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Showtime, Storytime (Bonus DVD)
Showtime, Storytime (Bonus DVD)
Price: £26.10

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Epic Nightwish, 3 Dec. 2013
Nightwish as a band has been through a lot over the past 8 years as it's changed, vocalist, direction, changed course again, changed vocalist again and received a mixture of adoring praise and scathing bile throughout. In 2013 major changes came through and joining the Nightwish crew permanently, Floor Jansen, vocalist from After Forever and Revamp, for the tour, and then for as a permanent vocalist along with Troy Donokle who had been working with the band since 2007 on "Dark Passion Play" with his assortment of pipes and whistles. The change has been one of the most positive forces Nightwish has ever received and this live DVD is the ultimate tribute to that, an epic tour de force of Nightwish' symphonic power and stage presence as they take on 85,000 fans at Wacken and knock em dead.

First of all - Floor Jansen, many have praised her and she deserves every bit. I'm one of those people who liked both Tarja and Anette for different reasons, they suited the songs written for them. Floor is just breathtaking, her stage presence knocks both of them out of the water, her voice is dynamic, powerful and manages to get both vocalist styles and trump them. Featured alongside this DVD is a live clip of "Ghost Love Score" from Buenos Aries in Argentina and that is the ultimate show of her skill as a vocalist as she gives it a loud, dramatic ending which is just outstanding and asserts her rightful place as one of the best, if not the best, female vocalist in the genre. And singing beside her is the underrated Marco Hietala who has sung with three vocalists and never failed to disappoint. Vocally, Nightwish are at their strongest here.

But as bitching fans on the internet often forget, the vocalist doesn't define the band and the rest of Nightwish are damn solid in this live album, playing their hearts out with chemistry, passion and smiles written across their faces. The set list is extremely good with most of the songs from either "Once" and "Imaginaerum" and a few songs rarely heard such as "She is My Sin" and "Romanticide" combined with the old classics like "Dark Chest of Wonders" and "Nemo." The songs are all outstanding and with no previous versions to compare to, songs like "Storytime", "Ghost River", "Song of Myself" and "Last Ride of the Day" are incredible to hear live for the first time. The ultimate highlight though is "Ghost Love Score" which Floor does absolute justice and is solidly performed all round, with the guitar more prominent than in the "End of an Era" version of the song. The show itself is steadily and spectacularly filmed, getting the best shots of an enthused crowd and a passionate band performing at a new height.

Included with the Wacken show is the documentary "Please Learn the Set List in 48 hours" which is one of the most interesting tour documentaries I've ever seen, although it sadly lacks Annette Olzen who, despite an unfairly negative reputation as a Pop vocalist, had a big part to play, it was her choice, but still a shame. It gives an intimate insight into one of the biggest tours in Symphonic Metal history, and compliments the show perfectly. Overall Nightwish does extremely well here, and I look forward to their future releases with Troy and Floor.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2013 11:11 PM GMT

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor - 50th Anniversary Special [DVD]
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor - 50th Anniversary Special [DVD]
Dvd ~ Matt Smith
Price: £5.99

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Day of the Doctor - Review of the Actual Special, 23 Nov. 2013
Amazon allowing reviews to be written before the airing of the episode itself has caused some confusion/congestion for this release, although it's not as bad as Sherlock Series 3. Moving on, Day of the Doctor is probably the most anticipated thing Moffat has had to create, a 75 minutes special celebrating 50 years of Doctor Who with hype that's gone straight through the roof. Does it live up to expectations?

Yes, for the most part this special is really, really good. The scale is massive, the set-pieces are brilliant and the special frees itself of obstructive angst in favor of Moffat's usual surprising and kinetic storytelling. The acting from Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt is great all round and they play off each other perfectly in the great tradition of Doctors bickering with each other both in the comedy and the drama. It's a great romp of an episode featuring the return of old enemies the Zygons (brought impressively back with a modern look and nothing that detracts from their strengths in the Classic Era) and the Daleks, who are limited in their screentime as they're relegated to the sides in favour of the choices and guilt of the Doctor himself following the end of the Time War. Billie Piper is very different in her role for this story and for the better as part of an ingenious concept, and Jenna Coleman provides her usual, very human support with finesse. There are also a number of plot ends resolved from episodes such as the Shakespeare Code and the Name of the Doctor while also including a number of references visually and through various characters - including a number of surprises fans of both the New Series and the Classic will love. Some of them feel flung in without explanation and this may polarize fans at points, but for the most part it doesn't falter.

Overall Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor is a great culmination of 50 years. It does have its shortcomings, the balance of comic relief and drama is a bit off at times, in general the special lacks a great deal of threat which is needed considering the scale of what's being portrayed. An extra 15 minutes to reinforce the climax with its surprises built-on better would also have been a big improvement as well as using the time to wrap up some plot ends which are just swept away rather than properly finished. But ultimately they don't stop this being a fun, fascinating and very Moffat-era Who Special celebrating the first 50 years, and looking forward to the next 50 years. Roll on Christmas, Roll on Who.

Metallica Through the Never [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray]
Metallica Through the Never [Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ James Hetfield
Price: £10.37

24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Concert - Lackluster Plot, 16 Oct. 2013
Yes "Metallica: Through the Never" has arrived and after much hype from a rabid fanbase and a certainly mixed response - I got my chance to see it and had a mixed reaction. This movie is essentially two parts - the live Metallica concert and the plot that surrounds, or rather is on the side of it involving a young roadie sent out on a mission to get a piece of kit - and getting caught in a vicious riot which he must survive.

Because for the most part the roadie's story is tagged onto the end and beginning of songs with a few exceptions, the two are better to look at as separate entities. The concert is brilliant, excellently well filmed and edited, filled with special effects and epic set pieces from an electric chair and lightning bolts, the fall of Lady Justice and crosses rising during "Master of Puppets" - the band is on top form with energy, chemistry and passion and their usual cool appraisal (even when things begin to go wrong in the third act). The audience, which at times is as loud as the band is energetic, moshing, singing and cheering the whole way through. The set list varies over the entire band's career as early as "Hit the Lights" up to "Cyanide" from Death Magnetic with two songs from the Reload, 10-11 from Kill Em All - Black Album and the aforementioned Death Magnetic. All of it is perfectly well done and flawless in its presentation.

The movie part is the let-down of the film. Whilst Dane Dehaan acts the role perfectly, barely saying a word but very capable with his facial expressions and gestures, he has very little to do but mainly walk, run or look terrified as the world goes mad around him. The movie segments though are ultimately too short and have very little meat on the bone, they mainly book-end songs and whilst they're capably filmed, it doesn't have much to invest in and the pay-off is non-existent. It does have exciting, powerful, empathetic moments but ultimately is somewhat weak in how little screen time it gets.

Despite that though I would say watching this was a worthwhile experience at the cinema just for the band and an awesome live show with the movie being just action extras on the side and has some freakish imagery to accompany. If you want to see a Metallica DVD / Blu-Ray which won't cost you an arm or a leg to see Lady Justice fall, this is the one to go for.

Price: £15.29

5.0 out of 5 stars A Gem coated in Frost and Fury, 13 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Awakening (Audio CD)
I came across Frosttide at Heidenfest in Munich as they opened the show - and despite having fewer years than many of the bands that followed, Frosttide remained one of the undisputed highlights of the night with an epic ensemble of speed, fury, energy and boundless enthusiasm. If an opportunity arises to see this band live - take it, they have a great sound and they are fantastic live, the majority of the content of that night - came from this album "Awakening".

"Awakening" immediately brings to mind the wintry-storm effects of Wintersun with a flair of keyboards and guitars combined with solid drumming and bass delivering you from wherever you stand into a snowstorm askin to Crimfall's "Writ of Sword" and of course, Wintersun's records. The vocals are standard growls and whilst not so bad, it's nothing you haven't heard before from this or any other of the sub-genres. However the band may not have the most unique vocals - it does have an unbelievable sound. The guitars and keyboards fly seamlessly together throughout this album and listening to it one balances a sense of power and awe in the midst of hail and snow, it has the atmospheric feel perfectly nailed and can join the ensemble of bands for Winter having earned its place.

Opening on the obligatory intro "Winter's Call" which sounds like a shortened "When Time Fades Away" and minus the Japanese influence, we get hurled into "Awakening" complete with choirs, tinkling keyboards and furious vocals and guitars. The best track follows "Quest for Glory" which will take breath away and take the roof off the house. With the exception of "Dawn of Despair" which is just an interlude the rest of the album delivers track after track of memorable frost-tinged Symphonic/Folk Metal that really gets into the ear and closes with a somewhat over-ambitious but still good 18 minute finale. Frosttide ranks as one of the great underrated bands from Finnland and strike their own patch well with this magnificent awakening, satisfied with this, and hungry for so much more.

Walking With Beasts: Operation Salvage Game
Walking With Beasts: Operation Salvage Game
Offered by CDandVinyl
Price: £3.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Looking Back Years Later, 8 July 2013
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
It's 2013 and the game is now 12 years old. Having changed computer, out of boredom, I decided to install this and play it again, it's a short game, worth a couple of hours. So I installed it, working fine and played it again for those couple of hours. To summarize - if a secret agent watched "Walking with Beasts" and decided to abduct the creatures featured and your job is to prevent it, while also creating the documentary in the first place by placing cameras to make videos, then you basically have Operation Salvage. It's a simple, somewhat repetitive game. You control an explorer which can be armed with rockets, torpedoes, grenades, mortars and of course cameras as well as a hovercraft and jetpack to get around Walking With Beasts' 12 environments. In those environments you meet prehistoric animals, shoot off against the various turrets the rogue agent has placed - and blow up anything that isn't prehistoric.

Yes the game has many flaws looking back now, graphic wise it's sub-par and indeed the gameplay is twelve repetitions of the same thing, find, destroy repeat 11 times. But despite that it holds more a nostalgic view and I just like the game as a concept, this odd manner of making a Walking with Beasts video game where the object is blowing futuristic technology while also filming video clips for the Walking With series. It's just an hour or two of shooting and observing. It may not be particularly challenging and for many - by now at least it will have zero interest, but for me, it's a nice little part of the past which I was glad to have played once more for all its eclectic taste.

Magnus Karlsson's Freefall
Magnus Karlsson's Freefall
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £15.23

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Solos and Vocals Combined, 4 July 2013
As stated in the title of this review, the two core things in this album are the guitar solos and the vocals, all nine vocalists for that matter. Magnus Karlsson is a great multi-instrumentalist, his guitar work is phenomenal on the album and almost every song has a perfect guitar solo which range from poignant to epic. The vocals (all nine) including Magnus range but most are brilliant clean vocalists who deliver some powerful driving ballads or just straight-rockers. Russel Allen is the first singer as he takes on the title track "Free Fall" one of the strongest tracks, Magnus takes on "Heading Out, Ready or Not and On Fire" which are placed evenly around the album while other guest vocalists such as David Readman and Mike Andersson hold the reigns (I mention them specifically because they sing on the other two strongest tracks "Us Against the World" and "Dreamers and Hunters" which closes the album. The production is finesse with every instrument perfectly clear and concise. I will say that it does have some just OK tracks on here like "Stronger" and "Our Time Has Come" but despite some flaws the sound of the band/Magnus + guests is strong, clear and a joy to listen to.

Rope [Blu-ray] [1948] [Region Free]
Rope [Blu-ray] [1948] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ James Stewart
Price: £8.82

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Excellent Shot, 13 Jun. 2013
If there is anything notable that makes "Rope" stand out from any other Hitchcock film, it's the fact that most of the movie is in one single shot, I say mostly because there are two direct cuts very early on in the movie, the first being directly after the opening credits to jump into the set, and there's just one at the 15-20 minute mark. But after that, no more direct cuts in the whole film, just a long shot which due to camera film storage capacity zooms in on people's shirts and zooms out again every once in a while. "Rope" was originally a stage play which means that the single shot approach makes sense, but the cinematography and photography of the film is still exceptional and creative to capture the best of the performances and heighten the tension.

The premise of "Rope" is deceivingly simple, two young men commit murder and hold a gathering to effectively pull off the ultimate crime. Dick Hogan and John Dall play the murderers with Hogan being the confident, oppressive figure relishing in the art of killing and John becoming more and more unsettled as the film goes on, always conscience a body is always on the brink of being discovered. But of course the star of the film is James Stewart's Rupert Cadell who gives a wonderful performance. The rest of the cast is well acted and consistent, barely a weak performance in sight. But "Rope" needs captivating story and a script to convey it more than anything in its limited set - and it delivers. Can anyone justify murder? Does anyone have the right to take another's life for any reason? These questions are the core of the story with Hogan's confidence in the right to kill being slowly etched away by Rupert Cadell who was partial to the concept, but would never do such a thing in reality. The script, particularly in the final act is incredible.

So overall this is another great Hitchcock but highly underrated. The single shot makes you sink into the film but the tension is so high as it progresses that you can't ever be bored. A few details, the back of the room with the changing light as the day progresses is a nice touch but the solid performances and great scripting and direction are the highlights in this (almost) one shot film about murder and where to draw the line. Just one note - the blu-ray makes the film crystal clear and there's no visual or audio problems, everything is crystalline here.

Classics, Vol. 1
Classics, Vol. 1

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spellbinding Album of Classics, 11 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Classics, Vol. 1 (MP3 Download)
Having released five albums of mainly new material, "Invincible", "Archangel", "Thomas Bergerson's Illusions", "Halloween" and most recently "Skyworld" the quality of Two Steps from Hell's output has been nothing short of perfect with wonderful, imaginative and captivating work being released yearly now to a hungry fanbase. And now in 2013, along with a live concert announced, TSFH releases their first album of Classics with previously unreleased older material which fans have been clawing for since they first went to youtube and got quite a shock at the back-catalog. As a huge fan of the composers Nick Phoenix and Thomas Bergerson, this was a great work to buy immediately and it lives up to every expectation.

With great epic tracks of the usual caliber but somehow even more special with stunners such as "Nemesis" "Armada" and "White Witch" Two Steps provides some of its most wonderful material. Every song is memorable and as soon as it's done you'll be itching to hear Nemesis, then Armada one more time. So many treats await and on a personal note - there's my favorite Two Steps track of all time - the metallic, orchestral grace of Jump! If you're a fan of Two Steps from Hell, this should be an instant buy.

If you're not already a fan of Two Steps from Hell - then what are you waiting for, the tracks are epic adventures awaiting you with a new melody to capture your imagination in a heartbeat from the grandiose power of Sons of War, the reverence of the Cross of Antiquan and the beautiful little gem of an enigma which is "Little Ben" If you're worried some of your classics aren't on here, remember it's only volume 1 - much more is yet to come. Two Steps from Hell does it again, and never has it been a disappointment. Just follow it up with some more Legend and Dynasty tracks and you'll have the winner for Volume 2.

Survival Of The Fittest
Survival Of The Fittest
Price: £14.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Folk Metal Looking Forward, 28 May 2013
This review is from: Survival Of The Fittest (Audio CD)
Bringing a powerful, emotional mix of Folk Metal from Italy, Krampus is a band with a message and brilliant songs to convey it. A band looking at the human condition, greed, loss, justice, parental responsibility and those left behind in war, if one can understand the lyrics then one is in for an emotional ride of satisfying proportions. Doing what many bands of the genre do, combining folk instruments and melodies with metal, Krampus doesn't however look to the past but instead projects a bleak future using two powerful genres and welding them together to make something stand out in a crowded scene. The guitars are excellent and the solos they produce are extremely driving, the bass and drumming is perfectly acceptable although neither stands out beyond fulfilling their functions and the folk instruments blend seamlessly into the mix.

As for vocals there's the guttural harsh and the softer clean vocals, both of which are varied between songs. "Beast Within" is almost entirely harsh, "The Bride" is entirely clean, and each song has its own variation of the two, often with the chorus being the clean, or indeed, a kind of odd duet between the harsher screams and the resilient clean battling against it. Lyrically this album is utterly brilliant, many themes woven in and expressed greatly. As for tracks, there's not a weak one on here and some of them are among my favorite songs period. Songs such as "Rebirth", "The Bride", "The Dance of Lies" and "Kronos' Heritage" all have clean vocal choruses and all are extremely profound in what they're trying to get across, they're excellent and rewarding on multiple listens.

For a debut album this is exceptional, a grand mixture of folk and metal slammed together with finesse and perfectly spread out over 12 tracks. Whilst understand the vocals may be at times difficult for the initiated to Black metal, finding them adds much to an experience that will take you on a deep and fascinating journey with gorgeous folk melodies and a point to be made in a crowded metal scene of indulgence. One of my favourite albums and a stand-out in that obscure little genre called Folk Metal.

The Great Gatsby [DVD] [2013]
The Great Gatsby [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Price: £5.00

13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baz Luhrmann's Magnum Opus, 27 May 2013
The Great Gatsby was one of the most talked about movies round December 2012 through to its shifted release date to May 2013. And there's good reason, the director is the man responsible for two bombastic movies which divide critics and audience alike, Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. But here we see a refined Baz who not only conveys the shallowness of an era through his own inflated directing style where "style over substance" is the norm, but somehow does what he's never effectively done before - get subtlety and substance into this movie, and that is not just due to the source material being indeed, a great novel. Yes there are huge bombastic parties but they feel almost under-done without the mad editing that plagued Moulin Rouge. Whilst the first 20 minutes is quick on its feet to get a lot of information through, the film slows down after that and the story is allowed to be told, and most importantly, seen.

Visually, The Great Gatsby is gorgeous to behold, every frame is wonderfully composed, the lighting is effective and the editing actually doesn't jam all over the place like in Baz' previous efforts, leaving room for you to appreciate the beauty of the film in its glory. Combine that with the music. Now when I heard Jay-Z was writing the score over someone like Hans Zimmer, I was a bit worried but the orchestral score is simple, majestic and evocative, drawing out the best of the scenes and is never overdone. As for the modern music input (the first objection to the movie since Trailer 1), it works. Somehow it works, it doesn't come in often, much of the time it is used to great effect and conveys much, the bombast of an era and so on. So on both a visual and aural front this movie wins hands down.

And now for the most important features, story and characters. Luhrmann has stayed incredibly faithful to the source material, with only a few things glossed over from the book, mainly character relationships and the occasional scene (the stable scene isn't there for example). The story of Gatsby is told incredibly well here with all its themes and power shining throughout with substance and finesse. No filler is present here to obscure the lens on the Roaring Twenties. But the thing that everyone else was complaining about when not the modern music was the casting. And I have to say, this film nailed the casting. Leonardo DiCaprio IS Gatsby, he captures the character perfectly, the hope, the frustration and the awkwardness. Tobey Maguire gets more depth to work with, telling the story from a mental aslyum for alcoholism, but it gives him an excuse to quote the book numerous times so he fits well enough. Carey Mulligan does a great job conveying Daisy with her shallowness (and unlike in the 1974 film - it's clear why Gatsby is after her so much). And for those of you who say that the 1974 version is better - it's not. That movie is incredibly dated, with a Gatsby with not enough hope and too much cool in a movie with zero substance (if a movie could read a book in a flat tone you have the '74 version). The rest of the cast fit their roles, Joel Egerton is a more human Tom, Isla Fisher nails Myrtle and there's barely a weak member of the cast.

The movie itself is emotionally profound from beginning to end, its conveying of a great story without stifling it with the usual Baz Lurhmann trademarks of quick editing and unnecessary bombast. From beginning to end a visual feast with a heart to it to convey one of the greatest tragedies in literature, brought to the screen by the man they said would screw it up utterly. Well done Luhrmann, somehow, you pulled it off.

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