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Reviews Written by
C. Nicholls "wilberforce24"

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Pale Communion
Pale Communion
Price: £11.94

5.0 out of 5 stars New genre, same sheer dominance, 13 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Pale Communion (Audio CD)
A massive fan of the band, I was disappointed with Heritage. I really loved all their earlier output (including melodic albums, such as Damnation). However, for whatever reason Heritage just didn't capture me. I might need to give it another chance! Anyway, Pale Communion absoluted blew away any doubts I had about Opeth. They have not 'sold out', but have simply changed direction entirely. This album is not a metal album, but that doesn't mean that is isn't bloody brilliant! The atmosphere on the album is superb, and each track has its own great qualities.

The erratic opening soon leads into one of my favourite tracks on the album. There are no tracks on this that disappoint: Goblin is a progged out instrumental, while all the other tracks stand individually as great creations, but the album is all the stronger when listened to in its entirety. I really love the vocal harmonies and instrumentation on River, and the closing section from 6:50 onwards is brilliant. I won't do a track by track breakdown, but this is an excellent prog-rock album by Opeth. They are still a magnificent band, and have started their mastery of an entirely new genre with this album.

Time and Trauma
Time and Trauma
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £6.08

5.0 out of 5 stars So much passion!, 28 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Time and Trauma (Audio CD)
It has been a long wait (for me personally - cd took a while to arrive in the post!) as well as the five years between releases anyway, but I'd rather a band take the time needed to release a quality LP than rush out an album or simply keep churning material out based on the whims of a record label or the general public.

There has been a lot of positive praise for the album, a lot of publicity and a big effort from the fans to make this a success. I saw them tour for the fourth time earlier this month, and it was probably my joint favourite time seeing them live (joint with the tour after the Rest Inside The Flames album).

I must say that I am loving the album opener, Vanish. It is heavy in all senses and the lyrics are catchy. I really dig the idea behind it.

The second track is of course a very emotional song for frontman, Brock Lindow as he deals with the passing of a loved one, and this is a bit different to any of their previous songs in terms of the guitar in particular. The line that goes 'so much passion', which I think is the chorus or pre-chorus, is excellent.

The other singles I am sure you will have heard, and are good tracks for sure. Sorrow sings is a bit of a reminder of yesteryear on their earliest major label albums. I really should wait to listen to this a few more times to gauge the other tracks, but I love 36CF and want to support them right now!

It is a very good album, certainly better than collisions (which I actually like quite a lot) though I would not initially say this quite hits the heights of Snowcapped it is without doubt a worthy addition to their catalogue and something to get very excited about.

Listen to the first three tracks and you will know whether this is for you!

Once More 'Round The Sun
Once More 'Round The Sun
Offered by books-store
Price: £7.39

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A more traditional sound to appeal to a mass market., 23 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Once More 'Round The Sun (Vinyl)
Had this a few days and I've played it pretty relentlessly on my new computer (largely because I have very little other music on here currently). Anyway, I think that this is an okay album. It's only my opinion; if you thought The Hunter was good and enjoyed the new direction Mastodon seemed to be taking then I am sure that you will probably like this, as they have continued to lose their heaviness, in the music and especially in the vocal delivery. I won't use the term 'selling out', but Mastodon are certainly not attempting to release genuinely 'heavy' metal records any more, it would seem.

There are some good tracks on here (Tread Lightly and Ember City were initial favourites, and the start of the album is certainly listenable). However, overall, I find this to be a rather unremarkable album from a band that previously left me scratching my head and thinking 'how on earth do they do that!?' The technicality has certainly taken a back seat; I'm not saying I, or any average Joe could play these songs per se, but just that the mind-bending riffs, scales are no longer present, and the relentless drum fills (which I personally loved on Blood Mountain and Leviathan) have disappeared. Instead we have a much more radio-friendly and 'catchy' LP, that has more tradition riffs and drumming. There are some interesting vocal harmonies explored here, but these are not as appealing to me as the more ferocious vocal delivery recorded on earlier albums. For the record, I am not just a 'metal-head', but love lots of musical genres.

Crack the Skye (potentially their best album?) was certainly not as heavy as the previous two records, but it was incredibly progressive and, as a whole, was probably their most cohesive album to listen to (Leviathan after this I would say). Blood Mountain was really just a collection of incredible songs, which perhaps didn't hold together so well, but was fantastic nonetheless. This album does feel (to me) like a bit of a commercial compromise, though I could well be wrong.

Overall I cannot give this more than 3 stars, much though I love the band. I have seen them 3 times in the past and would certainly see them again, but I would in all honesty be going to see the likes of 'Blood and Thunder' live as well as other material from the older albums. Average.

Long Walk To Freedom: Film Tie In
Long Walk To Freedom: Film Tie In
by Nelson Mandela
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific, page-turning political auto biography., 18 Jan. 2015
I finihed this earlier this morning and I must say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about one of the 20th Century's most important and inspirational political figures. Although this is a long read it is thoroughly worthwhile, and I did not find myself bored even for a second. It really is riveting, from its depiction of South Africa's repressive apartheid system, the tales of a rural African childhood (which may now be thoroughly different due to the march of modernity worldwide), the political and, later, armed struggle, and of course the many long years of imprisonment throughout many of South Africa's most notorious prisons.

This book is really well-balanced, and Mandela writes passionately about the situations that arose throughout his life. He does not attempt to claim fame for the success of the ANC, and rather informs the reader of all the hard work that went into the organisation prior to his involvement, and subsequently to his long imprisonment, when he had little or no input into the party whilst of ther leaders lived a life of exile.

It is the stories that make this a really intruiging read, in my opinion. The wider contect of the book is what makes it important, but Mandela's ability to tell detailed stories of his upbringing, his early life in Johannesburg as part of a thriving law firm, life within different prisons and his travels (both in secret and after his release) give this book an unrivalled level of detail, and contribute to making it a terrific, as well as highly informative, read.

I highly recommend this book; I warn the reader that it is a lengthy investment of time, but one that I believe is well worth making.

Venus Doom (Standard Edition)
Venus Doom (Standard Edition)
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.97

5.0 out of 5 stars HIM given the doom-metal treatment, 22 Dec. 2014
Aside from Deep Shadows this is my favourite HIM album (and is certainly the one to go to if you want something a bit heavier). The songs are catchy as ever, but the band's take on doom metal is pretty cool. Although I am a fan of genuine doom metal bands like Electric Wizard and Sleep, I can sell my soul to popular metal every once in a while!

The first four tracks are all standouts in my opinion, with some catchy riffs and lyrics as well as some excellent doomy breakdowns. The fifth track is not bad, but is probably overly long, though it does not drag badly. Bleed Well is another really good HIM song and Cyanide Sun is a decent song to end with. I went for 5* as overall this is basically my joint favourite album by the band, and if you wish that HIM were a little bit darker or heavier then this is basically a perfect album for you. Recommended!

Mule Variations
Mule Variations
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Come on Up to the House, 8 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
After a few years of obsession with Tom Waits I've now collected the majority of his back catalogue, but there are still a few that have eluded me! I enjoy all of his work, from the bar-room jazz to the industrial and experimental gravelly-voiced classics of the mid 80s and 90s. I didn't know much about this album, but it's another great one.

At first I liked it but was not truly enamoured, but on repeated listens it shows its class. It consists mostly of ballads and fairly traditional songs, unlike albums like Bone Machine or Real Gone (the two nearest albums that I had chronologically). However, the songs are terrific as usual. 'Come on Up to the House' is surely one of his greatest songs, and I had it firmly lodged in my subconscious for days! A lot of people tout the Beefheart-esque 'Filipino Box Spring Hog', and as a huge fan of the good Cap'n this is another favourite. However, the entire album is captivating and deserving of a place in your Tom Waits collection!

Valley Of The Damned
Valley Of The Damned
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £12.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect debut album., 29 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Valley Of The Damned (Audio CD)
This is just a quick review as I listen to this album again. It really is excellent. You can't ask any more of a debut power metal album. I'm not particularly a fan of the genre, but this album is their finest work in my opinion (though, in fairness, I only own the first three albums). The consistency on display here is outrageous; some people say that all their songs sound the same, and while I would concur on some of their later albums, regarding this album I disagree.

All the songs on this album have their own distinct flavour, mostly based on outrageously paced riffing, catchy but sometimes cheesy vocal hooks and a bombastic, non-stop rhythm section. Personal favourites are the title track, Revelations is fantastic, Disciples of Babylon has always been a firm favourite and probably Starfire. However, tracks 1-8 are immense and I would never skip any. The only letdown is the final track, which I'd probably rather be without. Once it gets going it isn't bad, but the intro is so cheesy that it is a real turn-off and often has me ending the album after the penultimate track!

All told, this is a cracking album and I return to this far more frequently than I do Inhuman Rampage or Sonic Firestorm. As for their later albums I simply cannot judge, but this is a genre classic as far as I am concerned.

Howlin' Wolf / Moanin' In The Moonlight
Howlin' Wolf / Moanin' In The Moonlight
Price: £10.08

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let a poor boy ride, 13 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having visited Tennessee on holiday a few years prior and visiting Sun Studios, MCA Studios and the County & Music Hall of Fame I eventually decided to investigate Howlin' Wolf. This was due in part to a friend playing me Smokestack Lightnin', and also because I knew that he heavily influenced two of my all-time favourite artists (Tom Waits and Clutch). It's easy to see why. The blues on display here is primal and raw in some instances, but still hugely memorable and catchy. The musicianship ain't bad either.

This CD proved how great Chester Burnett (AKA Howlin' Wolf) truly was. I can imagine that watching him live must have been truly awesome; videos are readily available on Youtube that attest to his phenomenal stage presence.

Anyway, on to the CD. As is mentioned in all the other reviews, this CD comprises of his first two LP releases (though I believe a few tracks have been sacrificed). Given that this disc contains the original recordings, the music does not have the immaculate sheen that those raised in the 90s and 2000s may have come to expect. However, in my opinion this does nothing to detract from the quality music. In fact in many ways it suits the dirty blues being played.

Personally I prefer the first half of this CD, though I do enjoy it in its entirety. Particular highlights: shake for me, red rooster, who's been talkin', wang dang doodle, little baby, spoonful, howlin' for my darlin/baby, smokestack lightnin', evil.

Highly recommended to those of us who enjoy the more rough and rugged side of the blues.

UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship 40 - Vendetta [2002] [DVD]
UFC Ultimate Fighting Championship 40 - Vendetta [2002] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ultimate Fighting Championship
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars UFC 40 - The start of a new era, 10 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Not the best UFC event in history, this was however the event that arguably saved UFC after Zuffa had purchased it from SEG. The reason for this was the cataclysmic main event: Ortiz vs Shamrock. I have UFC 22, which has Ortiz vs Frank Shamrock - a fight that I consider to be one of the best ever, and certainly one of the great fights of the SEG era. The older Shamrock does not have as good a showing, but his effort is absolutely legendary and the main event is still compelling.

The rest of the PPV is not particularly spectacular, but it is a decent watch nonetheless, and a hugely important event in UFC history.

On Writing
On Writing
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Advice for aspiring fictional writers, 10 Aug. 2014
This review is from: On Writing (Paperback)
I haven't read a Stephen King novel for quite a while, but I received this book as a gift. I'd forgotten how funny the man is, in addition to his undeniable talent for creating frightening stories. Reading this has really made me want to get serious about writing; I have always joked to close friends that I would write my 'seminal novel' soon, but after reading this I have been given the belief that if I try hard that there is a possibility of something coming from this.

Recommended especially to fans of King, but also to aspiring novelists. There are plenty of tips for aspiring fiction writers, some of which may be applicable to non-fiction writers also - albeit not all that much. This book is not a dry read, but is imbued with Stephen King's humour throughout, making it a real page-turner!

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