixty-seven, but still putting up a fight. The Rebecca Black Resistance is currently the dominating force, with more experience and members, not to mention a better leader. So, we just have to wait until they eventually kill eachother. Then, that's when we come in. While they're distracted, we have to send in an armored truck containing the East Coast and West Coast Legions, who currently have an alliance. We just have to help defend the truck. Once we reach 54 Sound, they'll take care of it for us while we storm in through the rest of the building. Once you reach the studio room, break in, and yank the album. We'll escape through a lift to the top of the building, then escape via a helicopter. Unfortunately, it will be carrying out far too many wounded, so they've attached a rectangled platform hooked up beneath the helicopter. We just have to stand on that and maybe rain some fire before they finally escape."
And this point, I would think invading the Pentagon sounded easier.
And sure enough, I was right: 22 Aracia Avenue was definitely a parody. I was then introduced to a zombie. I recognized him as Eddie the Head. His long hair was fuzzled up like he had just electrocuted himself, but he looked sturdy for a dead person. He's dressed in a black jacket with a yellow shirt underneath, with black jeans. "Welllllcoommmeeeee...", he hissed. "Thisssss issssssss the birrrrrrrrrrd facccccccccccccee?" Great, that's now an official nickname. "Yep, he's here to help us. We've got twenty hospital trucks going off right now, containing about 300 in total. We'll have our own ambulance, and you'll be riding shotgun. Eddie, you'll be in the back with an explosive-bolted crossbow." I never noticed the click of the weapon in the dead man's hands. It was tattoed like flames, with the occasional black dots here and there. It also had a scope, and the canteen looked like enough for sixteen arrows, eight of them normal arrows, the other eight explosive. "We'll give you a Ppsh-41, you know, from Russia, with an extended mag, Martin.", 2pac snapped me back to reality, handing me a gun with a drum-shaped magazine. "Get in.", he said, once the twentieth ambulance left.
I sat against the white seat, cold and solid enough to leech the body heat off your skin. Tupac was half-driving, half-leaning out the window with a shotgun. Then there we were, arriving at the 54 Sound Studios, completely quarantined. Gunfire rained through the sky, as did explosions and downed vehicles. "MOVE IN!", Eddie screamed from behind, finally carving a thorough hole in the back of the truck with his elbow bone (which I'd imagine is pretty sharp), then aims out the window.
As we progresed, I took down at least thirteen members as we went forth. Somebody tried to kamikaze themselves by running up with a sword to Tupac's window. He had just dig his fingers into his face before throwing the attacker down and crushing his face beneath the wheels. We were screeching down the battlefield at high speed, Eddie doing a good job of cleaning up crowds, Tupac doing a good job of manuevering, and I hope I was doing a good job, for I was never trained for this kind of crap. I soon ran out of magazines, before an explosion rattled my senses, earsplitting. The vehicle was flipped over, literally doing a 360, bashing my head against the cold white walls, Tupac barely clutching the wheel, my shotgun lost and his feet flying in the air. The impact flew Eddie back, crashing him through the windows.
The vehicle then crashed down on the surface with a harsh bang, just breaking into 54 Sound. I then flew straight out of the window, sliding across the tile with my ankle. I gathered my bearings: I was still alive, but badly injured with a limp. Tupac was pulling pieces of glass out of his head and fumbling through my first aid supplies, getting cut medicine and appyling gauze on his wounds. Eddie was the most crippled, but he's already dead. "Can you walk, Eddie?", I called out, finding that my vocal cords have suffered damaged somehow. I force myself to cough out a piece of glass. "Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.... Goooooooooo.... Get alllllbummmmm.... killllllllll Mathersssssss.....", he then slipped out of reality, into unconsciousness. "I'll carry him. He's still alive.", Tupac said. "You'll have to get me in the elevator because of Eddie. You go up the stairs." I nodded and watched them go up the wired lift as I dashed upstairs, snapping off hostage's ties as I ran, them thanking me and crying freedom. In about five minutes, I had made it to the third studio, and Tupac had been waiting there with a barely-conscious Eddie. "Take Eddie.", I left him off, hauling him into a nearby studio, placing him on the floor, concealed. "STAND BACK!", he zips an explosive bolt on the locked door, and it then explodes, getting gravel in the hell of my boot. I pick it out before rushing in to get the album.
I then began to hear screams down below.
"You better run now, Birdie.", Tupac snarled, loading an explosive bolt. "But you're low on ammo and hurt! I can't..."
"Go. Finish your job. Go off on the helicopter. Save Eddie. Kill Marshall.", that makes two requests for Shady to die. "It's okay, everybody thinks I'm dead anyways." I heaved up Eddie, waving one last goodbye, a frown on my face, and I took the lift to the roof. Eddie had somewhat regained consciousness, and was somehow able to stand, albeit painfully. I rushed onto the roof, the helicopter waiting for me.
"GET YOUR ASSES ON HERE!", the pilot yelled. Eddie draged himself onto an empty spot in the helicopter before passing out again. "On the platform, bud." I noticed the hooked up platform, wired and everything. I stepped onto it, surprisingly sturdy. "You got the album, kid?" I nodded. "We're moving, people!", as if the whole purpose of sitting there was for me to get the LP.
I was able to put the album into my CD player, and surprisingly... I liked it somewhat. Even though everybody said it sucked major balls and that it should be buried alongside Hitler's grave in Germany. I couldn't stand Untitled, Love the Way You Lie, or No Love at all.
---
"Well, Marshall, here you go. I hope you give one in to our friend, Tupac. Eddie's recovering, and..."
"I have something to confess.", he interrupted. "The skit I told you about, the whole reason you got the album?", I nodded, knowing I had made some mistake. "It sucks balls, so I'm not gonig to release it."
I stared at him, my jaw gaping. "I should have done this a long time ago, Marshall."
I cocked my Mack-11 at him, and even though he had that psychotic smile on his face, he knew that I wasn't giving him a 21-gun salute, even though he was going to his death, there was no remorse in those eyes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crysis 2 - A Few Thoughts

Title: Crysis 2Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Formats: Subtitled, Online Capabilities, 1080i HD, CryEngine 3
ESRB: M for Mature (16 in the UK)
Developers / Publishers: Crytek UK / Electronic Arts


Let's be honest: Science Fiction is a pretty popular genre for video games. With stellar releases like Halo: Reach and Starcraft II popping up in the last year, not to mention Fallout: New Vegas's intelligent, futuristic apocalypse (in a way that's sci-fi), world, the realism in games seems to have toned down, included in games like Mass Effect.

Crysis is a real eye-opener. Fenced in by breathtakingly earth-shattering visuals and a tight FPS feel, mixed with a new, unique game engine and strategy elements, the previous Crysis game (and it's expanded, less talked about version) was definitely a shocker for 2007. Now, nearly five years later, comes Crysis 2, a highly anticipated follow-up to Crytek UK's masterpiece. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting a whole lot. When an earth-shattering first game comes out, you wonder: "Will the sequel be better?" In the case of Modern Warfare (remember, this is all opinion-based), that's not happening. In cases like Mass Effect and Halo, yes, the sequels are better. Ultimately, Crysis 2 isn't better. Though the expansion from the PC-only game to other modern day gaming system is a big step up for the series, not to mention an improved multiplayer mode.

Crysis 2 is not full of nostalgic reminiscing. Don't expect the large variety from the 1st game. The setting is different, your protagonist is different, the enemies are different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic (man, everyone seems to like that) New York (poor New York, always used to be apocalyptic), but there's a twist: it's been evacuated due to aliens. So, you have to "take care" of the aliens.

If there's one thing that I heavily enjoyed romping through in Crysis 2, was the awesome combat. You still have abilities from the original Crysis, such as turning invisible, adding limited-time weapon attachments, but you have a new Nanosuit, called the (yeah, unoriginal) Nanosuit 2. You can kick cars, you can vault walls, throw anything around you, perform special melee moves on enemies. In fact, when you fire an assault rifle and burst down anything in your path, you'll know something's changed, and for the better. From Crytek's long-time experience and expectations for Crysis 2, it should pass by as no surprise that Crysis 2 is indefinitely an improvement over the original Crysis, in terms of gameplay.

Bugs, though, are oddly present. I've seen some questionable AI movements present in Crysis 2. In fact, when the half-always present dumb alien just sits around on his ass, it made it somewhat easier. Granted, the sense of threat and danger is present in this alien-invested New York vision, but it doesn't exactly show outside the visuals and character interaction, not to mention the amount of stealth forced inside said game. And the save system annoys me to the point of smashing buttons, it's all checkpoint-based, which gets tedious and furiously repetitive.

There is thankfully a long plot to keep a fan satisfied. Your character, Alcatraz, has an interesting story that's easy to follow, and lengthy for those who want to keep on going. And there's plenty. The violence does seem very over-the-top. Firing rifles and smashing enemies into walls, or strangling someone until their vocal cords are entangled is very fun indeed. (That kind of sounds like I get sick pleasure out of homicide, but whatever) But stealth is becoming more and more forced into the game, as I said before. You can skip entire stages of combat by just engaging a stealth mode, sneaking off, waiting in a spot when your stealth area discharges, wait a ridiculously short couple of seconds for it to re-energize, then sneak off again. You just rinse and repeat, and then boom, you're done.

Since I never have exactly been one for Crysis's multiplayer, I'm pleased to say that the sequel is actually quite brawny and interesting. It's straightforward and based on multiplayer today, basically. There's the team deathmatch, which pits players in the Nanosuits versus regular armored soldiers, the 'defend objective' mode, called Crash Site, my personal favorite, where you have to defend pods, and other modes to keep you entertained. The maps are nicely designed and diverse, so it's quite nice to see a change of pace (though they are all set in New York City, perhaps to follow the game's story?)

Crysis 2 is a game that sets high expectations, and for the most part, I think it meets them. The scripting is interesting. The visuals are breathtaking, I can't play this game on an HDTV without standing there in awe. There's a lot of length and diversity in the game to keep any gamer entertained. There's still the numerous moments where bugs will piss you off, and it can be difficult (or sometimes too easy, and that's a stab at the stealth), but overall, I highly recommend it. It's (hard to believe) an improvement over the first.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I interview Stefano of K.O.T.M.

Highly off-topic here, but recently I've been interviewing a few band members recently. I'm trying to help promote a rap group, K.O.T.M. They're under DJ Timbo Records, for those iTunes users who are familiar, and have so far Recorded one full song so far. So, I decided to do a phone call interview with one of the main men, Stefano R., aka "Certified G".

"
A: We’d you get the idea to form the rap group?
S: We had just decided to form the group several months ago, around October of 2010.  The original members were me, Issac, Ethan, Max, and Jake.
A: Where did you first perform?
S: Max’s Barmitzeah on December of 2010 with DJ Timbo.
A: You’re still working on a mixtape?
S: Yes.
A: How many raps will it include?
S. Two.
A. What are those songs?
S: We’re not sure what we’re going to call the two, we just began recording and writing of those two songs.
A: I listened to your first song, and how many people rapped in it?
S: Me and Max had two verses, and everybody else had a bridge. So everybody else had a role.
A: When you release an EP, how many will it include?
S: About four songs, including Knock Out, Take Money, the debut.
A: And will any of those be singles?
S: All of them.
A: Will you have any extra tracks, like acapella versions?
S: Probably not.
A: What’s your favorite part about working with KOTM?
S: Perhaps the numerous meetings at the recording studio, such as the movie theater in our camp. It’s a great place to hang out and write down songs. Oh, and performing. "


---


Check out the rest of the interview yonder.


It's usually nice to talk to talk to dudes like him, very laidback when I talked with him.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The King Of Limbs: Now Out!

It's been a little closer to five years since the release of In Rainbows. And now The King Of Limbs is out, today. I'm rather pleased with The King of Limbs, and I think it's their best album since OK Computer. They definitely deserve a front page in Rolling Stone. Anyways, in honor of the release, here's the digital download of the entire album!

EDIT: I'll put up the download link tommorow.

1. "Bloom"  
2. "Morning Mr Magpie"  
3. "Little by Little"  
4. "Feral"  
5. "Lotus Flower"  
6. "Codex"  
7. "Give Up the Ghost"  
8. "Separator"