Tuesday, 30 December 2014

100 Heavy Metal Album Covers from 2014

2014, another corker of a year for heavy metal.  Here's my pic for the Top 100 Heavy Metal releases of 2014.  All albums received some form of air-play on my radio show, which I retired from at the end of October this year.  So there may be a few late year releases that slipped under my radar.

But in any event, some old faces, some new faces, Stoner keeps making a big resurgence (for me, and generally) and a new album and ep from Godflesh!

Your favourite releases?  Albums you were dissapointed with?  I dropped off Austrian Death Machine's 'Triple Brutal' as I thought it was boring and listless.  Babymetal on the list?  Haters gonna hate.  Yeah, they represent everything that's wrong with corporate music.  But in a genre like metal, that's suck a stand-out (Nu-metal in the '90's notwithstanding) that I reckon metal can absorb one example of shameless Japaness cute J-metal without being in danger of losing its soul as a genre.  And it's a great shit-stir to all the metal snobs.  Let's just hope it doesn't become the norm, however...

I thought the new Accept album was awesome, and have given my nod of approval to Mark Tornillo as the new lead singer (even if he sounds a wee bit Vim Fuego-ish on the high notes).  Cannibal Corpse continue to impress, Manowar brought out another re-recording (!), a couple of releases from Sunn O))), Dead Kelly impressed the shit out of me, the Ronnie James Dio tribute early in the year was a gem, Hadal Maw power out a release (watch these guys!), and Wolves in the Throne Room bring out an album from left-field, more dark ambient than anything else, and it worked for me.

Everyone gushed about 'The Satanist' from Behemoth, and while I've included it in the list, it didn't grab me as much as seemingly everyone else.  Entombed A.D.'s new album is decent, but for me, the jury's still out as to whether it's a good album.  As much as I love Electric Wizard, their 2014 release, 'Time To Die' was a bit disappointing.  And I'm not still fully sold on Mastodon, but that's a great album cover in this year of vinyl revival!

Bring on 2015!

The albums, from left to right, top to bottom, in no particular order (but mostly alphabetical by band.  Just how it worked out).

1. Blind Rage - Accept
2. The Joy Of Motion - Animals As Leaders
3. Check 'Em Before You Wreck 'Em - Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell
4. 25 Cents For A Riff - Acid Drinkers
5. Xenon - Mechina
6. Language - The Contortionist
7. Memoirs Of A Madman - Ozzy Osbourne
8. A World Lit Only By Fire - Godflesh
9. The Serpent & The Sphere - Agalloch
10. Desideratum - Anaal Nathrakh
11. Tourniquets Hacksaws and Graves - Autopsy
12. Babymetal - Babymetal
13. Back From The Abyss - Orange Goblin
14. Back To The Front - Entombed A.D.
15. The Satanist - Behemoth
16. Brutal Delivery Of Vengeance - Embalmed
17. Burn The Serum - Kyng
18. A Skeletal Domain - Cannibal Corpse
19. Blood Eagle - Conan
20. Dawn Of The Dude (EP) - Cross Examination
21. Death Mask - Lord Mantis
22. Blood Mantra - Decapitated
23. Decline & Fall (EP) - Godflesh
24. Destined To Violate - Gorgasm
25. Misery - Disentomb
26. Awake The Riot - Dust Bolt
27. Earthless - Doom:vs
28. Eat Me - Dol Kruug
29. Time To Die - Electric Wizard
30. Eternity Of Hell & Torment - Belligerent Intent
31. Existence - Aeon Of Horus
32. Blood In, Blood Out - Exodus
33. No Place For Disgrace 2014 - Flotsam and Jetsam
34. Beyond - Freedom Call
35. From Crotch To Crown - Prostitute Disfigurement
36. From Wisdom To Baked - Cannabis Corpse
37. Gigantoid - Fu Manchu
38. Senium - Hadal Maw
39. Dawn Of The New Centurion - Hatriot
40. Heen Yadhar Al Ghasq - Al-Namrood
41. Baptised In Vomit - Hillbilly Blitzkrieg
42. Immortal Legacy - Hirax
43. Redefined Mayhem - Holy Moses
44. Shadows Of The Dying Sun - Insomnium
45. Into The Maelstom - Bigelf
46. Welt Ohne Werbung - Japanische Kampfhorspiele
47. King Of Asgard - Karg
48. Kings Of Metal MMXIV - Manowar
49. The Sun Will Rise Again - Loudness
50. Escape From The Shadow Garden - Magnum
51. For I Am Genocide - Mass Infection
52. Back From Beyond - Massacre
53. Once More 'Round The Sun - Mastodon
54. Mountain - Bong Breaker
55. Murmur - Murmur
56. The Vaulted Shadows - My Dying Bride
57. Nero In Metastasi - Cripple Bastards
58. Up The Dosage - Nashville Pussy
59. Angelic Dread - Nunslaughter
60. Inked In Blood - Obituary
61. The Last Neanderthal - Ogre
62. Pale Communion - Opeth
63. Taste My Sword Of Understanding - Opium Warlords
64. White Devil Armory - Overkill
65. High On Radiation - Reactory
66. Resist Or Serve - Cloven Hoof
67. Meathymns - Ribspreader
68. Slaves To The Grave - Rigor Mortis
69. Ronnie James Dio  This Is Your Life - Various Artists
70. Heroes - Sabaton
71. Slave To The Sword - Exmortus
72. Digital Resistance - Slough Feg
73. Arkan - Sofia
74. Sons Of The Southern Cross - Dead Kelly
75. Stalagmire - Cauldron Black Ram
76. LA Reh 012 - Sunn O)))
77. Terrestrials - Sunn O))) & Ulver
78. Sunset On The Golden Age - Alestorm
79. We Hate The Sea (EP) - Swashbuckle
80. Glass Cathedrals - The Mire
81. R.I.B. - Tankard
82. Hypothalamus - The Wisdoom
83. Thou - Heathen
84. Necronomic Warfare - Trenchrot
85. Kaptein Kaos - Trollfest
86. Ultimatum - ADX
87. Baphomet Pan Shub-Niggurath - Unaussprechlichen Kulten
88. Under Satan's Sun - Bloody Hammers
89. Unholy Resurrection - Grim Legion
90. Outsider - Uriah Heep
91. Tibi Et Igni - Vader
92. The Glorious Dead - Vanir
93. Distant Is The Sun - Vanishing Point
94. Sleeping With Evil (EP) - Vindicator
95. Worship (EP) - Weed Priest
96. Shogunate Macabre - Whispered
97. Whiteworm Cathedral - Necrophagia
98. Samsara - Wide Eyes
99. Celestite - Wolves In The Throne Room
100. The Conjuring - Wo Fat

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Bendigo Record Comic and Toy Fair September 2014

The Bendigo Record, Comic and Toy Fair September 2014

  The Bendigo Record Comic and Toy Fair had its second bash on September 21, 2014. A crowd of around 800 filed through the door over the course of the day, from as far afield as New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, as well as all corners of Victoria.
  Specialist traders in vinyl, cds, rare collectibles, comics, toys, retro games and memorabilia met collectors, pop-culture enthusiasts and the curious in this Bazaar of the Bizarre held in Bendigo, Victoria at the Bendigo Expo Centre.  Members of the Melbourne Graphic Novelists scene had a zone, selling sketches and their original published material, and local fantasy novelist Brett Crandell had a stall.
  The CFA were present doing a tin shake in front of the Doctor Who exhibits, the event itself was a fundraiser for Community Radio Phoenix FM, and a fun day was had by all.
  No firm date has been set for the next Bendigo Record, Comic and Toy Fair, but this bi-annual event should announce a date soon for around March 2015. 

For more info check out the Facebook page.

My images do not belong to the Public Domain. All images in this portfolio are owned and © copyrighted by Peter Pascoe. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from myself is prohibited by law. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Gonk Conspiracy

There's a story that's been untold.  A story that's been covered up, in fact.  One so frightening, one so revealing about the secret order of the universe that it staggers belief.  But it's a story that must be told to all.  It can no longer remain in the shadows.  The Secret Masters of the Universe must stand revealed.  The Architects of the Great Story of Life, the Tweakers of Destiny are unveiled.  And the universe will never be the same again.

Sentients, I present to you, our Secret Masters...The Gonk Droids!

Now, I am well aware that there is a Cult of the Power Droids as they are also known.  And the enigmatic phrase  "Gonk. Gonk. Gonk ko kyenga see" which may never be translated (indeed, it remains illegal to do so) may be innocuously heard at cantina bars and Jawa parties throughout the outer rim of the Galaxy.  And they may seem harmless functional droids, a little sad for their awkward design, a little uncool even.  But therein lies the perfect cover.  But how is this even possible?  And what evidence is there to even suggest such a thing?

It all hinges on the most crucial scene in Star Wars.  The purchase of the droids on Tattoine.

As we all know, the Purchase of the Droids is where Luke meets C-3PO and R2-D2, who have the plans for the Death Star.  This triggers Luke's meeting with Obi-Wan, and a Hero is born who saves the galaxy from the tyrannical grip of the Evil Empire.

Except it very nearly didn't happen like that at all.

Uncle Owen didn't choose to buy R2.  Instead he chose another droid referred to as R5-D4.  Aka, the red one.  There's a brief scene, where C-3PO turns around, as if to say goodbye to R2 forever, then resigns himself to his new situation.  It's their lot in life to suffer, as he moaned earlier.

Alas, R5-D4 blows its stack, Uncle Owen gives Chief Nebit grief about pushing crap upon him, and 3PO suggests that Luke take the plucky little R2 unit instead.  Deal done, all is good.  And that's all there was to that scene, right?  A little bit of good luck that saves the universe.  Or was it just good luck.

"In my experience there's no such thing as luck."  Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Before I continue, let's indulge in a little 'what if' scenario.  And the scenario is this.  What if R5-D4 hadn't malfunctioned, and ended up with Luke at the farm, and R2 had stayed unsold with the Jawas?
Could R2 have somehow escaped the sandcrawler and made his way to the farm to get to C3PO, assuming he's want to do that at all?  Let's assume he would try, if only because he would probably stand a better chance with 3PO (despite his attempt to go solo.  Or, in light of what happened when he did, because of it.)  Alas.  He had the restraining bolt activated at the purchase.  Hard to get around, even for a plucky little dustbin like R2.
So, with R2 out of the picture (not to mention the stolen Death Star plans), Luke stays on the farm.  Luke doesn't chase R2 out in the desert, so he doesn't meet up with Obi-Wan Kenobi.  He doesn't get his lightsaber.  He isn't faced with the choice of 'following old Obi-Wan on some damn fool crusade'.  What happens next is dependant on the stormtroopers once they catch up with the sandcrawler.  Which they most certainly do.
Outcome 1.  They find R2, and take the chance that he's the one with the plans for the Death Star. Which is correct.  They take R2 back to their bosses, who find the Death Star plans, they get promoted, the Rebellion doesn't find a weakness in the Death Star, and when the Battle of Yavin takes place, Blammo!  End of the Rebellion.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  Hey, at least the prisoners in detention level AA23 get to live a life of torture for a while longer.
Outcome 2.  The stormtroopers find one of the droids, but decide not to give up on the chance that the stolen plans are in 'the other one'.  They trace back the sale to Uncle Owens and Aunt Beru's place, and instead of 2 smouldering, charred remains as a reminder of a friendly visit from their neighbourhood Empire troops, there are now 3.  Luke joins the growing list of victims, no Jedi hero, the Jedi die with Vader, and the Sith win the Big One.  End of the Rebellion, as seen above.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

But let's assume Outcome 1 from above.  Luke survives.  The droids work out, and Uncle Owen keeps his promise of allowing Luke to 'go to the Academy' the next year.  Luke's a decent pilot, he works out well, becomes decorated in perhaps another stab at a rebellion.  Maybe he ends up as decorated, and skilled as, say Wedge Antilles.  It's certainly within him, and he may feel stirrings of 'The Force' which, alas, remain untrained within him, as Obi-Wan never meets him to set him off on his heroes journey.  Or even if he does, the fire's not in his belly, because the Empire didn't kill his aunt and uncle anyway.  Or Ben, for that matter.  (He had, after all, decided not to follow Obi-Wan anyway.  It's safe to assume he would make the same choice under pretty much the same conditions.)  And even if there's a subsequent attack on the Death Star, there's no Force, no exploitable weak-spot that the Rebellion has to offer their pilots, no Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon to help out in a tight spot, no Obi-Wan guiding him to 'use the Force', and even if Vader and Luke meet in combat, Vader says, 'I have you now' and blows him to smithereens because Han isn't there to distract Vader because he's still smuggling his butt off to pay back Jabba.  Because 'there's no such thing as luck', and because 'he's good against a living' and all that.  And there's still a Death Star.  And a second, in construction around Endor.  Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

So, yeah, taking that blue droid was pretty damn crucial.  But was it an accident that R5 had 'a bad motivator'?

What the hell is a 'motivator' anyway?  Well, according to Wookipedia, that font and bastion of Star Wars knowledge, a Motivator is "a device that was primarily used in droids to convert other forms of energy such as chemical or electrical energy into kinetic or mechanical energy."

Stop right there.  Does that sound in any way familiar to you?

"Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."  Obi-Wan Kenobi.

So...if a motivator enables droids to convert energy into kinetic energy, and the Force is an energy field...does that make droids Force Users?  Or Jedi?  Or Sith?
According to Wookiepedia, (and Dark Horse comics), R5-D4 has a name.  And a secret.  R5-D4 is actually a Jedi Droid.  Called Skippy.  According to this Wookiepedia entry 'Skippy' used the force at the Purchase of the Droids and "...soon envisioned that, without Luke, stormtroopers would come and take R2 back to Vader, where he would be destroyed and Leia would be killed, leading to a chain reaction of horror that will include the Rebellion being destroyed."  So, according to this story, R5 (Skippy.  Really?  Skippy?) nobly 'set off a mild explosion inside himself' then used the Force on C3PO to encourage him to tell Luke to take R2 instead.

However, according to the Official Wookiepedia entry on R5-D4 the 'bad motivator' was caused, not by using the Force to sabotage himself, but by R2-D2 sabotaging him aboard the sandcrawler, "acting under the orders of Princess Leia aboard the Tantive IV to find Obi-Wan Kenobi by any means possible, even if it involved modifying other droids, an action usually prohibited by basic droid programming laws."
Does that sound like R2 to you?  Well, who can tell.  R2 can be a sneaky little bastard.  But that sounds like Sith talk to me.  And it contradicts the self-sabotage of the 'Skippy' story.  So which one is correct?

Neither of them.  The sabotage was caused by another droid on board the sandcrawler.  The Gonk Droid.  According to the same entry, "a Power Droid on board Nebit's sandcrawler suggested that if (R5-D4) cooperated, he would eventually be sold to masters who had to be better than the Jawas."  That's all a bit vague.  Clearly there was another agenda at work here.  And that agenda was sabotage.

But Why?

What was really at stake at the Purchase of the Droids?  Well, nothing less than the fate of the galaxy for a start.  But, as with so many pivotal incidents in Star Wars, there are levels of significance.  And what was at stake here, for the sake of the galaxy, was Luke's Choice.  Or, more specifically, Luke's Influence.  What do R5-D4 and R2-D2 actually represent?  A Choice between the Light Side of the Force, and the Dark Side.  After all, what is the 'Dark Side' but 'a bad motivator'?  This is the true meaning of 'motivator'.

The key here is the colour of the droids.  And the colour of the lightsabers that would be significant indicators of their representative sides in the Balance of the Force.  Basically Blue=The Light Side (Luke's Lightsaber, which was also Anakin's old Lightsaber, before he turned, Obi-Wan's Lightsaber) and Red=The Sith (Darth Vader's Lightsaber, Darth Maul's Lightsaber).  And whichever droid he would choose would seal his fate.  And he nearly got saddled with the Dark Side.  But that act of sabotage ensured that Luke got to choose the Light Side instead.  And the Gonk Droid engineered the entire situation, to make sure that there was only one outcome.
And how did the Power Droid know where they were going?  Gonk Droids are everywhere.  Including Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's house.

They obviously communicated to each other.  Sneaky Sneaky Gonk Droids.

But Why?  Why set this pivotal situation up in the first place?  What did the Gonk Droids hope to gain out of all this?

Who can tell.  Gonk Droids, or Power Droids as they are more properly known as, are a mysterious thing.  They're everywhere.  They provide power.  So they're basically walking generators.  That say 'Gonk'.  The Wookiepedia entry is pretty thin on info.  But one can speculate.

What is the core function of a Power Droid? To provide power.  So, without power, they lose their primary function, right?  Well, a while before, there was one chap who had a pretty clear goal.  He wanted...Unlimited Power!

So if Emperor Palpatine wanted Unlimited Power, where does that leave the Gonks?  Without a purpose, that's what.  And what's the best way to rectify this imbalance in power distribution, than nudge a hero capable of rectifying the imbalance in power?  Power is energy, usable by both droids and force-sensitive sentients.  The Gonk Droids brought down the Empire, so that they could retain their monopoly on Power!  Now the Truth is Revealed!

All Hail the Secret Masters!

There you have it.  The Gonk Conspiracy.  Don't believe me?  This is what happens when one crime lord discovered the conspiracy...

If I disappear, you will know why.  And the Gonks will continue to rule in secret.  Spread the word.  Before the Gonks force their agenda on you.  They care not for you.  They exist only for Power.  Stop the madness.  Think of the children!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Cosplay. The Good, The Bad...and the Ugly.


The next step in fashion evolution.

Or just dorks in stupid costumes?

The real answer...?


And more.

There are some really good ideas and technical accomplishments going on out there in the world of cosplay.  And then, there are those who need a good slap.  The idiots.  What were they thinking?

Here they are.  Presented, not for the first time, nor the last, but for Right Here and Right Now.  The Good.  The Bad.  And the Ugly.

The Good

 Let's set the bar high with the first one.  Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson.  Yeah, a photo-shoot, rather than folk wandering about a Con, but a damn impressive one at that!

Sarah Louise Kerrigan a.k.a The Queen of Blades from Starcraft.  Noice!

Authenic and Clever.  And funny.  Me likee.

I don't know about you, but I reckon Lady Loki costumes are better than the Male Loki ones. 

Stinky Pete.  With authentic smell?

Delirium from the Endless in the Sandman comics.  Because, let's face it, a room full of Dream would look like a Cure convention.

An Imperial Fists Captain in Terminator Armour (Warhammer 40K).  Now there's some serious effort right there. 

This pic looks suspiciously CG to me.  that won't stop me putting it up, though.

Now that is Stoopid Clever.  That's a win.

Alphonse Elric from Full Metal Alchemist.  Complete with squeaky voice?

Another very clever idea.  How good is this Tardis dress?

Now that is one seriously good Trap-Jaw!

Real-Life Toy Soldiers.  But do they melt like the real things when set on fire?

Japanese Cosplay.  We are not worthy.

Mobile Suit Gundam.  I'm still hanging out for the life-size cosplay, but these will do for now.

Best Artoo Costume ever?

There are some cosplay 'celebrities' out there, such as Jessica Nigri, Scruffy Rebel, Yaya Han and others, and their fame, such as it is, is received with mixed results among geekdom and 'con regulars.  Shown above is one such 'celebrity' Vampy Bit Me who has a stunning array of hot costumes.  Love it or hate it, they're a thing now.  Do I smell a reality TV show?  Or just burning fap?

The perfect Joker cosplay?

Galactus Win right here.  And that's how you cosplay.

The Bad

Alas, for every cosplay win, there's a complete and utter, abject Cosplay Fail.  Some folk try hard.  And stuff it up.  Some folk try too hard to be funny.  And just come off sad, stinking of Epic Fail.  And some don't even bother trying.  You all suck.  Here's the Cosplay Hall of Shame.

For every Galactus Cosplay Win, there's a guy like this, who tried, but instead of eating a planet, ate from the Table of Fail.  And stuffed himself.  

What do you get when you cross Wolverine with a Banana?  This guy.  Are you serious?  

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  They look more like the Weed Teletubbies.  Smack!

'Nuff Said!

Yeah, nailed it.

The new Iron Man movies have provided fans with a very high level of costume design.  So it's not really a surprise that many Iron Man costumes fall short of the real thing.  But that's no excuse for this.  You'd better hide that face, mate!  You idiot!

Is this the same guy?  Surely this level of fail can't be duplicated...

What were you smoking?  But ya gotta love that Uno card on the belt.  That just makes the fail all that more embarrassing.  

Here's another one that probably needed the accompanying picture for identifying.  My spider-fillings are tingling.

Y'know.  I once went to a high school Medieval-style ball with a sheet of newspaper over my head.  I went as a 'Page'.  Get it?  I thought that was the lamest costume ever.  This guy proved me wrong.  Thank you Random Convention Cosplay Idiot!

There are no shortages of authentic Star Wars costumes out there.  There's even a dedicated Fan Legion (the 501st) whose only entry requirement is owning a movie-authentic costume.  And then there are these guys.  The Fapping 606's?  Just shoot them now.  Post-Ironic is so Post-Hipster.

In this day and age of advanced digital facial recognition, I'd be hiding my whole face in a costume like this.  Go back to the Star Trek conventions!

Spider-Man?  With a camel toe?  Eeww...

Why can't we have a gender-swapped Wonder Woman?  Here's why.

Mind you, not all the women get it right, either.  

The Ugly

 It's difficult to call a costume ugly and not call the people in the costume ugly, because that's not the spirit of things. 

But these guys made it easy.

Bonus Cosplay

Ron Jeremy as Mario.

Breaking News

A couple of cosplayers at Brisbane Oz Comic-con 2014 introduced black humour to the Dark knight.  Dressed up as Thomas and Martha Wayne, they would stalk random Batman cosplayers, run up to them, shout 'Son!', then drop dead in front of him.  Their costumes were complete with a broken pearl necklace, a W emblazoned on Thomas's jacket, and a bucket of popcorn.  
Lazer Gun Diplomacy salutes you with a 21 gun salute.