Archive for the Best / Worst Category

It’s Official: Moonsorrow Is The Best Band Ever

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Music with tags , on November 12, 2017 by slateman

In case you were wondering, the verdict is in: Moonsorrow is the greatest band to ever grace the earth.

If you weren’t wondering, then you either a) knew this to be true or b) are deluded into some nonsense.

After I proclaimed 2011’s Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maasa potentially the best album in a decade and Jumalten Aika the undisputed AotY of 2016, you’d think I’d have gone back through their catalog. You’d imagine I’d relish in their past successes as well! But no…I had yet to do that. The lengthy opuses were difficult to catch my interest. They were hardly passive listening experiences and so I never dedicated enough time to them.

Until now.

For some reason, with ample time on my hands (I guess I’m an author now), I decided to work in reverse. V: Hävitetty contains two half-hour songs. These are not easily digestible or easy to appreciate. However, once that appreciation arrives, it is enriching. The ebb and flow of an album like this spans both the obvious time as well as space. Its highs and lows are matched by shrieks and gentleness. Its grandeur – a word that can be attributed to every piece in this band’s catalog – can be reduced to the simple term: epic. This is massive and triumphant and remarkable. The only downside is that I’ve utilized all the superlative words in the English language before even moving on to the next record.

2005’s Verisäkeet contains four lengthy oeuvres and an outro. Each of those four songs has its own unique identity and since they three of them clock in at 14 minutes (the final at 19), they have enough breathing room to expand and explore. The third track, Pimea may be the album’s best and stands among the band’s greatest works and its outro is hum-worthy for weeks.

Kivenkantaja may be my least favorite LP so far, with very broad strokes, but less uniform vision. It is the only record that I might pick apart and listen to one song more than another. This album houses Raunioilla with the amazing choir voice of Janne Perttilä.

The band’s second LP, Voimasta Ja Kunniasta, was one I started later on. My initial spins were only appreciated at a low level, with the last few songs garnering the most attention. However, very shortly later did that appreciation grow to recognize this as yet another masterpiece by the band. From its folk-inspired intro to the tremendous Sankaritarina, there’s not a bad second on this album, despite being so early in the band’s catalogue. The finale is still a staple of the band’s live shows, and for good reason.

I have yet to really dive into Suden Uni. I’m taking my time with this stuff here. And I can’t forget Tulimyrsky, the behemoth EP that outclocks most band’s full-length efforts. The Metallica cover is unique, yet skippable, and the re-recorded songs are merely interesting takes on very early Moonsorrow songs. The remaining two tracks contain the 30-minute title track which has some of the rawest and fastest parts the band has written. Another epic ending stays with me for hours afterwards and the cover, Back To North lies next to Non Serviam as some of my favorite cover songs ever.

And let’s not forget, on top of this gush-fest of a post, that their last two albums are easily among the best albums of the 2000s, if not beyond. But, if you’re quick to mock my late arrival to the game, I’ll share with you this final point. At 41 years old, I’m living through a renaissance of incredible music. I’ve somehow managed to find the best band EVAR, after being an enormous metal fan for 30 years. And as my playlist is 99% Moonsorrow this past month, it’s the most exciting time I’ve experience in music since discovering bands like Opeth in 1996, or Slayer and Metallica almost a decade prior. And unlike those bands at the time, these Finnish geniuses have an entire catalog of awesomeness to appreciate!

TL;DR – Moonsorrow is the greatest band ever. Just go listen.

Ys: Origin Completed: Thoughts & Images

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Ys on November 1, 2017 by slateman

After finishing up Ys II and Ys: The Oath In Felghana, I picked up Ys Origin, a game I’ve been meaning to play. Its arrival on the PS4 this year gave me the perfect chance! In addition, I just grabbed Ys Seven so that may make another title beaten in 2017, we’ll see.

In any event, the game was pretty fun though I rued the lack of voice acting like the other two titles I played. The story was fun enough and the gameplay solid. Therefore, with yet another Ys title under my belt, I thought I’d share some more images, replete with spoilers, of course! There are two more campaigns but I can’t say I have much interest in doing them, although I’d like to see how the third one pans out; I think that one is canon.

And so, here are some images from my runthrough of Ys Origin which really offered some fan-service about the…ahem…origins of Ys and the games I’ve been playing for over 25 years! Enjoy!

Cuphead: A Work Of Art

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots on October 14, 2017 by slateman

This game is insane. It’s weird though. In no way is it new. The visuals hearken back to nearly a century ago and the tough-as-nails platforming isn’t far removed from my own youth. However, it is gorgeous and one of the more refreshing titles I’ve played in years. In an age when everything feels like it’s been done before, Cuphead comes along and tells you that old can be new again. I’ve opted to share some screenshots, but they simply cannot do this game any justice. The silky-smooth animations and impressive boss battles can only be appreciated by watching it in action…something I highly recommend anyone doing.

This last image is one you’ll see a lot of. It taunts you with showing your level progress, thus inciting another retry. And another. And another.

Clicker Heroes: The Stupidest Game…

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games with tags on October 2, 2017 by slateman

…that I can’t stop playing. After picking this free title up months ago, I was enthralled by its mathematical crack, constantly beckoning me to return. Long sessions weren’t required but a consistent minute here or nine there fed the need. Then I hit a wall.

For some reason, I returned recently and figured out a way past the barrier. It could’ve been a few months of idle coin harvesting. And then I ascended again. Now, with dozens more hero souls, things were going by so quickly. I managed to reach level 100, a feat that took days, easily, in about six minutes. Madness!

And as I reached the lofty level 360-whatever, I ascended yet another time, relishing in the hundreds of hero souls. And on the next playthrough, making it to level 150 or so in mere minutes, I accidentally scrolled to the right, revealing Transcendence as an option. Hmmm…should I? Shouldn’t I? Typically I’d read up a bit: what to do before, should you transcend, etc. This time, however, I just said, “Screw it,” and clicked it. “You will lose this and that,” “yeah, yeah, yeah.” Clicked. Done.

Then, back at level 1, now with absolutely nothing, I instantly regretted my decision. I have to actually click again? No idle bonuses? Umm, what is the benefit to this again? Well, things aren’t quite back to square one, but they’re close. I understand that there will be incredible perk to my idle build…once I have unlocked my Ancients. But, with too few rubies, waiting for level 100 is the only option.

So, after this useless game took away everything, why do I still play? No clue. It’s a strange active-passive experience based on saving money, spending it, calculating and…waiting. Very strange indeed.

Postseason 2017: 2am start.

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Reflection, Yankees on October 1, 2017 by slateman

The first season I’ve been detached from in decades winds down today and the postseason for my beloved Yankees is a bit shaky. While it’s been a fun and rather surprising year, I don’t know if we have what it takes. The one-game playoff versus Minnesota is one of those ‘anything can happen’ situations and I’ll admit the best of two concept I heard about recently sounds like a better solution. But even if we beat the Twinkies, we go up against the team coming off the hottest streak in over 100 years. That shortened five-game series is no less stressful! And the winner faces either the Astros (*ahem*, 2015) or the Sox (hatred). OMG, the latter would be insanity.

But that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. Gotta fend off Minnesota, whom we recently swept, first. And that game starts at 2am here. How can I not watch? Alternately, how can I? Well, I did get up at like 3am to watch when the Yanks and Matsui opened their season in Japan a lifetime ago. Oh how I love the postseason. Oh how I hate thee.

Ys II: Completed! Thoughts

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Ys on September 20, 2017 by slateman

Ys Books I & II remains among my favorite games ever. That’s partly tied to the time of my life, about 13. However it is also tied to its innovation, its technological prowess (CD quality!) and its music, which is still remarkable. But now having finished the remake of Ys III and my save game but a few hours into Ys II, it was time to complete this retelling. And now that I’m done, I realize…It’s dated.

The game was still great, with the familiar faces of Feena and Reah bringing a smile to mine. However, its source material is almost 30 years old and it shows. The labyrinthine level layout was needed with limitations of the ’80s. Now it just feels empty and repetitive. A guide helped me through this journey and I’ve no shame in that. In addition, Felghana’s remade soundtrack may very well be superior to the PSP iteration of Ys I & II. In fact, the former may be the best the series has ever seen.

As Ys VIII hits shelves this week, my return to Eresia will have to wait. Until then, here are some snapshots from the last hour or so of Ys II – spoilers, quite obviously!!!

Ys II: Hello Zalem!

Posted in Artwork, Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Ys on September 17, 2017 by slateman

This is a totally unnecessary post – but I found it humorous. Having gone back to beat The Oath In Felghana, I figured why not polish off Ys II as well. I abandoned that title at around the same time as Felghana. Well, once you land in Ramia village, you can go upgrade your equipment by meeting Zalem. Well, turns out if you talk to her before trying to do any business, then give her three herbs, then visit her bed, you’ll be given an option to join her there. It’s entirely juvenile and silly, and I certainly don’t recall this option back in the TurboCD days!!! In any event, here’s some visual evidence. Warm and sinful indeed.

Ys: The Oath In Felghana – Revisited!

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Ys on September 15, 2017 by slateman

After putting in 15+ hours in early 2014, I abandoned Ys: The Oath In Felghana, the remarkable remake of the legendary Ys III: Wanderers From Ys. The latter, a game I played waaaay back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, was an amazing game with an even better soundtrack. Just why I quit is unclear and returning to games, especially any type of large-world titles, is never easy. However, after doing book research and poring through the excellent Castlevania book I have, I was inspired to return to the other excellent game, Symphony Of The Night. I tinkered for a bit before pondering that very question of why I bailed, more than three and a half years ago.

And so here I sit, at the very end of the game, in the very week that Ys VIII ships. Reviews are positive and of course I’d like to pick it up. But now isn’t the time. Hell, if I could wait almost four years to finish this, I’m sure Lacrimosa Of Dana, which itself is over a year old, can wait a bit longer. Come to think of it, I never finished Ys I & II Chronicles on the PSP either. Backlogs aren’t so bad, maybe! For now, a pretty decent screenshot of Adol before the setting sun in anticipation of that annoying-as-hell Chester fight.

SFV: Abigail Vs. Zangief

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Games, Screenshots, Street Fighter on August 7, 2017 by slateman

The 8-foot-tall Abigail joined the SFV roster two weeks ago and his size is almost a joke. While Hugo already dwarfed the rest of the cast, Abigail’s inclusion tops even him. Why not compare him to the quaint size of Zangief. Funny shit.

The Golden Age Of Television

Posted in Best / Worst, Blog, Lists, TV on August 3, 2017 by slateman

I can think back to when I was a kid and TV consisted of Family Ties, The Wonder Years and Cheers. The ’90s brought Seinfeld and Friends, the ’00s shows like 24 and The Sopranos. But since cutting the cord, it should be difficult to keep up on the new shows, but clearly it isn’t.

I’ve spent more time since Erin and I moved to Sweden than I did in the decade before it. As we start a new show, Ozark, I recalled the countless shows before it that we’ve binge-watched over the last half-decade. The quality varies, of course, but a number of them can live up to the Seinfelds of the past. I thought I’d try to reflect on this fact, partly for my own posterity, really. Asterisks denote completed shows.

  • Americans, The (5)
  • Big Little Lies (1)*
  • Boardwalk Empire (5)*
  • Bloodlines (3)*
  • Breaking Bad (6)*
  • Catastrophe (3)
  • Fargo (3)
  • Game Of Thrones (7)
  • Homeland (6)
  • House Of Cards (5)
  • How To Get Away With Murder (3)
  • Leftovers, The (3)*
  • Mr. Robot (2)
  • Narcos (2)
  • OA, The (1)
  • Ozark (1)
  • Sherlock (4)
  • Stranger Things (1)
  • Taboo (1)
  • This Is Us (1)
  • True Detective (2)
  • Vikings (4)
  • Walking Dead, The (7)
  • Westworld (1)

Several are in a strange “is it over”? stage. But that’s a good listing of shows, some can stand up with the best shows ever IMO, like Breaking Bad, the first season of True Detective and early Vikings.