The last couple of years Spotify has made playlists on my most listened songs. So I thought it would be fun to just sum up the last three years in music for me. I’m actually pretty excited to see how 2021 will differ from previous years.
In 2018 I didn’t listen that much to music. I was mostly listening to youtube videos when walking or going to and back from work. All songs on my top 10 is by different artists/bands. It’s a very mixed list, some rock, punk, an a humoristic acapella song, 70’s “jazz rock”, metal, bluegrass pop, video game music, a classical piece and a radio hit,
In 2019 everything changed, the main reason is the release of Tool’s Fear Inoculum which got me to find Tool again, something that really shows on the list. Besides Tool I also rediscovered metal with Deftones, Edge of Sanity and At the Gates.
A weird year with many changes for me personally. I discovered Motoi Sakuraba’s solo projects from the 90’s, and the album Gikyokuonsou was my most played during 2020. Something that is very evident on the top 10 list for 2020. The grip that Tool got on me during 2019 continued the year after. You can also see that metal from my youth still had a place on the top 10, as well as an 70’s Swedish prog favorite.
The games I write about are usually games I really like. Mostly because I don’t finish games I don’t enjoy playing. This game is the exception. DuckTales: Remastered is a gorgeous game, the art style is nearly perfect. However the gameplay leaves a lot to wish for. While there has been a few quality of life improvements over the NES original, like the easy pogo, which was first featured in DuckTales 2.
DuckTales: Remastered is one of the games that has frustrated me the most. Weird hitboxes, skipped input, bad mechanics and bloated with cutscenes are just a few things that come to mind. WIth skipped inputs I mostly mean, when walking down a platform it’s almost impossible to pogo or time a jump on the ground below making unnecessary hit a problem. The other huge complain is the hitboxes that doesn’t seem to fit the sprites.
The biggest flaw is probably that the life system. Sue to the previously stated problems, getting two lives after a “continue” isn’t enough. Especially not since losing those lives, means starting the level all over again, with all of the progress of the stage lost.
The brilliance of the original is its simplicity. It’s very straight forward, find the boss, defeat the boss collect treasure. Something that the Remaster unnecessarily butchers, artificially prolongs the levels with forced items to collect before a cutscene that takes the player to the last area with the boss.
DuckTales: Remastered is not a difficult game, it’s a cheap game. By adding stuff to do, I feel the game becomes weaker. It charm of the original is that it’s possible to beat in less than 10 minutes. With the addition of the intro stage and new objectives in the stages plus adding a final stage, the games just feels bloated.
I’ve talked a lot of the the problems, but sadly that’s the impression that this game has given me. Bosses with forced cycles, in addition to taking too many hits to defeat, makes them tedious and not exciting. The absolutely most frustrating parts was the ending sequence after the final boss. The race against Magica De Spell and Glomgold to get the Number One Dime. Instead of a straight rope to the top, the remastered “fixed” a part not needing to be fixed, making it one of the most frustraing parts due to bad controls and mechanics. After that sequence which is the last one on the NES, a new escape part is added. Scrooge has to flee from the rising lava and traverse from chain to chain to ascend to safety. The problem is that climing and especially dropping from chains to grab another one is the worst mechanic in the game. These to parts in combination with having to restart the level when all lives are gone made this a living nightmare. I really don’t like this game.
One of the positive aspects besides the graphics, is the music. Jake Kaufman’s original tunes and the arrangements of the classics are good, really good. You can really hear it is Kaufman, which is something I love. Doesn’t save the game as a whole, but it’s one of the redeeming qualities of the game. Don’t know if the music is improved, but I enjoy both the remastered tunes and the originals.
I would honestly not recommend DuckTales: Remastered to anyone, because I know I’ll never ever play it again. I think it a really bad remake. Really happy it’s over.
Finished Halo this weekend. I played a lot more than I anticipated I would. I was totally gripped. For a FPS newbie Halo was a perfect starting point for me. Engaging story, corny enough to not be totally serious but at the same time not silly.
I have some complaints, but it’s a very solid game that still feels modern “enough” to still work. The length was perfect, beat it in like 10 hours. Very solid weekend game!
I have a “ritual” that after finishing a game, I try to watch a speedrun of it. It’s a great way for me to combine my interests, casual gaming and speedrunning. Knowing the game gives the speedrun more depth. Especially the struggle in the Library for me, and the speedrun just skips a lot of it on Legendary whereas I played on Normal. Pretty crazy stuff.
The darling genre of the Indie studios, Konami’s not so secret weapon on the GBA and DS. I am of course talking about Metroidvanias. Koji Igarashi’s winning concept has left Konami and entered the Indie scene and Kickstarter.
When I first saw Iga’s newest project, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, it looked like the 2.5D lovechild of Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow, but animations looked stale and did not impress on me. I waited over a year before playing it because I told myself that I wanted to play the PC version. Last fall I could not wait anymore, I had heard so many good things about Bloodstained so I bought it on PS4. It did not disappoint. I wasn’t wrong in my first assessment, it really is the lovechild of Symphony of the Night and Aria of Sorrow, which I really enjoy since they are my favorites of the Igavanias.
The shard mechanic is ripped straight out of Aria of Sorrow’s Soul system, which is my favorite skill system in the GBA games. Rest of the game feels very Symphony of the Night, the gothic aesthetic, music and last but not least, controls.
Miriam the protagonist is a shardbinder, which means she can absorb shards from demons and gain their abilities. This does though slowly turn her into a shard lore-wise. The story is engaging and balanced but not very deep. It’s very Igavania to say the least. The rest of the cast have great personalities and most of them are memorable like the swordsman Zangetsu from Curse of the Moon-fame.
There are many Easter eggs for the initiated, mostly from SotN. Which makes it enjoyable and adds to the nostalgia. The game is cryptic, the map is big and full of secrets all over the castle like bosses and overpowered weapons.
Also, the music, it’s very SotN without being a rip off. Which is a huge plus in my book. The music accompanied the game excellently and I don’t have much to complain about.
The one point that I’m not overly happy with is the graphics and the animations. It looks okay, but animations are pretty stale, event hough better than the first look of the game. Despite that, it’s an very enjoyable game that no metroidvania fan should miss.
I never owned a Xbox console until 2016 when I bought a 360. Therefore I have completely missed Halo. I didn’t have any interest in games in first person view until 2012 when I played Far Cry and Dishonored. I have never been a huge fan of shooters in general.
I have since then played Destiny 2 and other games, so that made me look at Halo, and here I am ready to try it out!
Gonna start with Combat Evolved. Reach will be a later game for me.
I hope I’ll enjoy it. If not, there is always co-op!
After Edge of Sanity’s albums and work on recording other bands’ albums in his studio, Dan Swanö made a solo album that he apparently described as “If Rush played death metal in the 1970s” (Wikipedia). This album Moontower is a unique creation. It’s a progressive fest filled with interesting riffs and passages, oozing of Dan Swanö’s creative mind. The albums starts with a synth heavy riff, accompanied by a groovy guitar riff. This really sets the mood of the album from the start. For the uninitiated I think Moontower is a very puzzling album, there are so many things you don’t really hear in combination.
A lot of synths and harsh vocals are not something you hear on every metal album. Therefore it’s probably that can put people off, those who don’t like growl or the metalhead that doesn’t want synth based songs. For those who can tolerate or even appreciate this unlikely combination, will hear an unique album that keeps on engaging the listener throughout the album.
I can’t understate how unique this album is. The songs are unique but cohesive. I have been listening to Moontower for well over 10 years, and it’s one of those albums that I always go back to. I can’t really describe why, but the energy and grooviness of all songs are so gripping. The melodic aspects incorporated in the songs absolutely one of the more noteworthy aspects of the album, ranging to excited to absolutely stunningly beautiful.
The album is a mix of death metal, 70’s progressive rock (Rush, Yes, Genesis), and 80’s rock guitar solos. Something that only Dan Swanö can weave together into an masterpiece. With Swanö playing all instruments himself makes everything have its own calculated place in each song.
I can’t really rank the tracks, since the albums should be experienced in order. I recommend it with all of heart. It’s very influential in my own perception of music, possibly making me picky when it comes to what I like and don’t. It scratches my progressive music itch as well as my death metal itch.
Newer consoles are spoiling players with screenshot features for sharing on social media platforms. Even htough I’m no big proponent of social media, I occasionally like to share a screenshot from a game, when starting or beating a game. This is not possible for older consoles like Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Gamecube or Sega Genesis. A universal capture button is my thought, the sharing aspect will be a normal upload to social media of choice. I have therefore been thinking of a solution that would solve this problem for all consoles, using a capture card and a wireless bluetooth button.
With a compatible capture card and a Flic 2 button I got this to work in OBS when the OBS window is in focus. This works very well, the only problem is that I don’t have a way to capture my older consoles since I don’t have them close to the computer. I don’t want to chuck a long HDMI cable over the floor every time I want to start gaming and eventually take a screenshot.
I have there looked into the possibility of using “cheap” Chinese HDMI extenders to route the signal via the network to my computer. That’s is one solution, the other on is to buy a cheap computer, like a NUC or something and have in the TV bench just to take screenshots closer to the consoles.
When I have the hardware to take the screenshots from my sofa, I’m gonna look into some way of feedback for screenshot taken, either a sound or a blinking light, maybe a push to the phone.
This would be an ideal way to get better screenshots for this blog for console games I want to feature in the future.
There are few albums that have done so much for a genre than Wolverine Blues. It redefined what death metal could be, just a few years after its inception. With LG Petrov (R.I.P) back on vocals, the album is generally slower than Left Hand Path. It also changed a lot of other aspects than just the tempo of the songs. I would explain Wolverine Blues as a groovy album, especially the titular track.
For me the standout tracks are Eyemaster, Rotten Soil, Wolverine Blues, Demon, Blood Song and Out of Hand. They define what Entombed are going forward, heavy, groovy without losing anything from their legacy from Left Hand Path, just building on it. This being said, there are many more strong tracks.
LG Petrov’s less guttural vocals introduced in Wolverine Blues became a Entombed staple. It gives the songs a personality that a lot of other death metal bands miss since the voice is more distorted. No one can hear Petrov’s vocals and not hear it’s him and Entombed.
The heaviness in tthe tracks are elevated by the drumming, that varies from very heavy to more fleeting ride heavy sections, which adds to the grooviness in the album. They also let the music breathe, and not making a wall of sound for 30 minutes like some black metal bands from around the same time, creating a dynamic sound unique for the time. This said, they accomplish this without sacrificing anything from their past.
Wolverine Blues is so iconic and so versatile that you hear ingredients for other genres that Entombed don’t identify as. This is what the album is doing so well, making something that is so clearly death metal, but not alienating people that don’t see themselves solely as death metal heads. There is something so everyone, bluesy riffs and solos, heavy slow riffs for the doom enthusiast etc. As a progressive metal fan I hear riff that could’ve been found in songs by Dan Swanö, like the opening riff in Blood Song.
I can’t do anything but to recommend this album for pretty much anyone that wants a solid listen and a lesson in Swedish death metal history.
I have updated the site with a better structure for the categories. I have also bought a new computer, so I’m hopefully gonna post more different things here, since I don’t have to write on my phone anymore. I separated the writeups and the other stuff.
A lot of things have happened since I last posted. I have like I said, bought a new computer. I have also purchased an audio interface and new headphones. Now I can play bass without annoying my girlfriend and the neighbors. I also have the option to record ideas and possibly songs in the future. I have a lot to learn when it comes to recording. I also need to derust my bass playing-skills.
I recently started listening to a lot more death metal again, especially Entombed. Thanks to my friend Jason! He also inspired me to pick up the bass again!
On the gaming front, I got the PS5 on release and I love it. I played a lot the first couple of months, but have been in a rut lately, at least when it comes to PS5 gaming. I played through Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Platinum), Spider-Man: Remastered (Platinum), Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Platinum), Ghost of Tsushima (Platinum), Maneater (Platinum) before slowing down. So I have already gotten my money’s worth. Might do a writeup on some of them in the future.
We got an LG OLED CX on the Black Friday sale. I’m very happy with it, especially with the PS5 and also my retro setup, since it’s very compatible with my upscaler. We had planned to buy that model on Black Friday so when our old TV died the same day I got the PS5, I was both sad and happy at the same time. Had to play on my computer monitor for about a week or two.
When it comes to retro gaming I have gotten a OSSC v1.6 which has audio over HDMI, which means I now have a solution that can take and upscale all my retro consoles to my OLED. I also have a HDMI dongle for the Nintendo Gamecube booked which hopefully arrives April 30th. So I hope to play a lot more Gamecube in the future, since this device opens up the possibility for digital to digital 480p signal, so I don’t have to bother with an interlaced signal, really excited about that. I just need to figure out the optimal setup when it comes to switches, since I don’t have anymore free HDMI ports on the TV.
That’s pretty much what I have been doing music and gaming-wise. Been focusing a lot more on what I enjoy, so in addition to gaming and music, we have started taking long walks so get outside more. This have been helping me a bunch, so I’m feeling much better in these pandemic times.