what a gem

Not sure if anyone here knows Znöwhite, but they were an amazing band. When the band just formed, there were three black dudes, and they were a metal band already, even though metal on the whole was rather wimpy in 1982. And they had a female singer called Nicole Lee – who was white, but a female singer was rather uncommon in metal at that time, y’know.

It did take them a couple of years to develop into this unstoppable war machine – their first couple of EPs showcase this progression – but starting from around 1986, they were playing probably the best thrash metal there was at the time. Their only full-length, Act of God, was released in 1988, then Nicole quit, they hired Debbie Gunn of Sentinel Beast fame (and she may have also sung for Ice Age briefly, but I’m just not about to google it, okay?), but Ms Gunn was simply no match for Nicole, so basically that’s how the story ended.

And here is some rare live footage with Nicole on vox!

since DAZ3D decided to be so nice to me…

…and offered me a selection of one item free from a list that included Carrara 8.5 Pro…

I did buy a couple of other things off my wishlist (with nice discounts, of course). But this was unexpected.

Given that I’m still half sick and still have a load of paid work to finish ASAP, I used this newly found joy to relax a bit between sessions of typing stuff down like a maniac.

Good ole V4 (not sure which Perfect V4 version should work in Carrara – if any does; Genesis should work in 8.5, but that’s for later). Amy Elite maps. Materials based on Indigone’s old freebie that is unsurpassed as far as I’m concerned, with highlights driven by Sparrowhawke3D’s free EdgeFalloff shader that seems to work fine with GI in C8.5. The scene is one of the Interior presets (Afternoon, I think), but I adjusted the sky (and killed the ambient because it’s not required with GI, really), added a tube light as the key light and moved the parts around a bit. Of course I turned gamma correction on. The hair is Diomede’s Egypt model with some adjustments in draping and materials.

The camera has a bit of DoF enabled – this isn’t the true correct raytraced DoF because it’s slow as hell in Carrara unfortunately; it’s a purely postprocess effect, albeit built-in, but hey, not bad IMO.

And yes, a lot of why I did this was reassuring myself that it shouldn’t matter which software I am using at the moment. Although Indigone’s SSS settings seem to be the pinnacle of using SSS in Carrara – it’s really a black box, and I haven’t been able to improve much on her params. I do tweak the colour, intensity and Fresnel a little, but anything too drastic breaks the shader completely.


when dynamifying various DS content…

…like conforming clothing or your own meshes, you may find that the garment doesn’t want to drape nicely but has some sort of “jaggies” sticking out everywhere.

A lot of the time it’s because the geometry is in quads. A simple triangulation operation in any modeler will solve this. But make sure your modeler doesn’t break UVs while triangulating.

And another suggestion contrary to good practices in making meshes for actual rigging: your dynamic mesh should be crazy dense.

one of the reasons most mainstream music…

…doesn’t work for me is that there are too many people involved in crafting any random track, and it’s impossible to understand who they are and where they are coming from. Supposing they actually meant anything when writing, and the biggest reason is, of course, that they did not. Okay, they meant to get paid. That’s that.

It’s different when you dig deeper. No, even deeper. Way deeper.

I have written about Borknagar recently, and I figured that checking out their current vocalist’s solo stuff could do no wrong.

And it doesn’t get any more solo than this: Vintersorg the band is Mattias Marklund on guitar and Andreas “Vintersorg” Hedlund on everything else.

It’s a similarly awesome sort of music – different enough from Borknagar, but there are all those cool elements here as well: an integration of “darker” metal genres like viking/black with just about everything else, to the point that any genre definitions disappear, really. I’m not fond of those abstract labels like “avant-garde metal” or whatever; they are meaningless. We could analyse each and every individual track to break down every harmony or rhythm and figure out what genre these are most often found in… but who needs it, in all honesty? Let’s just say they don’t come together that often in a precisely this fashion.

Many Vintersorg albums are written exclusively in Swedish. Here is a video with a Spanish translation. It’s still better than nothing, isn’t it. Either way, it’s one of those songs that just make you go “what the hell was that”, in a good way.

Edenbridge are back!

Not that they ever truly left – Sabine and Lanvall had an acoustic thing going on – but.

Yes you could probably say that they haven’t been doing anything markedly new for the last ten+ years, but.

They’re one of the few surviving “sympho/gothic” bands of that generation. And they have always stood on their own, even though their sonic evolution might have mirrored that of NW’s in a way.

If anything, there is literally no other singer in metal who sounds just like Sabine Edelsbacher.

Ten years ago in China…

k, technically there’s more than two of them

The song is actually rather boring, but damn pretty. And being pretty, it served its purpose of getting me hooked on Borknagar, whose 2001 album Empiricism I’m currently trying to virtually wear out =D It’s anything but boring, y’know.

Normally (i.e. unlike in that Winter Thrice song above), the lead singer of Borknagar is Vintersorg (has been since Empiricism, alright), and he does this endearing combination of charismatic, expressive extreme vox and unabashedly romantic, extra clean, somewhat “folkish” singing, somewhere in between young Pasi Koskinen’s studio work (remember Amorphis’ Elegy?) and Hansi Kürsch’s approach to ballads (minus his trademark ventures into hi-octane territory).

Musically, Empiricism also reminds me of all the best qualities Koskinen!Amorphis had, taking a core extreme genre like death metal (Amorphis) or black/viking metal (Borknagar) and messing with it till it turns into something progressive – not in the sense of “a billion notes per second played in 137/256” but in the sense of “quite unlike most things you’ve heard before”.

Check out this track – it’s awesome, and it’s just one of many. It’s impossible to pick favourites with that album.

And while we’re at it, let’s listen to some classic Amorphis again. Fun fact: it’s a “beauty and the beast” song actually, it’s just that the beauty is male. Growls are performed by Tomi Koivusaari, rhythm guitar.