The slow, deep and brooding horns of Rome: Total War that play shortly before the loading screen segues into the start menu is one of the best ways to introduce a player to a video-game focusing on the conquest of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa during the late BC era. Of course, the intro showing the nowadays poorly rendered preview of the real-time battles is equally as inviting and stirring for the war generals in us all, but the real fun begins when you finally get to choose your first of three Roman factions (Julii, Brutii, Scipii) and enter into the immersive conquest mode.
And then the song for the loading screen before starting the campaign enters. Another slow and mystical entry of sound, with bells, big drums, and heavy-end stringed instruments plays together, an imitation of the slowl turn-based commencements of diplomacy and trade coupled with the intense excitements of real-time battle awaiting us players shortly after the wars really begin.
Wintersun’s third album The Forest Seasons was released July 21st, 2017 after a five year lull in time from when Time I was released. Given the expectation that Time II would be released instead, concept album The Forest Seasons is musically a change of direction for the band, although it still retains the orchestrations from their previous album. The album goes through each of the four seasons, bringing a musical mood and theme to each one. The Forest Seasons also has a vastly improved organic sound when it comes to mixing orchestrations right beside and underneath the layers of droning guitar riffs, artificial drums (which still fit the nature of the album), tight bass lines and vocals that range from heroic to terrifying and include an ensemble of singers on “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”.
DC Comics for the last six years has been known for having various pitfalls within its EU movies, and after the critically acclaimed Dark Knight series, the release of Man of Steel began a 2010s trend of movies with dark, neutral, horribly bad undertones that continued through Zack Snyder’s reign over the movies. Superheroes yelling “Yeah!” and “Alright” (looking at you Aquaman) clearly hasn’t been the best idea for DC to keep following up on. Now, however, their movies are truly starting to find their own identity, one separate from Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Batman V. Superman movies and that can rival even Marvel’s EU going into the next generation of superhero movies. The switch that’s helping DC? Giving each new movie an equal mixture of its own identity while creating a fun and comedic atmosphere and having the dark undertones from previous movies (being an orphan looks like it’d suck, to be honest).
Imagine yourself stranded in a desolate spaceship, looking down the long hallway of a metallic gray corridor. Five doors on each side surround you, and in order to escape this spaceship and find your way back to safety, you have to go through each door in order to find the exit. Some of the doors are locked, some of them aren’t locked but won’t budge, and only two of the doors will open.
After 43 years of traveling through space at the speed of light, the crew and I aboard the SS ‘Boston’ have finally reached our destination; a brand new planet for humanity to colonize. Along the way, we each brought some of our favorite records to listen to. I decided to bring Boston’s self-titled debut, and with all the out-of-this-world noises that songwriter Tom Scholz strings along on guitar with the soothing and conversely epic melodies and harmonies of singer Brad Delp, I couldn’t have made a better choice.
The spaceship finally touched down on the planet about ten minutes ago. A brief amount of turbulence and we could finally have some Peace of Mind. I keep constantly wondering at what we’ll find on this new planet. A semi-intelligent extraterrestrial species? New lifeforms? What new challenges we’ll encounter? As I can see, the planet is rich with lush green forestry, a gorgeous blue sky, scattered clouds and a whole lot of room for human colonization. Maybe we could finally build our sky structures, arrow-shaped objects that point and expand upwards for gravitational and life-support purposes.
After nine years, six years in 2013 after announcing that they were going to be releasing an album four years ago in 2015, Darkwater has finally released their third album, Human. Given the fact that its been nine years coming, for them to finally release it has me jumping off the edge of a cliff with excitement. I’d probably kill myself jumping off, but hey, at least I’d die with headphones listening to Darkwater
But that would be counter-intuitive to the point of Darkwater’s new album. See, with this album, it’s all about a celebration of life, an affirmation of living in the world and sharing our lives with others, both through struggles and high points in this journey through time. That sums up the highlight fourth track on the album, “Alive II“. With where we’re at in our awareness with mental health and getting treatment for mental illness, it’s encouraging to see multiple metal bands, both lesser known and well-known, encouraging people to seek help for these things. ‘Alive II’ in fact, is more a song about the flaws of someone considering suicide due to who they perceive themselves as than a song about wanting to die. For this song, it’s all about understanding that who you are and where you are in life when you have those thoughts is not what things need to be permanently. We don’t have to be stuck in those thoughts of despair, and even if they come, we can fight them and do better for ourselves.
The album’s first single is also the first song of the album, appropriately titled “A New Beginning”, a song about moving with the motions of life by fighting for the truth of reality rather than being brought down by what is described as a ‘fallen angel’. This fallen angel could be seen as a symbol of people and places that would try to crush your dreams and relegate you to being something or someone you don’t want to be. With keyboard parts that scream 80s with a great sense of modernity (just listen to the keyboard solo… come on, they’re not an 80s metal band, but those keyboards are just… I hope they’re analog), catchy, progressive metal riffage and the nice vocals of Henrik Bath, the song is a blend of multiple nuances and identities that form a great whole of a band only on their third album and with ample room to grow.
“Insomnia” is a big highlight track for me, with a simple, straight-forward guitar riff that opens nicely, shortly after approached by a higher register keyboard part that follows together along a path of the same rhythm. The dark, eerie nature of the song shadowed with references to insomnia and sleeping without a particular someone. Who that someone is could be anyone, I just don’t know who for you, or Henrik, or everyone else for that matter.
In terms of where this album stands in the discography of Darkwater, I do think this is their strongest release, at least for me. The fact that it’s their most up-to-date album in terms of both time period and production means that not only is it a great sounding record to listen to, but they only have even more room to grow from their first three albums. Their first two albums were great Freshman and Sophomore albums, but Human is a leap into the big leagues, and I hope Darkwater continues with the sound, while also expanding on one particular aspect: variations in the guitar riffs. While great, the guitar riffs could use more variety on the next album.
If you’re looking to get into playing vinyl records, you’ll probably need a good turntable to play said records. It goes hand-in-hand with the hobby. Without a turntable, you’re simply collecting dusty old records or new records, colorful or the typical black color without playing them.