Well, not so much “stuff I learned” as “things I did/thought.” Basically, 2015 was a pretty awesome year for me overall. It did have some lows, granted, but that’s just life, really. To round off the blog posts for 2015, I figured I’d type up some of the experiences I’ve had this year, because… well, why not?
The bad stuff
Let’s get the negativity out the window now, so we can end this year’s round-up on a high note!
Some TV shows have become pretty rubbish
This viewpoint seems to be a very controversial one, as I’ve taken it to Facebook, and have been pummeled with friends arguing against me. Alas, this is my blog, so I feel like I’m allowed to make this statement. I’m a fan of Doctor Who, and think it’s a great show… but this latest season, for the most part, has been a bore-fest. It’s all felt very low-budget, and not a lot has really gone on, although the main issue lies in Moffat’s writing. Lately, I feel everything has become too obvious and predictable. Granted, Capaldi has been given some epic speeches, but a show should be about more than dialogue alone. Not only that, but it’s been infuriating to see such brilliant concepts being implemented, and not fully realised. “Under the Lake”/”Before the Flood” and “Heaven Sent” are good examples of this. All that’s needed for context is his earlier episodes, specifically “Blink” and “The Empty Child”, then there’s a noticeable dip in quality here. Don’t get me wrong, “The Witch’s Familiar” and finale “Hell Bent” were both brilliant episodes, but two brilliant episodes in a twelve episode series isn’t a good track-record. The later of those two has the elements that have been missing all season; true character development, and emotional impact. It’s a shame those were sidelined for running down corridors, away from the occasional naff monster. I really hope the quality improves next season, otherwise the show might just lose another viewer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to put up a flame shield, I sense angry fans approaching.
Bands can fall from grace
I may have praised Muse for their latest album, “Drones”, in my “Top 10 albums of 2015”, but they’re really not in my good books right now. They went from appeasing the fans with an awesome club tour filled with rarities and surprises, releasing an amazing album, and converting a bunch of biased Metalheads at Download Festival with a stunning performance, to screwing up massively. How so? How about overcharging UK fans for the world tour, at £70-85 per ticket, when other countries are being charged a fraction of that? Yes, I know tickets are usually dictated by promoters, but it still shows a lack of respect towards the fan base. How about making the video for “Revolt” Apple Music exclusive, when doing so contradicts the message of the album? Also, top it off with the fact that there’s technical issues with the tour, to the point where they’ve had to reschedule some US dates to next year. The setlists are mediocre too, with the same boring setlists being repeated, a lack of rotation, and with the entire set totalling at a mere 21 tracks. What makes the latter worse is, 4 tracks are instrumental interludes. The show is a massive, bombastic production, which completely contradicts their statements of “stripping back”,plus Matt Bellamy has dropped playing guitar on a few tracks, which is awkward and just feels wrong. All these recent actions have made them go from heroes, to complete hypocrites. Things certainly aren’t promising right now. Personally, I’m just done with this band for this album cycle. What’s worse is, they’re my second favourite band of all-time, so it genuinely hurts to see them fall like this. Hopefully they’ll get their act together in time for their next album.
The Good stuff
Hurrah for good things!
Festivals abroad are AWESOME!!!
This year, I managed to go to my first ever festival abroad, and that was Amphi Festival in Cologne, Germany. For those of you that don’t know, Amphi is a Goth/Alternative festival, that has acts spanning across multiple genres. As the title suggests, I had an awesome time! Granted, a storm warning on the first day resulted in the outdoor areas being closed completely, resulting in a lot of acts not being able to perform, but it was still a blast. When all was clear on day two, and everything was open, it all really came together, which made it even more of a fantastic party! The atmosphere, the people, it was spectacular. Plus the prices were so much better, and there was so much more value than festivals in the UK. As a contrast, we pay around £200 for a weekend, whereas Amphi was a fraction of the price at around 70 euros/£50. An absolute bargain if you ask me! Definitely worth every single penny. In fact, considering how good Amphi was, it almost felt criminal. Granted, with flights, hotel, etc, it ends up being around the same as a UK festival, but you’re abroad, which is a huge bonus! Plus those Germans sure know how to party. Speaking of which…
Going abroad is AWESOME!!!
Traveling to Germany for Amphi also marked the first time I’d been abroad for over a decade. Needless to say, I was not disappointed at all! Initially, the idea of flying made me nervous (and with the crazy stuff going on in the world, that’s really not surprising), but once in the air, it was extremely relaxing, to the point where I almost fell asleep on both trips. Upon getting there, in my usual wisdom in lack of direction, I got lost on the way to the hotel in Cologne, so had to requisition the help of the locals. I was truly surprised how friendly they were. It was nice to explore Germany and it’s culture, sometimes it felt so quaint, at others it was epic, such as the Cathedral. I could get lost in there for hours. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience it long enough, as I was far too busy partying at the festival. However, I’ve caught the travelling bug now, so I’m definitely going to go back there! I already have so many trips planned. I’m not sure my poor wallet can take it.
Videogame expos are big
I attended EGX (Eurogamer Expo) with a couple of friends this year. For those of you that don’t know, this is a show where gamers get to play the latest games before they release, as well as there being various gaming related events and panels. For those of you that read my “Top games I’m looking forward to in 2016” article, you’ll remember me referencing it. This was our first EGX, and we decided to only go for the Saturday and Sunday, rather than the full four days, thinking that it would be enough. Wrong. The queues were massive, and it was all rather hectic. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great time, and checked out most the games we wanted to, but spending 3 hours queuing for a 10 minute demo of a game is a bit of an eye-opener. It does feel like a bit much. In comparison, Halo 5’s queue was 5 hours long on the Saturday, which sounds inconceivable to me! This hasn’t put me off going in the future, the temptation to play awesome new games is just too great. Methinks I shall be getting a 4 day ticket for next year. Oh, and there will be lots more planning, definitely a lot more planning…
VR is really really cool!
Speaking of EGX, I managed to try out Sony’s new virtual reality headset, Playstation VR, whilst at the show. My verdict? Absolutely awesome! It felt realistic, immersive, and it was much much fun! If you want more info, there’s more on it in my previous blog post.
I’ve missed some good TV shows!
I admit, I’m a bit (i.e. VERY) behind when it comes to watching TV shows and movies, I normally focus on music and videogames. However, a friend convinced me to watch a little show by the name of Supernatural. I’d seen it briefly before, but never truly had a chance to get into it. I took the plunge, and started the first season… then a couple of months later I’d finished watching every single episode, including being completely caught up with the latest season, season 11. I literally blasted through it like I had a Hell Hound on my tail! Honestly, I’m hooked on this show now, it’s absolutely brilliant! The characters are superbly crafted and believable, plus it has a unique, and rather interesting spin on occult and angelic lore. The original intended story-arc of seasons 1-5 are superbly told, and flow into each other seamlessly, whilst seasons 6 onwards tell new, and interesting plots. Admittedly, there a few of the later seasons that are duds, but for the most part it’s pretty high quality. It’s made me laugh, made me cry, and has had some genuine shocking twists. It’s currently in its mid-season break, which is painful to wait through (even though I question some of the plot choices made.) I’m eager to see how the story of Dean, Sam and Cas (whenever he turns up again) develops. To put it all in perspective; this show for me personally, is on par with the greatness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Considering I class that as my favourite show of all-time, I couldn’t possibly give Supernatural any higher praise. Now, I’m in the mood for some pie.
In addition to this, I’ve also very recently started watching The Man in The High Castle. This is a brilliant adaptation of the book by Philip K. Dick (or at least I’m told, as I don’t read much.) At the time of writing, I’m only a couple of episodes in, but I already love it’s dark, gritty alternate history world, where the Nazis won World War II and America is now split between Japan and German rule. I’m a sucker for alternate histories, and this one is portrayed brilliantly, with enough mystery, intrigue and cloak and dagger to keep anyone hooked.
Also, I’m catching up with Sherlock, which I’m sure needs no introduction. The fact it’s got so few episodes per season, and that each one is movie-length in running time, ensures that the quality is always high, and that each episode is epic. Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is the best one I’ve seen to date, and he truly captures the genius and eccentric nature of the character, whilst Martin Freeman does a superb job of being Holmes’ complete opposite, and “business” partner, John Watson. Their chemistry is flawless. The fact this has been set in modern London, as opposed to the original setting of the Victorian-era (with the exception of the upcoming one-off New Year special), is a bold move that contextualises it for a modern audience, and is executed beautifully. Now just give us season 4 BBC, our diplomatic relations with China depends on it, damn it!
The EBM/Industrial scene is, in fact, not dead
Some people keep arguing “the scene is dead”, and that there’s no hope for it, not that I’ll be naming anyone… *COUGHMarcoViscontiCOUGH.* Whilst I can’t really speak on that from a corporate/label/industry perspective, from what I’ve seen this year, it’s stronger than ever, if anything! All I had to do, was look around at the number of those attending Resistanz and Infest festivals, and I can tell you, they were pretty damn packed. Although, those were small venues. However, at Amphi Festival in Germany, the country that is arguably the beating heart of the scene, there was an entire arena, absolutely packed-out. Also, Beat:Cancer, a charity music event that’s run by (the legendary) Mark Haigh, in aid of Cancer Research, has a heavy emphasis on EBM/Industrial bands in the lineup. This year, it had their most successful campaign, with it expanding to a Halloween party (in Peterborough), and two tour dates (in Manchester and London respectively.) Top it all off with the fact it altogether raised a total of over £4300, and there’s your feel good story of the day right there. The fact is, those who believe the scene is “dead” are looking at it from the wrong perspective. Instead of the scene meeting its demise, I think it’s becoming more of underground thing. Sure, it isn’t the same as it used to be, and it has declined a little bit, but then music needs to evolve to survive, and the fact events can still pack out venues, shows that there are no signs of it losing momentum.
Aaaaand, that’s it for 2015! As we reach the final days of the year, I want to thank you all for reading, and keeping up to date with this blog. I hope you lot had a good year too! If not, don’t let it get to you. Honestly, life is hard, and unfair at the best of times (believe me, I know all to well.) However, if things are down, the only way for you now can surely be up! As for things at Epitome of Epic, I promise I’ll try my best to not leave such a big gap in my schedule this time round, and do my best to update more regularly. Happy New Year, and all the best for 2016 everyone! 🙂