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Following up on last year's list, the albums of 2013 that I'm excited about:

January:
  • Sarah Brightman - Dreamchaser (January 16th)
  • Otep - Hydra (January 22nd)
  • Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob (January 29th)
February:
  • My Bloody Valentine - M B V (February 2nd)
March:
  • Depeche Mode - Delta Machine (March 25th)
  • Little Boots - TBA
  • Trail of Tears - Oscillation (March 22nd)
  • Visions of Atlantis - Ethera (March 22nd)
April:
  • Paramore - Paramore (April 9th)
May:
  • Daft Punk - TBA
  • Edenbridge - The Bonding (date speculative)
  • Tristania - TBA
Undetermined:
  • Amaranthe - The Nexus (you might have heard their singer featured on the most recent Kamelot album)
  • Ayreon - TBA (confirmed!)
  • Dream Theater - TBA
  • Epica - TBA (2013/2014) (source)
  • hAND - TBA (source)
  • Kerli - Utopia
  • Kim Boekbinder - The Sky Is Calling (spring 2013, source)
  • Lady Gaga - Artpop
  • Leaves' Eyes - Symphony of the Night
  • Macbeth - Neo-Gothic Propaganda (early 2013) (source)
  • Michelle Branch - West Coast Time (spring 2013, pending additional delays) (source)
  • Opeth - TBA (writing new material) (source)
  • Pain of Salvation - Clean (source)
  • Porcelain Black - Mannequin Factory (probably shelved, but still holding out hope)
  • The Project Hate MCMXCIX - The Cadaverous Retaliation Agenda (source)
  • Natalia Kills - Trouble
  • ReVamp - 2nd LP (Floor Jansen of After Forever and Nightwish) (Fall 2013) (source)
  • Sirenia - TBA (source) (hopefully a lot better than their last album)
  • Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies
  • Within Temptation - TBA (September 2013?) (source)
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Seeing my music hard drive drop below 100GB free brought back to mind the existence of Bitcasa, which I had previously given up on and uninstalled because it was unusable. After seeing that they completely revamped their website, I downloaded the client in the hopes that it had experienced a similar treatment. And it has.

The biggest difference is the simple fact that it actually functions. To any degree. That in itself is an improvement over the earlier beta. The user interface seems to have been scrapped and restarted from scratch, and is infinitely more coherent now. It's already crashed once on me, though that may have been a fluke, but the client now is actually usable. Maybe this service will actually manage to pull itself together after all. The potential is certainly there.
glitterislove: (Default)
6/9/12: Massive update.

Just thought I'd make a list of some of the interesting releases for this year. Or theoretically coming out this year, I tend not to count my music before it's actually done. And, of course, this is a work in progress.

January:

Alcest - Les Voyages de l'Ame
Anneke van Giersbergen - Everything is Changing
Amethystium - Aurorae
Cadaveria - Horror Metal
Kells - Anachromie
Lacuna Coil - Dark Adrenaline
Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
Opera IX - Strix Maledictae in Aeternum (January 24th)

February:

Amberian Dawn - Circus Black (February 29th)
Eluveitie - Helvetios
Lyriel - Leverage (February 24th)
Napalm Death - Utilitarian (February 27th)
Nightwish - The Crow, The Owl, and the Dove CDS
Pythia - The Serpent's Curse (February 27th)
Xandria - Neverworld's End (February 22nd)

March:

Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent (March 9th)
Katie Melua - Secret Symphony
Lullacry - Where Angels Fear

April:

Anathema - Weather Systems
Arjen Anthony Lucassen (of Ayreon) - Lost in the New Real
Halestorm - The Strange Case Of...
Ian Anderson - Thick As A Brick 2 (April 2)
Karmin - Hello
Marina & The Diamonds - Electra Heart
Moonspell - Alpha Noir / Omega White

May:

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata
Garbage - Not Your Kind of People
Marissa Nadler - The Sister (May 29th)
The Murder of My Sweet - Bye Bye Lullaby
Regina Spektor - What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Sarah Jezebel Deva - Malediction (EP)
Sonata Arctica - Stones Grow Her Name (May 17th)

June:
The Agonist - Prisoners
Amy Macdonald - Life in a Beautiful Light
Delain - We Are The Others
Ephel Duath - On Death and Cosmos (EP)

July:
Charlotte Sometimes - Circus Head (July 13th)
Emilie Autumn - Flight Like A Girl (July 24th)

August:
Alanis Morissette - Havoc and Bright Lights
In This Moment - Blood
Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Suzanne Vega - Close-Up Vol. 4, Songs of Family (August)

September:
Amanda Palmer - Theatre Is Evil
Ben Folds Five - The Sound of the Life of the Mind (Sept. 18th)
The Gathering - Disclosure (Sept. 12th)
Liv Kristine - Libertine (Sept. 7th)
Orestea - This Is An Overture (Sept. 12th)
Stolen Babies - Naught (Sept. 18th digitally, October 16th physically)

October:
The Birthday Massacre - Hide and Seek (Oct. 5th)
Flyleaf - New Horizons (Oct. 13th)
Tori Amos - Gold Dust (Oct. 2nd)

November:
Lana Del Rey - Born to Die: Paradise Edition

TBA:

Alice in Chains - TBA
Edenbridge - TBA
Eternal Tears of Sorrow - TBA
The Killers - Battle Born
Little Boots - TBA
Macbeth - TBA
Michelle Branch - West Coast Time
My Dying Bride - TBA
Paramore - TBA
Porcelain Black - Mannequin Factory
The Project Hate MCMXCIX - TBA
Therion - TBA
Visions of Atlantis - Ethera
Wu-Tang Clan - TBA

Unknown:
Anna Nalick - TBA (moved to 2013)
Depeche Mode - TBA
Mazzy Star - TBA
Tegan and Sara - TBA
To-Mera - TBA
glitterislove: (Default)
As most of you probably know, I keep a very respectable amount of music around on my computer. This is musings surrounding that.

I have a lot of music on my hard drive. I don't think that this is necessarily sustainable. For one thing, it's not backed up, and for another, I am eventually going to run out of space - even being someone with a larger than (what I believe to be) average hard drive. While I don't generally use it, I find the existence of Spotify to be conceptually intriguing, and probably the closest thing to a 'celestial jukebox' (which I'm defining as access to anything at any time) that the world has seen. And I think that's one of the best things to happen to music, both from an industry and a consumer perspective, in quite a while. So why don't I use it? Desire for control of my music, since a persistent Internet connection is something that I'm used to, but not a given, and the limits of their available library.

So where am I going with this? Well, I think that to really push over into the territory of a celestial jukebox, it would be necessary to accomplish three things:

1. Increase streaming quality, preferably to lossless - at least as an option.
2. Increase song availability to near universal (which I don't deny will take time).
3. Integrate personal collections to fill gaps in music availability.

What I'm getting at here is essentially this - a combination of Google (Play) Music, which allows the user to upload songs into the cloud, and Spotify, which allows for streaming of songs that the user doesn't own. On a technical level, this shouldn't be (in the grand scheme of things) difficult to accomplish at all. As far as financing it goes, I see two viable approaches: the first being a pure subscription based service, the second being ad based.

Any ad based service has advantages and disadvantages, the most notable disadvantage being user annoyance. From my perspective, in the sort of application, image based advertising (which Spotify features along with audio ads) would be frustrating to the user as well as not overly profitable, given how little time the average user is going to spend looking at their media player. What I think has the greatest amount of potential is integrating both services - universal library and user uploaded - with (ideally as sparse as possible) audio advertising. While the idea of hearing ads while listening to one's own music may seem unappealing, from a financial perspective I would consider it to be a fair trade off for the cloud storage being offered, and I expect that it could integrate with the 'feel' that already exists in playing licensed streams with ads to the point where a user is hardly going to even notice.

Why is this important? Well, mostly because I had the idea in my head and I wanted to jot things down before I forgot. But I think that it's also worth considering the sheer value in terms of user convenience that the service I'm describing would offer. I see it as, potentially, a new model for the industry. In an advertising based version, it would essentially eliminate the need for piracy for the average user, leaving the music sharing community mostly as audiophiles and collectors (which a portion of it is already, but not nearly the entirety). And those audiophiles and collectors don't even pose the pretense of a threat (not that piracy has ever presented an actual threat to anything), since - with rare exceptions - they are by nature good consumers, people who still have interest in media as a physical product, particularly when offered in (reasonable) limited editions. The entire nature of this leave open the possibility of also offering an ad-free subscription service, again along the same lines as the service offered by Spotify.

While I don't think that I introduced any ideas that are grossly new, I'm expecting Web 3.0 (or whatever it will be called) to be driven by integration and streamlining of services, something that I see as having already started as smartphones become as ubiquitous as desktop computers. The game here isn't really offering a new service, it's creating one that is adequately just-so as to allow for near universal adoption.

Divergent

Apr. 21st, 2012 10:11 pm
glitterislove: (Default)
I've been meaning to make mention of my affections for Veronica Roth's Divergent for... about since I read it, and #DivergentLoveDay gives me a good reason to actually do that.

I got into the YA dystopia trend after reading Matched (by Ally Condie), which I picked up based on the beautiful cover. Since then I've read Crossed, the sequel to Matched, The Pledge, Divergent, and am most of the way through Lauren Oliver's Delirium. My girlfriend actually had to strongly encourage me to stop listening to the audiobook of Delirium because I was so attached to the characters that it was really messing me up emotionally, which is why I haven't finished. I still haven't read The Hunger Games, which I assuredly will, though it's not at the top of my to-read list.

There's a point here, and I'm getting to it, I swear. I really resonated with Divergent. Something about the characters and the setting struck a chord with me. I like that the setting isn't another repressive hell-on-earth. Taking out the [insert major spoilers here], and I'd consider Divergent's to be a perfectly livable society. And it's not really that far fetched. People are prone to dividing themselves into 'us' and 'them' group, the idea of (almost) everyone in society falling roughly into one of five assigned roles is pretty reasonable. Tris is a teenager without being a ditz and/or an idiot, even if she could be a touch oblivious. Four is thoroughly swoon worthy. The whole business came together in a way that I found memorable enough to actually be interested in fanfiction and fandom, which hasn't happened with anything - books or otherwise - in a while.

Four Thinks I'm Beautiful
Because #TeamAmity is awesome, and I resonate with their values of peace and generosity. I suppose my choice of faction was pretty obvious from the beginning, seeing I am Glitter Amity Tryst (a name chosen before reading Divergent).
glitterislove: (Default)
The biggest problem I'm having so far with Bitcasa turns out to be bandwidth. Uploading a folder of game iso's is going to take in excess of five days. This is a 92GB folder - respectably large, but nowhere near an entire hard drive's worth of stuff. It's exactly the kind of stuff that I would, in the long run, use Bitcasa for. I'd never trust it with, say, my music library as more than a backup copy (not that a backup copy is a bad thing to have), but this entire folder is nothing that couldn't be reacquired, and nothing that I'm going to need to access very often. I'm getting 250 kBps on average, not a bad transfer speed, but not an exceptional one either. I'm thinking that a near requirement for our next apartment is going to be the option of Verizon FIOS. Even if the connection difference doesn't work out to be massively favorable, I am very much not a fan of Comcast, and would love to switch away from them. And, of course, I'm hoping to be able to get a faster connection as well.

Having it take that long to transfer things is going to turn into a pain in the ass for usability. Granted, it's completely the fault of my Internet (ish, I don't actually know exactly what my normal upload speeds are to compare to what I'm getting with their servers, but 250 kBps sounds about right), but it still really detracts from the sense that their system is a natural extension of your PC, which is what Bitcasa seems to be trying to create.

I am starting to make a little more sense of their business model, in a way that does make it seem genuinely workable. I'm going to guess that the maximum I'd be using their service to store would be maybe 5TB. If I could ever get that much up the pipes, that is. But that's my hard drive space + 25%, which seems like a reasonable estimate. And with that, I'd definitely throw myself into the category of heavy user. I can buy the idea that maybe 40% of that data can be deduplicated with a reasonable userbase. So that leaves 3TB of stuff, which for the $120 per year asking price, I can reasonably see them being able to host without taking a loss. Perhaps not making any significant profit, but without taking a loss. And the average user's consumption would probably be far less than that. So yeah, I think that it could actually work out, from a financial perspective, though everything is dependent on the service actually catching on.
glitterislove: (Default)
Bitcasa, currently in beta, promises unlimited cloud storage. For me, this is (theoretically) a fantastic offer, given that I'm a known data hoarder. Once the beta is over, the service is planned to be $10 per month. Bitcasa relies on convergent encryption and deduplication to store massive amounts of data, theorizing that most of a user's data will be MP3s, etc. which another user has already uploaded. A lot of the coverage of Bitcasa so far has been commentary on the viability of its encryption. Personally, while I wouldn't put anything with personal information on there, I'm willing to trust that it's a functional system as far as MP3s and the like go. To avoid any chance of stepping on Bitcasa's non-disclosure agreement, I'm mostly going to talk about it in vague terms.

My biggest concern with Bitcasa is that I'm not honestly convinced that it's viable. The theory that a bunch of people are going to be uploading duplicate music is sound in theory, but I doubt that anyone else in the world is going to have much of the same music I do... with the exact same metadata, which would be a requirement for them to be an exact match. Sure, some people are going to keep their files in the same shape they were originally downloaded in, but I can't help but wonder how many aren't. I'm also not completely confident that video storage, effectively streaming, is going to be consistently workable on the average Internet connection for HD video, though I haven't tried it yet.

They also run into the hurdle of Comcast's (idiotic and frequently unenforced) data cap of 250GB. Especially getting started, if I was seriously using the service with the intent of it being a long term part of my computing habits, that just wouldn't cut it. That gets worse when you consider that without Bitcasa, I use substantial (probably cap exceeding) amounts of bandwidth on a monthly basis. This is Comcast's stupidity, not Bitcasa's fault, but it's still something that they're going to have to contend with.

My first impressions of the actually Bitcasa beta have been positive, though the relation of your local data and the cloud data is much less intuitive than it is for, say, Dropbox, which has become the default name in cloud storage.

I like Bitcasa, and the service they offer is even worth paying for to me, I just hope that they can get off the ground to actually deliver. I hesitate to think about seriously using it soon after the beta period ends because, even though I'd consider it worth the $10 per month (or would consider it worth it if I had that money, at least), I'm concerned that I'll become accustomed to Bitcasa and then it will end up not taking off and being discontinued. But so it is with all new things. The promise of unlimited cloud storage certainly is an exciting one, at the very least.

And if anyone is interested, I have invited for the beta.
glitterislove: (Default)


I almost didn't write about this one, simply because I don't have anything overly insightful to say, but then decided to do so anyway. The Goat is the most recent addition to Inkubus Sukkubus' quite prolific release history. If I'm not mistaken, they've released in excess of ten albums now. The Goat doesn't stray from their typical sound, but that's not a bad thing. Even without radical changes of style, they've never lost their spark. The Goat has a slightly different feel from 2010's The Dark Goddess; slightly sweeter and more melodic, and to my mind a better album. The highlights here are the haunting Gone and an acoustic version of their song Pagan Born which is much better than the original. The Goat receives Glitter's seal of approval.
glitterislove: (Default)
Surgyn - Vanity

Imagine a typical melodic industrial / EBM group. Congrats, you now know exactly what Surgyn sounds like. Vanity is the worst form of mediocrity - there's nothing even interesting enough about it to hate. It's just there, tolerable background music and little more. Surgyn's debut album brings nothing new to the table except for quoting Bioshock in the song Aesthetics (Are A Moral Imperative). And honestly, the Bioshock quote is the best part of the album. Beyond that it's typical vocals singing predictable lyrics over uninteresting beats. There's nothing unlistenable here, but there's nothing I'm driven immediately driven to play again either. I admit I'm docking points for lack of originality, but inoffensive as it may be, Vanity isn't really worth your time.*

*As with all of my daily albums, this mini-review is my impressions based on a single listen, and not a complete and final review of the album.
glitterislove: (Default)
A little (Facebook) birdie whispers in my ear that Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica will be releasing a new album, entitled Stones Grow Her Name, on May 18th. This excites Glitter, especially since it means impending tour. I've seen Sonata Arctica live twice, once opening for Nightwish and once as a headliner. The show where they were opening for Nightwish was ruined by bad sound, which I can't blame the band for, but the second time I saw them, they were fantastic.

Do want!

Feb. 16th, 2012 04:09 am
glitterislove: (Default)
 Pretty in pink

(Source)
glitterislove: (Default)
 I will (begrudgingly) admit that I am somewhat of a Sonic (the Hedgehog) fangirl. Okay, maybe more than somewhat. But it's one of those things that I had more-or-less fallen out of love with lately. Not that I didn't still like Sonic, just that, well, most of the Dreamcast-era and later games have been varying degrees of mediocre or, in the case of the infamous Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), unapologetically bad. I've played parts of Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure on the DS and slightly poked at Sonic Colors on the Wii, but none of them were really held my interest. Admittedly, it's difficult for a game to hold my interest because of my ADD. It's hard for anything to hold my interest. ADD is a much more frustrating condition than it might sound at first glance. Though usually once a game has captivated me, I get somewhat obsessed and disappear into it.

So the latest entry into the Sonic franchise is Sonic Generations, celebrating 20 years of Sonic. It was, in short, yet another promise from Sega to make a game that lived up to the now-tarnished name of their classic, and signature, franchise. Or, in reality, a promise to bring back classic-style Sonic. Only with a gimmick. Because there must always be a gimmick. Always. Said gimmick is usually one of the factors, if not the factor, in ruining the game. The wisps in Sonic Colors are unnecessary and get old within a level or two. Though I've never played it, the impression I get is that the werehog sections of Sonic Unleashed are what brought an otherwise good game down to mediocre status. And, of course, there's the ever increasing number of mostly irritating and unnecessary characters being added to the Sonic universe, the bad voice acting, the notorious bugs, the broken physics, and the sheer amount of time played as a character who isn't Sonic and isn't fun to play as. Depending on which game you happen to be talking about.

Being an obligate fangirl, I had hopes when Sonic Generations was announced. Not expectations, but hopes. I had also had the great fortune of not having tried Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 (it's horrendous), which may have contributed to my still having some ounce of hope for the franchise. Sonic Generations has Sonic of the early era and Sonic of the forgettable era teaming up, going through the same stages, each with their respective gameplay styles, which are pretty much what you'd expect them to be. Classic Sonic spindashes and doesn't have a homing attack while modern Sonic has a boost bar and does have a homing attack. And is, at least in sections, 3D rather than side scrolling. Their looks are representative of the aesthetics of their respective game eras as well. In addition to revisiting the characters, all of the stages in Sonic Generations are revisits of different games in the series as well - three from the Genesis era, three from the Dreamcast (plus Sonic Heroes) era, and three from the current generation. Some nonsense plot about time is present, but it's inconsequential, and I didn't really pay attention to it. Thankfully, the game's cutscenes are skippable.

Green Hill zone is the ultimate stage to rip off as fan service. It's iconic, and everyone loves it. So of course that makes the cut. Also along for the ride are Chemical Plant (Sonic 2), Sky Sanctuary (Sonic & Knuckles), Speed Highway (Sonic Adventure), City Escape (Sonic Adventure 2), Seaside Hill (Sonic Heroes), Crisis City (Sonic 2006), Rooftop Run (Sonic Unleashed), and Planet Wisp (Sonic Colors).

The game starts out on the right path. It's Green Hill zone. It's 2D. Nothing seems to be broken. Fucking finally. Modern Sonic's run through Green Hill is basically a tutorial on playing as modern Sonic, giving a basic run down on the use of homing attacks and dash. It's innocuous enough, if nothing interesting. I'm a little biased against Chemical Plant because I have so many memories from my childhood... of drowning. And drowning. And drowning again. The stage is well created and plays as it should, in both eras. I don't honestly remember the original Sky Sanctuary, it's been years since I played Sonic & Knuckles. It's a neat, unmemorable, level as classic Sonic. Modern Sonic's 3D gameplay isn't as much fun as classic's here, but its fine as well, pretty much on par with my expectation going into the game that the classic Sonic levels would be the actual game and the modern Sonic levels just diversions to get through in between playing the classic levels. I wasn't entirely right there.

The Dreamcast era comes on strong, with Speed Highway, an adrenaline rush that plays fantastically as both hedgehogs. Next up is City Escape, a semi-iconic level featuring Sonic going downhill through a city on a board. Not a skateboard, just a wheel-less version of such. Or a snowboard. Or whatever it is. Which really doesn't make sense to be taking down pavement, but screw physics, it's fun. And that song. Oh that song. Escape the City, the level's theme song, is just the right level of cheesy and catchy as fuck. Possibly catchier. I'd forgotten just how catchy that tune is. It will end up in your head, trust me. Classic Sonic actually does get a skateboard, and is the weaker level here, but still a lot of fun. Seaside Hill is... well, uninspired. I don't remember the 2D level at all, which sort of speaks for itself [edit: it's a water level, which is sort of self defeating since they never turn out well, so I guess it's no shock I forgot about it.]. And my memories of the 3D level are negative. Neither is completely broken, they're just not overly good either. Still, by this point, Generations had me completely sucked in.

Crisis City is based on a bad and broken game, which didn't exactly lead me to high expectations. And, at first, I thought it was going to be my least favorite level, but it gets better with replay and memorization. There's just a lot of frustrating moments of fiery doom along the way.

Rooftop Run was sort of the game's holy crap moment for me. This level is fantastic. The music from it is fantastic. It single-handedly made me want to play Sonic Unleashed. I can just go through it over and over again for the sheer joy of it. It's fun, fast, gorgeous, joyous, in short - completely made of win. Planet Wisp, on the other hand, is frustrating and unnecessary. The setting isn't interesting, the 3D sections don't work well, and the spike ball wisp gimmick from the classic Sonic level is irritating as fuck. It's the game's final and worst level, though if you don't go back through and play for faster times, then I think you've sort of missed the point (I have S rank on all of the main stages, though not the bosses or challenge missions). There's also five red badges to hunt for in each level, which adds decent replay value. Some of them are obvious, and the finding the rest generally just involves systematically taking every possible route through the level. I'm not going to call that a bad thing. They're a nice touch. Collecting all five from a level will unlock a skill.

Oh yeah, Sonic has a skill system. Skill points are accumulated from playing levels and used to buy skills from a random Chao, in addition to unlocking them from beating challenge levels and collecting red medals. It doesn't take long to be able to buy all of them, and they don't really do that much, with a couple of exceptions. Athleticism, which allows you to move faster underwater, is handy since, well, being underwater in a Sonic game universally sucks. After beating the final boss, you unlock an ability that lets you become Super Sonic if you have fifty or more rings. Super Sonic is invincible and has unlimited boost (modern), but will constantly reduce your ring count. When it reaches zero, you turn back into regular Sonic. It's useful, but not game changing. I deliberately (thank you YouTube) collected all of the medals in Planet Wisp act 1 in order to unlock the homing attack for classic Sonic. I actually like Sonic's homing attack overall. It's a good concept flawed only by sometimes unpredictable implementation, and pretty much has been such since it was fist introduced.

I don't like the bosses in any of the Sonic games, I find them to generally be boring and/or frustrating and have little relation to the rest of the game, so I was pleased that the game lets you play through all nine of the main zones while only three bosses, one between each era. There's also a rival battle for each generation, pitting Sonic against Metal Sonic, Shadow, and Silver, respectively, but these can be put off up until the final boss if you choose. The bosses are all pattern recognition. Figure out the series of steps to take down the boss, and pull them off. None of the boss battles are overly great, but none of them are overly bad either, and none of them are overly hard, which I personally approve of as a boss-hater. The final boss I had to look up how to beat (not because it's hard so much as because it's just slightly inobvious), but other than that, they're pretty straightforward.

The rest of the game is made up of various challenge stages, which require Sonic to play a stage or stage section with a particular gimmick in place. The ones in which Sonic races against his doppelganger, forcing you to beat the level in a certain amount of time, work well, but none of the reset are overly interesting. Some of them serve to introduce the various shields, which are now made into skills rather than being normal part of the levels. I find this an odd decision, but I never really noticed their absence, so I can't say as it's a bad thing. Others force Sonic to team up with a secondary character who provides some sort of gimmicky assistance. As with most gimmicks, they're pointless and not overly fun. The big incentive to get through the challenge levels is that each one will unlock either a song or a piece of concept art, and beating all of the challenges from one level will restore color to the world map. It's not much, but it was enough incentive to get me to go through them all. Only one of the challenge stages stands out as particularly bad, though it is grievously bad. The challenge in question puts Sonic bouncing a musical note back and forth with Vector, and is flat out bad - showcasing every last bug/flaw in Sonic's homing attack. It's frustrating, nonsensical, and absolutely should have been cut from the game.

Overall, Sonic Generations actually stands as one of the better games in the Sonic franchise, and probably the best of the last decade. While not a perfect game, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it brought enough to the table to keep me playing every day until I beat the game. At long last, Generations brings back the fun and speed that made Sonic the Hedgehog a household name. Call my a fangirl, but I give Sonic Generations a 5/5.
glitterislove: (Default)
I actually have foobar working and looking almost completely how I want it to. I'm genuinely surprised and sort of squee! I just worked out a couple of the issues I'd been having with playlists.

Sorry for the lack of posting. I've had very few spoons lately. Here's hoping that changes soon! <3
glitterislove: (Default)

The wheel of time turns and ages come and go, and Nightwish have finally released a new album. Coming a solid four years after 2007's Dark Passion Play, Imaginaerum has been a long time in the making. This is the second album to feature vocalist and frontwoman Anette Olzon, who replaced original Nightwish vocalist Tarja Turunen. While I've always had a fondness for her, particularly after seeing her perform live three times, the improvement in her voice from Dark Passion Play is impressive. Olzon comes across cleaner and brighter, with much less of the gratuitous vocal layering that plagued Dark Passion Play. The entire album is actually much better engineered than Dark Passion Play, but it's most noticeable in the vocal department, something that also applies to secondary vocalist and bass player Marco Hietala.

Marco gets one song to himself, the brief album opener Taikatalvi. I hesitate to call it an intro since, despite clocking in at under three minutes, I think it stands on it's own as a song. Marco's voice is clean and melodic, with the entire track written in Finnish. The orchestrations and keyboard are beautiful here, enough so that Taikatalvi also works wonderfully as an instrumental. The second dish of the album's special edition features instrumental versions of all songs as a bonus disc.

Storytime, the next track and first single from the album, captivated me from the first time that I heard it, and has spent a lot of time on repeat. It's catchy but not cloyingly so, and features fantasy inspired lyrics that immediately fit in with classic Nightwish. Olzon shines against the orchestrations, while guitars all but disappear for the length of the song. Or, as it turns out, for the length of nearly the entire album.

Ghost River opens strong with oft-absent guitarist Emppu Vuorinen playing a neat little riff before kicking into Olzon's vocals and then making a surprising transition into one of the heavier songs on the album. My first description of it was along the lines of, "It's like The Siren, only badass." Marco's vocals are the real star here, exchanging his screams with the short interjections of 'Snow white' and 'Heavenwards' from Olzon before getting into the song's sinister chorus. Marco's spot on vocals make the lyrics, "He will go down, he will drown drown deeper down / The river wild will take your only child," genuinely convincing and when a children's choir comes in taking on the same motif, the effect in genuinely eerie. Ghost River then flows into a brief bit of Olzon's singing, thankfully so as it's one of her weakest moments on the album, before going back into a repetition of the chorus and opening riff. A very solid and diverse track.

Nightwish performing something along the lines of lounge jazz is certainly unexpected, but it's exactly what we get from Slow, Love, Slow. While this is certain to be a polarizing track within the Nightwish fanbase, I would say that it comes together perfectly. Olzon's vocals are flawlessly suited to the song, which makes a perfect showcase for them, as well as actually backing off with the orchestration for once - at least for most of the song. It also features an actual guitar solo, which is a nice change, and the melodic solo suits the mood of the song perfectly. By the end, the song has kicked into a more bombastic mode, with orchestration and power chords coming back into the picture, and Olzon playing with the phrase 'slow, love, slow' to fill in the last moments before the song ends with trumpet over a ticking clock, which serves as the transition back into the more typical Nightwish fair that comes next. Unfortunately, there's about four seconds two much of the ticking and it just becomes annoying and overdone.

I Want My Tears Back is much better than the title led me to expect. It falls half way between Last of the Wilds and For The Heart I Once had, a combination that didn't seem that impressive at first but has grown on me to become one of my favorite tracks from the album. The verses are perfectly acceptable if not memorable, but I Want My Tears Back has a killer chorus, managing to make the title actually not seem silly anymore, and Troy Donockley's uilleann pipes are interesting and fun.

In my opinion, Scaretale is without question Imaginaerum's weakest moment. The circus-themed track has good moments, but fails to come together as a whole to make an interesting track. The novelty of Olzon's rougher vocals wears off after the first half dozen listens, while the gruff circus ringmaster just comes off as obvious and unconvincing. The fact that there's actual potential here that Scaretale fails to live up to makes its weakness even more frustrating than if it were just a disposable track, because it's not just that generic track that pushes the album along. The problem is, in all reality, it's not actually that good either. Not awful, but decidedly not that good.

Scaretale leads into the surprisingly well executed instrumental track Arabesque. The two fit together perfectly, and while Arabesque's scant three minutes are not something that I'm likely to seek out to listen to on their own, it's lively and fits perfectly into it's place in the album, which would be significantly weaker without its inclusion.

Another track with a silly title, Turn Loose the Mermaids immediately brought Blackmore's Night to mind. In a good way. It's another shining moment for Olzon, with a beautiful melody, and stands as an excellent ballad.

There are two things that I need to be upfront about. The first is that I love Rest Calm. The second is that Rest Calm does basically repeat the same thing over and over again for three straight minutes, with variations, at the end. Honestly, it doesn't end up mattering, because the repetition works and the song is actually stronger for it. This is, presumably, the doom metal influenced track that it was promised would appear on the album, and I can see where that's coming from, though with emphasis on influenced. Without a doubt, this is the heaviest track on the album, featuring chugging guitar and more of Marco's rough vocals. The song, standing at just over seven minutes, makes heavy use of a repeated chorus. Thankfully, the chorus in question is inspired and as it is repeated over and over at the end of the song, new variations are applied with each repetition. It's very effective and keeps the track fresh and thoroughly interesting.

Much like The Islander on Dark Passion Play, The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove was written by Marco Hietala, the only song on the album not to be penned by keyboard player and songwriter Tuomas Holopainen. The Crow, the Owl, and the Dove is the other ballad on the album, along with Turn Loose the Mermaids, though the two have very different feels. It's a very solid track and is well placed as a break between two of the album's more intense tracks.

I'd say that Last Ride of the Day has ended up being my favorite song from Imaginaerum. It features one of the best choruses in Nightwish history, my favorite lyrics from the album, and is just an all around fantastic song. It's everything that a Nightwish track should be, except that the lyrics are actually good. 'Such an incredible high' sounds about right for this one.

Song of Myself is Imaginaerum's answer to Dark Passion Play's fourteen minute The Poet and the Pendulum, though in all reality, other than the length, they have very little in common. Song of Myself features infinitely less bombast, with the exception of the use of choirs, though it is divided into four distinct sections. If anything, though, the better comparison is to Beauty of the Beast from the album Century Child. Most obviously, the two both end with a poem, but the overall feel is more similar as well, though again less bombastic than Beauty of the Beast, if no less pretentious.

The music that precedes the seven minutes of spoken poetry that makes up the second half of the album are solid, if not exceptional as major Nightwish songs go, and then we get to the poem, a section of the song labeled as 'Love.' While it may not all be high poetry without the context and accompanying music, I found this section of this song to be inspired. Okay, I didn't entirely appreciate the part of about the 'obese girl enter[ing] an elevator with me' who is dressed up to go to dinner alone. I understand that it was intended to be positive to her, a recognition of fat shaming in society, I don't think it comes across well enough to be a necessary inclusion. The poem section is a mixed bag, but mostly good, and introduced me to one of my new favorite phrases: "A sight to silence the Heavens." ("In the early air of the dawn of life / A sight to silence the Heavens.") It's something that I aspire to be. The end result of the song is touching, and much better than just the sum of its parts.

Imaginaerum finishes with its title track, an orchestral melody of the major themes of the album. It fits perfectly as a continuation of Song of Myself, I think the two really belong listened to together, and is an excellent and fitting closure to an excellent album.

This is certainly my favorite Nightwish album at the moment, and I don't think it would be overreaching to call it their all around best, though with the very high quality of some of Nightwish's other albums, it's not easy to make comparisons of them. Except for maybe one, that Imaginaerum is a welcome comeback to excellence after the solid but less than memorable Dark Passion Play.

TL;DR: Imaginaerum is awesome, except for Scaretale, which is just okay.

5/5

http://www.nightwish.com

Do want!

Jan. 8th, 2012 01:33 pm
glitterislove: (Default)
 Glittery shoes

(source)
glitterislove: (Default)
 
 
 Trophallaxy - DawnFall


Trophallaxy fall under the category of piano-centric melodic metal band with a female vocalist. They are another of the myriad of bands obviously inspired by Nightwish, though falls much closer to the lighter music of Edenbridge, or Wildpath. The vocalist is capable but not exceptional, and the compositions feel like the same songs that I've heard two dozen times before on albums of the same genre. I admit that after the sheer number of inspired-by-Nightwish albums that I've listened to, I'm a touch jaded, but nothing here really caught my attention. Or at the very least not for the length of an entire song. The brief moments that are noticeable are generally the instrumental solos and, while again competent, they're not so much exceptional as they are better than the rest of the songs. While not a demo, the lower quality production of this album is immediately obvious and does the band no favors, particularly the vocalist who is mixed quieter than she should be and given no real volume dynamics. DawnFall is an inoffensive but completely underwhelming album. I wouldn't say that Trophallaxy are without potential, but they have a long way to go.

1.5/5

http://www.trophallaxy.ch

glitterislove: (Default)
I really do. Theoretically I'm writing a new post every three days, which puts me currently being behind by two posts since the time I first put that on my to do list (using Remember the Milk). I just haven't had the spoons to put together something worth reading, so it's been getting put off again and again.

Currently, I also have the goals of listening to one new album each day, which I plan to write about, and doing one drawing each day. While I'm behind a day on each, I've been mostly able to keep up with that, which is a decent level of productivity for me.

Life has been a big ball of stress for me for the last few months, and it's finally starting to settle down a little, though health problems are a continued concern. I need to see a plethora of doctors at this point, and don't actually have any of them to see. Between seizures, pain, and running out of medication, this is pretty important to get dealt with, but unfortunately importance hasn't actually led to progress. Still, at least the living and dating situation is starting to get more stable.
glitterislove: (Default)
But I just told you all of that...okay, fine.

Real name: Emmalise.
Middle name: Melanie
Age: 23
Identity: Polyamorous mostly-lesbian trans chick.
Six words that describe you: Queer, quirky, dreamer, geek, radiant, passionate.
Location: Lynnwood, Washington, USA
Otherwise known as: epeternally, EternalWanderer, Emmalise

Why Glitter?:
Glitter is the personification of my soul. And, as an object, it's also really awesome and fun to play with, don't you think?
Coffee or tea?: Tea, though fond of both.
Music?: Nightwish, Suzanne Vega, Tristania, Rasputina, Kidneythieves, Within Temptation, Sonata Arctica, The Gathering.
Books?: Fantasy and science fiction, for the most part.
Hobbies?: Drawing, singing, videogames, Internet lurking, music downloading
Interests?: Shinies, music, lust, games as art

And this exists...why?: To share myself and the things that inspire me.

In other places:
Facebook
Last.fm
Steam
Goodreads
PSN: Emmalise
glitterislove: (Default)
Galas and balls, silken red dresses, smiles by candlelight, perfect contrast, bountiful shimmer, welcome to the world of Glitter. If you’ve met me then you know me, if you haven’t then you should. We could throw a party, a spectacular occasion, a fest for the ages, a lovely time in pink and purple. We could paint the sky black and sprinkle it with stars, sleep wide eyed beneath our creation, make music with our souls and art with our touch. Versatile and charming, sweetly sincere and beautifully overwhelmed, waiting, charming in tears, just waiting for the next ball, waiting so long to be Glitter.
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