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Amplifier Worship



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Ihsahn

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Apr 24 2016 · 77 views

Time for an updated Ihsahn collection post I guess, given the new album:

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Starting on the left:

Thou Shalt Suffer, which is essentially the earliest incarnation of Emperor. They originally released one death metal/black metal EP in 1991 - Into the Woods of Belial - before the band split up, with Ihsahn and Samoth forming Emperor immediately afterwards. However, Ihsahn used the name again in 2000 to release his solo album Somnium, this time it being a neoclassical/darkwave/ambient album. Both releases are pictured.

Next up, the legendary Emperor, one of the most influential and well regarded black metal bands in the history of the genre. The releases are:

Emperor/Wrath of the Tyrant (a compilation including the self-titled EP and the first demo)
In the Nightside Eclipse
Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk
IX Equilibrium
(Special Edition)
Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise
Scattered Ashes: A Decade of Emperial Wrath
In the Nightside Eclipse
(20th Anniversary Edition)

Following this, we have Peccatum, an avant-garde band which Ihsahn formed with his wife Ihriel (aka Starofash) as Emperor was coming to an end. Here we have:

Strangling from Within
Amor Fati
Lost in Reverie
Oh, My Regrets EP
The Moribund People EP


Now we get to my favourite of these: Ihsahn's solo work which is what he primarily occupies himself with these days. Included here are:

The Adversary
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After (Limited Edition)
Eremita (Limited Edition Digibook)
Das Seelenbrechen (Limited Edition Digibook)

Arktis. (Limited Edition Digibook)

Before we get to the stack all the way on the right, let's look at the three at the bottom:

Blood Must Be Shed - a one-of EP by members of Emperor, Satyricon and Dødheimsgard.
Grimen by Hardingrock - an experimental folk project by Ihsahn and Ihriel, joined by Norwegian folk musician Knut Buen.
Fjelltronen by Wongraven - the dark folk/ambient/medieval project by Satyr of Satyricon, on which Ihsahn plays the grand piano and synths.

As for the stack on the right, that one is for all the albums Ihsahn has appeared on as a guest:

The Sham Mirrors by Arcturus
Deconstruction by Devin Townsend Project
Plains of Oblivion by Jeff Loomis
Bilateral by Leprous
Coal by Leprous
Iter.Viator by Starofash

Silence in the Snow by Trivium
Themes from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and *Heck* by Ulver



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Arktis.

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Apr 19 2016 · 78 views

Finally received my copy of the new Ihsahn album the other day, after there being some delays with the limited editions.

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An excellent album which was well worth the wait. Not quite as good as his previous three, but I'd still be surprised if it isn't my album of the year.

Perhaps I'll do an updated post of my entire Ihsahn collection later, when I'm not busy listening to Arktis.


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My Top 15 Albums of 2015

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jan 06 2016 · 176 views

15 - Asia, Urban Dance and Warpath by Boris

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I'm going to treat these three albums as one for the purposes of this list, just to make it easier. Which should be fine, since they were released at the same time, and are obviously meant to be part of the same trilogy.
They released a pretty big album last year, so for the most part this is just Boris relaxing a bit and doing some noise and drone rather than writing songs, and as usual, doing it very well. Usually one probably wouldn't describe releasing three albums at once as "relaxing", but this is Boris after all.
However, between all the noise and soundscapes, there is an actual song hidden here. Surrender, which is the second track on Urban Dance, is actually a very nice post rock piece, interspliced with a little bit of noise, which comes as a nice surprise.


14 - Hades (The Nine Stages of Change at the Deceased Remains) by 死んだ僕の彼女 (My Dead Girlfriend)

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I know it might seem like this would be a pretty bleak album, but it's actually some pretty upbeat shoegaze/noise pop, though there is the occasional darker and more atmospheric song. A very enjoyable album with some great melodies and riffs, as well as some truly fantastic atmosphere on those occasional tracks.


13 - A N D by tricot

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Not quite as good as T H E, but still an excellent math rock album. Catchy, and filled with great instrumentation.


12 - Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper by Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Balázs Pándi & Thurston Moore

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A big collaboration resulting in a great free improvisation record, with plenty of harsh noise and jazz within. A very crushing and abrasive album, but one that is quite the experience.


11 - The Dreaming I by Akhlys

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That cover sure reminds me of Behemoth's The Satanist from last year. As do some aspects of the music contained within. I mean, it's not a rip-off or anything, with the music being quite different, but Akhlys definitely took some inspiration from that album here, and have created a great black metal album with elements of dark ambient, and much like The Satanist, a great sense of atmosphere and grandeur.


10 - Graveward by Sigh

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The production on this album may be quite bad, but it does not hide Sigh's signature avant-garde/black metal brilliance. Great riffs, excellent songwriting, and of course the usual Sigh weirdness.


9 - Atheist's Cornea by Envy

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An excellent mix of post-rock and post-hardcore, with some great atmosphere, and moments of both slow beauty, and fast paced aggression.


8 - Abyss by Chelsea Wolfe

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A mesmerising album of haunting and ethereal beauty, which sounds exactly what the cover looks like - dark, eerie and desolate.


7 - Into the Shadows by Anoice

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A beautiful and melancholy album, blending post-rock with modern classical for some incredible compositions. It's very easy to get lost in the world that this album creates.


6 - Fantasy Empire by Lightning Bolt

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An excellent noise rock/math rock album, with some fantastic instrumentation. The production gives it a very nice sound, with a layer of noise and muted vocals over top of the band rocking out on their instruments. Amazing riffs too.


5 - Frozen Niagara Falls by Prurient

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A terrifying mass of harsh noise and industrial, which you can't break away from. It grabs and suffocates you, while taking you on a journey through bleak and hopeless soundscapes, with the occasional glimmer of beauty which inevitably gets drowned out in cold darkness. An experience unlike anything else.


4 - Sgùrr by Thy Catafalque


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An amazing progressive metal album with an avant-garde flavour. Full of long and winding songs with incredible instrumentation and unique atmosphere, often going off in unpredictable directions. The riffs on this thing are seriously out of this world.


3 - The Plague Within by Paradise Lost

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Paradise Lost continue their streak of perfect albums, this time seeing the return of growls and other death metal elements which have been long absent. Combining these elements with their current sound, Paradise Lost have achieved one of the best albums of their long and already highly impressive career. Great songwriting and riffs, their own brand of haunting beauty, the occasional symphonic elements, it's all here and it all makes for an incredible album.


2 - The Battle of Being by Outside the Coma

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The latest project of Mikee Goodman, known for SikTh and Primal Rock Rebellion, is quite a wild ride. I don't even know how to describe it, to be honest. I guess that SikTh would be the closest point of comparison, but the experimentation and insanity is turned up to a whole different level here. It's a bizarre and eccentric album, and probably the best thing that Mikee's done, which is definitely no small praise when that means outdoing SikTh.


1 - Freedom by Refused

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It's been 17 years since Refused revolutionised music with The Shape of Punk to Come - which I happen to think is the best album of all time. And for those 17 years, the world was convinced that there would never be another Refused album. Yet, here we are. And I couldn't be happier about it.
Is Freedom as good as TSoPtC? No, of course not, don't be silly. It's not even close. Nothing is. So it's a good thing that Refused are not concerned with trying to replicate it, and instead do the same thing they've always done: change their sound with every album and never stop evolving.
17 years, but Refused have not aged a day. The band is still as skilled and talented as they've ever been, and deliver an album of infectious punk anthems with plenty of twists to keep it interesting and unique. Although lacking the bold experimentation of the previous album, there's still plenty of new ideas here, and the excellent songwriting has not gone anywhere.
Welcome back, Refused. Long live the New Noise.



So that's my list done. Now it's time for the honourable mentions, since I can't be bothered to do a separate entry for them this year:

Thier by Amestigon
Arcturian by Arcturus
Crypt of the NecroDancer OST by Danny Baranowsky
Near Death Revelations by Blaze of Perdition
The Devil by Blue Stahli
Psychic Warfare by Clutch
Lore by Elder
Beware the Sword You Cannot See by A Forest of Stars
Holographic Violence by Grave Babies
Enki by Melechesh
II by METZ
Exercises in Futility by Mgła
Autumn Eternal by Panopticon
Monotony Fields by Shape of Despair
International Blackjazz Society by Shining
Opacities by SikTh
Ordeal by Skepticism
The Ride Majestic by Soilwork
Never Were the Way She Was by Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld
The Moon Lit Our Path by Tempel
The Children of the Night by Tribulation


And that concludes my look back at 2015's music. Here's hoping that 2016 is anywhere near as good.


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My Top 10 Video Games of 2015

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Video Games Jan 03 2016 · 155 views

10 - Party Hard

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A fun little stealth game which plays a bit like a top-down Hitman.
It's 3 AM and you're simply trying to sleep, but the house next door is having an obnoxiously loud party. The most rational course of action is of course to put on a hockey mask and murder everyone at the party, so that's exactly what you do.


9 - The Consuming Shadow

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A procedurally generated, Lovecraftian-themed survival horror game by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw, of Zero Punctuation fame. It's quirky, and more than a bit janky, but it is also very engrossing and enjoyable. The world is being invaded by an ancient evil, and you have 60 hours to figure out exactly which of the evil aspects is invading, how to perform the ritual to banish it, and get to the location in one piece to perform said ritual. Piecing together the evidence and clues is really fun, and all the while there's a lot of tension as both the timer and your sanity tick down, the latter of which causes some very subtle and clever changes as it depletes.


8 - Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

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Certainly a very creative way to do multiplayer. One person looks at a bomb, while the other person (or people) look at the diffusal manual, with neither being able to see the other, and try to diffuse the bomb before it explodes. It's all in how well players can communicate with each other, and gets very tense very quickly. Some of the most fun I've had with a multiplayer game.


7 - Sunless Sea

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Continuing with the Lovecraftian themes, we have Sunless Sea. Rarely do I see a game with such a totally engrossing world. You're the captain of a ship in some sort of Victorian Gothic London setting, and you explore this strange and dark world, trying to not go insane in the process.
Now, the combat in this game is something I'm not a fan of at all, but its presence on this list regardless is only testament to the incredible world-building and narrative Sunless Sea accomplishes.


6 - Crypt of the NecroDancer

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A challenging, but incredibly enjoyable roguelike rhythm game. Perhaps even the best rhythm I've played.
In standard roguelike fashion, you explore dungeons and fight various enemies, but have to do everything to the beat of the music, which can lead to some very hectic moments when you try to figure out how to defeat a group of enemies while not missing a beat.
Of course any rhythm game needs a good soundtrack, and this one sure has an amazing one, courtesy of Danny Baranowsky.


5 - Volume

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I've been looking forward to this one pretty much since it was announced, and was not disappointed. Mike Bithell delivers a fantastic stealth game with this cyberpunk retelling of Robin Hood, and shows that Thomas Was Alone wasn't a fluke.


4 - Her Story

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Very interesting and well executed idea for a game. Without going into spoilers, Her Story provides a gripping narrative, and an engaging way of uncovering it. It really makes you feel like a detective piecing together a mystery.


3 - Black Closet

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Speaking of detectives, we have this game from the developer of Long Live The Queen. Probably best described as a strategy game with a visual novel presentation, Black Closet is a very engaging and unique title. You take on the role of the president of the student council in a highly prestigious school, and are tasked with solving various cases in order to prevent scandals and thus preserve the school's reputation. You command the other five members of the council in your investigations, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses, trying to solve the cases as fast as possible, but not acting too rashly, as the reputation of the council itself is also something you have to worry about, and thus you don't want to go around harassing innocent people.
Oh, and all the while one of the council members is actually a traitor trying to sabotage you, there's some sort of secret society within the school, and there may be something sinister going on with the teachers you work for, which are all things you might want to look out for.


2 - Invisible, Inc.

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Klei Entertainment deliver once again with this fantastic cyberpunk stealth strategy game. It plays a lot like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, but purely focusing on stealth. You command your agents through the offices of various mega corporations, utilising their unique abilities and tools to remain undetected as you accomplish your objectives. All the while the level of security increases as the corporations realise that someone has infiltrated, so your time is short. You can try to hack and empty that one extra safe, but more guards will arrive by the time you're done. Whether that's worth the risk is up to you.


1 - Darkest Dungeon

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Not only the best game I've played this year, but one which ranks amongst the best games I've played ever.
So, what is Darkest Dungeon? According to the store page, it "is a challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring". That is indeed what it is, but oh it is also so much more.
The game has an absolutely gorgeous, yet dark aesthetic, an amazing atmosphere, and probably the best narrator I've ever heard in a game in the form of Wayne June, along with a great soundtrack from Stuart Chatwood (also responsible for the amazing soundtracks to the Prince of Persia games). It has incredibly engaging and challenging gameplay, as you recruit heroes, make your party, and descend into dungeons to fight eldritch monstrosities, using strategy and tactics to overcome their strength.
And yet, those are not the best parts of Darkest Dungeon. Those would be the quirk and stress mechanics, which I will now gush over. They are just so well implemented and add so much depth to the game, and a rarely seen level of agency possessed by characters.
So the quirk mechanic is pretty simple. All heroes start with, and then develop additional quirks, some positive, some negative. Some of these merely affect their stats and abilities - a hero might be sickly and thus more susceptible to diseases, or perhaps they're a known cheat and aren't allowed to gamble in the town. That sort of thing. But the really interesting quirks are the more insidious ones. For example, a hero might be a kleptomaniac. And if you had said hero in your party, you might find that some chests are mysteriously rather light on loot. Or sometimes they may just steal the loot for themselves right in front of you before you can collect it, and not even try to hide it. And there's lots of quirks like that.
Stress on the other hand, is a little more complicated. The mental health of your heroes is a very important part of the game, and to put it simply, as they explore dungeons, their stress levels will rise by various means. Once it gets to a certain point, their resolve will be tested. Sometimes, a hero will overcome the stress and display newfound courage. But more often than not, they will break, and gain an affliction. Apart from stat penalties, afflictions will change how the hero behaves. For example, a hero may become selfish when their resolve breaks, and move back in the formation, putting your other heroes in harm's way. Alternatively, you may try to have the selfish one heal another hero, only to have them refuse and heal themselves instead. One time I had a hero become paranoid after their resolve broke, which at first didn't manifest itself in an obvious way. But then my healer missed an attack, and the paranoid hero muttered something along the lines of "how could she possibly miss...", and from there on they refused to be healed by her, being convinced that the healer was in league with the enemy.
I could keep going on about how much I love these mechanics, but you get the picture. It's just so cool to see characters have this degree of their own agency.
So yes, Darkest Dungeon is phenomenal, and is my game of the year.



So there we go, that's my list. Ended up being all indie games, but hey, they're that good.
You may also notice that my list doesn't contain a certain indie game which generated a rather large amount of hype and acclaim this year, taking many by surprise with its writing and treatment of player choice. Yes, I'm indeed afraid that HuniePop did very narrowly miss out on being on the list, but you can consider it to be at the 11th spot if it makes you feel better.


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Computer Troubles

Posted by Queen of Liars , Dec 16 2015 · 167 views

Well, my laptop might be screwed, which would be rather unfortunate. And just as I started to get a bit more back into gaming too.

For those curious, basically I restarted it last night, and then it simply failed to boot up. It would get to the welcome screen, flash blue and restart again. If I try doing start up repair, it gets stuck on a black screen with a movable cursor and nothing else. After lots of Googling, didn't really find all that much. As you might be able to guess, start up repair isn't meant to do that.
I went inside the latop to try reseating the RAM and whatnot, and none of the components are obviously damaged, as in nothing's on fire, but that doesn't mean much. Based on the information I've gathered, the hard drive is my main suspect, but right now I've got neither another laptop sized hard drive, nor anywhere else to stick this hard drive into, so I can't confirm it. The next step is to try and get it working with a Windows repair/install disc, which I am in the process of downloading and burning, but somehow I'm not feeling too optimistic.

Fortunately I back up my stuff fairly regularly, though it has been a little while since the last time, so I would end up losing a bit of stuff in the worst case scenario. Nothing too important though. I'm more concerned with simply not having a computer for who knows how long if I can't fix it. Oh well, here's hoping, I guess.


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Symphony for the Lost

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Nov 21 2015 · 191 views

Been a while since one of these music collection updates. Received the new Paradise Lost live album on vinyl + DVD today, and it's quite nice:

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Really looking forward to giving it a listen/watch later. The first half of it is done with an orchestra and seems fantastic from the teasers.


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My Fallout 4 Experience Thus Far

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Video Games Nov 11 2015 · 217 views

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Classic Bethesda.


Tried all the fixes and whatnot, so I'm just stuck here waiting for them to hopefully fix it, and by the looks of various forums I'm not alone. Thankfully Steam refunds now exist, so I'll be getting one of those if this isn't addressed soon.

Disappointing, but not unexpected. I'm not one to purchase games at release, precisely because of things like this, but Fallout is one of the few exceptions I'm willing to make.

Granted, the game is not looking great, especially for someone whose idea of a perfect Fallout game is New Vegas. From what I've read and seen, a lot of it is dumbed down compared to the previous games, with things like the new dialogue wheel looking especially terrible, along with a smörgåsbord of other issues to give modders a ton of work to do. The story and writing are also apparently typical Bethesda, which is to say they're trash.
Hopefully once I can actually play it I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I've played enough Bethesda games to not set my expectations too high. Oh well, we'll see.


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Happy Halloween

Posted by Queen of Liars , Oct 31 2015 · 153 views

Oh look, an excuse to use my blog.

I do hope everyone's having a nice and appropriately themed Halloween though. It's always a fun time.

I'm enjoying a Halloween playlist, but I've been busy lately so it's a bit more hastily put together than usual. Still, it'll do the job. Might follow it up with some appropriate gaming and/or movie watching later tonight.


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Refused

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jul 16 2015 · 298 views

After two weeks of delays, I finally received my limited edition copy of the new Refused album.
Protip: don't buy stuff from Kings Road Merch. I wouldn't have, since this isn't the first time I had problems with them, but it was the only place you could get the limited edition from.

Anyway, the new Refused album. Freedom. 17 years after releasing what I consider to be the greatest album of all time, The Shape of Punk to Come, Refused have finally returned, and I couldn't be happier. I'm still not over the fact that this album actually exists. For 17 years, a new Refused album seemed like it would never happen. Yet, here it is:

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Such an excellent album too. It's no TSoPtC of course, but that's fine. Nothing is. And Freedom doesn't try to be anyway. Just like they used to do on their previous albums, Refused drastically changed their sound again, continuing to experiment with new things, while retaining the unmistakable Refused qualities.

I guess it's time to show off my updated Refused collection, which are words I did not think I would get to say:

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On the left:

This Just Might Be... The Truth
Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent (limited edition digipak)
The Shape of Punk to Come (2010 deluxe reissue)
Freedom (limited edition book)

On the right:

This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 1 (Also Known as The EP Compilation)
This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 2 (Also Known as The Demo Compilation)
The New Noise Theology EP

Hopefully this time around it won't be too long until there's another thing to be added to this collection.
Long live the New Noise.


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The Plague Within

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jun 07 2015 · 253 views

After some delays with the official Century Media store, my copy of the new Paradise Lost album finally arrived yesterday:

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A thing of beauty, and probably my album of the year. Of the announced albums I'm aware of this year, only Refused or Ihsahn have a chance of dethroning it.


This also means that it's a good time for a Paradise Lost collection post:

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So, the two on the left are:

Drown in Darkness - The Early Demos
Symbol of Life (Limited edition digipak)

Then the pile in the middle:

Lost Paradise
Gothic
Shades of God
Icon (Limited edition digipak)
Draconian Times
One Second (Limited edition digipak)
Host
Believe in Nothing
Paradise Lost (Limited edition digipak)
In Requiem
The Anatomy of Melancholy
Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)
The Plague Within (Limited edition digibook)

And finally the two on the right:

Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us (Limited edition digibook)
Tragic Idol (Limited edition box set; signed by the band)

One of my all-time favourite bands, and one of my most valued collections.






Amplifier Worship

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-5 Most Recently Purchased Albums-

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Dronevil

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-Mini-Bio-

Age:
22
Location:
London, UK

Beliefs:

Atheist

Main Music Tastes:
Metal, Rock, Industrial, Dark Cabaret, Jazz
Favourite Bands:
Refused, Boris, Paradise Lost, Devin Townsend, Ihsahn
Favourite Books:
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Phillip K. Dick, Gun, With Occasional Music - Jonathan Lethem, A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Favourite Movies:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Matrix, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, 2046, Ghost in the Shell
Favourite Video Games:

American McGee's Alice, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Hitman: Blood Money, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Thief II: The Metal Age

Where Else To Find Me:

Twitter: @_Malchior_

Steam: Malchior

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