The Journalistic Eye

Dylan, 20, this is my blog for journalism, which includes things like music and movie reviews, interviews, biographies, and whatever else i choose to write.
check out my official blog at dangerdylan.tumblr.com

My Top 3 StarCraft II Players (by race)

So I’m going to take a break from the review side of things and give you guys an evaluation on something that many people might find nerdy, but to me, its as similar as comparing two baseball players or two basketball players. The game though, is StarCraft II. Having been an avid player (in Master League) and having watched pro SC2 competition since the beginning, I have seen players develop over the past two years and have been able to evaluate who are ‘my’ top three players of each race (Terran, Protoss, Zerg), and have come up with reasons for why these players are on in the most elite tier in all of StarCraft II.

Zerg

  1. Empire.viOLet – Given his success at IEM Sao Paulo, and his incredible personality, I decided to give viOLet this spot, for I had difficulty coming up with someone better than him. Switching from a Korean team to a foreign team in Empire was a huge move for him, and many thought that he would fall off the map and not make much of an impact. But, after getting the entire crowd behind him and winning at Sao Paulo, he proved to be a person that many people could look at and say, ‘Awe, he’s so damn cute! And he is AMAZING!’ Plus, he seems to be able to beat big named players, so he is someone that many players should fear.

  1. Millenium.Stephano – Said to be the best foreign Zerg, and among the top Zerg players in the world, I would have to agree with these statements. Throughout controversy regarding what team he was on, almost causing a lawsuit between teams Millenium and compLexity, and criticism he got for not being reliable for certain tournaments, he has left that all behind and shown that he is a top-tier player and should be respected. His patented style of playing, relying on maximizing his economy before committing to units has revolutionized the race as a whole. His instinct to play risky, yet smartly, while at the same time being committed to knowing what his opponent is doing, and being able to adjust and make decisions to compete. His famed Zergling-Infestor play has been adoped by players everywhere, and his mass-Roach play is phenomenal, being able to overpower his opponent within 15 minutes using a maxed-out army. His success at foreign events like IPL3 and also his success at IPL4, Assembly Winter 2012, and ESWC 2012 have achieved him the praise he deserves. I mean, he did get invited to Korea for Code S having only been there on a short visit, and now that he has committed to a longer career in StarCraft II, we can only wait for him to succeed even more.

  1. MVP.DongRaeGu – Who would deny this? DRG has continued his success from Brood War and has placed him on the highest pedestal in all of SCII. With his aggressive play, his unmatched macro, and unbelievable mechanics, he is no doubt the best Zerg player in the world. His continuous success had proven this fact a long time ago, and even recently where he placed 2nd in MLG Columbus and MLG Winter Arena to none other than MarineKing. But now, with his most recent win at MLG Spring Arena, and his ever-lasting Code S spot, and even a championship, he has become a present legend in the game.

Protoss

  1. StarTale.PartinG – Sort of a ‘rising star’ in the list of top players, PartinG is not anywhere near an amateur. He has shown strength in his mechanics, and continues to post good results at major tournaments, most importantly his current spot in GSL Code S, where he will play IM.Mvp for a spot in the finals. His multi-tasking and blink micro is outstanding, and PartinG will most likely continue his success.

  1. StarTale.Squirtle – Many people might think, “Why Squirtle? He hasn’t even won a championship.” But, if you have watched him in the GSL, GSTL, IPL TAC, and after his amazing run at IPL4, Squirtle is closing in on being the best Protoss in the world. His use of colossus and immortals, as well as his quick aggression with high tech proves overwhelming to any opponent. He is currently on an amazing run through GSL Code S, most recently shutting out Taeja and SuperNoVa, and will be playing Liquid.HerO for a spot in the finals. And knowing Squirtle’s PvT, he is heavily favored.

  1. SK.MC – Though he has been struggling as of late in big tournaments, MC will continue to be the best ‘Toss in the world. His blink-stalker micro, amazing force field placement, and impeccable decision making skills have been the key to his success. His wins at the IEM World Championships as well as HomeStory Cup 4 have proven MC to be superior than any recent results for Protoss as a whole, and gives MC the edge over all others in this category due to his history. Did I mention that he won two GSL’s?

Terran

  1. IM.Mvp – Though he hasn’t posted the best of results as of late, not even posting a notable result in 2012, he is trying his hardest to prove himself as still one of the best players in the world. With his all around deadly aggression and timings, coupled with his knowledge of his surroundings and being keen to each match-up, Mvp proves to be difficult to beat in any situation. His run through this year’s GSL Code S has made him the old Mvp again, and he is the final Terran hope in the biggest StarCraft II tournament in the world.

  1. SlayerS.MMA – MMA is one of the most notably achieved player in the entire SCII scene. A Code S champion, MLG Columbus 2011 champion, Blizzard Cup champion, IEM Kiev champion, and Iron Squid champion, MMA has made a name for himself in the brief history of the game. His macro, micro, map awareness, and multitasking are all part of his standard play, and he has proved himself time and time again as one of the best players in the world. His successes in tournaments along with his popularity make him a force to be reckoned with.

  1. MarineKingPrime – Who wouldn’t pick MarineKing? He won two of the last three MLG events, falling to DRG in the latest. He is a young talent out of Korea known for his amazing infantry use, especially with marines, and his ability to use them in any situation in any match-up. His micro is insane, his macro pretty much the same. Not many players can multi-task like MKP can, and his success has shown for it.

NOTABLE OTHER PLAYERS OF EACH RACE (without analysis)

Zerg

Liquid’Ret

Liquid’Zenio

IM.Nestea

Protoss

Quantic.Naniwa

Liquid’Hero

Fnatic.Oz

Terran

NSHS.Jjakji

TSL.Polt

mouz.ThorZaIN

Movie Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

                                              

Imagine a future where countries took representatives from their population by force in order to compete to the death against one another for glory? The Hunger Games, a novel by Suzanne Collins, portrays a time in society where this sort of thing has been adapted into a widely popular game show. Recently made into a movie, The Hunger Games has made headlines and gained a lot of attention, so I decided to see it, not having read any of the books, to see how it would appeal to those who are illiterate as I am.

The movie follows Katniss Everdeen, a young, teenaged girl from a mining district known as District 12. There are eleven other districts in the society she lives in, and those from District 12 all fear the coming of the selection of who competes in the ‘Hunger Games’. The story follows her, along with the male participant from D12 Peeta Mallark, as they prepare and subsequently compete in the vicious event. The movie portrays overcoming adversity, bonding and trusting others, and internal strength well through actions taken by characters throughout the story.

Initially, going into the movie (which I saw the day after it was released), I was thinking of the movie ‘Battle Royale’ (a 2000 Japanese movie which has a similar plot), hoping that the movie would be action-packed and would leave me guessing until the end as to what happened. The character development throughout the beginning of the movie was good, showing the innocence of the citizens who were among those being chosen for the competition, and building onto the character of Katniss as not only a skilled marksman, but also a caring young woman. The movie also does a good job at describing the back story of the two main characters and how one another had an effect in each other’s lives before they were destined to compete with each other.

Then, the movie takes a turn for the worse. I found myself dozing off as the movie tried too hard in hyping up the actual action of the movie. Nothing important or relevant seems to happen during the middle half of the movie, relying on character development and intricate detailing of preparation for the competition, which seemed to confuse me as to the true motive of the book. With interviews of the characters in the movie, and training with others who are competing bored me, and seemed lackluster compared to the hype that the movie got.

Finally, the action starts. I thought, “FINALLY! We get to see some blood and action and killing, just what I paid for!” But, unfortunately, I was wrong. Though the movie was suspenseful in the light that the movie left the viewers blind to what the other competitors were doing, but most of the time it just focused on the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, which isn’t a bad thing, unless it takes away from the action of the movie, which is what happens with The Hunger Games. The action seems short lived and not important, and I found myself looking around saying to myself “Wait, the movie is over already?” due to the fact that the competition lasted all of what seemed like fifteen minutes.

Overall, the movie was way too over-hyped for the amount of action and structure the movie had. Though the movie presented characters and the situation they were in in an excellent and detailed manner, these positive aspects were overshadowed by the amount of what seemed like filler the movie contained. From someone who has not read the books, I will say that I am not motivated to read the book, nor am I motivated to see the next installment of the series. The movie left me thinking that The Hunger Games was merely a ‘prologue’ to the next movie, and seemed to be acting as just character development for Catching Fire, the next movie to be released. Too much detail on introducing the characters, and not enough detail on the actual substance of the ‘Games’ and the main focus of the book.

Rating: 6/10

Album Review: Us, From Outside - ‘Revived’

 Philadelphia’s post-hardcore act Us, From Outside released their latest album, Revived, through Tragic Hero Records last December, trying to make a name for themselves in the scene after their first full length, Inspired by The Threat of Failure, did not garner as much attention as they had hoped. Having listened to 'Inspired', I expected the same sort of musicianship, minus the change in clean vocals between albums after their former vocalist, Michael Crimlis, left the band, leaving bassist Kenny Davis in charge of singing.

Revived starts off with an intro of synth and samples similar to most new releases in the genre, opening up with a heavy hitting song called ‘The Overthrown’. At first listen, the vocals are far different than ‘Inspired’, with Davis lacking some of the range from the previous album, but this does not diminish from the sound of the music. The instrumentals are still as good as they were before, and Davis shows his talent off in this first song, more focused on screaming during ‘breakdown-esque’ portions of the song. ‘The Streets of Lima’ is the next ‘track’, being a :38 track with Spanish guitar, acting as an interlude between tracks one and three, but it is nothing too special besides it being kind of out of place.

'Patient Sixty-Seven' comes in with rolling bass drum which seems to drown out the guitar work of the song. Davis is highlighted again in this track, as the song is fairly chorus-driven, but it is all around catchy. Screamer Jimmer Steiner brings aggression to this otherwise repetitive song. 'Cheating's Her Disease' opens heavy as if they were going to finally bring a song that had some weight to it, but again Us, From Outside brings another song that is chorus-driven, besides the Bring Me The Horizon-sounding shouting part in the beginning half of the song. The instrumentals on this track are very good, with complex drum work and sweeping guitar.

The title track of this album, ‘Revived’, is a song that finally brought me to believe that this album was not all ‘mediocre’. The emotion in both Crimlis and Davis’ voices caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand, with heartfelt lyrics and not relying on a catchy, pop-like chorus. The mixture of post-hardcore and metalcore is prevalent in this song, and brings strength to the song. ‘Your Heart and Mine’ pulls a 180 with the album, bringing the now heavy atmosphere of Revived to a screeching halt with this post-produced ballad featuring auto-tuned and vocal effects, though the end of the song does finish strong.

'Side Two' and 'Dreaming' are two tracks that killed the album for me. Having not one but THREE 'interlude' tracks on the album leads me to believe that they added them as merely filler, making the album feel longer than it actually is. The tracks aren't even good, relying on post-production and white noise to even make them a 'song'. This is a big problem for not only me, but other fans of the hardcore genre, for we want more music to listen to, not dumb 'in-between' tracks.

'Putting a Face to Fear', which is my favorite song off the album, focuses more on the heavy, aggressive side to the band, and putting a catchy chorus that I found myself singing by the end of my second listen-through. Though the instrumentals aren't anything spectacular, it presents itself as something that, though sort of 'done' already and generic, can still be worth listening to again. The final track, 'Because You Asked', is an acoustic song that features Davis closing out the album with a heartwarming song about a relationship, which in my opinion, puts a good wrap on an album that seems to appeal to listeners who like the subject matter.

Overall, Revived is just as generic as any other post-hardcore album out there. Nothing new, nothing special or unique that stands out on the album. Besides maybe ‘Revived’ and ‘Putting a Face to Fear’, the entire album will probably just sit idle on my iTunes for a long time. The inclusion of three interlude tracks really angered me, for there is less than 20 minutes of actual material to listen to from the album, which most if isn’t very groundbreaking. Hopefully with their next album, Us, From Outside will improve on this and present something different. Until then, I will continue to listen to Inspired by the Threat of Failure, which honestly showed more promise than their latest work.

Rating: 5/10

Songs to look for: ‘Revived’, ‘Putting a Face to Fear’

Movie Review: Paprika (2006)

Based on the Japanese novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, “Paprika”, a science fiction anime directed by Satoshi Kon, takes place in a present-day Japanese city where things turn from good to bad in the blink of an eye. The film follows a female scientist by the name of Atsuko Chiba as she and her colleagues discover that their latest and most important experiment has been stolen. This device, known to them as the DC Mini, allows psychotherapists to enter their patients dreams in order to further analyze what it is that affects them in their everyday life. The device was created by an overweight genius by the name of Dr. Akira, and he is supposed to be the only one who knows how to use the device. But, what he and his fellow scientists don’t know is that Atsuko has been using the DC Mini in order to treat a police officer named Toshimi Konakowa at his home, privately. Atsuko does not assume her physical form inside the dreams of Mr. Konakowa, but a brown haired alter-ego called Paprika. Little is known about Paprika, and no one but Konakowa knows that she uses the machine without permission or authority.

It was not her that wrongfully stole the device, though. After a strange outbreak by the chief of the experiment, followed by a literal parade of inventions around the world, it was found that Dr. Akira’s assistant, Himuro, had stolen the machine out of jealousy of Akira’s success. Since the DC Mini was still in the prototype stage of its production, there were no bounds as to how the machine could be used. Himuro was able to remotely implant his dreams into the live conscious of the chief, bringing his dream to real life. The power the machine has is capable of producing real images from the dreams that the user enters, as well as project their dreams even while they are awake. The story follows the characters as they strive to get the machine back from Himuro, as well as prevent the DC Mini from getting into the wrong hands.

Overall, the movie is outstanding from start to finish. The animation is wonderful, bright and full of color and detail. The character development is great, and as a viewer, I felt that I knew the characters well by the end. It is an interesting take on psychotherapy and something that could absolutely happen. The conflicts between Atsuko and Paprika escalate throughout the movie, portraying the inner struggle of man against its own conscious in the face of evil. The story contains elements of manipulation and terrorism, and the fate of technology if ever put into the wrong hands. I strongly suggest this movie to anyone who is into exciting, science fiction movies or into anime movies. It is my favorite movie of all time, and will keep the viewer on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.

TV Series Review: Breaking Bad (AMC)

 

What would you do if shortly after your 50th birthday you found out you had inoperable lung cancer? Would you do whatever it took to provide as much as you could to your family before you inevitably died from the disease? “Breaking Bad”, a TV drama on AMC, follows Walter White, a retired scientist become chemistry teacher who finds out this exact news. He has always strove to provide for his wife and crippled son, but now he fears that once he leaves Earth for good, he will no longer benefit his family. The series begins with the discovery of this news, as well as the introduction of different characters within Walter’s life, including his brother-in-law, Hank. Hank is an officer on the Albuquerque DEA, mostly working on cases of methamphetamine. During Walt’s time of internal crisis, he asks Hank if he can watch in on a drug bust that he was about to take part in. As the DEA agents break in and go inside, leaving Walt in the car outside, he sees a young man escape from the second floor of the house, the man being one of his former students named Jesse Pinkman. It is later found that the DEA seized hundreds of thousands of dollars from the one bust alone. Walt is thoroughly intrigued by the large sum of money involved in synthesizing and selling meth, and finds Pinkman to offer him a chemist’s aid in his business. The series follows White and Pinkman as they struggle to coexist and do business together, as well as gain the ability to produce what would become the purest methamphetamine in the southwest United States. Going from a moving lab in an RV to a basement to a full on laboratory, the story unfolds as time and again these two grab control of the meth business in the region and become drug lords.

This series is definitely not for the light-hearted. There are many drug references and violence, but the series does not revolve around using the meth that they cook. The story shows the hardening of an innocent man into the greatest meth cook alive, as well as the growth of a former meth-head into a businessman and accomplished chemist after having failed chemistry in high school. The scenery of the show is brilliant, filmed in New Mexico and Arizona. The character development is outstanding, both on the side of Walter and his family, and Jesse and his struggle to find inner peace with himself after abandoning his family. The show portrays the action and violence that follows the drug trade, and gives viewers a first person perspective into the struggles of being in the cartel. I highly recommend this series to anyone into drama or action series, for this is one of the few series on public television that has gripped me as much as it has.

Video Game Review: Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)

For fans of killing endless swarms of zombies and biological weapons using heavy weaponry and strategic gun and melee combat, the Resident Evil series has been around to help fulfill these needs for mature gamers. The series culminated with the fourth edition of the series (Resident Evil 4), using purposely clunky controls and limited resources to make stressful and overwhelming waves of enemies even harder to take down with aspects like not being able to move while aiming, having slow movement for the player, and throwing vicious infested humans at you in hopes of scaring the crap out of whoever is wielding the controller. The need for survival and the feeling of helplessness and fear is evident in this game, and when I finally picked up Resident Evil 5, I hoped that Capcom, the developer of the RE series, had continued with this style of an apocalyptic game, and instilled the same amount of fear and split-second decision making into the next edition of the famous third-person shooter series.

Following the characters of Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar, two members of the BSAA, an organization aimed at eliminating the ever-growing threat of bio-terrorism and human enslavement that had been growing in Africa. Redfield, an American representative of BSAA, went to Africa in response to a local takeover of villages in rural Africa. Upon arrival, Chris meets Sheva, an African officer of BSAA who looks to purge the corruption going on in her society. The game follows these two as they battle through villages swarmed with infected, and pursue the take-down of some of the leaders of the rebellious bio-terrorist group, including a man named Albert Wesker, who has been involved in previous installments in the Resident Evil series.

The environment in-game is incredible and the visual aspects of the game are superior to those of previous RE games. The zombies and bio-weapons are as scary as always, and give the player the same sort of panic upon each incoming swarm. The weaponry is strong, especially higher powered guns like the shotgun and assault rifles, but do not make the game any less hard than it is (unless played with infinite ammunition). The option of playing with infinite ammo is available, though I feel that the game is much more honorably played, and frankly makes the game more exciting. The frantic search for scattered ammo throughout each level provides a suspenseful experience for the player. Boss fights are fun and exciting, making for a well made combat game and helping in developing a fragile and violent scenario for the protagonists.

The game also includes a mini-game mode known as The Mercenaries, which is a survival game where one or two players work to stay alive as long as possible through waves of crazed, bloodthirsty zombies and monsters. Player may choose from one of eight unlock-able characters which are available upon completion of different stages of Mercenaries. Players are scored based on enemies killed as well as ‘Combo Streaks’, which are acquired by killing enemies in succession without allowing your combo counter to drop off. The Mercenaries gives Resident Evil 5 a high amount of replay value for those who have or haven’t completed the main campaign of the story, and provides a competitive and cooperative environment for friends to play the game in.

Resident Evil 5 has a few flaws that fans of the series may be disappointed with. The camera angle changes to over-the-shoulder when aiming down the sights of guns, which differs from the fixed camera that the other RE games had where you had to rely on angles and precision to kill enemies rather than manually aiming at them with ease. Some of the weapons, including the Desert Eagle and the shotguns, are a bit overpowered in the sense that they take down all enemies instantaneously with the press of the button, lowering the pressure and stress that the swarms of zombies put on you.

All in all, Resident Evil 5 provides an action packed and suspenseful survival shooter game which successfully continues the popular series. The game provides an interesting plot partnered with the helplessness and fear that Resident Evil has provided to players for years. The Mercenaries gives players a chance to break away from the campaign and have an arcade-like experience killing endless waves of zombies to achieve the top score. Overall, Resident Evil 5 is a game that fans of shooters, both first and third-person, which successfully continues the epic plot of the previous games, while allowing for new players to hop in and learn about the game. This game is a must have for veteran gamers, and has proven to be a top title for the Xbox 360.

Score 8/10

Video Game Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

 

Though I had only played the first edition briefly, and having never owned a Wii, I took a stab at Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the first time recently in hopes that Nintendo had actually released a quality game for the Wii. I know that the game came out in 2009, but since I have no motivation to go out and pursue playing most Wii games, this was a chance for me to actually have a baseline understanding on how Nintendo was doing and what the Mario franchise had turned into.

Overall the game was very entertaining and eye-catching, throwing shifts in gravity in-game at you along with the multitude of bright colors to go along with it. Like Super Mario Galaxy, number two melded the three-dimensional aspect of Mario games with the side scrolling style that Mario was built on. Most of the levels were very easy, appealing to the young, casual gaming market that Nintendo made it their duty to corner, even though it doesn’t even exist. But, even with the low difficulty of the game, I found myself driven to get every Star in the game along the way, making it easier to progress forward without getting stuck and having to backtrack. A lot of the levels were very memorable, namely Flip-Swap galaxy, some of the flying levels, and especially the levels where the environment changed with the beat of the background music of the game. These are the sorts of level design that fans of these kinds of games are looking for, and Nintendo did a great job mixing up the level style and making each world unique in its own way.

The problem I have with this game is that the game is just too easy. I expected the levels to get progressively harder as the game went on, but for the most part, I was already used to the somewhat awkward controls that the Wiimote has with the game, and found myself doing speed runs through every level with hardly any difficulty. This may be because I have been playing Mario since the NES, but this sort of game lost points for me due to its ease, and this might be the same for many hardcore gamers out there. SPOILER: There is hardly a reward for collecting all the stars in the game, just the fact that you can play the game over again and collect stars with Luigi.

The soundtrack, visuals, and game-play itself is really entertaining, as most Mario games are. Though there is hardly a story line or plot (like all Mario games), players may feel a sense of fulfillment when feeding a hungry Luma 1500 Star Bits that you have collected along the way, even more so when you have a second player along with you killing enemies for you and collecting everything while you pilot Mario through the levels.

Even though this game has some flaws, and really no end-game or reward for working your hardest to get every Star, the game has definitely proven to be one of the best Wii titles to date. The level designs are memorable, the game-play is smooth and hilariously annoying sometimes, and the visuals in the game are very eye-catching. I recommend Super Mario Galaxy 2 to anyone who owns a Wii, but what Wii owner would pass up this game and buy games like Just Dance or Wii Fit?

Score: 8.5/10

Album Review: Hands Like Houses - ‘Ground Dweller’

I’ve never seen the lights of the North, the constellations are so unfamiliar.”

When I first learned about the Australian post-hardcore band Hands Like Houses and their signing to Rise Records (one of the most loved and hated companies in the metal scene), I feared that the band would fall into the same, drawn out sound that many Rise bands have today. Having heard the song ‘Lion Skin’, a song off Ground Dweller featuring Tyler Carter and Jonny Craig, via their Facebook page, I decided to take a more in-depth look at the album and see if it would truly be something I’d enjoy.

The album opens up with an intro from the song ‘Antarctica’ that sounded like a typical Rise opening, using synth and samples to set the mood for the album. But, the song picks up with excellent instrumentals, lyrics, and vocals done by Trenton Smith, showing the balance the band has to offer with heavy, fast-paced drums and guitars with the clean and fantastic voice Smith brings to the band. ‘Don’t Look Now, I’m Being Followed, Act Normal’ continues the album with the same sort of style, having a energy-filled vocals and unique song structure. I found myself listening to this song about 3 times in a row and having fun with it every time. ‘This Ain’t No Place For Animals’, which is one of the better songs from the album, really portrays the ability that all of the members have, with the heavy drums and great guitar work. Smith’s vocals definitely stand out in this song, both when there is effects on the vocals during parts of the songs, during the bridges, and especially the chorus. The lyrics are meaningful and creative compared to other bands in the genre.

'Spineless Crow', 'Starving to Death in the Belly of A Whale', and 'A Clown and His Pipe' take the album in the same direction as the other songs were doing, showing off the skill of the vocalist and the 'metal-like' instrumentals to go along with it. Though some of the songs have samples in them, like most Rise albums do, they don't seem to be overdone and the album keeps the energy coming. The album slows down with 'The Definition of Not-Leaving', breaking away from the fast-paced flow of the album and showing a more emotional side to the band, using synth and samples to give sort of an 'interlude' effect to the song, though the song is not at all an interlude. 'Lion Skin', one of the singles that Hands Like Houses had released before dropping Ground Dweller, was very hyped due to its inclusion of prominent vocalists in the genre, Tyler Carter (former-Woe, Is Me) and Jonny Craig (Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa), though the song did not focus on the guests as much as the band itself. Possibly the best song of the album, Carter and Craig only make very brief back-vocals contributions, not at all taking away from the energy that HLH put into the song, especially the chorus.

'One Hundred' provides a instrumental driven song with catchy guitar riffs, and featuring more synth than the other songs, though it may be dwarfed in comparison to the others on the album. 'The Watchmaker', a song featuring Matty Mullins (Memphis May Fire), showing off the talent of both Mullins and Smith, but slowing the pace of the album down as it reaches the end. The final song 'The Sower' ties together the emotion, talent, and style that Hand Like Houses put together on this album, ending with a Rise-esque outro that leaves the listener wanting more, but leading them to start the album over.

Overall, the album was not at all what I expected before I had listened to it. Rise Records put amazing production into this album, like they do most of their albums, and the band seems like they have already enveloped their own style into their music. For their first album, this band has really shown the potential they have to become very successful. Ground Dweller is a must have for fans of the post-hardcore scene, and even for those who aren’t, for my mother even wanted me to put some of the songs on her iPod.

Score: 9/10

Songs to Look For: ‘Don’t Look Now, I’m Being Followed, Act Normal’, ‘This Ain’t No Place For Animals’, ‘Spineless Crow’, ‘Lion Skin’

For more information on Hands Like Houses, Ground Dweller, and upcoming information regarding the band and tour dates, visit their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/handslikehouses, or visit Rise Records website http://www.riserecords.com/.

Album Review - ERRA - Impulse

Interrupt this flux that connects the complexities. Learn to uncover the secrets in subtleties.“

For someone who has been listening to music for basically their entire life, there are rarely moments these days in music where a new sound strikes them as ‘unique’. Most aspects of music, especially in the hardcore and metalcore scene, have been used and overused, but in late November 2011, a new band officially emerged to, in my opinion, take the cake for Album of the Year 2011.

Alabama’s ERRA, an upcoming progressive melodic metalcore band, released their album, ‘Impulse’ through a small label in late November. Having never listened to their music, I took a chance downloading their album through a music promotion site in hopes to find that sound that I had been looking to sink my teeth into for a long time. And damn, did I find exactly that. Upon the opening 20 seconds of the first track, I was already hooked. The fast paced drums at an altered pace, also known as djent, open the song “White Noise” with a bang. As the song progresses, the technical guitar work becomes quite evident, and the vocals control the energy of the music. Both screaming vocals that fill the listener with hate, and singing vocals that will both pierce your ears and melt your heart, this band has truly perfected its sound. And this is only the first song of the album! As the album continues, I could tell that ERRA is one of, if not the most, lyrically structured bands in the music scene right now for any genre. Being named after the Babylonian god of chaos, ERRA has produced an album, consisting of both personal stories and concept stories telling of Babylonian tales, that has quite frankly been on repeat since I downloaded it. It is also the first album that I eventually spent money on in almost two years. With the complete package of well-projected vocals, insane guitar and drum work, and outstanding post-production, ‘Impulse’ has outright taken my so-called ‘Album of the Year’ title. Being only the band’s first album, and not even being out of the local scene, ERRA has nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain. This album will for sure strike the ears and hearts of whoever listens to it, and hopefully in the future, we will see this band headlining tours.

5/5