Album Review: Wavering Radiant

Wavering Radiant by Isis
10 of 10
Buy this album from Amazon
Download this album from Amazon

I was a post-metal greenhorn when I was introduced to Isis' music. But I was instantaneously captivated by their 2006 album, In the Absence of Truth, even more than Pelican's The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. Its music -heavy, sludgy and melodic- can be both terrifying and mesmerizing. It's like listening to a whale call while descending into the bottom of the ocean floor, drowning, with anchors tied on your feet. It was a magnificent album. One that I never thought Isis, or any other post-metal acts, would surpass. But I was wrong.

3 years after In the Absence of Truth was released, Isis brings us another sublime album, Wavering Radiant. This time, however, the band has mellowed down, minimizing the elements that makes them metal. But, trust me, it is for the good. Gone are the sludge fest of riffs and the barrage of rolling drums. Instead, they replaced it with droning guitars, contemporary riffs and subtle drum works that creates a sound dense with emotions. The only thing that can pin the band down as a metal act are Aaron Turner's (vocalist) growls. But that too has been used sparingly throughout the entire album.

But even without the metal elements, I'm still loving Wavering Radiant. In fact, I think this album is Isis' masterpiece. It's just so full, so thick with moving sounds that will drive your ear into sonic orgasm. Every inch of the album, from start to finish, is detailed with different textures of rhythm and melody -not just fillers- leaving no blank spots. The vocals -growls and whispers- also blends with the music, adding more viscosity to it. The words, however, are unintelligible. But that's okay. Wavering Radiant is the kind of album that tells a story through its music, not songs and lyrics.

Wavering Radiant
is definitely Isis' greatest work to date. The band has learned to move cohesively as one, creating total harmony in this album -a feat only reserved for Tool (Adam Jones of Tool also played a part in this album). The music is so dense in here it will fill every pore in your mind and body. Although former fans of Isis might be put off with the changes they've made in this album -the downsizing of metal parts. But give it a spin or two, I say, and it will definitely grow on you. As for me, Wavering Radiant is the most beautiful album I've heard since Mirrored (Battles). This one is definitely album of the year!

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Film Review: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
7.7 of 10
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox

I was a toy fanatic when I was a kid, and even up to now. I had huge numbers of action figures and vehicles from different toy lines such as M.A.S.K and G.I. Joe. But, here's the thing, I never owned a single toy robot from Transformers. I guess you can say that I'm not a big fan of the franchise like most of the 80's kids do. So when they "rolled out" the live action film back in 2007, I wasn't really that psyched. I did, however, find the movie entertaining. It's really hard not to enjoy it with the fast flashy cars, big robots blowing up things, a greased up Megan Fox, and a plot so easy you don't have to think.

Now, two years after the first live action movie, Michael Bay and his crew returns to give us Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, another surefire summer blockbuster film. The movie, as a sequel, in which it has to one up the first film's offering, pretty much delivered. It featured faster flashier cars, bigger robots making bigger explosions, a greasier Megan Fox, and an even more mind dumbing plot.

Megan Fox, outdoing her infamous "engine shot" in the first Transformers movie.

The eye candy in this film is unbelievably sweet. It's too sweet, in fact, that your eyes will hurt after you're done watching it. The new robots here are just pretty amazing, especially on the Decepticon's side. We get to see Demolishor, the huge excavator at the start of the film, and the Constructicons, both of which were very intimidating. Then there's the venerable Jetfire, revisioned as an SR-71 Blackbird instead of a white and red copy of Starscream, who's got to be the best character in the film. Megan Fox also out did her "engine shot" on the first film with a very sexy -but a bit awkward- bike shot.

However, most of the problem that plagued the first film were also present here. The story, especially, is as weak and superficial as the first. There's just no theme running underneath those flashy cars and hot chicks. If there is a theme, then it's either telling us that kitchen appliances are evil or it's just simply buried under the loud explosions. The plot holes were also big. So big not even Unicron can patch up with his full body. The action scenes were also as dizzying and confusing as it was in the first movie. The robot fights, especially, were shot up close so you don't know who's hitting who.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a fun and entertaining film. It's not the kind of movie that will inspire you, I admit. But it's the kind of movie that will mark your Summer this year. If, however, you didn't find any ounce of fun in this film. Then you're either a bent man, a straight woman, at Erikson's 8th Stage, or just way too intelligent.

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Transformers: All about the eye candy


WAR Hammered

It's official, I'm addicted to Warhammer Online. I was assured of this last night while my guild and our alliance (composed of 2 warbands) were out in Tier 4 (Phoenix Throne server) capturing everything, locking zones and pushing the fight to all three fortresses!

So our alliance warbands were in Fell Landing, the first fortress to be sieged last night, playing decoy and keeping the Destro busy while other Order warbands took a minimally defended (or even an undefended) Butcher's Pass. After Butcher's Pass fell and the timer in Fell Landing expired we all flew to Chaos Wastes to lock it, hoping to assault The Maw as well. I didn't make it in the zone right away because I was stuck in the loading screen for about 10 minutes. So I decided to end Warhammer in my task manager and tried to re-log again. That's when I found out that my 3-month subscription had ended.

The Maw, flooded with Order players. All I can see in there were a bunch of jumbled letters.

I hastily tried to re-activate my account, and had to turn my room upside down because I couldn't find my credit card. But I made it in time for the zone lock and was able to get into The Maw. Our assault in Chaos' fortress was a lot of fun. There were waves and waves of Order players pouring inside. The the players who couldn't get in (level 36 and below) did a good job harassing Destruction players on the field, delaying their advance to fortify The Maw. Too bad, however, that I wasn't in the fortress when its Overlord fell and I accidentally opted out from the loot roll. But that's okay, we got two of Destruction's fortresses and had a shot at pillaging Inevitable City.

The invasion on Inevitable City happened around 2 a.m. (CST). Many of us, including me, who got in the city were first timers. Knowing that we had two full hours running around Destruction's city, I just had to call in sick to work. Yeah, I know it's bad but I have almost 200 hours of sick time. So using 8 hours just to experience Inevitable City seems worthwhile, don't you think? Because we might not be able to do this again sometime soon.

So let's see. I re-activated my account so I could play the game for another month, which will be my 4th month, making Warhammer Online as my longest played MMORPG. I called in sick to work just so I could keep playing this game. I have an end game character in this game (I have none in LOTRO and WoW), and as well as two characters that are above level 10. So yeah, I think I'm pretty much WAR hammered.

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No Show

Olivia Munn on the cover of Playboy July/August 2009 issue

So if you're nerdy, like me, chances are you've probably seen Attack of the Show!, a program regarding gadgets and games that is shown over G4TV, at least once. The co-host of the show is a hot babe that goes by the name Olivia Munn, and she did a shoot with Playboy for their July/August 2009 Playboy. But, before you geeks grab your controllers and start rejoicing, her spread is a non-nude one (boo!). Looks like Playboy is trying to catch up with non-nude magazine like Maxim and FHM. That sucks.


E3 2009: Radioactive Highlights

I stopped following news of E3 after their mishap during the 2007 event. That was a disaster. A couple of big names in gaming were absent that year, and those who attended didn't reveal too much either. But this year, after stumbling upon a couple of event and post-event articles, I was so surprised of how much it rocked. The games that were showcased, especially, were just too mouth-watering.

But there be highlights, of course, because some games are just made to be better than others. So here are some of my favorite game articles and videos that were rolled out in this year's E3 event.

1. Star Wars: The Old Republic (Sith vs. Jedi Video)
2. Mass Effect 2 (Post-E3 Clarifications)
3. Tales of Monkey Island (Adventure Lives!)
4. Alpha Protocol (Upside Down Video)
5. Dragon Age: Origins (Hands-On)

All the link of the previews and videos above were just top notch. It made me want to play these games, moreso than before. The funny thing about it though is that all the games mentioned above are from the same developers that I have stuck by with during this years. 3 games (Star Wars, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age) are from BioWare, 1 game (Alpha Protocol) is from Obsidian and 2 games (Star Wars and Tales of Monkey Island) from LucasArts.

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It's pretty evident that I've been slacking off with my blog posts. We're already half-way through the month of June and I still only have 5 posts in here. That's lame. The truth is, however, I'm having way too much fun playing Warhammer Online and it sucks my time out of everything. Normally, I'm not much into MMO's but this game is different. Plus, I've joined an awesome guild that has a lot of in-game events going on.

But, knowing myself, I'll get bored with this game and quit later, if not sooner. The most I could see myself playing Warhammer Online is about a year more. That's it. So what's next for me? Well, Champions Online is just on the horizon. Then there's also BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. I also found a couple of noteworthy Dungeons & Dragons-based MMOs that are being developed right now. Here's a couple that I found.

Neverwinter Nights MMO
A lot of people are familiar with BioWare's Neverwinter Nights (NWN). But many don't know that the original Neverwinter Nights, by Stormfront Studios, was actually the first graphic MMORPG that ran from 1991 to 1997. So, now, rumors have been floating around that Cryptic Studios is actually developing a new NWN MMO for Atari. That's pretty interesting. I'd really love to see a well developed DND game.

Urban Arcana
I was taking a gander at Cryptic Studios website, trying to look for some info regarding their NWN MMO, and found this picture (above). If you examine it closely, the guys with the octopus heads look a lot like Illithids, which are monstrous humanoids from the DND universe. But the setting seems to be in modern times. So this could be an Urban Arcana (DND with guns!) MMORPG in the works. If it is, then my dream came true.

Dungeons & Dragons Online
This one's actually been around for more than 3 years now. I just didn't get into it. However, they're restructuring their subscription method from pay-to-play into free-to-play. So instead of paying every month, you can play this game for free. In exchange, you'll just have to buy your in-game items in cold cash...credit card works too.

Well that's my MMO forecast. Hopefully, I'd be able to snap out of my addiction before these games come out. I don't think I can, however. Especially with good games, like Star Wars: The Old Republic, coming out next year. And, if it's really in development, I definitely can't resist playing a game set in Urban Arcana.

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A Box Full of Joes

After 9 long years, I've been finally reunited with my old G.I. Joe toys. These toys were my treasures back when I was a kid. I had 76 of them, excluding the vehicles. Now I only have a shoebox full of them (40 something). I don't know what happened to the other half. My aunt told me that they tried to look for other boxes but this is the only one they found in our old house. But it doesn't matter though. I'm happy as long as I still have my '85 Snow Serpent (which was my first G.I. Joe) and '88 Storm Shadow.

As per the condition of these toys, it's really bad. The white ones have badly decolorized. In some figures, the rubber band that are holding their torso and legs together are ruined, splitting them in half. Worst of all, the accessories of all action figures are gone. So restoring these toys to their former glory will be a bit hard and expensive. But I do plan on restoring them little by little, a figure at a time. It's good thing we have internet nowadays. I've already found an online store that might help me with the accesories.

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Book Review: The Book of Dead Philosophers

The Book of Dead Philosophers
8.5 of 10
Writer: Simon Crtichley
Buy book (Paperback) from Amazon
Buy book (Kindle) from Amazon

Admittedly, I don't know much about philosophy or philosophers. I only know Socrates and Plato by name, which is a shame. The only philosophy I've read, and kept re-reading, is The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. But I don't know if he's even considered as a philosopher because he's a Samurai (a warrior philosopher maybe?). I've also read a tiny bit on Nietzsche, Voltaire, Confucius and Lao Tzu. But that's about it. That's why I picked up The Book of Dead Philosophers so I could acquaint myself with various philosophers.

At first, when I was reading the book's introduction, I thought my brain was going to explode due to philosophical overload. It was just too intellectual for me. But, later on, after getting through the long introduction and foreword by the author, it became an enjoyable read. The book isn't what I expected it to be -a long arduous read about philosopher's lives and deaths. Instead, it's a miscellany that contains anecdotes and other short writings about the deaths of 190 philosophers, from classical to modern times.

As morbid as it sounds, the book is actually quite funny. Because the deaths of the philosophers, as featured in this book, are quite ironic -most of them died because of their philosophy. Take Empedocles, for example, who believes that heat is the source of life, threw himself into a volcano (Mt. Etna) in his quest for immortality. Then there's also Francis Bacon who, in his efforts to study refrigeration, caught pneumonia while stuffing a chicken with snow on a cold day and died.

This book is really entertaining to read. While it wasn't the book I was looking for -the one that'll give me a detailed information regarding philosophers and their philosophy- I still learned a lot from it: The unsung philosophers and the deaths of philosophers. So if you're looking for a book to read this summer, a quick and enjoyable one, I highly recommend The Book of Dead Philosophers.

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Comics Bundle: 06.03.09 Pt. 2

Part 2 of my comics bundle. As usual, it's composed of titles from DC, Vertigo, Image and other publishers. Part 1 of my bundle can be found here.

Chew #1
10 of 10
"I need to have this on my pull sheet". That was what I said when I saw Chew's preview on the last issue of The Walking Dead. Because this title is just too damn good and too damn unique to pass up. The book is mainly about Tony Chu. He's a detective and he can get psychic impressions from what he eats -except canned beets. So if he eats a tomato, he'll know what fertilizers and pesticides were used on it. If he eats a part of a serial killer, he'll know the names of all the killer's victims and how they died. It's a gruesomely entertaining title. So if you're looking for a new comic book, I highly recommend this one.

Four Eyes #3
9.3 of 10
This title continues to astound me. I really love the art and setting, an alternative history in which dragons exists during The Great Depression. This issue brilliantly depicts the day to day life during that era. Of how desperate the people are that they'd take on a dangerous jobs, like dragon hunting, just to feed themselves, and of how the rich takes advantage of them. Like Chew, if you're looking for a comic book without capes and masks, pick this one up. It's a brillant book. The only problem I have with it though are the delays.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl #3
7.9 of 10
The Battle for the Cowl concludes in this issue. After the battle between all the Robins, Dick Grayson finally steps up to take on the mantle (or rather the cowl) of Batman. I knew it's going to be Dick Grayson, I don't think there's no one else. So this run has disappointed me. On the other hand, Damien being the new Robin pretty much surprised me.

Batman and Robin #1
8.6 of 10
This new title takes off after the Battle for the Cowl, which shows the adventures of the new Batman (Dick Grayson, first Robin) and Robin (Damien Wayne, son of Batman with Talia Al Ghul). This is an interesting, and probably the most refreshing, take on the Batman continuity. I just loved how Grant Morrison switched the personalities of Batman and Robin. In this title, Batman is much more light-hearted and Robin is more of a bad-ass. It somewhat reminds me of Grant Morrison's other work, The New X-Men, where he revisioned everything for the better. So I'm going to keep an eye on this one.

Jack of Fables #34
6.0 of 10
This issue is the fifth part of The Great Fables Crossover. As huge fan of Fables I thought this crossover is going to be really epic. But as I found out in this issue, there's nothing epic nor great about it. In fact, it even messed up the world of Fables. It looks to me like Kevin Thorn, the antagonist in this story that can change reality at his whim, isn't the only one suffering with a writer's block in this issue.

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Comics Bundle: 06.03.09 Pt. 1

I was actually able to pull my comics much earlier this time (3 weeks worth of comics instead of 4). However, I didn't finish reading my Marvel comics bundle until earlier today. That's because I've been in too deep with Warhammer Online lately and everything seems to be on hold (reading, music, books and this blog). But that's okay, I'm having a blast playing WAR.

Anyways, for some reason, most of the Marvel titles on this current pull sucked. So there's really nothing much I can say about them.

Runaways #10
9.0 of 10

One thing about the Runaways is that they have a bit of everything in the group. An alien, a mutant, an android and a witch. So you could basically tie them to every section in the Marvel universe, from cosmic to mutant. In this issue, the gang gets tied up with the mutants as Molly heads to San Francisco to answer Emma Frost's rally call (as seen in the Manifest Destiny arc of Uncanny X-Men). This is a really fun issue as Molly gets a tour inside the new X-Men facility, and her guide is none other than Wolverine. The rest of the Runaways get to have their fun too as they get to hang out with the Young X-Men.

The New Avengers #53
7.0 of 10

Weak. That's all I can say about this issue, and the whole arc as well. I was pretty stoked when this arc was announced. Mainly because I was hoping that they'd make either Scarlett Witch or Nico Minoru (Runaways) to be the next Sorceress Supreme. Instead, they picked someone else, who was on the bottom of my list, to become the numero uno magickero. The only consolation here is knowing that the team will finally move on to the next arc. Hopefully, to tackle Osborn.

The Dark Avengers #5
8.0 of 10

I really loved this book during its debut. I liked how they tainted and mocked the Avengers title by injecting a bunch of crazy and quirky characters from the Thunderbolts. However, in the past couple issues, the only character being crazy and quirky enough is Osborn. And in this issue he just outshines everybody when he gave his speech to defend his Avengers and debunk Clint Barton's accusations. However, it is getting clear that this book is slowly slipping down the gutters. The content is not worth the price any longer.

Avengers: The Initiative #24
7.7 of 10

This book have been on my pull sheet since I started reading comics again. Admittedly, however, I don't remember any stories featured in the Initiative besides the Secret Invasion arc. The characters are forgettable as well since there's too many of them, and none holds the spotlight. So just when I decided to cancel this book from my pull list, something pivotal happens in this issue. Norman Osborn relinquished the control of the Initiative to Taskmaster (Deadpool's buddy as well as mortal enemy). I guess I'm going to give this book another shot.

X-Men #510
7.5 of 10

This issue concludes that attack of The Sisterhood on Graymalkin Industries, which is the new X-Men headquarters in San Francisco. Nothing big happened in here except that The Sisterhood got a lock of Jean Grey's hair. So they're probably going to resurrect her. Oh, Emma Frost rocks in this issue as well, both literally and figuratively.

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I'm not really looking forward to a Left 4 Dead sequel because the first game itself is already addicting as it is. But this is nice too. Based on the video, the only thing I can see new in here are the melee weapons. Though I wish they will bump the number of players in a group, from a four-man team to an eight-man team. After all, sequels are expected to one-up their predecessors.

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