Volkerball: The People's Ball

Rammstein are known for their frequent pyrotechnic use.Image via Wikipedia
Fans of Rammstein rejoice. Not only has the German band’s Volkerball been released on DVD, it is also out as a double-live album CD. Cover your ears and walk away if you’re put off by very loud music, namely large crunchy riffs and even louder drums. Mix that with almost ghoulish sounding percussion, a dash of electronica and German lyrics (delivered by Till Lindemann, a very loud and very German lead singer), and that’s Rammstein — what do you expect from a band whose name literately means “battering stone”?

Volkerball is the closest Rammstein will ever come to a greatest hits album, simply because this band plays some of its best music live, and what better way to collect your greatest hits than on a live album? Tracks have been collected from their first album, Herzeleid all the way to Rosenrot, and each of them have been given the Rammstein live treatment.

Genre-wise Rammstein are essentially a hard rock/industrial band, but what very few people know is that they’re foremost a live band. They are at their best live, where they even change some of the song harmonics, giving the tunes fresh sounds. This remarkable live sound, first heard on 1999’s Live Aus Berlin, has been repackaged, this time with tracks most notably from the Mutter album. Songs like Sonne, Links 2 3 4, Feuer Frei!, and Ich Will, come off brilliantly. Engel and Los are good examples of how the band uses a ballad-esque tune and gives it the Rammstein treatment — complete with Lindemann’s gruelling vocals and those scary percussions provided by Christen Lorenz.

The downside to this double album is that the true essence of the live show is lost, as this is an audio only effort. Rammstein don’t just sound good live, they put up an amazing display of pyrotechnics and other acts on stage, something that even a DVD could not do complete justice to. For example Feuer Frei! takes on a whole new level when it is accompanied by streams of pyrotechnics by the band on stage. Another minus for the album are the newer tracks, like Amerika and Benzin, which are very weak and repetitive compared to the older songs.

Nonetheless, this album is sure to please industrial fans everywhere, and is a good buy if you’re interested in the genre or just Rammstein in general.
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My Name Is Earl - A Review.

My Name Is EarlImage via Wikipedia
My Name is Earl follows the story of Earl J. Hickey (Jason Lee), a small-time thief who wins the lottery … then gets hit by a car. While in hospital, Hickey realizes that it was because of his wrong-doings that he got hit. Discovering the concept of karma — while still in hospital — he hopes to redeem himself, vowing to help all those he has wronged.

Earl is joined by his brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee) who, even though isn’t as intelligent as some, stands by his brother vigilantly. Joy Turner (Jamie Pressley) is Earl’s ex-wife who had left him, but has now returned to claim a part of the lottery money. Joining Earl and Randy on their “righteous” adventures is Catalina Arcuna (Nadine Velazquez), an illegal immigrant working as a maid at a local motel. Rounding up the cast is the laid back Darnell Turner, known as the Crab Man to his friends, who steals all the scenes he’s in. He is also Joy’s new husband, a fact that hasn’t quite sunk in with him yet. When you see Darnell, you’ll know he has very little to do with facts.

Jason Lee fits into the role with ease; his dry, witty delivery and characterisation bring the character to life and add a sense of realism. Though this is a comedy, it’s not your standard sitcom. Every episode has a flashback where Earl finds out who he has wronged and how he can help them now. This does get repetitive, but it’s interesting to watch how Earl tries to put things right.

The box-set comes with a commentary on selected episodes by the stars, a blooper reel and a collection of deleted scenes. This show is a must have for all comedy fans (especially Jason Lee fans), proving that karma is a funny thing indeed.
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After the success of The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant put their comedic talents into a show called Extras.

It is about a group of people, their aspirations for fame and how they get to see the nitty-gritty and sometimes whacky side of Hollywood.

Gervais plays Andy Millman, a full-time extra, working in theatre and motion pictures. Ashley Jensen stars as Maggie Jacobs, a goofy Scottish woman who is Andy’s friend and co-extra. Stephen Merchant as Darren Lamb is Andy’s incompetent agent. His interaction with Andy is extremely hilarious to watch, especially where Darren tries to get his commission from Andy.

Most of the comedic talent is brought in by the special guest stars of each show. Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart are two such characters who lampoon their respective personas. Stellar comes off as an egotistical control freak and Stewart sheds his Shakespearean personality down to something that could only be described as completely bizarre and quirky.

Though this series has its funny moments, the style of writing and characterisation isn’t very different from that of The Office. The sad part is that this isn’t The Office, and fans who expect to see something different and refreshing will be disappointed.

This double DVD box-set has a lot of special features to go through, including audio commentary on selected episodes and special features looking into the making of the series. If you haven’t seen much of British comedy, you might like the show which does have its funny moments, thought not many.
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Chevelle - Review

Few bands maintain their individual style of music; even fewer perfect their sound. Chevelle is probably one of those exceptional bands that have embraced their own style of sound and refined it tremendously in their third album, This Kind of Thinking (Could Do Us In).

Formed by three brothers from Grayslake, Illinois, Chevelle is pure rock with a bit of post-grunge. In fact, they have a garage-like sound as if they have used the most basic production equipment and come out with something akin to pure rock. Though many bands will come to your mind when you hear them (Deftones being the primary influence), after a while, some of the tunes begin to take a life of their own. But that’s just because nearly all young bands starting off anew use a previously successful band’s sound as a platform.

For example the starting track of the album, The Clincher, begins with a powerful riff build up, which could be confused for Shove It by Deftones, but the similarities end there. The rest of the album is quite loud and heavy on the rock, though the themes of the song are more depressing and sad, reminiscent of the old Seattle grunge sound. There are hardly any ballad-esque tracks, which though not disappointing for all, may be a put off for some as it may seem that the album lacks pace variety. Chevelle is the new sound of grunge rock; very loud and very fast.
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The Justice League

Promotional image of the JL by Bruce Timm.Image via Wikipedia
Evil aliens, mad scientists, power hungry megalomaniacs and many more dangers lurk out there. Who will save Earth? Enter, the Justice League.

After the success of the animated Batman and Superman, its producers set their sights on bringing the world’s first superhero team to life. Created in the comics by Gardner Fox, the Justice League comic teamed up the heavy weights of DC comics: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart) and Hawkgirl.

Bruce Timm and Dan Riba brought their established simplistic style to this TV series, whilst still keeping with the grand scale of each story — which was set everywhere, from the vast corners of space to Earth’s backyard. Though a children’s animated series, Justice League is a fun and interesting watch, even for adults. Of course, comic book fans will be getting a treat in not only watching their favourite characters coming to life, but also memorable storylines.

One such memorable storyline is that of Secret Origins. This episode deals with the arrival of J’onn J’onzz, the shape-shifting alien from Mars. J’onzz, or Martian Manhunter, warns Batman and Superman of an impeding alien invasion on earth. Teaming up, the world'’s finest tackle the invasion head-on. With help from other superheroes, they thwart the invasion, the earth is saved and the Justice League is born.

This box-set comes with a special promo for the show, storyboards and commentaries for selected episodes and also a look into character design. Justice League is a fun and exciting watch for the entire family.
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