Monday, March 26, 2012

Crimes of Passion - To Die For Review!

“To Die For” is the sophomore album of British band Crimes of Passion, produced and recorded by the great Charlie Bauerfeind.  I had never heard of the band before and, although the production of the album is great and there’s nothing bad about it, I can’t say this release is a monument to the ages.  Yet, I do enjoy it quite a bit.  There are many great moments on the album, such as the classic-yet-melodic power ballad “Blown Away” that closes the album, the Power Metally “I Dare You To Try,” the crunchily upbeat “Dream Again,” and the guest appearances by Saxon’s Biff Byford and Helloween’s Andi Deris.  

Something that gives me mixed feelings about the album is Dale Radcliffe’s vocals.  He sounds at times like Avenged Sevenfold’s vocalist and other times like Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), and sometimes even a mixture of the two.  Perhaps it’s needless to say, but I’m a much bigger fan of the songs that don’t remind me of Avenged Sevenfold (speaking on a purely vocal basis).  

Bottom line, there is a classic-yet-modern sound to Crimes of Passion that makes the band likable and easy to listen to.  Some songs are a bit too “modern” for my taste (mostly the songs in which Dale sounds too much like M. Shadows), but there are a few moments that rise above the tried-and-true Metal formula and hint at a future Power Metal sound that I hope the band pursues.  There is enough variety on the album to keep it interesting, but I don’t think it’ll make any “Best Album of 2012” lists.  Even so, this is great for a sophomore effort and I look forward to how the band progresses.  It’s definitely worth a listen, especially the song “I Dare You To Try.” 

Rating:  7/10

Songs to listen to:  I Dare You To Try, Love Is To Die For, Blackened Heart, Dream Again, Blown Away (album version)  

Review featured at The Metal Pit!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Makeup Monday - Basic Smokey Eye Tutorial

I've already posted a video about getting Kat Von D eyes, but what if that's not dark and Metal enough for you?  Well, lucky for us, the lovely lady from the Kat Von D video has another tutorial about basic smokey eyes.  And she gets them really, really dark.  For concerts I'd probably put some glitter eyeliner on top of it all to give it more pop, but overall I like it a lot.  I still prefer the Kat Von D eyes, though.  That look is more feminine, and has the opportunity for added color!   

This video made me curious about eyeshadow primer/kohl pencils, because they sound ridiculous.  I mean, really?  Stuff to put UNDER your makeup to make it last longer?  Geez.  Makeup is complicated.

But then I tried Urban Decay's eyeshadow primer, and realized that it's really, really important.  I never realized how much my eye makeup faded until I put that stuff on.  My eye makeup remained perfectly intact all day!  How have I not used this gloriousness until now?  Especially at concerts!  Thanks to this stuff, my makeup will remain glorious throughout all of ProgPower USA.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and seriously try out these primer things!  They're magical! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Must-have Earplugs - Etymotic ER20s!

Lovers of Metal everywhere all face a real problem—the shows are so damn LOUD.  Metal can’t be turned down and tamed, so we embrace the epic volume.  It fills us with the power of Metal.  But it really hurts.  And, if you go to enough shows without adequate protection, it probably messes with your hearing.  That’s the last thing a lover of Metal wants to risk!  Ugh, a life without Metal?  No thanks.

But what can we do?  Earplugs muffle the sound!  Why even go to a show if you’re just going to muffle the sound with silly earplugs?  Those foamy ones also feel really strange and don’t quite fit into my small lady ears, anyway.
Fret no longer, Metal brothers and sisters!  Etymotic Research has the answer!  These earplugs are seriously the holy grail for Metal fans.  They don't muffle the sound at all; they lower the decibels to a quieter volume (which, for a Metal show, is still loud).  They come in different sizes, too, which is good for my lady ears.  I purchased the blue ones for myself, and they fit wonderfully!  I didn't have to constantly readjust them in my ears; they stayed put until I was done with them!
  They also can't really be seen in your ears once you have them in, which is a plus.    And they're only $12!  The larger ones are white.
They're adorable, too.
Now, what about the sound?  Well, I can honestly say that these earplugs are the SHIT.  I tried them out at an Eluveitie/Children of Bodom show and they were so good that no one could hear me talk, even between band's sets.  Because the ETY ER20s lowered everything to a reasonable volume, I didn't need to yell.  Everything was normal volume to me.  My friends couldn't hear me because the music was extremely loud for them and they didn't have the protection I did.  Had any of them been wearing ER20s, we probably could've held a normal conversation during a set like it was no big deal. 

The music also didn't sound muffled at ALL.  It was wonderful.  It just felt like the volume was turned down.  I even stood in front of the huge speakers for a while and didn't get pummeled by the volume (though my poor little heart still felt all the bass).  For curiosity's sake, in the middle of a Children of Bodom song I took one of my earplugs out.  I immediately jumped and shoved it back in my ear.  It was a huge difference.  And, at the end of the night, I took my earplugs out and felt totally fine.  These earplugs had done the job of giving me a very enjoyable night of Metal thrashing that didn't include destroying my hearing.

For only $12 for a pair that can be reused over and over again, what are you waiting for?  Everyone who goes to Metal shows needs a pair of these.  Think of it as saving your hearing for more Metal in your later years. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Makeup Monday - Kat Von D at Sephora!

I looove Kat Von D's makeup line at Sephora.  What could possibly be more Metal than makeup designed by a famous tattoo artist?  Nothing, really, unless Simone Simons ever gets around to developing a makeup line.  Until that glorious day, I will have my Kat Von D goodness.

Unfortunately, Kat's stuff is quite expensive.  But sometimes you've gotta splurge.  I mean, sure, you can find plenty of Metal stuff at drugstores.  But Kat's stuff is really, really awesome.  And the packaging is totally badass!

Here, check this stuff out: 

Here's a Foiled Love lipstick.  The packaging is awesome.
One of the products Kat Von D is known for are her lipsticks.  She has tons of red lipsticks in possibly every shade you could ever want, my personal favorite color being "Hellbent," a very deep blood red.  It looks gorgeous against my pale skin.  The color makes quite a statement, though, so I'll save it for shows and special events.

Kat has two different kinds of lipsticks:  Painted Love and Foiled Love ($19 each).  The Painted Love lipsticks are the regular lipsticks, and the Foiled Love lipsticks have metallic glitter in them (they don't feel weird on your lips!).  I desperately want to get the foiled lipstick in "F.T.W." so I can say my lipstick is for the win.  "Oh My Goth" looks gorgeous as well, but I'm not sure how purple lipstick would look on me!  I need to get to a Sephora, ugh. 

Also, if you don't wear lipstick that often, you can do what I did and purchase this nifty set.  It's a sampler of quite a few Kat Von D lipsticks, including my two favorites, "Hellbent" and the foiled lipstick "Adora."  The lipsticks are crazy tiny, but way more than enough if you don't wear lipstick every day.  It's out of stock online, but some Sephora stores probably still have it. 

Buy my makeup.  Because you're worth it.
Kat Von D's most sought-after products are probably her eyeshadow palettes.  Known for her dramatic eye makeup in person, it makes perfect sense that her eyeshadow palettes would be just as dramatic.  I use the Sinner palette almost every day and I love the bejeezus out of it.  It makes a perfectly Metal smoky eye, assuming you use a brush that can blend properly, as I mentioned earlier.  The colors in the palette are totally badass, and I definitely recommend this palette despite the $36 price tag.
"All shall love me and despair."
 For whatever reason, the rest of Kat's palettes are all pretty tame except for this one.  She has quite a few palettes that are discontinued, like the Metal Orchestra palette, which I regret not getting my grubby hands on before it disappeared (ebay here I come!).  Hopefully Kat will come out with another palette soon with some blues in it, but I do have my eye on the Beethoven palette.

Kat Von D has way more eye products to choose from, but I haven't tried any of them yet.  She has eyeliner pens, liquid eyeliner, pencils, primer--everything!  So take a gander and try some of this stuff out at your local Sephora.

Buy my makeup.  Because I'm naked  ;D
As I've already talked at length about Kat Von D's nail polish, my final product to talk about is fragrance.  The rollerballs are $18, and the large spray bottles are $55.  Some scents have really badass 1 oz. bottles for $45.  Unfortunately I don't like the scents with the badass bottles enough to buy them.  Maybe I need to smell them again?

Because this is too badass NOT to have.
I've sniffed both of Kat's signature perfumes (Sinner and Saint), and I dislike both of them immensely, even the Sinner.  Of course, perfume is a very personal thing, so you have to try for yourself to know what you like.  I haven't tried out the Poetica scent yet, and I'm very, very upset that the Adora scent, which I ADORE (pun intended) is being discontinued.  I'm anxiously waiting for the price of the large bottle of Adora to go on clearance, because my local Sephora is full of it (Update:  Adora perfume is now on sale for $18 at Sephora inside JC Penney stores!!!).  And why should I pay full price for something I know is being discontinued and has been sitting in the store for three months or more?  But if that never happens, I'll stock up on the $6 rollerballs.

And that's all, folks!  Kat Von D's makeup is really great quality and has wonderful reviews online, so give it a try!  Here's a video of Kat using some of the makeup.  Enjoy!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Amaranthe - Hunger video (and a rant about over-sexism in Metal!)

are a band that mix a ton of Metal genres, and I love it.  Though their three-singer (male clean, male harsh, and female clean) formula isn't as original as everyone thinks it is (poor Trail of Tears get no love), their sound certainly is a breath of fresh air.  It's extremely catchy and makes me want to dance, yet it's able to retain heavyness.  It's a hard thing to do, and they've found a great balance.  I can't wait to see them live at ProgPower USA!

Female singer Elize Ryd is gorgeous, but I'm starting to see a trend of over-sexed women in Metal now.  In the video she's flaunting her flat, uber-toned tummy and batting those fake eyelashes like no tomorrow.  And the Metal fanboys are just salivating over her like demented puppies.  If you go to read the comments on YouTube there's a discussion on it, even.

I think it's sad that record companies are sinking to selling sex to sell records.  Just look at Huntress.  I love the band's music, but there are so many pornographic pictures of frontwoman Jill Janus that it makes me frustrated, as I'm clearly not the demographic the band (or their management) cares about.  I mean, really:  Look at this.  Tell me that's not selling sex. And tell me that's not pornographic.  C'mon, I dare you.  The kid doing the photoshop on it probably had to airbrush her nipples out just to get it in the magazine.  Because I know her nipples can't be hiding in that jacket.  If they are, then I give kudos to her ninja nipples.   

Both of these bands are just starting out, so perhaps this is a method that all female-fronted Metal has used to get started and I just never knew.  If that's what it takes to sell your first albums, all right, but don't make it so obvious that you're showing off for the fanboys.  Pretty please? :D 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brand to watch - Metal Mulisha!

Today I'm going to show you a selection of deliciously Metal clothes offered by Metal Mulisha.  I mentioned Metal Mulisha in last week's catalog of Metal handbags, but was also impressed by their selection of clothing for women (which they refer to as "Metal Maidens" on their website).  I admit that a lot of the designs are more "skater"- or "hipster"-looking, but there are many gems to be found if you search a bit. 


I really like these shirts :D  They're more subtle than some of the other designs Metal Mulisha offers, and have that feminine edge that I looove.  They also look really flattering to the body, which is a plus!


Metal Mulisha
always have a great selection of dresses, but I recommend checking out ebay.  There are so many more awesome designs than what's offered on MM's website, and you can snag some great deals!  I recently bought the Traced dress on ebay for $30 and I love it!  It's pretty tight, though. 

 Their swimsuits are a bit skimpier than what I like, but they're pretty Metal for those of you with the bodies to pull it off.  I mean, c'mon, a skull on your boob AND your butt?  That's pretty badass.  And I love the soft feminine touches of the lace trim and satin bows.

So, there you have it!  A small sampling of the great clothing options for Metal maidens from Metal Mulisha!  You can get their stuff online, or at PacSun stores (found in most shopping malls).  It's actually much cheaper to buy Metal Mulisha items at PacSun, but not all PacSuns carry it!

Happy shopping!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Makeup Monday - Magnetic Nail Polish!

I've become quite a nail polish addict.  I think nail polishes are like Pokemon cards--I'm consumed with a lust to get them all.  I'm particularly fond of polishes that give unique effects, like shatter, glitter/flakey topcoats, and now magnetic nail polish.  I mean, really, what's more Metal than a nail polish that has actual metal INSIDE OF IT?!  Yeah, nothing.

So, I picked up some Magnetic nail polish at Hot TopicMagnetic Force by Color Club.  I got mine in HipNotic because the electric blue color (Electro-Midnight) wasn't in stock at the time.  At $7, these magnetic polishes are a bargain (normal retail is $12-16).


There are metal filings inside the nail polish, and they separate from the rest of the nail polish when approached by a magnet, creating a lovely 3D tigerseye effect!  Unfortunately, I had issues getting this polish to work correctly.  You have to paint your nails one by one, putting the magnet (located on top of the lid) over the nail while the polish is still wet.  I didn't figure this out until I had painted an entire hand, whoops!  Luckily it came off easily.  I also found that the effect is much more dramatic if you have a LOT of polish on your nail.

Without flash.  See the pretty design? :D

With flash!  I love the metallic 3D shine!
I stupidly tried using the magnet at different angles in an attempt to get different designs.  I ended up ruining the entire effect and had to start over.  Ugh.  It's pretty lame that you only get the horizontal pattern, but I'm going to pick up this magnet by China Glaze and see if it works out.  The design possibilities look badass!

Close-up of the epic Metal polish.  My finger looks really creepy.

Bottom Line: despite my issues, I think magnetic polish is very Metal and I look forward to playing with it again! :D  Highly recommended!  This kind of polish is showing up in many brands and many colors, so of course I have to get them all.  My poor wallet.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Eluveitie - Helvetios Review!

Check out my review of Eluveitie's fantastic new album, Helvetios, featured at The Metal Pit!

I used to hate harsh vocals.  I still try to tell myself that I don’t like them.  But when I heard Folk Metal band Eluveitie’s new album, Helvetios, I finally accepted that I actually love harsh vocals.  Even in the almost-metalcore vocal offerings on “The Siege,” I was enthralled.  I punched my steering wheel and wanted to kill things.  It was utterly badass.  And then, out of nowhere, in the middle of the song comes a beautiful violin solo which then builds back into the face-melting nearly metalcore thrashing.  That’s why I love Eluveitie.  There’s just so much depth and variety in every single album, and they keep getting better.

Besides the expected epic metal guitars and crazy awesome drums, there are bagpipes, whistles, crazy violin solos—the instrumentation and musicianship of this band is just mind-boggling.  And vocals!  In Helvetios, hurdy-gurdy player Anna Murphy’s beautifully sweet vocals show up on multiple songs.  Chrigel’s passionate, emotional screams still make orgasms happen in my ears, and now there’s the sweet voice of Anna to make my ears orgasm TWICE.  She truly shines in “A Rose for Epona,” a beautifully emotional song that proves that she’s a seriously good singer, damn it, and then she sings on many more songs on the album in case you didn’t get the message.  I just can’t get over how much awesome variety there is in this album. 

At a whopping 17 tracks, the album can roughly be summed up as follows:

Prologue:  Spoken, beautifully written story about Helvetios.  I can’t ever skip it even though there’s no music, and it makes the next song (and the whole album) that much more epic.
Helvetios:  Epic.  Just epic.  Blew my mind first listen.
Luxtos:  Feels like a second part of “Helvetios.”  Continues with epic-ness and has an awesomely catchy and folkish chorus.  Makes me bounce.
Home:  Eases off on the epic-ness and turns down the Folk dial a bit.  Sounds a bit generic when compared to the previous two songs.
Santonian Shores:  Turns the Folk dial back up a bit, but still not as impressive as “Helvetios” and “Luxtos.”
Scorched Earth:  Lovely,  soft lamentation sung in Gaulish by guest vocalist Christoph Pelgen. 
Meet the Enemy:  Punches you in the face after you’ve been lulled into a dreamy countryside by “Scorched Earth.”  A la “Quoth the Raven,” Anna has a nice mid-song scream in here.
Neverland:  Continues to pummel you with Metal, and features a nice, catchy chorus.  Great Metal/Folk balance in this song.
A Rose for Epona:  Another epic song.  I could seriously listen to this gorgeous song on repeat for hours and never get bored.  Beautiful. 
Havoc:  Opens with a great violin solo and is a pretty epic song that showcases Eluveitie’s incredibly awesome Metal/Folk balance.  Like “Meet the Enemy,” but more Folk. 
The Uprising:  In the vein of “Meet the Enemy” and “Havoc,” but with a great spoken bit by the narrator from the prologue.
Hope:  Aptly-named Folk instrumental. 
The Siege:  So brutal that it’s almost metalcore in places.  Anna’s screams in this are chillingly awesome.  This whole song is chillingly awesome.  It’s one of the best on the whole album.
Alesia:  Gives both listeners and Helvetians a break in this gorgeous song that again showcases Anna’s lovely vocals (but with more Chrigel than “Epona”).
Tullianum:  Heart-breaking spoken words by Anna.  It’s only 20-ish seconds long.
Uxellodunon:  Great final song.  Chrigel’s screams of “we will never forget” really bring this one home.
Epilogue:  Narrator brings the story full circle, followed by a sad/hopeful instrumental.  And there’s a choir!  Yes. 

This album is truly wonderful.  The great story, raw emotion, and pure awesomeness of the songs make this album one of my favorite Folk Metal releases—perhaps even of all Metal releases—of 2012.  It’s only March, but I doubt this one can be topped.

Songs that I thought were especially awesome:  Helvetios, Luxtos, A Rose for Epona, Havoc, The Siege, Alesia, Uxellodunon.

Rating:  9.5/10 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lacuna Coil - back?

On my first listen of Lacuna Coil's new album, Dark Adrenaline, I heard a lot of good things.  There's more variation in their sound (guitar solos?!  Cristina does different things with her voice!), and some songs gave me a Comalies feel.  Which is good.  I need to give it a few more listens to be sure. 

I think that generally Lacuna Coil haven't "sold out"--they just need a new producer.  Their albums since Comalies have all been SOO polished (almost over-polished?), and I think that has affected their sound.  They sound way more mainstream because of how polished their songs are.  I  liked Karmacode and a few songs off A Shallow Life, but I admit Shallow Life was preeeetty "mainstream"-sounding.  I almost gave up on Lacuna Coil after that, but decided I'd give Dark Adrenaline a try.  And I think they're going back to what they used to be.

Expect a full review to come later, but for now here's the video for the extremely catchy song, "Trip the Darkness!"