WWE Anthology (The Federation Years) Top 5 Wrestling Themes

26 08 2013

WWE Antholgy (World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. - 2002)

Since becoming a fan of Professional wrestling back in late 2004, I have been very interested in the music that the wrestlers come out too. After going to see WWE Smackdown live in Manchester in November 2004, I was interested to hear that the music was available to buy on CD (Back in a time when the iPod was just about to be released). So soon after I bought a copy of WWE Anthology, a collection of pieces of music throughout the history of the WWE. Because the collection came on three discs, I thought I would do a top 5 of each of the discs and my favourite music on them (even though I might skip the NOW disc and just do a general top 5 of the whole collection as there are only 4 songs on the NOW disc of note and one of them is the Hurricane’s theme, I suppose I could just do a list of pieces that were produced post Attitude era). So the first disc as you can guess from the title is the Federation Years which is mostly filled with pre attitude era pieces of music. While the songs still sound tough for the wrestlers in question, they are a lot lighter in tone and some what more pleasant. So here are my Top 5 themes of WWE Anthology The Federation Years (just one thing of note quickly, best theme does not mean best wrestler, so don’t go thinking that one is better than the other just because of which of their music I prefer).

Jake Roberts

5: Snake Bit – Jake “The Snake” Roberts – With a wrestling name like that, you would consider something like the sounds of a snake or something very dark and sinister, instead what you get is a piece of music produced on a synthesizer or keyboard which sounds awe-inspiring. Generally the piece is quite calm and open and does not contain many low notes. while the opening could be considered sinister, it does not sound long and when the piece has its main opening reveal, it gives the idea of Jake Roberts holding his snake up in the air to show to the audience. It’s a simple and peaceful theme for a sinister name like that.

No Holds Barred

4: No Holds Barred – No Holds Barred theme – I have no Idea to what No Holds Barred is or was but from my quick research it appears to have been a film starring Hulk Hogan. Anyway the theme song is quite nice and holds a sense of suspense all the way through. The song almost tells a tale of what one man is going to or is about to do, his hopes or dreams perhaps of what is about to come. The songs suspense though reaches an eventual limit as it shouts at out the title of the piece and says it with pride before going back into the main rhythm of the song. It only continues to go at the risen pitch when the song starts to conclude.

HBK

3: Sexy Boy – Shawn Michaels – The theme song that would be the theme throughout almost the entirety of the career of the Heart Break Kid Shawn Michaels. Possibly one of the most recognised themes in all of wrestling, HBK’s theme fits perfectly with both his charismatic style and the excitement of his matches and presence. An assortment of a bit of disco and rock, the song is pretty much showing off and would be perfect for a villain, despite the fact HBK is both a fan favourite and a good guy in wrestling and character. The song is one of only a few love orientated songs in wrestling and contains some nice guitar solo work also.

Hulk Hogan

2: Real American – Hulk Hogan – What is widely considered as the first proper theme for a wrestler (performed by Rick Derringer), the theme suited nobody better than Hulk Hogan. While the song is as patriotic as it sounds, it is generally a nice song which anybody can join in depending on nation as the song is not boisterous about the country it is talking about. The song’s opening track rhythm continues throughout with a mid guitar solo in it too. The chorus to the song is also a lot of fun as well as pleasant and does not at any point go into a dark tone. The idea with a song, particularly a rock song being light and fluffy is present in this song as it is has that feel to it.

Ultimate Warrior

1: Unstable – Ultimate Warrior – A wild piece of music for a wild wrestler. The Ultimate Warrior as a wrestler was wild and unstoppable and so the song Unstable works perfectly for him. The piece is as made as the wrestler and what he does in the ring, it gives the impression of something unstoppable, something that could not be beat, something so terrifying that you would do what you could to avoid getting on its bad side. The piece starts with an easy beat in the speed that it’s at before going into its main part which sounds like something on the rampage without going too heavy, it then reaches a slower and quick conclusion before doing it all over again. Interestingly enough, this piece actually helped me to recover in Hospital back in 2005 when I had a leg injury. Because I was put on a machine that would help me to angle my leg and had to reach an angle of 90 degrees before I could go home, I listened to this CD when I was recovering. When I got to the Ultimate Warrior track, I myself felt unstoppable and put the machine right up to 90 degrees, while it did hurt a lot, I felt unstoppable and left hospital the following Friday. SO not only is this piece my favourite from the first disc, but also it helped me to recover from a horrible accident.

GENEPOOL





MAG

19 08 2013

MAG Title

Back in 2008, at Sony‘s E3 Press conference, they revealed something amazing. Well they had to in the end. For me the best part of E3 is Nintendo‘s Press conference, but if you had seen how much of a disaster that was, I had to look towards other companies to give me something interesting. So the spot light turned on Sony. Sony revealed a Game trailer that looked absolutely Amazing. It showed huge amounts of Action on a battlefield sized epic. It was an upcoming First Person Shooter game called MAG which stood for Massive Action Game. About a year later I finally got round to buying the PS3 that I had planned on buying for a long while and was all set for the release of MAG. In January 2010 the game was finally released.

So what is MAG? MAG is a multiplayer game developed by Zipper Interactive who are best known for producing the successful SOCOM series for the PlayStation Brand. The game had no single player at all and was all focused on Multiplayer. The multiplayer that it offered though was a first. up to that point most console games available that had online multiplayer features could support up to about 32 players. The number was slightly larger though on PC thanks to Frontlines: Fuel of War which had up to 64 Players. MAG on the other hand could support up to 256 Players. This meant that the game could offer large battles between players.

MAG2

So if it is a multiplayer game only, what kind of story could the game offer? The game offered a little back story of PMC’s (Private Military Contractors) being used to wage wars between countries, three of them in total.

“The game begins in 2025. As time passes, maintaining a full-scale military becomes a burden. In a globalized world, the only security threat is from small-scale rogue organizations against whom large forces are useless, and the fuel needed to supply increasingly mechanized armies becomes more costly. As a result, most nations’ armies decrease to the size necessary to defend against a “national emergency.” Furthermore, under the “Millennium Accord”, no nation’s military is permitted to leave its own borders, officially creating world peace. In their place rise Private Military Corporations. They have two advantages: first, they compete, lowering their cost, and second, they are allowed to work for anyone, anywhere. In an unregulated global economy, the companies soon compete by less than honest means. After enough mergers, bargains and buy-outs, however, the remaining PMCs decide to put their weapons to full use. The original attacks follow a simple plan: neutralize a competitor’s soldiers, lowering supply to cause them to charge more and, ultimately, go out of business. The Shadow War, as it is called, grows in secret until the conflict moves into full swing, with the PMCs securing their own interests and violently fighting for contracts”. – Wikipedia

The three factions that could be played were:

  • Raven – A European PMC whose weapons and kit were very much the State of the Art faction of the Game.
  • S.V.E.R. – A Russian PMC whose look and weapons were like that of Rebels and guerrilla style tactics.
  • Valor – An American style PMC styled a lot like the SAS and Royal Marines.

MAG Factions

Any doubts before the Game’s Launch? The only thing I was personally worried about was the strength of the internet connectivity of the game’s multiplayer. This was the main thought for many people who thought the game would lag a lot and freeze. This idea was helped thanks to a test of the game at the 2009 Eurogamer Expo in Leeds where some of the machines were not working properly, however the game was still in its BETA version. However one thing in support of the game surfaced just before the release of the game stating that the first multiplayer game for the PS2 was produced by Zipper Interactive and so their knowledge on the subject would help, also it would be likely that a very buggy game would not have been released in the first place.

Zipper Interactive

So what was it like when the game was released? When I picked it up I had to go through a couple of updates before I was ready to play. when the main intro came up, it was brilliant and this was followed by a great menu screen with some music that made me think of Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. The game also had a Tutorial as well to help you get started but after that I was straight in to my first matches. The game offered many different types of Game matches to play but you had to work up to and unlock them as you went on. You did this by gaining experience in matches and going up in the in-game ranks. this also depended on which army you decided to go with, I went with Raven. The first games I could play were Suppression and Sabotage. Suppression was between 64 players, 32 players from one faction and 32 from another. it was a straight death match style game, first to run out of reinforcements wins. Sabotage was more about claiming and defending objectives. 32 Players from one team defend objectives from 32 from another team. As the game progressed I unlocked more and more matches like Acquisition which involved 128 players split in two defending prototype vehicles from the other team. Then there was Domination which involved 256 Players split in two. One team defending objectives while the other attacks.

Is it all about Guns? No, not at all, the game’s setting and battlefields also included other things to do other than shoot people. By securing objectives in battle you got extra points, healing team members, repairing structures, destroying vehicles, repairing vehicles, all sorts really. Throughout the game you also had the chance to lead squads, platoons and the whole company in battle. This was achieved by the rankings achieved in the game depending on how well you did after you unlock the leader ability. As a leader (depending on what rank of leader) you could give objectives to team members as well as use abilities such as Mortars and Recon vehicles and set up blockades, increase rate of deployment for your team and many other things too.

MAG1

How did the game advance after initial release? After initial release things went ok, new updates every now and again. as you progressed you unlocked new abilities and weapons too. it was not until the game had some new modes that things got a little better. Interdiction was very much a vehicle orientated mode where squads would have their own vehicle to drive. The mode had 128 players split in two each trying to capture three points on the map. Escalation was then released which became the only map where all 3 factions were present. 96 Players split in three trying to gain locations on a map to gain the final one.

MAG3

So What happened? After a while it became harder and harder to play the game. Not based on any level of difficulty but in the form of playing it. While at release there were some buggy issues and disconnecting problems which lost your in-game progress these eventually settled. But after the escalation release modes like Escalation and Interdiction were almost impossible to play as no one else wanted to play them. While the developers would later allow all levels to be played by all factions as some were only playable if a certain faction was present, it did not really help things and as time went on and new games came out. MAG, while still fun would be left in the dust. Once a stable of my time on the PS3, it now gathers dust before I trade it in. The sooner the better too as it has been announced the servers will close in January 2014 therefore making the game unplayable.

MAG4

Does it have a Legacy? While many people who played the game may not think so, the game was revolutionary in its own right and in many cases a fail needs to come before a success. I hope that the main idea of MAG will one day resurface and Large Battles of an epic scale become a main stay but some improvement such as some kind of story or in-game rounds over a period of months, gaining territory here and there to declare a winner and more points would be nice. This kind of idea in my mind would best suit future first person shooter games like the Battlefield series or a new Frontlines, or maybe even something from Guerrilla Games perhaps.

GG

Any final thoughts? While the game may not have been the success many thought it could be, I really enjoyed this game and while it may be coming to an actual end, there is a possibility of something to potentially look forward too.

MAG

GENEPOOL





Top 5 Metallica Songs

12 08 2013

Metallica

Since early 2009 I have loved the music of Metallica. Back in 2009 when I first went to Animex and saw a trailer video for Guitar Hero Metallica, I fell in love with the music. While my views on Guitar Hero are well founded, the power the band had in just that one trailer was enough to get me interested. After finally discovering the name of the song on the trailer and watching that song from the band live on YouTube I grew to enjoy their music more and more, eventually becoming one of my Favourite bands. I even watched (and reviewed) the film Some Kind Of Monster. It was from this that I named them the Kings of Metal and my interest in heavy metal was founded and grew. With the Roaring vocals of James Hetfield, The Power of Lead Guitarist Kirk Hammett, The Thunderous Drumming of Lars Ulrich and the Besieging power of the Bass Player Robert Trujillo (as well as Jason Newsted and Cliff Burton) Metallica is one of if not the shining example of how powerful Metal as a music form is and how popular the outcast of the music world is. So, it’s time to celebrate their Great work, here are my Top 5 Favourite Metallica songs.

Metallica (James, Kirk, Lars and Robert)

5: Enter Sandman – The main song of their hit early 1990’s album Metallica or sometimes referred to as The Black Album. Enter Sandman was a major departure for the band as it was more of a small easy-going track than the power anthems they had previously produced. The dark tones though stayed with them in this song as it is not very light or happy. While the song does not pick up as much speed as songs like Fade To Black, it still provides enough power to satisfy those who prefer stronger faster pieces while those elements don’t make much of a show.

4: Seek and Destroy – A classic from the first album. A song that is fast all the way through and does not let out while also conveying rebellious dark muscle tones from beginning to end. Seek and Destroy provides a lot of anger in the lyrics and this kind of represents how much the band has come on since they first appeared in the early 80’s. Back then they had a lot of pent-up rage as youngsters and just wanted to get it out, nowadays they are still able to provide that kind of energy while also maintaining some control in maturity. Seek and Destroy is a nice little way of showing how much time has come on for the band and provides to be a good classic for the band. The song when played live also contains a Fantastic Solo from Kirk and Lars (look out for it).

3: For Whom The Bell Tolls – One of the first songs I listened to back when I first started listening to Metallica back in 2009. One thing that I find interesting about how I discovered this song is that it is the theme for British Professional Wrestler, Johnny Phere. For Whom The Bell Tolls is another classic song and carries a lot of attitude and anger. It is a lot like in some sense the work of the band Manowar (who have been going on for one year longer than Metallica) as in the song tells a story and for some part sounds like a fantasy setting until the mention of a gun, however this could still be attributed to a fantasy setting but possibly a more recent one. The songs tune follows an easy steady riff for its heavy beat and dark tones and is a great way of representing anger in music, something that is hard to do on most occasions. Another thing that I really like about this song is that the song is very much played by the Bass player. The songs main theme is played on the Bass, and so the Bass is not providing a supporting track for the song but is the main lead; a nice reversal from the Guitar being the lead and the Bass being the support.

2: Fade To Black – Back in 2010, just before I went to Teesside University I could not really listen to anything other than Fade To Black. While the song was really written about Suicide, the song can be seen in other forms of ending. The End of one thing into the next. So as me going to University was starting a new chapter in life, I was fading to black in another (Although my time at Teesside University ended within a year and I returned to the previous life). The song has a nice calm feel to it and picks up speed a couple of times in the main chorus but throughout its calm start it remains one incredibly beautiful song. Then the song almost takes the form of a Black Sabbath song as it practically changes into a completely different song. While it is the same song the tune changes into one of the bands most powerful riffs, picking up speed and ferocity, getting faster and faster, not giving out until the song ends, but before it does it almost changes again with an expert riff from Kirk. Not only is Fade To Black one of my favourite songs by Metallica, it is also one of my Favourite Metal Songs. While in many cases it does not get as mentioned as much as songs like One, Enter Sandman or Master of Puppets, it does not mean that this song is second best to any of the Metallica Classics.

1: Master of Puppets – What else was it going to be? It was thanks to Master of Puppets that I heard about Metallica in the first place and to this day every now and again I give in the urge to go onto YouTube to listen to it again and again. While the title sounds a bit like some kind of Fantasy Puppet Master the song is actually about drug use and when you listen to the lyrics, they fit perfectly with the heavy, dark tune. The lyrics are actually very easy to learn also and so it makes a nice sing a long piece. While saying that sounds soft, the song is anything but. The piece does not start off calmly; it starts with action immediately filling your ears. The combination of Guitar Bass and Drums produces a riff that many have said to be one of the best Guitar Songs produced. The song carries on in this fashion for about 2/3 minutes before turning gentler. Originally when I first heard the song I was a bit annoyed at the slow part in the middle but when you give it a chance it is a nice sweet peace which becomes the opening for a much bigger part of the song. It gives the band a nice break from speed before they go even faster and harder. Much like Fade To Black the song also has a Fantastic Solo part from Kirk which just seems to make the song go even faster and then when you feel like it has finally stopped, it picks up speed again for the final chorus before going into the Big Finish. Master of Puppets is the crowning glory for the band and in many ways for Metal also. It is a sign of Victory, a sign saying that they are proud of who they are and the music they play. Master of Puppets is the proof to why Metallica are the Kings of Metal.

GENEPOOL





Steel Heroes or Monsters (Part 2) – Pacific Rim

5 08 2013

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

One of the more standout features of Pacific Rim was the Special Effects in the CGI department. For many years I have consistently stated that Jurassic Park had the best Special Effects to date, even after Avatar was released. But now, for me anyway that has changed to Pacific Rim. Pretty much all of the Robot and Monster Scenes were CGI except for patches where it was more on a level with the human cast. The effects are most apparent in the Hong Kong fight. The effects used for the Giant Stars were not clumpy in their look or movement, they looked real and had a more fluid motion in what they did, be it punching or throwing or something else. The movement was most fluid though for the Kaiju as they are a more organic life form and when they moved it looked more like an animal than a big robot.  The lighting also worked brilliantly with light not only bouncing off the Iron/Steel Jaegers, but also off the rain. The fire and water effects were lovely altogether even if the scene took place underwater, you could see what was going on clearly in a dark setting but it did not just look like some kind of blank void.

PR9

When I went to see Pacific Rim, I went to see it in 3D. At first I was unsure of seeing it in 3D at first given my past experience with 3D films. I have previously seen a couple of films in 3D since this sort of new wave of 3D films. One was Up which featured two noticeable scenes where 3D was used and the other was the new Clash of the Titans where the only bit of 3D was in the trailers. When I went to see Pacific Rim however, the 3D effects actually worked. In this case though, there were almost no scenes that didn’t have a piece of 3D about it. From the start of the film where stars are moving around past your eyes, to points part way through when you could see a blue monster brain at the corner of your eye, and it felt like it was right next to you. While 3D does seem to be diminishing, Pacific Rim shows that it can be done properly and effectively providing that the production team work to do it effectively. Current 3D presentation at best is when it is a frequent occurrence in a film and not just every (Unnoticeable) now and again as well as pulling off the right effect.

PR10

A great lot of work has gone into the detail of the films main point, the Giant Robots. Shortly before the film’s release, Legendary released a couple of videos showing off how the team went on about designing both the Kaiju and the Jaegers. The Jaegers do have a look about them which is reminiscent of the machines seen in Japanese Anime but are not copies of them. To me, the designs look a lot like the Megazords from Power Rangers and Super Sentei as they do have a human look to them. A surprising amount of detail has also been added to the smaller parts of the machines as well. It’s as if the producers of the films designed manuals for each machine as if they were actually built. The design of each Jaeger also have a sense of steam punk about them as they do look very industrialized while also showing off some connection with the country they come from. The American machine (Gipsy Danger) is very tall but does not look lumbering and is clearly designed for good old hand to hand combat, something it shares with the Australian Jaeger (Striker Eureka) while the Chinese Jaeger (Crimson Typhoon) on the other hand is more like a lumbering brute but has a martial arts sense about it with its combat style, spinning blades and its three arm advantage and one eye look makes it look menacing. The Russian machine (Cherno Alpha) meanwhile is an ancient machine and looks the part; this in turn is represented by its style which looks more like it was designed for defence first with its big head and then attack second with the idea that strength is everything.

PR14

The Kaiju in comparison are more animal like. The Kaiju have many traits about them which relate to those of animals in the real world. One of the early Kaijus looks like a Crocodile as well as a Goblin Shark, while the big bruisers later in the film are more like Gorillas while keeping a reptilian appearance. This gives the big monsters their own independent look instead of just randomly produced or just the same creature over and over again. When designing the Kaiju monsters, the production team tried to make their appearance similar to those of Japanese Kaiju films with the idea being that you have to imagine a man being inside the creature, like a Monster suit. This is achieved brilliantly and makes the fight scenes, while completely CGI, more fluid in their fighting and more believable as result. The slightly humanistic look of their fighting styles also raises tension due to the uniqueness of it and less animal like which is more random. The more animalistic part of the Kaiju comes into it when they are moving about and stomping/crushing on buildings. Like the Jaegers, the Kaiju have had a lot of detail done to them on the smaller scale to including scales, the hands, wings, legs and arms and even more so to the face which includes emotions. It is also not the design of the creatures that have subtle hints towards Japanese Kaiju films, but also in the Kaiju theories. The Kaiju in the film are rated in categories depending on their overall size and power. This category system is named the Serizawa Scale which is a nice little tribute to the original Godzilla film as one of the characters in the film was named Serizawa. I think that’s quite nice.

You may be thinking that with this level of detail for the monsters and robots that the human may have been shunned to one side in production. Well they haven’t, a lot of detail has been put into the human part with elements of Monster religion as well as other things. The main bridge for this is through the use of the Kaiju Black-market which also introduces these other elements as well as show off smaller elements about the Kaiju.

PR12

Pacific Rim’s soundtrack (Produced by Ramin Djawadi) is one of the standout points for me personally. The soundtrack has a nice range of themes for such an epic scaled film with pieces that are best used when they are in a large open space to show the size and scale. The soundtrack though gets better on the human point of view when the Jaegers are in shot. The film’s main theme is used a lot when Gipsy Danger is in shot. it comprises of lots of brass sections with some electric guitars and gives a hero element to the machines, it shows that they are not just weapons, they are heroes. It’s just like if Superman or Batman were to arrive on scene, you know that things are a bout to change in the face of conflict, you feel safe and secure; something that the main theme for Pacific Rim does well.

The best part of the soundtrack though is when the Kaiju are in the foreground. When you see the monsters, particularly during the Hong Kong scene the soundtrack gives out a loud low note or element. It is the kind of sound produced by heavy brass sections of an orchestra and traditional Asian drums. The soundtrack in this instance sounds a lot like a Japanese Kaiju film. In professional wrestling there is a wrestler known as The Undertaker who has a very familiar entrance where the bongs of a bell can be heard before he makes his appearance. It is the same here but with a more traditional Asian feel. It’s the entrance of the Kaiju if you will, it gives them their own unique soundtrack from the rest of the film, and it feels amazing. It brought back moments for me of Monster films like The Host when the monster surfaces for the first time. But more than that, it felt a lot like a Godzilla film. Instead of just making a run of the mill Monster Movie, it showed the commitment and passion needed into making a Good Monster Movie.

Pacific Rim also did something extra special which is not done as regularly as it should be done in Cinema. Many films these days have an extra scene in the credits, a spoiler for a sequel usually or maybe just a funny extra scene. Pacific Rim however did not do this, it did something extra special. It had a dedication, a dedication to two of cinemas greatest film makers. The Late Great’s Ray Harryhausen and Ishirō Honda. That is something which does not happen a lot these days which is a real shame, they appear not to take time to say thank you to those who have helped to shape and build cinema by doing things that captured the eyes of those that they entertained. Ray Harryhausen is of course the Special Effects master who produced many Monster Movies including The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and the original Clash of the Titans. Ishirō Honda (my Favourite Director) is the man who produced many Japanese Kaiju films with films like Atragon and Mothra but was best known for his work in the Godzilla film series as the director of 8 films in the series including the original 1954 film. Pacific Rim is a fitting tribute to the careers of these two Amazing people.

Ray Harryhausen and Ishiro Honda

Pacific Rim is an Amazing film. I am so pleased that Travis Beacham proposed the film in the first place and that Guillermo del Toro joined the project, because if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have had this Amazing film. Films of this scale and size are rarely produced these days, which is a real shame, because they are absolutely incredible. But Pacific Rim does show films like these and Monster Movies in particular still have the power to WOW audiences of all ages and can adapt without losing their integrity. It is now less than a year to go until Legendary Pictures release their new Godzilla film, so while we wait for that, we have another Amazing Monster Movie to enjoy here and now. Pacific Rim is the best film so far this decade.

GENEPOOL (Pacific Rim is practically perfect, there is only one thing that the film is missing).








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