Monday, January 28, 2013

Card Tricks and Me

I may or may not have mentioned on here that I like to play with cards. Sometimes I do magic tricks. This is one of them.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

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I just had the rather disturbing realization that when I hear "I Am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel, it feels way too relevant. Admittedly, I may just be in a weird state of mind (I imagine we all feel that way sometimes), and it probably doesn't help that I am sitting alone in my room looking down at the snowy street as I listen to it. Still, it kind of hit me all at once and I just felt like sharing.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy just released the opening track from their upcoming album. Lead by the brilliant and prolific Peter TÃĪgtgren, this band has carved out a fairly unique niche in the world of Swedish death metal, while releasing a long string of very good albums (the lone notable misfire being the original version of Catch-22, which they proceeded to remedy with an improved version six years later).

Anyway, the point is that new Hypocrisy is always worth looking forward to, and come March that's what we'll get. In the mean time, here's the title track, "End of Disclosure".

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Reviews Coming Soon

The start of my final semester at school has been a bit hectic, so I haven't spent much time looking at new music recently. I have received some new submissions recently, though, and I intend to review them some time next week.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Zoo

Today we did birthday stuff for my little sister. It's not her birthday for a few more days, but myself and one of my brothers will be back in our respective towns taking college classes by then, so we did it today. We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo, which was cool in some ways and depressing in others, as many zoos are I think. Then we got home, and my brother and I spent 2 hours arguing over what would win in a fight between a polar bear and a silverback gorilla. Anybody care to chime in on that particular contest? (Neutral terrain, no place to escape to, both animals realize they have to fight.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Actuator Deck(s)

You may or may not know this about me, but I have long taken an interest in card magic. In the past four months or so I've decided to really work on improving my meager skills in this area, so I've begun practicing a few hours a day. I've also begun to accumulate more decks of cards, some of which are highly customized.

Just today, my newest such purchases arrived: the black and white Actuator decks. These are really cool steampunk-themed decks that were each released in a limited printing of 2500, as was the full color version of the same design. So far I've only cracked open the white deck.

The backs have an interesting design with gears and little gadgets, but to me the highlight is the original artwork used on the face cards. They've got goggles and compasses and elaborate looking pistols... it's really a cool look. The font for the letters and numbers looks good and suits all the cards, and the pips are organized in a unique way on several of the number cards. The ace of spades also looks pretty cool, though it's not overly ornate. The joker has a little mechanical gnome carrying a giant gear on his back, and I like it pretty well too.

I haven't played with them enough yet to comment much on the handling, though they feel pretty good so far. Overall I'm really happy with them. I don't have a way of putting decent photos on my computer right now, but here are some pictures I found online that give a decent idea how the decks look.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Aetherium Mors - Drenched in Victorious Blood

Aetherium Mors are a an aggressively anti-religious blackened death metal band, more black than death, from the UK. They recently recorded their debut album, of which I received a promo copy.

This is good, mean, ugly music. The riffs are crunchy and they have a lot of bite. All of the instrumentation is well handled and solidly performed. The tight, fast drumming is particularly good. Honestly, though, there are no real weak spots to be found. The vocals are nasty and suitably aggressive, relatively good for stuff on the meatier end of the black metal spectrum.

I can't help feeling like there's more to this music than I've gleaned thus far. There's something that just feels like I'm not fully connecting to the record. I mean, I like it and it sounds good, but this is one of those albums I can't seem to fully process for some reason. It feels to me like a possible grower, so I'm probably going to come back to it several times to see how it strikes me as time passes.

Anyway, I'd certainly recommend giving this a whirl. I already like it pretty well, and I think I'll grow to like it more. Since this is a debut, I'm doubly interested in the future because I think these guys could go on to produce some really good stuff.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the future everybody, it's now the year 2013.

In the next few days I'm going to start in with album reviews again, but I've decided to try something different with them. For the month of January, I will not include a final grade in any of my reviews. I feel my grading has at time been inconsistent, and I've often been retrospectively unhappy with them. So I'm going to leave them out this month and see how I feel about that approach. If it works better, I may just stick with that. Any thoughts or opinions are appreciated, but ultimately I'll make the final decision myself.

Anyway, I've already got my first album to review picked out, and I'll get that up by the end of this week. I hope you all have a good 2013, and I hope this year is as strong for metal as 2012 was.