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Customer Reviews: 21
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John Thornburgh RSS Feed (San Diego, California)

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Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
Price: $34.96
65 used & new from $24.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun game, good strategy, April 11, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. (Video Game)
I've finished this game and really enjoyed it! At first I was skeptical because it wasn't enough like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem, and I thought the characters were a little silly. But after a few missions I was won over by the strategy and even came to enjoy the fun characters, story, and setting. Fighting aliens under the command of Abraham Lincoln made me smile. And the challenge of playing a turn-based strategy game without a bird's-eye view, but rather from the perspective of your troops, is great.


elago S5 Slim Fit 2 Case for iPhone 5S/5 - eco friendly Retail Packaging - Soft feeling Black
elago S5 Slim Fit 2 Case for iPhone 5S/5 - eco friendly Retail Packaging - Soft feeling Black
Offered by elago design
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $8.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Best iPhone case if you're a minimalist like me, July 11, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Definitely the best iPhone case for me. I'd prefer no case at all, but have been convinced it's best to have something to protect the camera from scratches and give the phone some protection from falls. This Elago case looks sleek, feels good, doesn't collect dust, is easy to pocket, and allows full access to all controls and ports.


A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read, April 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Not as awesome as 1-3 to be sure, but Martin's characters and world remain fascinating. Dany stumbles but stays true to herself Tyrion remains a pleasure. Jon makes more hard choices. Ramsay is the new Joffrey. The stories of Arya, Jaime, and Cersei move forward. It's good to know Melisandre and Selmy better. Cliffhangers at the end of chapters are overused, but the story builds momentum and tension. Long as it is, I was sorry to see the chapter called Epilogue, and can't wait for the next. I know if will be awhile.


The Human Contradiction (Deluxe Edition)
The Human Contradiction (Deluxe Edition)
Price: $11.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, April 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Loving this album. Right now my favorite songs are Here Come the Vultures and Tragedy of the Commons. Vultures is just so raw, and I gotta love a band that writes about the tragedy of the commons; plus it's an epic closer like all Delain albums have (Delain shares that with Maiden). Sing for Me with Marco is not far behind. And the live recordings are spectacular, Delain's best. This album will likely be neck and neck with Within Temptation's Hydra for #1 when I make my top 10 list at year's end.


Battle Beast
Battle Beast
Price: $16.64
54 used & new from $6.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a modern Judas Priest, February 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Battle Beast (Audio CD)
Really love this album! The vocalist has great variety and power (sometimes sounding like a female Rob Halford) and the guitars are heavy and fun like classic Priest.


Hydra (2-disc Digipak + bonus tracks)
Hydra (2-disc Digipak + bonus tracks)
Price: $14.88
30 used & new from $8.99

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Within Temptation has reinvented itself yet again. And in doing so they have released another album full of awesomeness., February 4, 2014
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Sharon den Adel has said they are not interested in releasing the same album over and over like AC/DC (no disrespect intended, AC/DC rocks). And they have not. Enter’s doom metal is vastly different from Mother Earth’s fantasy folk metal, which in turn is completely unlike The Silent Force’s ethereal beauty, The Heart of Everything’s bombast, and The Unforgiving’s 80’s hard rock. The only real constants in WT’s music have been the beauty, power, and emotion of Sharon’s voice, and the creativity of the music.

Hydra is harder to classify. It is probably Within Temptation’s most diverse and experimental album. To be sure, WT has not abandoned its past. In fact, I think they have deliberately injected signatures from their previous albums. In addition, having changed labels to Nuclear Blast, I see WT is now officially classified as “female fronted metal” -- gone is the “symphonic rock” label of The Unforgiving era. Genres don’t really matter of course, but since I’m a metalhead, I’m happy to have the metal label back. I’m also hopeful that Nuclear Blast will give Within Temptation a great platform to be as creative as they want and to find an audience who appreciates it.

Beyond the label and the diversity and the experimentation, three things stand out about Hydra. One is that Sharon’s voice is more beautiful and emotional than ever. I think she has made the effort in the last few years to take her natural abilities to an even higher level; this was also apparent on The Q-Music Sessions, the covers album that WT released last year. Hydra also gives us much more of Sharon’s exceptionally beautiful high voice than The Unforgiving did. It’s not like The Silent Force, where she used that voice almost all the time, but she does use it a lot and to great effect.

Second, the guitars on Hydra are more complex and more prominent. I’ve seen Ruud Jolie post that this material will be the most challenging he’s played live with WT, and I understand why. Within Temptation has often used guitars more as a rhythm instrument, relying on an orchestra to add complexity. Here the symphony has been dialed back, and the guitars take center stage.

Third, Hydra has some really interesting guests. The first is well known to everyone in the genre: Tarja Turunen, who appeared on the album’s first single last year, “Paradise (What About Us?).” The long-awaited collaboration between Sharon and Tarja is sure to please fans of both. “Paradise” is probably also the most traditional symphonic metal song on Hydra (and it hasn’t changed since the EP).

The other collaborations are more experimental. The next single, “Dangerous,” features American vocalist Howard Jones, formerly of Killswitch Engage. Despite Jones’ background in metalcore, he sings clean vocals here. And he compliments the song and Sharon perfectly. I especially like how WT overlaid Sharon’s ultra-high vocalizations on top of his lines. The music is also driving and energetic, with some of Mike Coolen’s best double bass drums to date. It reminds me a bit of Amaranthe. Overall, the song has a very fresh and modern feel, and is a great choice for a single. I also quite like the video, which does a great job matching the “dangerous” feel of the music.

The next collaboration is probably the most surprising: “And We Run” features rapping by Xzibit (pronounced “exhibit”). The way the song begins, the listener may expect a beautiful ballad but then the music gathers intensity and Xzibit starts rapping. It doesn’t surprise me that a little rapping works in metal music -- I like early Linkin Park, and I’ve seen Sharon mention Run-D.M.C. with Aerosmith -- and the combination works very well here. The force of the rapping fits the metal mood, and Sharon’s high vocals blend very well with Xzibit’s voice (as they did with Howard Jones’).

The last collaboration is a duet ballad, “Whole World Is Watching,” with Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum (or Piotr Rogucki of Coma on the Polish edition). This song is the subject of a beautiful new video.

Beyond the collaborations, it is also interesting to see what has happened to the demos from the Paradise EP on the final album. I really like how Within Temptation is sharing the song development process with us this time.

The first of the EP songs, “Let Us Burn,” now serves as the perfect opening for Hydra. It is much the same as the EP, but has been polished to perfection, and grabs your attention much like “Shot in the Dark” did on The Unforgiving. “Let Us Burn” now also evokes The Silent Force with some samples and with the use of Sharon’s beautiful high voice in parts. The song also gives notice that the album will contain more guitars.

Next up is “Silver Moonlight.” When I heard the EP, I was excited by the return of Robert Westerholt’s growls, and they are still here, though they have become less prominent in the mix. I suppose this makes the song (and album) more accessible, but I’m still glad they are present. By the way, have you ever noticed that Robert also growls on “Our Solemn Hour” (during the chorus)? I can hear this only with headphones. On “Silver Moonlight,” he is much more noticeable, adding to the intensity of the music.

“Dog Days” is the last of the Paradise demos. I loved the demo because it felt like a song off of Enter. It has now become less raw and more polished, sort of like Enter meets The Silent Force. Although Sharon no longer uses her Enter voice as much, her vocals are still very intense and emotional. I also really like Martijn Spierenburg’s piano.

That leaves three more new songs. “Edge of the World” is a beautiful ballad, the first third of which would fit comfortably on The Silent Force, and even reminds me of “Somewhere.” But it becomes much heavier toward the middle and in the last third becomes heavier still, with galloping bass, before looping back to an ethereal finish. By comparison, “Tell Me Why” starts heavy and doesn’t let up. It features an angry riff, thunderous bass, and some of Sharon’s most aggressive vocals. It’s also the longest song on the album, running over six minutes. I quite like both songs, and they offer nice contrast.

I like “Covered by Roses” even more. It is heavy and catchy at the same time, and has lyrics that make me wonder whether this might be a concept album of sorts. I recall that “Let Us Burn” starts with the line “The darkness has come to the roses.” I then realize that “Let Us Burn” also ties into “Paradise,” which begins “There’s no sense, the fire burns.” Perhaps a major theme of Hydra is that life is “dangerous” but we should be “embracing the world on the edge.” “No, it’s not our Paradise. But it’s all we want. And it’s all that we’re fighting for.” I look forward to giving these lyrics more thought in the months and years to come.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2014 10:08 PM PDT


We Are The Others
We Are The Others
Price: $8.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best album of the year for me, July 4, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: We Are The Others (MP3 Music)
I love this album. I love Delain's previous albums too, but this is probably their best to date, and certainly Charlotte's best vocals so far. The guitars are stronger this time too. Definitely worth a listen if you like heavy melodic music with beautiful vocals and interesting lyrics. I hope Delain catches on in the U.S. They should!


Underworld Awakening (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Underworld Awakening (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Price: $11.49

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars album only is stupid, May 2, 2012
After seeing Heavy Prey on Youtube, I came here to buy it. It says "album only." Umm, great song, but not worth $12. I'll just listen on Youtube. Bad marketing move.


The Art of Metal
The Art of Metal
Price: $8.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great new classic metal, April 9, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Art of Metal (MP3 Music)
Great album. Reminds me of classic 80's Judas Priest, but with modern touches. The female vocalist sounds more like Rob Halford than Tarja Turunen, with a bit of Arch Enemy growling throne in for emphasis (very effectively done even if you're not a big fan of harsh vocals). Melodic, catchy, powerful, and fun.


Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Discontinued) [Blu-ray]
Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Discontinued) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Sean Bean
Offered by discountedmediaoutlet
Price: $69.95
24 used & new from $15.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stars are for content, Blu-ray is evil, March 25, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
First, I love these books, and this is a great adaption of it. The story is complex and dramatic, with fascinating villains and heroes. It's like Tom Clancy meets Lord of the Rings. HBO did a great job with the cast, visuals and script, equal to Rome (which is similar).

That said, I must complain about the discs. Discs 1-3 worked fine, but disc 4 not only didn't work but prompted an update that disabled the ability of my Powerdvd to play ANY Blu-ray. Not sure what it did, but now I must run expensive software to disable protection to make it work.

That is the irony of Blu-ray copy protection. It doesn't stop pirates, but it inconveniences paying customers. I consider what they did to me the equivalent of a virus. Someone needs to file a class action.


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