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WARNING: This contains SPOILERS from all five books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as all three of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. If you wish to avoid these spoilers, DO NOT scroll down.

All featured artwork belongs to The Mico.

Simon Toyne
Simon Toyne
Origin: The Stormlands.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 281 AL. Killed in single combat by Barristan Selmy.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Smiling Knight

Origin: Unknown.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 281 AL. Killed in single combat by Arthur Dayne.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Oswyn
Oswyn Longneck
Origin: The Crownlands.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Oswyn Longneck the Thrice-Hanged.
Status: Unknown.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: Unknown.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Wenda
Wenda the White Fawn
Origin: Unknown.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Wenda the White Fawn.
Status: Unknown.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: Unknown.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Ben
Big Belly Ben
Origin: Unknown.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Big Belly Ben.
Status: Unknown.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: Unknown.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Dick
Fletcher Dick
Origin: Unknown.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Fletcher Dick.
Status: Unknown.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: Unknown.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

WARNING: This contains SPOILERS from all five books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as all three of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. If you wish to avoid these spoilers, DO NOT scroll down.

All featured artwork belongs to The Mico.

Tanda Stokeworth
Tanda Stokeworth
Origin: The Crownlands.
Title(s): Lady of Stokeworth.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 300 AL. Succumbed to a chill brought on by a broken hip.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Falyse Stokeworth, Lollys Stokeworth.
Appears: A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords.
Mentioned: A Game of Thrones, A Feast for Crows.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Falyse Stokeworth
Falyse Stokeworth
Origin: Stokeworth.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 300 AL. Tortured and experimented upon by Qyburn in the Black Cells in King's Landing.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Tanda Stokeworth.
Siblings: Lollys Stokeworth.
Spouse(s): Balman Byrch.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Clash of Kings, A Feast for Crows.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords, A Dance with Dragons.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Bronn
Bronn
Origin: Unknown.
Title(s): Ser, Lord Protector of Stokeworth.
Alias(es): Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Lord Stokeworth.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Lollys Stokeworth.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords.
Mentioned: A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons.
Portrayed by: Jerome Flynn.
Season(s): 1, 2, 3, 4.

WARNING: This contains SPOILERS from all five books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as all three of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. If you wish to avoid these spoilers, DO NOT scroll down.

All featured artwork belongs to The Mico.

Guyard Morrigen
Guyard Morrigen
Origin: Crow's Nest.
Title(s): Ser.
Alias(es): Guyard the Green.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 299 AL. Killed by Garlan Tyrell in the Battle of the Blackwater.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Lester Morrigen, Richard Morrigen.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Clash of Kings.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: Unidentified extra.
Season(s): 2.

Parmen Crane
Parmen Crane
Origin: Red Lake.
Title(s): Ser.
Alias(es): Parmen the Purple.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Clash of Kings.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: Unidentified extra.
Season(s): 2.

Bryce Caron
Bryce Caron
Origin: Nightsong.
Title(s): Lord of Nightsong, Lord of the Marches, Ser.
Alias(es): Bryce the Orange.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 299 AL. Killed by Philip Foote in the Battle of the Blackwater.
Father: Bryen Caron.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Rolland Storm.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: Unidentified extra.
Season(s): 2.

Emmon Cuy
Emmon Cuy
Origin: Sunflower Hall.
Title(s): Ser.
Alias(es): Emmon the Yellow.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 299 AL. Killed by Loras Tyrell near Storm's End for his failure to protect Renly Baratheon.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Clash of Kings.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords.
Portrayed by: Unidentified extra.
Season(s): 2.

WARNING: This contains SPOILERS from all five books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as all three of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. If you wish to avoid these spoilers, DO NOT scroll down.

All featured artwork belongs to The Mico.

Goghor
Goghor the Giant
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Goghor the Giant.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Barsena
Barsena Blackhair
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Barsena Blackhair.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: 270 AL.
Death: 300 AL. Killed by a boar in a fighting pit in Meereen.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Khrazz
Khrazz
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 300 AL. Killed by Barristan Selmy in Meereen while protecting Hizdahr zo Loraq.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Camarron
Camarron of the Count
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Camarron of the Count.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 300 AL. Killed in a fighting pit in Meereen.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Spotted Cat
Spotted Cat
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Ithoke
Fearless Ithoke
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Fearless Ithoke.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Belaquo
Belaquo Bonebreaker
Origin: Meereen.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): Belaquo Bonebreaker.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): Unknown.
Child(ren): Unknown.
Appears: A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: N/A.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Review: Korn - The Paradigm Shift



Label: Prospect Park Records, Caroline Records, Universal Music Group.

Producer: Don Gilmore.

Nu metal legends Korn are back with their eleventh album, their first with original guitarist Brian "Head" Welch in eight years.

Kicking right into high gear with a furious riff, Prey For Me opens the album in thrilling fashion. The lyrics give us the point of view of a broken person who takes their pain and frustrations out on a loved one. Singer Jonathan Davis brings these emotions to the forefront, his voice embodying anger, sadness and remorse.

Single Love & Meth takes things more slowly. Welch's more melodic guitar parts contrast well with James "Munky" Shaffer's heavier riff, and works to haunting effect with Davis' restrained vocals. Davis bursts forth with his sense of rage and loss on the chorus in an exhilarating release of emotion. It's an excellent soundtrack to the life of a drug addict.

What We Do is a fast-paced track that tells the story of a group of people living a reckless and dangerous life. The highlight of this song is the slow-building chorus that comes to a head as it reaches the verse. Davis proves his voice to be more compelling on the softer, melodoc parts than on the more aggressive ones.

Opening with distorted vocals and guitar, Spike In My Veins allows Ray Luzier's drumming and Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu's bassline to take centre stage. The song is given an electronic edge as Dubstep trio Noisia collaborate with the band to create a crushing wall of noise.

The unnerving riff, rumbling bassline and hard-hitting drums of Mass Hysteria give gravitas to the otherworldly, science fiction vocals. Davis' vocal delivery stays in the heavy territory, which works well with the song's unrelenting nature.


Korn (left to right): James "Munky" Shaffer, Reginald "Fieldy" Arviza, Jonathan Davis, Brian "Head" Welch and Ray Luzier.

Paranoid and Aroused is exactly what it says on the tin. Davis brings to life the suspense of the narrator's state-of-mind through whimpers and as danger seems to close in. The ghostly riff and shattering drums enhance the unsettling nature of the song.

The album's other single, Never Never, deals with the loss of faith in love having lost it too many times. The song is the album's most radio friendly, with a middle part featuring dubste and Freak On A Leash-esque rapping. While not a bad song, it's certainly the least interesting of the album's tracks.

Punishment Time's choppy riff leads into vocals that confront one's impending fate as death closes in. Davis goes for a softer and more vulnerable vocal style on the verses which builds up to the more expressive and emotional delivery of the chorus.

The album's only acoustic song Lullaby For A Sadist provides a nice change of pace and the most interesting offering this album has. The lyrics are very imaginative, telling the story of a childlike game that comes to a gruesome end. The scariest part of it is the macabre nursery rhyme featured in the verses.

Electronica once again proves dominant on the fast-paced Victimized. The eerie keyboards, exotic drumming, rage-induced vocals and unnerving hum of the dubstep come together to create an emotionally draining song that is strangely uplifting despite the gritty subject matter.

The band save the heaviest song for last with It's All Wrong. Davis' subtle, phantom-like vocals clash with the chainsaw-like guitar riff as he laments the sad state that he lives in. It ends the album in suitable angry fashion.

Eleven albums in Korn have lost none of their venom, and are just as fierce and relevant as ever.

5/5


Review: Marilyn Manson - Born Villain



Label: Cooking Vinyl, Hell, etc.

Producer: Marilyn Manson, Chris Vrenna.

Since it's Halloween, I decided to review the latest album by one of the biggest figures in shock rock, Marilyn Manson.

Beginning with a slow, choppy riff and soft vocals, Hey, Cruel World steps up with Manson's agressive screams and edgy industrial guitar and bass. The distorted instrumentation goes hand in hand with the pessimistic lyrics to provide a fierce and relevant album opener.

With it's old-school punk riff, No Reflection has a dark and moody vibe to it. While the throbbing bassline gives the song tension, the gibberish Manson mutters on the chorus does not sit well at all. However, the song explores the interesting concept of living an empty and meaningless life.

From here the album travels into the strange mechanical noises that kick off Pistol Whipped. This has a surprisingly funky melody, but unfortunately this is not a good thing. Giving a first-hand view of an abusive relationship, the overall result is just creepy.

Manson starts Overneath the Path of Misery by quoting a passage by William Shakespeare, before the hard-edged guitar riff and distorted drums kick in. The verses are a slow build-up, with the energy coming out in full force when they chorus is reached. The high notes that Manson reaches here are a particular highlight, reflecting the misery and emptiness at the centre of the song.

Edgy instrumentation kicks off Slo-Mo-Tion, a slow-paced song with Manson describing a very macabre spectacle. Unfortunately, the song is quite monotonous and as it continues it becomes more and more tedious.

The Gardener sounds like a poem set to music, with very little guitar and Manson's voice receiving far more far more prominence than on the other songs. It begins to sound more like a song on the chorus, with the instruments moulding in with his voice. There's some interesting guitar work from Twiggy Ramirez, sounding more like turntables. It's an interesting change of pace, one that the album needed.

Starting with lots of distortion, The Flowers of Evil is one of the album's more energetic songs. It is once again dominated by the bass, with some psychedelic guitar work thrown in for good measure. Told from the perspective of someone hunted for supernatural activities, the urgency in the music compliments the music very well.



Children of Cain is a very sombre and angsty song. With the backbone of the song provided by a dark and depressing industrial beat, the song explores the dark and gruesome aspects of religion. The crushing sadness in Manson's voice embodies the song's morose nature very well.

Though it gets off to a bad start with some odd breathing noises that feel out of place, Disengaged has Manson once again releasing his trademark venomous snarl. It's this kind of anger that makes him a relevant voice that needs to be heard, but unfortunately it is seldom heard on this release.

Things continue to look up on Lay Down Your Goddamn Arms. It's doom-laden riff fits very well with Manson's lyrics which tap into basic human nature, such as "Wanna fight? Wanna fuck? Wanna die? Try your luck!" The angry undertones and out-there guitar work makes this feel more like the Manson of old, a welcome return to form.

This continues on Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day, a fast-paced song full of rage and pissed-off aggression. Manson screams and growls as he gives a fierce and unapologetic warning that looks can be very deceiving. This is one of the album's highlights, complete with an impressive speed metal solo and a disturbing voiceover to finish the track.

There are more surprises on Born Villain, with it's acoustic guitar melody and melancholy keyboards providing some welcome diversity. Though the lyrics are uninspired, Manson's delivery is suitably unnerving and Ramirez's bombastic guitar playing is a force to be reckoned with.

Beginning with a bittersweet xylophone part and an eerie choir, Breaking the Same Old Ground is one of the more subtle performances on this release. A ballad reminiscent of David Bowie, it's slow melody is a fitting companion to the concept of living a boring and repetitive life. The supressed anguish finally bursts forth in the final verse, bringing the song to an operatic conclusion.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp turns up on guitar and drums for the album closer, a cover of Carly Simon's You're So Vain. Manson does the smart thing by distancing this from the original and making it his own, adding his own metal edge to it, while Depp performs an excellent guitar solo during the final chorus.

Manson handles the aggressive and moody songs equally well, though some of them lack the energy needed for them

3/5



Review: Ghost - Infestissumam



Label: Sonet Records, Loma Vista Recordings.

Producer: Nick Raskulinescz.

One of the most talked about metal bands of today, the notoriously anonymous Ghost make their major label debut.

The album kicks off with it's title track. Infestissumam begins with a choir that would not sound out of place in a church, before metal side of things kick in. With an uplifting guitar solo, it's an interesting and energy-inducing way to start this album.

Things take a different tone on Per Aspera Ad Inferni with a doomy thrash metal riff. The eerie keyboard melody and military-esque drums are a suitable accompaniment to the dark lyric about the punishment of sins. The unnerving and beautiful voice of Papa Emeritus II adds a unique and powerful tone to the band's overall sound.

With it's almost circus-like keyboard melody, Secular Haze is creepy in new ways. The speedy drumming and moody riff and crushing bassline compliment Emeritus' atmospheric voice as he delivers a condemning message. The lyrics embrace the downfall of religion in society and to hear Emeritus whisper the title is quite terrifying.

The old-school riff of Jigolo Har Megiddo provides some variety as Ghost show a more laid back side. This creates an interesting contrast as the lyrics are told from the point of view of a man who preys on weak women. The slow-paced guitar solo and organ-like keyboard melody are an appropriate way the embody the odd feeling of empathy for a predator.

Ghuleh/Zombie Queen is an piano ballad about an undead women. The distorted vocals and toned-down guitar are a good fit for this bizarre love song. The melody is slow and oddly uplifting, which feels very strange until the halfway point when the song kicks into high gear and becomes much heavier.


Ghost: Papa Emeritus II (centre) and the Nameless Ghouls.

Starting with a choir glorifying the Devil, Year Zero soon has the guitars kicking in before Emeritus joins in to pay tribute to Satan. The melody is a contradiction itself, both uplifting and chilling at the same time. But it balances metal and classical music flawlessly, and makes for a very powerful end result.

Body and Blood begins with some unexpected harp-plucking carrying over into a upbeat ballad with compelling lyrics. The song explores the irony of communion, where one is consuming cannibalism by consuming the body and blood of Christ. There is an edgy and interesting guitar solo towards the end, while the softer melody gives Emeritus a chance to show his more melodic side.

Idolatrine deals with the corruption and hypocracy of the church, preaching peace while inflicting pain and abuse upon others. The slow building up of the guitar solo fits well with the faster drumming. Emeritus is truly unsettling as he sings about the suffering of children in a higher and softer tone.

Depth of Satan's Eyes is a slow-paced song that has the chorus burst forth after the gradual build-up of the verse. The song talks about finding no answers in Christianity, and turning to Satanism to seek a purpose. The thumping bas, pounding drums, soulful keyboards and gritty guitar riff bring to life the hopelessness of the song's lyrics, while a choir brings it to a stirring conclusion.

Final song Monstrance Clock begins with Emeritus singing in a creepy voice before a dark and moody guitar riff. The song describes people coming together to perform a ritual sacrifice. The ghostly guitar and keyboard songs add a new level of unease as the monotonous drums and organ piece give the listener the feeling that they really are witnessing the birth of the antichrist. The choir brings the album to an appropriately disturbing end.

With an excellent balance of heavy and melodic and thought-provoking songs, Ghost are a very promising band and one of the most exciting things about modern metal.

5/5




WARNING: This contains SPOILERS from all five books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, as well as all three of the Tales of Dunk and Egg novellas. If you wish to avoid these spoilers, DO NOT scroll down.

All featured artwork belongs to The Mico.

Galbart Glover
Galbart Glover
Origin: Deepwood Motte.
Title(s): Master of Deepwood Motte.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Robett Glover.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: A Game of Thrones, A Storm of Swords.
Mentioned: A Clash of Kings, A Dance with Dragons.
Portrayed by: Mark Coney.
Season(s): 1.

Robbet Glover
Robbet Glover
Origin: Deepwood Motte.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Alive.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: N/A.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Galbart Glover.
Spouse(s): Sybelle Locke.
Child(ren): Gawen Glover, Erena Glover.
Appears: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Dance with Dragons.
Mentioned: A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Ethan Glover
Ethan Glover
Origin: Deepwood Motte.
Title(s): N/A.
Alias(es): N/A.
Status: Deceased.
Birth: Unknown.
Death: 283 AL. Killed fighting the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy.
Father: Unknown.
Mother: Unknown.
Siblings: Unknown.
Spouse(s): N/A.
Child(ren): N/A.
Appears: N/A.
Mentioned: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings.
Portrayed by: N/A.
Season(s): N/A.

Review: Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt



Label: Monkeywrench Records, Republic Records.

Producer: Brendan O'Brien.

Grunge's longest-lasting band return with their tenth album.

Opening track Getaway is full of energy, with lyrics about taking a different direction in life. Jeff Ament's bassline gives the song an infectious rhythm, while Eddie Vedder's voice is equal parts soulful and aggressive.

The choppy riff of single Mind Your Manners is accompanied by Vedder's speedy vocals. More urgent than the previous song, it's the soundtrack to the unpredictable rat race of life. Vedder's voice is as powerful as ever, reaching straining heights effortlessly.

The thumping bass dominates the melody of My Father's Son, with the subtle guitar playing of Stone Gossard and Mike McCready giving it an exotic feeling. Fast-paced for the most-part, it reaches a high point towards the end with a slow, melodic section with Vedder's softer singing style and a moving keyboard piece from Boom Gaspar.

Up next is the ballad Sirens, the album's second single. The slower pace of this one is a nice break from what has come so far. Vedder's baritone is the ideal voice for this love song about a life-changing person, with the gradually building guitar solo and piano melody adding an extra layer of depth.

The title track starts off slow, building up to the riff which bursts forth energetically. Lightning Bolt tones down the instruments to put more focus on Vedder's voice as he tells the tale of an unforgettable woman. Overall, it's a solid good-time song that is bound to get crowds moving.

The funk-influenced Infallible moves along very slowly. It has nothing that stands out in terms of instrumentation, but it's chorus is uplifting and proves to be something of a saving grace for this song.


Pearl Jam (left to right): Stone Gossard, Matt Cameron, Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready and Boom Gaspar.

Pendulum begins with an unsettling keyboard part that is soon accompanied by the mournful tone of Vedder and Matt Cameron's appropriately subtle drumming. An Eastern-sounding guitar melody is added to the mix towards the end. The song's lyrics are sombre and depressing, but shows that Pearl Jam have some versatility.

The speedy acoustic guitars and hopeful lyrics make Swallowed Whole a very uplifting song. Vedder sings about the small, enjoyable things in life, and the upbeat guitar solo adds to the positive feeling of the track. It really puts a smile on the listener's face.

Ruled by a cool slide guitar part, Let The Records Play has an old-school blues feeling to it. This fits the overall meaning of the song well, with the narrator turning to music to escape from the hardships of life. The fast and bluesy solo elevates the feeling of getting lost in the music and is a great outlet for freeing oneself from negative feelings.

Sleeping By Myself is a ballad that deals with the pain caused by adultery. It sounds more like a bluegrass song than something the usual Pearl Jam fare, with a mandolin being the central instrument. Vedder gives one of his more subtle performances on the album, fitting for the crushing hollowness that the narrator embodies.

Slow and melodic, Yellow Moon is another ballad that moves slowly and keeps things subtle. Vedder's slight mumble is a nice touch as he sings about the peace of the night. He is complimented by the more simple guitar parts and slow-paced solo.

Accompanied by only an acoustic guitar, a piano and a violin, Vedder gives a truly moving performance on Future Days. The songs is a hopeful ballad where he looks forward to what awaits for himself and his loved one. He is confident that despite the challenges they will face, they will come through them together.

After 23 years together, Pearl Jam have lost none of the qualities that make them absolutely outstanding. The still deliver on all fronts, and if this is any indication they will continue to do so.

5/5


Review: Alter Bridge - Fortress



Label: Roadrunner Records, EMI.

Producer: Michael "Elvis" Baskette.

One of rock's great success stories of the last decade, Alter Bridge return with their fourth album.

Kicking off with some fast-paced acoustic playing by Mark Tremonti, Cry Of Achilles quickly becomes a full-on rock rampage. Myles Kennedy's incredible vocal range perfectly embodies the song's lyrics, in which the focus struggles to stay hopeful and keep going after suffering much hardship. Brian Marshall's thunderous bassline and Tremonti's impeccable solo help bring to life the conflict at the centre of the song.

Lead single Addicted To Pain tells the tale of someone deliberately continuing an abusive relationship without realising it. Kennedy really aims for the high notes here as he brings to light the pain and anger that is the focus of this song. The gritty riff from Tremonti and Scott Phillips' assault of drumming bring forth the crushing truth of the song's lyrics.

The heavier Bleed It Dry is a doomsday anthem with lyrics about oceans rising, summits falling and burning skies. Kennedy drags out the vocals on this one, embodying the difficulty of the situation, while the speedy instrumentation brings the destruction to life. There is a nice change of pace towards the end; a slow, melodic section that reflects on the damage done.

Next we get a ballad in the form of Lover. Kennedy's soft whisper is complimented by Tremonti's acoustic playing, before the rhythm section adds a new level of depth to the song. The lyrics are about an abusive relationship, with the abusive party denying their guilt. In a heavier section towards the end, Kennedy screams as he points the finger of blame. The band unleashes it's full force as the guilty party takes their own life.

Beginning with ghostly keyboard noises, The Uninvited then enters heavier territory with a chainsaw riff from Tremonti. Kennedy acts as judge, jury and executioner as a murderer is punished for his crimes. His distorted vocals, the eerie keyboards and the full-on metal assault all come together for a truly unsettling result.

The choppy guitar riff of Peace Is Broken is a cool reminder of the war and fighting that embodies the song. Kennedy takes on an appropriately mournful tone as he discusses the tragic reality of a troubled and abused person bringing an end to peace, combined with Tremonti's solo to make the heart bleed.


Alter Bridge (left to right): Myles Kennedy, Brian Marshall, Scott Phillips and Mark Tremonti.

Ballad Calm The Fire has Kennedy singing higher notes than usual, but in a much more subtle fashion. It flows well with Tremonti's subdued playing, before the song kicks into high gear. The song tells the story of some hated individuals struggling to control the monster they have created, hoping that love will help them find their place in the world before it's too late.

Tremonti takes over lead vocal duties on Waters Rising, a story of rebellion where commoners rise up to overthrow a group of tyrants. Tremonti's deeper tone fits well with Kennedy's higher-pitched vocals. The latter joins the former for a duet for the song's climax, an explosion of chaos after a tense build-up.

Farther Than The Sun turns out to the album's heaviest track, with a crushing metal riff that embodies the loneliness of an outcast trying to find a place in the world. The uplifting and hopeful chorus is an interesting contrast with the dark and moody nature of the verses, and Tremonti showcases his skills on the speed metal solo towards the end.

The headbanger Cry A River is a track that instills energy in the listener. Phillips' drumming brings the life the determination of the narrator to abandon a bad relationship, with Kennedy's atmospheric vocals giving gravitas the the song's weighty subject matter.

Soft and heartfelt ballad ALL Ends Well provides a nice escape from the gritty and intense nature of the other songs. It's a hopeful and uplifting love song that does not feel out of place despite being out of place with their usual songs. Kennedy's soulful singing brings out the emotion behind the lyrics and makes the song stay with the listener.

The album ends with the lengthy powerhouse that is Fortress. The lyrics document a life falling apart, taking us back into familiar Alter Bridge territory. The doom-laden riff, roaring bass and shattering drums put the listener firmly inside the narrator's head, as the crushing inevitability of destruction looms over them.

Continuing their streak of excellence, Alter Bridge show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

5/5

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1991necromancer
Kevin Anthony Carney
Kevin Carney

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