Holy crap I’m alive and what is this.

Yep, after just over a year of solid labor, an official release of my ZDoom magnum opus has finally seen the light of day.

This thing has already been described as “a total conversion but more” and I’m inclined to see it as its own independent game. Absolutely no assets from the original Doom game are present here, apart from the game engine itself, and even that is modified greatly by the ZDoom port. It is officially now a throwback to the original Doom, rather than simply being a mod designed for it.

Anyway, enough ego-jerking, here’s the release post from Doomworld!

SQUARE

The brilliant Doctor Octagon has been kidnapped! Square must find him, and rescue him from the clutches of the Circle of Evil, a mysterious cult hellbent on the domination of Shape Land. He will square off against terrible monsters and impossible traps in order to prove that he’s no square when it comes to justice. Guide him to the center of the Circle’s domain, unravel their malicious plot, and win the day fair and square.

The Adventures of Square™ is a wacky and wonderful total conversion for the DOOM engine by Bigbrik Games: a new company of level designers, programers, musicians and procrastinators whose impetuous charge is to make things blow up in fun and interesting ways! Lead by James Paddock from 2011, the project began as an ambitious, one-man attempt to bring to life a hidden world of paint, puns and shapism, but soon grew to become the flagship title of a small and dedicated team, including community veterans Xaser, Alfonzo, MTrop, Pavera and Tarnsman. While the first episode is a complete and paid-for experience, it’s only a small taster of the crazy delights we have in store for later – so stay tuned!

Square makes extensive use of ZDoom’s advanced features in the UDMF format, with a unified approach to its level design, art direction and gameplay. Players can expect to find all the best elements of DOOM’s fast and frenetic pace unencumbered by a sharp focus on fun, shapely layouts and free-flowing combat, and with a variety of new and familiar mechanics that build upon this brand of play. The game is made with speedrunning and multiplayer in mind, and features exclusive deathmatch (Square-Off!) maps in which to blast your buddies. It’s the whole shebang, I tell ya!

The Squareware™ features the first episode of the game, Cornered By Circles: Radial Dawn, including:

  • 9 fully playable levels, fresh out of Shape Land.
  • 16 tracks from The Adventures of Square OST, courtesy of the musical minds of Jimmy, Xaser, Alfonzo and jmickle.
  • All-new textures and artwork.
  • All-new sounds and voice acting.
  • 4 exclusive deathmatch maps.
  • Arcade style Time Attack! Mode for single-player support in deathmatch levels.
  • Support for Xbox controllers.
  • Partial support for Mac users.
  • Really, really awful puns. I mean Jesus.

Be There And Be Square!


 

Also we have a website! Watch that page for all changes.

http://adventuresofsquare.com/

Here are the release threads:

Doomworld

ZDoom

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It’s been a long time coming, but here it is. Me and my brother wrote an EP. We wrote melodies, lyrics, then sang and played to create the songs, and then the music was arranged and mixed and mastered to the best of our collective abilities. We present to you the final product of our labours:

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The Rainbow Season EP.

Head over to iTunes now to listen to and download the EP!

Track listing:

  1. Control (4:39)
  2. In My Box (4:56)
  3. Breakthrough (4:54)
  4. Judgement Day (6:06)

Rainbow Season are an electronic music duo originally from Surrey, England, now living in Perth, Western Australia, consisting of brothers James Paddock (writing, composition, backing vocals and mixing) and Ben Paddock (additional writing, lead vocals).

Their style is perhaps unsual, merging the facets of rock, particularly of the alternative and progressive varieties, into upbeat electronic pop numbers. They perform with a range of vocal styles, from quiet to harsh. Their music aims to provoke thought on touchy or controversial subjects such as self-aggrandizement, social introversy, self-humiliation in the pursuit of internet fame, and the prediction of doomsday.

Composition-wise, the songs aim to have a wide spread of sounds, mainly electronic, but not discounting acoustic – as well as complex arrangements, keeping the songs varied with strong instrumental solos, frequent (but non-jarring) key changes, and instrumentation change-ups to allow for maximum dynamic and timbral variation. Most importantly, however, the songs are written with pop-like catchiness and memorability in mind, with the songs being highly melody-driven, the instrumental sections having as much musical diversity as possible, and the sung sections having infectious vocal hooks and powerful rhythms to make sure the songs can be sung along to, and also danced to.

James and Ben Paddock grew up in Addlestone, Surrey, England, before moving to Norfolk for their higher education and finally to Wanneroo, Western Australia, to pursue their interests and careers. Both are virtually completely self-taught in everything they’ve put together on this album, aside from James who has recently started vocal tuition, and for future Rainbow Season pursuits will be taking a more upfront approach to performing and recording his vocals.

With the release of their debut self-titled EP, they sincerely hope you’ll enjoy their take on what music is really all about.

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Rainbow Season are proud to release a lyric video for the first track off their debut EP – enjoy “Control”! :D

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Ladies and men of the gentle disposition, I can conclusively say that Rainbow Season, the joint musical venture between myself and my brother, are finally ready to unleash their EP to the world. The tracks have been mixed to the best of my ability, mastered, and uploaded to CDBaby – and the EP will be available for purchase on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon on January 12th, 2014!

Recently the brilliant Thomas van der Velden created a new piece of artwork for the EP’s cover. He loves his giant robots. Here’s what he had to say about deciding to do it this way:

So basically it’s a giant robot walking around in a rainbow-like landscape.
I could tell you a philosophical story about how the giant robot symbolises your musical creations, which allow you to step into the colorful world of music. The robot (your music) allows you to rise above the normal world, but only works with both pilots (musicians) present.
… but really I just wanted to draw a giant robot :)

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Screw symbolism! GIANT ROBOTS.

Ben and I sincerely hope you enjoy the music as soon as it’s available. We will uploading further promotional videos in the near future, which will hopefully include a teaser trailer of all four tracks, and at least one lyric video. Until then, here is an exclusive preview of the first track off the Rainbow Season EP – Control.

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Season’s greetings to all our friends, family and followers! We (myself and Ben) have a very special announcement. :O

We hope you had a splendid Christmas and wish you a great 2014 to follow! Here’s a VERY SPECIAL MESSAGE concerning the EP.

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I so want a peanut butter sandwich right now.

It’s 2:30am.

Get in my belly, you saucy bitch.

Right now, though, I cannot.

As of about three weeks ago, I am now on the “5-2″ fast diet, and today is one of my fasting days.

Yes, I am finally doing something about my weight. I have always, and I mean always, preferred staying chunky and felt no need to correct my figure because I’m happy with how I am. That’s still kind of true in a way, in the sense that being a little bit overweight is not a horrid idea to me, but I think I’ve overstepped the boundary. I don’t feel young and spry and full of energy anymore. I don’t feel healthy. I get back pains, neck cramps, headaches, shortness of breath and am in a virtually perpetual state of tiredness. I put this down to 22 years of bodily neglect, i.e. eating what the hell I want when the hell I want, having a largely inactive lifestyle, and saying “bugger you, good sir” to exercise.

But now I think I’m about to make a change. Recently, a couple of my parents’ friends discovered the magic of this ingenuitive new “dieting” regime whereby the dieter eats what exactly they want… for five days of the week, and on two designated “fasting” days, eating virtually nothing. For men, the recommended max is 600 calories, and for women it’s 500. Those values are, to my estimate, about two peanut butter sandwiches and a couple of cups of tea. Not very much at all.

Still, my parents have been enduring adhering to the diet for a while now, maybe a year, and the weight loss has been rather amazing. Imagine a large watermelon. No, even larger. Like, quite large, like the ones you get in supermarkets. Now imagine two of those together. That’s how much weight just my dad has lost in that time.

He should probably stop stuffing them up his shirt pretending to be a woman before he hops on the scales.

For me, it’s been hard. The cravings are hard to control (I have a pretty bad sweet tooth), and drinking mineral water just isn’t the same as say fruit juice or a refreshing glass of milk. But I’m doing my darnedest to restrict my calorie intake (boy oh boy do you hear those words a lot from the people who back this diet) to make the weight loss as quick as possible. I’m actually trying my hand at three fasting days per week instead of two, because I want to see a difference fairly quickly. I tried just two days, as the diet recommends, but it didn’t feel like I was making enough of an impact on my weight, and that I was given too much free time to just pig out and give in to my cravings, even though I was, for all intents and purposes, allowed to. My fasting days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so I still get to partake of the family roast dinners on Sundays (which I’m getting better at preparing myself). They’re also spaced out evenly so that I’m never more than 24 hours away from eating what I want. A lot of this diet is purely psychological. The promise of all the food I could want to consume the following day is what keeps me going.

On my fast days, I’m not allowed juice drinks, sugary snacks, or a huge amount of meat. I usually have a bit of cereal and tea at breakfast to start the day, then it’s essentially an all-day fast until dinner time, with perhaps one apple at around lunch time just to stave the pangs. I’m getting used to eating salads. They’re not that bad. Throw some bits of chopped apple and some Greek yoghurt in there and they go down a treat. Yum.

I can still drink tea, which is excellent. I’m using a sugar substitute which is more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, and I’m slowly starting to wean myself off of that, too, although one teaspoonful of it is like 2 or 3 calories, so the difference I’ll make doing that is perhaps negligible. The tea over here in Strayaland doesn’t seem quite as bitter as the UK varieties when unsugared – not too sure what that’s down to – but I am finding it easier to stomach tea that isn’t crammed with sugar.

The problem I’ve found is that hunger really feels uncomfortable and is sometimes kind of distressing. Well, I mean, it’s never to the point where I’m hallucinating or thinking I’m about to die – at least, so far – but not eating when my body wants me to really throws me off. I can’t stop thinking about the things I’d like to be nibbling on right at that moment. A bit of raisin toast. Some chocolate chip cookies. A glass of apple juice – to wash both of those down. Stop it. Bad brain.

Apparently it’s when you feel hungry that the body starts to burn fat, turning the excess calories stored in your fat reserves into energy to run the body. My only question is – why does the body have to demand more food as it’s burning fat. I feel that it’s the most counter-intuitive and counter-productive design choice by evolution ever not to have the sensation of the body starving as though a famine had struck and the simple process of the body employing its backup energy reserves to be completely separate. It’s kind of like having a car that wails at you with an annoying siren on the dashboard the moment the needle on the fuel gauge rises a nanometer or two above the F. Seriously, body. You done gone F’d up there.

I’ve been measuring my weight daily with the Wii Fit program, just to track my progress – and it’s annoying for three reasons.

1. The little Wii Balance Board character is a little shit. He’s so damn chipper and optimistic, and loves to throw in random comments about how much thinner and healthier I’m looking (all in his weedy high-pitched voice), when he’s clearly an unfeeling computerized being with absolutely no humanity to speak of. My weighing scales should not talk to me – that’s some Futurama shit right there. Joke’s on him, though – he doesn’t know how the seasons change between the planet’s hemispheres. (He knows we’re in Australia because he measures us all in kilograms, but somehow he fails to realize that we are not suffering from “gloomy winter skies”. I am sat in my pants right now at well after midnight as I write this blog post – sweltering in the stuffy heat.) He was also designed to be stepped on. So ha ha.

Hope you enjoyed the foot stank, then.

Hope you enjoyed the foot stank, then, you perfidious piece of plastic.

2. My weight apparently fluctuates like a kangaroo doing the worm on a trampoline. Sometimes I gain weight after my fast days, and lose weight after my feast days. It make-a no sense. And I really can’t figure out what I’m doing right or wrong. Metabolism, y u do dis.

3. I have to do it first thing in the morning. Did I ever mention on this blog that I am the least morning person ever?

All in all, however, I’d say it’s going well. Nothing’s gone terribly wrong as of yet, apart from the days I have every so often on which I gain close to an entire kilogram in weight, and feel a bit shitty with myself, and I can tell (just through numbers, rather than through my actual figure, so far, anyway) that I am losing fat very gradually. Would be nice to be able to speed up the process a bit more, but there’s perhaps a problem with that, in that doing a “4-3 diet” is perhaps overkill and would be demotivating as hell, and then there’s the obvious issue of when I cave into the temptation to gorge myself on my feast days, I’m not going to be able to make up for the resulting net loss (or net gain, if you want to put it like that) with the following fast day, slowing the pound-shedding process down even more. I’m trying my best to conserve my intake on my feast days, but I do find myself guzzling a glass of juice or two to wash down my regular meals. And my fast days can be problematic when the cravings strike. (I can sleep them off, but then of course I wake up on a feast day and ironically don’t feel like eating anything. Stomach, are you high.)

I’m excited to get past this mindset of needing to consume. I might soon get used to eating this little, or even start being brave and having absolutely nothing all day – biologically, there’s no harm in doing so, and the body isn’t exactly starving, even though that’s what it might feel like (again, thanks, human digestive system) – it’s simply running off its reserves. I’ll be trying to stretch myself a bit further every now and then, and try to blot out the hunger pains. And the unpleasant growls that my stomach emitted literally as I was typing that.

If you’d like to learn more than my hopeless stream-of-consciousness ramblings can impart, the book you’ll want to read is Michael Moseley and Mimi Spencer’s The Fast Diet. Experienced dieticians collaborated to confirm the science behind this diet. I have the evidence that it really does work – in all its glorious simplicity – in what it did for my parents. Maybe it’ll work for you?

Note: It kind of helps to keep the cravings at bay if you don’t write a 1600-word blog post mentioning peanut butter sandwiches while simultaneously craving peanut butter sandwiches.

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M_DOOM_20

The best computer game of all time turned two decades old today.

Yep. The big two oh.

Doom is still played and modded by a large, still-thriving community, and it is still as fun as it was when it was uploaded to the university of Wisconsin’s FTP server and distributed worldwide. It’s still my favorite game ever.

Thank you so much, John Romero, John Carmack, Adrian Carmack, Dave Taylor, Tim Willits, Kevin Cloud, Sandy Petersen, American McGee, Shawn Green, Jay Wilbur, Paul Radek, Robert Prince, Mike Abrash, and Gregor Punchatz of id Software for creating the greatest game ever released.

Fellow Doomers, let’s celebrate! :D Here’s to at least another 10 steady years of Dooming.

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In an effort to keep myself busy, I recently signed up to audition for two separate local projects, hoping to be accepted for either or both.

The title of this post may well give away the outcome of those decisions, but let me tell you about how each one went. Things are made doubly interesting by the fact that the auditions happened within the same weekend, so I was in fact kept busy to say the least.

A friend of mine had recently posted on Facebook about the Western Australian Charity Orchestra. They were looking for applicants, and spots were open for pianists like myself. I signed up, and about a month and a half was spent after that point learning two pieces to perform at the audition. It was a bit nerve-wracking for a while, but towards the end I managed to get confident in my playing ability for the two pieces. I picked some fairly difficult pieces just to test myself a little bit moreso than usual – a piece of my own entitled “Midwinter”, difficult due to the fact that it was quite a complex quaver-based melody in 7/4 time, and the main chords to Dream Theater’s “Octavarium” (which are played on a piano as well as guitar about five minutes in), a rather crazy and unpredictable chord progression.

Simultaneously, I had another thing going on – a local girl, Holly Denton, had posted an ad on Gumtree saying that she was looking for new band members. My dad had pointed me to her ad, and it seemed an awfully good gig – she and her old band had just performed at Telethon 2013 and the video they’d posted of the performance was damn good. With the promise of being part of a talented young lady’s musical troop, learning new songs, meeting new people, and perhaps even earning a little money from the experience, it didn’t take me very long to decide that this was an opportunity to jump right on. I learnt about half of her setlist as best I could, then once I phoned her she informed me I only had to learn two songs – Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and one of her own songs, “With You Goes” (the first one performed in the video). With that clarified, I did my darnedest to learn those two songs as well, although most of my time up to the eventful weekend was spent rehearsing my two pieces for the orchestra first of all, since that audition was to take place on the Saturday, and my audition at Holly’s was to be on the Sunday immediately after.

The following weekend was pretty frantic. It of course started with the audition for the orchestra, was a fairly short drive to the college at which the auditions were being held. I was directed to a rehearsal room which had… erm, everybody else who was auditioning in it. Apparently it was the only room they had? Needless to say, with a bunch of brassists, percussionists and woodwindists all rehearsing different pieces in the same room, now with a pianist (as in me – I was apparently the only one there) it was quite the cacophony. I got onto the piano and started rehearsing, doing my best to concentrate, and thinking I’d only need to go over the songs a few times before I got called.

I was kept waiting for about an hour. I got pretty sick of those pieces after the dozenth time of going over them both the whole way through. I was, if anything, overrehearsed by that point – I was ready to make absolutely no mistakes.

A woman came into the rehearsal room to apologize for the inconvenience – apparently there’d been a balls-up regarding the availability of the performance hall the auditions were to take place in – it had already been booked out and no auditions could be held for an hour, hence why they were so behind schedule. But I was eventually called out. When I got into the hall, I felt more than ready. I was told to remain silent for the judges, and that was no problem as I naturally just clam up and let my music do the talking anyway. The judges were behind a panel, remaining invisible and anonymous to me, as I was to them, so I didn’t feel impaired by nerves at all. I got down at the piano aaaand… hang on, it’s shut. Can I lift this lid? Nnngh, bit heavy. Am I out of shape or is it… hnnngh… no. It’s locked. Umm, I know I’m not allowed to speak, but… can someone please get the key for this piano?

I had to wait another few minutes while someone retrieved the key and unlocked the piano for me, during which time a few more people went in to have their auditions, and all I could do was sit on a chair just outside and try not to make the conversation with the guy standing beside the door too awkward. I believe it was there that I was told that because they were so far behind schedule, I was only allotted a few seconds to play my pieces.

Unfortunately, the wait and the uncertainty of the whole situation had thrown off my groove – I sat down at the piano, fumbling hopelessly with my sheet music, and unable to call upon the routine I’d just spent the last hour or so trying to hammer into my muscle memory. I messed up pretty badly on the Dream Theater piece, which was pretty evident even within the ten second or so window I actually had to play it. They let me go on for a bit longer with my own piece, but since the sheet music for that is mainly all quavers and doesn’t introduce chords until about a minute into the piece, I don’t think it did a particularly tremendous job of showcasing the full extent of my ability with the instrument.

I left the audition and went home feeling vastly underwhelmed, and still rather tense from not having actually gone through with the whole procedure. I’d rehearsed for yonks for that audition and the fact that I hadn’t even performed the entirety of my two pieces left me feeling almightily unfulfilled. I wasn’t going to be too crestfallen if I didn’t get the gig with that orchestra – I didn’t particularly feel like being part of an organization which was so… well, ill-organized.

I didn’t have much time to mope about all that, though – I had another audition the very next day, with Holly.

The drive to her house was very short – 13 minutes at best – and the actual audition took place in her living room. She was mighty friendly and informal – as the whole event felt, really. There wasn’t much waiting at all, and in fact she’d clearly planned a lot of this out in advance very carefully, as we arrived in time for her to let the first set of auditionees go. I admit I made a few mistakes, but hey, at least I got to play the full songs this time around. I also felt I was in a controlled and well-planned working environment – again in contrast to my WACO audition – so while it was a bit embarrassing when I played a bum chord, I didn’t feel like I was wasting valuable time. We played her two songs, talked a bit about ourselves, and that was it, done. It probably took longer to set everything up and pack away than to play the songs. It was fun, though, and she was really nice.

That same day, hours later, I got a text informing me, very politely, that she’d made a decision and that I was unfortunately not selected to be in her band. (The likelihood is she chose a keyboardist who used more than just a rompler, heh.) This actually brought a big smile to my face. What a well-mannered, organized and respectful girl – having the decency to let me know so soon. She’s someone who clearly has the organization and the people skills necessary to hold an audition and treat her entrants with respect.

Inversely, it wasn’t until a couple of weeks on that I got a letter from WACO saying I had… not been selected. I think perhaps only one word went through my mind when I read that – “typical”. I’m pretty certain I was the only pianist who turned up for that audition, so it did come as kind of a surprise that they didn’t want me, though not a terribly disheartening one. Maybe they found it a little hard to judge my playing ability reliably with only a thirty-second sample of my playing that was riddled with mistakes brought on by how badly the event turned out.

So while both auditions ended in me being politely rejected, I feel much better about one rejection than the other. It’s not so bad when the person rejecting you seems like an honest and well-meaning human being who genuinely considers your emotions and addresses you face to face. Less so when it’s a less-than-stellar-organized group of people who reject by written letter a fortnight on.

Genuinely think I’ve learned something from these experiences.

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Not pictured: musical genius. …Because you can’t sum that up in a picture, stupid.

That is totally Muse, and they are totally playing at Perth Arena at the end of this month, with Birds of Tokyo totally supporting them.

The 30th of November being the date that I was brought kicking and screaming into this world, and then 20 years later arriving in the continent of Australialand makes it a rather momentous birthday present, and emmigration anniversary.

Needless to say, hella pumped.

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Greetings, prog metal fans of all sorts! Today I have very special treat for you, a review of the latest musical venture by the exceedingly talented folks of Bad Salad, whom you may remember I covered a little while ago in a review of their fantastic debut album “Uncivilized“.

“Blahhhhh” to you guys, too.

Vocals: Denis Oliveira
Guitar: Thiago Campos
Bass: Felipe Campos
Keyboards: Junghwan Kim (guest)
Drums: Caco Gonçalves

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BadSalad
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/BadSaladOfficial

Now, I present to you my second review of their work, which has me very excited, as they currently have a three-track EP in the works, entitled “Puzzled”. They announced this via their Facebook page and have been giving almost daily updates to the project since then, as well as setting up a donation drive on PledgeMusic.com to entice their fans to donate to further the EP’s development.

A fantastic idea, I think. It was to be an extensive and expensive undertaking, and they had to do it fast, too – the keyboardist, Junghwan Kim, flew to Brazil from South Korea especially to be a part of the writing and recording process for the EP, and could only stay for two months. The band then reached out to their fans to help them make the project a reality. It’s great to see bands, especially those of this amount of talent, using the internet to such great advantage like this.

As a pledger to the project myself, I was eligible for the sneak preview of the tracks the band offered, and I also volunteered to offer them feedback as a reviewer before the EP’s official release. So with all that said, let us proceed with it!

Let’s take a look at the artwork, first off.

U WOT M8

Interesting. What kind of pigeon is that? Whatever it is, it itself looks puzzled. Or horrified. Or perhaps incredibly angry, it’s kind of difficult to tell. Most puzzling.

Also GAHHHH THE LOOSE PIECE DOESN’T FIT. (We are assured by the band that this is not a mistake, but rather a subtle little niggle to provide just a little extra discord to the art. And presumably to drive people with OCD up the wall.)

Let’s take an in-depth look at the tracks themselves, then!

I have to say, this time around, I honestly don’t see all that much Dream Theater bleeding through within these tracks, whereas I was able to liken almost every track on “Uncivilized” to a DT song, some of which were scarily comparable – which to me suggests that the band are developing a musical style all of their own, which is great. I mean, it’s still clear that Dream Theater are one of their primary sources of creative inspiration, but there are fewer direct homages to the band, if any at all, on this record. In fact, this EP is rife with various subtle throwbacks to “Uncivilized”. The first track on “Puzzled” takes me back to the tracks “Nemesis” and “Dawn of the Machine”, bits of the second song are reminiscent of “Mourning” and “Sights from Within”, and I certainly get “Crowded Sky” and “The Second Calling” vibes from the final song. They run the whole gamut of their previous work, and it’s good to see Bad Salad sticking to the old formula that worked so well before – and I somehow suspected from the outset that they would.

Let us begin! There may be only three songs on this release, but there’s still a lot to talk about. Apparently the tracks are subject to a lot of changes still, but let’s see how they hold up currently.

1. Pain That Binds Us (13:37)

We begin the EP with a sombre, syncopated piano intro. This lovely performance from Junghwan oozes melancholy, with not a major chord to be seen – reminiscent of Metallica’s more sombre numbers such as “The Call of Ktulu”. After a couple of minutes, the tempo picks up almost without warning, and Thiago’s electric guitar plays this riff, interspersing 7/4 and 6/4 time into the mix, which is accented wonderfully by Caco’s drumming.

The chords and riff that enter next are reminiscent of Dream Theater’s “In the Presence of Enemies”. Then the verse begins, and we’re pelted by some rapid shredding from Thiago, with intermittent phrygian dominant fills which add wonderful bursts of flavor to the phrase.

Denis finally appears after three minutes of all this instrumental chaos, singing about a backwards society that punishes honesty and rewards the criminal – hey, a bit like our own. Honestly, the lyrics themselves aren’t anything particularly special, but like “Crowded Sky”‘s, they get the points across well enough.

The chorus is thunderous, with Denis performing brilliantly on the vocals, with his screaming high notes and his deadly serious half-growling tenor. The chords used here are simple but very effective, doing a damn fine job of getting the dramatic impact of the chorus across.

The rapid riffage returns, pervading throughout the next few verses in a blaze of mixed rhythms, and this is concluded by some whole-tone scale ripping from Thiago, which is very excellently executed.

After the second chorus, the middle section begins, and sees perhaps the first overtly major chords used in the song – at 6:00 – a very sudden but welcome change-up, bringing out Bad Salad’s slightly softer side and demonstrating their ability to write very beautiful refrains.

The instrumental section begins with a simple drumbeat and a pleasant, comparatively placid interlude, then Junghwan begins his keyboard solo with a funky, ever-morphing piano solo overlaying the original chords played by Thiago, then a cool-as-heck 80s-sounding synth playing all sorts of interesting scales, with Thiago assisting with a solo of his own soon after. After this, we get a repeat of the Systematic Chaos chords from earlier, with some equally Dream Theater guitar work from Thiago and some awesome arpeggios from Junghwan. It’s about two to three epic minutes of solid soloing and I’m thankful for every second I get treated to.

Then things begin to descend into madness as the tempo picks back up. A new section drops in completely out of the blue with some quirkily-placed guitar stabs and insane drumming, overlaid by a crazy series of 16th notes fired out from Thiago’s lead guitar, and some occasional orchestral stabs from Junghwan, then a reprise of the expertly done whole-tone rippage.

Things slow down to allow room for a nutso Rudess-esque keyboard solo, which mounts along with the rhythm guitar. Denis’s backing vocals return too – rather subdued in the mix, if I were to give some criticism – but they’re definitely there. Before long, we get returned in a blaze of insanity back to the chorus, which hits as hard as it did before.

The outro is pretty spectacular, a hard-hitting reprise of the intro riff, with a long sustained power chord overlaid by a wonderful diminished piano flourish to bring things to a fittingly grandiose close.

This is the epic of the EP, almost as long as the other two tracks combined. Honestly, I wonder if Bad Salad are missing a trick by not having this as the album’s closing track instead of the opener. I mean, I can see why they chose this one – it opens with a lengthy passage penned by new keyboardist Junghwan Kim. However, due to the order in which the band uploaded the tracks on PledgeMusic, the EP actually plays for me in reverse order, and that’s another reason why it seems to be the preferable and more logical progression, in my view.

Anyway, just my thoughts there. Moving on!

2. Moonlight (6:52)

A shorter song this time of just under 7 minutes, and we start with a minor-augmented progression in 7/8 time, similar to that in the last track’s intro, but on a sad-sounding flanged guitar. Denis begins singing a delicate soprano over this, and Caco maintains the 7/8 rhythm beautifully all throughout with his impeccable drumming.

Next comes a series of dramatic major guitar chords, once again evoking melancholy but with a distinctly “rockier” feel than the previous track as it goes back to 4/4. Once again the tempo picks up as it progresses to the next verse, and Denis maintains his soprano, singing about being remembered after death, from the perspective of an elderly man slowly losing his grip on reality.

Then enters the beautiful chorus, with strings matching Denis’s vocal melody. After a quick and simple but powerful guitar solo, we get treated to a wonderful after-chorus that somehow seems even sweeter than what came before it.

Thiago’s guitar and Junghwan’s piano play unison for a short while, then Denis sings two lines with his wonderfully velvety soprano again before a quick bass solo, and then the chorus returns. Denis ends this second chorus on an impressive sustained C# to lead us into a great melody-driven solo from Thiago that really highlights the beauty of the chords being played underneath, which ramps up in speed and power gradually, giving us all kinds of arpeggiated melodic deliciousness.

The final instance of the chorus seems even more impactful than the previous two, with that terrific after-chorus extending over a graceful piano solo from Junghwan.

Again, absolutely no faults with the musicianship of the piece. Mix-wise, perhaps the snare was a little loud and trebly, which I noticed on account of Caco’s repeated use of the snare to drive home the 7/8 rhythm, but that’s all in terms of criticism that I could note for this track.

3. Deep Roots (8:25)

After several listen-throughs of this track, I maintain my belief that Pain That Binds Us makes a more fitting closer to EP – and this, the final song on the record, would definitely work equally well, if not moreso, as the opening track. It’s a song that hits you full in the face right from the get-go. We start with an excellent 7/8 groove in the intro, with some thunderous drumming from Caco. We get treated to a bunch of really cool fills and riffs in mostly 4/4 from Thiago, but with some cleverly-interspersed time signature variations that give it that added proggy needless complexity we all love.

All throughout this intro, the drumming is masterfully varied – Caco really puts his heart and soul into it, perhaps because he wrote the lyrics for this one (Thiago penned those of the other two songs). Once the intro finishes, Denis begins singing in a light falsetto, with the lyrics firmly addressing some self-centered power-hungry sociopath on a surefire path towards self-destruction.

The next section arrives abruptly and Denis delivers some aggressive multi-layered lyrics of virtually every vocal timbre conceivable while the lead guitar hammers out some complex 7/8 riffage, until the chorus blitzes in with a jarring unpredictable melody to it, overlaid by some vicious amelodic shouting from Denis. The word “life” is screamed lengthily at the end of the chorus to awesome effect, carrying almost to the next verse.

More verses enter after this, calmer and more melodic than before, but carrying just as much impressive musicianship. Denis’s vocals get growlier and really aggressive, perhaps moreso than the first time, again the last line pushing his trademark growl to its fullest, all the way up to a C5. Then, a second refrain kicks in with some awesome and dramatic string chords being played underneath by Junghwan, which is a precursor to perhaps his finest moment on this EP.

As soon as the instrumental section to this song begins, we’re treated to an absolute joy of a keyboard solo with tribal/Latin elements – all in 4/4, but with some lovely rhythmic mixing up, Thiago’s guitar chords and Caco’s simultaneous drum crashes wonderfully counterpointing the variety of sounds cruising gracefully throughout this segment – cementing my belief that this would serve excellently as the opening track, unless Bad Salad do want to save the absolute best for last.

This all comes to an abrupt halt, however, with Felipe crashing in with a devastating bass solo, then a guitar solo to rival that from Thiago, involving all sorts of clever accidentals and some very neat and smooth key changing, plus some awesome 16th-note shredding at the end. Then a positively frantic keyboard solo in which Junghwan takes full advantage of the instantly recognizable Rudess lead synth sound, using superfast arpeggios and insane pitch slides to full advantage here. Once again, the relentless back-to-back soloing is a ludicrously well-constructed part of this song.

Once the reprise of the 4/4-ish riff opening is over, we get a repeat of the dramatic second refrain, followed by the outro, which slows things down but keeps them impactful, with some excellent drum work underpinning it all along with some frantic melodies from both Thiago and Junghwan that play off each other excellently. The power chords leading to the final major string chord are expertly done.

Again, I can’t really gripe about the mixing, it’s excellent stuff. The guitars do take a bit of a backseat during that devilishly beautiful keyboard solo – they’re almost muddied by everything else going on. Most of the vocal clips all lead into each other fluidly, though there are a couple of points where Denis’s incredibly demanding multi-layered vocal lines require some more obvious “take juggling”, as it were. This is a really minor nitpick, though.

That’s a wrap, then!

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

More truly fantastic stuff from this band, I have to say. I only wish there was more. What they have here is excellent and it would be great if they could have been able to churn out a bonus track or two, but the project was ambitious enough already and I’m very happy with everything that I’ve heard from this EP.

This is going to be a must-have release if you’re any self-respecting fan of progressive metal – the tracks are only “in beta” currently and already they are absolutely excellent overall, both in terms of composition and mixing. I honestly wouldn’t mind if these were the final mixes, the few niggles I did spot I can live with, and the quality of the music speaks for itself even without being finely honed and polished.

Bad Salad, you still rock. Keep up the awesome work, and may you have an exciting and fruitful career ahead of you. I said I’d be keeping close tabs on your future projects and I’m extremely glad to have been a part of this one. I sincerely hope this release is a roaring success for you. :)

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