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T Williamson

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Ultimate Survivor
Ultimate Survivor
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised, 31 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ultimate Survivor (MP3 Download)
Throughout this year, I have become a massive fan of AOR. With the rubbish that is released today, it's good to see that the 80's is making a come back, with bands such as Sunstorm, H.E.A.T., Eclipse and Hardline presenting modern "hair metal" to the new generation. Nevertheless, as great as these bands do in recreating the authentic cheese, I thought I would try out an actual group from the 80's decade itself.

Of course, who hasn't heard of Survivor?!! They feature on both the Rocky 3 and 4 soundtracks, and that's enough to make the "King of Nobody's" famous!! However, it's all very well citing two songs from their career, but it's very hard to judge a band when you've got so many gaps to fill in their discography. Listening to this album has made me really appreciate this band. Every song appeals to me, and it's an album I simply can't stop listening to. Journey recently made a comeback, but it would be great to see the new generation truly come to appreciate the AOR music genre by embracing Survivor. Arguably, nobody does it better! Bring on the ROCK!!!!

Price: £10.69

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Marmite - either you love it or hate it!, 8 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Imaginaerum (MP3 Download)
This album is perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated, long-waited for, albums of recent times, so it is perhaps no surprise that it has received (and will continue to receive) a lot of scrutiny.

I love Nightwish. I have all their albums. I followed them through their latter days with Tarja and watched with interest as the last album featuring Anette was released. I can still listen to their early albums such as "Wishmaster" and "Oceanborn" without getting bored or tiresome. However, there is little doubt, particularly following the entrance of their new singer and her debut Nightwish venture ("Dark Passion Play"), that Nightwish are a different band to what they were. That is why you can't listen to "Imaginaerum" and expect it to be anything like early Nightwish releases, and perhaps the only similarity this album bears to the album that arguably brought Nightwish into the mainstream ("Once") is the fact that Tuomas & Co utilise the London Philharmonic Orchestra and choir known as Metro Voices to create an authentic symphonic sound.

When I heard Nightwish were doing a new album, which was earlier this year, I was (like most other Nightwish fans) extremely excited to say the least! I kept checking the website to see if it had been released, until I finally got word that it would be released in December 2011. Let me start by saying that I am very very impressed with this album! The problem is; I don't think every Nightwish fan will share the same view. The simplest reason for that is that this album is unique as far as Nightwish are concerned. Tuomas appears to have really branched out and gone wild with his songwriting and production. You might either view that as a good or bad thing, but my personal view is that, as risky as it was, he has pulled it off tremendously and revealed more than ever before how much of a talent he truly is in the realm of music!

This album has musical stylings ranging from swing to hardcore symphonic metal and everything in between. It's a daring effort, but one I feel which has paid off amazingly.

What sticks out on this album for me is the sheer brilliance of each song. As just one example, I have never been into Jazz or blues, but the fourth track ("Slow, Love, Slow") uses a lot of those musical stylings, yet retains a heavy metal, and sinister, edge to keep it "Nightwishy", and I can honestly say that I like it as much as the rest of the fantastic songs on the album.

As other reviewers have pointed out, you should not listen to the songs on this album in isolation. The reason for that is it seems, from listening to it, that the album is meant to just flow from one song to the next until it culminates in the fantastic Outro "Imaginaerum", which features small parts from each song on the album in all its symphonic glory. It serves almost as a final word to say "Listen to this album over again".

One final thing I want to say on my review is that you must splash out and purchase the 2 CD pack (or download it), which has the instrumental versions of each song on. The reason I say that is because it makes you appreciate the musical quality of each track and the song writing ability and creativity of Tuomas Halopainen. Plus it's actually quite good to sit down and relax to (never thought I'd say that about heavy metal music!)

This album is sheer brilliance, and (whatever you think of Tarja's departure) Anette really shines on this album and the music fits her voice so well. Furthermore, Marco provides some great vocal input and Tuomas really reveals his musical genius. Perhaps a lot of people will find it too unique and far detached from the old-school Nightwish, but I would advise anyone, whether you are an avid Nightwish fan or a Nightwish newby, to appreciate the unique song writing ability and production value of this masterpiece. When you can do that, you will see that, as different as it is to conventional metal albums, even those formerly done by Nightwish, it is one of the greatest musical masterpieces of modern times. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe this is the best Nightwish release so far. May this band continue long into the future!

Sony Car cassette adaptor
Sony Car cassette adaptor
Offered by PADNOTE
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not without its faults, 19 Oct. 2011
I have never used a device like this before, so I really didn't know what to expect.

I've had my car, which is a second-hand 2003 Ford Ka, for about a year. It has always had only a cassette radio, so I've not been able to listen to CD's in the car which, as an avid music-lover, was a great disappointment. Then I discovered this little device. Perfect! It allows me to listen to my MP3 in the car. All you do is plug the connector into your MP3, insert the tape and press play on the portable's as simple as that!!

Unfortunately, whilst it's simple to use, it is not without its imperfections. You really have to crank up the volume to get any sensible sound out of it. Also, it's not quite CD quality sound, but it's as near as you could expect from a device such as this. Having said that, being that it's Sony I would have expected the sound to be much better. Also on the negative side is the fact that, to skip tracks, you have to press the skip on the device because (obviously) there's no function on a standard radio-cassette player to skip tracks. Whilst this can't be helped, it's rather distracting to have to pick up a small MP3 device and quickly find the track you want without smashing into the stationary car in front of you at 60mph!!

On the plus side, the device is very easy to use and it becomes a real life-saver on those long journeys. Shortly before I bought it, I took a two-hour drive to my best friends house and the journey just seemed so boring and laborious. It missed something - namely my music blasting out of the stereo! Enter the device that can save all that - the Sony Car Cassette adaptor! It certainly does the job, and whilst it's not perfect it's good enough to allow you to enjoy your journey without constantly thinking "I wish I could listen to my CD's but all i've got is a cassette player!"

This is NOT a perfect recreation of CD or MP3 digital sound, but it comes close and if it's all you've got for a long car journey then it's good enough to entertain you for however long that journey goes on for. Just make sure your MP3 has enough charge, or your portable CD player has battery power, because that's where the ability to playback comes from.

The Storm
The Storm
Price: £4.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pop AND metal - surely not!?!?, 19 Oct. 2011
This review is from: The Storm (MP3 Download)
This is surprisingly good.

Until Amazon put it down as a personal recommendation I had never heard of Issa. In fact, it seems as though she is not really well known in either the metal or pop arena. However, my opinion is that she deserves to be much better known and hopefully after her latest release ("The Storm") she will begin to get some recognition in the UK.

This really is an acquired taste. Either you will love it or hate it. If you are a die-hard metal fan, and really have a closed mind towards any other genre of music then you're probably going to find that Issa gets on your nerves big time. There is definitely a strong pop influence in this music. I suspose in the metal arena this is what's classed as melodic metal, however, as my previous reviews have suggested, that (to me) is all politics and is unnecessary because music is music - if it's good it's good, if it's bad it's bad. If you dig too deep into thinking "oh, but metal shouldn't mix with pop", then you're going to severely restrict yourself in what you can listen to and appreciate.

Personally, I love this album and I love her previous one too ("Sign of Angels"). I like her voice (a lot) and the music is well written and produced. I believe also that it's still heavy metal, merely with a pop influence. Arguably, it could also be seen as pop with a metal influence but, quite frankly, who cares?! At least with this music you can hear the lyrics and her voice isn't drowned out by either over zealous and cranked up guitar playing or death grunts. It works really well and despite that the songs are a little shallow on the plot they are feel-good and uplifting. The ballads are good too, such as "Invincible" and "Black Clouds".

If you hate pop so much that you could murder Britney Spears or Justin Beiber, then perhaps you'd better stay away from this Artist. However, if you are a metal fan that (a) can appreciate other types of music, and (b) likes simple feel-good well sung songs, then you should love it and I would recommend it to you very strongly indeed.

I gave it five stars because, personally, I love it. This is right up my street and I love to have it blasting out of my car!

Yamaha YDP141 Digital Portable Piano
Yamaha YDP141 Digital Portable Piano

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!, 19 Oct. 2011
To prove that I know a little what I'm talking about, I have been playing piano for around 12 years and I reached grade 7.

I have played acoustic piano's before, and I had a digital piano for around 7 years before purchasing this one.

My old digital piano (Technics P50) had a very impressive sound that, quite honestly, took some beating. However, anyone who knows the P50 will know that it's a "gigging" piano. It sits on a stand and transmits its sound through and amp rather than built in speakers. Therefore, as good as it sounded (through headphones), it was never really meant for home-playing pleasure and, quite frankly, looked a bit ugly in the living room.

Bring on the Yamaha YDP141. This is a digital piano that sounds as good as it looks! It is a digital that probably comes as close as can be expected to an acoustic. As I said at the beginning of this review, I have played acoustics (including a full concert grand), so I know what to expect from acoustic pianos. Truly, I'm not sure that any digital piano will ever be able to mimic exactly the sound of an acoustic, however, this comes very very close. Not only that, but the properly weighted full size keyboard, and elegant look, make it look as much like the real thing as it sounds like the real thing.

The "proper" pedals also give it a professional look and feel that makes the YDP141 an almost replica of an acoustic with obvious exceptions (like having to plug it in and, of course, never having to have it re-tuned).

This is for a pianist of any ability. In fact, whilst it is great for experienced pianists, it's arguably better for beginners as it gives you a great start to grade 1 by introducing the feel of weighted keys (which, at first, take some getting used to), and the pressure it requires to create full dynamic range from ppp to fff.

On that last point, if I had one very minor criticism (and it is a minor one), I feel that it is relatively hard to create a real dynamic range (i.e. from pp to ff). It feels like you really have to wack the keys to get anymore than forte out of it. Having said that, I have been used to depressing relatively light keys on my old digital piano and it could just be a case of getting used to the feel of my new Yamaha.

Amongst the obvious benefits of having a digital piano(such as never having to re-tune, moveability, modern look, etc.) it has several different sounds which all equally produce a beautiful tone for whatever style you want to play in or whatever period you want to play from.

Overall, this is a highly recommended instrument and it is nothing short of genius. The makers of the YDP141 have obviously put a lot of work into creating a true piano sound and feel and, in my opinion, have done a near perfect job! At the price it is on Amazon, it's well worth getting.

Price: £7.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreamtale's best?, 2 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Epsilon (MP3 Download)
This album is, quite simply, powerful and uplifting from start to finish...which I believe is what "power metal" is all about. However, to label it merely as a power metal album would be wrong and undermine what Dreamtale really stand for, and that is melodic metal.

If you listen to this, expect lots of keyboard and symphonic tones. Personally I love this, so I would rate this album very highly. If I had one criticism (which is perhaps why it lost out on five stars), whilst most of the songs are incredibly impressive and leave you with a "wow" feeling after listening to it, in my view, others on the album do not leave quite such a lasting impression. The best tracks in my opinion are "Firestorm" (a great opening track), "Angel of Light" (brilliant chorus and nice melodies), "Fly Away" (possibly the best on the album), and "Strangers' Ode" (very melodic and epic, also bears a lot of folk influence). Others that do not quite stand out (although I would not call them "bad") are "Reasons Revealed" and "Mortal Games". The remainder of the tracks are very good but don't leave quite the same impression as the first three tracks I mentioned.

Having given a somewhat inadequate and confusing breakdown of the album tracks, what I will say is if you can simply view this album as a great (and possibly the best) instalment by Dreamtale then you can ignore the finer negative and positive aspects, listen to it for an hour and come out feeling very impressed. It is pure, unadulterated, melodic power metal with all the cheese you could hope for! It also seems to bear a lot of folk influence with melodies, symphonic undertones and keyboard motif's a-plenty, and the singer's voice is almost a replica of early Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson (which, in my view, is no bad thing). Melodic power metal is my favourite genre of metal, so I scrutise bands in this genre very closely (having listened to a lot to compare it to), but this is one that definitely will be blasting out of my car in the days and months to come.

Despite its very minor flaws, this is an overall very impressive release and shows that Dreamtale are on the up in the melodic/power metal arena. If you are in to melodic and/or power metal I would definitely recommend buying this.

Exit 49
Exit 49
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Superior instalment from Dreamland!, 27 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Exit 49 (MP3 Download)
I initially purchased 'Future's Calling' and 'Eye for an Eye' by this band, and left it at that for a while given that I was flitting between other power/symphonic metal bands of interest. I was aware of this 2009 album, but didn't bother with it for a long time; not because I was not a fan of Dreamland but because I had discovered so many other great power metal bands that I kind of forgot about them for a while. However, having come back to listening to the two previous albums again recently, I felt compelled to check out the latest instalment with a view to establishing whether or not it was worth buying. Uncategorically, it is! This is the best of the three albums by far.

This album, in my opinion, is slightly more gritty and 'rocky' than the previous two which edge more on the melodic tone. That's perhaps one reason I avoided it, but don't be misled if you are into slightly more melodic/symphonic tones because this album is great. It has very very catchy songs which, since purchasing the album, just keep getting better and better the more I listen to them. This album has re-established Dreamland as a very high-ranking power metal band in my collection, and, quite frankly, one of the best!

All the songs are great - even the short instrumental outro at the end is memorable. The choruses really stick out, and to put it bluntly the whole album is extremely well-written, produced and it all sounds very current and contemporary. If you are a fan of Dreamland, you'd be a fool to overlook this superior instalment, if you are a fan of power metal in general, you'd be a fool to overlook what is quite possibly one of the best power metal albums I've heard come out of Europe in the last few years. I just can't believe I neglected to buy it sooner!

Devil [DVD]
Devil [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Messina
Price: £2.75

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not that scary, but very thought-provoking!, 29 July 2011
This review is from: Devil [DVD] (DVD)
This is an interesting review for me, because if I were to review the film purely as a horror movie it would categorically get a very poor 1/5. However, if I review it as a film in general, without putting it into any sub-category or genre, I would give it a much more respectable 4/5 - so that's what I've done...

Don't buy this film expecting to be deeply scared and horrified. Yes, it does have moments when you are unsure about what's coming and it might make you jump in a few places but, sorry, it's not a horror for me. However, it's beauty lies in it's plot and the way M Night Shyamalan pulls off his perfect tricks to make a very thought-provoking, deep and entertaining rollercoaster ride, with twists and turns a-plenty and an ending which puts everything that you've seen for the last hour and a half together like a perfectly pieced jigsaw puzzle.

The main plot is actually very simple. Several people get trapped in a sky-scrapper elavator and it soon becomes apparent that one of them is the Devil. As each person is picked off one by one, each remaining victim begins to trust each other a little less until there are just two very paranoid and anxious victims left, and a face off with the evil one himself at the end.

Don't be too put off though, because whilst the actual story isn't anything particularly fancy, the deeper meaning behind it all is.

I am a great fan of M Night Shyamalan. I can't praise his creativity enough. He has a fantastic nack of creating films that make you think about them for days afterwards, and this film is no exception. What makes this film interesting is the background story behind the characters (particularly the remaining survivor in the elavator and the police detective). I won't ruin that for you in this review and, if I did, my review would probably end up too long to be published by Amazon.

I would recommend giving this a go if you like deep thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat. However, I would actually say stay away from it if you prefer a simple gory and scary horror film, because this ain't it. For any critics out there, it's a more sophisticated effort which simply has the "Devil" as its villain, but that doesn't mean that it has to be a scary horror movie. Let's just say that it's a typical thought-provoking effort by M Night Shyamalan who yet again has done what he is best at - and if you've seen (and appreciated) any of his other films, such as "Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" and "The Village", then you'll know what I mean by that.

The Ring/The Ring 2 [DVD]
The Ring/The Ring 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Martin Henderson
Offered by Fulfillment Next Day
Price: £6.18

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good horrors!, 29 July 2011
This review is from: The Ring/The Ring 2 [DVD] (DVD)
It's quite difficult to apply an appropriate star-rating to a box set because, inevitably, the original film is almost always better than its sequels and this is no exception to that rule. Therefore, four stars is my overall rating because I would give the first film 5/5 and the second 3/5.

The ring is scary and chilling from the start and never lets up. The plot surrounds an urban legend about a mysterious video tape that if you watch it you die 7 days later. Hmmmm, seems fairly mediocre plot so far, but don't be misled because the plot thickens as the story unravels and more and more becomes apparent to the viewer about the nature, origins and meaning of this video tape.

The lead character (Rachel) is drawn into this urban legend when her neice dies after having watched the tape, suffering a very sudden and unexplainable heart attack! She subsequently investigates this tape, and is led to a remote log cabin holiday village in the midddle of nowhere where the girl is said to have watched the video. There she finds the tape sitting on the shelf and, after much deliberation, watches it herself. Then she gets the spooky call: "7 days..." This makes it all real to Rachel and she soon realises she has just seven days to find a way to stop herself from being killed. Throughout the film, the video appears to come to life as she sees certain things from the video in real life. Digging further, she is led to a remote island where the mysterious woman (Anna Morgan) who appears in the video once lived and owned a horse ranch with her husband and their adopted daughter (Samara). Her investigations reveal that the horses mysteriously killed themselves by stampeding into the sea, and it was then all downhill for the once proud Anna Morgan as her pride deteriorates, goes into deep depression, and later kills herself. After speaking to Anna's husband and the locals it soon becomes apparent to Rachel that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to their adopted daughter; Samara.

I won't ruin the plot altogether, as that would be a great shame for anyone who hasn't yet seen it. The ring is simply a great film with a thick and interesting plot, which is based on a Japanese film by the same name. It is very chilling, and the writers do a great job of revealing the story gradually, piece by piece, not divulging too much at once but not leaving too much to the imagination either. The music is scary and atmospheric, and (as opposed to most horrors) the culprit of evil is not a departed and elusive character that no-one can relate to, she is very real and her story is well explained towards the end, and is somewhat sad and moving.

As for the sequel, it again follows the theme of the video tape, carrying on the plot well with Rachel staying the lead character. Having escaped the grip of death in the first film, she soon finds that all is not over when she needs to prevent her son from becoming possessed by her evil arch-nemesis who seemingly wants to "live" through Rachel's son so that she can be "heard" and "loved" by her. However, when Rachel resists this, she upsets the evil spirit and once again must fight to stay alive in Samara's deadly game. Sure, it's not as good or original as the first film, but I must commend it for carrying on the story well and for not departing too much from the original story-line.

This box set is worth getting because each film is, as far as horror films go, chilling and scary as well as intruiging, deep and meaningful. The actors are good and play their respective roles well, and the music fits the on-screen dark setting perfectly.

This is impressive stuff (particularly the first film) and is well worth watching for a good night's entertainment. Just be aware that you may need to keep the lights on for a while after watching it and you may not be able to look at your television set whilst it's turned off for any prolonged period (when you see the film you'll understand why). Also, if you see a video tape sitting on a shelf without any label on it, I'd recommend not watching that and putting on a good DVD instead!

Candyman 2 - Farewell To The Flesh [DVD]
Candyman 2 - Farewell To The Flesh [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tony Todd
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good follow-up!, 27 July 2011
When you think of horror sequels, most of the time you think "thanks, but no thanks", and seeing the kind of horror sequels that have been inflicted on mankind over recent years that's not surprising. However, this film really is an exception to the rule. Agreed, it's not as good or "original" as the first film, but that's a hard task given the excellence of the first instalment and this film, nevertheless, does a fantastic job at carrying on the story of the legend that is the Candyman.

This time set in the backdrop of New Orleans at the time of the carnival before Lent, Annie Tarrant (a local school teacher) wants answers about the gruesome murder of her father. In the meantime, the same professor who told the story of the Candyman to Helen Lyle in the first film (who is a devoted expert on the Candyman, yet refuses to believe that he is real) is at a signing for his new book written about his favourite urban legend and, further to a request to prove that he is not real, with jest he calls his name five times in his reflection on the books front cover. Let's just say that was the last mistake he'll ever make, as he is subsequently gruesomely slain by the Candyman in a bar restroom. And so it seems that the Candyman is stalking the inhabitants of New Orleans.

Annie's brother, who is an avid believer of the Candyman, is set in the frame for these murders and is kept in custody in the local police station. Annie stubbornly refuses to believe that these murders are down to the Candyman and so, in an attempt to prove to some local students and herself that he isn't real, she calls his name five times. Much like Helen in the original film, Annie is then stalked by the Candyman and, as her loved ones are gradually killed one by one, is forced to pursue the origins of the Candyman in an attempt to find a way to destroy him. Meanwhile, her mother seems reluctant to reveal Annie's link with the Candyman and thinks that if he is out of mind he is out of sight...not so!

This film is not just an excuse to provide more pointless gore and horror, it does a perfect job of completing the story behind the Candyman. It all began in 1890. Daniel Robitaille was the son of a slave to a wealthy businessman in the late 19th century, who falls in love with his "keeper's" daughter (Caroline) and gets her pregnant. Caroline's father is enraged and hires a group of thugs to pursue Daniel where, having caught up with him, they saw off his right hand and smear him with fresh bee's honey from a nearby hive in order that the angry swarm of bee's attack him to death. Before he dies, however, he is mocked by his attackers, and earns his name "Candyman" as one of the boys tastes the honey and provokes the crowd into cheering "Candyman, Candyman, Candyman" etc. Caroline's father comes up clutching a small mirror of hers, shows the Candyman his reflection, which is horrifically marred by bee stings, and asks him how his daughter could ever love him in his new disfigured state. Daniel then chants "Candyman" to his reflection and dies. Thereafter, Candyman's vengeful spirit is trapped in this small mirror, which is theoretically his gateway through all other mirrors to allow him to take physical form, and exercise his revenge on humanity by gruesomely slaying those who are stupid or ignorant enough to call his name five times in the reflection.

It's an intruiguing story that is acted out and well played by not only the very talented Tony Todd (as Candyman / Daniel), but also most other actors in the film. Tony Todd plays the character brilliantly, revealing both his vengeful and soft side as, towards the end of the film, you can't help but feel sorry for him. Again with a chilling score composed by Philip Glass, this is a very impressive follow-up which not only carries on the story created by Clive Barker in tremedous fashion, but also completes it in even better fashion. Don't be put off that this is a horror sequel that attained little positive attention, it really is a very credible effort as far as sequels go!

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