“Arrow” Season 1 Review

Arrow1

I’ve heard a fair amount about the TV programme Arrow over the past few months; mostly talk about how good it is. Yet I was wary about starting it, as I don’t consider myself a fan of comic books (okay, I’ve never actually read one yet…), or at least comic book adaptations – frankly, I think Marvel have just put me off thanks to every Marvel film I’ve seen. But, perhaps DC would change that and I would discover a very well hidden love for comic book heroes that I never knew I had. Even then, I wasn’t all that sure I would ever buy the series, but then I saw the cover of series 1, and that pretty much decided it all for me – I just loved it, and I still do. Trying to put into words what, exactly, it is that I like about it is pretty difficult, but it’s a mixture of the colouring, is outfit, and (of all things), the font used – everything goes so well and is just really enticing; it worked for me, anyway!

I found that the series took a little while for me to get into, although to be fair I did spend a lot of the time on my phone or laptop at the same time as watching it, as I seem to struggle to concentrate on the one thing. Despite that, each episode (23 in all) is extremely addictive, especially with the cliff–hangers they specialise in ending on – they ensure you can’t stop after only one episode; instead, you’ve got to get through at least 5! Which, in fairness, is no bad thing, but it does tend to mean a LOT of late nights (for me, at least) – in order to finish the last six episodes of Series 1, I was up until 2 in the morning. Totally worth it, of course, although I did want to start series 2 as soon as I had finished the last episode…

I’m not going to pretend that this is a flawless series: it’s not. Some of the acting is questionable to say the least, in particular some moments from Stephen Amell (who plays Oliver Queen/Arrow), and the actress who plays Thea Queen just downright gets on my nerves most of the time (but I still like her, for the most part). It also has to be said that Arrow uses every single cliché in the book, and the script is something I could write in my sleep – it’s pretty predictable, I’m afraid. Very few times have I guessed at what was going to be said next, and been wrong – maybe not word for word, but the fact is it’s not the most stand–out script. And yet, that doesn’t bother me as much as it might – it’s still a very enjoyable show. The action is, in my eyes, brilliant, and I love watching the fight scenes.

Even better, not all of the characters are wooden or downright annoying – Felicity and Diggle are, without doubt, my two favourite characters on the show. They’re likeable, funny, and I find they make the show a lot more enjoyable too. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Laurel – I swear she changes her mind on Oliver, and his alias, at least every second episode, and after a while it gets pretty tedious. But as surprisingly badass characters go, she’s quite high up there. Helena is another character I kind of loved, and I feel we didn’t get quite enough of her – here’s hoping she’s in Series 2, because she’s just great. I loved her outfit, her appearance, just about everything she said – her in general, really. I like to think I can’t be blamed for that… I mean, look at her!

HelenaArrow

One of the best parts of this series is undoubtedly the score, composed by Blake Neely. It’s not too in–your–face, but it’s noticeable and it’s brilliant. I bought it the other night, and although I really like the whole thing, there are some superb tracks that need a special mention: Oliver Queen Suite, Sacrifice, I Can’t Lose You Twice, and my absolute favourite: I Forgot Who I Was. The first time I heard it, I nearly cried and that feeling hasn’t changed yet. For about the past hour, I’ve been sitting here listening to it, and I love it a little more with every listen. It’s beautiful, and I can’t imagine ever tiring of it.

To round my review up, I really recommend Arrow; although it can be ridiculously predictable, and the clichés make me want to cringe sometimes, it has its plus–sides too: it’s addictive (so, so, so addictive), the music is brilliant, the action is great, the outfits are great, and it turns out to be pretty emotional too – I was surprised at how much I cried during the last few episodes.

Also, John Barrowman…

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Teens Can Write, Too! February Blog Chain

How does music relate to your writing?

A music-related Teens Can Write, Too! What could be better – it is, after all, a combination of two of my favourite things (unfortunately, raindrops, roses, and girls in white dresses were totally neglected), and so something I was very eager to write about. And yet I still left it to the last minute… Nevertheless, I’m writing it now! And what do you know, listening to music too (The Pretty Reckless, if anyone’s wondering) – so without further ado, let’s get started!

I adore music, and always have – just as I always have, and always will, loved writing. For me, you can’t have one without the other. I’m always playing music, whether I’m reading, writing, or going to sleep, and usually it doesn’t matter what I listen to (as long as it’s, you know, good), but in the past few years what I write has definitely become influenced by what I’m listening to at the time – or perhaps it’s the other way around? It used to be I would find a few artists that I like, create a playlist, hit shuffle and go from there, but it was when I first took part in NaNoWriMo all the way back in 2013 that that changed. The story I had started writing at that point was a horror/paranormal one, and if I’m honest I didn’t always listen to music when writing it – mostly because I was working on it at school, and I didn’t want anyone creeping up behind me or reading over my shoulder without my knowledge! However, when I was home, my earphones would be in, I’d have my story up, and I’d be listening to… The score for the 2012 film of The Woman in Black. I enjoyed the film, but the music is really something else – I’ve tried to go to sleep many times and the music has come on through shuffle, leaving me about ready to dissolve into a puddle of fear! The music is really rather beautiful at points, but is most definitely the kind of thing that WILL leave shivers running through you – on the plus side, it always helps to create a great atmosphere, and I really get into my writing when I listen to it. My favourite is the first track; Tea For Three Plus One

Film scores will likely be a running theme in this post, as I find they’re so good at inspiring a scene or even helping to get past a bit of writer’s block. Of course, it all depends on what I’m writing – if I’m writing a sad scene, listening to something really upbeat isn’t going to make it come across as well as I want it to, as I won’t be in the right mind-set for it. Sometimes it’s not so much for inspiration as just listening to something that fits – for instance, at the moment I’m trying to write something that’s more sci-fi based and as I can’t abide the sound of silence, I’ve been alternating between the scores for Star Wars Episode III and Guardians of the Galaxy (whilst I’m not a fan of the film, there’s no denying how good the music is).

Sometimes, though, I can’t define a genre or find the perfect piece of music so will listen to anything that puts a smile on my face and makes me want to write. One such piece is Lost But Won by Hans Zimmer, from the film Rush (that entire score is excellent though). Words can’t describe how I feel when it reaches the two minute mark; it’s truly wonderful and I highly recommend listening to it, and watching the film.

The thing I love the most about music, and scores in particular, is how it opens up so much to you, and I find it’s just like reading in that way – you can be totally transported, and it’s amazing how two different mediums can have that same effect. It opens so much into your own writing too, even if you don’t realise it at first, and I love how music has the potential to completely change what may have been an otherwise bland scene.

Now excuse me whilst I finish listening to Harry In Winter and cry from how beautiful and sad but so full of hope it is.

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

6thhttp://jasperlindell.blogspot.com/ and http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/

7thhttp://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

8thhttp://www.juliathewritergirl.com/

9thhttp://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

10thhttps://ramblingsofaravis.wordpress.com/

11thhttp://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/ and http://www.pamelanicolewrites.com/

12thhttp://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

13thhttp://miriamjoywrites.com/ and http://whileishouldbedoingprecal.weebly.com/

14thhttp://kirabudge.weebly.com/

15thhttp://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/ and http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

16thhttp://theedfiles.blogspot.com/ and http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

17thhttp://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/ and https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

18thhttp://semilegacy.blogspot.com/ and http://from-stacy.blogspot.com/

19thhttp://horsfeathersblog.wordpress.com/

20thhttps://clockworkdesires.wordpress.com/

21sthttps://stayandwatchthestars.wordpress.com/ and http://arielkalati.blogspot.com/

22ndhttp://loonyliterate.com/ and https://www.mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com/

23rdhttp://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

24thhttp://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/ and http://allisonthewriter.wordpress.com/

25thhttp://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/

26thhttp://awritersfaith.blogspot.com/ and https://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

27thhttp://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/ and http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

28th – https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for March’s chain!)

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“Guardians of the Galaxy” Film Review

GOTG-poster

I really wasn’t a huge fan of Guardians of the Galaxy when I went to see it in the cinema. I enjoyed it, kind of. It was more enjoyable than having a tooth removed, but maybe on par with sticking pins in my eyes (I’m kidding – the latter is so much more fun). I’m frankly a little unsure why I decided to buy the DVD, but it’s most likely because I was hoping it had improved – you know, like both The Pretty Reckless’ and Black Veil Brides’ new albums did after a time of not listening. Yet Guardians seems to have got…worse.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of those films that has plenty of hype surrounding it…but deserves very little of it. It’s the film that gets cited as “The greatest Marvel film since…well, the last Marvel film!”. And that’s the same as every Marvel film before that. I’m beginning to think I don’t like Marvel films: The Avengers Assemble was alright, but by my 3rd viewing I couldn’t get past the first half hour. The first Iron Man was pretty dire, I never saw the second, but the third was quite good – don’t know if I’ll ever watch it again though. I’ve seen the first Captain America and nearly fell asleep; Thor was even worse and was put off after 15 minutes. Damn it Avengers, you gave me unrealistic expectations for the other films and I was sorely disappointed! I watched 2 episodes of the programme Arrow this morning, and the first five minutes were more entertaining and thrilling than Guardians could ever be.

I’m going to be honest and admit that the main reason I decided to see the film (because honestly, the trailer looked awful) was because of Karen Gillan. And can you blame me? I mean, she’s Karen Gillan! Unfortunately, even she couldn’t carry the film and I was more looking forward to the end than I was to seeing her. It was just so boring; when I watched it the other night, my expression barely changed from the look of boredom it maintained for pretty much the majority of the film. People claim this is a really funny film – well, then can someone point me in the direction of the humour? Because apparently I missed it. The only bit I found slightly amusing was when Peter Quill called Drax a thesaurus (I like my words), and then Rocket says that the metaphorical meaning will go right over his head, to which Drax replies:

“Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast. I’ll catch it.”

My facial muscles twitched slightly at that. Of course, they then proceeded to drag out how literal everyone was until about the end of the film – it was funny the first time, by the 5th…not so much. The acting and dialogue seemed awkward at times too; there were moments where someone would say something that was probably meant to get a reaction, or be funny, but was just met with total, deafening silence – it made me, just as someone watching it, cringe inwardly.

The main issue I have with this film is the characters. Not one of them is likeable in any way, but most of all I can’t stand Peter Quill – sorry, “Star Lord”. I don’t like his actor, which probably plays into that, but his character is too smug and irritating for me to feel anything other than a really strong urge to punch him. The green one annoys me too (and what the hell is up with that scene where the two of them nearly kiss? There was NO interaction beforehand to suggest any kind of attraction), and Drax…well, what’s his purpose, really? Oh, right, to get in contact with the evil blue one (the evil blue one working with the evil blue Karen Gillan, not the other evil blue one) and nearly get everybody killed. Yay, reasonable plot (if you can call it that)! Groot makes me angry for two reasons: 1. He’s a tree. 2. All he says is “I am Groot” and it is singlehandedly the worst and most used sentence in existence now – I’m pretty sure it’s probably beaten “I volunteer as tribute!”. And not forgetting Rocket, who is the only semi-amusing character in the entire film. There’s also the various ensemble of villains and side-characters who all seem to add very little to the plot, or lack thereof. I don’t think I could even try to sum up the plot of Guardians, because at the moment I still have no idea myself – when I work it out, I’ll get back to you.

There’s one redeeming feature of the entire film (and not just that it finally ends), and that’s the music. I don’t mean the “awesome mixtape” that everyone but me seems  to love – no, the standout music of this film is the score by Tyler Bates. The score contains some really fantastic pieces, but my personal favourite is this one:

And when the main theme kicks in around the 1.30 mark, it puts a ridiculous smile on my face. I’ll happily sit and listen to the score for hours – it’s 10x more badass than the film could ever hope to be.

All in all, I was really unimpressed with Guardians of the Galaxy, and I find the Screen Junkies’ Honest Trailer of it to be pretty accurate:

Indeed, when he says “What you gonna do? Watch DC?” my answer would be a resounding yes: Christopher Nolan’s Batman films were some of the best superhero films I’ve ever seen (The Dark Knight Rises, however, was almost worse than this, so I’ll just exclude that), and although I’m only two episodes into Arrow I think it’s great.

I’m still looking forward to The Avengers: Age of Ultron, though, so hopefully Marvel can redeem themselves through that.

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“Blue Lily, Lily Blue” by Maggie Stiefvater Review

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve pretty much hated the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle series – I’m sure my review of book two, The Dream Thieves, makes my feelings pretty clear. I’ve also made it clear that, due to my loathing of them, but also my inability to leave a series unfinished, I wouldn’t be buying the third book until it was either on offer or very cheap. Yet, for whatever reason, when I was in Waterstone’s the other day, I decided to buy it. At £7.99. Full price! Why?! I blame it on the Christmas Shopping High; I just had to buy things, even if I didn’t particularly want them, such as this book. But I bought it – and I read it in a day and a half. It took me forever to get through the first two books because every time I put them down (which was often), I just didn’t want to pick them back up again. However, whenever I had to put down Blue Lily, Lily Blue, it was grudgingly and because I had to start work, never because I wanted to. And I always wanted to pick it up again. It’s safe to say that Blue Lily… has been the best book in the series so far.

Now, you may be thinking “Well, that’s not really saying much considering your thoughts on the previous books, is it?”, and that’s fair enough – I asked myself the same thing. And although I really didn’t like the first two, Blue Lily… has just about redeemed the whole series – that’s how good it was. For once, I don’t think that I have a bad thing to say about any of the characters; instead I actually found them almost likeable. Not only that, but I even felt that Blue was, at times, quite a relatable characters – especially when she was talking about being back at school. Perhaps I interpreted this as being more cynical than it was intended, but this passage here seems to really accurately describe how I was feeling at school last year, particularly towards the end:

“This was not Blue’s real life.

As she leaned against the wall outside the guidance counsellor’s office, she wondered when she would start to think of school as an important thing again. After an extraordinary summer full of chasing kings and disappearing mothers, it was hard to really, truly picture herself going to class every day. What would any of this matter in two years? Nobody here would remember her, or vice versa.”

Well, it’s accurate apart from the chasing kings/disappearing mothers, but the realisation that nobody will remember her really hit home with me, probably as I finished school back in March and have only seen about half a dozen of my classmates since then. And saying that school “felt like more of a dream than Cabeswater” is also very much how I felt at school (again, just without Cabeswater!), and reading this section of the book definitely made Blue seem a lot more real to me. And in a book which is constantly questioning dreams and reality, that’s certainly something.

I think this book was supposed to be more “Adam’s book” , but I found that it’s more equally distributed between them all; it didn’t focus on Adam as much as The Dream Thieves did on Ronan, which I believe is why I enjoyed this a lot more. It’s not so much that I really hate Adam, I’m just indifferent to him. It doesn’t matter much to me if he’s there or not, so this book could have been a huge disappointment to me if he had been more focal – that said, I did begin to kind of like him in this one. And I’m pretty confident that the reason for that is… Ronan. Blue Lily… has made me ship them so much (they’re more canon to me than Gansey and Blue), and I just really want them to get together or something – they just seem to work. There’s something about the pair of them that I love and I hope it’s developed in the next book. Speaking of romance and development, I much preferred Blue and Gansey’s relationship in this one than I have in the previous books. It didn’t seem quite as in your face as it has, and at times I actually thought they were quite sweet – so if we can hold onto that in the next one, I’ll be one happy person!

There seemed to be a lot more going on in this book, including a few moments which stunned me and left me wishing events had turned out differently (if you’ve read this, I’m sure you’ll know what in particular I’m referring to). There were slightly darker moments, there were sad moments, and there were most definitely humorous moments – in particular when Jesse Dittley was around! One of the quotes from Blue is going onto my bookcase of quotes, as it made me laugh: I mean, how often are you going to read “Are you trying to say I’m a better sort of ant?”?! It reminded me of myself; that’s probably the kind of thing I would say! Of course, it wasn’t just the funny quotes that I liked, it’s the serious ones too – the most notable one to me surprisingly comes from Adam, although it’s really only the last line I like, I’ll give the whole paragraph to provide a little more context:

“Maybe it was good that the world forgot every lesson, every good and bad memory, every triumph and failure, all of it dying with each generation. Perhaps this cultural amnesia spared them all. Perhaps if they remembered everything, hope would die instead.”

I find that last line to be beautiful, but almost haunting too. There’s something about it which really resonates and makes me think. I’m glad that the book isn’t all about throwing in little humorous remarks, or all about the sweet moments – that statement from Adam really rings true.

To round it all up, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m really glad that I’ve read it – and that’s not something I thought I’d say about any of these books! Even though I do still find Stiefvater’s writing a little pretentious at times, it wasn’t as obviously so as it has been in her other books, which I appreciated. I’m finding myself looking forward to the next book, but I think the reason I enjoyed Blue Lily, Lily Blue is because I didn’t have high expectations for it – perhaps I should keep it that way for the next one!

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“The Maze Runner” Film Review (Spoilers)

The Maze Runner

I’m a terrible person – I went to see The Maze Runner today. And I’ve never read the books. I own them, but I don’t think they’ve ever been taken out the box, mostly because a friend recommended them to me, I bought them, then he said they weren’t very good (no, I don’t know how it works either) so I didn’t ever get round to reading them. I saw the trailer and thought it looked  alright, but decided I was unlikely to see it in cinemas because I don’t like seeing films if I’ve not read the books beforehand – and that’s why I’m a terrible person, because that’s exactly what I did. To justify my actions slightly, it was a last minute decision. I met up with a friend, and as we were playing darts we decided to go to the cinema, and The Maze Runner was the only decent–sounding film showing anywhere. She wanted to see it because she thought some of the guys in it were cute (namely Newt and Thomas), whereas I wanted to see it because it was based on a book. Priorities, huh?

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, as I had no real idea what it was about and although I thought the trailer was alright, I didn’t think it looked all that great. I knew it would either be a hit or a miss (and honestly, I was going with miss!), but as it turns out I was pleasantly surprised. It was a pretty good story and the acting was quite good too – there were predictable moments, as there are in all films, one of the main ones being towards the end where Chuck jumped in front of Thomas when Gally went to shoot him. But that didn’t bother me too much, as the film was overall very good.

The attention to detail and basically just common sense was something I was very impressed by – these kids were covered in dirt and scrapes, and they stayed covered in dirt and scrapes. They weren’t beautifully presented all the time, which some films like to do, and one of my favourite things was just Teresa’s hair. It was visibly tangled and wasn’t perfectly kept – she really looked the part. I may have got a huge grin on my face when I first saw her, played by Kaya Scodelario, on the screen – she played Effy Stonem in the TV show Skins and I kind of love her. Her presence really bumped up the film for me! I know she was the only girl there, and I’m assuming the reasoning behind that is mentioned later in the series, but I was somewhat surprised that nobody seemed to notice the lack of female figures? I was half–expecting Thomas to notice or bring it up at some point, because surely if you find yourself surrounded in a strange place surrounded only by guys, you might think there’s something strange about that? I was hoping someone might cotton onto it when Teresa arrived, even Teresa herself, but apparently not…

I also loved that there was no romantic subplot! At least, not yet… I’ll need to read the series and find that out. I find it’s quite uncommon to find a film aimed at teens and based on a Young Adult book that doesn’t have at least the underlying romance, and even if it does begin to surface in later books/films, I don’t think I’ll mind too much because it wasn’t forced in our faces from the beginning. This didn’t need romance, and I’m glad the author didn’t think it was necessary to add it in just for the sake of it – though if we end up with a bloody love triangle, I’ll be pretty annoyed because that’s even less necessary!

The music in the film was also really fitting, and I’ve been listening to it non–stop since I got home. I really love soundtracks, and often find they can make or break a film – I’m pretty sure that the main reason I love The King’s Speech so much is because of the music in it. And the music in this film is just great; I’ve never heard of the composer before, but I think he’s done a great job of making music that fits the film. There was one part in particular which just took my breath away, but unfortunately all I can remember of the scene it was played during is that they were running through (I think) a tunnel – I guess that means I’ll have to get the DVD when it’s out so that I can hear and see it again!

One of the things I was really unsure about was the maze itself. In all the posters I’ve seen advertising it and in the trailer, I couldn’t help but think that it looked a bit too made–up, almost out of place. However, the more I saw it in the film, the more I started to like it – and the vines hanging from it really added something and looked so good. I never knew that the maze moved, so that was a bit of a surprise to me. I did wonder why nobody thought to jam the doors though, especially in the scene where Minho is trying to drag Alby towards them – they had huge, thick sticks lying next to them, why not jam them in the mechanics and try and buy the guys some time?! And why Thomas left it to the last minute to run through to them I do not know, what did he think was going to happen?!

That aside, I found The Maze Runner to be an overall very enjoyable film and it was far better than I expected it to be. In fact, it’s now tempted me to start the book, which I’m hoping is going to prove to be worthwhile!

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Black Veil Brides by Black Veil Brides Album Review

Black Veil Brides
Hearing that Black Veil Brides had a new album coming was possibly the best bit of news I had this year, especially with the hints that it was to be their “heaviest” and “darkest” album yet. As much as I like 2013’s Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones, it was no We Stitch These Wounds (possibly my favourite Black Veil Brides album), and I was hoping for a return to that. When they released the first single, Faithless, I at first wasn’t keen, but it quickly grew on me and I thought that if the whole album was going to be like that, it would be pretty good. Then the next single, Heart of Fire, was released, and my expectations for this album just shot sky–high. That’s where the problem starts really: my expectations were too high. But do you blame me? I went to see them on the 16th of October, and as well as playing the two aforementioned tracks, they played one more new song which had yet to be released: Last Rites. When CC opened up with that drum line, my friend and I just looked at each other with the biggest grins on our faces – it genuinely made me think “this could actually be their heaviest album yet!” Needless to say, I was very excited for the 27th of October.

I woke up that Monday morning and raced right downstairs so I could listen to all the previews on amazon and iTunes – my plan was to wait for the post and listen to the full album, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I listened to all the previews that I could, and I was still excited – but I felt there was something missing. Every time I tried to reply the songs in my head, they all sounded so…generic, almost pop-y. I was hoping the full album would prove me wrong, and it did. Kind of.

The album opens with Heart of Fire, which is by far my favourite song of the album and so is a good starting point. It’s a really good song, and very catchy – I always get a stupid grin when I hear Andy sing “Not living for this anymore, you want a fight – I’ll bring the war”. I think it’s the lyrics combined with the melody, you have to smile! It’s definitely a strong opening song, and I don’t have anything against this one (although I hate that “fire” is pronounced “fiy-yuh” rather than how it should be…), which certainly makes a change!

Faithless is the second song on the album, and again is another strong one – I really love the opening, although I’m not keen on the moments where the sound goes almost muted. When I’m listening to it through headphones, the sound is great and all around me, then suddenly and briefly it’s like it’s only in one ear, which isn’t something I like. At all. But otherwise, it’s quite frankly a brilliant introduction to a really good song. I’d like to take a moment to note down my favourite lyric, which comes from the chorus: “Even when I fall down to my knees, I’ll never say a prayer I don’t believe”. The reason I love it is because of how ambiguous it is – while one person may take it as them saying they’ll never say a prayer because they don’t believe in a religion or the likes, another person may interpret it as them saying they won’t say a prayer that they don’t believe in. That’s not the only time I’ve loved the ambiguity of a Black Veil Brides lyric; although the only example I can think of at the moment is from the song Set the World on Fire from the album of the same name: “[…] children crying when all they knew was dying”. I like that one, as it makes me wonder if the children are crying because all they’ve known is death and dying, or if it’s because everything they know is just dying around them – there’s not much better than a song that makes you  think!

The next song, Devil in the Mirror, is another one with a good beginning, and it retains that throughout. The tune is catchy, and when I listen to it I find myself nodding along and tapping my foot – it’s that kind of song. I quite like the chorus too; it’s just as catchy as the rest of the song, but there’s just something about it that really makes me want to sing. Which I usually do, I’m pleased to say! The only thing I’m a bit iffy on is, strangely enough, the chorus – at points it seems like the kind of thing you might find in a more “pop” song than in something I associate with Black Veil Brides. I can’t really put it into words what I think of it, there’s just something there (that wasn’t there before) which doesn’t quite fit in. Regardless, it’s a very good song, and one that I look forward to getting to hear live one day!

Goodbye Agony is, for me, a song that, for the most part, is just…there. There’s nothing spectacular about it, nothing that really stands out to me. It’s a good song (when I remember it exists), but I don’t have anything of note to say about it, so to flesh out this paragraph a little I’m going straight on to song number five, World of Sacrifice. I think that fact that I was listening to this and thought I was still on the previous song says a hell of a lot for this one… I’m not saying it sounds exactly the same, it’s just pretty similar – and that’s something I’ve felt about a few of the songs on this album. There’s just nothing different and exciting! Oh well, at least they’re catchy I suppose, I’m sure that’s got to count for something?

Ah, now here we are at my most anticipated song of the album, Last Rites! Two words: what happened. It sounded so good when they played it, there were screams, it had an utterly FANTASTIC start, and it was just an altogether amazing song. But this? This just wasn’t what I was looking for. For one thing, no screams – that’s practically heart-breaking for someone who loves the screams! Even the introduction was lacking something that was there in the concert; I don’t want to go so far as to say it was lacking energy, but it definitely didn’t give off the “heavy” vibes that it did live. Again, it’s still an enjoyable song… unfortunately it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

But do you know what, that’s okay. Because the next song, Stolen Omen, really brings this album back up. And not just because there’s screaming (but that helps!), but because it’s overall great. I actually think this is the first song on the album that I’ve heard just the beginning and thought “this sounds pretty heavy!”, which being the seventh song in on an album claiming to be the heaviest yet probably isn’t great. This song though, it’s just so good. Words fail me, to be honest, but I do love it. That’s another one that would be amazing to hear live – so I’m looking forward to the next time they tour the UK!

Of course, no Black Veil Brides album would be complete without a nice, ballad-style song. On their first album, we had The Mortician’s Daughter (my favourite BVB song ever), on the second album we had Saviour, and on last year’s album we had Done For You. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t put a slower/softer song on this album, but Walk Away pretty much fits the bill! Admittedly it’s not as good as the aforementioned slow songs, and there’s too much “woah”-ing for my liking, but I’m so glad it’s there – I think I would have been pretty upset if they hadn’t put in the almost obligatory (in my mind) slow song, so hurray!

Ugh, again with the woah-ing?! That’s practically the first thing you hear in Drag Me to the Grave, other than, oddly enough, the cry of “Drag me to the grave!”, but luckily it doesn’t last long… until the chorus, it turns out. What is with the woahs? I don’t like them; they’re just not right for these songs. Frankly, they almost ruin them for me – they’re so off-putting! Ignoring that (I wish I could), it’s yet another addictive song with a catchy tune, and I always, always find myself singing along to the chorus. Even when I’m not singing, my foot’s tapping or I’m nodding my head, which I’m sure mildly concerns the people who share my buses.

Only two songs left, and then I’m done – I promise! The penultimate song is The Shattered God, and it definitely shattered something within me, possibly any and all hope I had for this album’s redemption… Well, it’s not that bad, I’m just being dramatic. But this isn’t a great song, in my opinion – it’s gone back to the almost too poppy to suit the album/band kind of thing, which is a shame. It’s not even one I can sing along with either; probably because when Andy sings “You are, you are the shattered god”, I was convinced he was singing “you are the shadow god/shadow of god”, until I discovered the song title – THEN I managed to hear the lyrics correctly. But hey, it’s otherwise a nice and cheerful song – my favourite is the part where he sings “You are, you are forever alone”. It’s like he’s singing right to me! All sarcasm aside, I do like that line, it’s one of the few I can understand.

And now, the final song, Crown of Thorns, bringing with it the burning question: will the album end on a high? Well it sounds pretty similar to the previous song…and the nine before that…  Honestly, that’s my main criticism of this whole album. It all just sounds so similar. With their other album, I can tell pretty much straight away what song is playing, but with this album it takes me a while because, bar at least the first two tracks, there’s not an awful lot to differentiate between them. And that’s a shame, because I was so looking forward to this album and wanted to see how they’d improved as a group. Don’t get me wrong, the band play extremely well, and seeing them live is an amazing experience, but they’re just lacking something on this album. I read a review on iTunes which said that although it was a good album, it sounded like it had been recorded in a bubble – and that’s exactly right. From my first listen, I’ve thought it sounded just too clinical and put together. It’s one thing having an album that flows well; it’s something else entirely having an album which sounds like one song…

Overall, I enjoy the album and think it’s good fun to listen to (and as I’ve said, I look forward to hearing it all live), but their first two albums – We Stitch These Wounds and Set the World on Fire – are far, far superior. As much as I’d have loved to have been able to give it 5–stars, I’m afraid it’s only really deserving of 3.5.

And don’t even get me started on that bad attempt at an Iron Maiden album cover…

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Doctor Who Series 8 “Flatline” Episode Review

DoctorWho
To be honest, reviewing the new series of Doctor Who wasn’t something which had ever really crossed my mind (mostly because I haven’t been liking it at all), but I enjoyed the new episode so much that I just had to write something. I’ve also been somewhat inspired by the collaborative reviews over on nevillegirl’s blog as I like reading them a lot, and I figured it couldn’t hurt to try it myself.

As someone who hates Clara, you would think that such a Clara-centric episode would be an absolute nightmare. Surprisingly it wasn’t – it pains me to say this, but I think Clara has improved. Just a little, mind, as I still don’t like her, but there was nowhere near as big a temptation to throw things at the TV as there usually is. Obviously this was of huge benefit to the episode as a whole, as it meant I could relax and watch it without sneering, rolling my eyes, or passing internal comments whenever she opened her mouth – so Brownie points for Clara, I guess?

I think the main thing which has kept me watching Doctor Who (other than it’s something tI’ve watched and loved since it came back in 2005, and I’m still clinging to the hop of improvement) is the Doctor himself. I liked EARLY Matt Smith, but towards the end I Was getting fed up with him (coincidentally around the time dear Clara appeared…), but I think that’s also down to his episodes and not just him. Luckily Peter Capaldi is restoring my faith in the Doctor; he’s great – hindered somewhat by his wonderful companion, I feel, but… Okay, I’ll let Clara have her moment, she did well in this episode (apart from one appalling moment, but I’ll come to that later), so I promise to stop complaining about her for now. On with the Doctor – I really do think he’s great. He’s dark, but not too dark. His sarcasm and sense of humour really remind me of myself: “This is huge! Well, not literally huge, slightly smaller than usual” so that’s probably why I like him. He’s also Scottish! Not the first Scottish Doctor (but hopefully the last; and I mean both Scottish and the Doctor. Oh, who am I kidding> If the BBC can keep spinning money out of this, it’ll be on for another 50 years), of course not, but as a Scot I think it’s acceptable to get excited over it – and that accent! I don’t have much of an accent myself, so I love the opportunity to hear Capaldi’s, especially when it gets more pronounced the angrier he gets. Admittedly there are some moments where I can’t quite make out what he’s saying, but the fact that my parents like to talk over it probably don’t help that.

Having read over this after a day of not writing it, I’ve realised this is more of a character observation than an episode review, so it’s about time I stop getting sidetracked… I thought the concept of this episode was a very interesting one, and the creatures were certainly pretty creepy to look at when they where moving whilst inhabiting the bodies. There was something about the way they flickered that was really quite sketch-like, and often reminded me of the episode Fear Her, which featured 10, Rose, and the girl who made people disappear by drawing them. I also liked the fact that you couldn’t quite see the creatures before they attacked; sure you saw the lumps and bumps as they moved, but they weren’t like the typical monster than you can see fully.

It was definitely pretty clever that the victims “became” the graffiti under the bridge; it looked good and even though you knew they were really victims and not a memorial, it was still pretty smart. I must say, though, that I was a bit disappointed that Rigsy didn’t react much at all when realising his aunt was dead because of the creatures. He had mentioned in the beginning about how she had gone missing and was now a part of the memorial – it would have been interesting to see his reaction to the realisation of what had really happened to his aunt. Unfortunately, as they so often do, it was either skimmed over or totally forgotten about, which is a shame. But never mind.

The were two main things about this episode that really annoyed me, the first being when Clara and Rigsy were trying to escape the house and Clara ANSWERED THE PHONE. Why?! Yes it was to emphasise that Danny (I’m not a fan, by the way) didn’t know she was still with the Doctor, but it was just really unrealistic in that situation. As annoying and stupid as that was, though, it’s a pretty minor thing in comparison to this next one…

“Why can’t you say I did good?” There was a collective gasp of shock and horror from my parents and I when that line was uttered by Clara. What she was looking for was “[…] I did well?” – and she DID do well, up until that point. Clara is a teacher, shouldn’t she have known that was horrendously wrong?! And how did the writers let it pass by?! That one mishap really didn’t help me to warm to Clara at all; I just can’t understand why t was said. The thing is, she got it right the first time round, why change it? I was half-expecting the Doctor to pick up on it and say something about her being a teacher so should know better – but no. It was left like it was an acceptable thing to say (it really wasn’t), and that was just disappointing to me.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note, so can I just say how much I loved the title? It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but “Flatline” is wonderfully ambiguous in this sense:the word often refers to when a patient’s heart and/or brain is showing no “activity” (according to wikipedia), and so technically dead. And that’s accurate in this episode as the victims are dead. BUT the creatures are 2D – they are FLAT LINES. That’s such something I think is brilliant, and it only just occurred to me so has made me wonderfully happy!

Overall, I felt this was a really good episode, and probably one of the best of the entire series – certainly the best in a very long time. I’m hoping the episodes will start to improve, and I’m hoping that Clara also continues to improve – I would like to like her, but that’s just not really happened so far.

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