Uncategorized

Danzig: Deth Red Sabaoth

So I picked up Danzig’s 2010 album Deth Rd Sabaoth. This was a completely impulse buy, based solely on two factors. Hammer of the Gods and especually Night Star Hel. If you cannot get the obvious reason for that based on my name and the name of the blog…well….

I’m not sure what to do with you.

So I’m not sure what cds usually go for, but FYE had this one for about fifteen bucks. More than I like, but two jobs means I am a tired demi-god who has a little extra cash. And the good will I get with Mommy Hel for buying things either with her name to act as offerings, or just good things she will enjoy here on Midgard, typically makes it worth it.

The blackberry frappes are at least.

So I at least checked the reviews online, most of which were in the 4/5 star range. Pretty safe buy at that point and I had heard of Danzig before, even if I’d never heard any of the songs. The album cover was pretty sweet too.

sorry, couldn't find a better one.

sorry, couldn’t find a better one.

So I came into this with some pretty high hopes. Gothic metal, some Norse mythology references, we were looking at a potential winner. The cd loaded in, I pressed play, some heavenly (Helishly?) delightful beats and melody came out. It was glorious!

And then the vocals started.

Now, when I see an album with 4/5 stars I think it’s pretty good. Good beats, good melody, good vocals. Like, Sabaton, or Halestorm, or even Ozzy Ozborn who has some great vocals even if he isn’t my favorite. The lead singer of Danzig on the other hand…well…

He’s enthusiastic.

And that’s really all I can say about it. Black Star Hel is a 6:42 long song. It grinds its guitar with epic rifts, it pounds its drums, and it would be one of my favorite examples of what a metal song is…but the voice. The gods damned voice. I can’t understand a word of it. And not in the mode of scremo metal like Amon Amarth or other scremo bands where that’s the point. Scremo is about taking the voice and making it part of that harsh melody. This…he’s got no melody. I’ve heard people talk the lyrics to songs and that’s not even what this guy does. He belts the words out, at the top of his lungs, with practically no rhythm, no tone, no variance. In listening to it, I literally didn’t notice he’d gone through three different songs!

And the only reason I noticed was because in Left Hand Rise Above he tries to ad variance to his voice…and it doesn’t work.

Look, I might get a lot of hate for this one from Danzig fans. I get that this was the band’s first album in six years. Danzig might be something of a big deal in the music scene, judging that even though I do not pay attention to bands I had heard of them, but…I’m sorry. Wikipedia tells me that two years went into the production of this album and it shows. It really shows. The music is amazing, I love it. But good Gods, six years between albums, two years to make this one, and the lead singer couldn’t learn to sing?

This is the first album I’m actually thinking of taking back. I don’t think I’m ever going to listen to it again. While I appreciate the hard work that goes into making something, and I love the work the others did on this, I’m sorry. I just…I just can’t give this a good review. It is seriously like finding a fresh apple pie, ice cream is right there on the side, it smells delicous, you can’t wait, and right as you take the first, glorious bite…

A mouse pops out and starts belting out off key showtunes at the of his lungs. On every song. Actually, it’s better put like this, without the talent:

 

 

Danzig’s Deth Red Sabaoth gets a 2/5

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Uncategorized

The Urban Fantasy Critic: Forever

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So this season of fall tv looks like it’s going to be a wondrous one for nerds and geeks everywhere. We’ve got several DC properties with Arrow and Flash, soon to be followed with Gotham and perhaps even a Teen Titans. We’ve got the return of Sleepy Hollow, which I have to say was a smash success for me, even with its Christian theme. We’re even getting one of the OG urban fantasy stories out there with Constantine.

And then we apparently are getting Forever.

Now, with only one episode out its impossible to tell if this show actually has anything Magical to it. Though with the main character, Dr. Henry Morgan, constantly returning to life via unexplained means…I’m going with “a wizard did it” until proven otherwise. So, at least for now, another urban fantasy show out there for me.

The basic plot of the show is that Dr. Morgan can’t die, and since he started out as a doctor he’s run with it during his immortality. Nearly two hundred years of life and counting has turned him into a veritable Sherlock Holmes with details. Which, really, gives us the best description of this show. Sherlock Holmes meets Highlander.

I honestly wish I could do this one as a video review, but the writing bug has bitten me and away I must write. While I don’t know that I will give this show all that many points for original concept (I’m sure the idea has been done in fanfictions somewhere). I will point to it as at least a pleasing concept. Immortals are fun, history is fun, and having an excuse to have stories pop back in history is something I loved about the Highlander TV series. In fact, it something I’ve missed with tv shows as of the last decade or so. I think it’s one of the things I liked about Sleepy Hollow so much. Forever‘s first episode didn’t have quite the political commentary that SH does in it’s show. Though, that is understandable since Dr. Morgan has lived through time and seen the events that led up to the present, where as Ichabod Crane is doing the fish out of water and has the preserved ideals of the America’s during the Revolution.

However, just because I’ve drawn those two shows together doesn’t mean they are alike. Forever looks to be very much more a fun who-done-it series with a dry sense of humor. It’s almost British, actually. I could see this show on the BBC, with its dry, spartan whit. Meanwhile, Sleepy Hollow gives us the things we like in our urban fantasy: dark themes, strange creatures, and masterly evil plans. Forever does look like it is going to have a master plot of immortals, but not to the same degree or nearly as dark, judging by the first episode.

And that’s wonderful. I like dark shows, I like epic shows, I like shows with complicated plots and twists. But occasionally, you just need a fun show.

Forever looks to be that fun show that’s needed this year. Dr. Morgan is instantly engaging to me, the detective lady looks a bit…typical, but I’m sure character development will help her grow. Dr. Morgan’s son looks to add the levity needed against an immortals pathos. And the mysteries…we’ll see how engaging they are, how much history plays into them, and if the crimes take a more historic bent due to his immortality. All in all though, I say check it out, this could be one of the years best shows.

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Brews Askew

Brews Askew: Angry Orchard Crisp Apple

Hello everyone, I’m the SonofHel, and welcome to another episode of Brews Askew, where I delve into the depths of a glass full of that most sacred art, brewery! Today’s selection is Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple hard cider. It was not what I expected.

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So even though I am the son of Hel, the Norse Goddess of death, I do still have a bit of a mortal family. I came across this brew while at Olive Garden with my dad, enjoying a nice dinner after having worked nearly 16 days straight and not getting to see him in about as much time. I decided to treat myself to something local, but despite having that option on their menu, OG didn’t have anything so I went for the next best thing, trying  a hard cider.

Now, my previous experiences with hard cider were that they mostly tasted like apple cider vinegar, so I wasn’t expecting much. Yet, to my surprise, this exceeded expectations. Let’s get to the review.

Aroma: 9/10

When I got it thankfully my nose was not a solid block that lets no air in, so I actually got to smell this one. I have to say, I like it. It was pretty much the exact same smell as a fresh, cold glass of apple juice. A drink I was addicted to growing up, and have missed greatly in the last few year. Sweet, clear, crisp (living up to its name), and reminding me of all the good glasses of juice I’d had in the past.

Appearance: 8/10

You can kind of tell in the picture above, and  I apologize I couldn’t get it with the light coming through, but it has the exact same color as apple juice as well. There was a hint of carbonation in the glass, but it was clear, light, even airy in view. There’s not much I can say beyond that, except that I thought it looked rather nice, compared to some ciders I’ve run across that were a bit darker and much more cloudy.

Flavor: 43/50

If you’ve ever had one of those really hot days, and come inside to a cold glass of apple juice, you’d know how well this can taste. In this regard AO Crisp Apple did not disappoint. It was sweet, bubbly, and made me think of sparkling apple juice that you can buy during the holiday season. I instantly loved it…though I do have to admit that even this one has that vinegary taste that seems to run with ciders. I don’t know why that is, if its the way the alcohol taste just mixes with apples, or if its something in the brewing process, but it was in there. And it tarnished the wonder a little bit. Not enough to make a difference in my desire to have another, but enough that it prevented it from being the perfect flavor I want in a hard cider. It was the lightest I’ve run into though, which I counted in its favor.

Mouthfeel: 7/10

It felt exactly like a lightly sparkling juice, sweet and tingly, while incredibly light. There are drinks that feel heavy, and that can be good, and there are drinks that feel light and that can be good as well. This is one of those whose lightness of feel works completely in its favor. Perhaps it was because they were doing a Crisp Apple rather than a heavier cider, but it kept with the feel that this was more a hard juice than a hard cider. Certainly, it worked wonders, and complimented itself and my meal well.

Intangibles: 4/5

My gods, I can drink apple juice again! I can not express in typing how wonderful that is to me. The only reason it isn’t perfect in this regard is that vinegar taste, but otherwise the happiness at getting to taste apple juice again without risk is so wonderful I don’t really care.

Overall: 13/15

Angry Orchard is a company that specializes only in ciders and I have to say, based on this one I want to try more of their product. Some of their drinks listed on Das Wiki look good, especially the Cinnful Apple, their fall/winter seasonal brew I’m going to have to track down. A company that makes nothing but apple based drinks I can enjoy is pretty awesome, and Crisp Apple leads me to believe they make a good quality product. Even as the drink warmed up to room temperature, it kept its flavor and mouthfeel, never falling flat. To me that is a mark of well crafted brew.

Total Score: 84/100

While this might seem like a B grade, believe me, this beer is only A grade in my book. I would have ranked it even higher, but I guess that the vinegar taste just really wove its way through everything and knocked it down a bit. Still though, go try this. It’s great for a quiet dinner or hanging out with friends, which is what a good brew is for.

Until next time, Hel Bless.

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The Urban Fantasy Critic

The Urban Fantasy Critic: Horns by Joe Hill

Hello and welcome to the first issue of the Urban Fantasy Critic, where I focus on reviewing those stories that fall in the realms of Urban Fantasy. This was actually the first style of reviews I conceived of after too many hours of watching the Nostalgia Critic. Most of these are going to be video reviews, but experiments showed me that novels are very hard for me to put to video, so for now they will be text, with other media going on video.

One of the benefits of being employed in a book store is you always run across interesting books. It’s even better when you can get bargain books at a discount. Which is where I found Horns by Joe Hill.

horns_joe-hill

Blessed shall you be when you go in.

A bit of background from what I’ve picked up. According to das wiki this is Hill’s second published novel and according to coworkers he’s actually the son of Stephen King. Which, once I saw a picture of him, became rather obvious. Certainly, if this book is to judge compared to his father’s works that I’ve read, Joe surpasses the King in talent and imagination.

The basic story is that the main character, Ig Perrish, long maligned for raping and murdering his girlfriend, awakes one morning with no memory of the night before to a pair of horns growing out of his head and a rapidly growing set of demonic powers. The first of which is people confess their darkest secrets to him without a thought with no memory of doing so. It doesn’t take long for this to quickly lead him down the path of finding out who killed the love of his life Merrin Williams and planning his vengeance. Along the way he learns a little about God, a bit more about the Devil, and more about those around him than he ever wanted to know.

He also gets a lot of pet snakes and a pitchfork.

Urban fantasy has been around as an acknowledged genre since the 80’s and in nearly thirty years its a lot harder to come up with original idea for the genre than back when it first started. I can’t say that Horns is all that original in concept, certainly the revenge plot has been around since the first human stories, and a man turning into a devil has probably been around for as long as Christianity has existed. Even the powers he gains aren’t anything overly original, in fact they’re so tried and true for the devil they almost become stereotypical.

In the hands of a lesser writer, such would have become very, very dull.

And yet…

The powers work because reading the book you can sense they weren’t chosen because “these are the traditional powers of a demon” out of laziness. It feels as if they were chosen from an incredible amount of research. Ig doesn’t get a lot of powers, and they aren’t overly powerful, but each one flows out of him as if from a natural source. “I am the devil,” they say, rather than the all to common scream of “I AM THE DEVIL, WORSHIP ME!!!” that happens when people give their characters demonic origins. A statement of fact, rather than a declaration of power, if you will.

I think what really sold me on this book though is that, like the powers, the plot flows with serpentine grace, weaving and sliding around you. It doesn’t slap you in the face, but it doesn’t hide it from you either. As the murder mystery goes, it almost pulls a Columbo and tells you right at the beginning who actually killed Merrin. At first I thought it was joking, a red herring meant to distract you from the real killer. A friend said he’d put money down on the killer being Ig. I need to see if he was serious about that.

But no, that person really is the killer. The book then flows from past to future and back again a few times. Since I started reading the book hoping for a rather basic “man gets demon powers and goes on roaring rampage of revenge” this initially annoyed me. I didn’t care about how Ig and Marrin had met, or grown to love each other. I wanted a demon to go killing people. I didn’t get that.

I don’t care though. Even though I was annoyed by the flash backs, they built the story. Not only did they build the story, the things inside them became important plot points to explain not only why Merrin left Ig, what happened to her the night she died, and why the killer did it, but how Ig got his powers and from who. If forced me to care about them by the end, it made me understand each one and their movements the same way that Ig’s powers forced him to understand everyone around him and why they committed the actions that they did.

It gave me Ig’s powers. It made me into a devil.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom however. The romance was touching, and the references were so numerous and music based that I didn’t catch them all, and had to look up the ones I thought I had. Devil in a blue dress still has me laughing and I hope that part gets into the movie.

Because there is going to be a movie! With Daniel Radcliffe no less.

 

In fact, the trailer is what made me seriously read the book. While I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies (and may do a review of them later on in an UF context) Daniel Radcliffe didn’t exactly overwhelm me. He didn’t underwhelm me either, to be fair, he made a very convincing Harry Potter and I enjoyed his work. But it wasn’t spectacular, if you will. In the short trailer for Horns though…dear gods, that man can act. Hopefully the movie is as good as the trailer. The book certainly lived up to expectations from it.

As far as urban fantasy aspects go, I can’t say if falls too heavily into the spectrum. Ig is the only non-human apparent in the story and doesn’t run into any other supernatural creatures. Well, he does run into Satan’s tree-house, but that’ it. Literally. But saturation isn’t what makes an Urban Fantasy. Dracula, the original Urban Fantasy novel, only had the vampire Dracula (and his brides) to add the supernatural element. Yet Dracula is really the story I credit with the creation of Urban Fantasy as a genre, even if it wouldn’t be recognized as such for an age. And like Dracula, more of the supernatural wasn’t needed to make this an amazing story of the supernatural.

In all I would have to say I rate this book a solid 9/10. The characters are engaging, the prose is wonderful, and the plot manages to make its simplicity into a thing of beauty, like the movements of a taichi master. Go give it a read.

I’m going to be going to try out these demonic powers to get people’s secrets a spin. 😉

Amen.

Blessed shall you be when you go out.

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beer, Brews Askew

Brews Askew: Landshark Island Lager

Recently, on my first trip to Folly Island, SC, I ended up coming across Landsharks’ Island Lager. And since it had shark in the title I pretty much had to try it. The gift of having a shark as one’s totem.

One first impressions I’m going to say I liked it. For some reason I kept thinking there were hints of lemon to the flavor, but every time I tried to pick up that flavor it vanished, so I’m going to go with association based on the color of the beer. Color wise it was a very yellow beer, which I think is unusual for a lager. I’m not counting this against it this time since they labeled it an island lager and I don’t know if that’s a special thing with its own rules.

Flavor wise, while I can say I liked it, I can’t really say much more than that. There weren’t any strong notes to it. The closest I can compare it to is the new Miller Fortune, but Fortune still has stronger flavors and an aftertaste. Landshark on the other hand, as soon as you’ve swallowed there really isn’t even a hint that you’ve been drinking anything. Still, this is not a bad thing, especially if you are wanting a beer, but don’t want it to effect the flavors of your food. Which I would say is a strong point in its favor, at least to me.

Alcohol wise, I didn’t get a chance to see what it was on the bottle. I had one over the course of a dinner, and didn’t feel much of anything from it. I don’t know if that means it was light on buzzing ability, or if my ability to drink two fingers of crown royal black and not feel much of anything in the way of a buzz is getting in the way.

Overall I’d say it was a decent, if light, tasting beer that goes well with a variety of foods. I give it a 6/10, maybe even a 7/10.

So that was our first text review. I will be attempting a video review of Miller Fortune soon, with a much better scaling system in the future. Leave your thoughts and/or experiences with Landsharks’ I and Lager below, and Hel bless. 🙂

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Uncategorized

Welcome to the New Project!

While suffering from migraine induced unemployment I came across The Nostalgia Critic. His acerbic whit, hilarious style, and love of what he did inspired me. I started blogging nearly eight years ago, I think, and I loved it. But I found my love dragged down by politics and too many tormenting tales. I wanted it to be fun again, and after watching the NC’s entire catalog I wanted to do what he did, video reviews.

What I dream of doing is reviews of Urban Fantasy, but I realize that I want to review other things as well. So this is going to be the home of those reviews, for now, along with a YouTube channel I will be linking here. Some reviews will be texts and others will be videos. How often they happen I can’t say to start, but hopefully they will be fun and that should lead to them happening more often than not.

I look forwards to taking this journey with you. Hel bless. 🙂

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