Voliminal: Inside the Nine

Voliminal: Inside the Nine album coverImage via Wikipedia
Nu-metal (nu-thrash metal, to be more precise) marauders Slipknot have unleashed a double DVD and CD collection of live performances and music videos. Though by no means a 'greatest hits' album, this behemoth of a collection is sure to keep thrash fans happy with a collection that quite literately mutes everything in the market.

A nine member band from Des Moines, Iowa; Slipknot shot to fame with their self-titled album in 1999. Ever since then they've hardly left any holds barred and let out a stream of heavy hits, stormed many musical festivals and redefined live performances along the way. They won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 2006, and have been nominated three times in different categories.

The album has a raw sound, particularly the harshness of each track combined with the intensity of each band member. Corey Taylor has displayed his versatility in the Spiderman soundtrack, but it's his day-job as the lead singer of Slipknot that truly exploits his ability to sing, or scream even. Guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson both craft exquisite riffs that are breakneck speed and filled with the crunch of metal and thrash. Sid Wilson's mixing and sampling adds the 'nu' to the nu-thrash, and his samples are haunting and yet almost cruel at the same time. Besides having a turntablist, they also have keyboardist Craig Jones and percussionist Shawn Crahan, both offering new layers to each of the songs and even providing backup vocals on some of the tracks. But the best performer of the bands is perhaps Joey Jordison whose drumming skills avalanches over everything else in the band. Jordison (who is also a producer for Marylin Manson) structures his beats and percussions in a very traditional thrash set-up, almost as well as (dare I say it) the great Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame.

Voliminal: Inside the Nine is an audible treat for thrash and speed metal fans, if that is they appreciate the fact that this is nu-thrash metal.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next GenerationImage via Wikipedia
After a long absence from TV, Star Trek returned in 1987 to the delight of fans around the world. The famed ship Enterprise returned with no major changes but definitely looking 24th century-ish.

The delight of the fans was short-lived when they discovered that the new vision of the future, provided by the show's creator Gene Roddenberry, was not exactly what they had in mind. They were particularly outraged when they found out that the show would have a new cast and was set further in the future.

It took a while for them to accept this vision, but they eventually did. Patrick Stewart plays the cool and calm Captain Jean-Luc Picard (a vastly different character than the ship's previous Captain). Though most of the cast consisted of previously unknown actors, the show featured many famous guest-stars in various episodes.

In terms of storytelling, this series is not that different from the classical show through a new dynamic within the new cast that enhances each story. It is a visual delight, with state-of-the-art special effects of its time, most notable of which are the make-up effects given by Michael Westmore. The first season sets off with a two-hour pilot, Encounter at Farpoint. Besides introducing the primary characters, it also features special guest-star DeForest Kelley as the eccentric (and now geriatric) Dr McCoy.

Star Trek: The Next Generation may have been a difficult sell to fans of the original series but it sure did spawn a whole new generation of fans of the show. This spin-off took a life of its own and became popular in its own right, whilst still adding to the mythos of the original show.

Special features include the development of the series, casting and the special effects of the show. A good watch for fans who wish to go where no one has gone before.
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