New Music Reviewed: Innerpartysystem's "Innerpartysystem"

Artwork:

Genre(s):
Industrial
Electronica
Dance

Track Listing:
1. "Die Tonight Live Forever" - 4:41
2. "Last Night In Brooklyn" - 4:21
3. "Don't Stop" - 4:19
4. "Structure" - 3:58
5. "Everyone Is The Same" - 3:51
6. "Obsession" - 4:20
7. "This Empty Love" - 4:49
8. "New Poetry" - 4:02
9. "This Town, Your Grave" - 4:55
10. "Heart Of Fire" - 4:20
11. "What We Will Never Know" - 4:15
12. "Home" (hidden track) - 2:54

Length:
51:11

Released:
September 29, 2008 (UK)
Setpember 30, 2008 (US)

The Review:
My knowledge of this band was based on a stroke of luck. One day a few months ago, I received a rock newsletter email from Island/Def Jam. I rarely bother to read these, since Island's lineup can be summed up as a mountain of crap, save a few decent bands. But something caught my eye: they stated something about a new music video for a song by some band called Innerpartysystem, and that your ears will bleed. Naturally, I had to see this. I watched the video and listened to the song, and I was...amazed. I became an instant fan. This album surprisingly became one of my most anticipated of the year; a debut for a no-name band. But this band is something incredible.

It's hard to confine Innerpartysystem to a specific subgenre, since they gather inspiration from everywhere. You can hear the grinding heaviness and intricacy of an industrial act like Nine Inch Nails, the sampling and synth of electronica or techno, and rhythms like that of dance that make you want to move. The vocals, similarily, gather inspiration from multiple genres, at times clean like pop, dance, and sometimes emo, masked electronically like techno or industrial, or even rough and gritty like hard rock or metal.

What's more amazing is that the band manages to pull all of this together while retaining an organic sound, a sound that most anyone could enjoy, fans of pop or rock. Everything just blends seamlessly. It's difficult to describe the sound; it's something that needs to be heard to understand.

So, we've established that the band has pulled off a sound that is fantastic and unique, but how well do they execute it? Quite well, given that they are a young band, but the album still suffers from a few flaws.

Many of the tracks, such as "Structure" and "Everyone Is The Same" lean more towards the dance side of things. This isn't the problem; the tracks still retain the other properties that make the sound so great. The problem with these tracks is they, and they alone, just sound too much alike. Sure, there's noticeably differences, but you can't help but feel that these tracks are all-too similar, and that hurts them. It's also in these tracks that the band's writing is the weakest. In the end these tracks end up feeling close to filler, and average to slightly-better-than-average.

The band almost makes up for it with incredible design in its other tracks. The opening track, "Die Tonight Live Forever", is a prime example of the mix for everone. It's clean and bouncy enough for the dance and pop listeners, while gritty and pounding enough for the rock listeners. "This Empty Love" is a quieter piece that features intricate sampling and sound design that make it feel like it almost came straight out of a Nine Inch Nails album, which is quite an achievement. If you've played Madden '09, you've probably heard the band's lead single (and song that got me hooked) "Don't Stop", one of the faster-paced, rockier songs on the album, and definitely one of the best. It's catchy, fun, and an incredibly well-crafted too.

Sadly, all these amazing songs create the second major flaw: the band neglects their strengths in many of the songs. The band is at it's best when they're fast and full of energy, but they just seem to want to slow down, and that's when they write their weaker songs mentioned before. It's really depressing to see them regress at points within the album. One minor flaw is that the bands lyricism isn't as amazing as their songwriting, but it's still passable. Most songs are about love and love lost, but break the mold enough to escape being standard-issue. What's nice is when they change focus to other, more cryptic messages.

Despite it's flaws, this is an album you should definitely give a listen if you're a fan of pop, dance, rock, or industrial. Innerpartysystem has created a unique sound for themselves, and shown that it has great potential. It's an incredible achievement for a debut album. I have a feeling Innerpartysystem is going to be massive.

Score:
8.5/10

Top Tracks:
"Die Tonight Live Forever", "Don't Stop", "This Empty Love", "This Town, Your Grave", "Heart Of Fire"

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Innerpartysystem - Don't Stop

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Two Months Later

This message was originally posted on Oct. 4th, 2008 on my GameSpot profile.

Long time no see guys.

I haven't bothered to update this in a long time. Quite a bit has been going on in my life lately, and its been difficult to find time for this site. God has been good to me, and he's been working in my life a lot in the last two months. I took a huge step forward in my relationship with Him at camp last August, and a lot has happened since. At the current time, I have left my school's football program and I find myself learning how to play bass so I can play on my youth group's worship team. God has also blessed me with the opprotunity to get a great deal for a good bass plus a practice amp and tuner.

I've recovered from my surgery and everything is in working order, but I went and got myself a concussion during football practice about three-and-a-half weeks ago. I missed a couple days of school thanks to nasty headaches, but I'm doing a lot better now, and I'll be able to get cleared as long as I make it through today without getting any headaches (I have to go 72 hours without meds without getting a headache). Then I can stop being bored in gym class.

Also in the recent weeks, I've found myself gaming a lot less, almost completely bored with the activity. Part of it is the wait for the big new titles on their way, but I've just been bored ever since I quit WoW. Not that WoW was exciting, part of the reason I quit was because I was bored, but I just haven't been playing much since. I don't have a reason to be as hardcore as I used to be.

Despite this, I have had some gaming activity. My friend and I completed Halo 3 on Legendary, and I know hate the game's single player with all my heart and soul. It's one of the worst gaming experiences I've ever had. Thanks to downtime with my concussion, I decided to plow through GRAW2 in a single day, since I hadn't touched it since basically the day after I got my 360. It was a solid game, with a few minor issues, but I was kind of depressed that the whole game ended up being the same thing as the first act of Call of Duty 4. It makes me worried that we'll end up replacing WWII shooters with games set in modern times involving third-world nations in desert locations in the process of civil war with a nuclear threat tossed in for good measure. I also purchased Geometry Wars 2, which is fun, and Halo 2, which has better multiplayer than Halo 3 imo. I also intend to purchase Dead Space for my 360 this month, assuming i have the $$.

Also, I had promised quite a few music reviews, and I haven't gotten to listening to most of the albums I intended to review, nor do I have the time to write full reviews for all of them. So here's some brief reviews for a few new albums you might care about:

"All Hope Is Gone" by Slipknot
It's a solid effort from the band, though it doesn't really try anything new. It boasts the band's cl@ssic intensity, plus some of the creativity found in Volume 3, and some much better guitar parts, and manages to not sound the same as it's predecessor. "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses" is still the band's best, though, while "All Hope Is Gone" somehow manages to sound like neither progression nor regression.

SCORE: 8.5/10
TOP TRACKS: "Gematria (The Killing Name)", "Sulfur", "All Hope Is Gone"

"Death Magnetic" by Metallica
Post black album, Metallica gave into greed and popularity, and stopped making music that didn't suck. It's as simple as that. While "St. Anger" was definitely an improvement, it still had major flaws that held it back from being a revitalization of the band. Metallica promised with "Death Magnetic" (lame title, by the way, but the cover art isn't half bad) that they'd return to their old ways of thrash. And they delivered. "Death Magnetic" is a satisfying album that sounds like it could've fit in their catalog back in the '80s. Worth a look.

SCORE: 9.0/10
TOP TRACKS: "That Was Just Your Life", "The Day That Never Comes", "All Nightmare Long", "My Apocalypse"

"Scars On Broadway" by Scars On Broadway
System of a Down guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan started this band as a side project for System's off-time. It features the quirky lyrics and songwriting you'd expect from Daron, but the band also takes a shift from a metal focus to more hard rock. What we end up with is an interesting album that SOAD fans would do well to check out, but may not appeal to most others.

SCORE: 7.0/10
TOP TRACKS: "Stoner-Hate", "Kill Each Other/Live Forever", "They Say"

That's all for today. Hopefully I'll be posting more often again. Thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST:

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New Music Reviewed: Opeth's "Watershed"

Artwork:

Genre(s):
Scandinavian Metal
Progressive Metal
Black Metal

Track Listing:
1. "Coil" - 3:10
2. "Heir Apparent" - 8:50
3. "The Lotus Eater" - 8:50
4. "Burden" - 7:41
5. "Porcelain Heart" - 8:00
6. "Hessian Peel" - 11:25
7. "Hex Omega" - 7:00

Length:
55:00

Released:
May 30, 2008 (EU)
June 2, 2008 (UK)
June 3, 2008 (US)

The Review:
I had intended to review this album several weeks ago, but never got to it in wake of other events, and eventually I just kept putting it off to do other things. I really wish I hadn't. Opeth's ninth album, Watershed, is about as good as music gets. To be honest, I never really listened to Opeth prior to learning of this album, since it can be hard to find good bands in the genre without people telling you about them beforehand. Going into this, I had little to no knowledge of the band, but I did expect a black metal epic.

Instead, I was met with a constant shift between shredding guitars and soft acoustic movements, sometimes harmonized by an orchestra or piano, and surprisingly delicate vocals. In fact, the band rarely turns to growls, with only three songs featuring them, one of which consists of only them ("Heir Apparent"). But these two entirely opposite sounds create for some incredible songwriting from Mikael Akerfeldt. The songs twist within themselves as the mood constantly changes. Beautiful instrumental parts drive the songs, and come together to give the album an atmospherical effect unlike any other. "Porcelain Heart" is an outstanding example, featuring instrumental sections with grinding guitars and vocal sections backed by mere piano and soft singing, shifting between the two concepts continually throughout the song.

Akerfeldt's singing vocals are hard to describe outside of saying they're "simply amazing". Definitely one of the more talented vocalists in the genre, the emotion from his vocals empowers the unique atmosphere, and takes it to new levels. Especially effective are his constant shifts from ear-piercing high notes to the deep, low, demonic growls in "The Lotus Eater". And he isn't just singing a bunch of jumbled up words either; this album sports outstanding lyrics (which tends to be a norm for the genre). Meanings may not be found without some digging thanks to metaphors and symbolism, but it shows the writer's outstanding work with poetry.

I'm at a loss for words for this album, so I'll sum it up here: This is a powerful display of outstanding songwriting, talent, and skill, and just and incredible display of how to make a fantastic album. This album goes places few have dared to go and shows us that it's a journey worth taken. So far, this is the best album of 2008. I don't care who you are, you need to listen to Watershed.

SCORE: 10/10

TOP TRACKS: "The Lotus Eater", "Porcelain Heart", "Hessian Peel"

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: For being the most calming metal album I have ever heard

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Opeth - Porcelain Heart

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Music, Galaga, and the Virtual Army Experience

NOTE: This is the latest from my GameSpot blog. I will be posting this blog simultaneously on this site and GS.

E3 was everything from exciting to enlightening to depressing this year. It did it's job for though, which is to get my extremely hyped for games coming out soon. My hype for Dead Space has especially grown, to the point where I've decided to purchase it when it hits store shelves and hope for Fallout 3 and Left 4 Dead for Christmas. While I enjoyed my time with E3, it seems that everyone who was actually there didn't, to the point where they're saying E3 has to either shape up next year or just stop. I don't really blame them, either. It's not the super-exciting giant extravaganza it used to be. Hopefully this isn't the end of E3.

I missed Tuesday's coverage of E3 for my church's annual youth trip to Six Flags Great America. We were especially excited to go on the new coaster that replaced the ill-fated Deja Vu (the only coaster in the park I never got to ride, thanks to it being constantly closed for fixing), The Dark Knight. Obviously, it's based on the movie. We got lucky and only had to wait 30 minutes for the ride (the normal wait is 2 hours), but the ride was hardly worth that short of a wait. Instead of the midwest's version of Space Mountain, we got a minicoaster who's only differentiating points were that it was indoors, in the dark, had some over-the-top scenery, and a video you watch beforehand that ends up being little more than a complete waste of time, and the reason the line went so slowly. It wasn't a bad ride, just underwhelming.

There were some other interesting occurances while we were there as well. There was an eventful wait in line for Superman: Ultimate Flight, in which one of our group members fainted due to heat after waiting for at least an hour. Then the ride broke down and another 30 minutes were wasted while they fixed the problem. Also, the America's Army Virtual Army Experience just happened to be there for the week, so me, a friend, and my youth pastor decided to give it a shot.

There's a long registration process, but once you get in, it's pretty cool. You're assigned to a squad, then you are briefed about your mission and the rules of engagement (ROE). Then you head into a big tent where they have different humvees and blackhawks, each with a squad name labeled on them. You hop into your vehicle, pick a weapon, then shoot enemies/explosive barrels/propane tanks/animal carcasses. The only problem with our experience was that we got stuck with the humvee that wasn't working properly. When you're in a working vehicle, the guns have tons of kick and apparently spray gas in your face, and if an IED goes off, the whole thing shakes. Our squad got ripped off of an outstanding experience, but it was still pretty fun. Plus we get free ID cards and dog tags, and don't have to go through registration again if we find another VAE. (Our squad also did the worst job of all, probably mostly because my youth pastor couldn't tell if his gun was working or not. And I shot a friendly tank. A lot.)

Anyway, I've been pretty hyped for The Dark Knight, but I was forced to put off seeing it until tomorrow night, thanks to a camping trip. So I made the most of the weekend, and spent most of my time in the camp's arcade. I beat their Speed Racer game (it's pretty fun), but my proudest moment was getting the high score on Galaga. It took $2.25 worth of continues, but it was a blast (I got to stage 40+).

There's a ton of new albums coming out, and several that I have yet to listen to that have been out for quite some time, so my next few posts will most likely be music reviews. Here's what I've got in store so far for reviewing:

-Theory of a Deadman's "Theory of a Deadman"
-Saving Abel's "Saving Abel"
-Whatever Metallica is calling their new album
-Guns N Roses' "Chinese Democracy"
-Staind's "Illusion of Progress" (I'm a bit worried about that one)
-Slipknot's "All Hope Is Gone" (Have it preordered on iTunes)
-Opeth's "Watershed"

And plenty more. So unless something big happens, I'll probably be writing music reviews for a few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

-infect999

SONG OF THE POST: Slipknot - All Hope Is Gone ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEEMn5mdnl8 ) apparently the coding on here isn't the same as GS, so it could be awhile before I work out the bugs with links and such. So, in the meantime, I'll have to post links seperately.

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