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Amon Amarth - CD
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It was with insane anticipation and fear of disappointment that I heard the promo of this new recording from Amon Amarth, easily my favorite band for the last 10 years. Right off the bat, I will calm all of you who have been waiting as eagerly as me - it's a decent piece of work.Surtur Rising is also their longest album to date, at least the one with the most songs (together with the Crusher). Hegg & co. have always spoken about going for "quality over quantity" in earlier interviews, but with their popularity ever on the rise, fans amassing to see their live showx and the amount of merchandise these guys pull each gig, I guess they just figured they would have to make a 10-song album this time.
The opener War of the Gods is easily one of the best openere's I've heard in quite some time. It's not as good as "Death in Fire"; more like a mix of "Valhall awaits me" from the "With Odin on our side" album (their best album to date according to me) and the opener on "Once sent from the Golden Hall". The music is quick and catchy and there's a part where Hegg is speaking swedish, giving flashbacks to their first record.
The second song is a contuination of something they started on "With Odin on our side", and this is something I was extremely disappointed not having on their previous record. It took some time before this song grew on me, but once I got into it, I had seriously problems listening to anything else for quite some time. The song is part 2 of a piece called "Loke's Treachery", and we will probably have part 3 (and maybe even more) later on. Especially Soderberg and Mikkonen is doing an insanely well-executed job on this one.
Next song is Destroyer of the Universe, definately the fastest track on this record. It plays something quite like "Asator" from the "With Odin on our side" album. I think I find Asator to be a bit better, but this is not bad either. The verses are fast, insanely fast and the refrain is better than most of the other fast songs they've made so far.
Then we have Slaves of Fear, which features Johan Hegg's very distinct and specialized growling tecniques (feeeaaaAAAARRR!!) and a melodious riff from the guitars.
The rest of the album is decent enough. Special songs of note are "For Victory or Death", which features the first use of keyboards in any Amon Amarth song ever. I feared this, but it works out. It's not bad, like I thought it would be. They've pulled this very carefully, and the chords sounds like guitars played in an ice cave. "The Last Stand of Frej" has a very heavy and serious nature to itself, telling the tale about the Norse God Frej's final battle in Ragnarok. This song was very moving and had a major impact on me.Finally, "A Beast Am I" features a very beautiful and moving guitar-only solo in the middle of the song.
Conclusion will have to be that Amon Amarth has pulled some strings from their first album on this one and at the same time tried to remain true to the sound they've established and developed over the years. I think they've managed to create yet another strong album, but the lyrics are a little off this time around. They're a little odd and there's no really good one-liners, maybe except from "None of your tears mean nothing to me/Why would it not/Just leave it to me" from Tocks Taunt. There was also a really awesome cover of System of a Down called "Aerials" on the promo I got, I dont know if its going to be on the album but I hope so because it really rocked!!
I'll put this above "Twilight of the Thunder Gods", a little below "WIth Odin on our side". It's about as good as "the Fate of Norns"; maybe just a little better. Its hard to say when they have 8 albums out.
Alice In Wonderland (Tim Burton 2010)
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This review is written with those in mind that actually CARE about the content of the original Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass books. Lewis Carroll wrote alot more than Alice and her adventures, but it is still what he for the most part is remember for.
Through the Looking Glass has a poem which is part of something Carroll did exceptionally well, called nonsense verse. This Poem is called Jabberwocky and is basically a very simple tale about a boy who becomes a knight when he slays a very mysterious-looking creature called the Jabberwock.
This entire movie is based on a story Tim Burton has made out of this poem, which although very fun to read, is not a very eventful poem at all. This leaves the movie SEVERLY lacking in the story-department and also takes alot of the fun I used to have with reading this poem out of. The poem mentions two words, "Bandersnatch" and "Jub-jub Bird". Up until this movie was released, I did not know nor did I WISH to know what a Bandersnatch looks like. Now I know, because Tim Burton has made one - in full, mind-blowing 3d! Very little is explained exactly how the Bandersnatch came to be and why it is working for the Red Queen. It just finds itself in the movie never the less. Like I said, these kinds of things happens all the time throughout the movie and it seems to me that Burton just assumes that we are going to understand it somehow. He never bothered with a real explanation.
Also, for some reason, Alice seems to be almost the sidekick here while the Mad Hatter sails up as the protagonist. The reason for this is probably because the Mad Hatter is portrayed by Johnny Depp. If he had chosen a lesser name, maybe the story wouldn't have suffered as much. As the story progresses, it becomes very clear that Tim is not at all certain of what he is trying to do or what his aim is with this "remake" of Alice's adventures. In the end, it turns out as a completely unneccesary movie and something that robs the original books of its profound deeper sense of humour and wit instead of adding. On the other hand, it also makes you prefer the book to the movie - which in turn makes the books that much better. But I would always prefer that book to any movie. It cannot be remade on the screen.
All in all, I think this was a horrible attempt at Alice's adventures and although the acting is horrible, the 3d looks like plastic and the story is about as thorough as an episode of "Days of our lives", I did enjoy the Caterpillar simply because he is voiced by Alan Rickman. I dont think children will care about this sort of thing at all, but for grownups who is interested in the aftermath of an old classic - I advise you to stay away!
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In my country this movie got pretty horrible reviews and all the relevant newspapers seems to agree on this. For the first time in years I'm having a completely different idea. I really loved this. Although the story is rather simple and somewhat dumbfound, (nowhere near the intensity of Minority Report) they go about it in a very decent manner that makes it work after all. There's two reasons for this - first of all, about mid-movie there's a change of pace that alters how you perceive the world, the main character and the idea they built in your head. This is done in a truly magnificent way that really appealed to me. I cannot say what it is, but if you are like me, you will understand. Secondly, Bruce Willis has a tendency to take roles that portray sad indvidiuals who miss life quality and have suffered loss. A deep substance to an otherwise hardboiled man. Bruce pulls this off again, but this time I have to say...I was really impressed. He has near-perfected this by now and his performance in 'Surrogates' was actually a very pleasant experience. Now, a little about the movie. The "war on machines" metaphor on how technology will outmatch us in 100 years or something is beginning to wear out. Its a cliche by far now, so I wasn't expecting much. What 'Surrogates' does differently is that, instead of asking how we should fight this, it asks us to look inside ourselves and ask "What is the price for mortality?" Thats only one of the very important questions that arise during this movie, but alot of the genius about 'Surrogates' how two worlds, seemingly alike, clash without really ever touching each other physically. Instead, that war is fought on a spiritual level. Its told through the eyes and ideas of the main character, so brilliantly portrayed by good old man Willis. Another thing I really liked was how Willis was willing to let them make a much younger, fresher version of himself....as far as I know he's been pretty tight about his appearance on screen before. Then BOOM, suddenly this 'other' real Willis steps forth, a seemingly weaker version, his real self. And totally wipes the floor with whatever was left of his former, pretty young thing. That should make you think alot. This isn't only a movie about ethical values. Its also a kick in the nuts to plastic surgery/cosmetics and reliance on technology. I thought this would be really lame, but its actually pretty good. Thumbs up for Willis and I hope to see more of Radha Mitchell as well.
The 13th Warrior
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The 13th Warrior is about the only movie I can think of that has a pure Viking theme with this kind of quality in production. There may be some other low-bugdet movies that are better in terms of story, performance or otherwise, but this movie makes up for it in just being good on the props and costumes. Also, if you are from Norway you will have some extra laughs, as alot of the dialogue in the beginning is spoken in Norwegian which makes it a very fun reminiscion. Although the acting is, well...I will not say that it is horrible. But it is not good, that's for sure. Actually, "not good" is very limiting. What I mean to say is that the acting is of a specific characterization that makes the movies stand more out as a sort of parody on itself without meaning to. The movie has some very serious moments that sort of flop completely by just beeing too serious, which in itself is what makes this movie so extremely funny to watch. I must agree that this movie is not for everyone, its mostly for people who are either into metal or vikings or metal and vikings or well...people who care about mythology perhaps.
The story is very weak, for instance it is absolutely ridicilous that Antiono Banderas learns how to speak Norwegian in only a matter of days by just listening to the other natives. Stuff like this keeps showing up throughout the movie, but if you manage to just focus on whats important here (the action) and dont take it too seriously, Im sure you will understand why this is actually a very good source for a lot of laughs.
Although not exactly my favourite movie, I am from Norway and this is as far as you come to picturing the Norsemen in any Hollywoodish production. I found it to be very entertaining and I watch it at least once a year just for pure show. Its become something of a cult movie among my friends and I dont see why it shouldn't be.
Since most pople here already gave it a pretty good review, Im going to refrain from writing the same praise all over again. If you're fond of the Shin Megami Tensei game series, then you already have this game and you dont need to read this. If you've never heard of it, do read on...The Game follows a young man as he begins a new school year. It follows with rich content as he makes friends and enemies and finds within himself that he has the power to summon a Persona. As you progress in the game, you learn more and more about the plot and about Japanese customs in general. The story is told in such a way that you are forced to feel some kind of remorse or pity for the characters in the game. When you hit a certain point, the "endgame" will begin and alot of the characters will make difficult choices. If you even have a notion of humanity in you, it will not be possible for you to not be touched by these extremely nauseating moments. The characters will fight for their lives and you will lead them to Victory - but sacrifices will have to be made. It sounds alot like your typical soap opera packed in a japenese rpg. It sort of is, but it's done in such a way that the power of it all overrules everything. Harry Potter isn't especially genuine, but its done in a good way, reinventing the genre. This is much of the same thing. You want to play this game. You HAVE to play this game, and you have to finish it. If you can, get the strategy guide from DoubleJumpBooks as well, you will need it. This game will narrate to you how a tragedy that unfolds in the lives of 6 young men and women would really take place and how despair really is portrayed in real life. I dont think I've seen anything like it. This is a work of art in gaming and from an RPG point of view, its more than just beautiful. It's tragically beautiful.
Godspeed On The Devil's Thunder (2CD)
Cradle Of Filth - CD
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Did you just read what the guy over said?
What he said! I used to be a black metal purist, hating everything that had to do with mixing up the genres and experminenting. Vempire and cruelty and the beast were by far the best albums and by the time cradle released their ep "from the cradle to the grave" , something had changed. The syntheseizer was goofy and too cozy and the focus seemed to shift towards greater audiences.
Their last album, thornography was a serious slap in my face, and i made the deciscion to never buy another of their albums again. How wrong can you be?
This is not a return to the roots, neither is it the comeback that cradle deserves. But it's good enough to get my attention! First and foremost this album is alot of fun! You need to throw all ideas about what cradle of filth really is about away and just enjoy this from the start to its malignant end. I used to hate ridicilous songs with "cute refrains" and clean voice singing, like they have in other neo-metal bands. I am ashamed, but also a little proud to say that i quite enjoyed it this time. It doesn't matter that its a little out of their old league, because goodspeed on the devil's thunder is as much of a metal album as an injection of music straight into your blood. The renessaince-like atmosphere, the haunting angelic choirs, the merciless drum blast, the unforgiving melodies...and the voice of gille all make this the most interesting cradle of filth album to date. I will not say that it's the best or that it's something for everyone. But i have listened to it over 50 times the last week because it made me smile. It's as close to a great cradle album you're going to come in a while.
If you have given up cradle of filth, you should definately give it a listen, you might be surprised. If you love cradle anyway, why are you even reading this?
4 Stars from me for a good effort and a very well written album.
30 Days Of Night: Special Edition (2 Discs)
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I found the story compelling at first, but it gets kinda confusing throughout the movie as very little is explained about the nature of the "vampires". I love vampires, and the only reason I watched it was to get a shot at a potential (first) good vampire movie. This was not it. The gory scenes in this movie are right out obscene and groase - they're basically hacking of each others heads in full detail. If that kinda stuff is your cup of tea, sure, go ahead. I found it uninteresting, and the ending is sort of a letdown. You can also, like in most horror movies, figure out who's gonna die and in what order. Its not a reinvention of the wheel, if you catch my drift. I would RENT this one first if you're unsure. If you dont care so much, and just wanna watch some random horror, its a safe buy I'd say.
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2 Discs)
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The pace is exceptionally slow, with the music by Nick Cave it gets even "worse". The mood is very sad and downbeat. Casey Affleck delivers an astounding performance, although his character is a horrible person, he does his job excellent - he makes you hate him. Brad Pitt is always good, but compared to Tyler Durden this is mediocre. Still, not bad. Although they are completely different movies, if you saw "O brother where art thou?" you have SOME idea of what you're in for. This is the downbeat version, O brother is very happy and gay (in the old fashion meaning of the word). If you're looking for action, buy Die Hard 4. If you want a brilliant drama set in the western period, buy this movie. This movie does not have any action scenes at all if you ask me.
Massive Attack - CD
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Alot can be said about Massive Attack, but that they are optimistic and shining is not one of them. Their music have always been about the shadow side of life and brings forth the creepyness of damp, dark streets, desperation and despair. However, in between all this, you find a woman's voice who gives a small hope of redemption.
On "Mezzanine", this has been practiced to the utmost perfection. Of all the "darkbeat" albums I've heard, this is by far the one that keeps coming most often to mind. The atmosphere is brilliant, yet depressing. It gives you a certain feeling of humans living like cockroaches in a post-apocalyptic, industrial area, where they work in factories at day and go clubbing at night. Neon lights and fog are some of the visuals I get. The music in itself isn't necessarily so thrilling, but the combination of it all makes it so. One song might not do it for you, but the entire album will. This is a package. Remember that. You can't buy this album for just one song. It wouldn't do it justice either.
Overture of the Wicked (EP)
Iced Earth - CD
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For all of those who've been going around with a little prayer in their stomach, ready to give this band one more chance after that HORRIBLE last record...hoping that they'll pull it off next time and do something with the vocals...
I'm gonna have to disappoint you. Im totally finished with this band now. It just feels so pointless going on now, when they sound like this...this wretched carcass of a band. They're just shadow of their old self now. Because the first thing that hits your ears when you put on "Ten Thousand Strong" is a wall of noise - the noisy and grotesque voice of Tim Owens! Throughout the entire song, this high pitch of a ravens caw continues to bug you til you either drop or turn it off! The remake of the Something Wicked-trilogy is neither particulary impressing and I must say I swear to the old version. The new one lacks punch, it lacks finesse and it lacks everything Iced Earth lost when they picked up Tim Owens.
This is a very sad day for me. I wish they would pull it off but they didnt. And they will probably never pull it off again until they ditch that glass-breaking abomination that is Tim Owens.