Metal Review: Carved in Stone by Rage

Carved in Stone Since I reviewed the newbies last week I figured I should show shine some attention on the veterans.  I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Rage previously, but damn if this isn’t an impressive album.  Originally from Germany circa 1984 Carved In Stone marks an impressive 18th album and, while their lineup has changed over the years, the current trio here works wells together.

Peter “Peavy” Wagner on vocals eschews the death metal growl and the screamo howl for a more middle ground similar to Ville Laihialla of Sentenced (a band that formed the same decade as Rage but has since parted ways).   Victor Smolski is equally comfortable switching between heavy riffs and subtler materials.  Smolski’s verstalitiy is particularly apparent on “Open My Grave,” a track that also manages to feature some damned impressive fills by newbie drummer Andre Hilgers, and the slower balladesque “Without You”

I doubt the guys from Rage will win any metalcore fans over.   This is an album firmly entrenched in the European school of metal; a style that I have yet to see an American band pull off completely.   While there are bands that certainly pay homage to this “traditional” metal (Trivium’s The Crusade) and others that have their own American version (Megadeth, United Abominations) it just isn’t a typcial style for the US metal scene.  If you haven’t heard of Rage and are fan of more metal bands like Iron Maiden and, to a lesser extent, Manowar give this album a try.  A stellar from an old school band.  Now a bonus, “Open My Grave” music video, God Bless YouTube

Thou shall not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind

About 36 seconds into this video, I became very concerned for future of the human race.

Rest assured that when the robots come to enslave us, they will appear in forms approximating metallic goats. And they will not be easily knocked over. Although I’m assuming by the time they’re actually aware enough to start their conquest that there will be a wide variety of robotic quadripeds leading the charge. Goats are just the beginning and, while ill-tempered, presumably the people beyond this traveshamockery will push production into more exotic and deadly species of animals. Just imagine an army of robot tigers, robot crocodiles, robot platypi (they’re poisonous)…all impervious to fear and pain…all difficult to knock over.

We might want to nip this thing in the bud.

Mike Says:  Courtesy of JoCo via BoingBoing via the Onion:  a vision of the future:

Apparently literary skills aren’t genetic

Frank Herbert is essentially a god in the realm of science fiction (he wrote the original two Dune trilogies, for those not in the know). Basically if you were to rate him on a science fiction scale from 1 to “Frank Herbert”, he would get a “Frank Herbert”. Or possibly just a little less than “Frank Herbert” if you’re one of those tools who thinks nothing should ever get a perfect score because “no book/movie/game/CD is perfect”. Regardless, he would be really close to the top of whatever arbitrary scale you can make up to rate writers in the genre. Frank Herbert’s son, Brian, on the other hand…not so much. Brian is, however, a very wealthy man because Brian and his buddy Kevin Anderson managed to pump out multiple books sporting DUNE in big letters on their covers. These books are mediocre in good light but are national bestsellers because Dune has a ridiculous amount of selling power even 40+ years after the first book’s release.

This situation basically means one of two things about Brian Herbert:

1) Brian honestly believes his penmanship is equal to that of Frank Herbert and that his books live up to the legacy of the original series. He has some sort of Oedipus complex that causes him to devalue his father’s work. Brian isn’t the brightest bulb in the drawer and is possibly illiterate.

2) Brian knows his writing style is sub par. He continues to pump out the Dune books because they mean he gets to sleep on a bed made entirely of Euros and eat condor egg omelets three times a day. Brian may be the brightest bulb in the drawer but he is a bulb of pure evil.

I suspect the latter. I know Frank Herbert wouldn’t care for the shallow characters and nonsensical motives that populate his son’s novels. And I’m sure Brian Herbert does too.

Metal Review: Light From Above by Black Tide

Bear with me as I say this; Black Tide has the potential to release one of, if not the, best metal albums ever.  Seriously.  But this album isn’t it.

Not that this album doesn’t rock, it does, it rocks hard.  If you find yourself frustrated and slightly disgusted by the droves of emo-laden scream and croon antics of many of today’s recent mainstream metal you should do yourself a favor and pick this baby up.  Hell, even if you like those other guys you should pick this album up.  If you care anything at all about the future of metal you should Pick. This. Album. Up.

As you listen to it you may scoff at some of the derivative elements but keep listening and I dare you not to smile at the sheer amount of fun these guys seem to have as they revel in the tropes and themes we metal fans have come to know and love.  Then drop your jaw as you remember that lead singer/guitarist Gabriel Garcia is 15 years old!  Their bassist? 18.  Their drummer? 19.  Their guitarist? 17.

WTF!?

If this is their debut I shudder to think what they can do in the future.  And I shiver to think how they might turn out if things go badly (or too well).   There is certainly room for improvement.  Garcia certainly has the talent to craft a classic metal song but I’d like to see these guys stretch a little more creatively.  Regardless, with the somewhat uneven debut of Airbourne I’m glad to see a debut album that actually lives up to the hype.

Regardless of what minor gripes I have this is an absolutely brilliant debut album that any veteran band would be proud to have put out.  A couple more years, a bit of touring under their belts and see something amazing coming from these guys.  Buy this album.  Rock out to “Warriors of Time” (definatley my favorite song off this album), headbang to “Black Abyss,”  wallow in “The Light from Above,” and hope that these guys stay together for the long run so we can see and enjoy the creative explosion and momemtous impact they seem destined for.

Links:

Official Band Site

2007 Blabbermouth.net interview

Less Optimistic Blender Review

More Black Tide

Didn’t realize how shitty the audio was on that live performance, check out this video instead:

The bio on their website doesn’t seem to be working but I should point out that the word is that these guys are all under 20.  That is a ridiculous amount of talent for people that young.  If you haven’t already you should be out buying Light From Above right now.

Malicious Javascript Update

As mentioned previously, we have been plagued as of late by a particularly nasty and resilient bit of iframe hacking.  While our Trend Micro software managed to pick up absolutely nada I discovered that Kaspersky has an online scanner.  Roughly 3 hours and 19 minutes later and voila!  8 infected files and 5 viruses! Not to mention a ridiculous amount of locked files.  Among those 5 viruses is a little sucker named “Trojan-Downloader.HTML.IFrame.bu” which I’m hoping is the tenacious bastard responsible for our little problem.

Video Games make you dumb…

Dave Gibbons, of the American Chronicle, wrote this little gem about video games, libraries, and literacy.

This correlation=causation angle has been pretty well abused in “video games are bad” argument and no one (I’m looking at you Mr. Thompson) has managed to pin down accurate numbers to support their argurment.   Mr. Gibbons is no different.  He gives us tons of numbers on literacy but none whatsoever on how, or if, video games impact literacy.  That fact alone should render is argument null and void.

However, from a slighly less crumudgeony position, one might ask how the enticement of video games in the library increases teen (or even adult) awareness of other library services.  It’s all well and good to hold a Guitar Hero or Rock Band tournament but finding a way to tie those things into the greater context of literacy, learning, and library service is another matter entirely.

I have no doubt that fans of Halo 3  or Gears of War would enjoy Andy Remic’s War Machine, or that those old school adherents to the Max Payne series would enjoy the fisticuff laden adventures of Phillip Marlowe, or that fans of Rock Band might enjoy the manga series RePlay. Yeah, Gibbons doesn’t support his argument very well, he offers criticism without discussion but I do think that further investigation into the relationship between libraries, teens, and video games is certainly warranted.

PC-RPGs….gasping for air or on the rise?

There are some interesting rumblings in world of PC RPGs and some uncomfortable silences as well.

First off some older news in the place holder image over at Interplay.com.  Interplay, paired with Black Isle Studios and Bioware released perhaps the preatest Post-Gold Box Era computer RPGs ever.  Baldur’s Gate II sucked away months of life taking my fledgling character from the humblest of roots to the pinnacle of goddom (yes) are some of my fondest gaming memories (Quixis of the Open Palm, monk turned just deity).   Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, Baldurs Gate, Fallout.  Interplay released some serious gems and it was a bit of shame when they went under.

I should point out one of the images on the placeholder is from the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance games.  While for consoles only the light hack and slash fun both games featured was damned entertaining and I can only hope a newly formed Interplay finishes the series (both games ended in cliffhangers).

Slightly more troubling is Atari’s current financial difficulties.  Atari, as far as I know, still holds the license for D&D games.  They’ve managed it fairly well, Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 were fun game but neither managed to eclipse the aforementioned Interplay titles.  I know I might catch some flak for this, but I almost hope EA gets the D&D license instead.  I know, I know but with their recent aquisition of Bioware and Obsidian (studios both tied to those original Interplay titles) means they have the talent, and the financial clout, to produce some top notch titles.  However, with the new ruleset (for pen and paper D&D) scheduled for release this summer I’m guessing we won’t hear any news on new D&D titles (discounting those already in production/active development) until some time in the fall.

Next up was a bit from RockPaperShotgun I saw this morning.  They mentioned a job posting by Blizzard that sparked specution on the development of Diablo 3.  With the semi-flop that was Hellgate a true sequel with the Diablo brand would be nice to see.  Having had a chance to beta Hellgate a bit I’m willing to admit that the gameplay was fun and similar to, though never quite as frantic as, Diablo.  The post casually speculates (a I seriously mean speculates) about a “World of Diablo” and I admit I felt a bit tingly at the thought of that.  I doubt it would happen, Blizzard hardly needs two fantasy MMOs, but still that would be a damned tempting prospect for me….and I don’t really like MMOs.

This isn’t to say that other areas of the PC RPG market are dry.  Bioware is as active as ever promising Mass Effect for PC this May, and additional titles in the series to be released on PC as well.  Even better, in a recent interview over at Eurogamer Bioware’s Matt Atwood mentions that the long developed Bioware original Dragon Age will be out before the fiscal year ends (i.e. before April 2009).  In other areas Bethesda is busy at work on Fallout 3, having enjoyed Oblivion I’m fairly confident they’ll turn out a sweet product.  Other than those titles the market for single-player RPGs on the PC looks rather slim, but maybe I’m missing a few.  I’ll suffer through this dry spell well enough, it isn’t like I don’t have games to play, I’m still working my way through Neverwinter Nights 2, just started Bioshock, and have yet to finish Crysis (and that doesn’t include my consoles) so I’m good to go.  I’m curious to see how whether the single player PC RPG will make any sort of comeback in an MMO saturated market; I for one certainly miss the sense of adventure, exploration, and epic story that those Interplay Infinity-engine titles engendered and hope for something similar down the line.

Google Maps…Intergalactic

Caught this off of Digg this morning.  Google Sky is up and running.  Damned fun, it would be cool if you could overlay constellation images but no luck in that.  Overall a fun little tool.  Be sure to check out the Mars and the Moon links in the upper left.  The moon demo isn’t as full featured but the mars stuff is pretty frickin’ awesome.  Between this and AIM integration into gmail Google has sapped my productivity to almost zero.