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C. P. Horne (Scotland)
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Shieldwall
Shieldwall
by Justin Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 18 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Shieldwall (Paperback)
I read a lot of fiction set in this era and this was one of the most disappointing titles I've experienced. I don't quite understand the glowing reviews as I found the whole thing very pedestrian. The story lacks pace, the prose is bland and simplistic, and there's an awful lot of 'telling' rather than 'showing'.


Rave Digger
Rave Digger
Price: £8.02

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Energetic, creative and with a warm look back at rave., 22 Feb 2011
This review is from: Rave Digger (Audio CD)
I arrived at this album through hearing the brilliant Tonight. A good drum n bass track, I thought, but with an unmistakable hardcore vibe about it, which I loved. Happily, as you might expect from an album called Rave Digger, this feel continues throughout. Though he'd be classed a dnb artist, Danny Byrd clearly has much love for several other dance genres, including the kind of breakbeat/happy hardcore sound I grew up with. Hot Fuzz reminded me of Brisk's remix of DJ Chewy's Rock This Place. It has the same kind of anarchic energy all-too rare in dance music right now. Byrd's remix of Liquid's Sweet Harmony is another that made me smile. Hearing one of the most iconic piano riffs of the early 90s accompanied by fast, driving beat and rubbery bass is just a joy. Planet Earth meanwhile, is clearly an affectionate tribute to The Prodigy's Out Of Space. Other highlights include the hip hop-infused swagger of Judgement Day and the truly epic Failsafe.


Raven 2: Sons of Thunder
Raven 2: Sons of Thunder
by Giles Kristian
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thunderous sequel, 13 Mar 2010
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Wow! I devoured this novel in just three nights and can thoroughly recommend it. It's just as good as the first book, and the third can't come soon enough. If you thought Giles got his Wolfpack into some pretty hairy situations in Blood Eye, be prepared to gnaw your fingernails off in this one. They only go and upset the most powerful man in Christendom! But marvel at they way they escape said situations, revel in the apt mythological references and metaphors woven into their words, and titter at some of the most inventive swearing outside of Peter Capaldi's!


The Resistance
The Resistance
Price: £5.87

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Muse, 14 Sep 2009
This review is from: The Resistance (Audio CD)
I've followed Muse since Muscle Museum and to me this is a brilliant coming together of all they've done so far, yet something still able to surprise. Black Holes and Revelations alienated me. Somehow it just lacked the classic Muse sound. To me this completely embodies that sound and celebrates highlights from past albums that have helped shaped it.

Take the Micro Cuts-esque falsetto in the soaring, string-laden Overture, the undeniably Showbiz style swagger of I Belong To You and, sticking with that song, the drifting off on a delightfully melodic tangent towards the finale, as heard in Absolution's Butterflies and Hurricanes.

In terms of surprises I felt the biggest was the New Wave sound of Undisclosed Desires, albeit with its nod to the Supermassive Black Hole drum pattern (another reference!). An odd one this but a definite grower. The tap of the head to System of a Down on the bridge in Unnatural Selection is a nice touch. The full-on classicality of Collateral Damage surprised me initially but I don't suppose it should considering Bellamy's love of Rachmaninoff. This is a beautifully mellow calm before the storm.

Uprising is my favourite song, the marvellous synth redolent of the Dr Who theme perhaps a tribute to Bellamy's love of space and its oddities. MK Ultra, though it sounds like a male shaving product, is the album's Plug In Baby. I have a feeling that when I go to see the band on their tour this is the song that's going to provoke the most lunacy in the crowd! The Exogenesis trilogy is simply epic, each song fully deserving the word `symphony' in its title.

I know the qualities that make me love this album could be the same ones others could use to criticise it. If this is the classic Muse sound have they stopped striving to innovate? If the songs remind me of others do they lack originality?

I would say no to these questions. Proudly wearing the sound that has defined you is no bad thing, and from the unfettered imagination of the Exogenesis three to the middle-eastern melody of United States of Eurasia to the sweet nothings in French on I Belong To You there is plenty of innovation and originality on offer.


Raven: Blood Eye
Raven: Blood Eye
by Giles Kristian
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood-eye brilliant!, 19 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Raven: Blood Eye (Hardcover)
An astonishing debut from a writer who is definitely one to watch. Kristian has created the perfect Vikings in a tension-wrought saga that never sags.

Some novels featuring Norsemen I've read of late have made them so violent and boorish that they are rendered repellant. Other writers are in danger of following current theories among certain historians that cast Vikings as caring, sharing types. Giles Kristian gets the balance just right. Make no mistake, these are violent, boorish Vikings, but a mixture of banter, comic relief and the charisma of their leader, Sigurd, evens things out. The duplicity of the English they encounter also makes you sympathise with them.

As for Osric, he has a fantastic character arc that is completely believable and hints at greatness in the follow-ups to come. The promise Sigurd sees in him and the friendship forged between the two in the face of great horror and the resentment of the other Vikings makes for great reading.


The Picts and the Scots at War
The Picts and the Scots at War
by N. B. Aitchison
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on the Picts in existence, 6 Jan 2009
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This is the best, most comprehensive and most readable book there is on those fine folk the Picts. What's great about is it cuts to what everyone's interested in, if they're honest: warfare. There's no fishing about in 1500-year-old turds trying to establish what they ate, how their church was organised or the kinds of music they played. Instead, using as a primary source the numerous Pictish stones dotted all over Scotland, the book builds up a vivid picture of how the Picts fought, why they fought, what weapons they used and other aspects of war. What emerges is a brilliant evocation of a people who needn't be viewed as a mysterious lost race but, in fact, a people we know much more about than their Gaelic rivals of the time, the Dal Riatan Scots.


Hrolf Kraki's Saga
Hrolf Kraki's Saga
by Paul Anderson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 6 Jan 2009
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This book is magnificent. Perhaps it's his Scandinavian ancestry, I don't know, but Poul Anderson captures the magic, heroism, fatalism and generally dark feel of the old Norse sagas in a way which no-one else can. Let's be honest, the old sagas as laid down by medieval types like Snorri Sturluson and the like can be turgid as hell. They often read like genealogy lessons. What Anderson does is takes that formula, stays true to it in that you get a keen sense of lineage, but adds more imagery, depth, character, coherence and catharsis while retaining an earthy, olden times feel. The book is arranged in what is essentially a series of short stories involving the eponymous Hrolf himself or members of his extended family / warband. Hrolf's father Helgi emerged as my favourite character from the book, with some wonderful turns from the slimy King Adhils and Hrolf's half-elfin sister Skuld. If you love Vikings and stories involving them, as I do, or want to get a taste of their sagas in a more accessible way then this book is for you.


Isabliss [Us Import]
Isabliss [Us Import]
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £15.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising, 10 July 2008
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This review is from: Isabliss [Us Import] (Audio CD)
So after four breathtaking albums ōystein Ramfjord's work must surely fall victim to the law of diminishing returns at least a little, right? Wrong. Isabliss is a warm, rich and satisfying consolidation of the man's previous work mixed with the experimentation that was evident in Evermind. Yet unlike Evermind, the album manages to be a more consistent, coherent work. This is a man aware of formula yet never formulaic; a man comfortable with the sound that has come to define him yet never afraid to add new and exciting elements to that definition.

Strangely it also feels like possibly his catchiest album to date. It has hooks that will get right under your skin and remain there.

It is also an album entirely bereft of weak moments. Every song is a sumptuously-layered, lovingly-crafted work of beauty.

La Pluie and Treasure are the obvious stand-out tracks. These are songs more than deserving of being classed alongside the likes of Autumn Interlude. Ethereal, uplifting female vocals combined with a driving beat, lush synths and other features that evoke the same kind of wonderment you'd get gazing at the Northern Lights in ōystein's native Norway. The man's Scandinavian homeland is evoked elsewhere, with the sound of snow being compacted underfoot on Frosty Morning Bliss; a twinkling gem of a tune which builds into a magnificent crescendo. And of course ever-present is that feeling of melancholic beauty so much a hallmark of old Norse fairy tales and this man's work.

In short, fans of Amethystium need not worry. This album is ōystein Ramfjord at his very best. Better than Evermind, better than Aphelion, perhaps even better than Odonata. It is simply sublime.


Join With Us
Join With Us
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.72

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun-time Feeling, 27 Feb 2008
This review is from: Join With Us (Audio CD)
If asked to describe this album in one word I would say "fun".

One thing clearer than anything is that the band had tremendous fun throwing all kinds all kinds of musical styles and influences into this delightful little mix.

It's done in such a merry and uninhibited way that you can't help but smile.

Take the Celtic-infused Connor, Turn It Up's Status Quo-esque instrumental section, the 50s rock'n'roll swagger of Don't Make Me Sad with its ragtime outro and the song that will draw the strongest ELO comparisons yet: Join With Us.

It was never going to be as good as Twelve Stops And Home. Not as far as I was concerned anyway. Nevertheless, on first listen it sounds pretty darn good and improves with each listen.

Their ability to make incredibly infectious songs you'll be humming all day is intact. The melodies are strong and satisfying. The lyrics could be better and Dan's voice is sometimes lacking emotion.

Don't go looking for the melancholic beauty of Rose or Strange on here. You'll find it to an extent in This Time but it is otherwise absent.

On the plus side if you prefer The Feeling at their foot-tapping best you're spoilt for choice.

Overall, here is a band who have stuck two fingers up to the difficult second album stigma and delved child-like into their musical toybox, resulting in a lively, eclectic but most importantly fun album.


The Mighty Boosh : Complete BBC Series 3 [2007] [DVD]
The Mighty Boosh : Complete BBC Series 3 [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Noel Fielding
Price: £4.99

22 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frighteningly unfunny, 2 Feb 2008
Being the most avid of Boosh fans I really did try to like this but the truth is it's frighteningly unfunny. I've watched all the episodes now, albeit out of sequence, and never have I laughed so little nor felt so comprehensively let down.

Series 3 fails for a number of reasons.

1. Fielding and Barratt are too big now, too aware of their success. Darlings of NME and filling venues to capacity wherever they play, it's all went to their head and they've become too self-aware and egotistical.

2. They've run out of ideas. Through their opposing identities - Vince as the shallow, childlike musical chameleon and fashion devotee and Howard as the awkward, repressed and pretentious Jazz buff - they try to squeeze as much comedy as they can but fail miserably. You find yourself asking, where are the side-splittingly infectious songs? Where are the journeys to fantastical places / the delightfully bizarre characters? Where are the laughs?

3. Many Boosh characters have struck a fine balance between being frightening and funny (e.g. Old Gregg) but Crack Fox is downright terrifying. I watched this episode, supposedly the highlight of the series, without a flicker of amusement. A character with dirty hypodermic needles as fingers? Hilarious, given the backdrop of Britain's drug culture.

4. Vince's shtick is really starting to grate.

5. The Moon: pointless, astonishingly unfunny and has you reaching for the mute button on your remote.

6. Naboo's fellow shamen, particularly Tony "This is an outrage" Harrison (an anti-Fielding theme developing here). In each episode I found myself absolutely dreading the moment when Naboo would invariably find himself facing the shamen over some violation of shaman law caused by Vince and Howard. I knew what would follow would be some of the most excruciatingly irritating television in existence.

Mighty Boosh series 1 and 2 has given us some of the most creative, surreal, brilliant, funny and memorable comedy in decades. Series 3 sadly bucks the trend and I await series 4 with real concern.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2008 7:23 PM BST


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