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.

 

a yet another live bootleg vid, but.

This one’s special. I might have heard worse-sounding soundboard recordings. Of course there are missing parts to the frequency spectrum, and yet it’s just so damn cool sound-wise. It may be worth it not to look at the screen even because the camerawork is somewhat jumpy.

Whatever. It’s taken from a recent Imaginations show in Japan; not the full album tracklist, obviously, ending with The Script for My Requiem. As honest as it can get, really. Showcases beautifully how Hansi can move in a single breath from those almost-Baroque, ornate and vulnerable cleans of his to a ferocious distortion, remaining hypermelodic throughout. “Too much character,” some would say. But who would deny the skill?

 

field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)

So I have already written about my discovery of Jeff Vogel’s Spiderweb Software games, and since they are really more text-based than anything, I thought that fanart is in order. And it’s not going to be _that_ perfectionism-triggering as my older fandoms are (since those are either visual-based, have a huge body of established lore, or both).

Before I plunge into a lengthy description, though, let me share a tip.

This is one of the Optitex dynamic clothing items for DS that I took into Substance Painter because Substance Painter is this awesome tool that does a lot of stuff I need (like weathering effects) automagically, via (extremely customisable) “smart materials”.

What you need to do to really optimise your workflow is: before you import the mesh into SP, merge those materials that are on the same UV tile and are logically the same (you can do it in DS via “geometry editor” or in a modeler app). Optitex dynamics have a gazillion cloth panels aka mat zones, and SP will generate a separate texture set for each, even if they all fit on the same UV tile. You don’t want it, really. It slows down the painting; you wind up with a gazillion x 3 (or more, depending on what you paint) textures for each zone that you will need to merge later manually in an image editor if you don’t want to waste disk space; and – the biggest issue – you cannot paint across those sets.

Which makes painting continuous detail kinda moot. Just look at this robe that is supposed to have been burnt in a fight. Apparently it’s been sewn from pre-burnt fabric because there is just no way to make the particle brush transcend the texture set boundaries.

So do not repeat my mistakes =)

Tip over; self-indulgence incoming!

I’m almost through with my first run of Avernum: Escape from the Pit, and I’ve grown fond of my gang of four. This is how far I’ve progressed with Kadwell who is the party’s mage and the only dude.

Continue reading field report (including adventures with Substance Painter)