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Crock Powerstation "Black Cat Theory" (UK)

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Offered by SDRC
Price: £41.55

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Early nineties curiosity., 28 Aug. 2002
This review is from: Thresholds (Audio CD)
During the late eighties and early nineties the burgeoning American death metal scene belched up Nocturnus onto unsuspecting UK metalheads. They featured Mike Browning, the one-time drummer for the infinitely superior Morbid Angel, unusually for the time they had a keyboard player, not to mention an incredibly widdly guitar player.
Although at the current time discussion on this album isn't exactly a burning issue those (like myself) searching out a bit of hindsight reviewing seem to be mentioning how Nocturnus were ahead of their time. My personal opinion is that while certainly not ahead of their time they definately were different to it.
Consider the elements: The manifold keyboard parts are extremely technical and the interaction between them and the flailing, widdly guitar parts give Thresholds a very discernable prog rock feel. The albums production too is reverb washed and unabraisive giving the whole thing a strangely mellow feel. Unlike most thrash and death bands of the time Nocturnus are geared towards the music and atmosphere rather than the vocalist and the vocal content. Nocturnus although doubtlessly excellent musicians sport one of the worst vocalists in the world. Presumably they know this is his voice is very low in the mix, bathed in reverb and it some segways completely absent.
Overall, like its predecessor, The Key, Threshholds is not your average death metal album. As intimated earlier it works well as easy listening but much of the atmosphere is ruined by the unbelievably frequent guitar solos. And when I say frequent I mean about one every ten seconds. Don't get me wrong, I like a good solo as much as the next man but this guy is a serious one trick pony and once you've heard his mind blowing sweep picking once he just repeats ad infinitum until the end of the album.
If you are a muso anorak like me this is a strange old beast to hold in your collection but if you are looking for great thrash and death from that era buy Morbid Angel - Blessed are the Sick, Annihilator - Never Neverland, Pantera - Cowboys from Hell or any of Metallica's first four albums.

Prisoner of War (PS2)
Prisoner of War (PS2)
Offered by Unity Goods
Price: £26.99

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Brave Attempt, 29 July 2002
This review is from: Prisoner of War (PS2) (Video Game)
Over the last six months or so I have followed reports and news on the development of this title in the leading PS2 magazine.
At the outset the concept the developer was working with looked amazing: A free-roaming prison environment where your task was to escape. Most interestingly enough it was being trumpeted that how you escaped was completely up to you. As if this wasn't enough there were reports that you could choose to play a convict of one a number of nationalities and interact with fellow allies of all nations. If the game had been well executed in this form it would have been a minor landmark in the world of computer games.
Anyway, months passed and as they did we were told this the vision of the game was being more intensely focussed. We would be playing an American POW trying to escape. But there would still be the interactive freedom and groundbreaking AI. Oh yes.
And then it arrived.
The developer has obviously used both Skooldaze/ Bak to Skool and The Great Escape (all on the humble Speccy)as a template for this game. However at first glance all three of these cobweb shrouded titles are more charming than Prisoner of War. Your character is, what can only be described as a jumped-up plonker and the rest of the inmates and enemies alike are the most outrageous crowd of camp stereotypes since the Village People.
As you trudge around the camp getting to know the other prisoners and following the stodgily samey routine you will perk up a little when you discover you can climb fences and walls, sneak under huts, create distractions and have (admittedly limited) conversations with other prisoners. While there is quite a free reign for interacting with your environment another two problems make themselves known. Firstly the camera angling and orientation is beyond useless and secondly once you start getting tasks and getting stuck into the meat of the missions, most of the promised in-game freedom is taken away from you and replaced with frequent, repetitive and embarassingly bad cut scenes.
This all sounds very negative I know but in truth Prisoner of War is not really worthy of a premier PS2 release and to be quite frank it left me wondering if the Xbox version was any better.
That said there is good stuff here too. The camp is beautifully well drawn and detailed (although the environmental effects look very PSone), the game has a quite addictive 'one more go' feel that does tap into what I loved about the aforementioned Skooldaze and Bak to Skool. The AI too is better than comparable titles (not MGS2 though!) and the way the music modulates in sympathy with the onscreen effects is quite clever. These are powerful pluses and despite the slightly rushed and shoddy overall feel you do get sucked into the game and after a while start to forgive it's shortcomings.
This was and is a bold, ambitious project. I don't blame the developers because it is painfully obvious that they were working to a deadline with limited funds. This game makes me wonder what the future could hold for games like this? It makes me wonder what someone like Hideo Kojima could have done with this project?
To conclude if you like slow moving but ultimately rewarding gameplay and can live with some flaws give this a go, but if you are expecting MGS2 with a dash of Commandos and Medal of Honor stay away.
Three stars for effort and audacity. I subtracted one for that rage enducing voice acting.
'You Americans have to do things the hard way.' AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!'

Brass Eye Series and Special [DVD] [1997]
Brass Eye Series and Special [DVD] [1997]
Dvd ~ Christopher Morris
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.23

36 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Genuine Hatred for the Media., 18 July 2002
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not going to do that thing that students do and bang on about how Chris Morris is a genius and get into socio political analysis of his work, neither am I going to refer exclusively to the paedophiles episode and the irritatingly predictable furor which Mr Morris wanted you to spout forth following it's release.
The concept of Brass Eye is an evolved and less date stamped version of Morris' 1994 News spoof 'The Day to Day' which underlined the achingly pathetic pretentiousness of News programmes to such good effect. Brass Eye levels it's sights squarely at the current affairs report show, carrying over a few of TDTD's strongest characters such as Ted Maul and the Paxmanesque host of the show and proceeds to further Morris' penchant for humiliating celebrities using faked interview scenarios.
As you will of heard this concept works best in 'Drugs', 'Animals' and 'Paedophiles' where a whole host of celebrities from unpleasant parasitic liggers (no names!) to beloved family favourites (okay Rolf Harris is one!) voluntarily, but unwittingly make utter fools of themselves.
Brass Eye follows in the footsteps of other comedy shows, such as Monty Python which have been hailed as 'cutting edge' and 'genius' in that the hilarity can often be uneven. While Chris Morris bursting into a church and ridiculing the congregation before manically sprinting back out the door may be hilarious, the company which used drugs to boost staff productivity is dull and poorly realised.
That said there is much here that stands up to watching over and over again. The Gay Sailors, the unbelievably foolhardy ridiculing of real life drug dealers, the gun toting American Priests and Rolf Harris enduced to say the words 'Shatner's Bassoon' are all among my favourites.
Brass Eye for all it's faults deserves it's place in the comedy hall of fame. Morris holds a mirror up to the media and shows them how stupid they look, but they're too moronic to even realise. Dammit! I said I wasn't going to do that!

Exorcise the Demons
Exorcise the Demons

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth it for it's stronger tracks., 18 July 2002
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Exorcise the Demons (Audio CD)
Okay, so the main talking point of this album appears to be it's darkness or lack of it. I'd like to testify that this album does succeed to a point in setting a chilling soundscape.
The opening track, Call and Response which interestingly formed one of the most exciting musical cues in the movie Blade appears in all it's glory here and is probably one of the most sinister tracks on the album. It clocks in as around seven minutes of that wierd modulating keyboard riff, piercing background drone, minimalist bass, confusingly off kilter breakbeats and industrial crashes. Probably the albums second best track in my humble opinion. My current favourite (without wishing to indicate a lack of deep-reaching knowledge of the album) is track two, Mind Weaver which is resplendent beneath a sleazy overdriven bass sound, and a lovely cheesy synth line also contains the alternatively driving/technical beats which make up most of this album.
And there my problem lies, sort of. Tracks like Technical Warfare and Love and Hate kick in in similar fashion to stronger tracks on the album (such as the first two), however don't have the hooks to back them up. Another reviewer said this album was experimental and confused. I disagree with that, there is very little sonic experimentation here and the darkness is often achieved solely by minimalist arrangements. Beat-wise too what you are dealing with here is tight, well produced but basically by the numbers breakbeatage. If you want experimental go for 4Heros 2 Pages album (I refer of course to disk 2).
While nothing on Exorcise the Demons is bad, you often feel like there is a bit of random drum synth fiddling going on to flesh things out.
ETD works very well as a soundscape album but outside the club environment, on your stereo at home there are many more entertaining drum and bass albums to be had.
As a footnote if you like this album I can strongly recommend you buy Gyral by Scorn. It's not really D and B though but similar in feel and better realised.

Dawn Of The Dead (Director's Cut) [DVD] [1980]
Dawn Of The Dead (Director's Cut) [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ David Emge
Offered by westworld-
Price: £14.98

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Schlock horror classic with sole (and added guts)., 24 Jun. 2002
Following on from George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and proceeding Day of the Dead, 'Dawn' provides the viewer with the subtly subversive socio-political commentary of the first film combined with the more philosophical elements of the third.
Of course most people are famililar with the plot: A zombie plague is sweeping the planet. As society crumbles and law breaks down a band of mismatched survivors hole up in a shopping mall and end up in a consequence free, sheltered unreality while outside the world decends into pandemonium.
What really shines on the super-crisp DVD print of this film are the textures that Romeros drew upon for the film. The super red blood, blue/green zombies and wicked sense of humour make for an almost cartoony feel but juxtaposed to this is the films distinct epic feel, in terms of scope, set design and even duration. If like me you have only seen VHS and terestrial TV showings of this film, the DVD picture and sound quality will make you feel as if you are watching it for the first time. Not only this but I was delighted to see, for the first time, the film in its uncut state (It seems that some of the viscera ripping scenes during the bikers invasion were missed from previously available versions).
Lastly, a special mention goes out to the brilliant Mr Tom Savini and the other bloke he commentates the film with (sorry I've forgotten his name). The two of them do remarkably well in keeping the annecdotes and information coming on a piece of work that they worked on 21 years ago! Savini is, as you would expect, totally down to earth and funny.
All in all an outstanding DVD update of a timeless sociological tinged horror film.
Fun games for the family: See how many lines from the film you can spot which have been used on rock albums and see how many times you can spot Tom Savini appearing in the film!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 2, 2015 1:13 PM GMT

Medal of Honor: Frontline (PS2)
Medal of Honor: Frontline (PS2)

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reaches Parts that other FPS don't reach., 21 Jun. 2002
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not really a huge fan of the FPS genre. In the last 10 years i've only played through Quake 1 and 2 on the PC and Timesplitters on the PS2. However, i'd heard great rumblings about this game, i'd heard it was an interactive take on Saving Private Ryan. I needed no more convincing...
The opening scene kicks off totally in the vein of said Speilberg epic. The sound effects are so sharp and pulsating that it was as though they were lifted straight from the film and the graphics are smooth with loving attention to detail. Real killjoys may notice genre characteristic gaps and clumsy movement when in close interaction with your surroundings but this really shouldn't put you off. The chaotic first mission is not really as intense as the film, that would be impossible, but let me tell you, it comes a close second. I guarantee you will be dodging invisible bullets and you may even shed a tear at the entrance to the German bunker complex when one of your mates is shot to pieces by a machine gun nest.
A notable reviewer mentioned that you may feel a certain degree of disspointment when you find out that this intensity isn't carried on immediately past the first level. Disregard this comment. Take a look at any great film or game, you just don't get 200% visceral fury from beginning to end and like Saving Private Ryan, MOH-F goes a little more stealthy and downbeat past the opening bloodbath. Say what you like, but I love it. The submarine infiltration and the following shipyard mission are outstanding. Brillantly paced, scripted and the soundtrack puts many Hollywood blockbusters totally to shame.
Another honourable mention goes out to MOH-F for depicting the British during WW2 in a favourable light. Many American entertainment mediums seem convinced we are ridiculous-accented morons who did nothing but ride through WW2 on their coat-tails. Not so here. Although you play an American a latter, particularly harrowing mission, through the streets of Arnheim (emulating brilliantly the final battle in Saving Private Ryan), sees you fighting alongside British paras. You fight inch by inch, side by side through the ruined streets while a haunting choir dramatically provide the musical cues. The voices of the British soldiers around you gave me a genuine moment of national pride!
There is really little to complain about in this game. There is some dodgy animation when you man a machine gun post, ladders are ridiculously fiddly to climb and the hit detection when shooting at very long range is occasionally a little inaccurate but believe me these things are so insignificant overall. The level of detail is unbelievable, just listen to the germans chatting to each other, the grind and clank of Panzers moving down onto your position, the valour, the computer generated human sacrifice! You almost feel guilty having such a good time re-living such a dreadful period of history.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 25, 2011 4:57 PM BST

Demons - The Director's Cut (Dubbed) [DVD] [1987]
Demons - The Director's Cut (Dubbed) [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Urbano Barberini
Price: £7.39

9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gore, pus, rock and sleazy looking European women!, 20 Jun. 2002
Demons is cited on the commentary that accompanies this DVD as being one of the most important Italian horror films of the 80's, and indeed it is. Bypassing (partially) the flabby, overcooked acting, unevenly distributed action and horrendous scores of many a Euro-horror, Demons goes straight for the jugular, eyeballs, guts and groin tipping it's hat fairly and squarely to the work of George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Sam Raimi (the Evil Dead). This film is certainly one of the best paced non-American horror flicks of the decade and contains a level of lovingly crafted, sickeningly visceral gore which just wouldn't happen these days.
I shan't give away much of the 'plot', which has more more holes in it than a machine gunned Swiss cheese, but suffice to say a bunch of sleazy looking European types (I have a major thing for the second prostitute who gets it!) from all walks of life end up holed up in an ominous Cinema being preyed upon by the 'zombie substitute' demons. The gore is plentiful and as I mentioned sick. Just check out the first transformation, the teeth being knocked out to make way for fangs, the grotesque through the back 'birthing' and the eye gouging.
For a European film the acting isn't actually too bad and the set is very effective. This film of course has bad points. Loads of them, but as is sometimes the case with these trashy horrors, the bad bits are so bad that they end up enhancing the enjoyment of the picture as you laugh at them. In this particular picture I refer to the outrageous pimp, the hammy usherette, the totally stupid coke snorting punks (snorting coke out of a coke can!) and best of all the continuity disregarding finale that shows the entire country overrun with Demons some 2-3 hours after the inital encounter! As one of the last survivors saviours remarks: 'Perhaps we can't find somewhere where we can start again.' Classic garbage and even the involvement of the terminally abysmal Dario Argento couldn't ruin the fun of this film. Add to this toxic cocktail an interesting commentary with the director and a soundtrack featuring Billy Idol, Saxon and the immensely underrated 'Fast as a Shark' by Accept and you have a total winner. I love it.

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