Monday, July 27, 2020

Quarantine Bonus Post 2: Electric Bugaloo

Oh, look. COVID is still around. I mean…we’ve done almost nothing to stop it. I’m surprised that didn’t work. Anyway, while we do go out a little more than we used to, we are still very much at home. The school year is delayed and my oldest is going to be doing the online option versus the in class option. However, this leaves a lot of time for music and games and what not, so here’s what I’ve been into lately.


Hayley Williams, Petals for Armor – I do agree with Crash Thompson that staggering the release of this album kind of hurt the buzz. However, it’s great. Melancholy yet hopeful. Kind of minimalist instrumentation. Honest lyrics. I’m glad she didn’t go total pop or country or whatever the flavor of the day is. It really is unique and well worth your time.

Rose, Crazy Little World – I hated this album originally. It is just so far removed from the band’s stoner metal/Danzig-esque output that I just couldn’t bring myself to like it. Now, however, I can dig it. It’s still not my favorite Rose disc, but I can appreciate what they were doing and enjoy it for what it is.

My Silent Wake, Shadow of Sorrow – Still on my doom/death metal kick. My Silent Wake features Ian Arkley, formerly of Seventh Angel. This was the band’s debut and you can still kind of hear that old Seventh Angel sound, especially in the leads and stuff. Really like this one. Definitely meant to be listened to in the winter with the snow falling outside.

Lament, Tears of a Leper – More death meal. From Mexico this time. Though this is less pure death metal pounding and more like classic metal with death metal elements. Or death metal with classic metal elements. I don’t know. I do know it’s good and I like it.

Magdallan, Big Bang – This is another one I didn’t love originally. I don’t know why. The hooks are huge. The production is bright, clean, and shiny. Also – great bass. Lots of good bass here. I guess at the time I just couldn’t get into it but age has enlightened me and now I like it better.

Ken Tamplin and Friends, An Axe to Grind – I mostly got this because of the lead single, “Livin’ for My Lord” which was on the old Hot Metal 4 VHS tape I used to have. My cousin and I watched that to death one summer. Fortunately, the rest of Axe is good too. Ken Tamplin’s voice is smooth as butter sometimes. He also assembles a crack team of studio musicians so there’s always major chops on his records.

Liason, Hard Hitter – Liason started life as an AOR/rock band whose earlier material gives me some serious Richard Marx vibes. That’s not bad mind you, just an observation. Hard Hitter is a straight up hard rock album with cool riffs and hooks. I would have loved this when it originally came out but never picked it up for whatever reason. Kind of a shame. I could have been loving it this whole time.

Beyond Creation, Algorythm – More death metal. But this is progressive death metal. And it is amazing. The bass player in this band is truly astounding. Who plays a fretless bass in a death metal band? The bass is pretty out front too, working with the guitars to create these chaotic soundscapes. There’s also a lot of melody to go along with the brutality. Special thanks to Scott Waters for introducing me to this band via one of his You Tube videos. I’m probably going to end up buying all this band’s albums.

I’ve got Trytan, Sylentiger and Haken, Virus loaded up on the Ipod (because I am old and still use one) but I haven’t listened to them enough to have an opinion yet.

Video Games

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – The first Wolfenstein reboot game was a lot of fun. This one is just as much fun. It’s also got a lot of drama and cool characters and an interesting story. Basically, it’s great and if you liked the first one you should definitely play this one.

Control – If you’re at all familiar with the SCP Foundation (and you should be – go look it up) then you’ll get the vibe that Control is going for. Though maybe a little less on the horror side. This was another game I really didn’t know anything about but ended up having a great time with. Oh, also kind of a spiritual successor to Alan Wake (which was also great and needs a remaster).

Death Stranding – Ugh. Just…ugh. Listen, I love the Metal Gear Solid series. But this…*sigh*. It’s a game about delivering packages. No really. That’s the game. Deliver packages and hook people up to the internet. And honestly – that’s not terrible. I like the world and the story. Heck, I don’t even mind the hiking/pathfinding aspect. Especially since you can build structures with other players, which I think is totally cool. The problem is that doing anything in this game is a major pain in the ass. Anything. Menu navigation, rearranging cargo, combat, vehicles, friggin’ fast traveling is a headache. Fast travelling, ya’ll. Then you have to contend with time-rain wrecking your boxes and invisible spooky things trying to kill you. There’s a sensor that’s supposed to help but ol’ Clip-Clop (my name for it) didn’t seem to do much for me. I got so tired of it all. It just wasn’t fun.

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard – Boy, did I need something good after Death Stranding. REVII was fantastic. It was stressful and scary in all the best ways. Also, no zombies. I’m not a big fan of zombies as a rule. This was truly a thrill-ride and I would totally play this again at some point.

Timespinner Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one of my favorite games of all time. Timespinner is cut from that same cloth. It feels very familiar. In a good way though. Like… it definitely wears its SotN pedigree on its sleeve. The game doesn’t really innovate and there aren’t many surprises to be had power-ups wise. You have a time-stopping power but not much is done with it beyond using enemies as stepping stones. However, it was still a blast to play. I liked that it felt so familiar. I also thought the world and story was unique. This is another one I plan on playing through again at some point.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – I was never a huge fan of the original Playstation games, but these reboots are pretty awesome. Though Shadow is the weakest of the bunch. It’s not a bad game, it’s just the third game. It does everything the previous two did with the same quality and doesn’t add a whole lot to the mix. So while I was motivated to push on to see the end of Lara’s story, these caves and tombs all kind of looked the same after a while. I didn’t even bother finding all the challenge tombs because I just got sick of doing them. There’s also a million doohickeys to find that have little bearing on the actual game. I wasn’t sorry that I played through this, but I was glad to be done and not motivated to find any of the extras.

Bioshock 2 – I realized I hadn’t played through this one when I originally bought the collection. Bioshock 2 is by far the weakest of the series. Mostly because of the meandering middle section where the creators didn’t seem to have anything interesting for Subject Delta to do so they force him to gather ADAM. I’m also not a fan of the defending Little Sisters parts. It’s another aspect that, while true to the character, kind of just pads out the playtime. I really wish they would have remastered the original with this game’s combat because it’s a lot more fun using plasmids and weapons together.

GreedFall – Wow. Just…wow. Bad wow. I took a risk on this one because it was on sale and it was a waste of money. I have not had a game test my patience like this in a very long time. Not even Death Stranding tested my patience like this game. So you’re supposed to be this aristocrat embarking on a journey to a new island with fantastic creatures and magic, etc. The game stresses again and again how the character is just about to board the boat for this wonderous island. So what does the game make you do? Friggin’ errands for like three-plus hours. Seriously. You go to a person and tell them you’re leaving. They ask you to run this errand for them. This errand usually involves running back and forth all over the map talking to people and/or picking stuff up. I did several of these and it almost became comical. So…I guess we’re not leaving for this island then? Also, did I mention that the first town is basically several lovely shades of brown? Yes. Brown. No, I don’t want to go to the fun island. I want to run around Brown Town and look for your cousin or some bullshit. I never even made it out of the first area before I put the controller down in disgust.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered – I’ve played through this one several times. I needed some comfort after GreedFail and double dipped this one for PS4. My goal was to get Squall’s ultimate weapon on the first disc…which I did. That was pretty cool. I’m also keeping my levels low. There are so many different ways to tackle this game I’m surprised more people don’t like it.

1 comment:

  1. I’d listen to Ken Tamplin song the phone book! I loved Magdallen back in the day and still love it. Liaison was so underrated. Hard Hitter, dispute the goofy photoshopped cover, is awesome. I believe all 3 of their albums just go the slick remaster treatment over at Girder Records.