Monday, June 29, 2009

American Son Parts 2 and 3

Although it hurts me inside, I'll continue to review this farce of an Amazing Spider-Man storyline. This time, I'll write on the next two issues, so this goes by faster.

Comic Review: Amazing Spider-Man 596 + 597

This starts a bit after the last issue ended, with Harry at a press conference joining the Avengers. We cut to Peter yelling at Harry, because joining the Avengers must be a terrible idea. Afterwards, Peter is so distracted he doesn't notice a burning building right freaking next to him. I don't really get the point of it though, it doesn't affect any other scenes, and we don't actually see him helping anyone out of it. I guess it's to remind us he does some superheroing between beating up government officials?

After that bit of random idiocy, we go to the Avengers Tower, where Norman is showing Harry around, and Harry wants to see his ex-girlfriend Lily. Norman lies and tells Harry that she doesn't want to see him. In another part of the tower, Norah, one of Peter's co-workers, apparently has a job there, flirting with a security guard who has access to the secure floors.

We then go to Aunt May's house, where Peter still lives for no reason, where Peter and Jay, Jameson's dad, have a little heart-to-heart about how Jay deserted in the army to see his son, Jonah, born. The studio audience goes "Awwww" and the scene ends. Back in Avengers Tower, Harry has to get some vaccines to work there, but resists due to the suspicion that it would be Goblin formula, but Norman assures him it's good, so he gets them anyway.

We next see Peter talking to what seems like nobody, until the last panel of the page reveals he's talking to Gwen Stacy's grave. Sheesh, that guy needs to get laid. Badly. Anyway, he then talks to Norah, who reveals her DEVIOUS plan to infiltrate Avengers Tower, and do... something. Report on it, I guess. She attributes her genius to fetal alcohol syndrome. Peter objects on the grounds that Osborn will find out and gut her like a fish, but she storms off, angrily.

The next part stars our favorite ripoff, Mac Gargan Venom. I could go on about what's wrong, but long story short: He's not the Venom I know and love. Anyway, it shows him talking to a hooker, her trying to negociate a price, while he talks about how pretty she smells. What happens next is what the people who made The Madness were kind enough to omit. To wit:

Yeah. The less we talk about that, the better. Spider-Man then attacks, unfortunately too late for my sanity, and has a strange device on his back. Hawkeye, who's supposed to be watching Venom, is instead picking his nose and killing mice with his boogers. Yeah. Spider-Man then goes to describe how he beat Venom, using a sound generator, and he describes its effect as "having diarrhea pumping through your veins." Yeah. Okay, whoever's writing this obviously isn't the most eloquent they have over at Marvel. If the burning building exploded, I would suspect it was Michael Bay. But I digress. Spider-Man throws Venom in a vault with the machine, even though, presumably, it's causing him extreme pain. Turns out Invisible Woman gave him the sound machine, and also gives him what looks like a black Spider-Man suit.

At Avengers Tower, Harry gets up from his bed, disables a security camera, and leaves. In the conference room, everyone's there, including Venom, who we can infer is Spider-Man, due to his thought bubbles. Osborn's speech is entirely different than it is in Dark Avengers, and by that, I mean he speaks like a 6 year old. He calls everyone by their villain names, rather than their Avenger names, and calls everyone a "pack of retarded children." Yeah. The issue ends when he reveals the name of his plans for Harry: American Son.

The next issue begins with Norman going into a secure floor of the tower, and Spider-Man's classy reaction.

They then go in, and Osborn shows him the armor-thing for American Son. It just looks like Iron Man ripoff armor with a badly drawn eagle on the chest and an American flag pasted on the shoulder. Not terribly inspired. Anyway, Osborn shows him the results of their testing of the Super-Soldier serum and its effects when combined with the Goblim serum. Osborn of course, still has no trace of the speech patterns he had in Dark Avengers, but I just don't care anymore. One of the hideous mutants tries to kill Osborn, but Spider-Man, entirely out of character if he's trying to act like Venom, kicks it to the ground. As Osborn insults the imposter-Venom, Harry gets ready to knock out some guards to get into Norman's office, (And he calls his father Norman rather than Dad, I don't know why.) but he gets pulled into the shadows by someone with glowy eyes.

At Aunt May's house, the power goes out, as an ominous voiceover talks about something great or terrible over shots of evil spying robots looking at everything. Back at Avengers Tower, it turns out Lily was the one that pulled Harry away, and Harry proceeds to tell her that he'll cure her of the Goblin formula, so Norman will let them be together or something. With the Avengers, Spider-Man over-acts, presumably to make up for his prior heroism.

After going to "Monitor Duty" on an elevator, Dark Wolverine attacks him, because he smells cleaner than the actual Venom. They fight, Spider-Man eventually wins, and Harry walks in. Spider-Man reveals that he is, in fact, the actual Spider-Man. Harry freaks out, asks Spider-Man why he's meddling, and raises a very good point.

Then Norman walks in, and Spider-Man makes up something, which Harry says is a lie. Spider-Man is then pinned to the floor by arrows, and Norman, although it's not something he would say, asks a question I was really wondering.

So then Norman punches him in the face, and presumably shoots him. All we see is him shooting the gun, then Spider-Man's hand on the ground with a pool of blood under it. Then the issue ends. Yeah, a cliffhanger can save this.

Okay, these two were just as bad as the first one, only now I can't even sympathize with Norman, because he talks like Batman when written by Frank Miller. Spider-Man acts like an idiot, and I think getting shot in the head was an adequate consequence. It'll be a week or two before I get the last two issues in this, so if you hate these reviews, there'll be a break. That's all for today.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

American Son Part 1

Oh, how I mourn for Amazing Spider-Man. See, I used to really like it. But now it's entirely terrible. It's a long story.

It starts with Civil War, a previously mentioned crossover wherein Spider-Man revealed his identity to the public at large in support of the Superhuman Registration Act. But then he realized Tony Stark was a nazi who was trapping his former friends in an inescapable prison in the Negative zone, so he joined the Anti-registration side. After Civil War was over, Tony had won, Captain America was dead, and Spider-Man was a fugitive. Kingpin, the fat crime lord guy, although being in prison, ordered a hit on Aunt May, since now every villain ever now knew who Spider-Man was. Aunt May got shot, Spider-Man went back in his black suit, beat the shit out of Kingpin, and swore Kingpin would die when Aunt May did.

So, Aunt May was in a coma, Spider-Man had committed a shitload of felonies, and he was married to Mary Jane, to the chagrin of the Editor in Chief of Marvel, Joe Quesada. The solution? MAKE A FAUSTIAN BARGAIN. In a storyline called One More Day, Peter and Mary Jane agree to erase their marriage from existence, selling it to the closest equivalent to the Devil Marvel has, Mephisto. As a direct result of this, Peter is single once again, lives with his Aunt, has no job, has no legal troubles, his friend Harry Osborn is alive again, and nobody at all knows who Spider-Man is. Even those who knew before he revealed it. Even freaking Venom. Augh.

So, to correspond with this, Marvel canceled all other Spider-Man titles, leaving only Amazing Spider-Man, which is released three times a month. It now has SEVEN alternating writers and FIVE alternating artists. In short: This comic is a mess. I tried reading a few issues after the big switch, and they sucked. To correspond with the new Dark Reign thing going on, there's a new storyline, called American Son. I bought a few issues in this, because I thought it would be good, since Osborn was a Spider-Man villain in the first place, so these might be worth reading. How mistaken I was.

Comic Review: Amazing Spider-Man 595

This comic begins with Peter and Harry Osborn, picking up chicks. They then see Norman's giant evil jet of evilness, flying to his super-evil malicious tower. Of evil. We then cut to Peter at work, at his new newspaper, Front Line. He goes on a big tirade at how evil Norman Osborn is, and everybody just laughs at him. Because he's totally not evil. At all. To be honest, Osborn really hasn't done anything evil yet. He's appeared to have been cured of his Goblin persona, and so far he's saved Latveria in what could be a diplomatic mission.

It then shows Spider-Man and Wolverine having a chat about Osborn. Spider-Man gets all whiny, while Wolverine suggests that Spider-Man just kill him. Wolverine then makes an incredibly subtle joke about Bush, comparing him to Osborn. Then they fist pound. THEY MAKE A JOKE ABOUT BUSH, THEN FIST POUND. THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU DO IN COMICS. AAAAAAAAHHH.

...Ahem. Anyway, the next scene is with Peter and his-now-apparent-enemy J. Jonah Jameson. I mean, these guys are just antagonistic. Jameson became the new mayor of New York (and subsequently a nazi), for reasons not adequately explained. But anyway, they are full-on hatin'. It doesn't really make much sense, I mean, Jameson only really hated Spider-Man, and since he doesn't know who that is, he should act the same way towards Peter. Before, Jameson was either ambivalent towards Peter, or in rare cases was almost a kind of father figure. But now they just hate each other. I guess Peter just didn't have enough enemies.

In other developments, Jameson's father is engaged to Aunt May. Peter found out about this in the worst way possible. You know what I mean. (THEY WERE IN BED. EEEEWWWW) So Jameson is having a party for vaguely defined reasons, and the guest of honor shows up. Who else but-- you guessed it, Norman Osborn! Nobody but Jameson wants Osborn there, since Harry is convinced Norman ruined his life, Peter knows he's the Green Goblin, and Jameson's dad says he's evil. Norman retorts that the old man is a deserter, and that pretty much settles the issue. Norman invites Harry to join his Avengers, which Harry promptly rejects.

That night, Harry's ex-girlfriend/supervillain comes calling, by breaking through a window. Her name is Lily, but she's called Menace, and she's the newest Goblin themed villain. She got a type of the goblin serum accidentally spilled on her, and she can change forms from a reasonably attractive girl to an evil horned Goblin thingy at will. She got beaten up by Spider-Man in an earlier storyline, and pretty much gave up supervillainy. Aaanyway, she shows Harry something shocking, at least, it is to Harry.

Next we see Norman talking to a hologram of his secretary, when he is pulled forcefully from his limo by some webs. Yes, Spider-Man kidnapped Norman Osborn. The man who's practically the leader of American defense. See, Spider-Man is angry that Norman would invite Harry to the Avengers. How would Spider-Man know that, you ask, since he can't let Norman know he's Peter Parker? He has spies on Jameson's staff. Yeah, that's believable. Spider-Man proceeds to beat the living shit out of Osborn, who at that point had done nothing directly against Spider-Man. I mean, at this stage, I'm on Normie's side. He was just minding his own business, trying to get his son in on the "We're all heroes" deal. Spider-Man just freaked out and beat a grown man for no adequately explained reason. Don't worry Norman, I'm rootin' for ya!

Anyway, Spider-Man inexplicably decides to kill Osborn by strangling him, because advice from Wolverine is always good advice. He stops when Norman answers his phone, and, surprise surprise, Harry accepted his Avengers offer! Then Spider-Man walks away in defeat. The next page, we see Harry kneeling next to Lily, who is now pregnant. That's how it ends.

This issue makes me sad. It makes me sad inside. I had hoped for a good Spider-Man issue, but this was just disappointing. Character derailment, bad writing, and a storyline that just doesn't make any sense plague the issue, in what I thought would be good. I mean, the art is still fine, and at least I can sympathize with someone in here. (Hint: It's Norman.) We'll just have to see how low we can go when I review the rest of this storyline.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Venom: The Madness

Now then, my older brother has a lot of comics, and as a gift, gave me some of his Venom ones. I was thrilled, seeing as how Venom kicks ass. Little was I to know that one of the series he gave me would be the worst story to ever grace the pages of comics. Yes, the day has finally come. Today, I write:

Comic Review: Venom: The Madness

Now then, let me start by saying I wanted good things for this comic. As I could tell from the covers, there was going to be Venom vs. Juggernaut, which I thought would be awesome. Unfortunately, this didn't exactly live up to expectations.

It starts with Venom dreaming, with a voice talking about how his previously perfect symbiosis was not actually perfect at all. This crazy guy ranting on the streets about evil pollution is attacked, Venom wakes up, saves the guy, and meets Beck. See, at this point, Venom lives underground with a group that are essentially hobos, and eeeevil corporations are polluting underground, so Beck, some lady who apparently has nothing better to do, is suing the evil companies. The boss of one of these companies, Scarmore, is always coated in shadow, and sounds more like a bad Captain Planet villain.

Somehow, I guess, he made an evil sentient mercury in the course of making whatever it is he makes, and that's what he's being sued for. Anyway, his lackey hires Juggernaut to stop the lawsuit. Meanwhile, Brock and Beck are having a tender moment, but Beck is a little disturbed when the symbiote gets a little too friendly, so that cuts it short. That, and the crazy guy from before tells them someone who's helping with the lawsuit pulled out, because he got beaten up. Brock volunteers to beat up the guy who beat him up, which makes sense, but the crazy guy says that won't work, because giant corporations are evil. Yeah, I dunno either. That night, we are treated to a little montage of evil polluting people who apparently rape the environment for a quick buck. Way to be subtle, comic.

Anyway, the next day, Beck has a press conference, talking about the evil pollution, which makes Juggernaut target her. Venom fights back, and there's a big fight scene, which ends with Brock falling into a pool of talking red liquid. We are then left with a cliffhanger, assuming it wants to bond with Brock and the symbiote. Next issue, it bonds, and something really freaky happens.

We then cut to something... else... I guess. I don't even know.

Um. Aaaanyway, Beck and the crazy guy talk once again about how giant corporations get away with everything, ever so subtly trying to tell the readers something. (I think you're supposed to like corporations by the time this is over.) We then cut back to the Captain Planet Villain, telling his lackey he doesn't want to know how he's taking care of the lawsuit. Anyway, at this point, Venom is having scary dreams, and wonders about the third voice in his head. You know things are bad when there's emphasis on the third part of that statement. After talking to the crazy guy, Venom becomes inexplicably stupid, and decides to kill the president of Scarmore. In the middle of the night. When nobody is there. Being that he became retarded for no reason, he kills a maid instead.

He then sleeps, has more crazy dreams, and says something that I may never forget.


I can't even think about that sentence too hard, because I fear my brain will collapse in upon itself and I'll just go insane.I mean, seriously? A fourth voice? But don't worry, that's not the only bad part of this issue. Anyway, back to the President, the lackey calls Juggernaut again, and then we're back with Brock and Beck. Beck is a little reluctant to get close with Brock, because he's totally freaking batshit insane. Brock responds with something I think we've all tried at one time or another.

But that's not all!

Just as Venom looks like he's about to use the symbiote in ways that would make the japanese blush, Juggernaut thankfully arrives, and starts beating up Venom. Eventually, a rip in space-time appears out of nowhere, and Juggernaut throws Venom into it. Then the issue ends. At that point, I was just really really confused. In fact, I am still confused.

The next issue, we find Venom trapped in a world of crazy. No really, it's a literal world created by insanity. Anyway, he wins by... beating up the personifications of crazy. He just beats them up. No moral revelations or anything, he just... beats them up. Finally, he leaves crazytown. By that point Beck has been kidnapped by Juggernaut, who begins to sympathize with her. That's right, it's reverse Stockholm syndrome. So Venom drops in, apparently not crazy anymore or something, drives away Juggernaut, and saves Beck. She then reveals she can't be with him anymore, because he's a freaking lunatic. He takes it well. At the end, he drops the mercury stuff back in the puddle, and proclaims what a great hero he is for being sooo crazy.

Now then, this comic was bad. Not just normal bad, this series goes to a whole new level of bad. The art is bad, the plot is bad, it's like whoever made it had only heard of Venom once! It tries to heavyhandedly give some environmental bullshit, but the only moral I got out of it is, "Don't merge your symbiote with evil sentient mercury, or you'll go crazy." Juggernaut is more stupid than usual, the president of Scarmore isn't even developed enough to be one sided, he's like half-sided. The only thing almost good about this series is the introduction of Beck, who is featured in later stories, but honestly this is probably the worst start she could have gotten.

So yeah, bad series, and an example of how one could tarnish the name of Venom, ruining his awesomeness. Before re-reading it for this review, I almost forgot how bad it was. But now I shall always know. Anyway, what do you think? Like the review? Too long? Too short? Comment! That's all for now, I'll probably do some Amazing Spider-Man next, so keep your eyes open. Farewell!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Venom: Lethal Protector

Following my last comic review, Dark Avengers, I decided to review something a little older, starring one of my favorite characters, Venom.

Comic Review: Venom: Lethal Protector

This takes place after Amazing Spider-Man 375, where Venom agreed to stop trying to kill Spider-Man, if Spidey let him go. Spider-Man didn't really have a choice, so Venom goes to San Francisco where he used to live apparently. This is drawn by Mark Bagley, my favorite penciler for Spider-Man, and written by David Michelinie, who wrote for Amazing Spider-man at the time. The comic opens with Venom killing a random mugger as he's about to do unspeakable things to the victim of his mugging. Venom then gives her back her purse, leading to what is quite possibly the best three panels ever.

Indeed, how rude of him.

Anyway, the cops later see him and try to arrest him when he tries to book a hotel room. A tourist sees him and takes a picture, which is then later seen by none other than Peter Parker! Peter then goes on the flashback Venom's origin, because back then there wasn't wikipedia. Violating his deal, Spider-Man goes to San Francisco to try and catch Venom. Meanwhile, Venom is homeless, and beats up some suited people beating up hobos. Spider-Man just happens to come by at this exact moment, and punches Venom under the pretense that Venom is assaulting the FBI or similar organization. That leads to this exchange and another candidate for "Best Panel in This Comic"

Then the men in suits pull out guns. Spider-Man, dodging the bullets, doesn't notice that Venom and the hobos disappear until it's too late. He basically says a "Well dammit." and swings off again. We then see some foreshadowing with this random business guy holding a picture of his son, telling some guy on the phone to assemble the squad.
Then we find Venom and the hobos in an underground tunnel, which apparently the homeless people live in. After explaining that the fancy dressed people were hired by this guy named Roland Treece, The hobos come upon these giant mechanical suits (Called "Diggers") owned by none other than Treece. Anyway, they attack, Venom beats the crap out of them until one of them uses their "Sonic shovel." A sonic shovel? Seriously? Why does everyone Venom face have to have some sort of sonic weapon that makes no sense?

Anyway, the floor caves in, and the digger and Venom fall through a pit. Then this happens:

Wait, what?

So yeah, that's Venom's first solo comic, and I love it. The art is awesome, drawn Mark Bagley. Then there's the dialog. The writer did a kickass job on this, and for a few reasons. The constant recapping in the beginning almost sounds natural, the explanations are never too long or tedious, and the way Venom talks is almost... poetic. I think this is mentioned later by saying he was a journalist and that made him talk awesome or something, but whatever he says not only sounds very dramatic, but every sentence is like a short speech.
Well, that's all for now. I'll probably get through the other six issues in one other blog post, so I don't spend the rest of my life talking about the comics I love. Next up on the W Defender, Venom: The Madness! Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Game Review: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

[This one is a game review, I tend not to do these too often, because games are expensive.]

It's been a while since I've made contact, mostly because I've been too busy working and making my Halloween costume. (Dr. Horrible. It turned out pretty awesome. I'll show pictures of that later.) Anyway, the day after it came out, I bought Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. I finished it up fairly quickly, and was planning to write a review once I had finished it. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned, and before I knew it, I had totally forgotten about it. Anyway, on to the review of:

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Anyway, like lots of things that involve Spider-Man/Venom/Power Rangers/Donuts/cool stuff, I was prepared to adore this game. It had Spider-Man, Venom, the symbiote suit, and it seemed epic. I had seen every trailer released for it, and I loved the concept. On the whole, I found it to be disappointing, but I'll elaborate on that later.

Firstly, the story. (Oh, just so you know, spoilers ahead.) It was dark. It starts in the middle of a giant symbiote invasion, rife with explosions, screaming, and just general chaos. You then are sent to kill things and have no idea how to do so. A voiceover starts, and then the flashback begins. Let me tell you, it is one long flashback. It then goes to Spider-Man facing Venom, who has very unspecific motives. A part of the symbiote inexplicably comes off on Spider-Man, and he just kinda... well, it's not like he doesn't notice, he just doesn't do anything about it. Anyway, Mary Jane breaks her arm, and Spider-Man acts like a little bitch. Seriously, the voice actor isn't bad when he's trying to sound emotionless or cold, but when he wants to convey some sort of feeling, he justs ends up sounding like a bitch. I wish they had gone with some older voice actor, so I could have that sense of familiarity. Anyway, you meet Luke Cage, and for some reason, he has the authority to tell you how to use your spider-powers. He sends you to do some menial tasks, stop a gang war, and do other stuff. Then you meet Black Cat, who for some reason was doing some illegal stuff for the Kingpin. After kicking her ass while she tries to make out with you, you get to make a choice between staying with her, or abandoning her to be a goody-goody two shoes. Anyway, a bunch of random shit happens, and eventually people start acting funny, and by funny, I mean walking on hands and feet, crawling up buildings, and eating other people. Spider-Man beats the shit out of them, and eventually finds out Venom is infecting them with some sort of symbiote. You kick the shit out of Venom, and he leaves, once again not making it clear exactly what he plans to accomplish. You meet Wolverine, you kill more stuff, and eventually SHIELD starts quarantining the place. You fight Electro, who's freaking out because SHIELD took his sister. After a long chase, he gets shot by officers, but gets infected by a symbiote anyway. The whole city ends up covered in symbiotes, and you just need to keep killing them, and at certain points you get to choose whether to take the red suit or black suit path. This can get really interesting, and I was surprized as to how evil you can be if you choose the black suit. For example, at one point Wolverine gets taken over by a symbiote, and after you beat him you get a choice. I chose the black suit, and, to my great shock, Spider-Man picked up Wolverine... And ripped him in half. You then get a shot of Wolverine, with his feet right next to his head. After that I only chose red suit. Anyway, you break the Tinkerer out of prison under the pretense that he'll have the expertise to stop the symbiotes without killing the people. He makes a machine, and you do more menial tasks. Eventually a giant symbiote is blocking the machine, and instead of you being able to make a red/black choice, the game makes it for you, based upon which choices you made earlier. Anyway, you fight a giant Venom, still with no apparent motives other than "rule the world." Turns out Eddie Brock lost control of the symbiote, and once he frees himself, proceeds to kill himself so the symbiote can be destroyed. I got the "bad" ending, where Spider-Man, wearing the black suit, rules over the symbiotes and thus, New York. Yeah, a little depressing.

Overall, the story was pretty good, with a good Good/evil dynamic. Some parts seemed a little weak, and it felt like the cinema scenes didn't always match up, and everyone else had a better voice actor than Spider-Man, but that was easy to forget. What wasn't easy to forget, however, was the gameplay.

The gameplay was, and let me put it bluntly, repetitive. Basically, you pressed Y, threw yourself towards someone, and pressed X until they were dead. Sometimes different timing would yield different results, but you found yourself doing the same thing over and over on the same enemies. Combat was slightly more interesting in that you could fight on the ground, on walls, in the air, and switch between enemies in either of those. They had a nice take on Spider-sense, where you could target enemies with it, or just scan for enemies in a wide radius. Once one enemy was killed, the spider-sense would (at least theoretically) switch to the next one until they were all dead. Thing is, the developers were really into that whole "do this specific thing at this specific point" so, near the beginning, when two gang leaders are having a parley, and there's snipers outside trying to kill them; you have to webzip and hit, then webzip to the next enemy, about 27 times. In a row. If you try to do something different to dispatch the snipers, you fail. This got quite tiring, because I couldn't use the limited range of variability I was provided with. Another thing is the wallcrawling could really mess up the camera, where you want it to point up, but it decides to point sideways, making you run around the building rather than up it. Sometimes, the camera would lock on to an enemy when you want to just go away, and it takes a bit to un-lock.

Another thing is, for most of the game, you're just sent on quests by different contacts to just kill different types of enemies, or to go to a different place. It reminded me of World of Warcraft. I mean, if I wanted to play WoW, I'd play some damn WoW!

The music, in contrast to other parts of the game, was really good. It was reminiscent to Spider-Man 3's music, which I enjoyed, despite my complains to the rest of the movie. It was orchestral, and the black suit parts were quite dynamic. Unfortunately, it was often overshadowed by sound effects, or random characters yelling and stuff. The only time I got a good listen for it was during the end credits.

Overall, SM:WoS was not a bad game. It had one main problem, and that was it's repetitiveness. It had a lot going for it, customizable attack trees, good cinematics, a good story, and a natural new fighting style. If it had extrapolated that throughout the rest of the game, it would have been outstanding.
I give Spider-Man: Web of Shadows a score of

7.5 out of 10.

So yeah, that's my first review in a while, and I had been eager to do it. Anyone played the game and disagreed? Decided not to buy the game? Comment!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CD Review: Ultra Beatdown

[This review was written about in September of last year, on one night when I got really bored.]

Yes, you read that title right. I'm finally going to burn the midnight oil and spend about an hour writing and listening to a CD. But first, I talk about other stuff.

I got a WoW comic today, which is quite possibly the worst thing for me if I plan to work at all in the next month. It's called Ashbringer, and I may write about it if I get through the piles of other work I've collected by slacking off.

Now then, on to the review of:

Ultra Beatdown by Dragonforce

Now then, if you don't know about Dragonforce, here's a little background: They're in the genre of Power Metal, which basically means really fast and somewhat orchestral metal where the lyrics usually have to do with the fantasy genre. This means most power metal ends up fitting well with things like... World of Warcraft. (Warning: Playing World of Warcraft while listening to Dragonforce is a potent combination and should not be attempted. Once you turn on the music, you will wake up as if from a trance hours, nay, days later, surrounded by empty cans of Mountain Dew, with your fingers covered in a fine orange powder smelling of nacho cheese. Your previously level 20 character will be level 70, with epic gear. You will look at your chat logs, and be abhorred at your sudden lack of grammar and knowledge of the english language.)

Anyway, Dragonforce gets most of its criticism in the form of two arguments; 1. It's too fast to process most of the notes in their solos, and 2. All their songs sound the same. Point 1 I disagree with, but I guess I'm just hyper or something, and point 2 actually is a valid point. Many of Dragonforce's songs seem reminiscent of their older songs, and sometimes they reuse the same themes (I.e. Moon, Fire, Night, Riding, Black, etc.) so it's possible to confuse the songs. Anyway, now that you're all edumacted on the band, let's start with the songs!

(Note: I will be keeping a log in parenthesis throughout the songs, so I can preserve my sanity through this incredibly long album.)

1. Heroes of Our Time: This is a solid opening song, as well as the only single they made from this CD. I usually have a to try quite hard to keep from air guitaring through most of it, but that's just me. It has a few sound effects that sound a bit... video game-ish, and that turns out to be a trend for this CD. I mean, just look at the album cover:

It sounds different enough from other songs that it earns merit. They actually have some, well, pauses in the music, presumably to give me time to recouperate from the furious air guitaring. In this song, I can tell when other band members other than the lead singer pitch in for some background vocals. For some reason, in the chorus, the main line seems to be when they stop for a second, then all say "Starchaser!" and the song seems to have no mention of heroes of any time. Oh, I forgot to mention, that's another problem Dragonforce has, the titles of the songs usually has nothing to do with the song itself. Just call the song Starchaser! It's in the lyrics for God's sake! The solo is standard fare for Dragonforce, with Herman Lee and... that other guy switching off between who's soloing for maximum efficiency. Or something. They made good use of this weird effect where they fade in really fast, so it sounds all spoooky. That's all I can really think of for this song. Moving right along...

2. The Fire Still Burns: The beginning of the song annoys me, because they seem to stop the music randomly a few times, for a weird sound effect, and and it's just not fun when I'm trying to headbang. They actually held back on the guitar for some of the lyrics, which surprised me. The drummer is more apparent in this one, and speaking of which, the drummer for Dragonforce must either be a computer or someone different for every song, because he drums really damn fast. Like, I can believe how a human can drum that fast. It's crazy. This song is also pleasantly surprizing, in that they actually say "The Fire Still Burns" in the chorus. I can only hope this trend will return. (Walter's log: Oh God, this is going to take me allll night. These songs are wicked long! AH.) Around 4 minutes in, they slow things down with a little piano and singing, then gradually bring it into one of their signature solos. Then they take it away with their favorite lyric, an entire chorus of "Woah" in different tones. It's not bad, but still, it's like Keanu Reeves wrote that part! What's next, the next album is called Excellent TimeMachine?

3. Reasons to Live: Starts out with the video game sounds again. I mean, like, I thought I was playing a Mega Man level there in the beginning. Luckily, that's over with pretty quickly, and we get some riffs. Most people like this song the best, since it's probably the most different from the other songs, but it really reminds me of Black Winter Night from their first album. It's really different in that in the middle, they do something completely different from what they've ever done, with a kind of slow piano/guitar duet thing. Which then goes into a surprizingly slow guitar solo. I can see why people like this song the best, it lends some much needed variety into the CD. Then I think, like, the keyboard gets a solo? It starts to sound video gamey for a little bit, so I think that's the case. The lyrics in this one are still the same as usual, what with "trying to understand" and stuff. They do, however, say in the chorus, "Reasons to survive" which I suppose is enough to give the song the name it has. I hope this trend continues!

4. Heartbreak Armageddon: What? Heartbreak Arma... What? This is the title to a song? Seriously? It sounds like what some over-dramatic high schooler would call his breakup. "She said she didn't love me anymore, so I started crying! It was a heartbreak armageddon!" I mean, it is about someone who finds out they aren't loved while a meteor heads towards the earth? I do not like this title. Though it is fun to make fun of. The song itself is not bad. One of Dragonforce's power ballads about something or other. I noticed they're starting to overdo the whole "stop everything but the vocals for a verse" thing that was so new and refreshing in the beginning. To be honest, this is probably the most typical of Dragonforce song on the CD. (Log: I'm only on song 4? God help me! I have work tomorrow!) What is true about this song, and strangely most Dragonforce songs is that they lull me to sleep. I'm not entirely sure why, but listening to Dragonforce makes me tired. They do something similar to the last song, where they slow it down for a the solo and whatnot, which now that I'm really paying attention makes me think less of this song. It's even got the keyboard solo again! This is probably my least favorite song on the CD, though still rock out-able.

5. The Last Journey Home: This song starts off with a driving guitar chord, along with some trumpet. Not sure how that got there. Hm. Anyway, it's got a good forward motion about it. They have another "Woah" verse, with other words between. At one point, an acoustic guitar alone plays under the lead vocalist. Which differenciates this piece from the now standard "singer time" section this album seems to have produced. This song gets stuck in my head a lot. Yay! They mention "The last journey home" in the chorus! I'm so proud of you Dragonforce! This may make up for Heartbreak Armageddon! (But probably not.) What's good that I noticed is that it's got a real motivating beat for it, and it's about one last journey home, so things match! The solo is practically perfect, fun for air guitaring. Since the first "Woah" chorus was too short in the beginning, they have another breif one. Seriously, Woah is their favorite lyric. Ever. They have a little video game solo thing, but I'm used to it now, so I don't even care. (Log: Yes! Halfway there!)

6. A Flame for Freedom: This song pretty much starts out like every other song. it's also a lot like Trail of Broken Hearts from Inhuman Rampage. It's a slower song, and puts me to sleep. I don't know, I don't really have strong feelings one way or the other for this song. It's... average. That, and it precedes what is probably my favorite song on the entire album. So I don't really have that much to say about it. It's... short? 5 minutes is short right?

7. Inside the Winter Storm: Starts almost exactly like Heroes of Our Time, but quickly changes pace, and I've grown to love this song. This is quite possibly the most epic sounding song of the CD, and I love that. Epic = Good. They change up a lot of the routine in this song, which is of course, nice. They even manage to make the "Woah" chorus epic! It's awesome! We get a little piano/vocals thing in there at one point, which is good. I also enjoy the chorus "Marching on, inside of our lonelyness, still searching for all that remains." They say "Inside the Winter Storm" so that wins them bonus points. Though I suppose that's a little sad, when a song gets points just for relating to its title. Oh well, that's Dragonforce for ya. Anyway, we break down a little, and there's an awesome buildup with a great force behind it, fun for headbanging. Just when it seems the only solo will be solo one, a giant gale force of guitar riffs heads in, kicking major ass. In short, this is my personal favorite, just because it's so epic.One of the longer songs on the album at 8:12.

8. The Warrior Inside: Starts out rather weird, with a little tune from some instrument I am at a loss to describe. Then the guitar comes in with an upbeat tune to it, and all is made well again. The drummer shines on this song too, what with his solos and things. Despite coming after my favorite, which you would think would make this one seem worse in comparison, this is on my upper tiers for Dragonforce. That little tune from the beginning shows up again, just to change it up, which Dragonforce needs. (Log: You know what I noticed? The lead singer looks like Weird Al... Woah man, that's crazy...) If you bought the normal plain-jane CD, this the last song for the album, and it's a pretty nice closer.

9. Strike of the Ninja: First of all, this is one of the two bonus songs on the CD, which I paid an extra 2 bucks for, and also came with a DVD and an extra little cover thing that does nothing.

Second of all, Strike of the Ninja? What? Is this about Naruto? Well, actually, despite the techno beginning, this is a really good song. It's catchy, it's about ninjas, and it's only 3 minutes long. Yes, a Dragonforce song less than 5 minutes long! It does exist! Needless to say, with its decreased time, the solos are shorter, but this is a good change of pace, where I don't need to cancel any appointments or plans for sleeping when I want to listen to a song. If only more were like this...

10. Scars of Yesterday: Last song! Starts out with a guitar tune, which becomes sort of the motif of the rest of the song, staying in the background through the rest. This is another one of the better songs, and actually, it's a rather long time before the singing starts. At first I thought it was vocal-less, but eventually it kicks in. Something fancy about this song is the the layered singing they try out, where some members start out with a note, some more pitch in, then the main vocal jumps in, and it's a good time. Although sometimes I think this song might actually be about World of Warcraft, since in its chorus, it has the sentence "A waste of time!" and then talks about not being able to understand and pain. Anyway. Given this song and the previous one, I can say the extra for the bonus songs is well worth it, since the bonus songs are among the best on the CD. Actually, I don't recall ever hearing the end of this song. I guess I never had the patience to do so before. Well, I don't think I missed too much. Yeah, it's a normal solo, except for a little bass solo type thing. The song ends with the most video game-ish music of all. In fact, it doesn't even sound like music. It's just the sounds from Pong!

In closing, I have to say this CD is up to par with the rest. Thing is, it's not better or worse. It's the same. That's Dragonforce's main obstacle in their song creation. It seems to get too formulaic and less music. Although they are consistent, I'll give them that. At this point I would give them a number score, but I don't see the point for CD's, since it's all up to music preference anyway.

Well, that's that, and it only took me almost two hours to listen to and write! Yay! I'm going to bed! Goodnight all.

Comic Review: Dark Avengers #1

[Now here is one of my comic reviews, and with these I typically do either recent comics or really old ones. This was new when I wrote it.]

As you all know, I went to Comic-Con. At the Comic-Con, they were offering special variant editions of some comics. One of them intrigued me, so I bought it. This comic was Dark Avengers #1. I had decided to buy this in the hopes that the Marvel Universe had been salvaged after its last few giant crossovers. I gotta say, I do feel better about this one, for one of three reasons. Either,
1. I'm a sap,
2. A Spider-Man villain is at the forfront, or
3. This big storyline isn't dependent upon major retcons.

I'm going to guess it's some combination of the three. Anyway, I have that comic in my possesion and I decided it needs a review. Since that's apparently what I do now, it's time for...

Comic Review: Dark Avengers #1

Okay, now this is going to take a bit of recapping. The two big crossovers before this were Civil War and Secret Invasion. Civil War started when some group of superheroes made some guy blow up that killed an entire town. After that people were all "SUPERHEROES SHOULD BE REGUMALATED!" And Tony Stark decided it was a good idea to make a superhero registration act. Then the heroes talked about it and this is pretty much how that went down.

TONY: You'll release your secret identities, work for the government, and everything will be fine!
SPIDER-MAN: Yeah, but what about--
TONY: Everything will be FINE.

So anyway, the heroes disagree, Captain America leads those who oppose the act while Iron Man leads those who don't, Iron Man turns all Hitler when he throws malcontents into a negative zone prison for eternity so Spider-Man switches sides, there's a big battle, Captain America surrenders, and gets shot in the head. After this, Spider-Man has a bit of trouble when people know his secret identity, which leads to Aunt May getting shot, which leads to One More Day. But that's for another blog post.

Then Secret Invasion happens, where the Skrulls, evil green shapeshifting aliens, impersonate people all over the Marvel Universe, in an attempt to take it over. Suffice to say, things got really confusing, but eventually it all boiled down to a climactic battle with the Thunderbolts, a team of "reformed" supervillains. Norman Osborn, the "former" Green Goblin was the one who shot the Skrull Queen in the head. Osborn becomes a war hero, and Tony Stark, who had become director of SHIELD at some point, was disgraced, and is now a convict because Norman Osborn can really work the press. And the government, apparently.

Our story starts when Norman becomes head of SHIELD, but he just disbands it and creates something new in its place: HAMMER. He's not sure what it stands for yet, but his assistant is on it. With that in place, he begins to form a new group of Avengers. The first he recruits from the Thunderbolts is Bullseye.

Wait, Bullseye has to take meds? What, is supervillainy a curable mental disorder now? Just take a few pills and you don't wanna rob banks anymore? I don't know how that works. Anyway, he then tries to get Ms. Marvel back from the original Avengers, but that doesn't go so well.

With that slight failure, Osborn just gets some other busty blonde super-woman to do the job, which really isn't that hard. Next is... wait, what? Venom? Awesome!

So Venom, after eating a Skrull that looks like Spider-Man, gets fed medication by Norman, (Man, what is it with medication in this thing?) which makes him writhe in pain for a bit, before he looks like this:

Norman then goes to get a Wolverine replacement, which is some guy who is apparently Wolverine's illegitimate son. I don't really know.

After getting a Captain Marvel and Ares, god of war, Osborn notices something is missing in the team. Ares points out that there's no Iron Man or Captain America analogue. The scene then shifts to Osborn with some other guy, who breaks into Tony Stark's Iron Armor vault, which now belongs to Osborn because Stark paid for it all with SHIELD money. We are then treated to the full team.

He then does a little grin, which for the life of me I can't believe nobody noticed.

Come on! He's EVIL! Why can't you tell?!

At the end of the issue, we get a little preview of the next step in the Dark Reign saga, Secret Warriors Declaration. Starring guess who:

Hint: It's not who you think. He's still dead.

So yeah, this was a pretty good comic and a nice recovery from two storylines I don't really like. The art was well done, realistic enough to show how the grittiness. I like how it just showed Norman's point of view, with no hero intervention, because he's in goddamn charge now. The process of making the new superhero/villain team was interesting, and better than a hero suddenly seeing all of them banded together for no reason. The writing was top-notch, making sure all of the characters involved retained their character through the Thunderbolts series they were in before. I can see a lot of places this plot could go, so I'm interested in buying the next issue, along with any others that tie into this storyline. The main thing I like is that there's a main villain again that everyone can agree is evil. Well, all the superheroes anyway. If you like comics, which most of you don't, I'd suggest picking this one up, if it's not already sold out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

[Just so you know, this review is from when Wolverine came out, so it may be a bit dated. Anyway, here's a taste of a movie review!]

Hey everybody, been a little while, especially since I planned to write a CD review, but got sidetracked. Tonight, me and the Bros. decided to go see a movie. That movie was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. So this is actually going to be my first timely review, ever. Anyway, that being said, let's start off the review.

Movie Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Okay, now then, I didn't know what to think of this movie before watching it. I had no idea who directed it, what was going to happen, or anything else other than that Deadpool was in it. I knew X-Men 3 was terrible, so it would take something massively bad to outdo that. Luckily, this movie didn't fulfill that qualification.

Now then, the movie started in 1845, with some sick kid, his brother, and some stuff that really wasn't explained. The kid's father is killed, kid gets bone-claws, kills the guy that killed his father, turns out father wasn't really his father, all the viewers are confused. Luckily, things end after the two kids run away, and we get a fun little montage of war. The two brothers go through every war from the Civil War to Vietnam, and one of them becomes progressively more evil for no reason at all. Logan, or Jimmy, as he's called by his brother, Victor, keeps his innocence, despite living through a shitload of wars. Aaanyway, this stops in Vietnam, when Inexplicably-Evil-Victor kills a superior officer, so both him and Logan are charged for it. They end up in front of a firing squad, which doesn't do anything. They are then picked up by a fancy government looking guy, with the cliche reason, "To serve your country." They become part of a special forces team, who all turn out to be fancy. There's Asian Shooting Guy, Teleporting Guy, Fat Man, Technology Hobbit, Wade Wilson, and then we have Stryker, the government guy who rounded them all up. They raid some facility, kill everyone, so Stryker can ask the leader about a rock. Then they go to the village where the rock was found, they find no success in learning more about where to find more of the special rock. When Stryker orders all the villagers be killed, Logan quits, and just walks off into the forest.

Six years later, we find him in Canada, with a wife, and as a lumberjack. Here we have some sentimental stuff, until we cut to a carnival, where Technology Hobbit, a guy who can control technology with his mind and who played Mary in Lord of the Rings. Victor kills him. Then we cut back to Canada, with Stryker showing up to tell Logan that Victor is killing everyone, and asking to rejoin the old team. Logan refuses, but regrets it later when he finds his wife dead. He finds Victor, and gets his ass kicked. In the hospital, Stryker is there, and Logan volunteers for an experiment so he can kill Victor. He gets adamantium bonded to his skeleton, and starts killing everything when he hears that they're going to erase his memory. He escapes, and some old couple finds him. He tests out his new metal claws, and they look really fake. Some more sentimental stuff, then the old couple are killed by Asian Shooting Guy, Wolverine goes towards him on a motorcycle, long story short, there's lots of explosions, and he escapes.

He then meets with Teleporting Guy in a boxing gym, who tells him there's some island, so he should talk to Fat Guy, who has become more fat over the years. They have a fun little fight scene, he establishes his code name as Da Blob, and tells Wolverine Stryker's been gathering up mutants at his secret island, and only one person has escaped, Remy LeBeau, also known as Gambit. Also, Victor has been working with Stryker the whole time. Logan and Teleporting Guy go to a bar where Gambit is, Logan and Gambit fight as Victor comes and kills Teleporting Guy. Logan and Victor start fighting, but that gets broken up when Gambit starts fighting Logan again for no reason. Anyway, eventually Gambit agrees to take Logan to the island, so he can kill everyone. At one point in the middle of this, we see Victor attack some kid with red glasses at a school. When the glasses come off, giant red lasers come out of his eyes, and rip open the school. Victor sedates him, then he and Stryker talk. He goes, there's killing, Stryker starts an infodump.

He's been taking the powers from all the mutants, so he can kill them all in the impending war he's imagining. He's been putting them in who he calls Weapon XI, or Deadpool, who kinda looks like Wade Wilson you see in one shot of his face while he's on the operating table. Logan's wife was just an agent who has tactile hypnosis, she's actually alive, and everything Logan has done so far was pointless. Logan leaves, but comes back when he hears his former wife screaming, he comes back, because Victor was strangling her for some reason. They fight, Victor gets knocked out, so Logan proceeds to free the trapped mutants, consisting of Cyclops, Wife's sister, and some other people that weren't really introduced. As they try to leave, they are confronted by Weapon XI, who looks like Wade, only terribly scarred and without a mouth. The rest of the mutants find another way out, and Deadpool gets giant swords that come out of his wrists. Yeah, it's pretty stupid. Anyway, they fight, Wolvering climbs some giant tower thing, Deadpool teleports, Victor comes to help Logan, they fight, there's eyebeams, Deadpool gets his head cut off. More explosions and stuff, Logan finds his now mortally wounded wife, tries to carry her away, but is shot with Adamantium bullets by Stryker. He gets shot a few more times, and twice in the head. Before he can shoot wife, she grabs his legs and commands him to keep walking until his feel bleed, and then keep walking. Wolverine wakes up without memory, Gambit makes a final appearance, leaves, Wolverine runs away. Movie ends. After the credits, there's two little things at the end, first Stryker gets arrested for killing a superior, then another thing where the beheaded Deadpool wakes up, and makes a "shhh" sound. Wikipedia tells me there's an alternate one, but I haven't seen it.

Now then, first of all, the special effects. Parts of them were really good, but there were too many parts where they really sucked. When you first see Wolverine's metal claws, they look really really fake. Like, badly photoshopped fake. Da Blob looks fake-fat, not really convincing. There's one part during the Gambit fight scene where Wolvering tears down the stairs on a fire escape, and it looks really bad. The only time I really noticed the special effects is when they sucked. The explosions were good at least.

I didn't really mind the plot, and they finally showed some mutants I missed from the X-Men films. Well, I really just wanted Gambit and Deadpool. Gambit was pretty kickass, what with his staff, his flips, and his exploding cards. Deadpool is a different story. He was remote controlled by Stryker, had no dialogue after his operation thing, had crappy katanas coming from his hands, and had an amalgam of other mutants' powers. When people try to convert Deadpool to something else, they tend to make him some inhuman killing machine who rarely talks, contrary to his comic-incarnation. Anyway, the after-credit ending may change this, but so far I didn't really like him. The casting was pretty good, especially Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I mean, I just want him to wrap his manly arms ar... Okay, that lead down a road I'd rather not explore. Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder) might have been a good choice for Wade Wilson, but I won't know until there's a sequel or something. Danny Hudson was a good Stryker, though he was a bastard.

I thought it was actually pretty good. Not the best, but it showed a good look at the most popular X-Man we don't see the beginnings of. Thing is, he lost his memory at the end, so this movie didn't really effect his character. Kinda makes the movie pointless. Oh well. It also never explained why Victor became increasingly evil as time went on. t just kinda happened. There's probably going to be a sequel, and hopefully they'll show more mutants. I'm just hoping for more Deadpoolness that doesn't suck. In conclusion, if you liked X-Men 1 or 2, give this movie a try. If you like X-Men 3, go kill yourself, because there's no hope for you. If you don't really like comic movies, I wouldn't suggest watching this. You won't get all the references. So yeah, tell me what you think, good review? Bad?

CD Review The Scarecrow

So yeah, today I'm posting a new CD review, and this is pretty much the standard format they're in. I'll probably post some of my older ones later, along with some new stuff. Today's review:

Walter's CD Review: The Scarecrow

Now then, this CD was made by the Power Metal Collab group Avantasia. This group is a big bunch of metal people brought together by Tobias Sammet (lead man of Edguy) who make an incredibly epic album every once in a while. Their first two albums consisted of The Metal Opera parts I and II. These had a running story, sort-of apparent through the songs, but you really needed to read the back of the lyric book to get it. The story wasn't especially good, because it was written by a musician, not an author. Anyway, they made awesome music, and everyone was happy. The Scarecrow is Toby's newest Avantasia thing, with more people from the metal business and a little change in style. Whereas Metal Opera had exclusively straight power metal with one or two kinda slow songs, this one really mixes it up, with no storyline, and what looks to be depression songs. I figure that's enough background, so let's start the review!

1. Twisted Mind: Okay, to be honest, I don't understand why he started the CD out with this. It's a very heavy song, starting with a deep bass riff, and doesn't lighten up at all really. It's got a creepy singer, but it works for the song. Not to say it's a bad song, just not what I would have gone with for an opener. Oh, and from what I can tell, this song is about some crazy dude. Or something. This song is pretty much normal heavy metal, nothing strikes me as terribly epic. This begins what I think are the three types of songs on the album, Ultra-Heavy, Epic, and Sentimental. I can pretty much sort each song into one of those three. And I will. But I digress. At about 3:50 he gets into a rhyming fest. "Misprizing, chastizing, subhuman fragmentizing..." that goes on for a bit. At 4:30 the guitar solo starts, but it seems far too short. I mean, if this is really supposed to be heavy, it would have a kickass solo. Only near the end do a notice the subtle bit of violins, which add a nice touch for a few seconds. Not my favorite, but luckily there are much better songs to come.

2. The Scarecrow: Here is where the Epic comes in. This song is the definition of epic. Hearing this song once, I knew I had to buy the CD. Being that it's about 11 minutes long, I can't just listen to it on Youtube. It starts with some heavy drumming over some violin playing. This gives way to more instruments, with a really nice buildup to when the main song starts. Then the guitars come in. After about a minute of pure instruments, the singing finally shows up. It starts out Sammet, pretty much singing about angstyness. Then he starts singing about demons, and you see why this is classified power metal. The chorus starts, and it's fairly simple, "Rise to faaaame! Time has coooooome! Make your claaaaaaim! Time has cooooome! For the crow to fly away!" We get a nice little guitar solo, then the other singer, named Jorn Lande starts. His lyrics are a bit darker, seemingly in reply to the first stanza. His kinda gritty voice accentuates this. The chorus starts, again only with Sammet. After another solo type of thing, we get another instrumental, this time with some light orchestral drumming, some brass, and more violins. There's a faint choir effect in the background, and things almost slow down for a bit. In the midst of this is a guitar solo that's somewhat less normal. The guitar gets louder, and after a few hold notes, the real guitar solo starts. There's two guitars in this part, so one's playing rhythm in the background while the other solo's it out. Once that epic solo is done, Sammet comes back in with the singing. Both singers' lyrics are now a bit darker, "He's got treasure in his eyes/that he's gonna turn to clay!" and "I'm a stranger/I'm a changer/and I'm danger, maybeee." The drums are noticably heavier in this part, and the violins contribute with some low notes. After one more stanza from Lande, things get faster again, and Lande sings a bit of kickassness. Then the chorus rolls around again, with Tobias singing the main part and Lande singing in between his lines. I love this song. I love it so much. Despite being so long, every minute is worth it. This is Power Metal at its finest. Before I gush too much (Good job controlling myself there,) let's start the next song.

3. Shelter From the Rain: This song, another in the Epic catagory. It begins with one of the greatest drum solos ever. This lasts for about half a minute, at which point everyone is staring at me because of my furious air-drumming. For the main part of the song, it's a basic Double Bass Pound, but the rest of the solos kick ass. Tobias starts it off, but Michael Kiske of Helloween fame starts at the chorus and sings a stanza or two. What nice is a duet during the chorus, along with a choir of people in the background. Compared to The Scarecrow, this song is short and sweet, clocking in at only 6:06. The song slows down (comparatively) for a nice little Kiske interlude, followed by a guitar solo simultaniously as Sammet does some of his best singing. The solo continues, followed by another epic drum solo and Kiske once again. Kiske really is a good singer, and old Helloween fans applaud Avantasia for getting Kiske back into metal, whereas after Helloween he mostly did projects like Place Vendome, an obscure Progressive Rock thing. Anyway, good song, one of my top picks from the album. A Sammet/Kiske duet always ranks pretty high in my book.

4. Carry Me Over: One of the slower songs on the album, this is the first glimpse we have of the Sentimental catagory. This song makes me sad. Essentially, it's about a guy that always sees a girl, but just doesn't have the courage to talk to her, because he just doesn't fit in her world. It's almost a crappy romance movie cliche. Anyway, the chorus to this song is just "Carry me over" repeated about 5 times, so at least it's easy to remember. Honestly, this song is for when I'm depressed, but I don't want to be emo, so at least I have a song with a kickass guitar solo. It's weird how Tobias Sammet can make a song with the guitar style of a normal song, but it still comes out sad sounding. Or this song is about a weird stalker who follows some girl around. But I prefer the former interpretation. Anywayy...

5. What Kind of Love: Oh God, the sadness doesn't end. If the last one was sad, this one is emotionally decimating. There is no guitar at all, just violins and the sound of my own self pity. A girl starts off singing in this one, the first for this album. Anyway, the meaning behind this one is kinda vague, just know it's not happy. I mean, just listen to the chorus, "What if love will leave/the heart an open sore/and I can't reveal/what even I don't know/this love you feel/you waste away on me/what kind of love would make us bleed away?" I mean, seriously? What happened to Scarecrow? Hell, Twisted Mind is fine after this. I feel like I'm getting emotional whiplash here. It's not a bad song by any means, but still, it doesn't seem to fit on a super metal album made by Sammet. Watch this, next song is going to be something completely different, just to mess me up.

6. Another Angel Down: WHAT DID I TELL YOU?! This song starts out fast, plays out fast, and rocks out the whole time. Jorn Lande starts singing on this one, pretty similar to what he sings in The Scarecrow. Not entirely Power Metal, and it leans a little more towards Heavy than Shelter From the Rain did, but I still like it. Despite the sudden change in scene, the quick tempo of this song is appreciated to bring the metal average of the CD higher. I guess there's some lyrics about angels, auras, and other stuff, but honestly they don't matter too much. Double Bass Pound is the norm, somewhat unfortunately, for the Epic songs, even though the drummer is Eric Singer of KISS fame. Honestly, before this album, I didn't even know he was capable of a normal Power Metal beat. KISS does not exactly have the most complicated drumming in the world. Either way, Singer shows his true merit as a metal drummer on this album.

7. The Toy Master: For this song, we have a special guest, whose name begins with an A and rhymes with Nalice Mooper. Yep, Alice Cooper sings this song, and damn does he do it well. This song is, truth be told, pretty creepy. Everything's played pretty heavy and slower, which provides a nice contrast to the last song's quick and upbeat nature. To the best of my knowledge, this song is about some really creepy guy, who may or may not be a serial killer. Or a pedophile. Hey, I don't write the lyrics. I get the feeling Alice Cooper did, because this song just fits him so well. You wouldn't think he'd be doing so good considering he's been alive forever, but he's been holding up pretty well. Tobias comes in for only one line, really just to show this is still his album. The song speeds up for a guitar solo, but still keeps its bass-heavy nature. At one point, things get Communist, with the lines, "No more struggle of the classes/no more struggle of the masses/On their knees, conformity" Or, you know, just Orwellian. Your pick. Despite the creepyness, this song provides a nice dark tone and heavy instrumentation.

8. Devil in the Belfry: This song doesn't know if it wants to be Epic or Heavy Metal, because it kinda strafes in between for most of the song. In the beginning, it sounds epic, but then you get a deep guitar solo, so I got a little confused. The lyrics are more akin to an Epic song, but the music itself leans towards Heavy Metal. Lande, like before, sings a bit in this one. What the hell is this? It sounds like a Dragonforce solo! I am so confused right now! WHERE DOES IT FIT?! Despite the title causing one to think this song would be about Belfries and the Devils contained therein, "Love" is mentioned a bit, so I'd say this is about a jilted lover and his spitefulness after it's all over. Oh well, I'm sure that's the only song like that on this CD. I mean, you can't just write two songs about the same thing, not on the same album or anything. Yep. Next song.

9. Cry Just a Little: ...What? Cry... Just a Little? So, I can still cry, but not too much? What? As you can probably tell, this song is on par with What Kind of Love as to its subject matter, so we're in for another ride on the emotional railway. I'm getting the feeling Toby just got dumped or something, so rather than eating an entire carton of ice cream like normal people, he made this album. This song is about crying. And what one would cry about. If I'm depressed, I'm sure this song would speak volumes to me, but listening to the CD on a roll like this doesn't necessary inspire that. I pretty much use this song as a joke, so when something bad happens, I say, "I'm gonna cry... but just a little." There's a guitar solo, but honestly, it just doesn't fit with this song at all. It's almost like he tried to artificially increase the metal quotient by adding guitar to a song that didn't really suit it. Again, not really a bad song, but I'm just having trouble integrating this with the rest of the album.

10. I Don't Believe In Your Love: I had high hopes for this song when I first started listening, because it really rocks out in the beginning, with a nice riff and everything. Oliver Hartmann guest-sings, for all the good that does. This is like Devil in the Belfry, only with more spite. He throws in a f*ck once every chorus, presumably to make a song all about how love is bad sound more badass or something. I don't know what it is, but Sammet's voice just sounds a bit off in this one, like it was put through a filter where he sings a little worse. Honestly, Hartmann is what makes this song at all up to the standards of the CD. This is probably one of my least favorite songs on the album, if anything else just because Sammet tries to make a badass song angsting about love. Yeah, next song.

11. Lost in Space: Okay, I don't even know how this song got on here. It doesn't fit with the rest of them, and I don't even think it's terribly good. It kinda sounds like Bon Jovi, to be honest. Once again, they couldn't make up their minds as to whether this should be Sentimental or Epic. It's kinda halfway, but it doesn't fit too well. He sings softly while the guitars are blaring in what I'm guessing was supposed to be the background. This is what I'd call my least favorite song on this album. I guess if he made, like, another album focusing on this song maybe that would be better...

Oh yeah, that sucked.

So this CD, good or bad? It seems at times it can't decide what it wants to be, Power Metal, or Progressive Rock, or whatever. It's in contrast to the previous Avantasia albums, which were both pure metal glory. The good songs on here are really good, while the bad ones are pretty much meh. On average, the CD is a solid choice, and might be a good introduction into Power Metal if you aren't familiar with the genre. You'll probably have to buy this online, since it's not the most popular type of music out there.

And that's all for today's review!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Blog!

Well, here we are. As few of you know, I had an old blog on myspace, on which I would either angst all emo-like, or write long and complicated reviews for things people didn't really care about.

So now I'm on blogger! So, uh, yeah. Here we are.

Since this is just a intro post, I'll probably post an actual review later, followed by some of my old stuff, just to give you internet-peoples a taste of whatever it is I produce. I hope to see you soon! ...Wait, I mean, I hope, uh, my blog sees you? Nevermind, bye or whatever.