Saturday, November 22, 2008

Local Kid - Fur Patrol

Fur Patrol's eagerly awaited third full album continues the (former) Wellingtonians unique sound sending the listener on a fantastic journey with some very nice laid back melodies while also throwing a few rocking numbers in to remind you that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Julia Deans' voice is what initially attracted me to Fur Patrol with an almost unmatched beauty while also being able to flip the coin and hurl out some real strength, in Local Kid this is largely unchanged albeit with increased emphasis on the laid back.

If you were only a fan of Fur Patrol's energetic Collider then this album may not be for you as it draws many similarities to 2000's Pet in that the vast majority of the tracks are fairly quiet, however in saying that 'Debt' and the single 'Hidden Agenda' really hark back to Collider's energy. 'Debt' especially contains a unique sense of cynical power and builds up to a great bridge that makes the song easily one of the best of the album. As mentioned above Local Kid is mostly a quiet album, which especially works in favour for Deans' voice as it gives it a beautiful vulnerability which is especially evident in the lonely bass-heavy 'Silences and Distances' and 'Little Fists'. Other great songs on this album that really do deserve mentioning includes 'Rondo' which contains melodies which seem to reach out longingly for your ears as well as 'Long Forlom' and 'Local Kid', the latter of which builds up very nicely thanks to a simple but powerful riff halfway through making it a suitable closer and a song needing to be witnessed live.

It's always great to hear a kiwi band still going strong after ten years, which after Shihad's disappointing Beautiful Machine is really saying something. Fur Patrol's Local Kid proves that it is possible for a band to embrace their old ways while still making great original music that doesn't sound all the same.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Myspace secret show: Fur Patrol with Tiny Paper Daggers

Myspace secret gigs are always great excuses to go out and see some of NZ's best bands, but are even better when they're free! This was the case with the myspace secret gig at the Dux De Luxe last night (4th of Movember) featuring Tiny Paper Daggers followed by Fur Patrol, headed by the foxxy Julia Deans.

Arriving there with friends we were a tad annoyed that the gig room was late in opening, but at least it allowed time for a few pints of the Dux's home tap beers (of which the Nor'Wester and Ginger Tom are definately something to try!). Time was killed between chatting with the other (not even) 100 or so punters from the very diverse crowd, getting hit on by a peculiar 50-something year old peddie with a crutch and watching brave birds swoop down and thief unguarded meals.

Finally when we were allowed in we were invited to help ourselves to a plethora of myspace freebies including keyrings, bumper stickers, bags and even retro yo-yos - ensuring that the more immature-minded audience members, including yours trully, had something to do waiting for the bands to get into it.

This did not take long thankfully with Christchurch locals (and Bishop Julius hall representitives) Tiny Paper Daggers promptly launching into a blend of electronic-rock awesomeness, keeping themselves composed despite being understandably nervous in supporting one of the biggest names in NZ rock for an entire generation. Each and every member showed great stage presence especially their ecstatic drummer who pounded away at a small set of electric drums with great facials through their entire set before stepping up to an actual kit for one song. Tiny Paper Daggers got the entire crowd pumping and dancing receiving a well deserved roar of approval after each of their songs, earning them to be a band that needs to be watched in the future.

After a twenty minute (or what felt like it) break giving punters a chance to talk amongst themselves and get a few more pints the mighty rock institution that is Fur Patrol made their mark on the Dux. The former Wellingtonians' set was great mix of songs mainly derived from their new album Local Kid but also included hits from old albums Collider and Pet performed with stellar ease and rock'n'roll rawness rivalled by very few bands from New Zealand. Highlights included an intense 'Precious' and 'Hidden Agenda' as well as 'Silences and Distances' dedicated by Julia Deans to her dad who she was amazed was still around toward the end of their set. By the time Fur Patrol wrapped up and thanked everyone for their support the crowd were calling out for an encore which came not in the form of Pet's mega-hit 'Lydia' but instead Collider's 'Get Along' held the honour, a little bit dissappointing but a great song to end the night on nonetheless. All up Fur Patrol proved that they can still rock as hard as they did in their Wellingtonian days and that their new material is just as great as their classic albums.

Also as a side note Fur Patrol lingered round the bar long after to sign autographs and sell copies of the Local Kid for only $20 (score!) as well as chat very friendly to their deserving fans, proving that they are still very appreciative of the support they get. And of course thanks myspace for putting on another wicked secret show, keep 'em coming!

Check out Fur Patrol at Southern Amp 2008 this coming Sunday (9th of Movember) performing at 8.40pm following the mighty Little Bushman!

Also check out the video for myspacetv to see me do the devil horns to the camera halfway through. Yeah!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

'Death Magnetic' - Metallica

After their last studio effort, ‘St Anger’, I was very uneasy about Metallica releasing another album despite assuring reports of them returning to their thrash roots, but I can very gladly say that ‘Death Magnetic’ is a true return to form for what is arguably one of the music industry’s biggest rock bands.

Straight from the get go these old monsters batter your ear drums with the relentless opener ‘That Was Just Your Life’ that has a certain reminiscent feel of Master of Puppets. In fact the entire album is very reminiscent of Puppets, perhaps a good sign for a bunch of old buggers who’s last effort in the studio saw them turn into a bunch of whinging oldies. But back to the music: ‘Broken Beat & Scarred’ epitomises Metallica lasting this long with the line “What don’t kill ya/Make ya more strong” and sounds excellent with ol’ Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammet barely letting up showing that they are still mainly on top form.

I could go on and on about how this album is such a great return to form, even including an instrumental track, but this is really something that only so many words can describe. However in saying that there are a few let downs: the first single ‘The Day That Never Comes’ and ‘All Nightmare Long’ both have the potential to be truly kick ass songs but every now and then they both hit a walls of pretentious dullness. What is also interesting is the return of ‘The Unforgiven’ in its third part, something which I feel speaks to Metallica maybe running out of song ideas having to resort back to old tried-and-true formulas of the past.

However alas, I still say proudly: Welcome back Metallica.

4.5 stars

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thoughts on the first BDO '09 announcement

Yesterday the first official line up for 2009's Big Day Out was announced to the eargerly awaiting public, including myself. Among the acts announced I have to say that half of the ones I'm interested in seeing I've already seen before, in fact already this year I've seen Tiki, the Datsuns and the Black Seeds at UC's orientation at the beginning of the year. And in respect to The Living End, one of my favourite Aussie bands, it will be the third time I will have seen them - first at 2006's BDO, the second time will be at this year's Southern Amp in Christchurch.

What I'm getting at is that it all seems a little bit too familiar... You (whoever you may be as I have no clue who even reads my blogs) may undoubtadly disagree with me, but I've repeatedly pined for the old school line ups of BDO. For example let's take a look at the line up 10 years ago shall we? In 1999 the International line up included Ash, Fatboy Slim, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Hole, KoRn (small wonder why I'd crap myself to see these guys in their old school form), Marilyn Manson and Soulfly. Now it may be a testament to the simple fact that I loved the music produced by post-generation X but goddamnit what a line up!

Neil Young: While I'm not very familiar with Neil Young's music I do have respect for the organisers of BDO for bringing someone so old school and influential in the history of music down under.

Arctic Monkeys: I'm not a fan of these guys because they've always sounded a bit too poppy for my liking, however they have got a reputation for their live shows and seeing as they're being touted as the co-headliners for '09 I'll probably see them wether I want to or not.

The Living End: Like I mentioned above this will be the third time I will see them live, and the second in the space of less than 6 months. However I still love the Living End to bits, though not so much a fan of their newer stuff I know for a fact that they put on a great show. Keen.

The Prodigy: Undoubtadly an act reserved for the intensity of the Boiler Room the Prodigy is an act I am going to be very interested in seeing (along with the other punters sweating it out on E). The moment 'Smack My Bitch Up' launches the Boiler Room will be one big fuck off pit of sweatiness.

Pendulum: A band that I've only got into within the last year Pendulum would be another act that is safe to assume will dominate the Boiler Room, however a thought has just occured to me in that Pendulum and Prodigy may in fact be one of the later acts of the day so unless there is some smart timetable-ing or a horribly shite headliner to be announced I'm going to be very torn.

The Ting Tings: The Ting Tings are probably going to be seen as one of the big acts of 2008 after having such a succesful year no doubt thanks to the iPod commercial that used one of their songs. This is another act that I've got to admit I'll be interested in seeing if nothing else is on int he same slot, just because their style of pop is something that I don't want to smite (....did I spell smite right? Or is it smight? I should have an editor).

Tiki: Like I mentioned before I saw Tiki earlier this year at Canterbury Uni's Orientation festival, however I had to leave early for some unknown/unrecallable reason. But anyway back to the point, after buying his album Past Present Future I have become an avid fan of Tiki and have thus made it my mission to see him perform whenever I can...perhaps another booking for the Boiler Room?

Headless Chickens: Along with Weta and Head Like a Hole, Headless Chickens are apart of the Rennaissance of kiwi acts reforming for our old school pleasure. I don't know much about them unfortunately but from what I've heard they may be an act to definately check out if I have the this space.

The Black Seeds: Again another band that I saw at this year's Orientation Festival in Christchurch at the gig Cheap As Chips, so I don't expect to be blown away by them but the simple fact that the weather is always good at BDO (touch wood) it's going to be great to relax and listen to one of NZ's favourite bands - especially seeing as they have a new album out.

The Datsuns: Probably my favourite act at this year's Orientation Festival at Canterbury, closely followed by Supergroove, means that I am going to be head over heels keen to see one of my favourite kiwi rock acts - which, after the release of Beautiful Machine, Shihad no longer dominate.

Cobrah Khan: Being a fan of Kiwi punk kings Sommerset I've been intending to get into more local punk bands...enter Cobra Khan of which Sommerset guitarist Milon Williams heads. Result? Me. Keen.

But in saying all this there are still two more announcements to be made and in past experience the second announcement has the power to change my view of the upcoming BDO while the third is merely there to fill in the blanks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Platinum Rock Vol.2

Another year another Platinum Rock CD shamelessly plugged by the Rock FM, when the first Platinum Rock double CD pack came out last year I was actually pleasantly surprised with the fact that it had some fairly decent music for a commercial best of album…but for this one I’m not so sure. It could be the fact that in the early 2000s, the period this album is based in, rock music for me slipped further down the crap-laden path to obscurity that I do not exactly rate this best of as highly as its predecessor does.

The track list for both CDs is laden with songs that you would have undoubtedly heard on the radio back in the day with tastes of everything from nu-metal (Linkin Park, P.O.D.) to classic kiwi anthems such as the Datsuns’ ‘Stuck Here For Days’, Blindspott’s ballad ‘Phlex’ and Steriogram’s monster hit ‘Walkie Talkie Man’. Though of course since the track list is dictated by commercial hits there are a number of songs which I can’t stand listening to like the Darkness’ ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ and Hoobastank’s ‘The Reason’.

However, this compilation is actually surprisingly and I am sure unintentionally, well timed in that two iconic kiwi bands featured are reforming: Head Like a Hole and the mighty Weta – at least for a few shows anyway.

All up, I would only recommend getting this album if you want to have a crash course in rock music from the beginning of the decade. Alternatively, if you have been living under a rock for the past eight years and want to know what rock music sounds like then this may be just what your caveman ass is looking for.

2.5 stars

Monday, September 22, 2008

Top 5 Albums 0f 2008

'Death Magnetic’ – Metallica
It has been a very long time since these old monsters of metal released anything that blew me away but Metallica have proved that even in their 40s they can still kick Pete Wentz’s ass. ‘Death Magnetic’ has done away with the awful sound of St Anger and has Metallica returning to their old thrash roots which made them so damn good in the first place, whether it’s the blistering opener ‘That Was Just Your Life’, the monster single ‘The Day That Never Comes’ or the instrumental ‘Suicide & Redemption’. I was worried about this album being crap but my fears have been done away with. Welcome back Metallica.

‘Food’ – Zico Chain
My favourite band of 2008 and probably my album of the year too seeing as how much I’ve listened to it, Zico Chain completely blew me away with their intense breed of rock’n’roll that the music industry has really been lacking recently. ‘Food’ is their first album after two EP’s and I am personally shocked that it has received next to no attention here, the album rocks out with its cock out it’s just not funny. Front man Chris Glithero’s screeching vocals keeps the balls out music that is Zico going a million miles an hour and refuses to relent. Listen to these dirty English boys; they are going to be fucking big!

‘A Perfect Place’ – Mike Patton
Mike Patton, formerly of Faith No More, is a musical genius that refuses to stop creating his quirky brand of music that has seen him be in everything from Dillinger Escape Plan to providing vocal duties for monsters for movies and video games. Earlier this year I spotted his name on a movie soundtrack, it turns out he wrote and performed everything for the soundtrack of ‘A Perfect Place’, an equally quirky short film. Every note written for the music captures his weird musical nature, whether it’s the opera styled ‘Il Cupo Dolore’, the uppity ‘A Perfect Twist (Vocal)’ or even the Car Radio sketches. This album is seriously strange…but so damn cool.

‘Forth’ – The Verve
Ten years after their hiatus, English alt. rockers The Verve made their return this year with an oddly beautiful album that has become a surprising favourite of the year. Throughout the album the bass keeps humming and the psychedelic guitars keeps your mind in a relaxed mode of address even when the monster ‘Noise Epic’ comes to its intense close.

‘Inflikted’ – Cavalera Conspiracy
Before this year I was afraid that I would never hear any decent new music from Max Cavalera, one of my favourite metal musicians of all time, but in re-teaming up with his brother Igor my confidence in metal has been reborn. Straight from the get-go, this album batters the eardrums with the same heavy intensity that the Cavalera brothers made famous in their Sepultura days and does not stop until you are broken and bruised in the corner crying for more.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

'Pedal To The Metal' - Blessed By A Broken Heart

Century Media

The genre of glam has had its day and has since demised, but recently there have been a few reprises in the music industry concerning it: Motley Crue released a new album, Poison still continues to tour and now Blessed By a Broken Heart have burst out of Canadia with their latest offering Pedal To the Metal. However Blessed are not just a glam band, they are the result of Glam on speed and having dirty groupie sex with Dragonforce.

The result of this combination will delight some metal heads but will also leave some with a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of others, I have to say that I am currently situated towards the latter’s camp. The album is by all means impressive musically with guitarist Shred Sean doing what he does best with some stellar solos and unrelenting drumming by Frank ‘Da Bird’ – yep those are their stage names – led by the vocals Tony Gambino. However, the album suffers from what I see as an immature metal undertone, which is the exact reason I cannot listen to Dragonforce.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great album with token glam synth-heavy songs ‘Move Your Body’ and ‘To Be Young’, but it’s when the two worlds combine that things start to sound weird – maybe it’s the combination of 80s electric drums with growls, or maybe it’s Tony Gambino’s at times cheesy vocals. ‘Doing It’ especially gets on my nerves with the Ian Slater’s keys coupled with Gambino trying to give the song some balls and then launching into an unimaginative bridge “This is how we do it/This is how we do”…really? However, I guess that this album is not all bad; ‘Don’t Stop’ starts promising with a nice melody but then for some silly reason breaks down into an attempt at being heavy in the chorus and the bridge.

I guess my main beef with this album is the overall immature sound of glam metal and my despise for seedy vocals of hardcore. Like I said before fans of Dragonforce and probably hardcore may enjoy this album more than I have.

2 stars

'Beatiful Future' - Primal Scream

B-Unique Records

I believe it was the comedian Bill Hicks who said something along the lines of real bands who know how to rock are the ones that take drugs, have loads of sex on tour buses and generally do things that conservative folks would want to shelter poor Jimmy Johnson from. At one point in time, Primal Scream was one of those bands, but for their ninth album, the lads of Primal Scream decided to have a go at sobriety.

I would love to compare it to past albums to really get an idea of how much they have changed over the years but unfortunately, I had never really heard much of Primal Scream until I picked up this record.

The album contains a good collection of bass heavy electro-pop rock, which coupled with front man Bobby Gillespie’s slurred vocals produces some good ol’ toe-tapping goodness. There are a few cool sounding songs on the album including the synth-heavy ‘Suicide Bomb’ as well as the happy go lucky charm of the opener ‘Beautiful Future’ and the odd charm of ‘Zombie Man’.

The final three songs of the album attempt to mix things up a bit by inviting some guests to collaborate – Lovefoxxx, Linda Thompson and Josh Homme respectively – but this really doesn’t add a lot of diversity to an album that should only really be listened to at the end of a Saturday night. Though in saying that ‘Over and Over’ with Linda Thompson is a sweet duet that slows the album down nicely.

However, the album at times sounds a bit samey throughout despite its attempts at diversity and lacks an edge that makes it stand out among this year’s releases. Perhaps the lesson here is that maybe stopping while you are ahead of the game and on your drug trip may be a good idea.

3 stars

Thursday, September 11, 2008

‘Forth’ – The Verve

EMI records

It’s been quite a while since the world has heard anything from the Verve, about ten years has passed in fact since their last offering, Urban Hymns, which gave us their infamous ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘Lucky Man’. But nine years after their split and last year’s reformation we are given a new record from one of England’s most influential nineties rock acts. To give you an idea about the popularity of these boys, in Britain when they announced their reformation and tour last year tickets sold out in twenty minutes prompting them to announce a larger second tour soon after.

The opening track ‘Sit and Wonder’ establishes the feel for the entire record with a strangely beautiful mix of psychedelic guitars, heavy humming bass and more than competent drumming. The first single ‘Love Is Noise’ is one of the few upbeat (if you could call it that) songs on the album resulting in a welcome change from the somewhat depressing drabness that can plague British alternative rock for some listeners. There are a great range of songs on this record ranging from the lovey-dovey ‘Judas’ and ‘Valium Skies’ to the end of the night feeling ‘Numbness’ and ‘Columbo’. A definite stand out of this album has got to be the aptly titled ‘Noise Epic’, clocking in at over eight minutes and combining everything from monologue to an intense closing bridge this has probably got to be my favourite song of the record because it shows refreshing diversity that I haven’t seen in a band for a while.

All up this is a great return to form by The Verve, showing that whatever internal conflicts the band suffered from they have gotten over and are back on top of their game. Here’s hoping they can keep it up for another album or even come down to New Zealand (please!).

4 stars

Religimon: Gotta convert em all!

With so many faiths vying for your attention in this modern world it really can get a little bit daunting, every faith has differing strengths, weaknesses and specialties, just like pokemon funnily enough. So in a mood reminiscent of my younger days ogling at trading cards at the Armagedden Expo I feel that religion needs the pokemon treatment and have thus created a Religidex, an encyclopedia of Religimon available to all young trainers by the Religimon Institute. Here are just a few entries:

Out of all the religimon available to trainers Islamachu has gained notoriety for what has been deemed by its critics as a ‘savage’ and ‘primitive’ attacking style, however professors at the Religimon Institute argue that as a religimon derived from a much more temperate climate in the East its fighting style is only natural. Commonly found in hot sandy areas, the males’ duty under the Islamachu’s Sharia law is to venture out to collect sustenance and socialise leaving their female partners shrouded in caves to look after their young, therefore making the female of the species a rare find. When hunting this religimon it is important for trainers to be aware of its surprise attacks in sand dune areas often initiated by roadside explosives normally laced with rocks and other assorted objects, following this the Islamachu commonly utilises sharp stone objects fashioned into knives to cut the enemy as well as spitting acidic gastric juices into the eyes of the opponent in order to blind them. It is also worthy to note that when very low on health an Islamachu may resort to its special attack, dukka-dukka-Muhammed-el-Jihad, which consists the Islamachu stabbing itself in order to taint its knife with its gastric juices and wildly stabbing the enemy until it runs out of energy. Some trainers question the effectiveness of this special attack however as the Islamachu rarely survives the attack, earning it the nickname of the Suicide Slasher.

Traditionally a favourite among many trainers in Western societies its general versatility in most battle situations this flying religimon has proved to be popular. However as it gains experience it is essential for younger male trainers to be wary of its tendency to disobey orders, and at times even violate, sexually, several codes of religimon-trainer codes of conduct. This can be solved conveniently with exposure to the Luther-stone which will give the religimon a chance to evolve to its more powerful and Pure form named Jesuitidor. Christindon are renowned for their physical reliability in battle situations wielding a large crucifix that has a 20% chance of inflicting leprecy on the opponent, damaging them over time. A Christindon’s special attack is unique in that it does not physically harm the opponent, rather it mentally castrates. The special attack, Born-Again Rhetoric, consists of the Christindon puffing itself up to a larger size and loudly proclaiming the love of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, this can result in either the opponent falling asleep or, more commonly, fleeing the battle altogether in frustration.

Caution and patience is advised for this religimon as in its early stages it is fairly weak, however as it gains experience – with the combination of monetary encouragement – the Jewdachop grows into a very powerful, yet physically small, force. Exact locations as to where to capture a Jewdachop are constantly updated as this species of religimon is often bullied by others, subsequently forcing it to evacuate its habitat and search for a new dwelling. It is rumoured that there is a colony of Jewdachops fiercely guarding large quantities of golden Jewdrops – the Jewdachop’s form of currency and a delicacy to many trainers. In combat this species of religimon is largely stationary and thus takes a fair amount of damage, this is balanced out however with scratching and biting of the opponent and its special attack: the notorious excrement cannon. The excrement cannon is a powerful attack developed by Jewdachops as they gain experience resulting in the resurfacing of memories of being shat on for their lives in the wild by other religimon. This attack is among the more powerful religimon special attacks recorded, in fact during the 1947 religimon games in Paraguay a Jewdachop famously let one loose on an Islamachu obliterating it and knocking the rival trainer unconscious from the stench, ever since then it has been every Jewdachop trainer’s dream to achieve this mighty feat.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

'Scars on Broadway' - Scars on Broadway

In 2003 following the Mezmerize and Hypnotize albums System of a Down announced their hiatus resulting fans, like myself, dacking themselves in fear of a world without the System. However soon after front man Serj Tankian released his own CD leaving fans anxiously in wait for guitarist Daron Malakian’s own project that he was surely to head after penning much of the aforementioned albums. Finally the wait is over with Malakian and System drummer John Dolmayan’s new band Scars on Broadway.

This self-titled debut is token Malakian in every conceivable way with many songs feeling like lost siblings of Mezmerize and Hypnotize, not surprising seeing as Malakian himself claiming that he could have released ten albums with the amount of songs that he wrote during that period. As you may have already guessed I can’t help but compare Scars to System because the resemblance between the songs is uncanny, I constantly expect to hear Serj’s voice soar over and above creating that great epic feeling that System’s music contained. It’s unfortunate that this feeling remains for Scars because it really is a great album with songs like ‘Stoner-Hate’ and the blasting opener ‘Serious’ truly setting the bar for other rock records of the year. Stand out songs have got to include the dramatic ‘Kill Each Other / Live Forever’ and ‘Chemicals’ as well as the first single ‘They Say’ and my personal favourite ‘Cute Machines’. Scars isn’t all just crazy rock’n’roll though, there are some songs that are very reminiscent of System’s ‘Lonely Day’ (another Malakian song funnily enough), ‘Whoring Streets’ and ‘Insane’. However there are a few repetitive songs that get on my nerves after a while – ‘Enemy’ and ‘World Long Gone’ I’m looking at you.

All up Scars’ debut effort is well worth the full retail price of a new album with an impressive fifteen songs making this a must for anyone who was a fan of System of a Down. However like I mentioned before this album feels at times like a half-finished System album without Serj, and it’s this lack of mind-blowing innovation that Serj Tankian’s ‘Elect the Dead’ contained that stops Scars on Broadway’s debut from being an absolute awesome album.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In the Middle of it with Maximus #1 - Religion, Is It Really the Great Bane of UC?

Well you always no that the CANTA editor is desperate when he asks a CD (and recently a party) reviewer to write a column…but thanks Matt I needed to keep up the writing!

Now before I launch into an obscene rant about crap I need to say a rather shameless plug - Friday 22nd of August at Bentleys Bar Echoic, Socks Off, Grafton Zoo and Millionaire Debrofski will be playing and for only $5!! W00t!

Ahem yeah but now that's outta the way time for to actually get back to writing something...

It seems the other week someone wrote in to CANTA complementing an article of mine but then the twat destroyed his integrity by launching into a rant about getting pissed off at punters around the campus trying to drag us kicking and screaming to their faith (predominantly Christian in orientation). Well first off, let's have a look at a few things that might make Canterbury Uni an easy place for religious fanatics to recruit people.
The first is that, unlike any other major city in New Zealand Christchurch was established with a very strong Christian base, hence the name. So it's surely a given that with the sheer amount of churches we have in this city that they're needing to be used instead of sitting there all pretty-like.
The second is that many aspects of our university were established based on Christian principles, the halls for example are testament to this: Bishop Julius (no shit) and the mighty Rochester and Rutherford (can you guess I stayed there?). However this does not mean that Christian theology will be rammed down your throat, quite the opposite in fact, while at R'n'R I only ever went to one compulsory chapel service in which we got told about the lamb of God and given a stone. At the time I was a bit confused by this for a few reasons, the first is for the simple fact that I was giggling to myself because Lamb of God is one of my favourite bands, the second is that I wasn't entirely convinced the usefulness or the meaning of a pebble in signifying Christianity. After spending a good week or so gurgling down Speights and JDs (this was Orientation after all) I finally found a use for it in the form of being a pet rock named Pete the Paperweight.
Though it is argued that in the last hundred years or so education has replaced religion as the basis for being cultured (thanks CULT 202!) and with New Zealand being such a multicultural society as well as our exposure to other cultures through the media and internet, it's not a great surprise that religion's begun to take a back seat in our generation.
The point I'm getting at, and I am believe me, is that religion has become so diluted in our culture that I have a bit of respect for those trying to recruit us to their faith, but really we have so many choices and so many ways to interpret the meanings of these faiths. For example, yesterday I was given a flier by someone outside the UCSA informing me that this week (I think) is Islam awareness week, after returning to my flat and putting it under Pete I began to think about how much crap Islam gets in the news. In Australia the 'wogs' are barely allowed to open up new mosques or Islamic schools in case they train up future t-words, in China they're portrayed as evil separatists (Taiwan has rivals!) and of course in America they're second-class citizens to the patriots and Jews. In fact I read somewhere lately that in once mighty England that the most popular religion is no longer Anglicanism (a type of Christianity to my red-neck compadres out there), but instead it's Islam.
So is Islam the new black? Will a new fashion trend soon emerge where women cover up their faces with burqas and guys grow beards? No, well maybe in winter for warmth.
I'm happy to see Islam being promoted in New Zealand, I'm also happy to see Christianity promoted on campus too, but not so much so when someone stands at the top of the library steps and begins preaching to the masses - you know who you are.
Finally I'll leave you all today with something the great Bill Hicks once said "What business is it of yours what I do, read, buy, see, say, think, who I fuck, what I take, into my body - as long as I do not harm another human being on this planet?"

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Advertising in the Game Industry (07/07/08, another old rant I forgot to post)

Recently it was announced that Sony had signed a deal with major global advertising company IGA Worldwide that would lead to advertising being increasingly seen in Playstation 3 games, this has led to opposition by fat pimply blokes in their mum’s basements groaning that this will over-commercialise the gaming industry.

You know what? It might actually be a good thing.

As an avid gamer myself (which I am not ashamed whatsoever to admit) I have noticed advertising in games: Axe deodorant in the Burnout series always comes to mind. My point is that it is not a new thing. Advertising is such an important part of our culture whether punters like to admit it or not. Seriously, on your commute to Uni or work sitting at a bus stop, behind a bus in traffic or listening to the radio consumers (i.e. you, me and Dupree over there) are constantly exposed to soul-less yuppies from marketing departments trying to shove this new product down our throats to be happy, popular consumers.

Also with money from advertising companies going to the development teams behind games it could result in better quality game play because of advertising funds going towards pushing the PS3 further graphically etc, not to mention cheaper retail prices.

To be honest increased in-game advertising may in fact be a fairly entertaining thing. Think about it. You just screwed up that final turn on Gran Turismo and you want to take your anger out on something in-game. Sit at the finish line and wait for that pesky Powerade-sponsored car to complete its victory lap and do a spectacular head-on with it and send it skidding into the wall. In fact why not do the next race as an unofficial destruction derby ramming into the more soul-less sponsored cars on the track “Take that Coke, and that Maccas ya golden-arched bastard!”.

Also imagine it in FPS games. You’re in a post-apocalyptic city with zombies roaming the place looking to get blown up by your shotgun. You turn a corner and there’s a dirty blood stained advertisement for Burger King. Now this can be taken in two ways: Firstly it can tempt you into some late night drive-thru munchies at BK for that new meaty-mc-man-stein burger which those lovely bikini-clad ladies were eating. Orrrr it could have an opposite effect: one could see it as that with an increase in advertising in this futuristic cityscape has driven a scientist mad enough to ‘accidently’ release a virus to plague the city. Plus when you send a shotgun shell into a zombie’s head its guts nicely adorn the advertisement giving the BK crown some nice zombie guts shading.

Though I have got to say that while ‘dynamic’ in-game advertising could be a surprisingly entertaining thing it could also turn sour easily. For example if they somehow work into the script of a game “Yo Tommy hit me up with that Coke” I’d be kind of annoyed because it’s no longer somewhat subtle like advertising should be. Marketing puppets in my opinion are comparable to flies. They’re annoying as fuck in numbers but they serve their purpose in the natural swing of things.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this ‘dynamic’ advertising in PS3 games will affect the gaming industry but so long as the mad scientist’s virus isn’t released to wipe out society’s marketing departments I think we’ll be okay.

Sex, It’s in Rugby Too 08/07/2008 (old rant I forgot to post)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to watch more rugby. It’s not because I find it exhalerating to watch, I can honestly say I’d rather watch milk curdle in the sun than watch rugby. It’s not because I feel pride in watching my favourite team win, I’m an Aucklander studying in Christchurch, no matter who I say I support, Crusaders or Blues, anywhere in the country I’ll get the piss taken out of me. And it’s not because I like sports, I’ve always been hopeless at any sport I’ve played dropping catches and missing goals.

I need to watch rugby on television to be rewarded. I understand that Prime have now begun a not-so-secret reward system to entice the people to watch their programming on Sunday afternoons, it’s called porn. At about three o’clock on Sunday afternoon, while I was debating whether I persist on watching da Vinci Code on Sky movies or go into town to buy CDs, a scene from a pornographic movie interrupted a grassroots rugby game on Prime TV shocking gruff men from the Waikato and Canterbury called Fred and Jeff.

Honestly I think that Prime have just uncovered a new way to appeal to the hard to reach young male market who may not necessarily be interested in rugby. Think about it, why go to the trouble of sifting through all the pop-ups on the internet or the mild embarrisment of buying a Penthouse from Jay at the corner dairy when you can get your weekly fix from the subliminal erotica while watching the most manly of games. It’s like knocking down two birds with one stone: combining porn, which us guys dig, with a sport that’s supposed to define a kiwi male identity.

Also Prime will be able to charge more for advertising slots during what is normally a fairly dull and therefore not very profitable period of the week. The teams could be sponsored by dildo and condom manufacturers providing them with increased funds to make grassroots rugby better looking. I’ll be expecting to see soon the mighty Marquis Waitakere take on Albany Glutterdongers next month.

Coughing and Hacking Away

Winter brings many things: snow, rain, misery for those pansies who get depressed by the weather, and for my body an excuse to go crook. I don’t know who’s suffering more me lacking sleep, my flatmates with my coughing in the kitchen (sorry), or people in my lectures having to deal with me dying slowly in the corner.

The other day I was sitting in a two hour Cultural Studies lecture when I began to feel the beginnings of another courageously loud coughing fit coming on. With as much gusto I could muster I tried fighting it, as a few seats along from me was a wee lass I’d been eying for a while, but all this resulted in was a very uncomfortable throat and then one almighty burst out loud of hacking which managed to stall even the seasoned lecturer. In another lecture two girls sat next to me and one of them proclaimed to her friend that she felt “soooo sick” because of her cough which she then showed off. For the first time since attaining this cough I actually found a positive use for it, shutting that slapper up: less than five minutes later I managed this (proudly I must add) while also shutting everyone else up in class. Yep the sick guy has some silencing power.

But there is an upside to coughing so much, for the first time in my life I have abs! So yeah send the ladies my way and I’ll razzle and dazzle them with my looks but for fucks sake don’t let me open my mouth otherwise they’ll be showered in spit. It’s gotten to the point that I’m hacking so much not only has my diaphragm strengthened (abs fuck yeah) but I’ve also discovered some muscles in the back of my head I didn’t know were there. You know the ones at the very top of your neck? Yeah me neither.

I was chatting to a flatmate who began to compare my hacking fits to his whooping cough he had when he was in high school. Apparently he was coughing so badly that he started to have bleeding noses and throwing up...I’ve got to say I hate him now. To combat my suffering throat I’ve consumed an entire bottle of Robatussin, an icecream every night, half a pack of panadol and multiple cups of tea and milo, despite me being slightly buzzed while writing this because of the combination of these student remedies and a bit of whisky I’m still struggling to last five minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'Indestructible' Disturbed

Personally I was never really a great fan of Disturbed because I always felt that the singer was a pretentious twat and their past albums had too much of an electronic feel to it but right from the get go Disturbed’s Indestructible instantly did away with all of my former negative opinions about the band. The opening track “Indestructible” has echoes of their great song “Liberate” from Believe and is greatly helped by some really solid drumming by Mike Wengren. The single that’s been plaguing the radio waves “Inside the Fire” still holds some of front man David Draiman’s pretentious vocals but combined with great riffs from the guitarist and a pretty cool solo too it makes for a great song that deserves being radio bashed. Probably the main thing that has impressed me about this album is guitarist Dan Donegan who busts out some Machine Head-esque riffs and some very nice solos. “The Night” has such a few wicked riffs that I’m tempted to pick up guitar again – which goes to say something as I have no musical talent in me. Draiman’s vocal ability is another great aspect of this album, with his unique machine gun style that was first heard in Down With the Sickness coming through in the dying moments of “Perfect Insanity” and haunting monologues heard as well as in “Haunted” (funnily enough), but it has to be “Criminal” that shows off his range the best letting loose his shrieks that made him notorious in Disturbed’s nu-metal days as well his token machine gun style. However the songs late in the album like “Torn”, and the closing tracks “Divide” and “Facade” are honestly a bit boring which is a real shame when the album started off with such intensity. But in saying this all up this is definitely a great album that is a must-have for Disturbed fans and those who aren’t need to try.
This album officially has the TrueRockSoc seal of approval.

4/5 stars

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ready Their Demise: Has the RTD Swansong Begun?

In early May Lion Nathan NZ announced that they would be scrapping their high alcohol content RTDs, more than two standard drinks per serving, as well as those with energy additives such as Guarana following a similar move by Lion Nathan Australia. These products are the Vault 88 range, McKenna 9% cans and Diesel 8% 440ml cans. Lion Nathan said in their press release for this that one of the reasons for this move was as an active step in combating misuse of alcohol, especially in New Zealand’s under-twenty binge drinking culture.
Tony Ryall, the National Party’s health spokesperson, applauded the move saying that it is good that Lion Nathan have recognised that they hold social responsibility and that “they’re obviously concerned about that impact that this is having and that they’re acting in a way to provide some leadership. They are far in a way not the only provider of these RTDs and it will be interesting to see what the impact it has on the other players.” This is true as Lion Nathan only have a meagre 16% share of New Zealand’s $530 million RTD market; the largest producer in this market is Independent Liquor who control a whopping 65%.
When Lion Nathan made their announcement Independent retorted saying that this move was drawing attention away from beer and wine – which they claimed to be the major cause of binge drinking in New Zealand. This is a somewhat predictable reaction from Independent as they move to protect their RTD market dominance in order to make up for their lack of which in the beer and wine market. When trying to contact a spokesperson for Independent Liquor to elaborate on why they argued that Lion Nathan’s move was shifting the focus away from beer and wine I was sent in circles through their office administration and was eventually informed that they were a company shy of the limelight.
Constable Bill Timms, an officer of the Christchurch Police, says that the move by Lion Nathan is a good idea because it is a step in what he sees as the right direction, “I seriously want to do something about getting rid of them [RTDs] altogether,”. When asked why sees RTDs as such a bad product to have on the market he argues that it introduces people to drinking far too easily. He says that if he gave his under-10 year old a glass of 4% RTD they would not know the difference, hence why these products are also referred to as ‘Alco-pops’ for their similarity in taste to soft drinks, it is because they are so similar to regular fizzy drinks that RTDs are such a big problem with binge drinkers. Timms believes that young people who are given a taste of alcohol for the first time would not immediately binge on beer or wine because they were not used to the taste, but when they taste an RTD they probably would because “it’s just like soft drink,” and that these drinks are a “cheap nasty way of getting alcohol into you”.
The Ministry of Health which despite supporting Lion Nathan’s announcement still believes that more could be done “to address alcohol-related harm caused by all alcohol beverages...such as addressing the marketing and appeal of alcohol to young people”. Marketing of RTD products are, like some beer, purposely aimed at young drinkers despite them still being consumed by drinkers of all ages, for example illustrations for RTD products and promotions commonly depict young drinkers having a good time benefiting from their enjoyment of the product. The reason for targeting young drinkers in particular could be because the young adults are high consumers willing to spend more of their income than older consumers who are more conservative with their money.
When asked about disturbances in the community caused by alcohol Constable Timms believes that they are a result of these drinks “RTDs just seem to go hand in hand with trouble. Around the streets you find Woodstock bourbon cans littered everywhere,” referring to the regular sight of RTD cans scattered on the sides of main roads such as Blenheim and Moorhouse. Tony Ryall agrees with this pointing out that much of society’s social disorder is associated with young drinkers purchasing RTDs from small liquor stores. When asked if they would like to see the drinking-age raised back to twenty both Bill Timms and Tony Ryall said that they would, Timms was also concerned that society has become too liberal and that now it is too hard to cut back.
A possible way of combating binge drinking of RTDs it seems is to increase the tax that consumers pay on them. In Australia the level of tax on RTD drinks has been almost doubled to match the level of spirits, this has resulted in a four pack of Pulse energy RTD going from around $11 Australian too close to $20 Australian. Tony Ryall says that while it would obviously generate a lot of money for the government he is not sure if it would have that great of an effect on consumers. It is possible that instead of purchasing ready-mixed drinks drinkers would instead return to beer or resort to mixing their drinks themselves, possibly worsening the dilemma. If the high tax is to work in Australia, which has a similar youth binge drinking problem as New Zealand, it is always possible that our own government could enforce something similar. The Ministry of Health acknowledges that an increase in tax on RTDs could have public health gains but also believes that an increase in tax on all forms of alcohol, as well as RTDs, can reduce the demand by consumers and holds the view that this would be “the most effective means by which to reduce alcohol-related harm”.
RTD drinks are not just a concern in society; the sheer amount of sugar contained in a single serving is alarming. We have all been warned that a can of coke contains twelve teaspoons of sugar, equivalent to 192 calories, and that we should at most have one per day. In a single can of Woodstock 440ml and cola there is a stunning 220 calories, and in a can of Pulse 300ml there is 277 calories. With both Woodstock and Pulse sold in four packs a drinker would assume that over a single night they would consume all four cans amounting to 880 calories and 1108 calories respectively – about half of the daily recommended calorie intake. The effect of the sheer amount of sugar has both short and long-term consequences. In the short term, any unused calories will stay in one’s body as fat, and in the long term, regular consumption of this level could lead to diabetes. The alternative to drinking RTDs laden with sugar is the sugar-free products, Victoria Robertson of Canterbury University’s health centre however warns against drinking these products as well because of the artificial sweeteners having possibly even more dire consequences on the human body. What is also of note is that the energy additive RTDs that Lion Nathan have scrapped were the only products on the entire market to contain a warning not to consume more than two servings (i.e. cans or bottles), while the leading energy RTD product Pulse contains no such warning on any of it product packaging. While this showed that Lion Nathan appeared to at least have a heightened conscience for its consumers, those warnings came in small font on the top of their cardboard packets. The Ministry of Health points out that providing maximum recommendation labelling on these products may give consumers a false impression that drinking below the recommendation is safe in all cases furthermore advising that more evidence to their effectiveness is required in promoting responsible drinking. Furthermore consumers of these RTDs barely seemed aware of these warnings resulting in sleepless nights and excessive tiredness the following day, what is equally unsettling is that some health professionals who have friends who drink these energy based RTDs were not even aware of this. A recent study also points out that alcoholic beverages containing caffeine and other stimulants, such as Guarana and Taurine, masks the effects of the intoxicating effects of alcohol. With this is mind the sale of alcoholic energy drinks really does begin to seem a little worrying if health professionals, or even retailers in some cases, are not aware of the health warnings that were on the alcoholic energy drinks.
If Lion Nathan has only just become aware of their responsibility to young alcohol consumers by halting production of high alcohol RTDs with energy additives, including caffeine, then the question is how long will it be before other RTD producers alter their products in an effort to be socially conscious? Or will it happen at all? As an under-twenty drinker and an employee of an off-license I wrote this article to point out the risks of RTD drinks. I do admit that when I began drinking when I was younger that I started on RTDs because I did not like the taste of beer and the strength of spirits was too much for me to handle. However, as I matured in my drinking and saw myself and my friends becoming overwhelmed by these drinks’ potency I realised that RTDs did not belong in a drinking culture like ours. On almost any day when I work at my liquor store I regularly serve customers who I know will be binging on the large amounts of RTDs that they purchase, in which Cody’s and Woodstock are the most popular. As a retailer of alcoholic drinks, of which RTDs are a big seller, I support the recent move by Lion Nathan and can only hope that Independent Liquor New Zealand follows suit in order to combat New Zealand’s unfortunate drinking culture.
I finally extend a warning to all my fellow young drinkers out there to be careful in what you drink; beer, shots and RTDs are all good but in moderation and to have a good time, but don’t mess it up getting shit faced and give the rest of us a bad name.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Biggest Surprise of the Weekend and the Prince of Darkness - Rock2Wellington Night Two Review

After such an explosive first night it the line-up for the second night wasn't looking too flash: on the one hand you had two one hit wonder bands Poison and Whitesnake, but on the other you had Ozzy Osbourne who is the one and only Prince of Darkness. And what would they do to get the whole Crazy Train rolling? What would they do to replace the guitarist battle, and would they keep the same local bands from the night before? I knew this night would be interesting but not so much as it turned out to be. I've got to say my night didn't exactly start off too great.

I pick up my ticket giddy like a little kid going to the candy shop and enter through the gates still excited as hell, but then I heard it. That music sounds live, I thought, why do I recognise it? And then it hits me like a ton of sloppy shit: THE VALVES. I saw these guys for the first time last year at UC Orientation '07 and they pissed me off, I happened to see em again this year because they were supporting a band I wanted to see, and now I saw them at possibly the best gig of my entire life - I'm still pissed off. Why? Because their frontman tries to be John Toogood: he sings like him, he acts like him, he climbs the stage like him and he even gets naked like him. I'm going to have to stop myself now before I go too off-topic and this turns into a rant about crap musicians.
The Valves *1 star - killed the beginning of my night I've got to say.

Salvation came in the form of POISON cracking into it soon after. Now you've all seen Bret Michaels wear that cowboy hat on his show on C4 right? Well you'd think for an entire set he'd take it off right? Wrong, he kept up the Hollywood cowboy image for the entire time he was on stage. It wasn't just Bret Michaels who looked odd, it was the entire band that looked washed up. Before they came on stage I tried picturing what a glam metal band would look like today, and when they emerged I wasn't all too surprised, think Hollywood but sold out: designer clothes, $500 haircuts, jewlery, overly tanned skin - yeah not nice. But it was quite funny to stand there and watch as they tried to get the crowd to get into their songs by clapping and even repeating a few lines. All of this failed pretty heroically. They put up a good fight but it really came down to the fact that close to the entire stadium only knew one Poison song. And oh boy was everyone in good spirits when 'Every Rose Has It's Thorn' came on, I swear the crowd came close to drowning out Bret Michael's voice. Special mention to the fucking ass hole behind me and my mates who decided to start a circle of death to Poison: good effort, but not for glam metal. Hope you enjoyed everyone taking a swing at ya!
Poison **.5Two and a half stars - they were interesting but not special, sorry guys.

Oh and there really is no point in mentioning the entertainment between the mainstage bands because it was all the same, but at least the dragon was back!

WHITESNAKE were another one of these bands that had a one hit wonder and were at Rock2Wellington and after Poison I was dreading their performance, but they actually turned out to be the biggest surprise out of the entire two night experience. As were Poison, Whitesnake in their prime (well, when they had their one hit wonder) were also a glam band, but shit those boys are talented. Their frontman David Cloverdale (formerly of Deep Purple) had an amazing voice and was a cheeky bastard hitting on girls in the front row: "Are those real? I got feed myself for a week off those!", and their guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach really set the musical standard for the night flicking out some amazing licks with such ease. But, like Poison before them, attempts to get the crowd into the music failed simply because no one except a few die hard fans were familiar with it, because of this I couldn't help but feel that David Cloverdale was getting a bit frustrated with us. However this all changed when 'Here I Go Again' was performed, just like with Poison, every person in the stadium got into it like nothing else mattered, and the solo live was wicked.
Whitesnake ****4 stars - sooooo goddamn cool, do you best to listen to their music!

As it came to the Ozman's time the crowd were treated to an arrangement of cheeky clips involving OZZY OSBOURNE taking the piss out of Lost and the Queen among others. This was just a taster of how much of a kid Ozzy is at heart. Before he finally appeared on stage he kept on teasing the crowd yelling into a microphone "Are you fucking crazy Wellington?" and halfway into his set he mooned the crowd and threw buckets of water. When he did hit the stage it as a true Crazytrain (yes he played that) with no end in forseeable sight. He played all his classics including 'Paranoid', 'Flying High Again', 'Goodbye to Romance' and 'Bark at the Moon', including two of his newer songs which were fucking awesome: 'I Don't Wanna Stop' and 'Road To Nowhere'. To call his set just an Ozzy show is an understatement, his guitarist Zakk Wylde (a favourite of mine) was going off ripping out some incredible solos and squealing harmonics. At one stage Ozzy and the rest of the band left him on stage and for about 5 to 10 minutes it became the Zakk Wylde solo show consisting of some of the best examples of how to play a guitar and immense talent. And special mention to his new bassist Rob 'Blasko' Nicholson who looks so goddamn badass it even rivals Zakk Wylde. The only dissapointment with the entire set was that after during the encore 'No More Tears' wasn't performed - this song is one of my favourites of Ozzy's and for him not to play it was a shock, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
Ozzy Osbourne *****5 stars - The Prince of Darkness still has it. Well worth the price of the ticket just to see him alone.

ROCK2WELLINGTON was possibly the best concert/event I have ever been to, and I doubt any Big Day Out could top it. Here's hoping that this will become an annual event despite organisers announcing a loss of over $100,000 through not selling enough tickets and shoddy advertising (apparently).With the combination of Rock2Wellington and seeing Queens of the Stoneage and Smashing Pumpkins Easter weekend was the best weekend I think I will ever have.

Over and out, Maximus

Monsters, Bitter Old Men, a Dragon and Rock Gods - Rock2Wellington Night One Review

On TV n stuff you you know how you see in the music videos the massive big fuck off stadium gigs complete with fireworks and crazy onstage antics? (think the music video for 'Paradise City' by Guns N' Roses) Yep? Well that doesn't even come close to Rock2Wellington. Rock2Wellington was a show, not a concert.

This gig was pure rock n roll class all the way through, no doubt about it. The only thing that kind of bothered me was that, not being very knowledgeable about Wellington's apparent windyness and not thinking ahead, I neglected to bring my hoody to the outside gig and hence ended up shivering away my beer buzz before venturing into the pit subtley cacooning myself within other bogans.

Starting from the crazy ass guitarists squaring off with each other to win the RockFM's competition to win truckloads of free gear, there was such an awesome array of styles in their playing one dude even looked like Joe Satriani playing porno-groove licks, oh and a special mention to the second guitarist I think it was who had on a mask that strongly remesembled Paul Gray's Slipknot mask, and of course the final guitarist who upon realising the fellar before him shredded an amazing mini-set closed his own with smashing the hell out of his own guitar ending in true rock n roll style.

Right after this performance Finnish moster rockers LORDI took to the stage with a visually gobsmacking set complete with awesome as costumes that made you swear you had seen them in Lord of the Rings in that scene where the Orcs almost eat Merry and Pippin. Seriously those Finlandians love their Nordic shit, every one of the costumes looked like a zombie off a haunted viking boat, especially when their frontman Tomi Putaansuu (aka Mr Lordi) picked up big axes laden with fireworks and waved them around flaming furiously. Talking about fireworks their bassist made the crowd go wild by firing a bazooka full of explosive shit and firing it at the crowd (haha take that you diamond pit bastards!). Musically, I thought Lordi were pretty cool, not exactly 'wow thats a pretty sick solo' but 'hey that sounds pretty rocking!', especially with the chorus of one of their songs "The devil's a loser and he's my bitch" - fuck yeah! In a nutshell Lordi were scary looking rockers, but not metalheads as some may have assumed. Oh yeah and I've gotta mention the group of three kids behind me having a little mosh pit behind the rest of us watching screaming the words to Lordi's songs: good on ya for the determination but seriously annoying after the first two songs.
Lordi ***3 stars - worth seeing if you can, but should be alot more cooler when baked I think.

While setting up the stage for Alice Cooper Rock2Wellington organisers had a kiwi band by the name of SONIC ALTAR playing on a miniture stage to the side of the main stage, and well god dammit they were bad. Now that may be a bit of a bold statement to say straight off the bat but I say it because small-time NZ bands that barely anyone have heard of do not belong at stadium gigs, they belong at bars. The sound was shoddy and the frontman resembled Meatloaf in a bad way. I think the organisers may have realised it was silly just to have a single band playing on a tiny stage that no one was close to so they got Weta Workshop to make a big ass dragon that breathed smoke (but it's safe to assume that everyone wanted it to breathe fire) and fired lasers out of its eyes. Yup this was seriously an awesome sight to behold, if I ever win lotto I will guarantee you lil devils that I will buy that dragon and have it at every TRS gig. So you've probably guessed that I speant more time buzzing out to the dragon than I did listening to Sonic Crap.
Sonic Altar *.5 1.5 stars - would be cool to check em out in a smaller gig, but stupid to have them at a stadium gig
Dragon ****4 stars - ITS A FUCKING DRAGON that moves and shoots lasers from its eyes!! Doesn't make five stars because it didn't breathe fire.

Next up was ALICE COOPER, and holy crapshite this guy looks more and more bitter as he ages. What a stage show from the man who was the one of the first scary artists in the early days of heavy music (along with Ozzy). I cannot call this set a normal set, it was closer to a Rocky Horror Show broadway performance. It opened with Alice Cooper assasinating a dummy version of himself then later had a semi-story line where he abused his wife, who was played by his own real life daughter (at this point he played 'Only Women Bleed') and drove a stake through his own baby concluding with him being sent to a mental institution and finally being hung onstage. At this point his backing band performed an impressive intrumental for a good solid 5 minutes which led to Alice Coopers final songs including his some of his biggest songs 'School's Out' and 'I Wanna Be Elected'. Special mention to his stage antics during this latter song with roadies and extras running around with great big signs saying 'The Alice Cooper Party' and 'He Just Doesn't Care!'. But the songs that everyone was really hanging out for eventually came as the encore, 'Billion Dollar Babies' and the bitter-sweet 'Poison' had everyone singing out their lungs discarding all sense of caring.
Alice Cooper *****5 stars - Alice Cooper blew me away with his stage performance, swinging his walking sticks and crutch around and his general bitter appearance. Definately see this guy if you ever get the chance!

Unfortunately with the good comes the not so good. Of course while re-constructing of the mainstage attention was focused again on the secondairy stages with the this time THE SYMPHONY OF SCREAMS performing a sub-par set. Again I've got to say these guys belonged in a bar not a stadium, also with a band name like that you would of expected the vocals to be at least half screaming, I think I heard maybe 3 screams in the entire set. But in saying that I also feel sorry for them when their power and then lights were switched off abruptly leaving them in darkness as Kiss began.
The Symphony of Screams **2 stars - another band that should have been at a bar that weekend, not at this gig.

Oh yeah and the dragon was out again so I was watching that most of the time.

Before I go onto the headliners of the night I've got to mention the other side acts that performed while the kiwi bands and the dragon appeared. Firstly the zombie cheerleaders: they looked more drunk than anything else and it was always fun to watch them and spot them stumble over chairs in the poor lighting and try to reassemble themselves making it look like it was part of the plan. Secondly the dudes who set themselves on fire and smashed burning guitars, fucking good on ya! That was pretty cool to watch. And thirdly the fire dancers: interesting at first but then just became part of the background.

Never before this gig did I ever expect to see a KISS show and now that I have I can tell you they are one of the coolest, most rock n roll things ever and that they really are as cool as your parents say. Despite only Gene Simmons, the glorious man-slut that all guys want to be (apparently having slept with over a thousand groupies) and all girls secretly want to have, and Paul Stanley, the strangely camp but also cool as frontman, remaining as the original members of Kiss this was still an impressive set. The entire stage was decked out in true Kiss style: truckloads of speakers and elevating stage peices for all the members. The songs were all outstanding with a sort of Greatest Hits feeling to it, but it was still amazing, even when their new guitarist Tommy Thayer was encouraged by Paul Stanley to sing a song and got the entire crowd into it. The highlights of the set had to include Gene Simmons' infamous bloody spitting, fire-breathing and flying, Paul Stanley gliding over the crowd on a flying fox to perform a song at the sound tower to "bring the love to the back of the crowd". But the best moment was easily when Paul Stanley said "In 1979 when this song came out people said Kiss has gone disco...but that's because they never heard it liiiive" and lauched into 'I Was Made For Loving You'. As the set closed there was defnately a strong euphoric connection between every man, woman, child and bogan that was only acheiveable with seeing a Kiss show.
KISS *****5 stars - they oozed sex and rock n roll and I mean c'mon it's KISS!! Stay tuned for night two!


ATV Offroad Fury 4 (PS2)

While it’s the first new racing game I’ve played since Gran Turismo 4 came out two stone ages ago at times I felt like throwing my controller through my TV while playing ATV Offroad Fury 4 because of faults that really do not deserve to be in a PS2 game this late in its life.
The first is that since it’s an off roader game it’s a completely bloody different racer from old Granny Turismo and hence controlling the vehicles in the game (of which there are four: bike, buggy, big-mother-fucking-truck and of course ATV) can take some getting used to. For example, because you’re on such unstable terrain you have to take into account the sheer lack of grip derived from the power sliding and hopping around into your racing line, this can result in you going from power sliding perfectly around the turn in front of the pack to sinking down to the back while your rivals sneak past you as you careen into a wall. However this serves as a good honest learning curve that teaches you to not to bury your foot (or thumb) down on the accelerator too much but to ease on the gas first at about half to retain some pace as you streak around the turns.
My other bug with this game I discovered was its re-spotting system when you flip your vehicle or fly too far off track for too long. Numerous times I’ve accidently taken a shortcut through some badly timed power slides and after regaining control and losing numerous positions in getting back onto the track the countdown timer continues and sends me back to the beginning of the turn or straight back into the water, forcing me to frustratingly restart the race (see throwing controller through TV).
There are two ways to unlock new tracks, vehicles and parts for them: classic and story modes. While it has a pretty shoddy storyline I recommend that you complete the latter as it has a fairly logical, albeit predictable, progression.
Climax’s effort to send the last of the long waning ATV series out on the aging platform that is the PS2 is in one word: good – nothing more, nothing less. All up this is an average game that is a bit disappointing considering its timing and only really worth renting out or buying if for $50 not $90.