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C. Nicholls "wilberforce24"
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Dopethrone
Dopethrone
Price: £9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legalise Drugs and Murder!, 5 Aug. 2012
This review is from: Dopethrone (Audio CD)
Aside from containing what is surely one of the coolest album covers ever, and featuring some brilliant sleeve notes, this album is phenomenol to listen to as well. It may not be the most ambitious metal album, or the most elaborate, but as far as doom metal goes this is surely the pinnacle. The atmosphere is even more suffocating and intense than its predecessor, 'Come My Fanatics', and the overall experience of listening to it is almost hypnotic.

It is very distorted and heavy, as one would expect, but also conveys some classic licks and riffs, like the bluesy intro to 'Funeralopolis', or 'The Hills Have Eyes' for instance. Having held off reviewing this for the past couple of years I can now say it is truly definitive; tracks such as 'Weird Tales' and 'I, The Witchfinder' were difficult to listen to at first, but the latter in particular is now one of my favourite tracks ever. Whilst I loved 'Wizard In Black' and 'Return Trip' on their previous LP, I have to say that Dopethrone is a more impressive and consistent release without a doubt. The sound is also better; it is perhaps slightly less psychadelic, but overall is much improved (the bass and drums are more audible). Whilst I liked the fact that Jus Oborn seemed to be drowning in a wall of sound on 'Come My Fanatics' his vocals are mixed well on this album; he sounds more volatile in most places, which suits the material undoubtedly.

Now that this album has truly grown on me it is very difficult to pick highlights. 'Barbarian' is probably the weakest track in my opinion, but I don't think I have ever skipped a track when listening to this CD. The lyrics are suitably dark and the music really embodies the subject matter of the occult, horror movies, the apocalypse and, of course, drugs. I won't claim to be an expert on doom metal, I own relatively few releases by bands other than Electric Wizard and Kyuss (I really must pick up something by Sleep!) but this album is one of my absolute favourites of any genre. Listening to it is a smothering experience, but an experience I enjoy every time. A classic release by a great band.


We Live
We Live
Price: £9.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Perfect Release?, 30 July 2012
This review is from: We Live (Audio CD)
This has really grown on me since I got it a few months ago. I loved Eko Eko Azarak and Saturn's Children before I bought it, but have grown to appreciate every track on this (although the bonus track is not as good as the rest, and sounds out of place if I'm honest!) Compared to Dopethrone, Come My Fanatics, and Witchcult Today (their other albums that I own) I would place We Live almost alongside Dopethrone in terms of its class. I now prefer it to the other two; Come My Fanatics has some class songs that I love, but is probably not as consistent as We Live, and, aside from a few tracks on Witchcult Today I really don't rate that album too highly.

Stylistically this album is a bit of a departure from the wall of noise of previous albums. Having not heard Let Us Prey I can't comment regarding the change between these two LPs, but We Live is certainly cleaner and less psychadelic than Dopethrone or Come My Fanatics. However, I really like the guitar tone on this; it is a bit cleaner but is still thick and rich enough for my tastes! Some have compared this to their first album. I would not go that far, but it is more of a traditional take on doom metal.

Every track on this has something to offer (thankfully, as there are only 6 of them). In particular I'm loving Eko Eko Azarak, the title track, The Sun Has Turned To Black and the massive closer, Saturn's Children, but they are all very good, I haven't skipped one yet and I must have listened to this at least twenty times. The same could not be said of Witchcult Today in my opinion, nor of Come My Fanatics - where I listened to the first three tracks almost religiously, but not much beyond that.

Overall this is a great album, that may not seize you right away, but does grow into a very powerful release. The vocals and lyrics are sufficiently occult to hold interest, and Oborn sounds less enraged but no less powerful. If you like doom metal or Electric Wizard you should thoroughly enjoy this!


An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign Against the Peoples of Acadia (Early American Studies)
An Unsettled Conquest: The British Campaign Against the Peoples of Acadia (Early American Studies)
by Geoffrey Gilbert Plank
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My Introduction to Acadia, 19 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This academic text was an eminently readable account of the eighteenth century transitions Acadia experienced, from the British designs to capture the territory from the French who had earlier removed the Mi'kmaq, to the eventual Acadian removal in the 1750s. Knowing very little about the history of Nova Scotia (the former French colony of Acadia) I found this book to be well written, enlightening and well researched. The way references have been made makes it easy to see where Plank got his information, and I prefer this method to what I have found quite commonly in the confusing mass-referencing at the end of paragraphs that other authors sometimes use.

The maps and images are particularly useful for understanding the region, and I found myself in constant reference to the maps in particular to really visualise the landscape of the early eighteenth century. This books does not focus exclusively on European colonists, as it discusses the native American nations that occupied the area with the French and British, and details their experiences with the Euopeans as well as conflicts and contact between the two European powers around the Bay of Fundy and on the peninsula.

Overall this is an important book on the subject, that was interesting and detailed, without being too dry. It gives examples of the lives of many different people, from Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis, founder of Halifax, Scottish Whig Samuel Vetch, who had such grand designs for the Scottish habitation of Nova Scotia, to lesser known figures such as James Mews and the two Jean-Baptiste Jedre's, who were executed for piratical attacks on Massachussetts fishing ships. Plank uses trials and tribulations of everyday people where possible, to flesh out the procedures of those in power, and in the instance of the Mews' and Jedre's trial he indicates the difficulty the British had distinguishing the Mi'kmaq and Acadians from one another. For a very worthy introduction to the subject read Geoffrey Plank's 'An Unsettled Conquest'.


Triumph and Beyond
Triumph and Beyond

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Second Album, 19 April 2012
This review is from: Triumph and Beyond (MP3 Download)
After seeing Claim The Throne in support of Alestorm on their recent UK tour I was impressed enough by these guys to buy their latest album, and it doesn't disappoint. For those who like folk metal it really doesn't get much better than this album, which has really held up to repeated playings for me; I've listened to the entire album every time, such is the consistency of the tracks.

This band describe themselves as being a mixture of Melodic Death Metal and Folk Metal, though I have to say I found this album to be more of the latter. There are heavy passasges, but also quiter ones, and three ballads (if you include the acoustic version of Set Sail On Ale that comes as a bonus track). However, there is plenty of metal for you to get your teeth into!

The one-two punch of 'They Shall Live On' and 'Through The Rage Of The Storm' that kick starts the album is incredibly strong, and is without a shadow of a doubt one of the highlights of the album. Both tracks have some impressive riffing, and also some interesting folk-tinged quiter moments. 'The Thousand Thunders' seems like a continuation of 'Mystical Hermit Of The Woods', the track that proceeds it, and essentially ups the ante from quiet and folky to a heavier song. The title track is another great song, and it is followed by 'The Lake', the best ballad on here in my opinion, and one of my favourites off the whole album. 'Rat Infested Hut' is another storming track, and is followed by the incredibly short, but memorable and catchy 'Two Pints Of Honey And A Barrel Full Of Beer'. 'The Sermon' is a quiet instrumental passage that would be a downer if it actually ended the album, which it would do if not for the bonus tracks, but luckily we have the lengthy 'Words Of The Great Oak' to follow it, a track that has been re-recorded from Claim The Throne's 2008 debut 'Only The Brave Return'.

At nearly ten minutes this track is by far the longest on here, and it's one of the best, progressing from a fairly average keyboard and guitar based introduction through numerous different riffs, this song seems to get better and better as it progresses. We first hear the chorus at around 3:18, and I like the way the vocalist sings this with the drawn out guitar chords behind the vocals. From about 5:30 the song becomes just a bassline, then the keyboard and guitar with some folk vocals join in, before it kicks back into full-on metal at 6:55. From this point it chugs along to its conclusion with a few more transitions and riffs; the part beginning at around 8:35 is one of my favourites in this climactic sequence. After this 'Set Sail On Ale', probably the band's most famous song, finishes the album, and is decent enough, though in my opinion doesn't match that which has come before it.

Overall this is a great album, which was matched by the great energy the band had live, not to mention genuinely funny banter! The vocals on this are pretty rugged, though I find that they work with the material, even on acoustic tracks. All the instruments contribute to making this one of my current favourite albums. I've given it four stars because it's not the greatest or most original or jaw-dropping album I've ever hear, and it hasn't changed the way I think about music, but it is really good fun and has some impressive songs that Folk and Melo-Death fans should definitely check out! I think they're also the first Australian band I've added to my CD collection too! I can't comment on their earlier output, but this album is a worthwhile purchase for fans of the genre.


Age of Homespun, the (Vintage)
Age of Homespun, the (Vintage)
by Laurel Ulrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea., 2 Nov. 2011
Having to read this for a Master's seminar at my university I could tell from the title it wasn't necessarily going to be of great interest to me. In fairness, some of the stories told in the book were immersive and enjoyable, but overall the amount of detail given on weaving and stitching techniques was rather offputting. My two seminar colleagues (both older than me and female) thoroughly enjoyed the book, so perhaps my lack of enjoyment is rather to do with my age and gender more than anything. The book seemed well researched, and went into great depth, as mentioned, so if you are at all interested in the myth surrounding America's 'Age of Homespun' then this is an ideal book to start with. It does provide context and uses many characters from the age, which is what I took solitary enjoyment from; the depth with which Ulrich tackles the textile industry of the age became offputting for me due to its pervasiveness throughout the majority of the text. Worth reading if you are interested in women's role on the American continent in the 17th/18th Centuries; Native American's also feature prominently in a couple of chapters.


Gilead
Gilead
by Marilynne Robinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars 'Leaving here is like waking from a trance.', 18 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gilead (Paperback)
Having to read this in little over a day and a half for a university seminar was not ideal, but I did enjoy the book. Unfortunately I didn't manage to finish it before the seminar, and the ending was ruined for me, but I found it to be an interesting concept. However, without the insight of the literature class I never would have drawn the parallels to the modern day that they saw, though, as I'm not a literature student at heart, I did feel that they could have been reading a little too much into the book, and I would have enjoyed it without all the analysis.

My housemate told me this book was boring before I started it, so I was a bit skeptical, but he does have a very short attention span! Ultimately this is unlike anything I've read before, and I will probably read it again at some point. I found that the concept works well, though I doubt anyone would actually write a letter of this length to their child. But that is just nit-picking really! The ending has a lot of revelations, but the meandering plot prior to that is quite pleasant and is an interesting historical fiction of central American small town life, the Civil War and afterwards. Recommended to those who don't require constant action.


Heartbreak and Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story (WWE)
Heartbreak and Triumph: The Shawn Michaels Story (WWE)
by Shawn Michaels
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good read about an important wrestler, 17 Aug. 2011
This is the fourth WWE book that I've read, after Stone Cold's, The Rock's and the Hardy Boyz. I think I found this more interesting than the others, but that may be because I wasn't as big a fan of Shawn Michaels so this gave me more information than the others did. I'm still not a fan of Shawn Michaels, but I did find this an entertaining read. As many have pointed out, his rivalry with Bret Hart causes some controversy, but because I haven't read Bret's book I don't really have another angle to come at the Montreal Screwjob from. Whether or not all he states in this book is true I don't know, but I found myself convinced as I was reading it! One thing I found a little odd was his acceptance of Christianity, but I guess if that hasn't happened personally to you then it would be hard to understand. Overall an interesting read, a good insight to the business and Shawn's career, but possibly worth checking out other versions of certain events to make sure you get the full picture. I did find the ending rather rushed, as his comeback is given a very brief treatment, with lots of time and presumably matches skipped over. Still, a decent WWE book, and better than I would imagine some of the stuff they're putting out currently, as the subject is a genuine wrestling legend.


In Search of the Dark Ages (Ariel Books)
In Search of the Dark Ages (Ariel Books)
by Michael Wood
Edition: Paperback

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening read about a Dark Age., 11 Aug. 2011
Despite having more pressing historical degree reading at hand at the moment, I found myself getting distracted by In Search of the Dark Ages by Michael Wood. The Dark Ages are a period that were never covered at school or even during my university degree (by my own choosing partly) and I feel that I missed out on rather a lot! I first encountered Michael Wood's work when reading his book Conquistadors, which, like this, I found to be very interesting, informative but also more readable than many other dusty old historians. I'm sure many historians would want and perhaps require greater depth than Wood provides, but to ask for that is to demand the unreasonable of what is essentially an introductory book to the period. Each of the chapters gave me an insight to Britain from the fall of Rome to society post-Norman invasion. I really never quite knew the extent to which Britain had been colonised, and it throws racial prejudices of the modern day into clear perspective! Surely the majority of current Brits are some combination of Celt, Dane, Norwegian, Roman and Norman - a mixture that really confuses one seeking to gain some knowledge of their actual heritage!

Overall I preferred Michael Wood's Conquistadors book, though that was largely due to having the hardback edition in full colour, with far more documentary supplements in image as well as actual photographs. However, this book is the equivalent for this period of history, though of course it encompasses a larger range of events due to the time scale of the book. One interesting feature for myself, a huge fan of Tolkien (well, the Hobbit and LOTR primarily), was to see that he was obviously inspired to a large extent by the names of people and places in this period. I won't hark on any further, other than to say that this is highly recommended, very interesting, and a perfect place to start for anyone interested in the history of Britain (or Scandinavia/France to an extent) between the conquests of the Romans and the Normans in 1066.


De Niro: A Biography
De Niro: A Biography
by John Baxter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Biography, 8 Aug. 2011
This review is from: De Niro: A Biography (Paperback)
I received this book as a present, and although it wasn't something I would have necessarily bought myself I did find it to be an interesting biographical read. As I read it some time ago I cannot remember the finer details, but, unlike many reviewers, I did not find it to portray De Niro in a completely unflattering light. Whether or not Baxter researched his work as meticulously as many reviewers would have I liked is I do not know; all I know is that this book gave me a new insight into De Niro's career, the films he acted in which were under the radar for me, and other aspects of an acting career throughout the 20th Century. As others have said, this book deals with De Niro himself, but also those actors he had to compete with (such as Al Pacino), those he learned from and aspired to (Marlon Brando) and also the business that is the film industry. Overall a satisfying read, and I for one felt that I had learned a great deal about Robert De Niro and the twentieth century film industry. Not an essential read, but an interesting one in my opinion.


Heartstone (The Shardlake Series)
Heartstone (The Shardlake Series)
by C. J. Sansom
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Series Continued With A New Flavour, 31 July 2011
I'm going to make this review as short and succinct as possible, because it's late and the missus is in bed waiting for me (it's not like that trust me) ;). Anyway, that's totally irrelevant. Essentially I am a big fan of the Shanrdlake series, and this was an enjoyable read, certainly not as much worse than the previous installments as some other reviewers would have you believe. It is, however, different.

The book is split into six parts (as I recall) and some of these are better than others. As with all the previous books in Sansom's tudor murder-mystery series, this book takes a while to really get going. Personally I quite enjoy the everyday, descriptive beginning in London, as I have done with the other books, but those looking for immediate action will not be gratified here.

The factors that strike me as most different to the previous books are:

Book layout (6 parts)
Colour maps, better hardback presentation, and multiple maps of greater/lesser detail (if this is of importance)

In regards to the plot, this book, though based on an unusual death, does not have the chain of victims that often occur in the predecessors, and has a lot of other intriguing aspects. The plot is certainly not the best of the series - some characters I really did not feel emotionally connected too, for whatever reason, but other new characters were quite interesting. Obviously the setting is different, and I felt it was described well, though in some areas (such as the ships at Portsmouth) I did not understand all of the details I must admit, despite knowing my galleys and galleasses, I found it hard to picture in my head some particular details and areas of the ships. Those of greater naval/period knowledge will not have this difficulty I'm sure.

I did not find the book too long, though 'The Journey' I felt was a bit lengthy, especially given how briefly it is described at the end. Despite these minor flaws, and the feeling that it does not quite live up to Dark Fire (my personaly favourite) I heartily recommend this book to fans of the series, and of historical novels, as I truly feel that I am learning whilst being entertained by Sansom, and that is a great achievement in this fifth immensely readable, vividly depicted novel.


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