Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Seether's Strings Fray Just a Bit With New Release

We all have our go to bands. The bands and CDs we pick up when we are in need of something or, conversely, when we have no idea what mood we are in or what we want to listen to. Seether is one of those bands for me. Ever since "Fine Again", I've been captivated. I've grown with them and it's so much fun being able to watch the band grow alongside me. When I was an angry angst-y teenager, I had Disclaimer/Disclaimer II and Karma and Effect to help me be mad at the world. When my brother died, I had Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces to help me mourn. And now with the release of Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray, I have an album to help me move forward.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Man Man Once Again Pulls off Manical Beautifully

Man Man is a fairly unique band. It's hard to describe their sound other than 'melodic noise' because the band uses anything and everything for instruments. I first heard about them in an article in Charlotte's Creative Loafing in an interview piece in which the interviewer asked Honus Honus, the lead singer, what was the most bizarre instrument they had ever used on stage. Honus Honus replied: a frog. That should seriously sum it up. The newest release details this strange and captivating sound in a much more musically appealing while conversely being the darkest lyrical album of the group.

Crimson Gem Saga Keeps JRPG Intact, but is Sadly Bland

It is inevitable for human beings to compare past knowledge and experience to present decisions. In fact, that is how we learn. That is how we, as a species, evolved. So it's not hard to believe that I picked up Crimson Gem Saga because it reminded me of one of my favorite (if not THE favorite) games of all time: Final Fantasy IX. The style is set in a mix between the fantasy of knights and mages while including a little bit of the steam ship style machinery. The battle system was old school RPG with leveling up and abilities and tons of equipment. The graphics were colorful and crisp. And then there was the very cool anime trailer that looked like cut scenes from the game. I was pumped. Unfortunately, not everything is what it seems, and compared with the game I hold on high, Crimson Gem Saga was a huge disappointment.

Metal Gear Solid: The PSX Classic I Missed...Still Amazing 15 Years Later

It's been almost 15 years since the original release of Kojima's masterpiece on the original Playstation. When it was first released, I wasn't much of a gamer, and when I did it was mostly Japanese RPGs like Final Fantasy and Pokemon. Since it's re-release on the Playstation Network, I promised myself I would play it to get a better understanding of the series mythos and to see just how good this game was. Even at a 14 year disadvantage and a technological handicap of the same time period, this game can beat out most modern games without so much as a breaking a sweat. This game is great!

Metal Gear Solid follows Solid Snake as he infiltrates an Alaskan military base where terrorists have taken over. On this same base, the military has not only hidden nuclear warheads, but a mysterious new Metal Gear, a giant bi-pedal mech capable of launching said nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe. The story is well paced and full of intrigue, per Metal Gear Solid style. This is the story that sets the basis for the rest, so it shouldn't be a surprise to hear that it lives up to the series name sake. The characters are all unique and I even felt a twinge of anger when one of the characters is not given a detailed fleshing out like the rest (it's one of the enemies that Snake never fights. That's not a spoiler but when you play you'll know).

Limbo: Further Proof that Games are Art

The video game landscape has changed drastically since its inception not over 30 years ago, and as technology increases in strength and main stream becomes more and more broad, it's amazing to see the amount of independent video game design companies sprouting up left and right today on current consoles, a platform originally intended to strike gold for triple-A console releases. Limbo is a very big example of how powerful these tiny companies can be with limited resources (compared to the larger game companies).