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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game review: DRAGON AGE – Inquisition

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Dragon Age - Inquisition

Dragon Age – Inquisition

DRAGON AGE: Inquisition
Developer: Bioware
Released: November 18th 2014
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I originally wanted to start this review calling dragon age Inquisition a surprise hit, but I’d be a damn liar. I loved the first one and the writing of the second, but in retrospect I guess I should have been a little worried. Bioware don’t exactly have the best track record for knowing what to do with the third game in a series.

Or rather, they didn’t.
Continue reading

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film review: EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (2014)

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EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

EXODUS: Gods and Kings (2014)
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul
Website: IMDB
Score: 4/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Editors Note: That cant be the real fucking poster can it. No. that is a joke mock up for the real poster. Come on.

Exodus: Gods and Kings came out during a special year in which I had already spent a considerable amount of time reviewing newer sword and sandal films such as 300: Rise of an Empire, Pompeii, and both Hercules films. 2014 seemed to be a ripe time not only for a mild resurgence of overstuffed sand fantasy films but also possibly the return of the large budget and grand scope epic movie. Exodus follows on the heels of the less than praised Noah film, which also attempted to recreate biblical events into cinematic and commercial coin. Of course, both films should be measured on different scales, but both somehow manage to take source material already epic in scope and turn them into a long exercise in tedium. Continue reading

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Album review : Cruachan – Blood for the Blood God

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Cruachan - Blood for the Blood God

Cruachan – Blood for the Blood God

CRUACHAN
Album: Blood for the Blood God
Released: December 5th 2014
Label: Trollzorn Records
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

If you’re into Irish folk metal, you either know about Cruachan, or you’re wrong.

The sad thing is it’s not necessarily your fault. But before you keep reading I want you to know that we don’t think any less of you, but now’s the time for you to stop reading, call the person who “introduced” you to folk metal, and ask why they failed you.

Go on.

I’ll wait. Continue reading

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review: AXENSTAR – Where Dreams Are Forgotten

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Axenstar - Where Dreams are Forgotten (2014)

Axenstar – Where Dreams are Forgotten (2014)

AXENSTAR
Album: Where Dreams Are Forgotten
Released: November 28th 2014
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Axenstar are power metal from Sweden, which probably tells you enough to know how you’re going to feel about them. Aside from apparently being named after a secret constellation that’s only visible when it shines over the birthplaces of the descendants of Thor, they’re also one of the most pure power metal bands going today. Considering their Swedish heritage, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them was born under the axenstar themselves. Having first come to attention 12 years ago with “Perpetual Twilight”, they’ve gone under a lot of radars since then, mine included, and not deservedly so.

They make some pretty impressive albums. Continue reading

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album review: AMARANTHE – Massive Addictive

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Amaranthe - Massive Addictive (2014)

Amaranthe – Massive Addictive (2014)

AMARANTHE
Album: Massive Addictive
Released: October 21st, 2014
Label: Spinefarm Records
Website: Official
Score: 4/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I feel many people sort of miss the point of power metal or at least aren’t really clear on what power metal actually is. If one thinks power metal is all about cheesy anthems of wizards and dragons they would be right only some of the time. While bands like Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, and Halloween make up the genres most recognizable aspects, there are other styles. Aside from the heavy fantasy imagery, legions of power metal bands have existed to use the sound as a vehicle for more sober imagery. Sometimes this is a refreshing change of pace from expectations, other times it probably would be better if they just sung about crystal wizards. Continue reading

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film review: THE MUMMY (1959)

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The Mummy (1959)

The Mummy (1959)

THE MUMMY (1959)
Directed By: Terence Fisher
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux
Website: IMDB
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

I love when things come in series. This especially holds true for a series which sustains it’s quality throughout. Having an entity grouped together makes the whole much easier to process, compare, and contrast with other entities. Of course, history does not usually allow for such symmetry but when it does happen, it is marvelous. Take for example, the revitalization of the classic universal monsters with three films made from modest budgets in the span of three years. The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula, and The Mummy all saw Peter Cushing as the lead protagonist against a super evil played by Christopher Lee. These Hammer films would have multiple sequels, all with varying levels of quality, but for now it is safe to say these three films form a canonical series in classic horror. Continue reading

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review: PRIMORDIAL – Where Greater Men Have Fallen

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Primordial - Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014)

Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen (2014)

PRIMORDIAL
Album: Where Greater Men Have Fallen
Released: November 25th 2014
Label: Metal Blade Records
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Primordial is a stew, a thick and complex melding of disparate ingredients coming together to produce a result of unlikely purity and inarguable strangeness. As a result they’re somewhat difficult to describe. You could call them black metal, and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong to do so, but you’d be missing the point in a pretty big way. Aside from the typical subjects of black metal (evil, death, war, evil wars, dying at war, dying evilly at war, warring evilly with death) these guys are harnessing their Irish roots to produce a sound and a feeling distinct from the more common Norse paganism that influences traditional black metal. It’s a feeling they’ve become kind of famous for since the release of their first album in 1994. Pretty fucking alarmingly, it seems like they’ve been busy most of that time, this being their eighth album, and perhaps even more alarmingly, they’re yet to fuck up, their releases showing a pretty consistent increase of skill and focus. Continue reading

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game review: ZIGGURAT

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Ziggurat (2014)

Ziggurat (2014)

ZIGGURAT
Developer: Milkstone Studios
Released: October 23th 2014
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

When confronted with a game like Ziggurat, there’s always the same few questions that go through your mind. “What does this wand do?” “Where am I?” and, my personal favourite, “Is that a fucking carrot with a face?”

It is. It’s that kind of Ziggurat.

Armed with just a wand and whatever magic paraphernalia you can find, Ziggurat functions in a way that’s surprisingly similar to Battlemage, while managing through clever design and fast paced combat to be much more fun. At its heart it’s a shooter, much like Battlemage was, but if that was COD, polished but over serious, then this is Serious Sam.

And the first one, none of that “second encounter” bullshit. Continue reading

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album review: Skálmöld – Með Vættum

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Skálmöld - Með Vættum (2014)

Skálmöld – Með Vættum (2014)

Skálmöld
Album: Með Vættum
Released: November 24th 2014
Label: Napalm Records
Website: Official
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Ah, yes. Skálmöld’s “Með Vættum”. It’s pretty self-explanatory, to the point where I hardly feel a full review is necessary.

Still, just in case you don’t make it a point to be aware of the happenings of small Icelandic folk metal bands (though why that might be boggles my beard), these guys are one you should certainly pay attention to. Continue reading

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film review: HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)

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Horror of Dracula (1958)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

HORROR OF DRACULA
Directed By: Terence Fisher
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough
Website: IMDB
Score: 8/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Many things I mentioned in a previous review of The Curse of Frankenstein can be applied the (Horror of) Dracula. Both films were early installments in the Hammer era of horror films, directed by Terrence Fisher, starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and were vehicles which unearthed classic monsters in new vivid color. Additionally the Hammer film’s gothic style, modest budget, and limited set locations has lead to a distinguishable feel to these films. (Horror Of) Dracula was the second film to reanimate characters that had laid long buried. Though all of the Universal monsters have near equal legacy, Dracula has always been, or at least felt, like the largest flagship. Continue reading

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game review: LORDS OF THE FALLEN

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Lords of the Fallen (2014)

Lords of the Fallen (2014)

LORDS OF THE FALLEN
Developer: CI Games
Released: October 28th 2014
Website: Official
Score: 3/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

While Lords of the Fallen might look on the surface to be the most generically titled new IP to come out this year, but if you look a little deeper, you’ll find there’s actually a few questions to be answered.

Who are the lords? Why are they falling? Can the answer be anything other than demons? Have we honestly got no other fantasy bad guys other than orks or demons? Can a title so unimaginative have one solitary new idea?

Despite the risk of sounding like a buzzfeed wankfest, the answer might surprise you. Continue reading

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film review: THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957)

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Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)

Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN
Directed By: Terence Fisher
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hazel Court
Website: IMDB
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

When originally taking on the classic horror project, I thought I was going to review all classic horror in the months of September and October as a way to celebrate the Halloween season. It is now the beginning of November and I am not even half way through. Traveling from Dracula (1931) to House of Dracula (1948) saw a wonderful story of legendary creatures and villains who spiraled out of control into near self parody. The end of the 40’s ended with rally films mashing up popular characters into skeletal thin storylines. Though the horror industry would continue in the 50’s with new franchises, such as Creature From the Black Lagoon, the original lineup of villains would lay in retirement until the late 50’s with two events. Shock Theater was a television syndication program based in Ohio that unearthed the classic films of the 30’s and 40’s for a new audience. At around the same time, the British based production company Hammer Films released their first film in what would be the start of a new wave of classic horror. Continue reading

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album review: LORDI – Scare Force One

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LORDI - Scare Force One (2014)

LORDI – Scare Force One (2014)

LORDI
Album: Scare Force One
Released: October 31st 2014
Label: AMF Records
Website: Official
Score: 7/9 Hammers


Agree / Disagree?

Lordi’s victory over the usually toothless (and oddly Irish dominated) Eurovision song contest was unmistakeably a game changer for the band, if not metal itself. Before their surprising (though absolutely deserved) victory, the common image of a metaler was some dude in a battle jacket throwing the horns or, depending on the decade, Gene Simmons. I wasn’t too fond of the song (and still aren’t). It stuffers from the infamous lack of teeth than all Eurovision stuff tends to) but perhaps that’s what they needed to do to win. It certainly exposed them to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have heard of them.
Continue reading

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