Thief (2014) nauseates me, whenever I do the hand-grab-steal-shit move it’s like someone grabbing my monitor and zooming it at my face, like it’s on one of those playground spring-mounted zebras. Vomitous! Literally can’t play. :(

Wolf: Something I actually finished, skipping most of the cutscenes and invoking god mode after failing the bridge sequence a dozen times. Pretty mindless, would not play again. Lack of Nazi chicks in sexy attire bad. Too many uggs grabbing one by the lapels and gettin’ all in one’s grill tres bad. :/

marty friedman | inferno (2014)

So I love (LOVE!) the Rust in Peace Megadeth lineup, of which Marty is a crucial crux, and I love Scenes (Marty’s ancient Kitaro-produced not-very-metal early 90’s solo album), and I love Danko Jones (who sings on two of Inferno’s songs) and Alexi Laiho (CoB) is awesome (and he’s both vocalizing AND guiterrorizing on a track  here… with Danko!) so… 

I like the track “Lycanthrope”, because it’s the only one with Alexi, who’s riffing manages to SLOW Marty THE FUCK down. And it’s got Alexi and Danko trading off vocal lines, not unlike Danko & Angela Gossow (ex-Arch Enemy) did to great success in “Couple Suicide” on that Annihilator album a few years back. 

But every other track on here is like Marty on meth. There’s a feeling he recorded the songs, then sped them up by 10%, just to give them more bang? Which wouldn’t be terrible except that everything feels very sterile and Pro-Tools’d to death — every beat and every note starts and ends EXACTLY where the math tells it too, robbing the songs of heart and soul and nuance and humanity.  So then you speed that up and it’s just like ROBOTS PLAYED THIS BEEP BOOP

I would love to hear a live recording of this album, and hear these songs rendered with the natural imperfections inherent in us all. Til then, I can only give it a…

:/

[amazon]

Steam Summer Sale 2014

I didn’t own any of these games five days ago.

They’re all on my HTPC now.

Brothers - Haven’t played it yet, expecting it to be as confusing and beautiful as Okami was, which I don’t think we ever completed more than 1% of. 

Dead Rising 2 - Disliked it on my PC w/ kb/m, thought it might work as a couch-based controller game (I recall lots of melee combat and not much gunplay). Also, Steam is inviting me to run it on my gaming rig ~through~ the htpc, and I wanna see how that goes… badly, most likely.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - This’ll be a kb/m game, but I bought it through the htpc so here it is… 

Lego Movie Video Game - The kids have taken a liking to it, but also get frustrated because the game is confounding: unclear actions and goals mean you have to try everything twice, and the use of text instructions is stupid in a game built for pre-K’ers. 

Limbo - Fuckin’ DARK! And I often find it just 10% too hard for me, til I quit and then return to it a day later and get past the “hard” part on the first try. (This has happened four times now.) Coolest game on the list. 

Mirror’s Edge - I played this before, but never finished it. Laughably impossible for me with a controller — I died ten times IN THE TUTORIAL.

Rocksmith - Diggin’ it. It took a while to get used to what they were doing, and to reading the jumble of numbers they flash at you, but if you let it, it WILL teach you. Start with songs you don’t know how to play, tho! (One criticism: the strings are randomly colored instead of going from lighter to darker, in gradations, so you have to remember that yellow = 5th string.)

The Swapper - kinda weak platformer that I expect to stop playing fairly instantly. (You can spawn clones to get to buttons you can’t reach, to open doors, so you can find more buttons out of reach.)

Thomas Was Alone - deplorably cutesy 8-bitty crap. Fuck off, Thomas!

Trine 2 - I shoulda played the demo. Seems like a pretty and competent platformer, but I lost interest fast. To Tinkerbelly, but maybe the kids will enjoy it.

[Anyone know if Kentucky Route Zero is more like Journey or more like Telltale’s Walking Dead snoozefests?]

My PS3 Month

I am a PC FPS guy. But I wanted to try Journey & The Last of Us, and see if maybe I could be a console guy, or if my kids had any interest. (Spoiler: They Didn’t.) So In mid-April I bought a used PS3, a brand new controller, a stack of old AAA used games for cheaps, and The Last of Us and Journey

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immortal is | sukekiyo (2014)

[Limited Edition] / [Regular Edition]

Well this cover album doesn’t have any black metal on it at all! 

I approached this record without any expectations (having had them dashed so often by Kyo & Friends of late), and/but for the most part I don’t aggressively hate any tracks (like I did on Dir’s DSS). I didn’t love any tracks either. But I liked(?) a couple:

"Uyuu no Sora" (track 8) started out awesome til it ended two minutes later and I realized it was just a filler track for maybe waling out on stage to, or rolling credits over.

"Scars Like Velvet" comes closest to evincing a sort of enjoyment out of me, with the descending-into-madness guitar anti-scale disharmonies @1:23 & @2:49 mainly. And for the most part Kyo manages not to fuck up the vocal lines with too many dumb vocal histrionics (just some annoying falsetto occasionally.)

"Zephyr" has a groove and vibe going for it, and a rare ~uplifty!~ chorus, so heart that one in your zune app maybe.

"Daemon’s Cutlery" is ridiculous noisesounds, but lifts a chorus from an old friend’s unsigned 90’s college band ("joe’s the mailman, not cliff clavin!"), so I kinda can tolerate it despite the mikepattonization.

And a lot of the other songs sound like “Embryo” off of the otherwise mostly brilliant Kisou (2002), so that might be good for you but fuck me if I didn’t literally fall asleep on my first spin through this album this afternoon.

Nutshell: kinda like if Dir en grey had turned lighter left instead of heavier right after 2005’s Withering, but with a similar amount of off-putting but not overwhelming weirdness. For my money, Imm is slightly better than the undazzling Marrow or Uroboros — and much more listenable than the cretinous Dum

I think if you’ve weaned yourself off latter-day Deg because they were too aggressive for you but always had a soft wet spot for Kyo, you’ll want to try Immortalis out. But it’s not gonna be on my Top Ten albums of the year.

:/

dir en grey | sustain the untruth (2014)

It’s been a trek through the waste lands being a Deg fan these past six+ years, and time will tell if 2014 is merely an oasis or the life-giving sea, but one thing’s for sure, and that is that “Sustain” is the first Dir song in eons that hasn’t negatively affect my bowels or given my ears cancer.

There’s a hummable melody and actual songcraft!  Wherein decipherable NOTES and CHORDS and also humanlike BEATS are the main part of the song and not just addenda to the distorted wall of flatulent death that was Kyo’s “vocals” and Toshiya’s “bass” and Tweedle-Die and Tweedle-Kao’s “guitars” in that long ago of Dum Spiro Dummer.

I unbelievably made it through this whole single in one sitting without feeling the need to call a rape hotline or check if my soundcard was malfunctioning. One regrettable twinge of disappointment arose when Kyo did the gutturals in “Gaika (live)”, a song that rests on the tail end of my positive memories of this one fantastic and possible fantastic again band (and are those vocals true to the studio recording?)… but otherwise, a completely listenable set of songs. It’s disorienting.

Anyway, here’s to glasses of ice water in hell, let’s hope there’s more to come…

:/

Review: LUNA SEA | A WILL (2013)

image

I admit, I was rather hesitant to listen to A WILL. After hearing the singles “Thoughts” and “Ran” and being underwhelmed, I had rather low expectations. It was clear that post-reunion LUNA SEA was not the same band as the one in my teenage memories, and I would have to judge the new album with a clear perspective, separating the past from the present. And so the month before, I kept LUNA SEA off my playlists and only listened to the radio previews once.

When A WILL was finally released, I was surprised to find how refreshing and enjoyable it was. In the midst of all the Dir en grey copycats, 80s disco dance, and K-pop, it was a breath of fresh air to hear LUNA SEA’s return to the rock scene. The dark, atmospheric songs of the past have been replaced with uplifting anthems of hope, love, and gratitude, focusing more on their romantic, dreamy side, presenting one of the strongest thematic albums they’ve released to date.

Throughout the album, there’s an invigorating sense of beginning anew fueled by the warmth and thanks the members have for all the SLAVES who waited for their return, as well as their newfound appreciation for each other and the music they create, which is especially evident in the lyrics of “Grace.” It’s clear that these songs were written with live performance in mind, and from the very beginning of “Anthem of Light,” I could see them on stage – J hopping back and forth, SUGIZO bending back and reaching for the sky, INORAN spinning ‘round, RYUICHI tightly clutching the mic stand with both hands while tapping his foot, Shinya’s hair flying with every beat. There’s songs for both old and new fans, with the radio friendly singles “The End of the Dream,” “Thoughts,” and “Ran” that are reminiscent of their 90s rock hits, while tracks like “absorb” and “Glowing” have hints of the member’s individual solo careers and show the new direction the band is heading towards. Taking a trip back to their indie days of speed metal, “Metamorphosis,” shows off the technical music skills of each member, especially that of Shinya, while “MARIA” has a strong sense of song structure, all while being based around a simple melody.

Although the vocal lines aren’t as strong and catchy as their previous work and make it difficult to compare to what’s offered on albums such as MOTHER and STYLE, with the current state of the declining music scene, it’s a strong rock album that stands out. It’s an album you’ll either love or hate, and some fans may dislike the positive vibe throughout, but like the contrast between IMAGE and EDEN or STYLE and SHINE, it should be no surprise that they’ve decided to move in a different direction again. They’ve evolved their simple, accessible style of rock that musicians of any level can and want to play into that of greater complexity and maturity, while still preserving the spirit of LUNA SEA and Japanese rock.

I bought the limited version type-A, which contains the album on HMCD and a Blu-ray with music videos of the three singles, as well as TV spots, all bundled within a digipak DVD package. The booklet is filled with black and white photos of the members shot in a warehouse-like setting, and like their recent releases, there are English translations printed next to the original Japanese lyrics. However, the fact that the back is glued to the case makes it difficult to flip through easily. As for the blu-ray, the videos for the singles on the album aren’t that memorable, save for “Thoughts,” which I found especially beautiful and cinematic to view in high quality. Overall, I would recommend this version only to hard-core fans that must have it all.

Rating – 4/5

Lastly, in response to Xio’s LUNA SEA list, here’s my album ranking with my favorite songs:

1. MOTHER – Face to Face, Genesis of Mind, Mother
2. STYLE – DESIRE, HURT, RA-SE-N
3. IMAGE – MECHANICAL DANCE, Image, SEARCH FOR REASON
3. EDEN – JESUS, ANUBIS
5. LUNA SEA – CHESS, BRANCH ROAD
6. THE ONE -CRASH TO CREATE-
7. A WILL – absorb, Metamorphosis
8. LUNACY – gravity, FEEL
9. SHINE – NO PAIN, Velvet

B-side – Ray, RAIN, Claustrophobia