Sunday, September 27, 2009

Alternative Metal Media

I really love that the metal appeal is continually growing and making it into more and more media, the more recent one would be Tim Schafer's newest masterpiece Brutal Legend, which pleases me more and more each time I see it. Combining Metal and Video games to create this epic world featuring voices from Metal Gods like Lemmy and Ozzy and some equally amazing people like Jack Black and Tim Curry. I'm super exited for this game to come out, and theres just about less than a month now until release. Even more impressive is the set list, they really got some big names into there. I'm especially exited that 3 Inches of Blood is featured in there, they deserve that extra exposure, and the fact that I'll be seeing them live around the same time the games come out is badass. Plus one of personal favorite bands is also going to be in the set list, which is Iced Earth, I was pumped when I heard one of their songs in one of Jack Black's teasers for the game. Sadly I haven't seen much Power Metal love in the style of the game, but granted I do admit that 50% of it ripped out of Tolkien. Still the style the team worked up is still very similar to some of the stuff the Heavy Metal magazine has been doing for quite some time, also disappointing is the weird ambiguous description of Death Metal, but I'm nitpicking seems more than enough original.

Actually Metal hasn't been very present in video games much. The first recollection was maybe the Twisted Metal soundtracks, which had some Rob Zombie and Gamma Ray, but even there it was very limited (and Rob Zombie was on every frikin soundtrack in the 90's anyways). First game that really impressed me with some Metal and showed massive effort was Castlevania Symphony of the Night.

It featured some gothic style already implanted from the first games of course, so it was natural to add a Metal edge to it all. One of my favorite games of all time (well it is one of those you need to play if you consider yourself a gamer). One reason for it was the soundtrack, further proving that a games soundtrack is essential for success. A unique blend of this very Symphonic Metal, with elements of gothic rock, some neo-classical stuff and little bit of electronic elements. Of course it would depend on which area you were traversing and it would change to more classical sound or jazzy, still the Metal as clearly dominant. Another example would be the more recent Sacred 2, which featured an awesome new track from Blind Guardian. The game itself is quite average, but still very enjoyable, and overly cheesy. Still having a new track (first in like 4 years!) from the forefathers of Power Metal is amazing.

There's also been a very very small burst of Metal Comics coming our way, which is leading to rumors and talks of future prospects soon heading to the drawing boards. In a way I think that Guitar Hero has placed music, especially rock and metal, in the mainstreams eyes. Now people are interested in the Metal universe a bit more, even so much that Activision sued Brutal Legend over the fear that it would be too much competition against their rhythm game. Now the first thing close to Metal Comics that I know of is again the magazine Heavy Metal, but that's not exactly a comic is it.Above is Iced Earth's album The Dark Saga, which features some very cool artwork from Todd McFarland. Iced Earth is all about concept albums, you find them releasing random songs with no correlation to each other. This concept is in fact a retelling of Spawn, so they borrow elements from Spawn and make this incredible album out of it. I didn't even realize it was about Spawn until a friend who is a huge Spawn fan pointed it out to me. After that Iced Earth got more and more interested into making a comic on their music, more specifically a story about their Mascot Dos Abomine which was created for their album "Something Wicked this Way Comes". Never really happened but they did increase more and more to their Something Wicked storyline, they did part II and there are talks of making it into a trilogy. Iced Earth is a little more Thrash than Power so they're slaying priest as opposed to slaying dragons, but that's still cool.Exodus jumped the gun first tho with their recent announcement of their new comic. The story line and premise sounds totally cheesy and idiotic, also features some weird talents, someone from Debbie Does Dallas if I understand correctly? Wtf. Still Exodus is a big thrash name and is understandable they got a deal. There is also Dimmu Borgir which got a comic adaptation as well, another style completely and I`m even less interested in it. Seems like its only the band members stroking their egos in comic form, saving the world from violence with even more violence. We will all have to see how it`ll all turn out, because we barely have any information out right now.

Reminds me of Metalocalypse, a show that takes satirical look on Metal. It is clearly made for metal fans, but I can see non-fans enjoy this is as well, the humor is still there. I simply love this show way too much, I urge anyone to watch it or at least try it out. I haven`t seen it all yet so I won`t talk about it much.

Fun fact, while all being exited a while back about Brutal Legend and their album cover inspired world, I was looking at Iron Maiden`s Somewhere in Time and spotted a TARDIS! Neat! Also finally going to able to watch more Dr.Who. Sadly the streams and torrent weren`t reliable as I thought.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mega Mondays : Mega Metal

Since on a metal roll, might as well bring in the Mega Monday into it. Megaman has always been defined in way of music, his japanese name is Rockman his dog might be paying tribute to the band Rush, later characters like Bass and Tremble bring in some more clear musical references. But the original series does kind of bring out more of a rock pop vibe simply because they were quite limited with all the bleeps and the bloops; they surprisingly did something incredible with those limitations. But for people with a metal tuned ear you do spot a few nods here and there, for example Flash Man`s stage music has this deep resemblance to Metallica’s Seek and Destroy and even more have some references to Guns and Roses.

As the series evolved, especially during the X series shift, the music evolved with it. They had a better sound chips that came with the Super Nintendo, even there you can tell it wasn`t enough for what they wanted. Inside these great tunes, there are moments that you can feel that it`s itching to lose those synthetic sounds and break out into a real Guitar Solo. I continually hear some Speed Metal influence in that music, which is perfectly natural because ath the time while America was into Thrash and Heavy Metal, Japan was into Speed and Power Metal.

Another part proving my personal theory was in fact the 2.5D remake of Megaman X on the PSP. With the power of the PSP they could do virtually anything they wanted music wise, and it shows! They remixed all the tracks into this more rock and metal sound, featuring blazing guitars, badass drums and of course a few synthesizers. Sadly the new series didn`t pick up speed as hoped and the fate of future remakes are still hanging in the developers hands.

The music and the realization of the metal influences of Megaman still resonates on the internet. There are basically millions of Megaman Metal covers on Youtube. Me and my friend continually send each some praise worthy clips which join my bookmarks from time to time. There is also this surpassingly amazing Mega Man Metal on myspace(reminding me of the Metroid Metal which came out some time ago); only about 4 songs but it is made of concentrated badassry and awesome. Sadly it isn`t at even 500 views yet, we are trying to give a little more exposure in any way we can.

I still can`t figure out if Megaman would still been as successful if it didn`t feature some of the coolest video game music out there. ----Check it out!

Friday, September 18, 2009


You cannot kill the metal, even if you manage to injure the metal it will simply bleed into something more. Me being a metal head and I'm super exited for having in my hand a ticket for Slayer, Megadeth and Machine Head, also hopefully getting my ticket for 3 Inches of Blood soon, and I've been thinking about solely metal in the last few days.

So I'm doing a themed week to give me some motivation for posting more and because I decided to give another go, my last themed week didn't go quite as planned but it panned out quite good. Since I know my habits and don't quite know my schedule, I'll just be saying that It'll be mostly metal posts for the next week or so. First off I'll talk about my metal concert experiences, although scarce they're still present. There never used to be any big concerts that came my way the closest was still pretty far away, usually involving quite an expensive trip. Like I said for the lack of Metal acts coming my way the closest Metal capitol was Québec. Now in recent years seems that has changed more and more are coming my way and I'm really happy for that, although one of my fellow metallers is kinda disappointed now that he's moved away (his loss!).

I followed a few local shows here and there, nothing actually good mostly some garage band making noise and not music. A lot of failed death growls mostly; yes there is a technique it isn't just screaming very loud! Always was little awkward at first because I don't fit in the metal type, I don't play or look the part really most of my fellow metallers told me "No, you just look like a regular guy who listens to regular music), but hey you can't choose what you like do you. After having a bitter taste of those small gigs and mosh pits kinda got lame quick when most of people were solely there for small pits.

Still, after that I wanted something better, something more professional and more specifically I wanted something in my preferred genre; Power Metal. So after quite sometime actually, I randomly noticed that both Helloween and Gamma Ray (Two of my personal favorites) were coming to Montreal. The catch was it was in 2 days, so I jokingly said to my friends "haha we should take a bus and go". Next morning we were on the bus to Montreal. My friend called up a cousin who lived there so we would have a place to stay, ordered tickets online, felt all like a blur really and before we knew it, we were there. Iced Earth was also coming to the same venue (coincidentally an improv league played there too, but I was the only one who was intrested) two days after the first show, we though of staying but we had uni/college and such to attend. Still Iced Earth is one show I need to see before I die.

So we hung out around town for quite sometime because we arrive in town like 5 AM and the show was at 9 or something. We decided to go to the venue early (7 hours early) which was a good idea because we were ones first in line. It was awesome, both the tour buses were on the side of building so we went to check and some of the band members came out and meet some of the fans, I shook a few hands and admired from up close (even God himself!). Didn't have anything for them to sign but that's quite alright I'm not big into memorabilia, mental image is more than enough. Perk of being ahead in line was being able to be in front row against the barricade during the show.

Show started and the crowed was anxious because it started a little late, but when Kai Hansen (aka God) came to the stage and spoke in French, you would not believe how much that pumped up the crowd, especially that he spoke it flawlessly. Show got started few feet away form the band, music a blasting and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Playlist continually surprised me and it was amazing. Both bands were great, although Gamma Ray was little better I would say. But in the end they played and encore together of their signature song for both bands "I Want Out", such a deep history between those two Power Metal giants that only a fan would understand and appreciate. An experience that I'll never forget, still another 6 bands I need to see, and of course Wacken Open Air.

Youtubes of the show if anyone want to see, I think I can see my first left side from time to time ,hard to tell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mega Mondays : Tuesday Edition!

One of my fans regrettably said that I ruined his Monday. For him it extended his enjoyment so much that he felt like it was an extra weekend day, and as an consequence made his Tuesdays (which he used to enjoy) that much less enjoyable. Now since I'm an ok guy, I decided to cater to this one person and the rest of the similar demographic with a Tuesday edition of Mega Mondays, so those people can ease themselves into thinking that mondays are fun. It's going to be hard but this is for you guys! So without further interruptions Megaman 4!
This is sadly where the Megaman series peaks in a way. Most would say that the original series peaked at two and the rest are good as well, but Megaman 4 is the last truly good original megaman until quite sometime after that. The rest are ok and some really do suck but that's all fine we still have the first 4.I fell like I'm repeating myself but they truly do keep upgrading the graphics per game. Again they upgrade a lot, especially the backgrounds and scenery, because with the power of the NES is was one of the only things you could update. As for Megaman himself he still looks exactly the same, but his enemies are more and more fun, look at the purple hippo on a pedestal above! Graphics and animations won't change much until Megaman 7 and the X series, so I'll stop with that.
One thing that I did truly enjoy was the level design, they really put some effort so you can't exploit it negatively as much as the other series. But with this comes some cuts; the Rush upgrades are now less powerful so you can't exploit certain areas anymore, which is kinda annoying (Rush Jet simply goes forward now). With this gives some new challenges, there is one part in the final castle where you NEED the Rush Jet to get trough and it is quite challenging since it can only go straight. Another aspect which is really fun is the moving floors the added, Toad Man's stage has these water flows with constantly push you off and Pharaoh Man has quick sand so you need to continually jump, and this one cool point where you jump on a enemy grasshopper so you can traverse the one hit kill ridden floor. Sure these are gaping video game cliché, but still fun nonetheless. One thing this new level design brings is the difficult amped up a bit, replaying the games recently I realize how this game is harder than 3 and 2.

One thing that everyone notices in this game is the lameness of the Bosses, they're hyper lame. Toad Man, Bright Man, Ring Man, Dust Man, Dive Man but Skull Man and Pharaoh Man saves this a little bit. With lame robot masters comes lame power up, most of them a replicas from former games anyways, like Skull Man is a replica of Wood Man, and as for Pharaoh Man's weapons it does look cool (one of my personal favorites in coolness factor) but it doesn't do anything too special. Still with the introduction of the Mega Buster which lets you charge you're shot so it equals three single bullets, it's more than compensation for the lame power ups.
Oh almost forgot that kinda almost placed a plot and new villain in this one. So Dr.Cossack after having a year of peace, decides that Megaman and Dr. Light are overshadowing the genius of his own creations (lol Dust Man), so he decides to attack the city! Ok so same exact plot as the first three games, but wait! It wasn't Dr. Cossack at all! He was being forced because Dr.Wily kidnapped the Doctors daughter Kalinka! Wait that still means Dr.Wily wanted credit for the likes of Dust Man, Ring Man and crew... OH DEAR GOD, PULITZER AWARD NOW, It involves so much sociological aspects of Dr.Wily!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mega Mondays : Megaman 3

The third installment of the series comes rolling in from the huge hype of the Megaman 2, and it sure doesn't disappoint. It's one of my personal favorites of the series. Again story isn't explained at all; Dr.Wily is evil, giant robot gamma and you need to collect crystals or something. You do have a scene where Megaman converses with Dr.Light but even there it isn't much.
They do add a few new characters to the series, first off being Rush, your robotic dog! He serves as adding more personality to your platforms upgrade they added in the Sequel, which is kind of fun having your dog transform in a jet, boat or spring. The problem with this mechanic again is that it makes the game that much easier, which is a curse and blessing depending on the player. Sure those looking for a challenge could simply not use the Jet Adapter and actually do the jumping puzzle, but it's also a good feeling cheating the level designers. Still fun to use and experiment with but it does feel like a huge handicap. Also to add, Rush is obviously named after the band Rush; the Megaman developers are extremely proud of their rock references by the way.
Another recurring character that they introduce is Protoman. A fan favorite for some reason I never understood it really. Basically Protoman is the well, prototype of Megaman, one of the first versions Dr. Light has built. Now he's back for revenge for being neglected or he might be connected with Dr. Wily somehow. They never explain anything inside the game, all of it is in the instruction booklet, but I don't have the booklet so I'm inventing as I go along. Anyways, he doesn't do much in this game, he appears in key points as his flute theme whistles in and he hops around like an idiot trying to shoot you. He can be taken down with ease after he simply teleports away.
One thing they do continue doing is revamping the visuals, everything is more detailed than the previous title, again this is mostly in the background stuff, which really looks nice. As for the animation, Megaman doesn't change much because, he is pretty limited, but most of the enemies have some pretty good animations and ways of attacking. They could of simply used busters and blasters for enemies attacks but they really put some effort into some original attacking methods, like pole volting robot or the weight trowing one and other Olympic events. They also added some bigger enemies since it was such a awesome feature of the second game, like we see here; Robot Cat shooting plasma yarn!
The last feature which will be a staple for every single iteration is of course; the slide. By simply pressing down and the jump button you preform a slide giving you forward momentum. It adds a new layer of movement, dodging nasties, finding paths and a few other things. Still the first time experimenting and it doesn't apply as well as the next games but still fun to have at your disposal.
This is one of my personal favorite of the Original series. The music isn't as memorable as the second game but the intro theme is still kickass. They're still at the point of original ideas for robot masters and the new weapons still feel fresh and fun to use, but you can feel something declining soon.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Full Metal Alchemist : Brotherhood

Don't know if you've heard, I probably mentioned it before on my blog, but I'm a huge Full Metal Alchemist fan. The first series kinda rekindled my anime interest at the time, the characters where interesting the story was suspenseful and the world it created was simply awesome. It was kind of a bitter sweet feeling when the series ended, even after they release the movie to wrap up the series even more I still wanted a little more. I found that kind of weird because usually I believe that everything should end milking it never brings anything good to a franchise. Lately there has been the trend of remaking series but more faithful to the manga versions, since well that's where it started. Never completely understood the need for that because I would prefer having two different adaptations as opposed to a single one but in different medias. But I do enjoy that trend at the moment because I don't read any manga.

So one that I'm naturally keeping a close eye on the weekly releases is Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, the new adaptation closer to the anime than the first series; from what I hear anyways. Everything is quicker the animation is better and it flows much better without any filler. I find it hard to figure out if it's a huge fan service from the constant online bickering of the community, either way I don't care I get my FMA fix. Although with the first episode, which is like action packed by the way, they kinda throw you into the world in the first second of it, for a first timer I could believe that whole situation could be somewhat confusing. They removed the whole start of the first series instead going for the flashback effect from time to time to be able to piece it all together. But again from someone who has seen the first series of the manga should be able to follow with ease, as for the new comer it could be hard. Still anyone familiar with anime can piece it all together just fine.

The pacing is a double edge sword from what I hear from other people, my group of friends as do I really like it. Things that took the original series 17 episodes to get too, took the new one only 7 episodes. It also keeps surprising me, character development which seems so scarce at first, creeps up and surprise me in later episodes, completely redeeming themselves. Best example would be Barry the Chopper, he was one twisted cross dressing killer in the first series and provided one of my favorite scenes. Then in Brotherhood he seemed like a total comic relief at first but he totally kicked me in the balls afterwards for thinking that. Each characters also seems to peak then overpeak themselves, having multiple Crowning Moments of Awesome. There is one particular, where I come into work and both me and my friend look at each with this dumb grin and simply say, with knowning exactly what we are talking about, "That was the most badass thing I ever saw"

I can't predict where it's either, it's already at episode 21 and I can't see it finish at the regular 26 episodes. The series is building up for something huge, I can see it coming, but I can't predict it. All I know is that there is something huge coming soon, the keep adding more and more new elements to the grand equation of it all and I simply don't see them fit together. Characters haven't been explained their roles yet they're just as important as the rest. It's usually up on sundays so I'm still eagerly waiting this moment refreshing the page every hour or so, can't wait to see what happens next.