tj_dragonblade: (Hakuryu iJippu)
Somehow I missed the release of Nightwish's latest album Imaginaerum in November, but remembered that it had been forthcoming and picked it up a couple of months ago. As I understand it, the band has made or is working on a movie by the same name meant as a companion piece to the album, or vice-versa. Or something. I have yet to investigate that side of things, but I thought I may as well share my thoughts on the music.

Under the Cut )
tj_dragonblade: (Hakuryu iJippu)
Ack. I composed most of this a couple-few months back when the album came out and I had it on repeat, but never quite got around to finishing and posting it. It's ended up less a proper review and more a rambling of my impressions.

Album Review - A Thousand Suns )
tj_dragonblade: (Hakuryu iJippu)
Album Review
Tarja Turunen - My Winter Storm )
tj_dragonblade: (Goujun Soul to the Sea)
...Yeah, it's about two months overdue. Not that anyone was actually waiting for my opinion. ^_^;

Album Review: Nightwish - Dark Passion Play )
tj_dragonblade: (Hakuryu iJippu)
Linkin Park: Minutes to Midnight

Historically, Linkin Park has been composed of a relatively balanced blend of hard and soft edges. The new album takes that balance and shifts it a bit. While it's still a blend of hard and soft edges, the hard edges are harder (they drop the f-word in a couple songs, for example, when previously they'd deliberately chosen other ways to express the sentiment for the challenge of it), but they're fewer and farther between. Likewise, the soft edges are softer, and more prolific. Mike Shinoda's vocals are less prominent on this album, leaving most of the songs in Chester's hands and god, but that voice of his is more than up to the task. Unph. He's in wonderful form, careening from sweet to sad to scathing and back again from song to song. Better than sex, that voice. Here and there he pushes farther into the realms of gutteral-throated bleeding-lung vocals than I'd ordinarily care for; the only thing that keeps it barely palatable to me is the fact that even when he's shredding his voice that way, I can still understand every word he says and I'm left vaguely impressed despite myself going '...How in hell does he do this live night after night and still have a voice??' There's a moment in 'Given Up' that...swear to god, it must be mixed in the studio to get that endurance, because nothing human could hold that roar with that strength for that long. O_o

Those moments aside, the album really is a bit softer than I'd have expected, but it's not a bad turn - from the earnest sweetness of 'Leave Out All the Rest' to the bitterness of 'The Little Things Give You Away' to the very U2-esque 'Shadow of the Day'. The electronic elements are toned more to the background and there's a stripped-down feel to the music in many places, almost as if the songs are an acoustic-styled version of something harder; there's a lot of distinctly emo-rock flavoring, particularly on 'Valentine's Day', but they make it all work better than I would have thought. There are moments of political and social commentary, most notably 'Hands Held High'; there's also still the self-loathing anger and emotional venom of relationships gone bad that the earlier albums have taught me to expect of LP. Stylistically, 'No More Sorrow' sticks most closely to their established sound, and is probably my favorite of the hard-edged tracks. Though 'Given Up', which kick-starts the album, has its selling points too. There are a couple songs for the angry playlist, a couple more for the melancholy playlist, and if I had to suggest one improvement for the album, I'd really just want to see a couple more songs on it. It's twelve tracks, fairly standard, but the first track is a short instrumental intro sort of thing, much as found on Meteora, and...the album plays by so fast. It just doesn't feel long enough, though that perception might be primarily due to the spastic fan inside who'd been waiting two or three years for this. ^_^;

On a fandom note, since music inevitibly ties back to fandom with me, 'What I've Done' (the first single - if you're exposed to (US) rock radio even sporadically, chances are good you'll have heard it) has dropped straight into the Hakkai section of the 85 playlist. Specifically, it feels very much like Hakkai laying Gonou to rest at long last. A couple others ping character-association possibilities - 'Leave Out All the Rest' could be an 85-y Gojyo's-inner-emo-boy, a half-melted Konzen exerting heavy influence over Sanzo in a 39 light, or a very OOC sappy Nii-to-Kou thing (or, to jump fandoms, a mellowed-with-maturity Wufei); 'In Pieces' has mild hints of a Nii/Kou flavor - but it's too early to tell if those initial pings will warrant dropping onto playlists.

Ultimately, it's an evolution that works for the band and it's a solidly good album, imho. I'm left hoping that it's not another four years before the next album. ^_^; I'm just hitting the point of remembering enough lyrics to sing along, inner fangirl is just rolling around in a great kittenish ball of Happy. ^_^

This new infusion of Chester!voice to my library also prompts me to decide that now really is the time for that Favorite Voices music post I've been half-composing in my head the past several months, so...expect that sometime in the near future. ^_^
tj_dragonblade: (Sanzo WTF)
Oh, dear lord, my *ears*!

I can only imagine that this must be how Saiyuki sub fans felt when they first heard the ADV dub. They have my complete and utter sympathy.

I took a listen to Geneon's version of Reload last night. I have many, many thoughts to offer. And unfortunately, most of them aren't pleasant.

Dude. *Jeff* was cringing, after only two minutes. Mr. Anti-Subtitles himself. He actually *begged* me to switch the vocal track before the first episode even finished. For which...well, I suppose I should be grateful for that much. ^_^

The new voices...gahh. I've adjusted to two sets already; and I've no inclination to adjust to a third. Especially when they sound so *off* to begin with. I think Goku got the worst of it, poor monkey. And Hakkai. Just not *soft* enough. They did get the sense of overly-polite-ness in the dialogue; but what the hell's up with that pretentious little pseudo-British curl behind random words, huh? And...when he says Gojyo...(shudders) He pronounces it with a hard 'j'. It's almost as bad as everyone saying 'Ten-poo' back in the Gaiden eps. And then of course there's the fact that when Gojyo says 'Hakkai' it sounds like 'Hawkeye'. His voice just doesn't fit, either. Nowhere near rich enough, and I didn't get that sense of swaggering cocksure complacency that Gojyo really really *must* have.

And Sanzo...ghehh. Lex Lang sounds closer to Toshihiko Seki than David Matranga did, certainly. But that's about all he's got going for him. Purists, please don't kill me; but I've always felt that David Matranga's pissy Wolverine-esque rasp was a very good match for Sanzo's character. Different from the original, certainly; but still good. (cowers and ducks in fear of rotten fruit being thrown) Perhaps I only say that because I heard that version first; but nevertheless. When I was adjusting from Dub to Sub, it was Sanzo's voice that took the longest to appreciate. And now...

Lex Lang...he was a mediocre Shun Aurora, an overly-villainous Kane-whatever-the-hell-his-name-was-in-Nightwalker, a horrible Sagara Sanosuke, and now he's a bad *bland* Genjyo Sanzo. And I'm sure he's done more that I've either missed or failed to mention. He's kinda in the same category as Scott McNeil. Widely known VAs who do lots of popular work all over the place but just don't sound *right* in almost any of their leading roles. And now they've both had a hand in bringing ToshiSeki characters down to the realms of mediocrity. Yay.

Thankfully, I missed out on whatever's been done to Kou and crew and Nii, since we switched before ep 2. Maybe I'll take a listen at some other time. Maybe I won't.

Maybe the dub will improve over time, as the ADV one did. But I'm not in any hurry to stick around and find out. It irks me, truly, that a company picking up a sequel series would not make any discernible effort to effect any sort of continuity with the first leg of the story. They could have at least *tried* to get the same VAs. Or at least to match vocal quality and sense of character better. And there were little things in the translation that just felt *different*. Feh.

I'm just a little annoyed with Geneon at the moment.

And full of sympathy, as I said at the outset, for how the long-time fans must have felt when the ADV dub came along.
tj_dragonblade: (Default)
Okies. The husband was watching TV tonight, and flipping channels as incessantly as usual. Queen of the Damned apparently was showing, and he stopped on it a time or few. I caught a couple of those times, and...I just cannot express how *bad* the movie is. I've seen the whole thing, just to see it; and...okay, maybe I'm too much of a Rice purist but dammit, they coulda done so much better! Nevermind the fact they're trying to cram two incredible books into one 90-minute movie; they cut a lot of the most crucial backstory out of it. The viewer has no real sense of who Maharet is, and Mekare is completely absent. They got Marius *completely* wrong (he's acting more like Lestat than Lestat is, for chrissakes),'s just bad. *Bad*. So bad it hurts. Because we've already seen how *well* Anne Rice can be adapted for the screen. Interview With the Vampire was a stunning film, a beautiful complement to the novel. My only complaint with *that* one, really, was that visually Armand was wrong. Antonio Banderas makes one dead sexy vamp, to be sure; but he can't pass for 17 and they didn't give him an auburn wig. But that probably only bugs me so much because Armand has long been my favorite and I adore redheads regardless. Back to the point. I think the reason it turned out so well was because Anne Rice wrote the screenplay for it. So you've got the same vision taking it from one medium to the next. But with's cheesy, disjointed, shallow...ah, god, it's just a train wreck. And it could have been so much better...

They shouldn'ta killed Pandora.

And they may have at least gotten Armand's haircolor closer to correct but...eew. I'll still take the Banderas model anyday, black-haired or no...

I must go read more Kenshin-Sano fics to put me in a better mood...
tj_dragonblade: (Eclipse)
Okay! Demon Diary 6 is due out in another couple of weeks. And in the meantime, I have discovered that volume 7 will be the final volume (cries) and it's due out May 11. For those interested:

Link to TokyoPop/DD7

I have been devouring manga left and right lately. Sad that FAKE and Demon Diary are nearly over, but have loved the ride. Also watched FAKE DVD again last night, and discovered that Ted is a redhead, not blond as I'd assumed! Somehow now I like him even more...^_^

What else do I read...Pet Shop of Horrors. I can't for the life of me find volumes 2 and 3. Probably have to go to Suncoast and special order them so I can get on with the series. Because I rather like it. I understand there's a DVD, too, that I'm gonna hafta go find...

Gravitation...(shrugs) I'll probably see it through to the end, could be so much better.

Dragon's alright, but not riveting. Have dropped it after vol 3 for the sake of cutting back the expense of my habit. Same with Chronicles of the Cursed Sword, after vol 2; and Samurai Deeper Kyo after vol 1. Probably keep reading them if I had money to burn, though.

Bastard...someday I'll get around to picking up volume 5. And finishing the DVD. There are just other series that I'm much more hooked on at the moment.

King of Hell. It's up to volume 4, and I'd recommend it. It's fun, and mostly light-hearted...there are aspects of it (particularly the art style, esp. the way feet are drawn) that remind me of's good, though. Majeh is a master swordsman who died. In the otherworld, other dead sword masters picked a fight with him & he defeated them all. Impressed/made uneasy by such strength, the King of Hell put a sealing symbol on him that put him back into the form of a young boy and made him an envoy for newly-dead spirits. He's followed around by a ninja named Samhuk (Sam for short) who'd rather have almost any other job. Along the way, he gets his physical body back, which then also reverts to teenage form (much to his dismay). He's basically been assigned the task of retrieving escaped evil spirits; currently he's doing so by entering a massive martial arts tournament because these evil spirits are likely to have possessed the dead bodies of martial artists or somesuch...Link to TokyoPop

Found Rurouni Kenshin. I'm hooked. Up through volume 3 already; I understand it's better in manga form than anime and I'm looking forward to much more of it. Kenshin's hard to pin down exactly why I like him so, but I do. So much so that I've gone looking for Sano-Kenshin fics without turning much up so far...will have to search further, I guess.

Les Bijoux. This one is just starting out, and so far I'd suggest it, just based on volume 1. Fantasy-gothic, sort of. Gorgeous, gorgeous artwork; bishies to spare left and right. With eyes lips and hair to be envied by women everywhere. These boys are just plain *beautiful*. The principal character is named Lapis. He has a heart condition that turns him female from time to time, and then his/her name is Lazuli. (Everyone is named for jewels; the end notes tell us that's what les bijoux means--jewels). His world is divided into mines, ruled by Habits. They are cruel upper-class folk, caring little for their commoner subjects (called Spars) except as workers in the mines etc. etc. Lapis seems to be set up as the one destined to overthrow them. The Habit named Diamond is shaping up to be the principle antagonist; interestingly enough he's in love with Lazuli and has sworn to kill Lapis. Clearly doesn't know they're the same person. ^_^ Leading Lapis to the discovery of his destiny are a Habit named Carnelian (seems to be something of a renegade as far as Habits are concerned), who's shaping up to be a nice possibility for yaoi should the manga drift in that direction (even if it doesn't, there's always fandom!) and Panther, a shapeshifter who turns into--what else, a Panther. Long dark straight hair down to his ankles. He apparently is sworn to serve Lapis, refers to him/her as master. Also a potential yaoi possibility. Or maybe I just say that because they're all so damned *pretty*. Link to TokyoPop

Funny how most of the series that hook me or interest me seem to be the Korean ones...Demon Diary, Les Bijoux, King of Hell...all manhwa rather than manga. So were/are Dragon Hunters & Chronicles of the Cursed Sword. Heh.


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