Month: September 2009

Megadeth – Endgame – Album 2009 (Reviews)

Posted by – September 18, 2009

Megadeth Endgame CoverMegadeth – Endgame£8.98 at Amazon UK – This is Megadeth’s 3rd album since their “return” in 2004 with The System Has Failed. It sees a new guitarist join the band, Chris Broderick someone who, according to wikipedia, practised 14 hours a day, and you can tell. This has got to be the most technically impressive Megadeth has ever sounded, with extremely tight, fast paced drumming, very powerful bass guitar (even starting one track with the bass guitar with track 11), excellent solos and seemingly perfect performance from all members. All of the tracks vary in style through the song, and it takes some concentrated listening to fully notice the ability and skill of all musicians.

What I said previously about United Abominations definitely holds true with Endgame as well:

“The album as a whole, with quick “speed” / “thrash” metal, puts a high demand on your stereo, as a slow response or lack of punch, can result in the stereo being left behind.”

Dave’s voice is unique as always, but seems a little less hoarse this time round. Some have commented that Dave sounds angry in this album, and yes the music is very fast and heavy, but in my opinion lacks some of the raw emotion of the (in your face) United Abominations. Endgame is more about pure heavy metal / thrash with less synths, instruments and samples compared to the 2007 album, although saying that Endgame does go very nicely from one track to another with mostly no gaps in between the songs on the CD. As a whole album it works very well, with no obvious flaws or mismatches in the track list, and it is an extremely polished album (unlike The System Has Failed, which had one or two seemingly odd / mismatched tracks). It could seem like there is little variation from song to song in style, which to an extent is true, but it’s when you listen to each individual track that you begin to notice the differences in rhythm and style.

Lots of very good tracks, and some standout awesome tracks, but this time it’s because of the technical brilliance of the way the musicians and singer(s) come together, with excellent solos playing over great riffs, and lots of tempo changes, and variations in each track. The lyrics are not necessarily as raw as United Abominations, and there’s not as much political energy this time round, but it seems as though they’ve moved more towards musical excellence in Heavy Metal / Thrash with this album, and that’s got to be a good thing. Dave Mustaine and Chris Brodericks solos very smoothly roll into each other, and it’s clear they work VERY well together.

I’ve heard it said that you’ve got to listen to the guitar solo on such and such a track, or that the drummer is excellent on this track, and I think this is perhaps one of the most impressive things that you’ll notice when listening to this ablum. No matter what your favourite instrument or player, you can really hear the excellence of each player, be it the excellent guitar solo in 44 Minutes, or the excellent drumming in Head Crusher, or the pounding bass lines in The Right to Go Insane, or the snarling growl of Dave Mustaine’s voice in Endgame, it all comes together in each track, and throughout the album the sheer excellence of each musician is clear. A Definite MUST BUY! 9/10

I’m still waiting for a Megadeth “concept album”, as I think it would be the holy grail if Megadeth could pull it off, perhaps next time?

Full track listings and song descriptions continued below.

Endgame Back CoverTrack listing:

1 – Dialectic Chaos – 2 minutes 25 seconds of pure metal with no vocals, makes an interesting start to the album.
2 – This Day We Fight! – High speed, heavy metal, lots of fast solos.
3 – 44 Minutes – starts with police cb radio reports of open fire (211) from an AK-47, simply awesome grinding metal and great solos over great riffs. Great depth of sound and high speed solos.
4 – 1,320′ – high speed, drums stand out in the middle, style changes around the middle.
5 – Bite The Hand – Heavy bass lead riffs begin this track, impressive guitar work while Dave’s singing, sounds like they would have had fun playing this.
6 – Bodies – pounding bass line dominates the start of this track, classic Megadeth style riffs, gets quite musical towards the end, and then finishes with some high speed thrash metal.
7 – Endgame – somewhat dark, old skool, Rust in Peace style track (with some very clear nods to classic Megadeth riffs), with a dark theme and lyrics, and yet sounding extremely fresh, and bringing perhaps a slightly new sound to Megadeth. Dave’s vocals are the most varied on this track so far on the album. It’s also the longest song on the album, with the most political message about end times, and USA’s anti-terrorist laws. Ending seems a little weak simply fading away (I expect it would be more interesting live!)
8 – The Hardest Part Of Letting Go… Sealed With A Kiss – Again, this track continues to introduce a new sound to Megadeth, building up from a musical love song, it kicks into gear half way through, with high speed metal, then brings you back down to the love song at the end with an marching drum beat, and classical guitar playing.
9 – Head Crusher – extremely quick thrash with highly skilled and impressive drumming, “on your knees prisonors, take your positions”, reminds me of “Captive Honor”, and this track just keeps getting darker, and heavier, as the bass guitar begins pounding, and Dave’s vocals get more twisted and snarled. The speed continues as a high speed solo plays over the top. Wow!
10 – How The Story Ends – Impressive solos and guitar riffs.
11 – The Right To Go Insane – Great bass guitar riff starts this track, sets the heaviness of this track off nicely, however, I wonder whether track 11 and 10 should have been swapped around in order. Some great solos and drumming finish this track off nicely.

Ulysses 31 Box Set

Posted by – September 13, 2009

Recently bought by me:

I used to watch this show as a kid and bought it for £25 on Amazon. Excellent stories, heavily indebted to the Greek myths for the drama and tragedy of the plot and story arc, plus, the unforgettable theme music. They just don’t make them like this any more. With that in mind I also bought:

Another excellent story. It brought back fond childhood memories to see the Thames TV logo, with the House of Commons reflected in the river Thames and I had forgotten just how dark some 80’s children’s TV was. This is based upon the story of the same name written by my one of my favourite authors, Jon Wyndham. Superb drama that, in my opinion, appeals to adults now as much as to children then and now.

090909: Beatles Remastered in Mono Released Today (Music)

Posted by – September 9, 2009

Gizmodo have posted information on why you’d want to buy the new Beatles release due today, available from Amazon UK, it doesn’t come cheap:

“But that wasn’t all. In the mono version you can hear stuff that is not in the stereo version. And not just bits, but quite a lot of things. Instruments, notes, even lyrics. Take the reprise version of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: It is full of shouting—Lennon going bananas at the end, and other bits at the beginning—that is not in the stereo mix.” – Gizmodo

The Beatles In Mono [Box set] [Mono] [Original recording remastered] £199
The Beatles Box Set – Remastered in Stereo [Box set] [Collector’s Edition] [Original recording remastered]£169

The Nokia N86 8mp Camera Phone and Ovi.com (Phones)

Posted by – September 2, 2009


So once upon a time, when mobile phones were just that, mobile phones, they would come fresh out of their packet, and just work. They were simple, made phone calls, and worked, and that was GREAT! Now, however, they are multimedia computers with the photographic capabilities of a budget 8mp camera, wifi connecting, youtube streaming, iplaying, facebooking, emailing, fm radio, gps tracking, interneting wonder machines, all promising to keep you 24/7 connected to your new internet life…

However, the simple fact of the matter is that they fail. Badly.

The Nokia N86 8mp is case in point – here’s where it fails:

– It offers an 8 megapixel camera, but has an awful LED flash
– If offers email connectivity that works, but wont successfully click an email link with the subject defined as a ? and therefore Facebook Mobile Photo Upload does not work
– If offers a web browser, which features a built in RSS reader as a hidden away menu item, and doesn’t let you put your RSS feeds on the home page
– If comes with satnav software that can only be used for 10 days – would you buy TomTom if it only worked for 10 days?? So why do mobile phone companies get away with demo functionality? It also tells you to turn right anytime it looses GPS signal!
– It offers it’s own photo hosting connectivity, and will let you upload to Ovi (by Nokia), Vox (who?) and Flickr, or email, but does not include built in Facebook support.
– It has a pretty user interface and multi-tasking applications that can run in the background, but they then stay in the background until eventually crashing the phone until you manually exit each program individually, rather than just quiting when you exit.
– It provides links to useful programs as downloads, such as a flashlight program, that sensibly uses the screen as a torch, that is free for a number of days, but when you download it and install it, it then updates itself and tells you that you have to pay to use the program. Even though the program should be included free with the phone as standard.
– The phone likes to go into power saving mode when it has 2 bars of battery life left, when it does this, the screen brightness is set to minimum, and can’t be adjusted, and then when you go outside into the sunlight, YOU CAN NOT SEE THE SCREEN!
Update: Note scratches on the glass under the lens cover – this is caused by the LENS COVER! Normally lens covers are supposed to stop the lens from being scratched, apparently this is the fixed version which only scratches AROUND the lens photo taking area, which is better I suppose than the N97 that scratches where the photos are taken!

…and this one deserves it’s own section because it’s so unbelievably flawed:

ovi.com (by nokia)

The phone can sync with Nokia’s Ovi.com website over the internet, so that you can apparently backup your contacts to the internet, however, as I have experienced, after it’s backed them up to the internet, it:

– Somehow removes all the phone numbers from the phone, leaving just the names.
– So you think, that’s okay, I’ll just restore from ovi.com to the phone
– You sync the phone, and then it removes all the names from ovi.com, leaving just the numbers on the website, and all the contacts on the phone have been named “Unnamed” and have no number:

And then you’re stuck with 220 phone numbers on ovi.com and no idea whose number belongs to who… and 220 entries on your phone, all called “unknown” – it simply should NOT be possible for a BACKUP service to DELETE all the DATA from the phone and itself! Backup systems are meant to be about copying data, NOT DELETING DATA! (unless of course ovi was designed specifically to “hunt down data from across the internet and try to kill it“)

And if that wasn’t enough of a pain in the arse (particularly when ovi.com was supposed to be a backup of your contacts, rather than deleting them!) ovi then doesn’t work when trying to invite friends and contacts, and provides completely different functionality when you have a different phone, for example the Nokia N97, which can send requests out, that simply don’t work if you have a different phone.

To summarise: Basically, if you’re going to make a phone, that connects to everything, please make sure that:

1) your bundled applications work (facebook mobile uploads),
2) standard internet technologies are supported WELL for example with a seperate fully functioning RSS reader that can be viewed on the home screen like it’s email,
3) that your biggest selling feature such as an 8mp camera has the expected supporting features needed to make a decent camera, such as a real flash,
4) include REAL satnav features that works for as long as you own the phone,
5) include expected software for free (flashlight tool), and don’t update it to disable the expected demo!
6) support multiple upload services INCLUDING facebook, not just your own dumb ovi.com photo hosting service
7) this is KEY: provide sync / backup software that NEVER EVER deletes data from the phone or the backup, but instead, you know, backs up the data!
8) once again support internet standards such as ? defining the subject of an email!
9) Make an operating system that doesn’t crash because there are too many programs open, because the OS doesn’t shut them down automatically!
10) Make a screen THAT WORKS OUTSIDE (even when the battery is low!!), mobile phones are meant to be MOBILE, they are not just for use indoors!
11) Standardise expected functions, such as copy and paste, so that you can copy from one part of the phone (ie text messages) into another part of the phone (ie web broswer or other apps)
12) Standardise what buttons do when using different programs, if the C key is the backspace key when writing texts, then why doesn’t it do the same when typing something into the web browser? Instead it quits the web browser and everything you were doing! (This can be switched off, but for some reason may revert back to default settings)
13) New: Make a lens cover that, DOESN’T scratch ANY PART of the lens!

The list could go on, but it just goes to show that these products are being released with serious flaws and faults that anyone can experience and come across without even trying. You come to expect everything to work straight out of the box like in the olden days, and when it doesn’t, you’re left wondering whether anyone at Nokia actually tested this phone in real life, outside the perfectly functioning office, you know, perhaps outside in the real world?

It’s as though they printed a list of 20+ features, except that 50% of them have a small * (star) next to them with legal print at the bottom in tiny tiny writing that goes on to explain “these features may or may not be fully functioning and may not provide expected features or functionality”. Except they then forgot to print the disclaimer on the website / packaging and marketing material.

Lens Unit PCB

Update: The Nokia N86 comes with 8GB of memo
ry built in, which is great for putting your MP3s on (assuming you keep them all on your PC as well), but not so great when you’ve taken 500 photos, and then the phone dies and is irrepairable. As you’ll have just lost all of your photos. To avoid this it’s worth buying a seperate memory card for the phone, even if it does cost you money (thankfully there is a memory slot, unlike some other phones!).

More links: Nokia N97 Reviewed by Gizmodo, Dumb phones must die (Gizmodo).