Final SNES Week Reminder
May 28th, circlenine

This is just a final notice of SNES Week's upcoming contribution deadlines.

Submissions must be in my inbox by no later than Midnight, May 31st. SNES Week's festivities should kick off at or around the same time. If you need to buy any extra time after that, email me and we'll figure it out.

Also, don't forget to check out Rhete's groundbreaking new Flash game!

Welp, catch you folks super early Monday morning!


Black Clouds and Alternate Playlists (Quickie Review)
May 23rd, circlenine

2007's Systematic Chaos from world-renowned prog-rockers Dream Theater wasn't necessarily a bad album. It had a lot of great cuts ("In The Presence of Enemies Parts I and II" being the stand-outs), but ultimately, two years later I hardly ever find myself listening to it. The same thing happened with Octavarium released two years prior to Systematic Chaos. It seems Dream Theater is in a bit of an odd rut. Anything after 2003's Train of Thought seems to lack the staying power that earlier albums held. Each album has followed a formula of a strong opener, a string of hit or miss tracks in the middle, and a great closer. Does Black Clouds and Silver Linings break this formula? Sadly, not really...

We have our strong opener with "A Nightmare To Remember," which rocks along with the finest of anything in Dream Theater's catalog. If I could ask anything though, it'd be that Mike Portnoy PLEASE STOP DOING VOCALS. His vocal portion of this song is just terrible. Not song-ruining, but just dreadful regardless. Next comes the album's first single, "A Rite of Passage" which, while it definitely has a radio-friendly sound, still features all that progressive soloing and time change tomfoolery fans of the band love. So far, so good.

Then we hit "Wither", a cheesy, sad-eyed arena rock anthem which I've officially dubbed Dream Theater's worst fucking song ever. Even worse than "You Not Me" from Falling Into Infinity by leaps and fucking bounds. It's absolutely unbearable. If it were dumbed down a bit more, I could easily hear this on any up and coming Stain'd record with Aaron Lewis' intolerable whining over it. After that we have "The Shattered Fortress" the finale of Mike Portnoy's Twelve Step Suite. This song covers the final three steps of the program and is almost entirely comprised of bits and pieces from the previous selections in the set. It's not a bad song, but for this to be the finale of such a huge project, I can't help but feel disappointed it wasn't something a bit more grandiose.

Cruising into the final thirty minutes of the album we arrive at "The Best of Times", which is a sweet song with a very touching story behind it. I've no real problems with the song at all, but the fade-out at the end is simply rage-inducing. Please, please, stop fading out and learn to end your songs right, people. The album's grand finale, "The Count of Tuscany" is likely to be considered one of the most schizophrenic songs in Dream Theater's history. I almost feel they should go back to "Six Degrees of Inner-Turbulence" and add a part about the mental illness this song has... Anyway, it's not a bad song at all, and as a closer it works great, but it's so all over the place at times it almost seems a little unruly. A three-minute keyboard solo (nothing else going on to compliment it at all) nearly wrecks the whole thing, but the strong finish saves it from total disaster.

For me, this album continues the formula that Octavarium began. With only six songs, and nearly every song breaking the 12-minute barrier, if there's something you don't like you're gonna hate a pretty sizeable chunk of the disc. Ultimately, something also feels really off about the album's playlist. There's really no kind of flow at all and each song seems to just blur into the next. In its "how it'll be released form" the album scores:

However, after much thought, Rhete found a way to actually fix the album and make it flow better. Simply use the following playlist:

1. A Nightmare To Remember
2. A Rite of Passage
3. The Best of Times
4. The Count of Tuscany
5. The Shattered Fortress

Yes, "Wither" is missing from the playlist. Guess whose suggestion that was...

This version of the playlist makes for a much more listenable and enjoyable experience and improved my opinion of the album after only a couple of listens. This version of the album scores:

Trust us, just go with this list.

While you're at it, click here to play Rhete's new game!



I Listen to Sell-out-ey Music Too! (Quickie Review)
May 20th, circlenine

As some familiar with this site's currently-offline-but-coming-back-soon-I-promise webcomic, The Adventures of Pat & Polly may remember, Pat and myself officially revovked Brian Warner's Marilyn Manson privileges on the grounds that his previous two albums and latest at the time Eat Me, Drink Me were total and utter garbage, and the singer simply had nothing else left to contribute to the music world worth a stinky piss.

Two years after the droning mess of cheeseball vampirism and lost love that was Eat Me, Drink Me and a reunion with former songwriting partner Twiggy Ramirez, Manson is set to take the world on, hell or high water, with his newest effort, The High End of Low.

Upon my first full-playthrough I have to admit, I was surprised. The first thirty minutes of the album are absolutely spot-on. I honestly don't feel there's a dud in the first seven tracks. Manson treads a lot of familiar territory with these songs, but for the first time in years it doesn't feel phoned in. The lead-off single "Arma-God-damn-motherfuckin'-geddon" is appropriately tongue-in-cheek, sarcastic and is one of those songs that drilled itself into my fucking skull, "Pretty As A Swastika" harkens back to Antichrist Superstar's "Little Horn", "Four Rusted Horses" accomplishes that stripped-down and foreboding atmosphere Eat Me, Drink Me failed so hard to deliver (if you can, find the Opening Titles Version), and "Running To The Edge of the World" brings back all that Bowie-like glam influence featured on Mechanical Animals. I was really enjoying what I was hearing and though it's hard to take Manson's schtick seriously by now, the songs spoke for themselves and were genuinely listenable.

Reaching the halfway point of the record is when things began to run amiss. The 9 minute "I Want To Kill You Like They Do In The Movies" is not only just a fairly unimpressive and boring song that goes nowhere, but sitting smack-dab in the middle of the album right after a 6 minute ballad drags everything to a crawl. And this is where the album tends to stay for the duration with "We're From America" being the only reprieve from the plodding pace. That's not to say that the second half of the disc is bad. In fact, most of the songs are actually quite enjoyable. "Into The Fire" and the overly-cheesy and predictable "I Have To Look Up Just To See Hell" are real stand-outs of the album and the other tracks come close to being as good. The real problem here is that the album just gets bogged down with mid-tempo and slow songs for the last forty minutes and it can become quite overbearing. If you're going to ask someone to sit through a 72 minute album, you need to vary it up a bit more.

I'll call it what it is: The High End of Low is a good album. I wouldn't call it a "return to form" but it's clearly an inspired work with only a few dips into by-the-numbers territory and a running time that could have benefitted from a song or two being cut. With that said, and likely without Pat's full approval, I'm willing to give Brian Warner back his Marilyn Manson privileges on a trial basis with the condition that he stops using the words "Antichrist Superstar" in interviews leading up to any new album release.

Seriously, Brian, this album isn't "brutal" and doesn't "kick the shit out of" anything from Portrait of an American Family to Mechanical Animals.



iSoldout (Quickie Review)
May 12th, circlenine

Alright, since activity is gonna be a bit slow around here the rest of the month since I'm workin' on the ol SNES WEEK STUFF, I figured I'd throw some mini-reviews on the frontpage if something catches my interest enough for me to write about it. I've done a few of these in the past, so it's nothing new.

Today's mini-review may come as a bit of a surprise to some, because I've voiced my opinion on both Apple and it's ridiculously overzealous fanboys in the past many times. Last week, however, I found myself in possession of a shiny new 8GB iPhone 3G from AT&T. Why on earth would I get an iPhone in the first place? Well, there are a few reasons:

1. - I needed a new phone and nothing offered on the upgrade page really caught my interest.

2. - I needed a new .mp3 player. Zunes are fairly attractive (and admittedly, I still want one), but I couldn't think of a single instance in my life when I'd ever need more than 5-7GB of music at one time, let alone 120GB. I'm just not a person that needs excess for the sake of having excess. This may change in the future.

3. - Mobile browsing on a somewhat competent browser is very useful in bored situations where friends are playing games or doing things I'm not interested in. Yeah, I guess this is kinda trivial in the end, but whatever.

For the most part, I've found the iPhone fairly useful for everything I've wanted to do with it so far. iPod functionality is great, mobile browsing has proven to be a good time-waster, and the AppStore is one of the coolest additions to a phone ever. There's just always something in there to fart around with (FART PIANO! No I'm kidding, GO PLAY CIRCLE CHALLENGE!) when you're bored and new shit gets added all the time. I dig the touch keyboard and the OS itself has proven fairly intuitive for keeping the device organized and what have you. I still loooooathe iTunes, but it's become a bit of a necessary evil.

As for the bad, well there's more of it than I'd hoped. Eating that $30 forced data plan upgrade is kinda lame, but I'm hearing rumours that it'll be dropping to $20 later this summer. The App Store being so awesome kinda balances this a bit.

The fact that making and importing custom ringtones is a pain in the ass is fairly lame as well. Apple seems to think I should only be able to make ringtones out of songs bought in iTunes...if I pay an extra dollar for EACH FUCKING SONG I want to use. Fuck you, Apple. Greedy cock suckers. Thankfully there are ways around this kind of bullshit and my phone is packed with free custom-made by Polly ringers for everyone in my contact list.

My biggest gripes with the phone come from the fact that it lacks so much basic functioinality that even crappy $40 phones you can buy damn near anywhere already have. You can't send multimedia messages, you can't copy and paste, you can't zoom the camera, you can't record video, you can't voice record, and I'm sure there are a few more in there I'm forgetting at the moment. The bottom line is this is just Apple bullshitty policy of leaving out really basic shit so they can try and make people buy an upgrade later. iPhone OS 3.0 coming out this summer (for free...whew...) will apparently address a lot of my gripes, but the fact that they need an OS upgrade to add features that have been standard to normal phones for fucking years is just ridiculous, especially when you paid a premium for the damn thing (mine was a little over $100, so I don't feel so bad, but you bastards that ate $300-600 for this thing got jipped so bad...)

In the end it does what I need it to do most of the time, but it's hard to not feel like even from my dinky RAZR v3xx, the iPhone was a bit of a downgrade. iPhone OS 3.0 needs to be released yesterday. I like my iPhone, but I'm really not 100% satisfied.

Alright, I'm goin' back to my SNES Week stuff now, and you should be too!


SNES Week Banner Stuff
May 4th, circlenine

As most of you have no doubt already noticed, I've taken a bit of liking to fussing around with the site's header banner over the past couple of days. This got me thinkin', "Hey! SNES Week is coming up! What if you did a spiffy-diffy cool site header banner to run that entire week. OR what about five banners with a new one to run every day!"

That got me thinking even more. I like to try and focus these events on guest contributions as much as possible, so why not leave it up to the readers to try and provide site banners for the week?

How can you do that? Well, it's easy!

Fill it up with SNES/SNES Week-related stuff and either post it on the forum or PM it to me there or email it to me directly. Given that the image is crucial to the site's layout, I have to ask that you don't fart with the dimensions of the image. This is the space you have to work with.

Depending on the response to this, I'll either choose one banner to run during the whole week (giving you full credit of course) or five separate banners, running one each day (of course, giving each of you credit). If you're a member of our forums, the lucky chosen will receive custom titles as well as acknowledgement. If you're not, or don't wish to, I'll let you tell people you're my friend for a day or something. Or gratitude...something like that!

So, let's see where this goes! SNES Week is now only a few weeks away and I still got crap to do! SO DO SOME OF THE WORK FOR ME YOU LAZY FUCKS!


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