Author: wrappedinplasticblog

A Return to Twin Peaks: David Lynch is Back.

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After the 27 year hiatus, many of us returned home again on Sunday night as Twin Peaks returned to our television sets. The two hour series premier featured a lot of content and played upon various emotions that left us all withering for more. There sure as hell was a lot to take in, especially if you stayed awake until 4am in the UK like I did. It was however, all worth it in the end. David Lynch and Mark Frost presented us with a spectacle, unlike anything currently on television. They essentially took the reins and schooled every other television show in history. This is how you do horror. This is how you do mystery. This is how you toy with the emotions of your audience when you pick up exactly where you left off 27 years ago.

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After starting with the familiar scene from the last episode in 1991, we are thrown again into the red room with Laura Palmer and Dale Cooper. Only this time when we see Coop, there are no prosthetics or make-up in place to make him look older. He is older, almost exactly as predicted from the earlier seasons. We then transfer to a black and white filter as Agent Cooper is addressed by the giant, once again played by the iconic Carel Struycken. The weirdness is most definitely happening again.

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Following this scene we are placed in an empty hallway in Twin Peaks high school, as the camera makes its way toward the trophy cabinet and focuses on that picture of the poster girl. The girl that started it all: Laura Palmer. The green font appears on our screens once again and those notes ring out exactly the way they did all these years ago. The same theme conducted by the brilliant Angelo Badalamenti is layered over a new title sequence filmed in glorious HD. Shots of those Douglas Fir trees and the waterfall next to the Great northern Hotel resonate with the audience. However a main importance of the new title sequence is the inclusion of the Red Room. The red drapes and zig-zag floor cements the role of the Black Lodge into the world of Twin Peaks, foreshadowing that the next 18 hours of content will indeed be both wonderful and strange.

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So what has changed? The most immediate difference we see as a returning viewer is the image. Almost entirely gone are those warm 50’s style tones and soap-esque lighting. Instead, we are introduced to a bizarre case of modernity. It looks so new! We are subjected to the crisp world of high quality digital camera work. After watching Lynch’s last project ‘Inland Empire’, which was shot entirely in standard definition, I was sceptical of the fact that Lynch would not use HD and maybe film the new season similarly to ‘Inland Empire’. Once again he surprises me and most likely many others.

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The concept of image does take a key central role in this new season. We see what we have seen previously in terms of characters and scenery, yet something always feels different. Old and familiar characters begin to appear, mostly wearing similar outfits, yet they look much older. This is of course inevitability, there is no masking the process of aging, yet David Lynch and Mark Frost use this to their complete advantage. The appearance of the familiar characters plays with the viewer’s emotions ranging from nostalgia to sadness. Everyone looks the same but different would be a sweeping way to summarise and this pretty much what can be said for the entire feel of this new season. More than a direct sequel to the original two seasons, it definitely feels more closely related to ‘Fire Walk With Me’, the feature length prequel. In essence, it feels more Lynchian.

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As well as the re-introduction to old characters, there are a whole load of fresh faces as this is not solely based within the fictional logging town of Twin Peaks. Arrays of stars appear, most of who have worked with David Lynch previously in his other works. If you’re a Lynch fan, you will most likely be shouting at the screen ‘Oh it’s that guy’ and trying to picture where you have seen the person before. Again, this furthers the dynamic of familiarity that this season has managed to foreground. A personal favourite of mine is a brilliant performance from Matthew Lillard who is caught up in a messy situation involving a murder.

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The location of the first two episodes switches from Twin Peaks, New York, Las Vegas and South Dakota. We cannot help but try to interlink the locations into one storyline, but as of yet, the storyline is typically non-linear and realistically would be a waste of time to try and interlink it until we have the full picture in front of us. The way the story is told in this season is totally unlike anything else on TV. It is incomparable. Therefore, I don’t see the point in analysing the potential theories at this point, because they will most likely be so very wrong.

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Another aspect of the show that adds to the unease is the pacing. A lot of these scenes are slow and atmospheric. It is much more of a feeling than it is a typical linear show. There are a lot of camera tracking shots or long uneasy silences between dialogues. Again, this is typical of David Lynch. The building of tension once again plays with our emotions and strays from the conventions of what viewers would consider ‘normal’.

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Compensating the long unsettling silences and uneasy pacing is spectacular sound design curated by David Lynch himself. It differs from what we are used to once again. There is a complete lack of jazz music which is notable from the conventions of the original two seasons. Instead, there are low rumbles similar to those in Eraserhead, low industrial rumblings again adding to the build of tension.

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In essence, Twin Peaks is back, but not as we all know it. It is different. It does not aim to appease fans and rightly so. It aims to break boundaries. It could be considered as David Lynch’s Magnum Opus and gives a nod to his past works as they echo throughout the styles and themes of the show. Where it will go from here remains a mystery, perhaps the ultimate drama mystery that audiences have ever seen and are likely to ever see. It is very much what David Lynch wants and therefore it is exactly what true fans of Twin Peaks have been longing for.

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Twin Peaks: A Cultural Phenomenon (Part 2)

Hi all,

Just a quick apology to those waiting on Part 2. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks and simply have not gotten around to posting this. Anyway, my apologies and I hope you enjoy this post. 

Thanks again.

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Gordon?

The ‘need to know’ among viewers drove the show into a second season due the lack of conclusion and clarity over the death of Laura Palmer, this time, for a lengthy 22 episodes. More episodes mean more directors and the need for a bigger crew. Many consider this to play a fundamental part to the show’s downfall. David Lynch and Mark Frost became less involved with Twin Peaks and other directors took the helm. Week after week passed and ratings dropped with the investigation into the main plot still no closer to a conclusion.

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Attention spans were drifting and so ABC wanted answers. Head of ABC at the time Bob Iger demanded that Laura Palmer’s killer was revealed mid-way through the season. This was everything that both David Lynch and Mark Frost did not want. Lynch has been quoted saying that the show was like a goose that laid golden eggs. What ABC did when they pressured them into revealing Laura Palmer’s killer was cut the head off of that goose. It’s a great analogy and truly does put into perspective just what the network did to the show.

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Iger, our fate is in your hands.

Once Laura’s killer had been revealed, many viewers dropped off from the show. This was most likely due to the sense of closure that the episode gave to the ongoing mystery. It did make way for a new plot, with new characters, but it did not have the same aura around it that it did for the first season. This was also impacted by the change of scheduling. The show was moved from a Thursday night broadcast, to all different times. Interest dropped off pretty quickly after that and many, myself included, consider Bob Iger’s decision to be the hands down worst decision that anyone in the TV business has ever made.

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So what happened to Iger after that? Destroying a cultural phenomenon that many loved surely would lead to a decline for this guy? Surely he would be left out of more executive decisions because he doesn’t understand both the text and the audience? Nope. Iger is now currently the C.E.O of Disney, yep, Disney. So this man now holds the fate of Star Wars, Marvel and all other cult favourites. Although they are not really cults anymore are they? They are the face of popular culture. Merchandising of these products makes it almost impossible to avoid the gaze of the Disney eye. So realistically, don’t hold your breath for the next Star Wars installment as it might signal the end of the franchise we all know and love.

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Who knows what this will hold…

The blame for the show’s demise can be spread throughout impatient audiences, irrational network bosses, drifting storylines and confusing scheduling. It can be summarised in the simplest of terms that TV was simply not ready for a show like Twin Peaks. However, lessons were learnt. The introduction of HBO meant a whole new platform for TV in the shape of big budgets and larger than life shows. With the introduction of HBO, audiences were introduced to the concept of ‘quality TV’. From the demise of Twin Peaks, came The Sopranos, Sex in the City and The Wire to name a few of the network’s successful shows. These helped shape TV as we know and love today.

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Possibly the greatest show to emerge from the cancellation of Twin Peaks.

In essence, Twin Peaks took one for the team. Since being cancelled, the fanbase has grown and there is still an annual festival held in which cast members and fans from around the world can revel in the world of Twin Peaks. Sort of like a comic con specifically for Twin Peaks. It is now seen as a prestigious landmark in the history of television.

So, twenty five years after the series ended on a dramatic cliff-hanger, Twin Peaks has had the greenlight for a third season. This is the longest gap between seasons ever in a show’s history, allowing the show to continue to break records. Who knows what boundaries the third season will break? Maybe the show will expand its fan-base even more and lead to more content, either in the form of television or even film. Either way it is gratifying to see a show get the recognition it deserves, especially after the original broadcast being so long ago.

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Season three poster

Prior to the new season, Mark Frost has released a novel; ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ allowing keen fans of the show to delve into a hidden past of the fictional town that the show never really dipped into (with the exception of the lack lodge). Frost has also announced that he is planning on releasing another novel after the show’s final episode is broadcast. ‘Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier’ will most likely give viewers the conclusion to the show that they have waited patiently for.

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‘The Secret History’ 

Something tells me that this will not be the last we will see of Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks. Its legend will not be forgotten and I predict that fans will simply refuse to let the series die. There is a whole world of possibility to be explored, both mysterious and strange.

Twin Peaks: A Cultural Phenomenon (Part 1)

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With the return of the hit TV show Twin Peaks bordering on the horizon, I would imagine there are people around the globe questioning ‘What on Earth is Twin Peaks and why is it coming back after so long?’ I would also imagine that most of these people are fans of popular TV shows in what we brand ‘The golden age of quality TV’, and are younger members of the audience (under 25).  Like any cultural movement, there has to be an originator, something that breaks the mould and influences others to follow suit. In the case of series based television, Twin Peaks is that originator.

There is a strong argument that Twin Peaks changed the way that we, as an audience, consume television content. The effect that it had on audiences and Television networks alike turned TV into a medium for quality art entertainment. The question is how? What was so special about it?

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The truth is there are a fair few reasons for the phenomenon of Twin Peaks. Think of when two planets align and it creates an effect that can only be seen once every blue moon (excuse the expression). So let’s provide some context into TV in the early 90’s. TV as a medium has now been around for a good 30/40 years depending on how rich your family was. Most of that time had seen television shows expanding from your average soap opera into more episodic and high budget drama. By the time the 1980’s came around, more and more people began to take a keen interest in TV over other visual entertainment such as cinema and theatre. It’s merely a combination of accessibility and trend. Everyone wanted to watch the same thing as their friends or colleagues at work.

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So by the late 1980’s after all the great pop music and weird fashion trends, we have seen TV evolve from soap to drama. Popular shows such as The A-Team, Miami Vice and Night Rider often reflected trends and popularity of the public eye. They presented viewers with a catalogue of culture that they could pick and choose to associate themselves with. Also at this time, music and its various subcultures were still very much a main inspiration to people’s sense of self identity (New Romantic, Goth, New Wave etc…) So TV still had a long way to go to get to the forefront of modern culture.

Enter Mark Frost and David Lynch. By the late 1980’s, the pair were introduced to each other and asked to come up with a new television show for ABC. David Lynch had just come off the back of success in Hollywood with Blue Velvet. So how does renown, Oscar nominated director go about writing for the small screen? At the time, this was completely unheard of. Many of this calibre would consider it a demotion. So this is completely new territory for both David Lynch and the medium of TV itself. Mark Frost had previously been recognised within the world of Television with Hill Street Blues, but collaborating with such an avant-garde, non-linear director such as David Lynch must have been a scenario he did not see himself getting into.

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David Lynch & Mark Frost

The pair started writing the pilot episode and it got backing for production, thus Twin Peaks was born.  A mystery drama revolving around the fictitious murder of high school prom queen Laura Palmer, set in a small, friendly town in which the tragedy would resonate deeply with its inhabitants. The show included many traits of David Lynch, from the eerie surrealism and melodrama to the extensive use of music scored by Angelo Badalamenti. The pilot episode aired and TV was never the same again.

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The face of a bizarre mystery

The show’s pilot was much better received in ratings than the network or anyone else would have expected, allowing Twin Peaks to be green-lit for seven episodes. Week after week, viewers tuned in to decode the mystery behind Laura Palmer’s death. Audiences became investigators, similar to the shows main protagonist Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by frequent Lynch collaborator Kyle MacLachlan. The element of surrealism within the show gripped audiences and made them question exactly what they were watching, maybe more than they ever had for any other television show. ‘The Red Room’ in which we see a dancing, backwards talking dwarf confused and shocked viewers to the point that they simply had to tune in next week to gain some clarity on what the hell they just watched.

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But the mystery of each episode did not finish with the end of the episode. In fact it grew larger. This was aided by the scheduling, broadcast on a Thursday night meant viewers would go into work the next day and chat to colleagues about it around any communal area such as the watercooler or coffee machine. The show cemented this as an aesthetic for TV shows for years to come. It got audiences talking about TV in a way that they had ever engaged with the medium before. Twin Peaks allowed so much conversation and discussion as it was shrouded in secrets. Each character had a mysterious story or background that intrigued everyone watching.

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Lucy & Agent Cooper discuss the latest episode

Week after week these mysteries got deeper. The show was not one linear story, yet a web of strange and fascinating storylines that gripped viewers.  It was in a way similar to the average soap operas seen around that time, only with a lot more depth, mystery and general quality of writing. The surrealism propelled the show, as certain storylines crossed with each other and it became an often bizarre string of coincidences. As I write this paragraph, I am writing it exactly 27 years to the day of the original broadcast of the pilot. A perfect example of how the world of Twin Peaks works a surreal string of coincidences or ‘happy accidents’ as David Lynch calls them.

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These ‘happy accidents’ allow that sense of surrealism to project and often shock or surprise audiences. The show is loaded with them, especially in the episodes that Lynch was involved with. They have been a trademark in his work, embracing moments of spontaneity that simply could not be recreated. The alpaca moment is a perfect example of this.

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Though the main reason that viewers maintained interest was the way in which the show never wanted to reveal its secrets, and if it did then it took its time. But it’s not necessarily the reveal that generates, more the ‘need to know’. This is eventually what led to the show’s demise, but while it kept that ethos, people were hooked. The question of ‘Who killed Laura Palmer?’ was being asked by everyone. It created a phenomenon. People were engaging with the show on a completely different level. Dale Cooper’s extensive love for ‘damn fine coffee’ and cherry pie had viewers everywhere consuming copious amounts. Some diners in the U.S even ran Twin Peaks inspired sales on coffee and cherry pie to cash in on the show’s influence.

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Alien Covenant: Trailer Analysis

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Since 2012’s Prometheus, the demand for a new Ridley Scott ‘Alien’ film has been high among avid fans of the series. Prometheus only really gave Alien fans a taste of what they can expect from future movies. Instead of exploring the intimacies of the Xenomorph, Scott decided to explore the concept of human creation. This introduced the foreign species known as ‘Engineers’, whom audiences had only seen before in Scott’s original film ‘Alien’ (1979) as a stone-like monument bearing an elephant shaped mask. The plot of Prometheus focused mainly around how these engineers were the creators of all life. Alien fans are not left without reference to the much loved Xenomorph creatures, as the final scene shows what is referred to as a ‘Deacon’. This is an almost prototype version of the Xenomorph and provides a suitable link between Prometheus and Scott’s newest addition to the Alien universe, ‘Alien: Covenant’ due for cinema release on 12th May 2017.

Marketing of ‘Alien: Covenant’ has been fairly underground until a simplistic, yet powerful teaser poster was released around November 2016. Since then we were treated to a teaser trailer on Christmas Day and most recently a full length trailer revealing a load about the plot of the new movie, yet rings a fair few questions and excitement around avid fans of the Alien franchise.

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The first official poster

 

So, to begin, we remind ourselves where Prometheus left off. Dr Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) was seen to be leaving her current planet in search of the Engineer’s home planet, accompanied by the severed head of android David (Michael Fassbender). The trailer for Alien: Covenant shows little direct reference to these characters upon first viewing, but after examining certain shots, the links are most definitely there!

The opening shot of the trailer introduces us to the crew of the Covenant describing the purpose of their mission, procreation on a new planet. The large crew consists of couples, alluding as Scott has done previously in Prometheus to religious allegory. The shot is centered, alluding rather fittingly to Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of ‘The Last Supper’, presumably before the crew enter cryosleep. It is after this brief introduction that we are introduced to the new planet. We see wheat growing freely, a familiar form of human vegetation, drawing instant similarities between this new planet and the familiarity of Earth. This is however questioned by new female lead Daniels (Katherine Waterston) asking “Who planted it?”

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The Last Supper: Who will survive?

Leading on from this peculiar site, we are shown some rather beautiful shots of the planet and introduced to the idea that the planet is dead or lacking life form as one of the characters points out the eerie silence and how they can hear ‘absolutely nothing’. As a reminder of the alien planet, a shot of the plant like spores spurting out an unknown gassy cloud that seems particularly ominous to those of us that watched Prometheus. With that link the trailer shows us the infamous ‘Juggernaut’ ship that crashed near the end of Prometheus and featured in the original 1979 film. The ‘Juggernaut’ seems to be overgrown with plant life in a remote area of the planet. Upon further inspection, we are shown familiar sites such as a slight image of the engineer statues that we saw in Prometheus in those dark and disturbing tunnels. It is in these tunnels that we have our first link to Dr Elizabeth Shaw. Daniels holds up a dog-tag and only on close inspection, zooming in can we see the dog-tags read Dr E. Shaw.

So here is the reference that we have all been waiting for. The infamous Xenomorph egg. From the shot we are given, it is kind of hard to tell if the design of the egg has been altered but apart from some slight changes, H.R Giger’s work remains still as significant as ever. It seems as though even the same sound design of the egg hatching (or opening) is in place, complete with the inevitable pouncing of a Facehugger.

The formula to an Alien film always starts with the beginning of a Xenomorph life cycle and then things go from 0-100 very quickly. Alien Covenant seems to be no exception and Alien fans worldwide have little to no objection to this formula. The next few clips we are given show the crew in a great deal of stress as they run into the inhabitants of this new planet. One guy looks infected from whatever it was that sprayed out from those spores earlier on in the trailer, safe to say he doesn’t look in the best of shape as he attempts to return to the ship in the arms of a fellow explorer.

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This may change with Covenant and the introduction of species      

Aboard the ship looks even more chaotic with either the same guy or another member of the crew suffering from what can only be descried as a ‘Back-burster’ as opposed to the familiar Chest-burster we have seen before in previous Alien films. Maybe this is a direct link to the rumored new Alien species, the ‘Neomorph’ which is speculated to be a cross between the Deacon from Prometheus and the original Xenomorph from Alien (1979). It seems likely that this is the creature we see at around the 1:46 mark. A new species that looks just as deadly as the rest!

Towards the end of the trailer there is a mysterious hooded figure. This is rumored to the original model of David from Prometheus, which has led to speculation that David will serve as a form of antagonist. Judging by the past examples of androids that we have encountered in previous films, with the discovery of new species, it is unlikely that David will side with the humans due to his respect for what previous androids have called ‘the perfect organism ’.

More confrontations between the alien species are seen, mostly Facehuggers as we see someone fall victim to being a host, whilst another member of the crew gets into a tangle with one on the end of his gun. Our leading lady Daniels asks “Where is it?” before we get our first head on glimpse of the original Xenomorph. We see it running in a circular motion, showing its climbing capabilities and sheer alarming speed. The film’s title graphics appear and the trailer climaxes in a particularly exciting fashion. The big reveal. And a surprisingly big reveal at that.

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“Where is it?”

This point looks around the midway point in the movie; Daniels is clambering across the exterior of what looks like an emergency dispatch ship, whilst it is taking off, presumably off the planet into the arms of safety. It is at this moment that we see it in all of its glory. The classic Xenomorph.

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Who’s a pretty fella?

Personally I wasn’t expecting such an in depth look at it in the trailer, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that if the trailer can afford to ruin this surprise then who knows what shocks and surprises we can expect to see in the full release. One of the fundamental keys to the success of the Alien movies is the use of prosthetic models to create a more life-like and terrifying creature. H.R Giger’s creation just would not hold the same value if all shots of it were C.G.I, without the aid of motion capture.

The Xenomorph is reportedly played by Javier Botet, a Spanish actor born with Marfan syndrome which leaves the sufferer with elongated limbs and joints. He’s made the most of his appearance and featured in many films providing motion capture including REC, Mama and The Conjuring 2. He is known as ‘horror’s greatest special effect’ and his work in Alien Covenant could prove to be his greatest work yet! Let’s face it; this is the prettiest (and most horrific) looking Xenomorph yet and is guaranteed to shock audiences.

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Javier the Horror icon

So hopefully all of that has shed some light as to what we can expect from the movie when it is finally released. With a crew of this size on a completely unknown planet within Ridley Scott’s Alien universe, it is shaping up to be one of the most disturbing and most likely the goriest addition to the Alien franchise. All areas point to success for this movie. There is also a high possibility of a further sequel from this film as Ridley Scott stated that he wanted to do a trilogy leading up to the original Alien (1979) movie, starting with Prometheus. So we have a lot to look forward to, even in terms of the film’s marketing. There may be more TV spots and Giger inspired posters/artwork to support the release to look forward to for all the avid fans out there. It seems as though the only thing we are missing is Sigourney Weaver, but who knows? We may see her again as Ellen Ripley.

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Pallbearer: Heartless Album Review

Since the release of ‘Foundations of Burden’ in 2014, Arkansas Doom Metal quartet Pallbearer have gone from strength to strength. The recognition they deserve is starting to reach them from fans of all musical genres. The beauty in their music allows even the most sceptical of listeners to step back and listen to their often breath-taking combination of soaring melody, slow tempo, ethereal vocals and crushing guitar tone with a complete sense of awe. That’s pretty much Pallbearer in a nutshell. If you haven’t heard of these guys then some serious homework is recommended.

Heartless (2017) is the third studio release by these guys. Prior to release, fans were treated to two tracks from the album, ‘I Saw the End’ and ‘Thorns’. These two tracks are sequential on the album and ‘I Saw the End’ opens it up perfectly. It allows first time listeners to be introduced to that mammoth Pallbearer sound. Fans will notice that the production budget has definitely increased; we hear those crunching tones so familiar from previous alum ‘Foundations of Burden’ but those guitars have more bite, the vocals have more reverb, the drums have more of a punch and the bass brings the dynamic together in a much more abrasive fashion.

The second track ‘Thorns’ is an almost guaranteed live track, clocking in at five and a half minutes. The track length makes Pallbearer approachable to the average listener (attention span doesn’t go very far these days), something that they have never really dabbled in before. We are also introduced to another new dynamic in the form of a guitar solo. Before, we have heard soaring lead lines but never really a conventional guitar solo. In fact the addition of the guitar solo is the most noticeably new dynamic throughout this album. It’s a great thing. It reveals to the listener just how talented guitarists Devin Holt and Brett Campbell are.

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The progression of the guitarists is most noticeable on ‘Dancing in Madness’. The track starts out sounding like a Pink Floyd song. Even down to the tone of the lead guitar, someone has been channeling Dave Gilmour. It honestly wouldn’t sound out of place on The Division Bell. Even with the style of riffs and melodies, the record is as complex as it is progressive. Half way through this track we get introduced to the first real heavy section of the album. Even the vocals are heavy. They sound like something Al Cisneros would do on one of the earlier Sleep albums. Another new dynamic for these guys and this track in particular highlights the incredible talent of vocalist Brett Campbell. His ability to pick out a melody is a talent rarely found in Doom Metal and his talent allows Pallbearer to open the door to a whole new audience.

The album progresses to what may be the heaviest track on the record ‘Cruel Road’ before transcending into the title track ‘Heartless’. This track aptly captures the spirit of this album; the eight minute song includes most of the dynamics found throughout and totally justifies being the album’s title track.

The record comes to a close with ‘A Plea for Understanding’, which is the longest track on the album at nearly thirteen minutes. The longer, the better with Pallbearer as time seems to allow them to progress to exactly where they need to be. This is a classic Pallbearer track. The haunting clean sections and gritty distortion ring a perfect conclusion to an absolute feeling of an album. In fact, that is exactly how I’m going to summarise this album. It is a feeling. They have managed to capture what a lot of melodic Metal bands have attempted for years. With the release of ‘Heartless’, Pallbearer have proven to the world that they have completely mastered their sound though feeling, a skill that few bands possess and these guys keep going from strength to strength. It’s going to take something extra special to dethrone ‘Heartless’ from album of the year. My words do not do it justice. Go buy it and feel for yourself.

For Honor: The Ultimate Loading Screen Experience

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Great Dishonor 

The online multiplayer aspect of video games has been a selling point and an ultimately defining pitch for the last ten years. Since the launch of the ‘next generation’ console and its dependency on an internet connection, online multiplayer has arguably become more important to gamers than standard offline single player story modes. So important in fact, games have been released for the sole purpose of an online multiplayer experience such as Titanfall, Star Wars: Battlefront and The Division. Establishing this point highlights just how much effort is going into the development of the multiplayer experience.

So with the addition of beta testing pre-release, sometimes on a huge scale, we are reassured as consumers that the product is being optimized for peak performance upon release to get the ultimate experience of said product right? Wrong. Every so often a massive title is released with that many errors within its multiplayer experience that it is more frustrating than enjoyable. Ubisoft Montreal’s latest release ‘For Honor’ unfortunately falls into that category. Since its launch roughly one month ago, the matchmaking system has failed to impress. Whilst the gameplay and graphics are aesthetically pleasing, the painful process of matchmaking overshadows everything else.

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Prepare for a lot of this

Upon the first week of launch, two of my friends and I set a night aside to immerse ourselves in a world of medieval warfare. A Skype call commences and we’re prepared for battle. So we load up For Honor. Straight away we hit issues trying to invite each other to a party. After a fair few internet and console restarts, we eventually party up. Our next issue was matchmaking. With three of us in the party we are limited to certain game types so we opt for the most populated game mode, Dominion, to ease the process and maximize the potential of us engaging in some actual gameplay. No such luck. Attempt after attempt we got into a game, some already in progress, only for one (if not all) of us to be kicked from the game. This continued for around three hours until we called it a night.

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FH Twitter Department 

The problem with this is not so much the inability to play, rather more the frustration of waiting painstakingly watching loading screens with little to no stimulation. Up to 5-6 minutes at a time we were forced to watch our characters face off against the opposing team in what can only we described as a ‘swaying stare-off’. This screen makes up around 60% of my game time. After a while it simply becomes frustrating to see your character engage in everything but combat. But it brings to question ‘why the issues?’ The game has been in development for a good while now. I remember seeing it at Ubisoft’s conference at E3 a few years back and being so optimistic for a new dynamic in online console gaming. It was beta tested for bugs and issues a week prior to release (maybe it should have been earlier in the run up to the release date) which asks a further question of ‘what exactly is beta testing used for?’ Has it now simply become a new advertising model for games rather than a test for developers?

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60% of actual gameplay

It’s not all doom and gloom with ‘For Honor’, if you independently make it past the excruciating loading screens a lot of enjoyment is there to be had. Competitive gameplay and gratifying rewards and when you get round to mastering a specific class a true relationship between you and your ‘hero’. You really are better off playing this game solo on a densely populated online community. Or if you want to be really anti-social, you can even set yourself up a private game playing against A.I. So the options are definitely there for multiplayer, but it just seems to me that this is encouraging an anti-social approach to gaming. In an age where we are more connected to each other than we ever have been, are we actually just trying to seek disconnect?

I’m aware there is little objective in this article, moreover the fact that I just wanted to rant and justify all those wasted hours of unsuccessful gaming (especially after the nine tweets I sent to For Honor’s online Twitter support were ignored). I just want to be able to play with my friends and games to work upon release! I can’t be the only one! Maybe we should all stop subscribing to these games before release in the form of season passes and that way developers have to prove their worth before we all throw our wallets in their direction. Either way, we shouldn’t have to be skeptical pre-release as to whether or not the game will work. Our £45 should stretch as far as a fully functioning and enjoyable experience, or am I asking too much?

FH Divisio

Remember this? The audacity… 

Since writing this article, there has been little to no improvement in the matchmaking system. It still takes an absolute age to find a game and even when you do, the likelihood of you finishing that game is doubtful. I have enjoyed the experience that I have had playing For Honor, yet I can’t help but feel that my time was wasted on a poorly developed final product. I more or less forced myself to clock the hours in to justify the money I spent. The customer relations page on Twitter is purely salt in the wound. Still no response from them and I’ve hardly seen them reply to anybody else. After the disappointment of The Division and now For Honor, I think its time we all sat back and let Ubisoft take a good, hard look at themselves before we buy into anymore of their releases.

A Return to Twin Peaks

LP Poster

“I’ll see you again in 25 years.” Said a backwards talking Laura Palmer to a confused looking Dale Cooper in 1991. Only one person would have the dedication to infuse the diegetic with the non-diegetic over a literal quarter of a decade time span. In other words, David Lynch’s cult TV show ‘Twin Peaks’ is coming back to screens this May 21st on Showtime (Sky Atlantic in the UK) after a lengthy 25 year absence.

After the longest cliff-hanger in television history, many of the original cast are returning for the 18 episode season, with new additions to the inhabitants of the bizarre Washington town including David Lynch favorites Laura Dern and Naomi Watts as well as Jim Belushi and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It is not only the cast making a long awaited return, Co-Writer Mark Frost is back to contribute as well as legendary David Lynch counterpart Angelo Badalamenti recreating that soundtrack we all love (cue jazz drums).

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So, everything seems to be pointing in the right direction for an epic revival into one of the most important TV shows ever to grace our screens. With the current demand for new, exciting and binge worthy shows to watch at our disposal, it only seems fitting that we pay homage to one of the shows that started it all and made us so addicted to our TV drama. Due to audience ratings the show was originally dropped and David Lynch had to reveal Laura Palmer’s killer half way through the second series because of declining figures. Maybe it was a case of wrong place at the wrong time for the show, but the impact it had on those that engaged with it paved the way for many of the episodic TV shows that we know and love today.

For those that watched first time round and everyone else that has watched it in the past 25 years, answers are most definitely needed (especially after THAT finale). In typical Lynchian fashion, many questions may be answered only to be replaced with new ones! In regards to the main plot, it has been kept a secret with the only information we have being that the newest series is a direct follow on from the previous season. It will be interesting to see what has become of F.B.I Agent Dale Cooper; did he eventually settle into his reasonably priced property? What about Bob? Where did he go? Hopefully all will become clear (or cloudy, it is David Lynch).

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With such a strong line-up, especially with Lynch in the driving seat, it is set to be a success and could prove to be a pivotal moment for television in 2017. If you haven’t experienced the wonders the world of Twin Peaks has to offer, then it is strongly recommended you catch up! For those of us that have waited for this return then get yourself a couple slices of that cherry pie and load up on some damn fine coffee before re-visiting those beautiful Douglas Firs!

With the release date edging closer, expect a few more Twin Peaks themed articles with an episode by episode review after each broadcast. In the mean time, amaze yourself with how well the cast has aged judging from these magazine covers!