Rare Breed by The Shrine

Writer’s Note: Before I continue, I gotta say that it’s been too long!  Life has been insane and I’ve gone a little more insane too!  There is far too much for me to catch up on.  Movies, video games, music albums, whatever!  But, I’m back in action in one form or another.  Even though I’m not completely back together, I’ll continue to shamble on with this reanimated corpse of a blog as well.  Will I be back to a weekly basis?  Not sure, I’m trying to kick my gaming projects into full gear.  You might get me weekly, maybe every 2 weeks.  But enough about me, let’s talk about THE SHRINE with their 2016 album, “RARE BREED!”

The Shrine wasn’t a band I would have stumbled upon by myself.  That credit goes to some of my good buddies who love hopping bars and venues to support local and smaller name bands.  But none the less, I was intrigued upon hearing their raw and awesome sound at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn back in October 2015.  It was a joined show between them and Dirty Fences with “Big Truck” opening for them.  It was a sick sound to make for a truly sick show.  While the band did not have the newest CD available to the public yet, I was hooked on their righteous riffs and violent vibrancy.

Now, how would I describe The Shrine?  They’re a thick and fuzzy soundscape of rocky bluesy tradition, colliding with classic yet fresh hard rock alongside a screaming torrent of skater punk rock rage.  Now, what does that mean?  An eclectic mix of rock music sounds blended into a distinct, modern sound.  Containing an energy that brings to mind classic era punk and alternative groups, while bringing a heaviness and raw power associated with a Sabbath era sound; The Shrine proves to be a band that keeps a crowd rolling.  Their most recent release, “Rare Breed”, unleashes a raw and lively sound to capture the spirit of Rock and Roll.

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Album Review: Christmas – A Ghostly Gathering

Tired of the saccharine crap that floods radio waves from early November to early January?  It’s the same old derivative playlists only lightly spiced up by flavor of the year bubblegum pop.  After a while, it’s grating to the mind and soul.  Now, for gloomy souls like myself, there’s a genre of music that appeals as a proper alternative.  I speak of dark ambient/atmospheric music.  Combining this with the motifs and inspirations of the early winter holidays and you have the recipe for a fantastically freaky but festive experience.  Groups such as Nox Arcana have created their own contributions to yuletide terror, with their own excellent releases.

This time around, it’s Midnight Syndicate’s turn to show their musical mastery for a truly magical christmas time.  When I speak of “christmas magic”, I’m not talking about holly jolly merriment, I’m speaking of the twisted and bizarre folklore that extends several centuries at the very least; strange shadowy beings, seemingly alive winter winds, strange monstrosities, wandering ghostly spirits and tons more.  These are the myths crafted in small villages and written by just as crafty poets.  Whether it be St. Nick’s demonic helper from the Alps or the ghosts that haunt Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the weird and supernatural is just as much a part of Christmas as it is Halloween.  With that, there’s plenty of reason behind a horror-oriented Christmas album.  I’m referring to the latest release by atmospheric gothic music group, Midnight Syndicate.  Their newest release, “Christmas A Ghostly Gathering” has a mix of original pieces and dark takes on traditional hymns and holiday essentials.  In a sense, it’s like Midnight Syndicate heard the soundtrack to “A Nightmare before Christmas” and wanted to make their own take on Horror for the Holidays.  Read on for more.

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Game Reviews: Until Dawn

Until Dawn is a 2015 video game developed by Supermassive games for the Playstation 4.  In an essence, it’s a horror film simulator, right down to all of the tropes and cliches.  You guide the protagonists along various plot paths of the story and see who makes it out and who gets chewed up by the monster/psycho of the week.  Now, this sort of gameplay or idea in general is far from new.  Games like Clock Tower involve you running away from a maniac wielding giant scissors, while Manhunt involves you playing the serial killer.  Meanwhile, upcoming projects like Last Year, Summer Camp and the latest adaptation of Friday the 13th also plan on hitting the market in their own murder-happy fashion.  Not to mention, there’s plenty of twists that go beyond just some boogeyman in a house.  In fact, the mountains themselves hold an ancient evil to compliment many a horror classic.  With that stiff competition ahead, what does Until Dawn that sets it apart from the crowd?

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Film/Mini-Series Review: Over the Garden Wall

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Since this past year, I’ve been slacking off on watching various shows/movies.  Sounds kinda funny considering I’m all about reviewing movies and shows too, right?  Needless to say, I’ve been catching up on tons of content I’ve missed for a while; whether that be through video release or the divine gift to the masses that some people refer to as “Netflix”.  Among those things was a charming animated dark faerie tale called “Over the Garden Wall.”  This mini-series/movie (either works, depending on who you ask) involves two boys lost in a strange otherworld full of anachronistic people, horrible creatures, and some really catchy music numbers.

It’s not exactly easy to nail down what Over the Garden Wall is.  Is it comical or dramatic?  Is it merely an homage to the works of yesteryear or the expectation of tomorrow?  Is it a tongue-in-cheek folktale or something right out of The Twilight Zone?  And this doesn’t even cover a lot of the mini-series’ countless mysteries that countless fans are still trying to figure out.  That combined with the questions above, people are still coming back for more.  From a small cult hit to a recognized Emmy winning masterpiece, it’s likely one that will endure for a while yet.  But this begs the question, why?  Well, I’ll certainly do my best to try to figure it out!

NOTE:  This review contains heavy spoilers.  While this mini-series has been out for almost a year and was recently released on DVD, you have been warned.

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Movie Review: Ant Man (2015)

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It’s always refreshing to enjoy a summer film by Marvel.  Last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy remains one of my favorite films by the studios.  This year’s summer hit tries to recapture the somewhat tongue-in-cheek mood we saw last year.  They more or less acknowledge this within the poster itself. Granted, this film knows what it is and how absurd it sounds.  But hey, the New 52 reboot of Aquaman did that self-aware metahumor to excellent effect.  All in all, it’s finely balanced with some pretty intense drama and some genuinely fascinating sequences.  While I genuinely enjoyed the movie, does it stand up to previous films?

Note: Spoilers Ahead.

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Ramblings/Review: Fifth Edition Character Sheet mini-review

Cover art

Reviewing apps… this is a first for me.  It’s not that I have anything against apps, it’s just not something I’ve really done before. Plus, I’m not sure there’s really enough to do a full fledged review.  That said, I’m always up for new things.  This time, I’m going to do a brief look at the Fifth Edition Character Sheet app.  This app, available on multi-platforms creates a virtual character sheet for D&D 5th Edition.  While others have been hit with a C&D for doing the same, this one is surprisingly up and running.

One of the benfits of this app is that it has quite the ease of functionality.  The sheet is separated into 5 pages dedicated to different aspects of your character; basic number crunch, skills, attacks/other bonuses, spells, assorted extras/flavor text/class & race benefits.  All you really need to do is add names of spells or maneuvers if you have a class that utilizes them.  Otherwise, the app more or less places the information in their respective areas (i.e. a Life Domain cleric will have specific abilities in class section and Bless & Cure Wounds in the spells automatically logged.)  And while not exactly aesthetically pleasing, as many apps go, it has a simple yet effective presentation.  In addition, it does a decent job of tracking, especially in terms of healing/damage/hit points in general.

Being a pretty cheap app floating around in Play-Space, there are bound to be a few hiccups.  Certain parts of sheet were immediately responsive upon touch, while others required longer pressing in order to activate or edit them.  Also, you couldn’t add in descriptions for spells or other in-depth elements of your character.  As someone who has dealt with players forgetting how their spells work (as well as doing this myself, sometimes), this is a slight problem.

Overall, pretty good and well worth the additional 3 dollar transaction.  As I’ve said, there are/were better options available in terms of quick character creation, but this one isn’t bad for what you get.  It’s quick, it’s easy, it will get you back in the game.  This app is pretty good, but there are likely ones that are a bit better around the internet or just app store in general.  Prior to being C&D’d by Wizards of the Coast, Pathguy’s Javascript generator was my personal favorite, even though you can still access the pre-EEPG version via Internet archive.  However, if you’d prefer to keep your character up to date (with updates for every release), give this app a shot.

Ramblings/Review: A look at HATRED

A Lighthearted Adventure for the Whole Family!

People have asked me to review the 2015 game, “HATRED”.  So I dived deeper, watched some videos, and delved into it myself (thanks to people who wanted to purchase the game).  After a couple of hours of slogging through waves of NPCs ways, I had enough and decided to fulfill the request of many. In the end, I didn’t so much write a review, but an angry tangent instead.  So, what did I think of Hatred?  In short, I found it vapid, repetitive, and sophomoric. While many other games do that (well), this one does all of it poorly.  If you wanna see the rest of my ranting tangent, read on.

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Film Review: Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Rock ‘N’ Roll!

Greetings from the untamed waste, my good prospectors and bandits!  The summer blockbuster season has only just begun as we’ve seen a couple familiar faces either be teased (i.e. Jurassic World) or make their way to theatres everywhere (i.e. Avengers, Poltergeist).  Among those beloved franchises is one that has stood the poisoned sands of time, Mad Max.  Despite speculation over being a reboot or sequel, George Miller himself described it as more a return to the universe’s mythology instead.  As to how this film fits in the series, it’s left relatively vague.  In fact, the date the series take place has been altered by speculation and retcon alike.  Likely picking up somewhere after Thunderdome (since it’s not really described when), this film focuses on Imperator Furiosa’s rebellion against tyrannical leader and slaver, Immortan Joe.  In fact, while Max gets plenty of time to explore how his character continues to handle the empty Outback, Furiosa’s story takes center stage.  So, how does the film handle?  Well, let’s take some war rigs down Fury Road and find out!

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Game Review/The Doc Speaks: Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask (3DS Remake)

Majora Moon
I see the bad moon rising… falling!

Just like its predecessor, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Majora’s Mask received an upgrade for the current gaming generation.  This game adds significant adjustments to gameplay, graphics, and even quests.  While there isn’t too much “new” content, it still feels like a slightly different experience.  This title, based on the 2000 title for the N64, is one of the most beloved in the Legend of Zelda series.  Like previous entries, this game radically changes up the norm for the Zelda universe; the plot does not involve a fight between Zelda and Ganon, the antagonist is the Skull Kid you sought out in the introduction, and the stakes go beyond apocalyptic!  Combined with the existential and occasionally macabre themes, this could very well be the darkest entry in the series.  Combine that with unsettling fan theories and notorious fan fiction, and you get a celebrated game for the ages.  However, we’re not here to talk about the original game so much as the “Enhanced Edition” (see what I did there?) for the 3DS handheld.

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Movie Review: Into The Woods


After I saw this as a theatre production at my old college, I pondered for a while as to how it would be as a movie.  Well, fast forward a couple years and Disney’s adaptation has been released.  This version of the film stays pretty true to the original stage play by Stephen Sondheim.  Into the Woods was originally released in 1986, before becoming a sensation across numerous theatres around the world throughout the ’90s and “turn of the millennium.”

Personally, I was never a huge fan of the original play nor of most stage musicals in general.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see this adaptation, but it’s rare I go out to see musical based films.  That said a mixture of joining my family for a movie during the holidays as well as supporting local acting talent (i.e. Meryl Streep hails from my hometown) were among primary reasons.  While some might argue this automatically disqualifies me from reviewing this film entirely (as many aficionados hailing from YouTube comments, various blog sites, and other sources of opinions may proclaim), I’m still a film viewer full of opinions that I’m willing to share.  So, let’s take a trip Into The Woods!

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