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Frequency Unknown
Frequency Unknown
Price: $10.00
59 used & new from $2.25

42 of 56 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A new low, April 23, 2013
This review is from: Frequency Unknown (Audio CD)
I would have preferred that Geoff Tate remain in Queensryche and that he still had the voice and desire to return to the style of the Queensryche we all know and love, the Queensryche prior to Q2K. I would also have preferred him to get along with the rest of his band and treat them with the respect they deserve. I would very much prefer that he was not so set on using outside writers to create music that is, at best, uninspired.

None of these things seem possible.

So we have this disc. It is unfortunate on so many levels. I won't go into the details, as many of the reviews outline the low points (the re-recorded QR tracks in particular are abhorrent) nicely, but I would like to know WHY Geoff is so set on trying to put out a "metal" record. It is so clear from the hack-job on here that he is not into it AT ALL, and doesn't even understand the concept. Why would he not just branch off into a solo career where he can sing the kind of music HE is interested in and not create this half-baked attempt to hold on to a band name he really only wants to sell more records and concert tickets? This album is a transparent cash grab, and one that can only fail. It has ruined his reputation and soiled the name of Queensryche.

Geoff had the opportunity to branch off into a potentially exciting non-metal solo career. He can still sing in a lower range and a different style might suit this nicely. I hope he drops this ridiculous concept and just does what he is passionate about. There is no passion here. Only one man desperately trying to hold on to something that he doesn't even really understand. It is sad and it is reflected in the music on this disc.


The Raven That Refused to Sing: And Other Stories
The Raven That Refused to Sing: And Other Stories
Price: $11.99
78 used & new from $4.37

22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I find this to be a disappointing work from a great artist, April 1, 2013
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I was very much looking forward to this disc, but I have to admit that I am somewhat disappointed by it. I am not writing this to simply be contrary to the many five star reviews here. I would just like to open up a more critical view of someone's work who I truly respect, but feel may have gone somewhat off course. Steven Wilson is one of my favorite artists, so this is utterly surprising to me, yet no matter how many times I listen to this disc, I cannot really find the same level of merit that exists in the majority of his previous work.

What I found so interesting and enjoyable on the last four Porcupine Tree discs and on Grace for Drowning is mostly missing here. The juxtaposition of updated early 70's prog elements with modern experimentation and metal guitar is mostly absent. The music on Raven just seems to be Steven's direct emulation of past prog music, adding nothing really new to the formula. There are equal parts of King Crimson, Gentle Giant, ELP, early Genesis, and Van Der Graaf Generator stitched together with a modest spin put on them and re-hashed in a familiar way. Mind you, this is an impressive and challenging feat to accomplish, but it just seems a bit too close to the original form. There is not enough really new or interesting here to warrant the work and skill put into the performance.

The musical performances are certainly top-notch, but how inspirational can they really be when everyone is so focused on merely aping a style from the past? I am very disheartened by this turn in Steven's output, and hope that he will return to the more challenging, thought-provoking music he is known and respected for. Perhaps by ditching the, though admittedly very skilled, outside musicians and returning to the stellar co-creators and partners in Porcupine Tree he can re-discover his past greatness and make another album that is truly relevant. The Raven That Refused to Sing is really just a simple homage to the past. It does not break any new ground and is not much more than a minor, if exceedingly well-crafted, love letter to a past era of music.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 2, 2014 2:10 PM PDT


LEGO Star Wars 9516 Jabba's Palace
LEGO Star Wars 9516 Jabba's Palace
Offered by Toys 'N' Tech
Price: $195.89
99 used & new from $179.88

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Lego Star Wars sets, March 20, 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My son loves Legos. While he is a bit under the recommended age, he and I really enjoy putting together and then playing with the more creative thematic Lego sets. This is certainly one of the best. The Jabba minifig (well, maybe he's a megafig due to his size!)is perfectly done, the carbonite Han Solo is quite cool, and the whole set is a good, sturdy, cleverly put together build. It's excellent for acting out the classic opening scene of Episode VI.

If you want to truly wow your kid, and have the additional money to spend, adding the Rancor Pit and Desert Skiff set to this one completes the Jabba set from Return of the Jedi and provides hours of building and creative play.

Highly, highly recommended.


Blackout
Blackout
by Connie Willis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.10
120 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Downton Abbey mixed with Doctor Who!, June 5, 2012
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This review is from: Blackout (Paperback)
So wow. I was completely taken in by this book. Admittedly, this was my first experience with Connie Willis, so that may have made it all the more impressive. I was hooked after the first chapter.

The attention to detail is amazing. It's really a historical fiction book in WWII with the twist that the main characters are from a different time. This makes everything resonate just a little bit more, since you are experiencing things with a similar frame of reference to the main characters. It is a truly great and unusual reading experience.

I am currently reading All Clear, part two of this book, so it's possible my thoughts may change once I complete that. For now though, I cannot recommend this book more highly. If you think the seemingly odd mix of Downton Abbey and Doctor Who might appeal to you, read this immediately! It is just excellent.


A Vampire Is Coming to Dinner!: 10 Rules to Follow
A Vampire Is Coming to Dinner!: 10 Rules to Follow
by Pamela Jane
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from $5.34

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book seems a little mean-spirited, despite a great format and nice illustrations, November 14, 2011
Unfortunately, I purchased this book for my son after glancing through a few pages without reading through the whole thing. Personally, I think it's fine for older kids, but comes off as a bit mean-spirited to younger kids.

Basically, the boy in the story does not follow the ten rules and does the opposite for each one. So in essence, he goes out of his way to be extremely mean to the Vampire until the last page where he suddenly has a fiesta with him. As silly as this sounds, to a younger reader it just seems like the kid's being incredibly mean to this seemingly friendly vampire for no reason. My son didn't enjoy this at all. Oddly, the vampire is pictured somewhat comically and seems rather kind. So the whole tone of the story just seems off. Really, the boy is trying to save himself from the vampire, I guess, but that is just not conveyed well at all since the vampire seems very nice!

The images are well drawn, and the fold outs and one pop-up are all nicely done, but in the end, it's just kind of a weird little book that is confusing to younger readers. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have the chance to read through it before buying and enjoy it.


Olivia Goes to Venice
Olivia Goes to Venice
by Ian Falconer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.48
155 used & new from $0.01

10 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Olivia book, November 14, 2011
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This review is from: Olivia Goes to Venice (Hardcover)
Every Olivia book is wonderful, and this is no exception. It is a little different than the previous installments in that Falconer uses a photographic background to portray the wonders of Venice. Olivia is still her (perhaps a little too) clever self and she has many amusing comments and observations throughout the book. Venice through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing.

Some reviewers seem a bit taken aback by some of her actions in the book, but I would guess that these are fans of the TV show Olivia, and not the Falconer books. She is completely in character throughout the book. While it may not be quite the childhood classic that the first Olivia is, it is still a great treat for any child.

And one word for those people concerned over the page where Olivia is in the airport. The picture is of two security guards with handheld metal detector wands waving them over Olivia while she stands in line. This occurs at every airport and is something any child flying will have to experience, so of course Falconer would make a joke about it. It is completely in Olivia's character that she would find this funny and be amused. Previous reviews offended by the scene are REALLY reading something into this that just is not there.

So if you love Venice, Olivia, and have a great sense of humor, this is another fabulous addition to the Olivia series.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 25, 2014 9:00 PM PST


Sympathetic Resonance
Sympathetic Resonance
Price: $11.99
44 used & new from $4.96

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than expected, and I expected greatness, November 7, 2011
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This review is from: Sympathetic Resonance (Audio CD)
All the reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive, so it almost seems pointless to throw my hat in the ring, but what the heck. As a long time Fates Warning fan, all the way back since The Spectre Within, this is the album I've been waiting for since their sound began to change on No Exit.

I hate to say it's a return to form, since there are excellent moments on every Fates disc, even the mediocre Inside Out disc has the amazing Monument, and the post-Arch Perfect Symmetry remains my favorite Fates disc. It is definitely a return to the more metal tone of early Fates though, with the amazing melodies of John Arch taking it to a completely different level. I enjoy Ray's voice as well, and I think his work with Fates and also with Redemption is great, but there is just something about Arch's truly unusual melodies and method of delivery that sets his voice apart. I am so glad he returned to music after being away for so long.

The band is nothing short of spectacular as well. Jarzombek, as mentioned in other reviews, puts in a stunning drum performance, while Aresti's solos add a wonderful 'shred' element that has been missing since his departure from Fates. Vera, as usual, manages to fit in perfectly, while Matheos is unquestionably one of the top prog guitarists of his generation. The man is a masterful writer and performer.

I can't say how thrilled I am that this disc exists. After so many years without Arch and Matheos working together, not to mention the return of Frank Aresti to the fold, this is more than any old Fates Warning fan could have hoped for. Is it too much to hope for that we get another disc from them soon?


Lulu
Lulu
Price: $12.86
54 used & new from $3.30

15 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Lou Reed, buy it. Metallica only? Maybe not., November 3, 2011
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This review is from: Lulu (Audio CD)
So apparently I'm one of the few people on the planet who thinks the new Lou Reed album with Metallica is fantastic. Oh well.

For those wondering if they should buy it, it is really a Lou Reed album. So if you are a Lou Reed fan, then it's his best album since New York: Buy it. If you're a Metallica fan only...well then buy the new Megadeth disc instead. You probably won't like this much at all. If you like Lou and Metallica, well then you probably have it already and are enjoying the Hell out of it.

Two things I am critical of:

Lars sometimes attempts to play things he's not quite capable of pulling off. Everyone knows he's not the most skilled drummer, except for him. He needs to learn his limits.

James should not have added any vocals. It sounds ridiculous whenever he tries to sing. Lou should have been the only voice on the disc. The infamous "I am the TABLE!!" sequence in The View is just utterly silly. Him yelling "Small Town Gir!l" over and over in Brandenburg Gate mars an otherwise great song. I'm glad that his vocals are at a minimum and are only on a few songs.

This is minor though. Other than that, it is an unbelievably great disc from Lou Reed with Metallica acting as a great backing band.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 23, 2015 11:28 AM PDT


Illud Divinum Insanus
Illud Divinum Insanus
Price: $3.99
51 used & new from $2.23

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It Can't be THAT bad...(oh yes it can!), June 30, 2011
This review is from: Illud Divinum Insanus (Audio CD)
Wow. I'm truly stunned by this disc. What's really unfortunate is that there are a few decent tracks mixed in here, but they just get overshadowed by how unbelievably terrible the bad tracks are.

It seems like someone in the band got heavily into KMFDM over the last few years and decided to inexpertly mimic their sound on a few tracks and call it experimentation. So we get 'Too Extreme!' 'I Am Morbid' and the absolutely ridiculous 'Radikult' as three of the truly worst tracks to ever grace a metal disc.

The thing is I really enjoy bands like KMFDM, but if you're going to go for that sound you need to do it well. This, is just not good, not in any way.

The more traditional death metal tracks here vary from good enough(Nevermore)to kinda boring but passable (Blades for Baal), yet none of them are interesting enough to rise above the truly awful, and I do mean awful, trash on here.

After this sad effort, I think in may be time for MA to call it a day.


Ritual
Ritual
Offered by Great Price Media
Price: $10.57
53 used & new from $3.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Near-Perfect Death Metal Disc, June 30, 2011
This review is from: Ritual (Audio CD)
I had overlooked The Black Dahlia Murder prior to this disc. Based on their image and fans, I always thought they were more of a metalcore/punk band. BIG mistake on my part! This is an excellent disc of crushing Death Metal with some serious Black Metal overtones.

It may seem a weird comparison, but they oddly remind me of the fastest, heaviest bits of the best Cradle of Filth, but without the keyboards, goth influence, and occasional missteps of that band. The absolutely brutal, but still melodic, twin guitar riffs are really well thought out. I also appreciate the frequent guitar solos, usually an afterthought in modern Death Metal bands, but not so here. Each member of the band performs their part smashingly. It's a near-perfect Death Metal performance.

One minor complaint is that occasionally the lyrics go a little over the top and just aim for a pure shock effect without much substance. The Window is a case in point. It's a truly vile serial killer lyric, but without much of a twist or anything more than the goal of gross-out. In comparison, a lyrically similar song like (I hate to mention them again), Cradle of Filth's Lord Abortion is just as disgusting, probably more so, but manages to paint a much more interesting portrait of a serial killer while as adding CoF's trademark pitch black sense of humor. It's like comparing Silence of The Lambs to the Human Caterpillar. Silence just has so much more depth.

Anyway, it's a minor irritation. Hopefully future lyrics will have a bit more depth. They are well-written overall, so as the music matures, so will the lyrics I hope.

Anyway, if you're a Death or Black Metal fan, buy this disc. It will surely be on a lot of people's top ten of 2011 lists.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 28, 2012 9:50 AM PDT


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