Metal band in quite good music video shock

*Before we get started, small disclaimer. This band are friends of mine, or at least some of them are, so if any of you are thinking of chirping up with cries of favouritism or nepotism or whatever then yes, you’re right. But I pays the bill round here ladies.

Last night I was, because I am well metal, sat in a metal bar in deepest Yorkshire, the kind of place that, well, is a pub that also plays metal. And by metal, I do mean a non-stop soundtrack of Nu-metal tracks from a decade ago at a volume that is either just too quiet to hear or so loud you can no longer hold a sensible conversation.  You know the kind of place. This particular bar is the type to also have screens showing a music video channel that you can’t hear, which is one of those things I will never understand, mainly because I am old and frail and a great many things now confuse me.

Of course, stick a screen in front of me and even if I’m having a great night out with friends I haven’t seen in far too long, soon enough I can’t peel my eyes off the fucking thing. In this instance the channel in question is Scuzz, so I’m treated to an endless parade of metalcore videos that all do exactly the same thing. Band playing like they’ve got the whole of Wembley in front of them when they actually seem to be in an underground car park. Inter-cut this ‘live’ footage with some tenuous plot dimension that has the band as hitmen or some other such nonsense. Don’t worry about having any kind of coherent narrative though, because the whole thing is geared towards making the band members look edgy and cool. Oh, and don’t forget to add in the pre-requisite hot girl looking lost or pensive or possibly ‘dangerous.’

I realise that trying to make a metal band look interesting is a bit like trying to make Fearne Cotton seem like a human being capable of emotion, but surely the answer is not to make a video that is essentially the same as every other metal promo out there? So imagine my delight to suddenly see this little gem appear nestled between two Killswitch Engage clones:

While on one level I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wash my eyes enough to unsee it, there’s something quite admirable about a band of quite unsightly bearded metal folks squeezing into leotards that reveal far too much man-cameloe, and not having to watch them chuffing and puffing through another tedious slice of bland. In these days of hipster hardcore and metalcore haircuts, there is something vastly watchable about a bunch of extremely unfashionable bearded men not trying to show the world just how boss hard they are and how many girls they can persuade to kiss them by virtue of an angular haircut and a cocky smile.

As for the song, well you can see why they’re being touted about as all manner of ‘next big thing’ in certain portions of the metal press, given that it is a nicely nasty piece of brit-metal. To these aged ears it manages to invoke the stomp of turn of the Millenium British bands like Pulkas and Raging Speedhorn, while also showing an affinity to Will Haven-esque punchy post hardcore (hardly surprising that they have managed to pull off a support slot to the later on this evidence) but then I would say that, because as I said, they’re people I know, and judgement tends to get coloured by such things. I do rather like it though.

RSJ will be supporting Will Haven in London Friday 11th November at the o2 Academy in Islington, so you can catch them there, where I hope the leotard look becomes their on stage costumes. Actually, no I don’t.

The Pokémon Letters: Chapter III

Editor’s Note:

Congratulations are in order, for in the face of adversity and strife we have risen up to the challenge of our rivals, and we now sport the eye of the pika. Each week my internet piñata Owen Grieve is weathering numerous scatalogical attacks on his personality as we share a game of Pokémon Red/Blue. 

Follow our journey as we romp together in verdant virtual meadows, threshing dismayed animals out of their homes and performing twisted and sadistic rituals upon them.

I am 31 years old.

This week: Vermilion City!

Dear Owen,

I’ve come to a realisation over the past week, and while I’m not enjoying the game per se, I suddenly feel as if it’s clicked. I understand now why you have found this so absorbing. The moment my second-stringers started chain-evolving, as we saw last week, I realised where the investment of my time had been going. The return was pretty piss-weak and meagre, but it was better than nothing. In those moments, my posture towards the game rose from hostile to merely bored. Which, given that I’m over 20 years distant from its target audience, I think counts in its favour.

I stuck to my isolationist guns throughout my stay in Cerulean City. I spoke to no-one I didn’t have to, and when I did have to, I let my ruthlessly exploited menagerie do the talking. ♂COBRA♂ is emerging in my mind as a world-weary and embittered Man with No Name. He wanders a crudely-settled land, drifting from town to town, too battered down by life to bother with the niceties of conversation. His temper is short, his brows beetled. And with his weapon of choice, his deadliness is unmatched. The archetypal gunslinger – or perhaps ‘bunnyslinger’ is more apt.

He is yet only a child but his innocence is as corrupted wreckage, and his life must now be defined inevitably by conflict; wasted pursuing one ultimate, all-consuming battle, while the world rejoices. It is a tragedy on the grandest scale, that stoic Aristotle himself would weep to behold.

As to the fossil I collected under Mt. Moon: In ♂COBRA♂’s satchel, beneath the crumpled nudey mags and empty coke wraps, I found a helix. Perhaps I can flog it to the museum for a fortune, and settle ♂COBRA♂ down into a warm, comforting overdose. I did pay the Cerulean bicycle shop a visit and considered it something of a joke. Having said that, I never seem to be short of cash, so I assume it’s not that difficult to accumulate disgraceful quantities of wealth via the exploitation of mother nature.

Very well. To business.

First of all, I managed to completely overlook the blindingly obvious clue – which you had also provided, I now notice – of the house ransacked by Team Rocket, and instead wandered around and around Cerulean trying to figure out how to leave. I blame myself for this.

I can just imagine, yes.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was to finally see this, Owen. We get into a few random scuffles here and there as we pass along our way, but with the burgeoning WINTERBORN serving as our pokéhutch pit boss, I’m finding more or less everything we run across gets flambéed and mauled with barely a pause. He’s like a miniature Godzilla.

We stop in someplace and leave one of our adopted babies in the care of a complete stranger. I think it was LEONARD.

I assume this is to induct us into the world of trading in animal slaves. I take a couple of trades, and I don’t feel particularly good about it. I end up with something called SPOT, and a duck thing, which actually turns out to be pretty handy. Also the little animation takes ages and is fucking annoying.

This is the Pokémon fan club. Contrary to their credo, they make me feel very welcome, which just shows they’ve radically misjudged me.

I decline the polite offer of a Powerpoint presentation, and we go about our business.

The gym is only a couple of doors down from here, but there’s no way to access it. Instead, I decide to cash in our ticket for a cruise on the SS Anne. 

(Not to scale.)

Realising that exploring the companionways and cabins will just lock me into battles I don’t have time for, I head below decks, where this happens.

Wow, it feels like I only dispatched this joker about two minutes ago. Winterborn just burns everything he has to the ground until his spunk tortoise shows up, now calling itself WARTORTLE. That’s when WHITEWIDOW gets tagged and buries him. This time for good.

I’m all about that tactics.

AVIRGIN quits, and we find ourselves in the Captain’s quarters, where their occupant is bent over and groaning.

Ask me about the other types of relief I can offer, sailor man.

In return for our seedy and dubious intervention into his ‘seasickness’, the captain gifts us the power of ‘cut’. We bestow it upon USELESSBOB, whose hysterical moniker is becoming less appropriate by the week. This lets us turn our little bee fellow into an instant machete, which gives us access to the gym and the surly Lt. Surge!

I keep putting this cockend in his place. When will he learn to accept it?

I step all over Surge’s minions, and we’re faced with a really dumb randomised puzzle to open the steel doors the big bad army man has hidden himself behind. PTSD is a tough break, bro. Eventually we waltz through, and Surge immediately jumps all over our shit.

Hang tough, big guy.

WINTERBORN leaves him with almost nothing but the smell of charred fur in his nostrils, before he is sadly vanquished at the last hurdle. OWENGRIEVE hops up to put the coup de grâce on. He’s turning out to be one heck of a reliable back up for my hot little lizard guy.

And I guess that puts us over the top for this week. My frustrations with the battle system have now sort of waned a bit, Owen, not because I’m in a better mood, but because WINTERBORN can pretty much torch whatever the fuck he wants. Sometimes I like to imagine he sets them on fire before ‘mega-punching’ their heads clean off.

Most of my vitriol this week came from either getting stuck or getting lost, not to mention that sodding puzzle. Still, at least I feel like I know what’s going on now.

Yours,

Noel

PS: I’m definitely not enjoying it.

Click for Owen’s reply!>>

The Pokémon Letters: Chapter II

Editor’s Note:

Hello, and welcome to Chapter II of The Pokémon Letters which is definitely a thing that myself and my digital compatriot Owen Grieve are doing. Each week, we are playing a bit of Pokémon Red/Blue and then writing little wussy love letters to each other like a couple of girls. This was all Owen’s idea.

Enjoy this exciting foray into the phenomenon of wasting my rapidly-dwindling lifespan on a children’s computer game.

Current number of hours I will never get back: Almost fucking 12.

This week: Cerulean City!

Dear Owen,

Having checked, I now realise almost four months have passed since you received my last letter. I could put this down to real-life pressures, which are extant; or I could simply own up to the truth and admit that I have found unpalatable the prospect of trudging around 8-bit wilderness getting randomly mauled by a spreadsheet. Perhaps the two are linked, I don’t know.

You made a good decision in forcing my hand though, since if there’s one thing I hate more than computer games which are for children, it’s looking like the lazy dickhead I actually am. Additionally, in order to prove to you that I did re-read your letter rather than just plunge ahead to reach the part where I can swear about things, I’ve prepared some rejoinders to a number of questions and inquiries in the text, both implied and direct.

I saw no Pikachu. I’d assumed since he’s the famous one he’d show up later with some sort of fanfare, so I never thought to look for him. I dimly recall four months ago I backtracked around in the forest looking for one after learning I’d missed him. I figured I could make one or two pointed and hilarious observations about giving myself such a stupid task. But that was shortly before I nearly ended it all, so I’ve pretty much just abandoned that goal and moved on, and you know what Owen? I’ve felt much calmer for it.

Haha. Not really.

I did check out the museum and when I left it I was a bit nonplussed. There was a space shuttle if I remember correctly. Is this to imply that Pokémon may have an extraterrestrial origin? I would appreciate and definitely care about your thoughts on the matter.

I can’t speak to the lifelessness or otherwise of the townsfolk because I avoided contact with them wherever possible just to try and save a bit of time. Everything is so long-winded, Owen. Everything. Nor can I comment on the music or sound effects because I muted them a long time ago, and I’m not going to turn them back on again.

Finally, Brock did actually remind me of a Demon Pigeon reader, but only by the time I was finished with him (ie, he was irrelevant, non-existent, ephemeral, etc, delete according to taste).

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, on the road to Mt Moon.

Wow, everyone sure does like fighting continually.

No, but I will if you want me to.

Wait, hang on. Maybe there is a point to all this violence after all.

Re-forged in the crucible of battle, WINTERBORN fills out and sprouts some wicked sick claws, as well as a headnipple. Now we’ll really show some wildlife who’s fucking boss, eh kids?

Irrespective of what buttons I press, Owen, I can’t get ♂COBRA♂ to hurl himself into these briny depths, there to find the absolute silence he so desperately craves. Could you give me a clue?

So this is what I’ve been putting off for a third of a year. Hard to imagine why. In hindsight, directing young ♂COBRA♂ around this drab grey cavern is the gaming experience of my life. Nothing much of note happened, besides running into a bunch of different creatures and lacking the poké balls to catch them. This is where I learned that it takes five keystrokes and a several second wait simply to avoid a battle. Additionally, I never needed the escape ropes you advised me to purchase, so I expect a reimbursement in the post.

Down a ladder, and I run into this guy. He calls himself a Pokémon gangster.

Unfortunately for him, I’m a legitimate Pokémon businessmon. There are actually a few of these fellas scattered about, and I defeated them all with alacrity because I fucking rule. Although I thought Team Rocket looked like this:

Woah, holy shit. I’ve been throwing USELESSBOB around a fair bit, on the basis that eventually he will evolve and gain some abilities besides ‘harden’. So I’m understandably excited to see what he will turn into.

Well, I wouldn’t fuck with it. Let’s see what cool abilities he has!

F*ck.

He doesn’t look like he wants to fight. He looks like he wants to swallow my poké balls. I’m okay with that. That’s two poké balls jokes now in a single update, Owen, by the way. I thought I would be a lot further into this series before I had to resort to that inexhaustible mirth supply.

Holy shit, I can’t keep track of these little buggers. What exciting new form will this young Weedle take on?

Boo.

In fairness to SEBASTIAN, he’s brought his string shot and poison thingy abilities with him, so he’s not as dreadful as USELESSBOB. But he’s still getting benched, the fucking misleading charlatan. I’m not faffing about with another one of these.

On second thought, Owen, I think this is a more accurate depiction of a Demon Pigeon reader.

And just like that, I pop out into daylight. I thought I was utterly lost, but I guess not.

Anyway, let’s wrap this up. Turns out I am still getting shit upon from a great height because young Misty, queen among the local trainers, has a Pokémon policy. That policy is all water, all the time. This means WINTERBORN, the main powerhouse of my force, gets doused like a pissed-on cigarette end. The rest of them are just hopeless. After numerous attempts to either switch my team with some of the other jerks I’ve caught, or at least level them up so they can survive a bit longer, we run into our old friend AVIRGIN.

This time, I noticed that he’d already wrecked Misty’s shit before I even arrived. Naturally he is full of himself and spoiling for a re-rematch. We stroll through him like he wasn’t even there, which makes it seem doubly improbable that he should be running around pipping us to every single post we find. I stumble across an Oddish while on my way back from meeting some prick called Bill, who does a hilarious movie reference that I’m not airing here. Having already gone against my instincts and consulted the nerd grid you linked me to last time, I realise that the Oddish will do okay against Misty’s wet bandits.

Yes!

YES!

Yeah, so I hear.

So we are finally underway again, Owen. I hope you’re having as much fun as me (ie fuck all, you malicious bastard).

Love and kisses!

Noel

PS: Your namesake also evolved into a Netto-Pigeon or something, but I cut those screens to save space, and also to annoy you.

Click for Owen’s reply!>>

The Pokémon Letters: Chapter I

Editors’ Note:

It’s part one. The beginning. Ground zero. Strap in, ladies and gentlemen. 

For the next several long, long weeks, myself and my internet tormentor Owen Grieve will be playing some Pokémon, for the delight of neither of us; and then writing about it on the internet, for the entertainment of ????

Also it is really difficult to find cool and funny Pokémon pictures that aren’t defaced by people with better jokes than us. So send us some.  

This week: Pewter City!

Dear Owen,

There’s a sadistic twist of genius in your choice of game for this project – which I barely remember agreeing to do, by the way – and you know it. When I think of children’s computer games, there’s nothing that springs to mind ahead of Pokémon. I feel as though I missed the boat on that particular phenomenon when I was a kid; and I don’t really understand why it accompanies people into their adulthoods, beyond striking a chord with their cloying, feckless nostalgia.

The fact remains, however, that I’ve never captured a pokémon. I don’t even know enough of the jargon with which to formulate sarcastic jibes against its childish fanbase of accountant savants. And all JRPGs appear to be exercises in over-written statistical misery. For these, and other wholly intelligible reasons, I figured I would die with my pokémon hymen intact; nor was I in any particular hurry to bust it.

But a challenge is a challenge, and you laid the gauntlet very elegantly, so I decided there was no time like the present, dearest Owen. I took your advice and fired up a bad boy, and then I booted up the game.

You’re not gonna get me reading books about Wizard School though, no matter what.

We meet Professor Oak. He strokes his pink acorn while he explains, with all the blithe ethical libertarianism of the true sociopath, that forcing innocent wild animals into captivity for your own ruthless and bloodthirsty purposes is just what happens in the World of Pokémon. This much I already knew, however.

With no warning at all, this clown Oak somehow shrinks ♂COBRA♂, our avatar, and then teleports him into a bedroom only slightly less depressing than my own. To take his mind off what is starting to look like a malicious and irresponsible experiment on the part of a bad scientist, we settle ♂COBRA♂ down to some children’s computer gaming.

Downstairs, his mum explains how television informed her she should kick him out. So told, we head out and meander about the countryside, taking the air without a thing to spoil our mood. That is, until Oak puts in an appearance. He leads ♂COBRA♂ – a guileless young boy, remember – back to his house with a promise that we will get a pet in return. On my crime grid, I put a tick in green felt tip pen by Professor Oak’s name, under ‘suspected paedophile’. It’s next to the other tick I just made, under ‘kooky fucker’.

Here are my options: Fire lizard. Spunk tortoise. Also some sort of ambulatory plant called a Bulbasaur. There’s fuck all here to go on, so I just roll with the baby dragon and call it done, but not before I drop a sweet handle on my new best buddy.

Our rival AVIRGIN ends up with the spunk tortoise, and immediately starts either shit-talking, or flirting. I’m not sure which. We throw down, only to discover that, while WINTERBORN might be a fire guy, all he can do is scratch or growl. Fuck’s sake.

Nevertheless, AVIRGIN is summarily defeated. And ♂COBRA♂ cleans up to the tune of 175 pokébucks. It is fair to say this fight lacked tension. We head up the road toward the big smoke, kicking the shit out of some cute animals in the meantime. I wonder what our pokébucks can buy us.

Sign says ‘POKE’. I hope this is a brothel.

Sadly, it’s just some kind of pokémon hospital. There’s nothing here for us, so we fight every step of our way back home. Them meadows is mean, esé. Someone gave us a parcel for Oak, so we stop by.

It turns out the greatest ambition of Oak’s career was to catalogue every pokémon species abroad in this wonderful computer game world. He intended to compile a ‘hi-tech encyclopedia’ AKA ‘Pokédex’. But having spent his most fruitful years doing ????, he can no longer be arsed, so he’s passing this ‘honour’ on to us, a random idiot kid and his grandson AVIRGIN. Hey Owen, while I’m on, why doesn’t Professor Joke pitch in a wee bit? He’s too old to pit innocent creatures against one another in mortal combat while he stands by and watches them rip chunks off each other? None of this adds up. What exactly qualifies this chancer as a ‘pokémon authority’, Owen?

We go buy up a few poké balls and set about snaring a few of these slippery fellas to appease the senile bastard.

This bad ass bird I caught will carry your name forever, Owen. We continue to pad out our roster with a bit more hapless wildlife, then we make our way west. We run into AVIRGIN who insists on engaging us in a multiple-round title fight that I was unable to either skip or avoid, once I’d encountered him. This is even more tedious than the continual random battles, Owen. OWEN.

OWENED

After AVIRGIN tastes inevitable defeat, we’re looking to join the big leagues, but the way is barred to us until we earn our stripes. To do that, we have to traverse the Woods of Dread and the Marsh of Ennui to get to Pewter City and tonk ourselves up at the gym. On arrival, we find out we must battle BROCK.

I hope WINTERBORN sets fire to his hair.

In the end it comes down to this. All USELESSBOB can do is ‘harden’ so he’s more difficult to hit. Consequently, all ONIX’s attacks are missing. My sole recourse is to hammer at my keyboard until something connects and we die. It takes forever to resolve. But now I know what I must do. I have to go out back into the grass, and toughen these little shitbags up. By this time, Owen, every time I run across something I can beat up, I am doing a little sigh of resignation. Sigh.

Here we have two males standing opposite each other, both using ‘harden’ over and over. The joke writes itself; and I assume it already did, a long time ago.

Eventually, I figure we’re up to another round with BROCK. I figured right, and BROCK is dispatched. The gym is ours. The community centre will stay open, and the evil suits from the big city won’t force the Donahues to sell their farm.

The End.

You were not wrong about this chapter being tedious, Owen, but I have my doubts that it’s going to get much better. I’m not really seeing this charming pocket-sized world you wrote to me about. I can’t even see how this appeals to kids. Did you never get sick of looking at the same battle screens over and over again, Owen? And are you expecting me to bother completing the entire pokédex?

I anxiously await your reply in the negative.

Yours,

Noel

Click for Owen’s reply!>>