Tuesday, 16 March 2010

My top ten metal albums

10. The Black Mages - The Black Mages - What do you get when you combine the genius of Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and shamelessly cheesy prog-metal? An album of top-quality instrumental tracks exploding with screaming guitar solos and ethereal synths. The track 'Force Your Way', the boss music from Final Fantasy VII, demonstrates why this a must-have for metal and FF fans alike.

9. All That Remains - The Fall of Ideals - Standing out from the plethora of similar metalcore albums, this record contains the perfect mix of raging screams, melodic choruses, technical guitar solos and pummeling drum beats. It's hard to pick a stand-out track, as this album really is all killer and no filler, but I guess I'll have to go with 'It Dwells In Me', because it contains my favourite solo of the record!

8. Reuben - Racecar is Racecar Backwards - This album represents for me a reworking of the 90s grunge style for a new century, containing a messy, raw energy combined with heavy metal brutality. The British trio's best track from this album is 'Let's Stop Hanging Out' in my opinion, a discordant and yet effortlessly catchy tune with an awesome refrain.

7. Sikth - Death of a Dead Day - I almost forgot this album! Technical metal at its best, jazzy discordant licks placed skillfully alongside ferocious metallic double-kick drums and some of the most original vocals of any album. The lead guitar on this record is truly sublime, matching up to the standards of guitar virtuosos like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, and the riffs also follow this pattern. 'Part of the Friction' would have to be my choice for the best track on the album, its incredible intro leading into a great song, filled with superb licks.

6. Trivium - Ascendency - After a period of not listening to metal, this was the album that brought me back to the genre, in particular encouraging me to grab my guitar and learn some brutal riffs! The record bursts at the seams with soaring twin guitar attacks and powerful rhythms, with the song 'The Deceived' being the one that sticks out for me, a brilliant combination of lead guitar and relentless chugging.

5. Enter Shikari - Take to the Skies - The main inspiration for my short-lived band Helvetica Outbreak, this album represents a triumph of originality. The combination of drum 'n' bass beats, dance-inspired synths and crunching riffs is extremely organic, topped off with catchy and memorable lyrics. Once again, there are so many good tracks on this album, but if forced to pick, I'd have to choose 'Return to Energiser', due to its awesome trance breakdown that morphs into a hectic metal beat-down.

4. Pantera - A Vulgar Display of Power - R.I.P. Dimebag Darrell, one the most amazing guitarists of all time, and the creator the brilliant riffs and storming solos from this iconic groove-metal album. There is a Southern States swaggering attitude that exudes from all the songs on this record, a perfect blend of punk savagery and heavy metal furiousness. The track 'Walk' is my definite favourite, having one of the best metal riffs of all time and an epic solo, cementing DBD as one of my major guitar heroes.

3. Deftones - White Pony - One of the first albums I bought during my teenage years, and probably the start of my love affair with the musical genre of metal. Because of this nostalgia I chose this album over its predecessor 'Around the Fur', which is also an exceptional record. There is an eeriness and intensity to all of the Deftones' music, and this album is has some particularly powerful examples of this. My favourite track from this alternative metal classic changes every time I listen to it! At the moment I'd have to say 'Digital Bath' is the one, not only for its weird title but also for the dark, edgy feel and brooding soulful vocals it contains.

2. Fear Factory - Obsolete - Another one of my teenage favourites. This concept album, based around the story of a dystopian future where machines have surpassed mankind (disclaimer: this came out before The Matrix), is an unrelenting industrial assault, with growling vocals and electronic effects to finish of the mix. I think it's the literary connection that makes this album so good for me; the story surrounding the songs is top-notch. 'Edgecrusher' is the best track here, because of its brilliant riff and also because of its subject matter, a dark renegade machine fighting against the evil autocratic government of the future.

1. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine - We've reached no.1! What a journey. This is my favourite album mainly because of Tom Morello, the band's guitarist. When I started playing guitar, the riffs from this album were incredibly fun to learn and still great to come back to. Morello is a phenomenal player, mixing traditional pentatonic rock with avant-garde solos and effects, pushing guitar playing to the very limits of what it can do. I don't really listen to Rage for the political stuff to be honest, it's all about the music for me. And for the record, I didn't download "Killing in the Name of' for Christmas no.1. What's the point? It's just gonna make the record company more money. Anyway, my favourite track has to be the album opener 'Bombtrack'. Quality riff, takes me back to the days when I used to play bass in my brother's band, rocking the school variety show! Fight the power!

So there you have it, my favourite metal albums. I had to make some difficult choices, excluding some great bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Gojira, The Mad Capsule Markets and so on, but I'm happy with my final decisions. Feel free to comment, tell me whether you agree or think I've got it horribly wrong!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Just a brief update, but don't worry; you won't need to restart your computer

Haven't been able to write any extensive articles or reviews as of late, so I thought I'd just give you a few bite-sized updates as to what I've been doing recently.

I was gonna post a Playstation 3 product view, but when I looked back at it, I realised that I'm seriously under-equipped to write an effective console review. I just don't know enough technical stuff! So I'm give you the short version: me like PS3! Sweet graphics, awesome gameplay (offline and online) and some cool multimedia features. I'm still hooked on the Uncharted 2 multiplayer, but I have moved onto playing a bit of Resistance 2, which a great game, very atmospheric and fast-paced. I did purchase Final Fantasy XIII on the 9th (went all-out and bought the collector's edition), but I'm sticking to my guns and not playing it till my dissertation hand-in date on the 23rd of April. So if you've been playing it, DON'T TELL ME ANYTHING!

Speaking of dissertation, I've just finished a 'final' draft of my screenplay and sent it to my tutor. I say 'final' cos he might give me loads of stuff to change, and I've still got quite a while to redraft it. When I look back to the start of the academic year I can see so many changes that have occurred in the writing the screenplay, all of them for the better. I'm not sure if I've already said, but the film I've written tells the story of a young man named Johnny who is having his mind electronically read to determine if he is guilty of murder. But when the lawyer in charge of his case, Mr Elliot, discovers that Johnny was under the duress of a corrupt police officer, the same man responsible of the death of Elliot's wife, it becomes unclear as to whether justice or revenge is the desired goal. Phew!

My other uni work is going well too. Had meeting with my writing project the other day, which was very encouraging. Just need to write the rest of it now! Also had a helpful meeting for my fan fiction unit, for which I'm writing a Final Fantasy 7 story. Handed in a essay on The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which will hopefully be of a good standard. Not much time to good now till I finish uni for good, which is a scary thought! I'll have to be a real human with a real job and stuff.

I saw Skindred perform at the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth on the 9th, which was an awesome gig. The support acts, Floors and Walls and Forever Never, weren't amazing in my opinion, but they're not the worst bands I've ever seen. The headline act however were on top form. The band's front-man, Benji, was one of the best I've ever seen, really funny and passionate. He was really good at stirring up the crowd, and was also very genuine. The band were all really tight and sounded punchy and defined. They played a good mix of their older songs, such as 'Pressure' and 'Selector', and some of their newer songs like 'Stand for Something' and 'Roots Rock Riot'. All in all, a very good performance.

I've been having a bit of a sci-fi fest at the mo, getting inspiration for my screenplay and writing project. I bought Moon and District 9 recently, and persuaded my housemate's to watch the latter last night. I was a little concerned at the fact that they all found the alien 'prawn' child cute. Unusual? I dug out my copy of Blade Runner cos I still hadn't watched it since I bought it last September. I had forgotten what an amazing film it is! Another movie that I love, which I don't think many people are that into, is Equilibrium. I know it has it's flaws and it feels like a bit of a Matrix rip-off, but I really like it! Here's a really cool fan-site for anyone interested.

Also check out moviebodycounts.com, your internet-based source for information on film deaths and kills. Morbid!