review: BLACK SAILS [S02E01]

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Black Sails (2014)

Black Sails (2014)

BLACK SAILS [S2E1]
Aired: January 25, 2014
Produced By: Michael Bay
Directed By: Steve Boyum
Starring: Toby Stephens, Hannah New, Luke Arnold
Website: IMDB

Score: 5/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I completely forgot I had watched the entire first Season of Black Sails until Brendan, the editor, told me about Season 2. I believe this is standard practice to release one season in a year, but the space between the close of Black Sails Season 1 and the premiere of Season 2 feels like an eternity. If I remember correctly I was less than impressed at the Starz original series, which attempts to chase the same glory seen by shows like Deadwood, Game of Thrones, and the Tudors just with a different fantasy theme. Though the show follows the exploits of historically accurate buccaneers in the high age of piracy, Black Sails began with an existential struggle between being a saucy historical drama and a ridiculous slab of pulp. Despite either direction they can chose, the strength of the show will depend on focus and the ability to entertain. I have yet to make any conclusion based on the first episode. Continue reading

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review: THE CROWN – Death Is Not Dead

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The Crown - Dead is not Dead (2014)

The Crown – Dead is not Dead (2014)

THE CROWN
Album: Death Is Not Dead
Released: January 12th 2015
Label: Century Media
Website: Official Facebook
Score: 4/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Death Is Not Dead is a big deal for the Swedish outfit for a couple or reasons. Firstly, it marks the (hopefully) triumphant return of their original vocalist Johann Lindstrand but perhaps more importantly it’s also the first new thing they’ve come out with in four years. Interestingly, the last thing they released, “Doomsday King” was itself a comeback album after a three year hiatus, which makes this difficult to classify. Is this a comeback to the comeback? The original vocalist is back, replacing Stalhammar who replaced him after he replaced Lindberd, who replaced him the first time he left. It’s seeming more like a intolerably drawn out game of the hokey pokey than a band at this point, and confused isn’t the best mood to go into an album with. Honestly, I just can’t imagine how awkward it must be to be a roadie for these guys, or whether the band themselves wear those stupid little “Hello, my name is _____” nametags.

Of course, this is all immaterial. What actually matters is whether the guy can sing. Continue reading

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film review: HERCULES [Le fatiche di Ercole] (1958)

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Hercules (1958)

Hercules (1958)

HERCULES
Released: 20 February 1958
Directed By: Pietro Francisci
Starring: Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Fabrizio Mioni
Website: IMDB
Score: 5/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

It is difficult to argue the grand scope of the 1958 film Hercules. First, it was a large production, drawing on various myths of Hercules and unrelated Greek Mythology, featuring the oiled physique of bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Secondly, Hercules was the refinement, if not the genesis of the Peplum film genre, which saw an absurd amount of Italian sword and sandal films produced between the 50’s and 60’s. Seriously. Looking at the list of costumed biblical, Greek, Roman, Viking, and swashbuckler drama that was produced before the rise of Spaghetti western is near insane. The almost 100 films that were made in the short time period between 1957 and 1968 really began with a strong guy, without a shirt, picking up a tree to save a princess. Continue reading

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game review: GAME OF THRONES

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Game of Thrones: A telltale Games Series

Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series

GAME OF THRONES
Developer: Telltale Games
Released: December 2nd 2014
Website: Official
Score: 6/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

First of all, I should make clear that this is a game for fans. There’s almost no effort made to introduce the world and its characters, and the main selling point is the opportunity to interact with several characters from the show (as voice acted by the shows actors, to a consistently high standard). If you’re not a fan of Game of Thrones, and specifically the TV show, this unapologetically isn’t for you. If you do like the show, though, read on. It’s pretty great.

(The game is, I mean. The review, as always, is little more than the prattling of a living warning against the rum and pizza diet) Continue reading

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review: SYLOSIS – Dormant Heart

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Sylosis - Dormant heart (2015)

Sylosis – Dormant heart (2015)

SYLOSIS
Album: Dormant Heart
Released: January 12th 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

There’s surprisingly few bands brave enough to release an album this soon into the year, presumably because dick-head reviewers (like myself) might use this as an excuse to name an otherwise mediocre effort “the worse I’ve heard all year” without making mention that it was also the best. But should a pompous ass (also like myself) decide to mar you “the worst” it might rear up to bite me in the ass six months down the line.

Sylosis was brave enough. They’ve got reason to be confident. As an England-based heavy metal outfit celebrating their fifteenth year and fourth album, “Dormant Heart” is their newest and quite possibly angriest entry into heavy rock. It’s also quite possibly their best. Continue reading

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review : BATTLEROAR – Blood of Legends (2014)

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Battleroar - Blood of Legends (2014)

Battleroar – Blood of Legends (2014)

BATTLEROAR
Album: Blood of Legends
Released: May 6th, 2014
Label: Cruz Del Sur Music
Website: Facebook
Score: 5/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

As 2014 closes, I have yet another release from late spring…of last year. Damn it. As hard as I may try, I will never hear everything from a given year during that same year. Battleroar is from Greece and fills out their sound with six capable members. Seriously. If you have a full time violinist in your band, there is no time to waste dancing around the issue. Battleroar is here to drag its audience to the lonely altar of 80’s power metal with a massive calvary. Continue reading

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game review: DUNGEON OF THE ENDLESS

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Dungeon of the Endless

Dungeon of the Endless

DUNGEON OF THE ENDLESS
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Released: October 27th 2014
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Going through the year, there’s always going to be mistakes. Titles missed, opportunities lost, paths not chosen. It’s a sad reality that you can never do everything right (except in Dragon Age, where you can get a perfect play-though with only minor internet cheating). So I’m taking the time this week to look back to something I missed, the endless dungeon crawler “Dungeon of the Endless”. Continue reading

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review : BATTLE BEAST – Unholy Savior (2015)

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Battle Beast - Unholy Savior (2015)

Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (2015)

BATTLE BEAST
Album: Unholy Savior
Released: January 9th, 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast
Website: Facebook
Score: 6/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Battle Beast is a band from Finland that has won a couple of Wacken Open Air contests in the past. This fact seems to follow the power metal band wherever they go, and it is hard to fault them for it. The contest draws together winners from each participating country, after an initial battle (what is a battle?), for a 20 minute performance during a side event at Wacken Open Air, which is judged by three “industry” insiders. The bands are responsible for their own travel and have to fight against other winners like some futuristic death match. Battle Beast won the 2010 contest, which may have been responsible for another victory in a local radio competition shortly after. In 2013, the band signed with Nuclear Blast and has been enjoying the spoils of a major(ish) label ever since. The backstory of Battle Beast is an honest to goodness tale of hard work and perseverance to climb to the top. If there was any sort of role model other power metal bands could look to, it would be Battle Beast. Let us just hope their new album is living up to their history and lore. Continue reading

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review: NORTHLAND – Downfall and Rebirth

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Northland - Downfall and Rebirth (2014)

Northland – Downfall and Rebirth (2014)

NORTHLAND
Album: Downfall and rebirth
Released: January 1st 2015
Label: none
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Northland were the first band I wrote about on this site, and as such have a special place in my heart and my CD collection. That was a year ago now, and the album was three years old then, so you might have been forgiven for thinking they’d stopped recording new stuff. It’s not that they haven’t been busy, they’ve become something of a regular on the European festival circuit since then, but the lack of a second album could have been a bad sign. A band that runs low on new material after their first effort isn’t likely to take a high place among the annals of metal history. Continue reading

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comic review: CAMELOT 3000 (1982)

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Camelot 3000 (1982)

Camelot 3000 (1982)

CAMELOT 3000 (1982)
First Published: December 1982
Published By: DC Comics
Writers / Artists: Mike W. Barr
Score: 5/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I mean, why wouldn’t you read a comic called Camelot 3000? Just by the title, one already has the tone, style, and pretty much all of the plot beaming like a beacon before even stepping foot into the story. Projecting a past legend into the future comes with many expectations, none of which will be able to walk the line of seriousness for long. From the opening pages of Mike W. Barr’s miniseries, Camelot 3000 typifies a pulp adventure by traveling to the furthest reaches of familiarity and ridiculousness. I mean, why wouldn’t I review this type of story? It has knights in space.

Continue reading

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The Hollywood Metal Top 5 Games Of 2014

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5

It’s that time of year again. The rain gets colder, rum goes on sale in my local supermarket, and it suddenly becomes acceptable to be drunk in the middle of the day. The most magical time of the year (after Halloween, obviously). So before I set off to spend time with my family and celebrate the solstice by eating one of every animal, I thought I’d give you the gift of joy.

My joy. Here’s the 5 games I enjoyed most this year. Continue reading

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Top 10 Power Metal Records I Missed in 2014

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Frank Frazetta - Birdman (1972) -- This has nothing to do with the article.

Frank Frazetta – Birdman (1972) — This has nothing to do with the article.

Let us be honest here. I have not kept up with power metal as much as other genres in 2014. For whatever reason, be it time spent with black and death, or writing to many classic horror reviews, power, progressive, and some traditional metal went unnoticed until the end of the year. Instead of combing through other lists and writing sneaky retrospectives of albums I only listened to once or not at all, I thought it would be more honest if I acknowledged all the really cool things that were finally made clear in the late hours of December.

I have often discussed with others the role of power, progressive, and traditional metal in the realm of greater heavy metal. From certain angles, it seems that black, death, and doom have had the largest crossover successes and celebrated records on non-metal specific sites and lists. I have always felt power, progressive, and traditional are more insular genres, with their own triumphs celebrated by their fans. This may be the skewed perspective of an outsider, but end of the year lists are always teeming with great records that seemed to have escaped detection. Here we go… Continue reading

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review : MORS PRINCIPIUM EST – Dawn of the 5th Era

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Mors Principium Est - Dawn of the 5th Era (2014)

Dawn of the 5th Era (2014)

MORS PRINCIPIUM EST
Album: Dawn of the 5th Era
Released: December 5th 2014
Label: AFM Records
Website: Official
Score: 9/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Melodic death might well be one of my favourite genres, at least when it’s done right. For some bands that can be pretty difficult to do, apparently. Either there’s too much focus onto the grinding, grunting fierceness of death or the lofty complexity of melodic metal. It’s a damn shame considering that when the stars align and everything works out it’s hard to imagine a better combination of influences. Continue reading

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film review: THE HOBBIT – BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES

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Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

THE HOBBIT – THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES
Released: December 17th 2014
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Starring: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage
Website: IMDB
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I feel the Hobbit series has become more of a point of contention for me, specifically directed at the rest of the world who seems to be dismissive of the entire series. One of the largest arguments I have made for the past three years is that Peter Jackson’s followup to Lord of the Rings, while not to the same caliber as it, is a decent enough fantasy film series that not only fulfills its role as an adaptation but works its way into setting the tone and stage for Lord of the Rings. Before we begin, let us clear the air and say, yes, this film didn’t need to be three films, yes, there are characters that are needless, yes, the filmmakers were gambling on recreating the same epic tone as the first trilogy with way less material and, yes, there are swaths of the series that could have been taken out. Besides that, there is a fucking wizard that drops from a flying eagle and turns into a bear before fighting an orc army. I feel we are at least goddamn even now. Continue reading

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