Month: July 2012

Word of the day: apophthegm

apophthegm

Noun (plural: apophthegms)
Pronunciation: /ˈapəθɪm/

A short, witty, instructive saying; an aphorism or maxim.

Who thought this word was a good idea? For one thing, it literally looks like a sneeze. It’s one letter away from having all the letters of “phlegm” anyway.

It’s a word for a saying or maxim. But how many people have you heard say:

Adam: Oh, you know the old apoffthathegum… if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Bob: …What was that word you just used?
Adam: Oh, apopothaffathegum? It’s just another word for saying.
Bob: It sounds like some horrendous creature from the Dungeons and Dragons universe.

Why not just say “saying”? Or “maxim”? Or “adage”? Or even “cliché”? Those words might be spelt oddly, but at least when you say them for the first time you don’t sound like a Danish person trying to eat his own face.

Actually, the above example is inaccurate, because the word “apophthegm” shares its pronunciation with the far more simplistically-spelt “apothem” – a word used in geometry to describe the distance between the side and center of a polygon.

So… what’s with all the excess letters? Are the weirdos who conjured up the logic-defying cholmondeley behind this? Did the inventors of this word think that all 26 letters in the alphabet had to be used wherever it might be vaguely possible?

I usually dislike US spelling conventions, but the Americans actually have the right idea omitting the “ph” from this word. At least it alleviates some of the brain ache this word inevitably induces. Not all of it, mind you, but at least some of it.

Welcome to the new site!

Hello!

If you’ve arrived from the old site at WordPress.com, I can assure you you’re now in the right place. This is where my website and blog will now reside. The old one will still be around, but won’t be updated. All the posts on the old are still there but only viewable to me.

This isn’t just a move, though. I’ve altered the site itself in a few tiny ways. Here are the main changes:

  • New URL highlighting. Check this out. Wooo, it’s all shiny and orange! 😀
  • The ESotW page has been updated with a new collapsible menu of all the previous epic songs that were up there, as well as the reviews I wrote for those songs.
  • I thought I’d add a “Blog” menu onto the top menu bar. All my most-used post categories are now easily browsable from that drop-down list.
  • The widgets on the right-hand sidebar have been pruned. There were too many to start with, and it looks like some of the ones I wanted to have there aren’t usable anyway. D’oh!

Have a look ’round. 🙂

(Incidentally, I am aware that the links leading to various posts/pages on this blog still link back to the old one. Bear with me and I’ll fix those as quickly as I can.)

New keyboard!

What the title says.

Huzzah!

It’s a Yamaha PSR-E333 and is quite a bit more advanced than my old keyboard, which honestly looked like some kind of Fisher-Price toy.

Look, mummy! I’m playing the musics!

Still has no pitch/modulation wheels, though. Weirdly.

Here’s a video of me having a jolly good time with it:

MIDIs page back; tons of new MIDI crap now up

Alrighty, the MIDIs page is back up, and everything should be back to normal now. 🙂

I now have a new online MIDI repository which is here:
http://jimmy.the-powerhouse.net/MIDI/

So please change your bookmark URLs (haha, right) from “phenomer” to “the-powerhouse”. I have yet to clean up the links in the previous posts (they still lead to Phenomer) but everything I’ve posted before is already at my MIDIs page.

Here, have a ton of music that wasn’t on the MIDIs page before. 😀

(Not all of these are new. In fact, I may have actually posted a few of these before, but they weren’t actually listed on the page, so now they are.)

Newly added/recently composed:
Forgotten Eden (8:14!)
Retina (5:30)
2012 (6:04)
Breakthrough (4:52)
Control (4:24)
Farewell, Old Friend (5:03)
Handle With Care (4:40)
In My Box (4:58)
Let Me Fly (6:10)
Parhelion (3:45)
Sleep (4:12)

Newly added but old:
Above the Carnage
(0:17)
Bound for Glory (3:41)
Conductor (6:21)
Destroy the Burning Wind (3:32)
Economy of Truth (3:02)
Ore (1:44)
Overclock (1:06)
The Raven’s Nest (4:54)
Time Dilation
(4:21)Venture Forth (2:30)
Push Your Luck (3:53)
Happy Sun (3:37)
Where Are My Damn Keys (3:44)
Island in the Night Sky (2:28)

EDIT: Oh hey, lookie that. That right there is my 100th post on this blog. Woot. 😛

Adrenaline Mob: An actual review

Seeing how I’ve already ranted indirectly at the various vitriolic reviewers decrying the latest venture of two of my all-time modern metal heroes in something that seems to be a radical departure from what is considered their “norm”, I thought I might as well give my take on the album, to see if I can relate at all to their complaints.

Hey look, a smoking corpse. Ha ha ha ha.

First off, the album art. A lot of critics have actually called this out to be one of the many faults of the entire album.

Hang on, you’re attacking an image. That’s like ordering a sandwich at a bar and complaining that it’s the wrong shape.

To examine it in finer detail, it appears to be a skeleton dressed like an Italian gangster holding up a flaming tarot card, his mobsters gathering ominously in the background (it’d be pretty funny if those turned out to be the skulls of all of the band members!). Now, okay, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – for instance, I don’t exactly know how a skeleton is able to smoke, given that he has no lungs, but (Earth to critics!) …this is an album cover. Album covers are explicitly designed to make absolutely zero sense, unless there’s some kind of deep, metaphorical context. You won’t find any of that on this album, though, and given the Mob’s use of the Godfather font for their official logo, I think they’re entitled to use something like that just looks cool. I’m not entirely sure how it harms the quality of the music. (Again, MUSIC reviewers, are you receiving this at all?)

I will say, though, that it does remind me slightly of Skulduggery Pleasant.

…Anyways, onto the music itself. As I established in my initial post on the Mob, they’re primarily hard rock/heavy metal. Their music isn’t super-clever, like that of the progressive metal bands that two of their members (Russell Allen and Mike Portnoy) came from. It’s just straight out, balls-to-the-wall RAWK. Let’s dive in:

  1. Undaunted
    The album opener, and for good reason, too – the main riff is brutal, the chorus is catchy as hell, and the guitar solo in the middle is an amazing example of Mike Orlando’s technical mastery of the instrument, and possibly the highlight of the entire album for me. (Stick with me – the face-blasting awesomeness doesn’t quite end there.)
  2. Psychosane
    Actually quite a bit of a drop in quality compared to the last track – in fact this is probably my second-least favorite on the album. The title is not the best portmanteau I’ve ever heard. The lyrics are a bit silly and clichéd. The guitar riffs are comparatively forgettable. The bridge to the chorus is pretty cool, though, with Russell’s harmonies staying fast and firm.
  3. Indifferent
    My third favorite on the album. I know just from the opening guitar riff, as simple as it is, that I’m going to love this one. Allen’s soaring layered vocals really do this one justice and Orlando’s solo is probably the second-best on the whole album (behind Undaunted’s).
  4. All on the Line
    This one has to be my favorite track on the album, yet it’s so different from all the rest. Russell Allen’s voice really, really shines on this one. Lyrically, it isn’t anything terribly new, but it’s delivered with such style and substance that I’m willing to forgive that. Stylistically, it’s a far cry from the preceding three tracks, starting out with some very nice mellow acoustic arpeggios, and it’s a bit slower. A very nice “breather” track, which is just as well, because…
  5. Hit the Wall
    At six minutes, this is the longest song on the album, and perhaps the fastest, tempo-wise. Overall, this one isn’t bad. Heavy as shiz, and the solo in the middle is just plain ludicrous. The latter section of this song is taken up with a heavy breakdown, with Allen screaming over a destructive guitar riff, almost to the point where he seems to be subjecting himself to physical torment. A really good effort from the entire band, nonetheless.
  6. Feelin’ Me
    This one almost seems to segue in from the Hit the Wall (although not quite, due to the fade-out at the end of it). This is without doubt the most aggressive song that the album has to offer, with the highest cuss count of any of the tracks so far. S-bombs and F-bombs are tossed about by Allen as he bellows some fairly melodramatic anti-government sentiments, and Mike Portnoy pounds away on the snare as if to literally hammer the points into my ears. The guitar has a really nice groove to it, though, resembling Stone Temple Pilots, and the solo is pretty crazy.
  7. Come Undone
    This is a cover of a Duran Duran song. It’s a blistering remake of the original featuring Lzzy Hale on the female vocals. Russell sings at the lowest I think I’ve ever heard him, while Lzzy takes up the soprano-screamy end of the vocals. Orlando does a great job at keeping the guitar work interesting while staying faithful to the chord structure of the original. It does seem to go on a bit towards the end, though – I get the feeling that the song should start fading out a full minute before it actually ends, although the way the track actually finishes is pretty cool regardless.
  8. Believe Me
    My second favorite on the album. It’s got exactly the right blend of thrashy riffs, powerful shreds and melodic vocals from Russell Allen. His performance isn’t quite as impressive as the beautifully harmonic “All on the Line”, but he doesn’t sound as though he’s straining himself quite as much here.
  9. Down to the Floor
    The Black Sabbath-est track on the album. There are some interesting key changes between the chorus and the verses, but apart from that this is a fairly standard affair. Features a very powerful melodic solo by Orlando. Allen belts out the lyrics fast and furious, which makes sense, given that it seems to be a song all about racing.
  10. Angel Sky
    A waltzy, power-ballady song which features plenty of screaming layered riffs from Mike Orlando. Resembles some of Symphony X’s more melodic numbers (like “When All is Lost”), but obviously not as progressive or complex. It’s definitely heavy – in fact it’s more like a barrage of notes. You almost get the feeling that you’re hearing every single part of the scale at once as you listen to it.
  11. Freight Train
    In my opinion, an odd way to close the album. It’s the fourth-shortest song on the album at just over 4 minutes in length, and seems to be about Russell Allen declaring how he is a train and he’s going really fast. The chorus seems kinda hacked together, with Allen actually struggling over the syllables in places, and barely pausing for breath. I kinda wonder whether this was added onto the album as some kind of in-joke. That’s why this is actually my least favorite track on the album.

In summary, it’s sort of what I expected. It’s definitely not Symphony X. It’s definitely not Dream Theater. It’s just pure hard rock. In some places it’s downright silly. But nonetheless, I hope the Mob continue with this sort of stuff if they choose to write another album – overall it’s very enjoyable and great for when one just needs to crank up the volume and headbang mindlessly.

Overall Rating: 3.8/5

I maintain my opinion that the “professional” reviewers whining about how generic the album is, and how they were expecting some kind of two-disc, seventy-five-minute progressive metal opera with a bazillion meter changes, are still just whining about the fact that their ham-and-cheese isn’t triangular enough. It would be nice to see a reviewer for a change that doesn’t hold an obvious bitter grudge against the whole genre of the thing he’s reviewing and choose to just rate something badly for the sake of it. How is anyone meant to make a judgement for themselves if the whole critique is rooted in self-centered partiality?

Important: Phenomer.net = Phenomer dot dead

It would seem that Phenomer.net, the filespace I used to upload all of my stuff, has gone down permanently – meaning my overbloated file repository, which has, for a number of years, been painstakingly provided and maintained by the brilliant Wartorn, has moved. He did a great job with the move and now all that remains is for me to set everything straight on my end.

Please bear with me for a short while – at most a couple of days – while I do this. A number of URLs on the site and my various other websites like YouTube and various forums will be dead links, so I need to point them all to the new address. For this reason, the MIDI page is no longer accessible.

Sorry for any inconvenience. 🙁

…Huge thanks to Wartorn for keeping my stuff backed up far more efficiently than I did. 😛