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D. Buttar "elastibandit" (Oxford, UK)

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Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
by Samuel Beckett
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

8 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's not wearing any clothes..., 16 Sep 2007
Like the godawful works of Pinter that followed, Beckett's "Waiting For Godot" is a masterwork in the field of pretentious garbage. This play is neither funny nor entertaining; the ludicrous dialogue frustrates, the characters try their hardest to prove themselves wholly unreal, and, as that famous review quoted from the lines of the play itself, "nothing happens."
Yet today "Godot" is hailed as a masterpiece of modern drama owing to its apparently being a well of deep hidden meaning and symbolism. When one looks at a blank wall for long enough blotches and other irregularities gradually become noticeable to the eye; hell, some might even claim to see a face in said blotches. But let's be honest, it's just a blank wall. Similarly, "Godot" is a wholly unsatisfying waste of an hour and a half, saved by a horrifyingly large number of people's determination to see clothes on the Emperor when really there are none.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2009 3:31 PM BST

Death Cult Armageddon
Death Cult Armageddon
Offered by FLASH
Price: £8.23

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 1 Sep 2006
This review is from: Death Cult Armageddon (Audio CD)
Apperently, in order to be a true Black Metal band you have to conform to a number of guidelines. First and foremost, you have to have a very small budget; if you can afford to make your album look good with a colour booklet and skillfully executed photomanipulations, you're too commercial. Secondly, you have to record your album in a howling gale. If you can't do that, wait till you've finished the recording stage and put as much background noise into each track as possible so you can hardly hear the riffs. Thirdly, don't you dare try and make money out of your records; do that and you are just some commercial band in if for the cash. Obviously.

It's these points that "true Black Metal fans" seem to go through and tick off with each new album they buy. If any of these are skipped over in an album then they deem it not worth their time, which is why Death Cult Armageddon is so criminally overlooked by many who should be embracing it.

For this recording Dimmu finally spent the money on a 32-piece orchestra, and it shows. Where "true" Black Metal bands would use keyboards and synthesizers to try and capture the grandeur that should by all accounts be in their music, Dimmu do it properly and get slated for it. Progenies of the Great Apocalypse is perhaps the best example of this, in which Black Metal is flawlessly grafted onto what could easily be a film-score. Eradication Instincts Defined, with its strings and brass giving it perhaps an even more epic sound than the aforementioned Progenies, again takes your breath away, especially when the strings return near the end and Shagrath screams with an almost tangible hatred in time to the backing composition. The best tracks, though, are the amazing Vredesbyrd, in which you don't have to understand a word to feel the passion of the song, and Allehelgens Død I Helveds Rikke, with Hestnæs' soaring voice in the middle giving an overwhelming feeling of grandeur. It's also nice that they've put the only Anti-Christian song on the album in Norwegian, though as an atheist I'm not overly bothered anyway. I could mention every track here and name an attribute, they're all so good. Perhaps the only weak track on here is Lepers Among Us, which no matter how many times I hear it still fails to do anything for me. That said, it may be unfair to judge it so harshly, sandwiched as it is between two epic tracks.

The digipack itself is awesome, with excellent artwork inside the booklet and an admittedly pointless unfolding cover to finish it off. In all, if you're walking home late at night, there's nothing better to listen to to make you feel like you're unstoppable.

Apparently the digipack, the orchestra, the English lyrics in most songs and the high quality of the sound makes them commercial sellouts; it does make you wonder what the "true" Black Metal bands signed onto record labels for, if not to make money. Apperently it's something, because where this should be held high as a modern Black Metal masterpiece it's being criminally discarded. Listen to it over and over again; it will amaze you every time.

Reise, Reise
Reise, Reise
Price: £9.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gritty Industrial Masterpiece, 4 Jun 2006
This review is from: Reise, Reise (Audio CD)
Reise Reise is Rammstein's finest achievement to date; it combines both the heavier sides of Mutter and the melodic creativity that gave that and Sensucht their sound, while dropping the horrible over-used synth effects that brought the latter down. The lyrics, are, as always, delightfully dark, from an homage to the German killer who ate a volunteer (Mein Teil - "Denn, du bist, Was, du isst") to a modern version of the Erlkönig in Dalai Lama, fishing in the title track, a love song or two (Amour, Ohne Dich), a dig at the Americans in the anthem-esque Amerika to a song all about self-gratification in the form of Keine Lust.

The stoundouts on the album, though, are the darkly comic Morgenstern, about a hideous woman desiring beauty, and Moskau, a ballad about both a whore and the ancient Russian city.

The only weak point on the album is Los, an acoustic song that just fails for me. Otherwise, this is an awesome album that never fails to bring a grin to my face. The lyrics are typically dirty, the music is heavy and gritty, this is Rammstein through and through.

Price: £33.28

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where have SOAD gone???, 11 Jan 2006
This review is from: Hypnotize (Audio CD)
I'm sorry to be so sour, but this really isn't anything to get excited about. System's last decent release - and by decent i mean the majority of the tracks being good or better - was Steal This Album. Mezmerize/Hypnotize is just not SOAD; it seems that they have mellowed and sold out to the Greenday fans who feel "daring" enough to buy a "metal" album.
SOAD was a band all about mad, heavy riffs, ridiculous lyrics and catchy songs. Mez/Hyp is not that; "Cigaro" off Mezmerize and "Vicinity of Obscenity" off Hypnotize are the only songs that hark back to what SOAD really are.
The rest is a bland collection of songs that could have been written by any half-decent rock band, rather than one of the finest, weirdest quartets on the metal scene. It falls horribly short of what SOAD should be achieving and Darron Malakian's stronger vocal presence on these two albums gets heartily annoying - rather than use his rather whiney voice as a screamy/humorous accompaniment to Serj Tankian's lyrics, the songs overdose on his singing which quite frankly hurts the ears.
The DVD of Hypnotize is a waste of time, too. You get some crummy "session footage" - basically a montage of "arty" low quality clips with tracks from the albums overlayed. Ultimately, the coolest thing about the new SOAD image is the way the CD wallets for Mez/Hyp slot together. Such a shame.

Haggard [DVD] [1990]
Haggard [DVD] [1990]
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £5.95

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupid. Just stupid., 28 Mar 2005
This review is from: Haggard [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
Haggard was a big step forward for Bam and the CKY crew. It took the stupidity of CKY and Jackass, and gave it a plot backdrop. And, thankfully, it worked brilliantly.
The storyline is based on fact - Ryan Dunn's girlfriend leaves him for a metalcore poster boy named "Hellboy," played by Rake Yohn. Ryan then hires his friends - Bam playing his hero Ville Valo of HIM and Bran Dicamillo playing a mad scientist called Falcone - to sort the mess out for him.
For a bunch of jackasses the acting isn't half bad, and the humour is thick and fast - assuming you're not expecting anything at all sophisticated. I swear Bran is the funniest man alive, you can give him the dullest script on Earth and he will make it funny. In this he's no exception, and lends his talent to several of the people in the film alongside his main character. Raab Himself is also very very funny in this, playing Bran's doofus cousin.
The DVD has the added bonus of a "making-of" feature, though I wouldn't really say it has much to do with the film. It explores several randomly funny topics within the CKY crew, as well as a very moving look at Ryan's heroine-addicted friend.
In all, this DVD package is a must-buy, and will have you laughing no matter how many times you watch it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 26, 2013 6:20 PM BST

Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
Resident Evil 4 (GameCube)
Offered by Yellow Bulldog Ltd
Price: £19.99

2 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Huh?, 28 Mar 2005
Resident Evil was zombies. It was decaying corpses shuffling to attack you. It was horrible mutations leaping through the air to decapitate you as you fought with the deathtrap control system for supremacy over the player character. It was dastardly Umbrella villians throwing cheesey script at you before mutating into many-eyed globules of fat and being pumped full of shotgun rounds. That is, up till Resident Evil 4.
It's true, the controls are far more fluid now, although the distinct lack of strafing is unforgivable. The graphics are cinematic in quality, down to the smallest detail. And, apart from a few wise-cracks from Leon Kennedy, the script has been well-constructed.
Despite a few familiar faces from the past, though, this game is not Resident Evil. The enemies now are demented villagers yelling Spanish at you and threatening you with pitch forks, carving knives and the odd chainsaw. A few chapters in and I had deemed this a fresh start to a series in danger of drying out and dying.
However, this was far from the truth. The game has gone through MASSIVE changes, not least of them being you no longer need to collect ink ribbons in order to use typewriters - a refreshment, especially as you'll be saving far more in this game than previous Res Evil instalments.
But that's not all that's changed, unfortunately. Being in the middle of nowhere in "central Europe" - why are they speaking Spanish if they're in central Europe??? - you can't find weapons and such things lying around. Now you have to collect money and buy them off a dodgy cockney weapons merchant, something I found disgustingly arcade-like. Ammo and money are often found in crates, which you must smash open, reminding you of Zelda. And the more you play, the more you're reminded of the cute little RPG. You can find yellow herbs to increase maximum health, and shoot medallions - when you get enough of these you get a free gun.
Bosses are even more remeniscent of Zelda. Shoot till the weak spot opens up, then blast the weak spot till it closes again, repeat. Such arcade-like moments are insulting, quite frankly, as are certain monsters which have the ability to go invisible. This just isn't Resident Evil, what the hell have Capcom done???
Despite this, gameplay is fun. You can now freely target different areas of your enemies' bodies, with is really satifying - you can go straight for the head and revel in the bloody mess it causes. There are adrenaline packed moments where you feel the need to whip out your shotgun and blast hoards of villagers away before they embed axes in you, and the way the game keeps you alert even in cutscenes - mash several specific buttons to avoid falling boulders or flying knives - helps with the emersive experience. The scenery is also wonderful, with the aforementioned graphics allowing our eyes to feast on the rural village, caves and even a castle during the game's duration.
Now onto the story. Well, it starts off well, and the idea of homicidal villagers suggests good things to come. However, as it unfolds, you're left with a feeling of disappointment. The further you get, the more you realise this is certainly NOT Resident Evil. The story barely has any threads to tie in with previous instalments, and it tries to suggest other hidden plots with a character it just throws in at random - Leon seems to know him from somewhere. We do not. We just end up confused and feeling, well, left out. At the end, where apparently everything is revealed, it turns out very differently. I was left with a very strong feeling of disappointment, as I tried to find some way of justifying what I'd just learnt. Try though I might, I couldn't. I could only sit dumbly and go, "Huh?"
Resident Evil 4 kept me quiet for fifteen and a half hours, and for that I am certainly greatful. However having finished the main game - as always you unlock several minigames at the end - I couldn't help but feel let down. I can't stress it enough: this just didn't quite earn its name - it felt more like a poor spin-off rather than a sequel. What a shame.

The Crow : Special Edition [DVD] [1994]
The Crow : Special Edition [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ Brandon Lee
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £3.96

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent... hard to say anything more really., 20 Feb 2005
I bought this film on the grounds that it was supposed to be very gothic, and on that note I was not disappointed. Happily, I wasn't disappointed with anything else in the movie either.
"The Crow" is excellent, and I'm not just saying that out of respect to Brandon Lee, who sadly died in an on-set accident during filming. It's very dark, envisioning a hellish city where gangs come out to start fires every Halloween. Enter Eric Draven, a rockstar murdered along with his girlfriend by said gangs on said night. The next year, he returns from the dead to take vengance on his murderers. Now if you're like me, this premise for a film will have you very unsure whether it's worth seeing. Thankfully, "The Crow" is anything but the comic book movie it could easily have been. Brandon Lee really is excellent as Draven, and is - wonderfully - able to pull off great one-liners without sounding at all cheesey - "Do I smell gasoline?"
The film earns its eighteen certificate. Just. The violence, though frequent, is not gratuitous like in some films, and parts that can be left to the imagination actually *are* for once. In fact, it's more the implications the movie gives that earn its certificate rather than what's actually on-screen.
One thing I would have to say though is that the film is aimed at a somewhat limited audience. The gothic romance inherent in Draven's quest will certainly not appeal to all, and many may discard it as a teenager's movie. Despite this, "The Crow" manages to rise above other comic-book movies and shows a surprising level of emotion. This is definately one to see, whether you ultimately enjoy its dark romantics or not. Five stars, no question.

Thief: Deadly Shadows (PC)
Thief: Deadly Shadows (PC)
Offered by multimedia-online
Price: £16.29

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Them Bes An Excellent Additioning to them Thiefs Series!, 28 Dec 2004
Thief is back, and once again proves how under-rated the series is. It was a long time in the coming, and with the extremely unfortunate demise of Looking Glass Studios, the project was taken up by Ion Storm, makers of the Deus Ex series. Fans of the Thief series were shocked to hear that the game was also being made for the X Box, and, indeed, it has suffered on this account.
Storyline aside for the moment, the graphics are, as you'd expect, a big step up from those of the first two games. However, because the game was also beign made for a console, there was an element of "dumbing down" involved, and the vast levels inherent in Thief 2 were replaced with much smaller ones, which admittedly has its advantages. For a start, the levels are far more detailed than those of the second game, and there aren't nearly as many areas where you get the feeling of emptiness.
But even with the levels sized down a bit, the crappy X Box still couldn't cope, and each level has suffered segmentation - you enter different areas of the level through misty doorways, each with their own 10-15 second load screen. This does slightly dampen the level of immersion, though in most levels the designers have been hard at work to ensure this is not the case, and this does help quite a bit.
The audio aspect of the game is excellent, with snippets of sound coming in when needed and echos, voices and ambience top quality. Guards and civilians will chatter to each other and themselves, and the familiar clever guard/stupid guard conversations making a return appearance with all the hilarity they had in the first two games.
Gameplay, despite the segmentation of everything, isn't bad at all, with various environments to explore, including but not limited to Hammerite cathedrals (THEY'RE BACK! YAY!}, dungeons and even the City Museum.
Another new feature of Thief 3 is the City wandering system. In between each mission the game takes somewhat of a GTA approach, allowing you to wander the streets of the City and mug civilians, or break in and steal from shops, taverns and residences.
It is also during these intermissions that you can sell your loot, as it is no longer automatically turned into cash for your next mission. This may sound like a good idea, but for me at least it missed the point. I actually found myself making only 2 pit stops to by arrows and whatnot in the ENTIRE game, whereas in the first 2 you had to buy everything you'd need for each mission. Indeed, at the end of the last level I still had masses of loot, which is a shame because it leaves me feeling they didn't balance it quite enough.
Other changes include the removal of scouting orbs and rope/vine arrows from your inventory. Scouting orbs I can live with out, but I was sorry to see rope arrows go. They were of great use in the first 2.
In compensation, though, you do get wall-climbing gloves, though these only allow you to climb brick or stone surfaces and don't allow for nearly as much random fun as the rope arrows did.
On to area design, and without exception this is very well done. Every level has its own distinctive feel, and each has its own features to set it apart. For me the best level in the game, perhaps in any game in fact, is Shalebridge Cradle. There is too much to say about it here; believe me, it's just excellent.
Other aspects of the game: with the exception of the above, a lot of the fear inherent not so much in Thief 2 but very much in Thief 1 is removed, as the improved graphics seem to take away the scariness that the zombies of the original held. They are no longer quite as menacing, or indeed half as many.
Again I must point out something all the other reviewers have already mentioned: the loot glint and the arrow trails.
These are an insult to the first two games in my opinion. Arrow trails - the arrows leave a small trail through the air when you fire them - only serve to remind me of Zelda, which makes me think of cartoons, which angers me when I'm playing such an atmospheric, dark game as Thief. Yes it sounds stupid but you'll understand when you play it.
Loot glint, reminiscent of that found in Resident Evil, is in MOST instances highly annoying. It's like someone screaming at you, LOOK! THERE'S SOMETHING VALUABLE OVER HERE! In the first two, part of the fun was discerning gems and gold in the dark and hunting it out, but now it's been made overly obvious.
On now to perhaps the most important aspect of the game: The storyline. Well, the first game looked at the mythology inherent in the City, and the second one looked more closely at the Hammerites. Well Thief 3 now looks at the Keepers, who have been responsible for so much in the previous two games. The storyline unfolds very well, again lending from both of the previous two games to form a very convincing plot, which seems to take the more menacing approach of the first game than the straightforward one of the second. Indeed, the cutscenes are more in the style of those in the Dark Project, and the ending is as satisfying as the original's as well; a vast improvement from the pitifully short one of the Metal Age.
To sum up my rambling, then, Thief 3 is an excellent addition to the series, and, though consolised in places, is on the whole an improvement from the somewhat weak second game, and a great enjoyment.

Sony DCR-HC40ES Digital Camcorder
Sony DCR-HC40ES Digital Camcorder

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but slightly flawed, 1 Nov 2004
I've had this camcorder for about 3 months now. The picture quality, though only on mega pixel, is good enough for filming random things like skate footage and everyday stuff. It has all the features you'd expect of a digital camcorder, and these are easily accessible from the main menu on the touchscreen.
However, here is my niggle. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned this before, but the touchscreen more often than not doesn't respond to... well, your touch. It's annoying, especially when it's the only way to access a lot of the features. This is the main reason for it losing the fifth star.
Some people complain that the microphone is in a stupid place, and while I agree with them - it's right under your hand when you're holding it - it still picks up sound as well as you;d expect, so this isn't really a problem.
Overall, this is a brilliant camcorder for whipping out and quick use, but the touchscreen is an irritation as it rarely works perfectly. The fact that nobody else has mentioned it suggests that it's a fault in mine, but I'll warn you about it anyway.

American McGee's Alice
American McGee's Alice

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Beautiful... and Flawed., 22 Oct 2004
First off, the reason I bought this game: I love dark and twisted art, and seeing the picture of Alice drinking tea with a gruesomly twisted Mad Hatter, holding a knife under the table, I thought this was, if you'll pardon the pun, my cup of tea.
The game starts of exactly like this - twisted, very dark and very different from any take on Wonderland that came before it. Alice herself is a fine looking teenage girl in gothic knee-high boots and a blood splattered dress, and the Cheshire Cat is just brilliant. The enemies are imaginative and, unlike many games today, are very satisfying to kill.
However, the first nag is also found right at the beginning. Though there has to be some sort of training level, the number of cutscenes in the first quarter of the game can get extremely frustrating, and there doesn't seem to be much actual gameplay. When you do actually play, though, it is great fun. The gameplay is average platform/hack and slash, but the twisted, weird and wonderful scenery amplifies your enjoyance of the game a lot.
But the second half is different. Here we see a lot of very basic, very linear maps, and it's like their imagination just left them for the second half of the game. The bosses are still amazing though, so much so you may not want to delete the saves that occur before each boss battle - they're just so well modelled. Anyway, the actual gameplay is below average in the second half, and even the hedge maze near the end is linear. The weird and wonderful is replaced with the frankly boring, until an amzing finale, with a great - if a little easy - end boss and downright amazing music.
The music then - written by Chris Vrenna, it is simply amazing. There isn't one part of the soundtrack where you think 'this is patchy' - it is all excellent.
Overall, the game is a nice distraction for a while, and the sheer imagination shown in the bosses (and the maps in the first half) makes it well worth a look.

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