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Amplifier Worship



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My Top 15 Albums of 2014, Part 2 - Judgement Day

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 12 2015 · 112 views

10 - Aura by Saor

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An amazing atmospheric black metal album with many elements from Celtic folk music.
The way the folk and metal instrumentation interact with each other is excellent, creating both heaviness and stunning beauty.



9 - Citadel by Ne Obliviscaris

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Citadel is an excellently written progressive metal album with undertones of melodic death metal.
The pacing here is great, with very well timed intros, bridges and interludes creating a really cohesive experience. The musicianship is top notch, with fantastic guitar parts and a cello providing a haunting beauty over its dark and heavy atmosphere.


8 - Full of Heck & Merzbow by Full of Helmets & Merzbow

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For their third album, Full of Helium enter a rather surprising collaboration with the legendary Japanese noise artist Merzbow.
The results are a fantastic combination of Full of Hegemony's absolutely crushing powerviolence/grindcore and Merzbow's deafening blasts of noise, proving that this collaboration is totally worthwhile.
Full of Hello Kitty provide some absolutely brutal music at breakneck speed, while Merzbow adds a lot of subtlety and texture to it, adding a lot of depth to the album. And subtlety really is a big part of Merzbow's presence on the first disc, to the point that some fans expressed disappointment at it being hard to notice his contributions outside of when songs transition into noise. However, his presence is definitely there and adds a lot to Full of Hemoglobins' delightful attack on the ears.
Now, I mentioned the 'first disc' earlier. The thing is, I guess this is technically a double album, but disc 2 is only available with the physical release. I've ordered the digipak album straight from Full of Hematosis' BandCamp, but I live in the UK and it is being shipped from Canada, which coupled with delays caused by the holidays means that I haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. However, I am told that disc 2 is a more noise oriented album. Basically if disc 1 is Full of Hemingway featuring Merzbow, then disc 2 is Merzbow featuring Full of Hexagons. Which sounds pretty excellent. As much as I now enjoy Full of Heliocentrism, Merzbow was the reason I checked this album out in the first place, so I am definitely looking forward to hearing the second disc.
Either way, the first disc is more than great enough for Full of Heterozygosity & Merzbow to earn a spot on my list.


7 - Arche by Dir en Grey

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Dir en Grey doing what Dir en Grey do. With a fantastic and varied mix of alternative, progressive and avant-garde metal, Arche makes for a very unique listen through a series of very well written tracks.
The only disappointing thing is that the physical release of this album is not available outside of Japan. I want to give you money for your CD, Dir en Grey. Help me do that. (Yes, I know that in all likelihood it's their label's fault)


6 - Z² (Sky Blue and Dark Matters) by Devin Townsend

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This is a double album, containing Sky Blue and the long awaited Dark Matters, which is the sequel to Devin's 2007 album Ziltoid the Omniscient.
Sky Blue builds off of 2012's Epicloud, delivering a similar 'pop metal' sound, mixing Devin's trademark wall of sound and progressive metal tendencies with lots of melody and catchiness. Anneke van Giersbergen returns once again to provide the female vocals, and at this point it's getting hard to imagine hearing one of them without the other. Their voices go together amazingly well.

The songwriting is incredible as usual, and unlike Epicloud which was a very positive and happy album in tone pretty much throughout, Sky Blue has real hints of anger and tension behind some of the songs, which really adds to the feeling of the album overall.
Dark Matters is the continuation of the comical space opera story of Ziltoid from the previous album. With his home planet dying, Ziltoid arrives on Earth with the intention to colonise it, choosing Earth in particular because of its coffee. However, in order to accomplish this, Ziltoid steals a creature known as a Poozer from the war princess Blattaria of planet Titan, which invokes her wrath and starts an intergalactic war between them, with Earth as the prize.
Musically, it sounds absolutely immense. It's not often I use the word 'epic', but this album merits it. With an array of guests, a backing choir and Devin himself making full use of his incredible vocal range over top of fantastic song writing and instrumentation, there's not much room for breathing outside of the interludes with story dialogue.
marks the end of a chapter for Devin, and after doing one final show in April he will be taking a hiatus from music for at least a year. With the ridiculously high amount of brilliant music he's been releasing over the past few years he definitely deserves the rest, but I will be eagerly awaiting his return.


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My Top 15 Albums of 2014, Part 1

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 11 2015 · 83 views

15 - Once More 'Round the Sun by Mastodon

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A huge improvement over 2011's The Hunter, this album is a really fun trip through Mastodon's signature blend of progressive and stoner metal.


14 - Our Time Will Come by KMFDM

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Celebrating their 30th anniversary, KMFDM release a pretty big improvement over their last two rather average albums.
Fitting for the occasion, this album contains pretty much everything you would expect to see from KMFDM. There's the tongue in cheek satire and self-parody, and there's the songs dealing with more serious political issues, all delivered via both their signature fast paced industrial rock/metal that you can't help but nod your head along to, and slower, more personal tracks.
KMFDM are clearly showing that 30 years later, they have no intention to stop. A lot of the songwriting is as good as ever, with great use of electronics and instrumentation. Lyrically, there's lots of references to songs from previous albums, some deliberately silly songs like Genau - the lyrics to which are composed almost entirely of random German words which have found their way into English usage (schadenfreude, zeitgeist, blitzkrieg, etc) - but there's also serious songs with really well crafted lyrics and imagery such as Blood vs. Money.
It doesn't do anything new or groundbreaking, but given the occasion, it doesn't have to. This is just a really fun album to mark 30 years of the ultra heavy beat. While not reaching the heights of their 90's classics, it's right behind Blitz and Hau Ruck as one of their best post-reunion albums.


13 - Where Greater Men Have Fallen - Primordial

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A crushing and grandiose piece of folk metal, with influences from doom and black metal.
This album sounds absolutely colossal, with beautiful melodies and soaring vocals over heavy and tight instrumentation.


12 - Splinters by Vallenfyre

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This one's just relentlessly crushing, without the grandiose.
It's the second album from this death metal supergroup, formed back in 2010 by Paradise Lost's lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh to help him deal with his father's death. With such origins, the album is unsurprisingly dark and crushingly heavy, suffocating you with its bleak atmosphere.
Greg is one my favourite guitarists, and here he continues to display as to why. The songwriting on this thing is just fantastic. Vallenfyre know when to play at break-neck speeds and when to be methodically slow, all the while delivering excellent music.


11 - Ghouleh by Starofash

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A project recorded by Ihriel over the course of 2013, with one song written for each month, this is a great neoclassical darkwave/art pop journey.
Very varied and atmospheric, this is a fantastic album which is pretty hard for me to describe.
Listen to it on her official BandCamp


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Top Albums of 2014 - Honourable Mentions

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 10 2015 · 98 views

It's time for the albums that won't be making it to my top of the year list, but are still great albums which deserve attention.

Casualties of Cool by Casualties of Cool
This is a side project by Devin Townsend and Ché Aimee Dorval (who did the female vocals on Ki) which Devin made while wanting to take a break from all the heavy music he's been making. Indeed, very different from his usual music, this is a strange mix of country, ambient and blues rock with a very eerie and mysterious sound to it. Although extremely different from his other work, it is still unmistakably Devin Townsend.
It's a concept album about a traveler who is lured to distant a planet by a beautiful voice. Once he lands on it, he discovers an old radio which was the origin of the voice, and finds out that the planet is in fact sentient and uses the radio to lure unaware travelers and trap them, feeding on their fear. His attempts at escape being futile, he finds solace in the music from the radio and explores the planet, finding clues about other people once trapped on it. Really neat stuff.

The Serpent & the Sphere by Agalloch
A fantastic atmospheric black metal album, with influences from doom metal and folk.
Even if it doesn't necessarily live up to some of their previous albums, it's still excellent.

Grand Morbid Funeral by Bloodbath
With Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes taking over the vocals, Bloodbath make another great death metal album.
It's crushingly heavy with some excellent instrumentation.

The World We Left Behind by Nachtmystium
The band's final album, it's a fitting progressive black metal swan song with great guitar parts and a very strong atmosphere.

Esoteric Warfare by Mayhem
One of black metal's most infamous bands returns with another album, delivering ten absolutely crushing songs.

Run the Jewels 2 by Run the Jewels
The second album by this hip-hop collaboration between Killer Mike and El-P starts off with an extremely strong first two thirds or so, but unfortunately loses some steam by the final third which I think suffers from too many guest artists, making it feel far less cohesive than their debut. Regardless, the first two thirds are fantastic enough to earn a spot on this list.

Roads to the North by Panopticon
An excellent atmospheric black metal journey, with influences from melodic death metal and bluegrass.
It's also almost entirely created by the band's sole member Austin Lunn, with only the violin being performed by a guest, which is just incredible.

Shogunate Macabre by Whispered
Melodic death metal with influences from Japanese folk music. More or less as cool as it sounds.


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Most Disappointing Albums of 2014

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 09 2015 · 109 views

I left this off a bit late as I've been pretty busy, but I thought I might as well still do my yearly music list.
Before we get to the actually good stuff, why not have a look and maybe laugh at some of the albums that have been less than excellent?
These are the albums of 2014 that I have been considerably disappointed by, for one reason or another.


A World Lit Only by Fire by Godflesh
I'm not really a big Godflesh fan, but I like Streetcleaner well enough and respect their influence in industrial metal, so I thought I would give the new album a try.
Unfortunately, this turned out to be just a really bland and boring album. Ten heavy and crushing tracks with pretty much nothing going on in them. There's no texture, no subtle melodies to break up the repetitiveness, nothing. Just ten songs which all sound practically the same.
Some of the riffs are pretty nice admittedly, but no matter how nice a riff, if you loop it for five minutes and then end the song without it progressing into anything I'm probably going to stop appreciating it at some point.

1000hp by Godsmack
Ok yeah, the title, the awful cover and it being Godsmack should be enough to deduce that the album isn't going to be very good. Thing is, I actually thought that their 2010 album, The Oracle, was really solid, and both Sully Erna and Shannon Larkin are very talented musicians who have the capacity to make something great if they actually used their talent (just look at Sully's solo album), so I had hopes that perhaps they would continue improving.
Nope. Why bother with that when you can just make some lazy generic radio rock?
I mean if the other clues weren't enough to glean what this album is like, it opens with the line "time to rewind back to 1995"...
Yeah, I'd really rather you didn't to be honest with you, Sully.

Triumph and Power by Grand Magus
I wasn't a big fan of their last album, The Hunt, which I thought just lacked the punch of their previous albums, but was hoping they would pick back up after that slight low point.
Unfortunately this ended up being just a generic heavy metal album with a bit of a power metal influence. Pretty much indistinguishable from the hundreds of other bands that do it.
Don't really have anything else to say about it. It's completely unremarkable.

Black Widow by In This Moment
Largely generic metalcore/alternative metal is not something I usually listen to, so you might wonder why I even had any expectations for the new In This Moment album in the first place. Well, while I really don't care for their first three albums, I was surprised to learn that their last one, Blood, was actually quite good. It was probably the biggest surprise of 2012 for me as far as albums I initially had no interest in are concerned.
Two of the band members left, which I guess made Blood more of a Maria Brink solo album, and it was actually much better for it. Thus, I was hoping that she would use her new found creative freedom to continue improving.
Instead, what we get is a return to the mediocrity of previous albums, with lyrics and themes that feel like a second rate Alice Cooper knock off. The best songs on this feel like they could have been cut from Blood for not being good enough. Who knows, maybe they were.

Redeemer of Souls by Judas Priest
The best thing I can say about this album is that it's mostly not nearly as bad as the two singles from it. Seriously, March of the *Danged* is just straight up awful. The production on it makes Rob Halford, one of the greatest voices in all of metal, sound like Ozzy Osbourne did on Black Sabbatth's 13. Except even worse if you can imagine such a thing.
As for the actual album, it feels like a cheap and tired imitation of Painkiller with none of the energy they had on that classic.


And now, for my biggest disappointment of the year:

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The Undoing by Skold
This is the only album on this list which is not here because of it's musical content being subpar. I'm sure that the album is actually of high quality. No, the reason this album is on the list is because it doesn't exist.

Tim Skold announced this follow up to 2011's Anomie on the 17th of March, but only a week later made an announcement that "due to unforeseen developments [he has] chosen to cancel the scheduled release of the new Skold album".
I have no idea what happened, and I'm sure that he has very good reasons for the cancellation, but I am still extremely disappointed.
Tim is one of my favourite musicians and I adore both his solo work and his work with many other bands, such as KMFDM, so I'm always excited for something new by him. Anomie was his first solo album in over 15 years and an excellent display of all he has learned during that time, and I'm really hoping that he doesn't take another huge break from that project.

This also isn't the first time he canceled an album. Back in the early 2000's he was working on what was to be his second solo album, Disrupting the Orderly Routine of the Institution (great title). He made demos of six songs that were pretty much finished, and gave them to a handful of people he trusted looking for some feedback. Unfortunately the demos ended up getting leaked, and being understandably furious and disheartened, Tim scrapped the whole project. All that is left of it are the six songs which are now floating around on the internet, known as the Dead God EP.
A real shame that one person's total lack of respect for an artist's work deprived the rest of us of what would have likely been a great album.

Hopefully whatever problems arose will be resolved and The Undoing will see a release this year.


That does it for this list. Next I'll probably do an honourable mentions type thing, followed by my actual best of the year list.


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Another pet peeve with buying CDs

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 08 2015 · 126 views

I've spoken enough about how much I hate those barcode stickers that get put on new CDs from the US, so here's another pet peeve I was reminded of today:

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It's rare, but every once in a while when I order a used CD online I'll get something like this.
I don't know if I even want to commit the effort to trying to remove that cleanly.

I takes a bit of the joy out of the purchase. I know it's not the seller's fault. It's the fault of some record store employee who decided to put a sticker straight on the case back in 1992 for some reason. Maybe they had a grudge against the latest KMFDM album for going in a slightly more rock direction. Who knows, but it's still annoying me 23 years later.

The worst part is that it's only the remains of a sticker, so I can't even get any interesting information about the history of this particular copy of the CD.

Like that one time I got a Pitchshifter album, and upon examining the stickers I found that it was not in its original case, and that the new case it was occupying in fact once belonged to a Coldplay album. Kinda felt tainted after that, being tricked into touching something to do with Coldplay.


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In the Nightside Eclipse

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Jan 05 2015 · 132 views

Received my copy of the 20th anniversary reissue of Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse today.
One of the most well regarded and influential black metal albums, and for very good reason.

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That cover art is so good.
It's a 2 CD package, with the first disc containing the remastered album, and the second containing a previously unreleased alternative mix of the album, along with a few rare tracks from EPs and demos they did around the time.

This is also a good excuse to show off my collection of Emperor and Ihsahn's solo albums.

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Stacked them up Ryuujin style because my desk isn't big enough for 11 albums side by side.

On the left, we have the Emperor stuff:

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)

And on the right, Ihshan stuff:

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


With that, it should come as no surprise that Ihsahn is one of my favourite artists. He's definitely one of the most interesting artists to follow because he always strives to experiment and stretch the boundaries of extreme metal, from the first Emperor album all the way to Das Seelenbrechen, which in my opinion eclipses even Anthems... as the best thing he's done.
He's working on a new album for this year and I absolutely can't wait to see where he goes next.


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Paris

Posted by Emilie Autumn , Dec 28 2014 · 141 views

Hey, something that actually merits a blog entry. Gonna have a bit of a spontaneous trip to Paris for New Year, because why not I guess.

I'll be leaving tomorrow morning, and staying for about five days. It'll be really nice to get away from everything for a short while before my January exams start. Really not looking forward to those, I'll admit.

Not sure what the internet situation will be like, but hopefully I'll get some access. I'd like not to be too late with my albums of the year list, as this time I've actually gone through my entire backlog already.

It'd be nice to catch the remainder of the Steam sale too, even though it's been really underwhelming so far. Picked up The Wolf Among Us and Transistor (+ soundtrack), and that's it.
I'm actually really disappointed that Invisible, Inc didn't win the last community vote. It's one of the games that I'm the most excited for, and while it is still in early access, it's by one of the few developers who actually do early access right. That it didn't even lose to a noteworthy game just rubs salt in the wound.


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Z2

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Oct 27 2014 · 145 views

Today is the release day for the new Devin Townsend album .
It being my most anticipated album of the year I've pre-ordered it, and since I did so from Devin's official store rather than say Amazon, it actually arrived on time. Imagine that.
Seriously though, I'm never pre-ordering stuff from Amazon again. I've had consistent problems with things being late, but Ihshan's album being late last year was the final straw. Considering they charge for release date delivery, more than half of my pre-orders from them being late is not something I want to deal with.

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Anyhow, . I got the limited 3-CD digipak edition, bundled with that awesome t-shirt.

It's a double album, consisting of Sky Blue and Dark Matters, with the third disc containing a version of Dark Matters without the dialogue. Being part of the final stage of this chapter of Devin's career, it's a concept album that acts as the sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient, something that he's been working on for several years. It's nice to finally see it culminate in this project.
This will be followed by a huge show in April, after which Devin will be taking a hiatus from music for at least year. Considering how much work he has done in the past few years - even this year had not only , but the Casualties of Cool album as well - it's a well deserved rest. Still, I will be eagerly awaiting his return.


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Ghost in the Shell

Posted by Emilie Autumn , Oct 26 2014 · 211 views

Recently acquired a copy of the second volume of the Ghost in the Shell manga, so now I have this little collection:

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DVDs: Ghost in the Shell and Innocence boxset (plus the Ghost in the Shell 2.0 remaster of the original movie); Stand Alone Complex 1st GIG boxset; Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG boxset; Stand Alone Complex: The Laughing Man; Stand Alone Complex: Individual Eleven; Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society
Manga: Ghost in the Shell; Ghost in the Shell 2: Man-Machine Interface; Ghost in the Shell 1.5: Human Error Processor

Which - apart from the soundtracks - is pretty much everything that I think is worth owning. There's also a Stand Alone Complex manga, but from what I understand it's basically the equivalent of a novelisation of the anime series rather than something unique, so I'm not really interested in it.

Now I'm just waiting for Ghost in the Shell: Arise to get DVD releases over here. The first two parts will be released on the 24th of November, but I don't believe parts 3 and 4 have a release date yet.


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We meet again, my nemesis

Posted by Emilie Autumn , in Music Oct 20 2014 · 124 views

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Seriously, I really hate these stickers. They really make me hesitate when getting new CDs imported from the US.
I actually managed to remove it without it tearing this time, but it of course still left a small bit of residue on the case.

But, that does give me an excuse to post my Boris collection thus far:

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In order: Amplifier Worship; Pink; Smile (US Version); Attention Please; Heavy Rocks (2011); New Album and Noise.

Which is only seven out of twenty - if we're not counting collaborations - but it's not likely to get bigger any time soon, as pretty much all of the others are really hard to get physically. There's obviously the ones that were only released in Japan and are really expensive to import, but there's also a few that only ever had very limited vinyl releases and aren't available on CD at all.
The only one I could find that isn't ridiculously expensive is the Japanese version of Smile at around £17, which is a price that I could still be convinced to go for, but I'm definitely gonna wait on it.






Amplifier Worship

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-5 Most Recently Purchased Albums-

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Dronevil

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-Mini-Bio-

Age:
21
Location:
London, UK
Currently Studying:
Law

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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