Nov 222019
 
Best Albums of 2018 Image

Top Ten Music Albums 2018

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, this is indeed a list of the best albums of 2018 being posted well into 2019. Procrastination I suppose has kept me from putting this up for eleven months, but here it is now!

Special Awards

Best Cover: Ken Mode – Loved

Ken Mode - Loved Album Cover

While I unfortunately didn’t enjoy this follow up to Success, an album which I held in high regard, as much, the cover art was something that was always on my mind. Something simple yet menacing about it that sticks out. Now it will terrify all of your dreams!

Worst Lyrics: Machine Head – Catharsis

There was a point (Supercharger) where Machine Head kind of slipped, then they made a come back with their current sound. It seems like years of producing that sound has made them want to go with something a little less serious. The album does have some great tracks but songs like Triple Beam, Razorblade Smile and California Bleeding left me scratching my head. Furthermore the political injection seems kind of forced and not well thought out.

Machine Head – Triple Beam

Better than Expected: A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant

The release of this album came seemingly out of nowhere, then leading up to the release I hadn’t heard anything about it, someone said whatever song they played was terrible. The album art also is not great (someone tell me why it’s brilliant) but the actual music wasn’t too bad

A Perfect Circle – So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Worse than Expected: Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog


While their previous two albums weren’t amazing they were good for AIC albums without Layne Staley. However, this new album seems to be missing a lot of what makes Alice in Chains the band they were, but while creating a new identity they haven’t done anything to make them stand out as new and improved. In the end they made a very meh doom-lite album that isn’t very entertaining. There are some alright songs but overall very meh and I suppose I expected better.

Alice in Chains – Never Fade

Normal Awards

Honorable Mentions

Devin Townsend – Ocean Machine: Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv


Personally I don’t like to put live albums as an album of the year because the material isn’t new, but I do think this one is worth mentioning because it’s quite outstanding. I guess 2017 (when this was performed) and 2018 (when this was released) marked the 20th anniversary of Ocean Machine. So in classic Devy fashion he performed the whole album live in the ancient ruins in Plovdiv, it’s certainly a spectacle but the album is just as amazing now as it was back then in fact he brought back the original bassist just for this concert. Not to mention it has some fan selected tracks played with an orchestra which is also amazing. And yes, he does Thing Beyond Things live (you know what I’m talking about!)

Devin Townsend Project – By Your Command

Fairies – Jukebox


I thought this was a really good album it didn’t have one cohesive style but kind of jumped around, kind of like some songs sound like a throwback to an era sort of (Something like Mr. Blue Sky) – Anyway, just energetic and happy and kinda cool if you’re into that sort of thing.

フェアリーズ (Fairies) – Bling Bling My Love

Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis


I really enjoyed this band back in the day but I felt their quality proceeded to diminish after In Keeping of Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. Last album I got by them was Year of the Black Rainbow which I don’t remember much. They have released 4 albums since and this new one so happens to be the one I said, “oh I remember these guys” – As it turns out this is a good album to pick up from because chronologically it is the latest in the saga they are telling (something I don’t really pay attention to anyway). In any case, the album is really good. It’s like an accessible prog album with good songwriting and the album is quite lengthy. I’d say the biggest gripe I’d have is that for a space album it doesn’t really evoke the a sci-fi feel. It was a hard decision to bump this from the top ten but it is worth a mention and if you haven’t heard them in a while this is a good chance to hop back in.

Coheed and Cambria – Unheavenly Creatures

TOP TEN

10.

Bleeding Through – Love Will Kill All

Bleeding Through - Love Will Kill All Album Cover


Remember Metalcore? Remember this band? I do. I remembered they were one of the few Metalcore bands I did enjoy. That being said I only had heard This Is Love, This is Murderous and upon revisiting it it had some good songs but mostly forgettable songs. I think I enjoyed it mostly for the Boondock Saints clips they played before the songs which is ironic because I don’t even like The Boondock Saints. So 15 years later how do they sound? Better than ever. I think they took my medical advice and put some black metal on it because a lot of the songs have that black metal tone to it, they’ve got some HIGH QUALITY SYMPHONIC sounds for instance. The clean vocals sound a bit odd, but overall I found a lot to enjoy from this album.

Bleeding Through – Fade Into the Ash

09.

Warrel Dane – Shadow Work

Warrel Dane - Shadow Work Album Cover

Sadly Warrel Dane passed away at the end of 2017, a truly unique voice. Nevermore had not released an album since 2010 and it was mixed to put it kindly. However, it looks like he was working on some solo album which was released posthumously. The production is a little on the rough side but this is a great album from start to finish. In fact a lot more enjoyable than a couple of the previous Nevermore albums. This could have easily been a quick cash in but it turned out to be an album worthy of his memory.

Warrel Dane – Disconnection System

08.

Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

Let's Eat Grandma - I'm All Ears album cover

Strange group name, strange music but in a good way! It begins as a kind of electronic heavy pop album with a tinge of new-waveish sound, but towards the end of the album it gets to sounding very pink floydesque. Upon first listen you might be like “what the hell is this?” But by the time it ends you’ll say, “wait play that again!”

Let’s Eat Grandma – I Will Be Waiting

07.

Sigh – Heir to Despair

Sigh - Heir to Despair album cover

Sigh has been making music regularly for a number of years, however, they’ve never been able to reach the height of Imaginary Sonicscape. Then again they hardly ever make the same sounding album twice. Heir to Despair marks another finish to the word “sigh” and I think it’s one of their better albums. They’ve always generally been a black metal band but on this album they channel their inner Dream Theater and Iron Maiden (the first two songs sounding like that) ending in their 10 minute long epic, Heir to Despair. Really the only flaws are the weird 3 part song in the middle and maybe the cover art. Personally I don’t mind the cover but other people have commented on it. Watering plants is so metal!

Sigh – Homo Homini Lupus

06.

High on Fire – Electric Messiah

High on Fire - Electric Messiah album cover

High on Fire is has been a very consistent band. However, I feel like a good amount of their recent albums have kind of dropped off after the first half. Death Is This Communion has been their most consistent and cohesive album to date but Electric Messiah is a good challenger to that throne. The album is like an unrelenting wall of sound pummeling your ears but this is the kind of pummeling you can enjoy. It seems like the longer the album goes the faster and heavier it gets, but the sound never grows old, it’s consistent throughout.

High on Fire – Electric Messiah

05.

Perfume – Future Pop

Perfume - Future Pop album cover

I’ll admit I wasn’t super impressed with Perfume when I first heard their other albums but I decided to pick up their new album and thought it was really good. But I was surprised to see fans hating on it. Well their loss is my gain because I quite enjoy this album. I thought this was a lot like the fairies album earlier but with better songs. This is probably one of the only J-pop acts that can get away with a completely instrumental song and have it be good.

Perfume – Tokyo Girl

04.

Mutant Monster – 離してあげる

Mutant Monster - 離してあげる album cover

I was actually very surprised by this album. It feels like very much a throwback to straight up rock music. It’s three Japanese girls but there are no death metal gimmicks or anything like that. Just straight up rock done very well and they even play their own instruments. Some of the songs remind me of something that would be in a skate video back in the day, some punky songs some surf rock sounding songs, varying styles but all together it adds up to a great album.

Mutant Monster – 離してあげる

03.

Dessa – Chime

Dessa - Chime album cover

Dessa has always been a very good MC but on Chime not only does she showcase her rapping chops but explores a lot of other styles as well. I think it’s difficult to make catchy yet well written and smart lyrics and this album has all of those. This is an album with appeal beyond that of the main “genre” it is. Just something special and unexpectedly good.

Dessa – Velodrome

02.

Karg – Dornenvogel

Karg - Dornenvogel album cover

Have you heard of this band, Harakiri for the Sky? Well Karg was around long before them and play very similar music. They are from Austria, they play that sort of black-gazeish type of depressive metal. In fact JJ from Harakiri is in / this band. However, Karg’s lyrics are in German and while the two bands sound similar there are minor differences in their style. This album leans a bit more on the black metal spectrum and I would say the vocals are a bit on the raw side. However, the remarkable thing is that the longer the song progresses the better it gets. The kind of songs you start listening to saying, “okay…” then you’re 4 minutes in and you say, “alright!” and you get to the end and you say, “OMG!” The first track for instance starts out sounding very black metal then begins to add on the post rock polish and then ends with a sort of punky breakdown. But the second song is completely different but has the same sort of progression. I think it’s just a remarkable album.

Karg – La Tristesse Durera Toujours

01.

Harakiri for the Sky – Arson

Harakiri for the Sky - Arson album cover

It was difficult to choose this over the Karg album, personally I would say they are equally as good. In 2016 I had this as my AOTY runner up, but two years later they have managed to climb to #1! As good as Trauma was I felt the more I listened to Arson the better the album turned out to be. The songs are a lot more elaborate now, there’s those micro melodies scattered throughout each song. The lyrics are depressive as hell but luckily the music is just the opposite, well for the most part. The instrument tone on some songs, like Tomb Omnia, give the songs a different texture and I’m a sucker for those buzzsaw sounding guitars. (Fun fact: The session drummer for this album plays in SepticFlesh.) In any case a great album that is even being recognized by their own country. Arson is up for the Amadeus Austrian Award – Kind of like the Grammys. So if that doesn’t make it the best I don’t know what does!

Harakiri for the Sky – Heroin Waltz

Jan 302018
 

Generally I post these lists at other places but I thought to myself, why not here as well? So I’m going to publish this list here too. Original list is below:

 

To me 2017 was a year of challenging listens. Many albums took several listens to fully enjoy. When making this list I thought it would be hard to fill out, but then I had a challenging time chipping down a top 10!

Special Awards

 

Best Songs I wish Were the Rest of the album: Butcher Babies (Burn the Straw Man / Lilith)
This is similar to an award I had last year. The first two tracks of this album sounds like a chick Meshuggah (Well Burn the Straw Man anyway), but then the rest of the album is just kinda generic crap.

Best Cultural Appropriation: FAKY
So FAKY had their debut album last year and I was pretty surprised at what I had heard. Japanese pop and K-Pop sounds strikingly different from each other. Even Japanese pop groups sound distinctly Japanese. FAKY are different, they have the look of a K-Pop group, they have the production of a K-Pop group but they are a Japanese group. It only took them 7 years to make a perfect copy of K-Pop. That being said I enjoyed it and it’s funny because the beats are some of the most obnoxious stuff you can hear but for some reason it works

Biggest Disappointment: Big K.R.I.T. – 4eva is a Mighty Long Time
It would be easy to put Eminem here, but I wasn’t expecting anything from him. Big KRIT released a double album which would have been pretty rad if the album delivered but it did not, for me anyway. Each CD has a distinct theme / feel. The first one is the “bangers” side but only a handful of song are good on this on, Subenstein being pretty awesome. Disc 2 is very religious and not super appealing and like the first disc only a handful of song are good.

 


Regular Awards

Honorable Mention

Igorrr – Savage Sinusoid
This was actually pretty good, however, it was a lot like another album I included in my top ten. Also, it’s really fucking weird.

Blanck Mass – World Eater
If you’ve ever heard of Fuck Buttons this is one half of the duo. Pretty solid album but ultimately it didn’t have that extra oomph to put it over the top.

Vamps – Underworld
I really enjoyed this album, but not as much as Underworld (their previous album). It’s a fun little rock album with some interesting featured guests

 


TOP TEN

10
Dälek – Endangered Philosophies
Endangered Philosophies
Dälek is hit and miss sometimes. When he’s on he’s great but sometimes he gets a bit too complicated for his own good. Luckily on this album he’s hitting and hitting hard. Starting with “Echoes Of…” he sets the tone. Album runs out of steam towards the end but the highs are pretty high on this one.

9
Mew – Visuals
Visuals
I’m going to also award this the “most unnerving album cover” really there’s something that creeps me out about it. But the music, yes it is good. I’ve always been a fan of Mew but I hadn’t listened to them in a while. Then they released a new album last year and it immediately made a positive impression on me. The first track (Hmmm a theme of first tracks?) is like almost being in a dream, but the melody is almost a nightmare the way it replays itself, but only half of the melody (you’ll probably have to hear it to understand). This album just sounds like a refinement of what they’ve always done well, a sort of dream rock, and it’s very good.

8
öOoOoOoOoOo – Samen
Samen
These guys remind me a lot of the band Unexpect (and that Igorr band sort of) but not as chaotic as either of them. “Avant-Garde” Metal if you will. Really enjoy Asphodel’s vocals which sometimes the vocals can do it. The album is organized chaos, kind of all over the place but enjoyable to listen to. Something that gets tiring to listen to from a band like Unexpect works for these guys.

7
Binary Star – Water World 3
Waterworld 3
Remember Binary Star? They’re back, but in pog form. Actually not in pog form but they released an album after 17 years! Best of all it turned out to be good. Some songs sound like a reprise of songs from Masters of the Unvierse, like Woflman Jack now Wolf Man Jackin for Beats – but recomposed slightly, probably some of the most haunting beats in a long time. If anything this album is a throwback to old school raw MC rap stuff, heavy sampling and guys actually rapping instead of the heavy produced verse based rap you hear these days.

6
Slowdive – Slowdive
Slowdive
Speaking of returns, Slowdive is back. If you’ve never heard of them that’s because the last time they released an album was in 1995, 22 years ago. Personally I had never heard of them either but there was some positive buzz around this album so I checked it out. A very awesome shoegaze band, music is very layered and ethereal. I hope these guys continue to make music and take a shorter hiatus next time.

5
Infected Mushroom – Return to the Sauce
Return to the Sauce
The funny thing about this group is my friend has listened to them for years and I’ve ignored them probably for the same length of time, that is until last year. Now I wonder what was I waiting for? Very good electro-trance album, really no weak tracks here.

4
Progenie Terrestre Pura – oltreLuna
oltreLuna
If you’re familiar with Nocturunus, this band is similar with a death metal space sound, I guess theoretically anyway. However, I personally prefer more space stuff than death metal stuff. This album has a good mix of the two. Long sweeping epic songs that progressively shift from the chaotic death metal to the atmosphere of space. Hard to describe but I guess you’d hear typical death metal then it would shift to operatic vocals, electronic space blips and a more melodic song structure (something like that anyway).

3
PassCode – Zenith
Zenith
I never got into BabyMetal so I’m not sure how close this is to that. This album reminds me of a metal band meets Hatsune Miku, like electronic J-Pop. It took me a while to warm up to it but the album is brilliant. So many shifts from one thing to another. The most intriguing thing to me is does this Japanese girl actually do these harsh vocals? I think this conundrum adds to my enjoyment as much as the music does. (After watching a live video it seems she does do them, interesting)

2
Violet Cold – Anomie
Anomie
I saw this getting some negative reviews for being a rip off of Alcest but I was pleasantly surprised. A blackgaze band from Azerbaijan, this is actually quite good. I suppose what they do differently is put different “ambientish” elements into the music rather than Alcest doing the acoustic guitar interludes. But let’s be real, Alcest isn’t the only blackgaze band on the block and some others deserve recognition for their work.

1
Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
The Assassination of Julius Caesar
Without a doubt my #1 – Not just the best of the year but one of Ulver’s best albums (if not the best). A culmination of all their work in one album. Songs are simplified but still complex and layered. Similar yet still completely different from anything they’ve done. Remarkable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 192015
 

DOTA 2       Cities: Skylines is the newest city simulator that seems to have been making a splash recently. It has been called, “The game that is better than SimCity,” or, “The Game That is SimCity If SimCity Was Good,” or, “The Game SimCity Would be If EA Didn’t Screw Up.” Whatever people were saying about it, I wanted to try it. Thanks to a gracious benefactor I was able to experience this game first hand.

Now I’m not 100% went wrong with SimCity, I only paid a bit of attention to it. I guess biggest gripes were online only, small cities, the fact it’s on Origin. Well Colossal Order, the developer of Cities: Skylines, came along and decided they wanted to make their own city simulator. They have a couple of games under their belt, Cities: In Motion 1 and 2, but this game is the first one they’ve made that you can actually build the city. An ambitious project for a reportedly small developer.

So how is the game? Well, I’ve only put several hours into it but so far I would say it is good fun. At first glace it is a beautiful game (see the screen on the left). It plays a lot like SimCity. You’ll build roads, put down zones for residential, commercial and industries. You’ll adjust taxes and all that jazz as well. But what does it better than SimCity? I can’t say for sure with my limited time with the game. From what I understand you can get pretty detailed with the road layouts. The game puts a large emphasis on traffic flow and being able to direct the flow of traffic efficiently around the city. You can also paint different districts in your city and apply different polices to each of them. It’s also got a lot of mods in the steam workshop.

In my playtime, about seven hours according to steam, I spent three years trying to dig myself out of a $7,000 hole. When I first created my city I neglected to check the wind graph. I built some wind turbines in a non windy area so I ended up with a lot of blackouts. I was also spending a lot of money on water which ended up making me go into debt. Through some strategic budgeting I was able to get out of the hole and I’ve got a pretty sizable city now. Who knows where I’ll go from here but this is definitely a quality game that I’ll keep playing.

Sep 232014
 

DOTA 2 DOTA 2 was a game I’ve always wanted to get into but knew nothing about, except that you’d get called out for being a n00b and there being a steep learning curve. I had it downloaded since the beta but still had never jumped in. This all changed a couple of months ago. I would say back in late May what really caught my eye was this whole compendium on steam. If you bought one you’d get all sorts of goodies, could watch the game, and contribute to the prize pool that ended up being almost eleven million dollars. So I bought one and it basically forced my hand, I had to figure out what I was doing.

So I began practicing. I watched several videos on how to play, I played vs bots and watched some games. Even still it was hard for me to decide to jump in. I decided to try other MOBAS as practice for DOTA 2. I tried Dawngate but it was so completely different that it didn’t really count as practice at all. So I sucked it up and decided to jump into a public match. Honestly I can’t remember how I did. But the game is addictive. The ultimate “just one more game” experiences. I found that the players weren’t all that unfriendly actually. A lot of them were forgiving and some even were helpful in telling you how to play a hero and this and that. I do know why some people end up getting called out but after some time with the game even such acts (feeding) would even frustrate me!

But other than playing I got into watch as well. I mean I did buy access to The International so I might as well watch right? You can watch inside the game client to get the best picture possible. There were some great matches even if I didn’t know what was going on at the time. Watching DOTA 2 is serious business. Just like any pro sport they have commentators casting the game. You’re watching the greatest players in the world play this game and it shows but they are great sports and have a lot of fun too. I enjoyed The International so much I even decided to buy a ticket for another pro tournament, The Canada Cup. This tournament is not as big as the International but it still has pro players and some even using some unorthodox heroes as well.

Overall I would say I’ve had a positive experience overall. I don’t think I’ll be going pro anytime soon but the game has racked up 400 hours of time out of me, which is probably the most of any game I’ve played ever. If you’re on the fence give it a try, you’ll probably end up enjoying it. Who knows, maybe you’ll become the next International champion!

Below is some poor quality video of a match I played a while ago. I’m a lot better now. :-p

 

Jun 072014
 

Edge of Tomorrow I went to go see Edge of Tomorrow yesterday (despite what the title says) and I was entertained. I contemplated if I should put the review up or not. I decided if I get one like on my letterboxd account I would put the review up here. So I got one like and put it up. I fleshed out some of it so it’s a bit different from that review. In any case you can read it Here. If the trailer didn’t sell you (yes some people didn’t think it looked good from the trailer which makes me wonder what they would need to see to make it look like a good movie) I think the actual movie is something you will like.

Apr 032014
 

ACNL Bridge      So you may or may not have read my feature on the addictive nature of Marvel Puzzle Quest. While I have possibly conquered those demons I’ve run into a whole new set of problems. This time my addiction comes in the form of Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the  Nintendo 3DS. A little under a month ago I got a 3DS for my birthday. My original desire for the system stemmed from a game I saw on a Nintendo Direct, Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (I’ll provide a video to that at the end). After seeing the details of this game I couldn’t hold my desire in check any longer, I needed this system. However, the game wouldn’t come out until a month later. How would I spend my time until then?

Well luckily for me Nintendo had a deal for new 3DS owners. With the purchase of a new 3DS and a qualifying game I could get Pokemon X for free. One of these games was Animal Crossing: New Leaf. I had played this game previously on the Gamecube but never since. This time it would be all mine. I downloaded it off the eShop and I got my Pokemon X but soon I found myself playing Animal Crossing more than Pokemon. In fact since March 5th I’ve spent 42 hours in Budapest (the name of my town) with an average playtime of 55 minutes each. How do I know this? Well the 3DS has a built in activity log to tell you how much of your life you’ve wasted. However, I’ve enjoyed every second I’ve wasted. The 3DS is an amazing system with a built in pedometer (to count your steps and play Mii Plaza games) among other things. But in terms of what I’ve done in Animal Crossing I’ve participated in may delightful activities. I’ve already had my birthday festivities and a special April fool’s day event. St. Patrick’s day was cool too. There’s just so much to do crammed inside this little game, it’s grabbed me and hasn’t let go. I’ve caught many fish, you collect them to put in your museum plus there was a fishing competition. Every day I go hunting for fossils, collect bugs and sell stuff for bells all while keeping myself and my home looking spiffy.


ACNL AquariumACNL Room
 

But after spending all this time with this game am I really going to be able to put it down for Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball? Probably not. But I’m happy I was able to find good value in other games besides what I was looking forward to. I don’t really know how to conclude this, I guess I’m just writing stuff at this point. I did want to mention that this game does have a woman’s touch, Kyle Bosman noted this on his show today, so that is probably half of my inspiration for writing this today of all days. And of course the trailer for Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball as promised. It should be coming out any time now…

Feb 272014
 

Marvel Puzzle Quest Or more specifically the curse of Marvel Puzzle Quest. As most of you know (or don’t know because I doubt anyone other than spambots read this website). I write reviews of games during my leisure time. In fact I was working on Asura’s Wrath most recently and making some progress completing it (actually I finished the game I’m just trying to 100% it) when my friend gave me an old iPod touch. I never thought mobile games were anything I would get into but I got slammed hard first with Let’s Golf 3 then Marvel Puzzle Quest. The game is highly addictive. It’s a unique twist on Puzzle Quest (which is ho hum compared to this) using marvel heroes and villains with special powers that affect the gameplay. You collect comic covers that correspond to various characters and through these covers you can level up your characters improving their powers. The game is free to play but the catch is in order to keep the covers you need hero points. Hero points can be earned through playing the game single player and various tournaments but if you want a huge roster of characters the game forces your hand and you have to pay for hero points. I have never contributed to a free to play game until this game came along. I’ve probably spent over $30 on this game with no regrets.

However, the game is brimming with content. It’s constantly updated with single player missions and tournaments springing up all the time. In fact most recently I participated in two tournaments and ended up with Psylocke and Magneto (classic). The only problem to get these characters you need to place well in the tournaments which last three days mostly. In the time that I’ve played these tournaments I’ve neglected friends and family, brushing off their requests so I could ensure good placements in these tournaments. I’ve had respectable top 20 finishes in both but I would like to apologize to my friends for ignoring you. I hope to make it up to you in the future.

 

You can download Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign from the App Store for free right now

App Store