Side Effects (2013) meandered for the longest time but hit its stride in the last quarter. Left me with a nice smug grin on me face. :)
Side Effects (2013) meandered for the longest time but hit its stride in the last quarter. Left me with a nice smug grin on me face. :)
dir en grey | the unraveling (2013)
i like this one much better than the previews led me to believe. really liking the arabesque-sounding bridge with the chorusy guitars as well as the whole breakdown-part. while i liked the individual parts of rinkaku better, the unraveling seems much more cohesive by comparison.
never bothered to listen to the original so this is essentially a new song to me. the intro riff has vintage-vk written all over it but in the end, i’ll probably remember this song as like zan but different. the solo and clean vocal part in the second half are a redeeming factor, though.
listening to this makes me want deg to release their songs as multitracks from now on because there’s just so much reverb on everything, ruining what is a perfectly fine take on the original with some pleasant new parts thrown in for good measure (like the epic reverb/echo-drenched dual guitar solo after the first chorus). keeping kyos vocals a little drier probably would’ve made a huge difference here.
easily my favorite of the bunch and a perfect blueprint for what a good remake should be like. manages to stay close to the original while still sounding entirely different; and superior, if you ask me. the new parts can still be easily linked to the original and most importantly manage to retain its feel. my only point of criticism would be the vocal melody of the final chorus not conveying the sense of grandeur one would expect after the build-up.
bottom of the death valley
i’m probably still a couple of listens away from a proper assessment but i’ll give it a shot anyway. as most of you have stated already, this strays quite a bit from the original. while interesting in its own right, i would’ve hoped for something closer to the original. if this was a supplement instead of an update (like the before-construction version of dozing green) i’d probably even like it a lot. as it is, however, it leaves a somewhat bitter taste.
unknown despair lost
i literally laughed out loud at the transition from campfirey acoustic-guitar-strumming to sludgefest. unfortunately, said gimmick only extended my attention span for about 10 seconds.
one of two songs in deg’s catalogue i would consider untouchable (the other being cage). truth be told, i had mixed feelings about this from the start and was relieved to hear they didn’t ruin it. as a whole, it’s very close to the original with enough added details to achieve distinction (including the obvious guitar-wailing by die which is now a staple of their recent live performances). seeing how this is a studio recording, however, i find kyos off key vocals on the “te no”-part of the chorus (especially and painfully apparent during the first chorus) inexcusable.
when i read about the new version being 16mins long, i was actually really excited as i’m still hoping for deg to create an equivalent to x japans art of life (they’d be halfway there if we’re going by the 34min live version). however, this is basically macabre with updated guitar tones, an inferior main riff and four minutes of random sludge thrown in around the 10min mark before reverting to what is little more than a studio live. disappointing.
the unplugged versions
yeah.. i’ll take a proper album next time.
dir en grey | the unraveling (2013)
“unraveling” - unfocused, Kyo does that low growl that was cool when you were like in the fourth grade, whole lotta bass frequencies bouncing around (everything’s tuned down to suspension-bridge-cable tones), you could deploy this song to disperse rioters.
“karma” - recognizable! but kyo does all those jokey super-growl and “wee I’m talking with my tongue curled up in a my mouth… ~Sphinx!~” styles. Again with the super-tuned-down everything, too. Fuck this.
“kasumi” - sounds pretty close to the original. Guitars are still too detuned tho, because D&K&T are so afraid of having their manliness called into question if shit’s audible to non ocean-going mammals.
“karasu” - Knight-Rider-meets-Jaws intro… much less boring than the original that I had to stand through in concert eleven fucking times. possibly better than the original except for those damn gutturals, vox & gtr, which seem destined to ruin everything Deg ever attempts from now until the END OF TIME.
“bottom of the death valley” - UGH you replaced the old bass intro with THIS, Toshiya?! Except for the verse vocal line and one or two other call-outs on the guitar takes, completely unrecognizable as “Death Valley”.
“unknown despair lost” (NO “A”!) - starts mellow acoustic-guitarally, but it’s a trick! BOO! DOWNTUNEDGITTERSATTACK! Shit’s giving me a headache, it sounds more like trucks driving over bumps than a song. Also, LOL OPERA vox.
“the final” - starts not horribly, which is to say, like the original. Redid that main riff in a cool AND recognizable way, verse is almost unchanged, YAY KYO IS **SINGING** the chorus! Nice breakdown/solo/thing midway. Wow I might actually listen to this on a semi-regular basis?!?
“macabre” - sixteen minutes long.
“unraveling (unpluggedver)” - ridiculous. sounds like a child pretending to be Gollem with a Fisher-Price mic while a piano tuner fucks his mom on the piano.
“the final (unplugged ver)” - let’s just pretend it’s awesome because my ears can’t take anymore raping toda, especially not in the form of my favorite Deg song.
I don’t want to live in a world where Dir en grey fail this purposefully miserably so reliably. This mini is 90% junk.
I’VE LOVED THIS CONCERT FOR YEEEEEARS.
But alas, visually, the DVD transfer is barely an improvement over the VHS i’ve worn out: Steve Harris’ decision to record this show to tape instead of film twenty-five years ago was a bad one.
It means colors will continue to feel washy and bleedy, while the details will never attain crispness. And forget an HD version someday.
No, if you’re buying this, it should mainly be for the 5.1 mix, not for the picture quality.
There’s also three extra songs — “Run to the Hills,” “Running Free,” and “Sanctuary” — but we’ve already got at least half a dozen different live versions of those tracks, and these renditions are entirely unspecial.
Arctic Combat | Webzen (2012)
You get what you pay for.
killing them softly (2012) was unusual.
It should have been dull, but it wasn’t. It was cinematographically arresting in several spots, and well written throughout (like Aaron Sorkin but way less pitter-pattery).
The vibe was kind of like Drive, but without the “romance” that ate up half that film and made it shitty.
Killing motivated me want to check out The Assassination of Long Titles by the Coward President Gerald Ford’s Motorcade (2007?), writer/director Andrew Dominik’s other big movie.
telltale games | the walking dead (2012)
Downloaded the free first chapter of The Walking Dead Game on my iPhone two days ago.
Sat in a car making boring conversation with an old cop for five minutes, then we crashed, he died, I climbed out to get the handcuff keys, but quit halfway to his corpse and uninstalled the “game” because WALKING TEN METERS should not be a cumbersome input clusterfuck, and sitting through five minutes of “story” and “dialog” was mind-numbing enough that I’d rather have been doing NOTHING.
I would’ve forgotten all about the crap experience except I plugged in my iPhone to my PC just now, and Apple decided to force me to re-download the game I had deleted from my phone onto my computer. No way to stop it.
So it finished downloading and then I hit DELETE YESIMSURE and that’s nice, wasting 300mbs of bandwidth for no reason like that. Much like 300secs of time I squandered giving the game “the benefit of the doubt”.
I can’t believe people find this type of game ACCEPTABLE, much less rave-worthy.
dir en grey | rinkaku (2012)
Does the new Dir en grey single suck? Mostly. But not completely.
“Rinkaku” serves up the now-standard headache-inducing detuned guitars that Deg have embraced lately, plus irritating, doubled, falsetto vocals for the chorus.
“Kiri to Mayu” is super-uber-ultra death-metalized beyond recognition.
And the “Rinkaku” remix that closes out the single is mellow new age tripe with the barest instrumentation (a very little bit of distant drums, angelic keyboard, some clean and droning guitar).
So I guess it ~is~ completely sucky, I stand corrected.
redian mode | hysteric (1993)
Let’s check out a little-known band who were kouhai to D’erlanger and contemporaries of Luna Sea, Sleep My Dear, Gilles de Rais and more.
Total Recall (2012)
So… Brian Cranston’s London is so overcrowded, he decides to blow up his own citizens to convince them to pay for gobs of police/military robots, so he can invade China (which is not overcrowded at all, nor does it have any sort of army oh wait) and… live there?
Why does a blue collar worker commute THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE EARTH to his factory job every day?
Why even bother with a car chase that is 100% computer generated?
The “hand phone” was neat. Too bad Palm went out of business.
laputa | 蜉～かげろう～蝣 (1996)
Join me on my morning commute to discuss Laputa’s “kagerou” track-by-track, and to watch Japan go by through the window.
mucc | shangri-la (2012)
MUCC’s new album is an underwhelming mess of mediocrity and genre fad hopping with some quality lightly speckled around to a point where you almost forget it’s an album and not a b-side compilation. Evan said this in the shoutbox, and it’s something I rather agree with, …
… seems like the album where MUCC got fed up and said let’s record whatever the fuck we feel like and have fun while doing it. They then proceeded to grab a style-wheel and spun it twice and blended two styles into most songs.
It opens with some softsynths and clean guitar, then quickly jumps into by-the-numbers metalcore with awkward auto-tuned vocals over top. The chorus comes in and sounds more like something off Kyutai, an album I absolutely loved, but doesn’t quite recapture the same magic. The whole track sounds like something DELUHI would’ve done way later on after they got boring.
Also, I can’t tell if the screamy(not growly) bars that come up in the first half are actually Tatsurou or Miya. I’ve never heard Tats do harsh vocals of that pitch before and Miya does them pretty well IIRC.
Some wah-wah’ing guitars come in introducing a riff that’ll probably last the whole song, and with a “WAHAAAAA!”, Tatsurou beckons the sound of a yawn that may or may not have came from my own mouth. A woah-oah chorus jumps in with some pep and makes things a little more enjoyable on a let’s-dance-it’s-a-party safe social-rock level.
Oh god, was that a BASS DROP? Am I really hearing MUCCSTEP? Come on, guys …
arcadia featuring daishi dance
After all that rock and metal, ARCADIA comes in with cheesy MIDI pianos and Tatsurou lazily crooning out the forgettable melody of a song I didn’t like when I first heard, and still don’t.
It achieves neither the involuntary-body-movement, adrenaline pumping energy of a good dance song nor the infectious, charming melodies of a good pop song. It just stagnates.
nirvana -shangri-la edit-
For a whole few seconds in the very beginning, NIRVANA sounds like it’s gonna be some cool picopop song or something, but then I fall asleep as it turns into a piece of throwaway that could’ve been done by anyone else who has ever done an anime opening theme.
Again, heard it already and the “edit” hasn’t swayed me into giving it more listens than required for the review.
Oh shit, a cool distorted riff and powpowboompow drums? Is that Tatsurou belting or is it Michiro Endo?! Okay, I exaggerate, but it really is a great STALIN-worship track. Fun, energetic punk rock that gets your head shaking wildly and makes you wanna get on your feet and pump a fist or two.
Like in track 1, there are segments in this with a different vocalist(spoken word and screams) and I’m not entirely sure if it’s Miya or somebody else, but it sounds awesome here.
shuuchaku no kane
From the instant the vocal melody comes in, I’m flashed back to Zekuu and maybe a bit earlier, and even to MUCC-influenced bands of a lighter tone like Kalimero. When the pre-chorus slides in with that delicious chorused guitar and leads into another Kyutai-esque chorus, I already know this be my favorite off the album.
They could’ve done a lot more with the solo at 1:53 than just reprising the theme, though, and the whole song is way too short. Everything on this album is just way too short, I think. Or just the good ones.
Oh boy, jazz piano! Oh boy, jazzy rockabilly guitars! Oh boy, violins! Loungey vocals! There was a song like this on KARMA called CIRCUS and it was pretty much the only song off that album that I enjoyed. This one ranks as something similar.
The jazz/lounge rock approach is super played-out in Japanese music by this point, but this song gets by on its charm and catchy melodies. The sample of the lady speaking engrish(?) is kinda silly, but then that solo comes in and I feel like I’m listening to SCISSOR.
kyouran kyousho ~21st century baby~
Awesome primal drums and badass chant-y sorta-rapping starts off this one sounding like a Tokusatsu song, but then the INSULTINGLY BLAND 3-note chorus comes in and TOTALLY DEMOLISHES the whole vibe and I’m left with blue balls.
Sugary pop rock of the mass-produced and disposable variety. Man, this is something I’d expect out of a Hello Project attempt at a rock song. What the hell, Tatsurou, writer-of-this-song-who-I-blame-entirely?
yozora no kurepasu
Almost as forgettable as the above, but along the same style of radio shovelmedia. The chorus isn’t so bad, but it’s those changes into to minor notes that bands are always trying to sucker me into appreciating and DAMMIT IT AIN’T HAPPENING NOW.
you & i
Leave it to SATOchi to instill some balls and personality into a track he writes. Starts off sounding sort of like a grunge tune, with YUKKE’s bass fingering reminding me of Alice In Chains, but it gets more standard fare alternative rock when the guitars enter.
The vibe and energy is a bit like a sequel to Libra. The chords that come in at 0:58 are really awesome and I feel like that part should’ve been explored a little more. The chorus isn’t so interesting but doesn’t quite bring the song down.
Heard this awhile back and enjoyed it well enough, but it has sort of a “MUCC being uncreative and just playing music” feel to it. Not interesting, not stand-out, just easy, inoffensive listening with a tinge of MUCCitude.
Better than the anime opening status would lead you to assume.
The eponymous track is the also the longest on the album … it’s a 6-and-a-half minute powerballad. A really weak and forgettable one.
Call me a bad reviewer, but I couldn’t make it through this whole song at one time. I really tried.
madyack (bonus track)
Punky, heavy, awesome. Way awesome. Should’ve replaced something else as a real, legit track of the album. Not sure if this is a cover or not, but it’s called OMAKE on the album and, according to a lot of Japanese blogs, the official title of it is MADYACK. So basically, what I’m saying is, LET’S GO TO HEBUUNNNN!
So, if I took out all the lackluster tracks and pretended it was a 6 track EP, Shangri-la would be a pleasant experience. Judging this album as a cohesive whole, however, I can’t summon up any expression stronger than :/ …
… which is still better than I could give for KARMA.
Glass half full and whatnot.
Notes I took while watching War of the Dead (2012)
GREAT CONCEPT! Saving Private Ryan meets ZOMBIES! Everyone’s already got guns and training and situational awareness!
Quality cinematography. Visually resembles Saving Pvt Ryan and Band of Brothers and whatnot (impressively, for a low budget production).
But: THE EDITING! Larger fight scenes fizzle out, locations & distances are unclear, transitions don’t exist:
One minute they’re saying “The base we’re attacking is one or two kilometers from here, let’s camp here til morning”… then all of a sudden they’re AT the base perimeter getting shot at! I mean, show a MOONRISE or something!
And their buddies are attacked by zombies — who drop upon the soldiers FROM THE TREES! — and instead of fighting, their brothers-in-arms BAIL! Like “oh, some guy is beating up my pal, oh well he is a goner.”
Because — get this — the zombies PUNCH! There are SEVERAL fights between human protagonists and the Undead antagonists that are just exchanges of PUNCHES! Indiana Jones and the bald wrestlemania nazi around a Flying Wing-style fights! Punch sound effects! Even some lifting up and throwing!
It’s insane! It’s hilarious too. Oh, also, the zombies can shoot. (!?!)
Why are the Americans and Finns carrying Russian PPSH41’s and German MP40s btw?
Also: the mass grave they mention at the beginning? You know, “The Nazi Anti-Death experiments were abandoned, and everything was buried in a mass grave” they mention IN WRITING at the beginning of the film because it’s presumably IMPORTANT and PREGNANT WITH PORTENT?!?!
Nothing rises from it!
…But… it was a nice looking movie, and really it’s just the few larger fight scenes in the beginning that are poorly pieced together (the smaller battles later on are easier to follow)… so if you’re hankering for some WWII forest & bunker action with a little zombie flavor, it’s worth seeing once, especially with friends and drink so that you may howl with laughter together.