I am a tremendous fan of South Park. I’ve watched it since I was in fifth grade, sneaking episodes in on the basement TV whenever I could, and watching along side my mom when I got a little older, and the show itself got a little tamer. Actually, I don’t think South Park ever got tamer so much as I and the rest of Comedy Central’s viewer base just became desensitized to things like seeing fecal matter on television. They did give Sarah Silverman her own sitcom, after all. BA-ZING!

South Park is a long-lasting TV series with a ridiculous amount of memorable moments, songs, characters, and at this point, it even has eras. It’s also released a really good movie, a christmas album… And a generous handful of some of the worst video games ever.

South Park for the Nintendo64 was basically Turok with South Park characters. And the Turok franchise was one that somehow managed to get worse with every new game. Seriously, just when they fixed issues with the old game, new issues popped up. I’m genuinely amazed I even bothered with Turok 3 after how disappointed I was in Turok and Turok 2.

South Park Rally wasn’t any better. A racing game with South Park characters sounds pretty sweet… Right up until you hear how it’s played. I forget who developed South Park Rally, but they were clearly trying to reinvent the wheel when it came to racing games. For fuck sakes, guys, just have them do three laps, and whoever finishes first wins! But no, we have to have a trophy that needs to be carried throughout the entire race. As memory serves, you could finish last, and still end up winning the race because you’re the one holding on to the trophy at the end. Inversely, you could finish first, and still lose the fucking race because the guy in second or further back has the trophy. And apparently, we couldn’t have traditional god damn racing tracks, either. Okay, I get that simple circle and square shapes are boring. I don’t mind a whole lot of twists and turns, but when the entire fucking town is the track, and I have to drive to specific points that are indicated to me during the mayor’s tutorial, we’ve got a problem. The multiplayer was probably the only thing even remotely fun in South Park Rally, and even then, I never had anybody around who wanted to play until well after the Nintendo64 was rendered obsolete.

There’s other South Park games out there, but I haven’t played those. However, I’m assured by reliable sources that they’re just as bad.

So yeah, long story short, South Park has had a serious history with bad games. So when I saw that they were releasing yet another South Park Game for PS3 and Xbox, I was skeptical. Apparently, one of the studios who worked on this game was also involved with Alpha Protocol, and just in case you’re new here, I ended up despising that game after a while as well.

South Park: The Stick of Truth is the first official South Park RPG. I’m assuming it picks up immediately after South Park’s “Song of Ass and Fire” Black Friday parody thing, what with the fact we see Princess Kenny and all. It’s probably because I’m a George R. R. Martin fan, or maybe it’s because I don’t have the patience for three-parters like I used to. I’ve kind of found that aside from Mysterion VS Cthulhu, South Park’s three-parted episodes are kind of a chore to sit through. And the Black Friday thing was honestly no exception to the rule.

But suppose you don’t care. Suppose you find out South Park is trying their hand at making an RPG, and you can’t help but think that nothing but good things will come from this. Yeah, prepare to be disappointed.

I’ll give the game credit where credit is do: it looks and feels like an episode of South Park. Rather than go the 3D route the shit games for the N64 went, the developers of this game decided to replicate the classic paper cutout style that is South Park’s trademark. Add on the fact everyone from the series reprises their roles as their respective characters, and everything is golden as far as presentation goes.

I probably should’ve stated this in the beginning, but I’m not especially huge on RPGs. I did like the Shadow Hearts franchise back in the day… Or rather, I liked the first one, and never got around to playing the other two despite really wanting to, but I liked it. I’ve attempted some other RPGs, and have had a varying rate of enjoyment. I’m really more of a fighting game kind of guy, or a beat-em-up game kind of guy, or hell, even a puzzle game kind of guy as long as the puzzle isn’t ridiculously absurd to the point of needing a fucking calculus degree.

In South Park: The Stick of Truth, you can create your own South Park character, and subject him to an adventure they’ll never forget along side Cartman, Butters, Kenny, and other delightful characters. You can even name your character, but get used to everyone calling you Douchebag. Assuming we were operating under Japanese rules, I decided to make my character as effeminate and idiotic looking as possible. Because as every Final Fantasy game since 10 has taught me, the girliest, stupiddest, and most annoying character ends up being the hero of the story. Not entirely sure why, other than Japan is fucking confusing, but whatever.

The combat system in South Park: The Stick of Truth reminds me a lot of Paper Mario. Unfortunately, it’s not without its problems. The biggest one being that you have to keep attacking, even after the opponent has been beaten during your turn, or else it doesn’t count.

The thing I really found annoying about the game, though, was the attempts at puzzle solving elements. Which basically degenerates into shoot everything in the background until something happens for me. It’s because of this that I have to follow a walkthrough word for word if I want to get anywhere in this game. I do enjoy an occasional puzzle every now and then, but if I need to have my laptop open and with a walkthrough present every time I get to a new portion of the game, then I’m not having fun. Yeah, I’ve needed walkthroughs in the past, but not nearly as much as I’ve needed them for this one.

The controls for the fart magic are also a real pain in the ass. Seriously, farting shouldn’t be this hard. In real life as well as in video games. When Boogerman has the superior fart controls, you may want to reconsider your design. Then again, the fact you even have fart controls in the first place is probably something to meditate on.

And of course, there’s the menus. I don’t mind the ones that let me equip my character with things, but that’s the only one. I got to hold down L1 and R1 respectively to switch between types of farts and companion actions, I have menus to swop companions, I have menus for other things… I even have a menu that shows me what all the characters are posting to Facebook! And much like the real life Facebook, I don’t see a practical use for any of this. Of course I say that, knowing full well my book series has a fan page there.

Do things really need to be this tedious? My fart abilities seem to be mapped to my right analogue stick, so how about I just move the analogue stick a certain direction to perform this type of fart? The only thing keeping me from recommending removing Facebook is the fact it does have something to do with a side quest, but still…

Overall, it’s about twenty steps forward from the N64 days, but still manages to go about three or four steps back afterward. I suppose you could’ve done a lot worse, but I find this game to be more of a headache than anything else. Plus in this day and age, if I really want to see an RPG’s story without dealing with the gameplay, I can just look up some dude’s Let’s Play on Youtube.

Hey there, Remember me? I used to upload reviews and shit to this blog.

I’m not going to lie to you, reader: 2014 is pretty much ending up on my shitlist. More specifically, the summer of 2014.

Everything that could possibly go wrong in my life pretty much did this summer.

  • I believe I already mentioned my computer problems on here. So I won’t bore you with a repeat. Still, I’m counting it.
  • The transportation service I’d been using for around two years turned in their two-weeks-notice in June. To hear it from them, management went through some changes, and they were needing more people to work in the offices. By reassigning some drivers to cubicles, they ended up losing a lot of their drivers, and crippled their ability to handle “spontaneous clients”. And seeing as how I never have a consistent schedule, I was probably among some of the absolute most spontaneous they had. So a lot of my summer was spent either finding a new service, or a new job that was significantly closer to where I’m living. Sadly, the former ended up pulling through, and the rate I’m going, I practically work for fucking free at the moment because I spend just about as much as I make to get to work. I’m just lucky the other person living here deals with the groceries, but the bills this month are going to be… Interesting.
  • Also in June, I ended up injuring my hand. Long story short, a misplaced pallet came crashing down on my hand, and caused a little nerve damage in my fingers. It made typing a very awkward experience, but everything’s pretty much healed up now. Interesting note: the doctor who looked at my X-ray mused that it looked like I had broken my middle finger before. I’ve never broken any of my fingers in my entire life. Weird.
  • In July, I ended up breaking a new record. I had not one, not two, but four cavities in my back teeth. Worse than that, I ended up spending $1,500 on it all! This was money I was going to use to promote Jade Blade Legacy at some book fairs, but I only ended up registering for one before this whopper fell in my lap. I’m still paying it off to this very day. Oh, and first commentor to remind me that I need my teeth, I’m punching you in the mouth, and claiming any of your teeth that fall out as backups for mine. That, or I’ll just make a necklace.
  • My favorite gym, the very place that I’ve been going to since 2009, is officially closed. My enthusiasm for boxing and MMA has died down significantly compared to when I started this blog, but I still loved my sparring sessions. The only real positive to the gym being closed is that the money I spent on said sparring sessions is officially going towards my bills, my transportation, and my insane dentist bill.
  • I pretty much gave up on my latest side project getting published. I got to the partial stage, which I haven’t seen since 2011, but they turned it down. In fact, I’m pretty much at a point where I’m just flat out disenchanted with the publishing industry as a whole. Fuckers won’t give me the time of day, but the fucker who wrote that generic waste of paper Divergent gets a fucking movie. “Egads, this girl is an individual! She doesn’t fit in any of our preordained groups! She will destroy us with her individuality! Did we mention she’s an individual? Because it’s very important you know she’s an individual!” Okay, I’m probably being a lot more harsh than I should. After all, I’ve only seen the trailer, and read a plot synopsis of the book on Wikipedia. For all I know, it’s well written and worth the effort. Or maybe it’s another hack-writing job where everything’s in the present fucking tense and predictable as fuck even if you didn’t spoil everything for yourself ahead of time. Whatever: I’m way more interested in Zoe Ferraris’ Saudi Arabian murder mysteries lately. And I’m too fucking annoyed to bother with writing anything beyond Jade Blade Legacy, because what’s the fucking point? New agents, established agents, agents with openings on their client list, it doesn’t matter: I’m not worth their time, and I’ve wasted around five years of my fucking life trying to get something published. I probably could’ve found a girlfriend who can actually see past the whole handicapped thing in the time it’s taken to get this far.

    Between all of that, and coping with yet another summer of fucking hot trailers at work, I’ve just felt so… Honestly, I don’t know what to call it. It’s some bizarre combination of insomnia, and being bummed out about nothing in general. I mean yeah, between the fact everything in my life clearly chose to fall to fucking pieces all at once this summer, and the fact yet another childhood hero of mine passed away this week, I got plenty of legit reasons to be all mopy, but I never seem to gravitate to any of them. I’m bummed out because I’m tired, and I’m tired because I’m bummed out. I’m pretty sure somewhere down the line, I had another “Dear lord, I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve done nothing with my life” moment. The moment where you can’t convince me I’m doing okay. You can point out that I graduated college, found a job in one of the shittest economies in recent memory, have a book series published and available for purchase on Amazon.com, and even managed to have sex that one time, but I’m never going to see myself as even a moderately successful person. It probably doesn’t help that my friends have retreated into an era of complacency and childhood nostalgia in between viewings of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Seriously, you people are nearly thirty, and you’re watching a cartoon for fucking seven-year-old girls. I’m sorry, but I’m never going to get over this. By this logic, G.I. Joe’s probably got a lot of thirty-year-old women watching pretty intently.

    Long story short, this summer has kicked my ass. And honestly, I’d be lying if I said I’ve made a full recovery from it all. I don’t know how frequently I’m going to be updating this blog in the upcoming weeks. I have a project or two in mind, and I may put WITCP on the shelf indefinitely as a result of it. Depends on if it takes off or not. For now, though, all you need to know is that I haven’t given up on you, dear reader. Have faith in me, and I swear, I’ll give you new content. Maybe.

    Thank you for your distinct lack of interest. Be sure not to tune in next time for another poorly spelled waste of time and effort written up at around 3:00 in the morning.

  • I’ve actually been debating including this song on my SISOH list since I first started this series. Coming down to the bottom of my list on a more regular basis than when I started, though, I find the debate is a lot more intense than when I had a good twenty or thirty songs ahead of it. I probably could’ve done what I did with Black Oxygen, and label it as more of a rant review sort of thing than a traditional SISOH article, but I guess as long as it’s a Monday…

    This is pretty much the only Seven Mary Three song they ever play out here in KC. Whether or not they’re one hit wonders, or if 7M3 is getting the Megadeth treatment of only having one song on the radio for no explainable reason… Well in the case of Megadeth, I think it has to do with KC being Metallica country, but for 7M3, who knows? All I know is this appears to be the only song of theirs they ever wrote that went anywhere. And if this is truly the case… Honestly, it’s not hard to see why.

    I suppose the instrumental is okay. Pretty standard 90s affair as far as I can tell. The real hell comes when the singer decides to start laying down some verses.

    Good fucking lord, this guy is terrible! First of all, his singing voice has an accent that I can only describe as hilarious. I can almost make out what he’s saying, but you get distracted for a split second, and suddenly, it’s nothing but a bunch of “Wah wah woo wah-wee wahwah weer wah-weer wah weer-her!” sort of noises.

    Just to make sure I was hearing right, I paid a visit to azlyrics.com. “She calls me Goliath, and I wear the David mask” is probably one of the stupiddest attempts at symbolism I’d ever heard. Right up until Train came along with that “2-ply hefty bag full of love” or whatever, but I digress. I suppose everything else lyric wise is okay, but there’s just something about that one verse that cracks me up.

    Long story short, it’s not a very good song. Best case senario, it aged poorly. Worst case senario, it was a classic “WTF, Billboard top 100″ type moment.

    And yet, for reasons I’ll never be able to explain, I love this song. Which is the main reason I’ve been debating including it here for so long. There’s definitely stuff wrong with it, but somehow, I’m not really sick of it. I’d say at best, this is where the category “guilty pleasure” comes in. Seven Mary Three is right up there with Rob Zombie movies and that Clarence show in terms of stuff I probably shouldn’t be proud of admitting out loud I like, but here I am.

    So yeah, make of this what you will. I guess this is an honorary induction or something. Next time, I’ll definitely include something I’m genuinely sick of.

    I have to admit, when I started SISOH all those years ago, I never would’ve imagined a jingle for Diet Coke would end up on my list. Then again, I also can’t remember the last time a commercial left any type of impression on me that wasn’t for a TV show or a movie. For better or for worse, commercials just don’t effect me anymore. I’ve long since learned how to tune them out. Barring that, I’ve learned that commercial time is usually a good time to check my email, or my Facebook, or even see what little Ms. Russian blue mix is up to.

    And then this appeared on the airwaves. Suddenly, I can say that a commercial for Diet Coke actually got a reaction out of me. And that reaction was somewhere along the lines of “Whew boy this sucks!”

    I have a really good feeling that this is supposed to be a parody of something. Unfortunately, I can’t tell what it’s supposed to be a parody of. I’m guessing some pop act from the 1980s? I’m not a pop expert, guys. I mean yeah, I drink soda, but in terms of music, I’m not a pop expert.

    Then there’s the subject of the song. Diet Coke: the worst soda ever made. Then again, it seems like the entire concept of diet soda is fucking horrible. Diet Pepsi is awful, Diet Coke is awful, and Diet Dr. Pepper… I don’t care what the commercials say: I can totally tell it tastes like diet. Also, diet soda doesn’t make you more manly. It’s cute that Dr. Pepper 10 is trying to convince us otherwise, but I imagine the male gender will know better after one can of that swill.

    So yeah, sucky song + sucky project = no business from me. And if that were all there were to it, I’d have left it alone and probably bitched about 5 Finger Death Punch again or something. But no, this commercial has to be everywhere.

    With annoying songs, you can guarantee that certain stations won’t play them. Tired of Halestorm? Switch over to an alternative station. Sick of Mumford and Son? Switch over to a rock station. That’s usually the remedy in review.

    However, we’re not dealing with a simple song. We’re dealing with a jingle: a mindless song written by market execs with the soul intent of mesmerizing you into buying everything they tell you. Jingles transcend demographics, they appear on every radio station or TV station imaginable, and a few of them just won’t go away no matter how many times you threaten your brain with that icepick. Twenty years later, I still remember the jingle for Mr. Bucket. That’s just how powerful the jingle truly is.

    You know, come to think of it, the fact I’ve gone out of my way to write about this jingle has probably helped to immortalize it. The fact I have any sort of reaction is telling the execs at Coke that we need more of this. Shit. Oh well, the damage is done, and my opinion is out in the ether of the internet for a grand total of two people to read.

    Compared to a lot of the stuff I’ve been posting here, this one is actually fairly recent. Of course by recent, I mean 2008. Compared to the abominations I was coming up with when I was eleven and twelve, and some of the more unsubtle ripoff fiction I was coming up with in high school, this wasn’t quite as bad. The operating word in that sentence, of course, is quite.

    Driftwood Manor, long story short, was a haunted house story. It was also during a time when I was still interested in being a horror writer. However, compared to the slasher fiction, and psychotic, borderline pretentious plunges into madness I was writing about back in the early stages of this phase, my writing was taking a turn for the Lovecraftian.

    Admittedly, I’d always been fascinated by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Sure, the man was in love with his thesaurus, and a lot of his work is showing its age in many ways now. Also, for every good story he had ever written, there was a guaranteed two or three more that were… Forgettable. However, despite a lot of this, I still enjoy Lovecraft, and a lot of his contributions to the horror genre.

    Everybody loves The Call of Cthulhu, and it’s not hard to see why. However, I have to be that one guy who doesn’t go with the popular kids, and I say that Re-Animator is the one I think is his best. I never saw the movie all the way through, but the little bit I had seen, I thought was pretty good.

    For some reason, though, Lovecraft was pretty much my 2008 reading in review. I found myself getting more and more into Lovecraft as the year progressed. I bought audio books, I played Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem up to about the part where you play as the main character’s grandpa (I forgot why I quit at that point, though)… And of course, my horror writing began focusing more on Lovecraftian elements of god like creatures and madness. The latter was nothing I hadn’t already tried my hand at, although back then, it had more to do with serial killers and mental patients than the madness of learning about the unspeakable horrors from beyond our plain of existence.

    At the same time, I was taking a creative writing class. A class that proved once and for all that I am NOT a poet. I’ll probably save my attempts at poetry for another entry in this series, though.

    Driftwood Manor was the story I sent in when we dealt with short stories. Admittedly, it was the tamest idea I had, and a lot of the Lovecraft was a lot more subdued in that one than others I could’ve sent in. It did get its share of criticism from the rest of the group, but aside from a couple of moments where common sense went on the wayside to conform to the assignment’s page count restriction, it wasn’t nearly as poorly received as my poetry attempts. In fact, some of the criticisms I got were even disputed by other people, so I guess it was really more of an “eye of the beholder” sort of thing I guess.

    Driftwood Manor was home to Mortimer Driftwood: A man who dedicated his life to studying the occult. He wrote down everything he learned, combined with some of his general philosophies in a book he titled “The Gospel of Driftwood”, and then used what he had learned to summon a demon army. A demon army that ended up refusing to obey his orders, and I’m pretty sure one of them ended up eating him afterward.

    Decades later, a woman who has dedicated her life to disproving the existence of the occult discovers Driftwood Manor, and the stories of hauntings associated with it. Long story short, it doesn’t end well.

    It’s one of the few stories I’m feeding to the ol’ recycle bin that I’m not entirely disgusted with. Hell, it’s not even all that funny to read now. And if it is, then it was clearly on purpose. However, I give it to the recycle bin anyway, because I honestly have nothing else I can do with it. It was essentually a throw-away idea I wrote out for a class. I had no plans of submitting it to anyone, I had no plans of expanding it into a full novel, and I definitely had no interest in showing it to anyone else outside the class. It’s basically just taking up space on the ol’ hard drive. I hesitate to delete it completely, but at the same time, I have nothing more to do with it. So why bother keeping it?

    I haven’t taken a creative writing class sense, and some of the short stories I’ve shared with a writer’s group I was part of back in 2012 aren’t even worth bringing up here on the basis they were less than throw-aways. Still, it’s fun to flash back sometimes.

    My computer problems are fixed. And I have no idea what was wrong. Either way, that means I can continue to update this thing on a consistent basis. Assuming, of course, I don’t get distracted with something shiny. Like, for instance, a Youtuber who has done the lord’s work, and uploaded every single episode of Portal onto their account.

    That’s Portal as in the TV series from G4TV, not the video game. We all call it the glory days, but others have generously pointed out that even back then, G4 had problems. Of course, compared to abandoning their entire demographic in favor of becoming a yet another movie network after years of trying to copy SPIKE’s programming minus the MMA, having a handful of low budget TV shows that played reruns into the fucking pavement wasn’t a problem for me. I acknowledged it was a problem, but I was willing to live with it.

    Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, things on my end are operational again.

    I’m well aware updates have been scarce. There are a lot of reasons for it:

    1. Firefox is glitching out something fierce. I’m used to certain websites and my screen reader not working, but Firefox has taken it a step further, and is actually crashing my PC every time I use it. It doesn’t even matter what site I’m on: two or three minutes of usage, and BAM! This problem goes beyond my field of expertese, and I fear I may have to call in tech support on this one.

    2. I’ve mostly been focusing on both Jade Blade and a side project. I’ve been trying to get this side project published since December, and thus far, I’ve only made it to the partial stage. Which is generous improvement over the last couple projects, but it’s still a rejection at the end of the day, and it still pisses me off. I’m pretty close to either moving on to the next big idea, or focusing a little harder on Jade Blade.

    3. It’s that time of the year when I usually stop giving a shit about this blog anyway.

    4. I had another idea, but I need to try a few things out first before I announce anything.

    I’ll let you know if any of this changes. Or I’ll just start posting updates. Either one’s fine.

    In the beginning, there was Disturbed: an amazing band that blended industrial metal instrumentals with reggae styled vocals. They were both praised, and criticized for the various noises Dave Draiman would make in between verses. The “AW-WAH-AH-AH-AH!” in “Down With the Sickness” being the most famous of all of them. They put out six albums, and four of them are pretty spectacular listens.

    Unfortunately, nothing good lasts forever. I was convinced Disturbed could do no wrong, and then “Asylum” came along and proved me wrong. “The Lost Children” is a collection of B-sides, and while it’s good to have a physical copy, I already had about two thirds of this stuff on my computer via WinMX anyway. “Asylum” might as well have been a sign of bad things to come if you’re a Disturbed fan, because not too long after it was released, the band broke up. The bass player joined a band by the name of Adrenaline Mob, which as of this writing, I’ve heard of, but have yet to listen to. The lead guitarist and drummer, along with some other guys, formed the band Fight or Flight, which again, I really need to get around to checking out. And the lead singer, Dave Draiman, formed the band Device.

    Device is a band that has generated the ultimate definition of mixed reviews. People seem to either really love it, or really hate it. The term “Disturbed lite” comes up a lot in the hater camp, and I can’t say I don’t see it. In fact, I’d say if Disturbed never broke up, this would probably have ended up being a Disturbed album. But if you’re like me, and don’t care about things like that as long as the album is an entertaining listen, then it’s less of a criticism, and more of a reason to invest in them. Because if you like Disturbed, odds are you’ll like Device for the very reason the haters hate it.

    If I had done a best of 2013 last year, I guarantee Device would’ve been in contention. Unfortunately, Ghost’s “Infestissamum” would’ve won, but Device would’ve definitely been a close… Third or fourth place. Sue me: Volbeat put out an awesome album last year, and the second half of “The House of Gold and Bones” was released. It was a pretty competitive field that year!

    Today, after many delays due to one thing or another, I finally get to Device’s self-titled album. So let’s put it in the ol’ stereo, and give it a little spin-a-roony! Wow, did I seriously just say spin-a-roony? I haven’t heard that since Booker T was still wrestling. And it was stupid back then. Whatever, hit the play button already!

    ALBUM ART: C+

    the album art for Device's self-titled debut

    TRACK LIST

    1. You Think You Know
    GRADE: A-
    Right off the bat, I can’t help but notice that Device is actually a bit heavier than Disturbed ever was. I’m not sure if they used different guitars, or different recording techniques, or if the whole industrial thing has a heavy hand in that, but all I know is that this opening track immediately grabs my attention with that detail. Draiman still resorts to his usual sound effects and reggae style singing voice, which is a welcoming factor going in. Present the listener with a hint of familiarity to go along with the new experience so it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into alien terratory. All and all, it’s worth the listen.

    2. Penance
    GRADE: B+
    Draiman’s vocals aren’t quite as bouncy like they were in the last one, but the direction he went here works just as good. Trying to reggae this one up would’ve probably made it not work nearly as well. Sometimes, straight forward works.

    3. Vilify
    GRADE: A
    This was the first single from the album. It was also what led a lot of people to believe early on that Device was basically Disturbed Jr. I won’t deny the Disturbed influence, but at the same time, it’s one of my favorites off the entire album. Highly recommended.

    4. Close My Eyes Forever
    GRADE: B-
    This song is a Lita Ford cover that features… Ugh. It features everybody’s favorite shape-shifter vocalist, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. If you’ve been a reader of my blog over the last two years, you know my opinion of Halestorm is… Less than pleasant. That being said, with all the reluctance in the world, I declare that this cover is actually pretty good. Lzzy hale is not a bad vocalist: she just has no consistent personality. One minute, she’s singing about being tough as nails, wanting me to do her dirty work and how I call her a bitch like it’s a bad thing. Literally, the next track, she’s a mindless idiot longing for the bad old days that validate Theory of a Deadman’s claims of “Girls don’t want a gentleman, they want a loser like me.” Go ahead and hate: I know how to read between lines, and the stuff you guys come up with is actually kind of hilarious. It’s too bad, because as this song proves, Hale is a good vocalist. Her material is the problem. So when she’s doing a cover tune with Dave Draiman, of course it sounds good. I just wish there wasn’t so much “I Miss the Misery” over at the Halestorm camp. Okay, I’m done ranting. Let’s move on.

    5. Out of Line
    GRADE: B+
    This song features both Serj Tankian and Geezer Butler. I’ll have to take their word on Butler, but Tankian gets a few verses here. Call me crazy, but I have a feeling Tankian wrote this one. When it comes to anti-war songs like a lot of rock during 2003-2006, Disturbed didn’t exactly offer up a whole lot in the ways of innovative thought. Serj Tankian has been a politically charged artist since day one, but whenever Draiman goes into politics… I don’t know, it feels kind of phoned in at times. Go ahead and cover “Land of Confusion” if you really like the song, but maybe leave anti-Bush statements to the guys with something to say? I don’t know. Despite my feelings on the subject matter, and the fact it’s a little late to be writing anti-Iraq war music in a day and age where we’ve been out of Iraq for nearly three years, it’s actually a pretty good song.

    6. Hunted
    GRADE: A
    The industrial element is at it’s heaviest in this song. It’s definitely the most haunting thing I’ve heard on the entire disk thus far. Really sets the mood for an especially intense cat-and-mouse sort of horror sequence.

    7. Opinion
    GRADE: A-
    This song features Tom Morello. I think he plays for Rage Against the Machine. Or maybe it’s Slayer? You think I’d know this, but here I am. Anyway, this is another favorite of mine. It had my attention the moment I hear the opening notes, and it’s all up hill from there.

    8. War of Lies
    GRADE: B
    I love the instrumental in this one. The title gave me the impression this might end up being another anti-Iraq War song, but once I get into the lyrics, I’m not so sure then.

    9. Haze
    GRADE: A-
    This one features M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold. And suddenly, one of the team-ups I’ve always wanted to see between bands is made reality. It’s not exactly A7 and Disturbed, but I’ll take it.

    10. Through it All
    GRADE: A-
    This song features Glenn Hughes, and in typical ending track fashion, ends up being the softest track of the album. It’s not exactly some of the acoustic guitar tracks of the early to mid 2000s, but it’s a lot more reserved than a lot of the other tracks on this album. All and all, it’s a good ending track to a really good album.

    OVERALL GRADE: A-

    So yeah, I actually enjoyed this quite a bit. Whether we’ll see more from Device, or if this ends up being a one-time sort of deal remains to be seen, but for the time being, I’m liking where this is going.

    Honestly, I thought I’d never have to bother with this waste of time and effort. Then again, I never would’ve guessed the radio would pull the backtrack rule like they did with Volbeat’s “Still Counting”. IE, we need a new single, but it’s at least another year before they’re due for a new album, so let’s just backtrack to the previous one, and see what singles came off of that one. “Last Man Standing”? Nah, that has nothing to do with loose women and sounds nothing like a Nickelback song. Let’s go with “Boss’ Daughter” instead.

    I’ll give them credit where credit is due: the instrumental’s not half bad. The harmony and melody of the chorus is even good. If you put any other words to this instrumental using those notes and structure, you’d probably have a better song.

    But no, Pop Evil decided to go with these lyrics instead. Simply put, these verses have “lowest common denominator” written all over them.

  • References to a super easy chick? Check.
  • Comparisons to a vintage car from the 1960s? Check.
  • Sexual innuendo? Check.

    Yip, this is definitely a cash grab if I’ve ever heard one.

    I also love the verse “She’s hell on heels.” Much like how I have to point out the verse “I don’t miss you, I miss the misery” implies Lzzy Hale would be happy if someone else was beating her half an inch from her life, I have to think about it, and come to a conclusion that pisses off the internet and convinces them I have no idea what I’m talking about. Although in this instance, it’s no where near as severe, and they’d say I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about regardless of how much sense it makes because “Pop Evil rules, man, and you’re a stupid gay-ass faggot for disagreeing!”

    I hear “Hell on heels”, and all I can think is she absolutely pulverizes high heels. I think they were going for “hell IN heels”, which is a saying I’m familiar with thanks to Motley Crue. And considering Motley Crue actually does a better job of imagery than a band from the mid to late 2000s with actual talent behind them when they want to use it, that’s just sad.

    Bottom line: this song blows, and you people seriously need to stop encouraging this kind of lazy-ass song writing. And as of this rant review type thing, I really hope this is the last time I have to talk about Pop Evil for a while.

  • NOTE: I’d have written this review last week, but Music Unlimitted is the only way I can access this album, and Music unlimited was acting kind of bizarre last week. It’s only recently stopped behaving like that and actually letting me access the album, so I’m doing it here.

    In all honesty, I think it’d be more appropriate to refer to Systematic as a two-hit-wonder. Where as most one-hit-wonders are only ever known for one song, Systematic had two. However, both songs came from the same album, and one of them disappeared from the airwaves a lot faster than the other, so I’m counting them.

    I honestly thought Systematic had a lot of potential. They may not’ve been innovative, but they sounded a lot more different than a lot of the incubus ripoffs and raprock found throughout the early 2000s. I had no problems with the latter, but it took me a while before I could say Incubus was all right.

    Sadly, Systematic ended up not very well off. While their first album, and the subject of today’s review got them on the map, they quickly faded into obscurity, and just as quickly fell apart. They did get out a second album in 2003, but I didn’t even find out it was made until about 2006: a long ways off from when they broke up.

    As for “Somewhere in Between”, I remember it being… Okay. I liked the band and all, but as memory serves, I felt like there was definitely room for improvement. And really, that could be said of a lot of debut albums. Plus the concept of “some tracks are better than others” rings true for a lot of bands’ albums well past their debut.

    So let’s take a trip down memory lane, and give Systematic some play!

    ALBUM ART: C+

    the album art for Systematic's "Somewhere in Between"

    It’s better than I remember, but I can see why it didn’t exactly leap out at me the first time at the same time.

    TRACK LIST

    1. Dopesick
    GRADE: B
    It’s a nice intro track. Soft start, but quickly enough, we get into the heavy. And the chorus did manage to find its way into my brain. So far, it’s a promising start.

    2. Beginning of the End
    GRADE: A+
    This was the first single from the album, and it’s easy to see why they went with it. This is hands down my favorite song off the entire album. Shock of all shocks, an album from 2001 put its single, and the best song on track 2. Got to love tropes. Or maybe it’s more of a cliche? Whatever, song is awesome beyond words, and I recommend it.

    3. Return to Zero
    GRADE: A-
    This one’s also a lot better than I remember it being. The opening riff really gets you pumped up, and the riff they go with throughout the verses has a real swing to it that I rather enjoy. Consider me pleasantly surprised.

    4. Glass Jaw
    GRADE: B-
    It’s a lot more mellow than the other tracks we’ve gotten thus far. Part of me wanted to call this the ballad of the album, but I’m pretty sure there’s another track on here that definition fits a lot better. It’s better than I remember it being, too. This might as well be the theme of the review at the rate I’m going.

    5. Deep Colors Bleed
    GRADE: A
    This was the second single from the album, and for some reason, it didn’t do quite as well as “Beginning of the End”. Sure, the primary riff isn’t the most imaginative in the world, but I still think it deserved better than it got. I won’t deny that nostalgia probably has a hand in my opinion, but still, it’s pretty damn good.

    6. Mailbomb
    GRADE: C
    It’s as skip worthy as I remember it being. I know they’re trying, but there’s just something about this song that just doesn’t hold my attention. I guess they all can’t be gold.

    7. Bedsores
    GRADE: C+
    This is probably more accurately the ballad of the album. Or at least as close as you’re going to get to a ballad. Strangely, I remember this track being better than I’m finding it to be now. Go figure. It’s still not bad, but it’s not especially good either.

    8. Slowburn
    GRADE: B
    This is more like it! I thought for sure I was going to be giving everything else on this album Cs. However, the moment I hear the opening riff, I’m immediately hooked.

    9. Somewhere in Between.
    GRADE: C+
    We have title track! And I got to say, I’m a little less than impressed. It opens up with a lot of promise, but by the time we get to the verses, things take a turn for the downward in terms of intrigue. Not to mention it’s a SEVEN MINUTE TRACK! I’m not sure I have that kind of patience the rate this song is going.

    10. Of a Lesser God
    GRADE: B+
    We seem to be entering a serious case of “every other track syndrome”. Meaning that one track will be dull, or uneventful, or even bad in some cases, but every other track will be awesome. This is definitely one of the awesome tracks. And just for the record, I have nothing against slow songs. I notice a lot of my Cs seem to be going towards the slower ones. At this point, I’m guessing Systematic just don’t make very appealing slow songs. Sure, “Glass Jaw” was okay, but everything else… Not so much. Oh, and it’s not SEVEN FUCKING MINUTES!

    11. Pitch Black
    GRADE: B
    This one’s not half bad either.

    12. If Only
    GRADE: C-
    And just like that, I’m bored again. Again, I’m not trying to do this on purpose, but these slower songs just aren’t that appealing for some reason.

    13. Thick Skin
    GRADE: B-
    Clearly, they decided to end with a bang. I could think of worse ways to end the album.

    OVERALL GRADE: B

    I did have plans for another one-hit-wonder band, but that was before Music Unlimitted decided to be a pain in the ass for a week, so I guess this is where one-hit-wonder month ends. We now return you to your regularly scheduled reviews with no gimmic for the month.