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The Future World of Yesterday


Finally started playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Video Games Jun 06 2014 · 355 views

After putting it off for ages, I finally started XCOM: EU this week and I've been really enjoying it. It's definitely among my favourite strategy games, only outdone by Civilization IV and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2. It's certainly very addictive.
My current squad, made up of (mostly) musicians:
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I do wish there were more customisation options, as right now Devin Townsend and Ihsahn are the only ones that actually resemble their real-life selves. With no long hairstyles, there's no way to make Alice Cooper work =P
I wanted Nick Holmes' nickname to be Cardinal Zero, since he's said that it's his favourite Paradise Lost song title and that's what he would name a new band if he started one, but it sadly didn't fit. Went with Host instead as it seemed the most fitting of their album titles. Don't get why they had to make such a low character limit, but oh well.
And yes, Motoko Kusanagi is a character from Ghost in the Shell and not a musician, but both Dennis Lyxzen and Bjork ended up getting killed pretty early on when I didn't quite know what I was doing. Been getting kind of re-obsessed with GitS, so I felt like including her.
That's pretty much all I've been doing this week. It sure is nice to have a few weeks where I can just relax and catch up with some of the games, music and movies I've been putting off.


Casualties of Cool

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music May 28 2014 · 344 views

My copy of the new Devin Townsend album finally arrived and it's pretty awesome.
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It's the reward for the £19 tier of the PledgeMusic campaign, which I backed pretty much as soon as it went live. That included a digital download of the album as soon as it was released, but it's really nice to actually have a physical copy now. Also, there's the bonus disc, which as usual is about as good as the actual album.
The campaign was actually something like 600% of the target by the end of it, with most of the excess going to fund Devin's next Ziltoid album, along with donations to charity, so that's really cool too. Devin has great fans, and he deserves to.


Second year of university done

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Daily Life, Education May 24 2014 · 366 views

Having done my last exam a couple of days ago, I have now finished my second year of university, which feels pretty good.
The exam in question was really nasty, and I don't think I did very well on it. Still, I doubt it was bad enough to not even pass, and my assignments were good, so that will bump the grade up.
This year hasn't been anywhere near as good as the last. It's been really stressful and I'm glad it's finally over. It feels really nice to be able to relax guilt-free for a while and I can finally start catching up on all the movies and games I've bought.
Also, got my hands on this:
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Steelbook DVDs are pretty awesome.
Now I just have to wait for Ghost in the Shell: Arise to finish and hopefully get an actual release over here. I'd very much like to have a complete GitS collection.


My Top 15 Albums of 2013, Part 3

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jan 12 2014 · 286 views

5 - Exit! by Fire! Orchestra
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Exit! is an experimental big band free jazz record with a lot going on. There's over twenty musicians on this album, and you'll often be hearing many of them play at once in what builds up to a complete pandemonium.
The album is chaotic and organised, both at once. There are times where you'll have stuff like a steady bass line and drum beat while at the same time saxophones, clarinets and pianos will be going insane, all synergising to create these incredible compositions. Compositions which twist and turn into completely unpredictable directions, always maintaining suspense.
This is a truly great jazz album.
4 - Weapon by Skinny Puppy
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I think it's fair to say that Skinny Puppy are the one of the most important bands in industrial music, and to many, myself included, they're also by far the best. So like many bands with such acclaim, whenever they release a new album, it will inevitably be met with an air of cynicism from certain fans and comparisons to their past masterpieces, which is rather unfortunate.
Is Weapon another Last Rights or Too Dark Park? No, of course not, nor does it attempt to be. Like most of the post-reunion era of Skinny Puppy, Weapon is much more energetic and straight-forward electro-industrial as opposed to the dark and abrasive soundscapes that were the focus of albums like Last Rights. Which is not to say that they don't do experimentation anymore or that their current stuff is much more accessible (Weapon definitely took me a couple of listens to get into and recognise everything that is going on in the music), but the last four albums have been substantially different from what the band were doing before they broke up.
A more apt point for comparison would be the 1984 EP Remission, especially since the new album contains a remake of the song Solvent. Weapon is very much a refinement of the style found on the EP with added elements of the modern Skinny Puppy, and it's something that ends up working very well.

With Weapon I think Skinny Puppy have continued the trend of each post-reunion album being better than the last, which should say something as all of them are great. Weapon contains some very good song writing with a lot of subtle melodies over the great beats, all accompanied by the usual abstract and political lyrics.
Something Skinny Puppy have always been great at is maintaining an atmosphere and theme throughout their albums, and this one really gives the sense of a cyberpunk dystopia to me, which is fantastic.
While I wouldn't put Weapon up there with Last Rights, Too Dark Park and The Process, it is still a great album which makes me feel very happy that Skinny Puppy decided to reform ten years ago.
3 - Earth Rocker by Clutch
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This is without a doubt the 2013 album I listened to the most this year. I suppose that's in part due to it coming out back in March, but mostly what I'm getting at is that it's an incredibly addicting album that I just can't get enough of.
Earth Rocker is an absolutely fantastic hard rock album with a hint of blues rock that is overflowing with great riffs, vocals and songwriting. Every song is infectious, from the title track opener, to the slow and especially bluesy Gone Cold, to the loud and rocking closer The Wolf Man Kindly Requests.
It is an incredibly fun album to listen to. As far as pure enjoyment goes, this was the most I've had of it this year.
2 - Vertikal by Cult of Luna
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From the pure fun of Earth Rocker, we come to the bleak and miserable atmospheric sludge metal journey that is Cult of Luna's Vertikal.
And a journey it is. Very thematically and atmospherically strong, Vertikal is an absolutely captivating piece of beautiful melancholy with incredible instrumentation and the incorporation of many influences from post-rock, electronic and ambient. Well over an hour long, the album never drags or gets boring and just continues to surprise the listener.
Cult of Luna are clearly the masters of their craft, and with them announcing an indefinite hiatus, this coupled with the equally amazing EP Vertikal II is their final artistic statement.
I'm sad to see them go, but what a note to end on.
1 - Das Seelenbrechen by Ihsahn
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The Breaking of the Soul. Taken from Nietzcshe's writings on art, there could hardly be a more appropriate title for this masterpiece.
Das Seelenbrechen is the fifth solo album from the mastermind behind the most influential and innovative black metal band Emperor, and is easily the best thing he has done. Considering how incredible his work with Emperor, Peccatum and his solo project is, for Ihsahn to outdo himself again is no small feat.
Created in an entirely different manner than his previous four albums, Das Seelenbrechen is a largely improvised piece that gives us a deep personal look into Ihsahn's true psyche.
It's very difficult to describe it. I suppose it's because of albums like this that we have terms like avant-garde. Stylistically, it's all over the place in the best possible way. You have the opener Hiber which deliberately reels you in with a false sense of familiarity to the progressive black metal of his previous albums, but that familiarity is shattered barely half-way through the song when it takes a completely different turn. Following this are tracks like the symphonic Regen, the electronic tinged beautiful and personal Pulse, the experimentation with time signatures in the terrifying recreation of black metal Tacit II, the atmospheric spoken-word piece M, the chilling experimental drone-influenced See, and five other tracks, all of which are very unique.
Despite it's chaotic nature, the album still feels very coherent and all the tracks very much act as one continuous experience.
Das Seelenbrechen is a display of incredible musicianship in every aspect. Beyond that, it is a display of creative genius.
It's definitely not an album that will appeal to everyone, but to me this not only blows everything else from this year out of the water, but it ranks amongst the greatest albums I have ever heard.


My Top 15 Albums of 2013, Part 2

Posted by Queen of Liars , Jan 10 2014 · 350 views

10 - Ænigma by In Vain
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A brilliant piece of progressive death metal. Atmospheric and captivating, the album features consistently great instrumentation and songwriting.
9 - Push The Sky Away by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
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A beautiful art rock/chamber pop album with a sense of danger. It feels like a relaxing listen, but at the same time it always feels tense thanks to some excellent choices in terms of the songs' tempo.
Beyond the great lyrics and really cool vocal style, there's a lot of subtleties here, such as sparse string arrangements, which add a lot of texture to the album.
8 - Nice Hooves by Nice Hooves
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An excellent debut, the heavy hardcore punk of Nice Hooves is filled with blistering riffs and crushing vocals that you can't help but nod your head along to.
Big thanks to Ryuujin for letting me know about this. It's free on the band's bandcamp page, so go check it out.
7 - Meir by Kvelertak
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Kvelertak are back with their second album of hardcore punk/black metal/rock 'n' roll (or black 'n' roll as some would call it) goodness, and I still can't get enough.
Fast paced and energetic, with great riffs and songwriting everywhere, Meir is not quite like anything else you've heard before.
6 - Des Winters finsterer Gesell by Angizia
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Angizia bring forth a very unique offering of a combination between avant-garde metal and dark cabaret, and they nail it.
They incorporate the traditional metal instruments with violin and piano to produce some incredible compositions.
Atmospheric and mysterious, this album is a journey that constantly twists and turns in new directions.


My Top 15 Albums of 2013, Part 1

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jan 09 2014 · 401 views

Well, here are albums 15-11 of my end of year list:
15 - A Piece of Infinity by Wretched Excess
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A Piece of Infinity is a very nice fusion of dark ambient and jazz. Atmospheric and foreboding, it's a pleasant listen.
Oh, and it's available for free on the Wretched Excess bandcamp page, so go pick it up.
14 - Burn The World by AC4
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Burn The World is a great album of fast-paced old-school hardcore punk, by a band fronted by Dennis Lyxzen from the legendary Refused.
It's a bit of a throwback to the Swedish hardcore scene that Refused belonged to in their early days, before they went on their experimental path.
However this is by no means a replication of Refused's sound. There is no experimentation or groundbreaking ideas here, but there are 16 tracks of loud and infectious hardcore which will make you feel like it's the early 90s again.
This album is great at what it does and is a joy to listen to.
13 - Abandon All Life by Nails
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Nails' powerviolence/grindcore piece Abandon All Life fills the same niche for me that Black Breath's Sentenced to Life did last year. It's a relentless, crushingly heavy assault on the ears.
Allowing no time to rest, the album delivers 10 punches in quick succession and barely hits 17 minutes. Which is probably for the best, as it can be a pretty exhausting listen.
12 - VILKÉ by Daniel Menche
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Inspired by the wolves he saw on his travels, Menche's VILKÉ incorporates the howls of wolves into an atmospheric and haunting drone journey through a downward spiral of decay, providing for a very eerie and gripping album.
11 - Shadow Music: A Soundtrack to Contrast by Nicolas Marquis
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An absolutely fantastic piece of 1920s style jazz and cabaret with a surreal atmosphere, this album emulates the decadent noir setting of the game very well.
The two tracks which feature Laura Ellis on vocals are especially great and truly feel like they could be straight out of a cabaret performance. The instrumentals are an absolute joy to listen to as well, making this album a great throwback to the era it's inspired by, with enough modern touches to keep it sounding fresh.


My Top Albums of 2013 - Honourable Mentions

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Music Jan 08 2014 · 325 views

Before I do my top albums list, I thought I'd give a quick mention to some albums that didn't quite make it, but still deserve to be recognised:
Kveikur by Sigur Rós - A beautiful post-rock album with hints of dream-pop and a rather dark and foreboding atmosphere which makes for a pretty interesting listen.
Sunbather by Deafheaven - A fantastic cross between shoegaze and black metal that pulls you in and doesn't let go until the album ends.
Seesaw by Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - The second collaboration by these two, and between Hart's soulful voice and Bonamassa's fantastic guitar playing, it makes for a great blues rock album.
Pain Is Beauty by Chelsea Wolfe - A fitting title for this dark and atmospheric journey through quite a mixture of genres.
Quartoze Pièces de Menace by Dale Cooper Quartet and the Dictaphones - A very interesting combination of dark jazz and drone. It is beautifully composed, but carries with it a sense of foreboding doom.
Colored Sands by Gorguts - A fantastic technical death metal record that is crushingly heavy, but maintaining a powerful atmosphere. The instrumentation is wonderfully complex and sounds absolutely colossal.
Echogenetic by Front Line Assembly - When this album was announced it seemed that a lot of fans were getting hyped over the band choosing to not use guitars on it, which seems like a strange thing to get hyped over to me. Besides, I actually thought that the sparing use of guitars greatly contributed to Artificial Soldier and Improvised Electronic Device being the best FLA albums since Implode. But coming back to Echogenetic, yes, the band ditched the guitars in favour of looking a bit into dubstep. They're not the first industrial act to do so, but I'd say that they pulled it off rather well. However, I do think that the album starts to feel like the band are trying to repeat their older stuff a bit, and it's definitely weaker than the previous two records (three if you count the AirMech soundtrack). Despite that, it's still a very solid and extremely enjoyable album by one of the greatest industrial bands.
Old Mornings Dawn by Summoning - A fantastic atmospheric black metal album, thematically and lyrically inspired by Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Do I need to say more?
One of Us Is the Killer by The Dillinger Escape Plan - A great chaotic and abrasive mathcore album. Perhaps a bit more accessible than the band's other work, this record is still a behemoth that beats you down without mercy. As usual, some excellent playing and vocals are to be found here.
Marriage of Metals by Daniel Menche - One of two albums released by Menche this year, Marriage of Metals experiments with drone music by fusing it with Gamelan gong instruments, which results in a very atmospheric and mesmerising experience.
IV by earthtone9 - earthtone9 return with their first album in 13 years, and they pick up right where they left off with arc'tan'gent. The band's unique blend of progressive metal, alternative metal and post-hardcore provides for a fantastic album with very tight playing and some great riffs.


Exams Done

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Education Jan 08 2014 · 261 views

Handed in my university assignments on Monday, had exams yesterday and today, and now I have the rest of the month off, which is very nice.
Exams went alright, I suppose, although neither of them really had much room to talk about what I know the most unfortunately. The Law of Tort exam on Tuesday had no room for volenti and very little for public and private nuisance, and today's EU Law exam didn't really provide many opportunities to talk about the free movement of persons.
Still, the questions were pretty nice. The EU exam had a very nice question on the free movement of goods, and got to mention trespass ab initio in Tort.
Oh, and one of the questions in the Tort exam had Harry Potter characters in it. Obviously that was one of the three I chose to do. When there's a question that includes scenarios like Albus giving bad financial advice to Neville about share investments, followed by the property that Albus was going to turn into an office building being set on fire which spreads to Severus' property, you don't not do it.


My video game spendings

Posted by Queen of Liars , in Video Games Jan 02 2014 · 304 views

With most video game sales being over by now, here's what I got over the holiday period:
Deus Ex (lost my physical copy a while ago, so this will replace it)
Deus Ex: Invisible War
Mark of the Ninja Special Edition DLC
Poker Night 2
Another World
Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter
Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile DLC
Dinner Date
Paranautical Activity
Counter Strike Complete
The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC
Star Wars: Balance of the Force and Ms. Splosion Man tables for Pinball FX2
The Humble Store:
The Novelist
Overall, some pretty nice stuff I guess. Looking at it, I picked up quite a few games, but the sales still felt a bit lacking. It's kinda gotten to the point where I already own most of the stuff I'd want, and the stuff I don't have yet either didn't go on sale or was still too expensive for me to justify picking it up.
I ended up spending very little actual money thanks to selling a lot of Steam trading cards, so that's nice.
Although I have no idea when I'll have the time to actually play all this stuff. My backlog of games is huge enough as it is.


Would you look at the date

Posted by Queen of Liars , Jan 01 2014 · 296 views

Happy new year. I hope 2014 goes well for everyone.
2013 was a pretty mixed bag for me. The first half of it was probably the best time of my life, and the second half... kinda went in the other direction.
And you know, I'd like to be optimistic about 2014, but I have two university assignments that are due on the 6th followed by exams on the 7th and 8th that I'm honestly not feeling very good about, so I'm starting this year pretty stressed out. Hopefully once that's done I can get back on track though. Hopefully being they key word there.
Anyhow, I'll probably do a top 10 albums of 2013 over the next couple of days if I get around to it.
In the meantime, here's one of two songs I love from a rather disappointing album that won't even make it to honourable mentions (I like the title track a lot more, but it has a certain word in it so you get this instead):


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