Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"blingdomepiece" joins the band!

Last week we had a great session, with talented multi-instrumentalist "blingdomepiece" (of Score Hero fame) joining the band. If you've been following the band's history, the 3 Macas were alternatively joined by Trapper (1st band name: 3 Macas and a Trapper), some random people (2nd band name: 3 Macas and a Random Guest), DMan (3rd band name: 3 Macas and a Reject), Sylvie (no name change for historical reasons), and now Chrissy and blingdomepiece.

It was also a special session as blingdomepiece brought over one of the rare new Mustangs (Pro Guitar). We each tried this new instrument at various points during the night and I have to say that it is an amazing addition to the Rock Band platform. I can't wait to get my own and slowly learn to play a real guitar.

With a new member, we no longer will have to have both Bongoo and Raikan do multiple instruments. This will free up someone to concentrate solely on harmonies. We'll be rotating instruments for now for variety, but eventually settle on 1 or 2 core lineups. For example, it could be:

Bongoo: Pro Guitar or Harmonies (red)
Phoenix: Pro Drums
Raikan: Pro Keys\Bass and Harmonies (blue)
blingdomepiece: Pro Guitar or Harmonies (red)
Chrissy: Harmonies (brown)

Note: We will not be playing in "All Instruments Mode" because we want the Harmonies scores to count. We'll opt to remove Pro Keys or Bass, depending on the song. Hopefully this "bug" will be fixed in Rock Band 4...

- Stars breakdown: Didn't keep track, mix of 3s and 4s
- Our 1st ever song with a Pro Guitar was "20th Century Boy"
- We played DLC for the 1st time in RB3 (a few "The Doors" songs)
- We were at the last section for the "Road Challenges". After we finish this mode, we'll spend our time in Quickplay playing new DLC and our worst on-disk songs by stars, rank, etc...
- The beers of the week were "Blanche du Paradis" (Dieu du Ciel) and "Espresso Stout" (Dark Star)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"The Police" indeed

Last week, we only played 7 songs due to starting later than usual (Raikan has amazing board games), plus an odd moment when Chrissy came down the stairs and said, "Bongoo, the police is at the door for you!"

It turned out the neighbour was quite particular about warning her if we infringe a bit on her always empty parking space and she called the neighborhood's security service (not the real police, phew). The car was duly moved and a lenghty chat between herself and Raikan resolved the misunderstanding.

- Stars breakdown for the 7 songs: 4 stars (4), 3 stars (3, for "China Grove", "Crosstown Traffic", "Fly Like an Eagle")
- Raikan continues his tradition of messing with the look of Bongoo's character (normal look is "extreme metal"), choosing some truly odd combinations, including a really horrendous purple v-neck shirt...
- We have to restart "The Killing Moon" 3 times, finally passing it when we were about 1 nanosecond from dying (not an exaggeration)
- Trapper helped us with a few songs on keyboard\bass when Phoenix had to leave earlier than usual
- We finish the session with 17 unplayed RB3 songs
- While waiting for Raikan to come back from his talk with the neighbour, we entered Bongoo's real first name in Google (ex: type "(name) is " without clicking Enter), and Google suggested that he was "gay for robots", "gay", "mad for fish", "a douche"... Hmm, quite funny considering I'm a well-mannered (I hope) straight vegetarian! :)

Happy Robot Sounds

Two weeks ago, we played 25 songs, also in the "Road Challenges" section. We ended the session with 22 unplayed RB3 songs, 15 of which are without keys.

We got an odd "Happy Robot Sound" all of a sudden 3 times during the session. Someone joked that it sounded as if C3PO petted R2D2 in the right way... I also heard this at my place so it must be a RB3 glitch on the PS3 and not an issue with Raikan's sound system.

- Stars breakdown for the 25 songs: 4 stars (17), 3 stars (8)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah keyboard moment was during "Whip It"
- We get our 1st FCs in RB3: 1 for Raikan on Pro Keys, 1 for the triple vocalists

Junior Chicken Sauce

Sorry for the delay in updating the blog...

Three weeks ago we continued our RB3 journey, playing 23 songs in the "Road Challenges" section. It was our 2nd week with Raikan valiantly attempting to play "Pro Keys" on Expert (doing an amazing job overall)!

- Stars breakdown for the 23 songs: Gold stars (2), 5 stars (2), 4 stars (12), 3 stars (7, for "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", "25 or 6 to 4", "Break On Through (To the Other Side)", "Good Vibrations (Live)" , "I Need to Know", "Dead End Friends and "Llama")
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah keyboard moment was during "Killing"
- One "Road Challenge" set tells us that we "Need to Know" a "Centerfold" in order to "Kill(ing) Loneliness"
- It's hard to "Imagine" that there's an on-disk song without guitar...
- Raikan gets 2* for his 40% notes hit Expert Pro Keys performance of "Don't Stand So Close to Me"... ;)
- The "Road Challenge" sets throw us "Werewolves of London" twice in a row. At least it allowed us to get better at the song and get 5*
- We somehow got "2 of 22 Triples" when only Raikan and Bongoo were on vocals for "The Look" (must be the talkies)
- Hilarity ensued when Phoenix added "Junior Chicken Sauce" as random words to the the beat of "Killing Loneliness"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

1st session with keyboard

Last week was our 1st session with the keyboard. All Bongoo was able to find in terms of new instruments\equipment before the session was a cymbal kit and a keyboard stand. To everyone's surprise, Raikan was able to get his hands on the very rare Canadian PS3 keyboard (EB gets 1-2 pre-ordered one per week it seems).

On our shopping list:
- Pro guitar with buttons (hopefully within 1-2 weeks)
- Pro guitar with strings (March 1st)
- Mic stand (Bongoo using Raikan's ceiling beams as mic holder)
- Keyboard (Bongoo)

Raikan played most songs on Expert Pro Keys, but had to drop difficulties a few times, which is understandable for a new instrument.

Phoenix tried with 3 cymbals for the first time (using 1 of Bongoo's new ones). This set-up will do until Raikan gets his Pro Ion kit. Phoenix also forgot to bring his Roland KD-8...

One interesting note is that we started playing the "Road Challenges" this week instead of just doing Quickplay.

- Stars breakdown for the 11 songs: 5 stars (1), 4 stars (9), 3 stars (1, for "Whip It")
- The game crashed when we were playing "Oye Mi Amor", the system perhaps rebelling that we were not all on Expert (Hard for Pro Keys)...
- We failed multiple times on "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1". The only good thing about that is that harmonies got easier and easier for each attempt

Thursday, November 4, 2010

1st Rock Band 3 session

Last week we had our 1st RB3 session. What impressed me the most was the neat new sorting and filtering options. Since we have the entire song library, this will make it much easier to find what we want. It was useful from the getgo as we decided to start our RB3 career by playing the longest songs first.

I also liked the new "RB3" and "All Song" Leaderboards (no glitch so far!), plus the ability to sort by "Leaderboard Rank". The comparison with friends when you finish the song is also neat, as well as the ability to see Bass scores... It makes me wonder if Harmonix would ever have added all this in their game if we didn't create the Rock Band Score Reader plus RockBandStats.com (1st stat website) back in the day. Perhaps these kind of efforts were the catalyst for change.

The only disappointing thing about the launch was the lack of Pro instruments. Only Phoenix was able to play Pro as Raikan already had 2 cymbals (need another soon, but it also works with 2). Bongoo brought his new Mapex dual bass pedal for Phoenix's Roland KD-8. We are looking forward to the release of the Pro guitar and keyboard in Canada on the PS3.

We seem to be known as "Raikan81's band". Who knows how some people get their band name in the Leaderboards instead...

Chrissy joined us on harmonies, with Bongoo and Raikan also on vocals (in addition to guitar and bass, respectively).

- Stars breakdown for the 18 songs: 5 stars (4), 4 stars (10), 3 stars (4, for "Roundabout", "Beast and the Harlot", "Caught in a Mosh" and "Bohemian Rhapsody")
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during: none! The wah-wah bass in RB3 is not loud enough...
- We were halfway through "Free Bird", our 1st ever RB3 song, only to find out that there weren't getting energy sections (someone had joined after the start of the song)!
- We finally got to play some Rammstein in Rock Band ("Du Hast", not one of the longest songs, but we made an exception)! Now let's get some Rammstein DLC (12-pack ideas here)!
- We failed on the last note in "Smoke on the water" (tough on Pro drums)...
- Our percentages were between 56% and 86% on "Roundabout", ouch!
- Phoenix got the #1 rank on Pro Drums for "Roundabout" (one of the first to play it). We then checked out the Leaderboards later, only to find out he's been beaten by xXSHLONGFACEXx...
- Phoenix has fun with Bongoo's new dual bass pedal, which inspired a "death metal" version of "Sister Christian" (much to the Trapper's delight)! :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Double session week

Last week we had 2 sessions, which allowed us to catch up on all remaining RB2 songs (70). Our final score for RB2 is 1,455,577,362 points! :)

Tonight will be our first session with the much anticipated RB3. I can't wait to try the new keyboard and the Pro modes for all instruments.

For the foreseeable future, this blog will solely focus on the highlights of our weekly RB sessions. We'll be experimenting with the new modes and trying out the various Pro instruments, therefore there is no need to include details like "Top Performer", "Worst Performer", etc... I will also stop posting my top 3 DLC of the week as the focus will be on the RB3 on-disk songs.

- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Creep (Stone Temple Pilots)", "Exodus", "Fire (Live)", "Indians", "Infected Nation", "Long Train Runnin'", "Tha Shiznit", "That's tha Homie" and "Sending Signals"
- Bongoo gets a dual FC on voxtar for "Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom"
- Phoenix gets an impressive 91% on "In Memory" on Expert drums and survives a lot of tough songs (ex: "3rd Stone from the Sun")
- Raikan tries the drums and also survives some fairly tough songs (ex: "Manic Depression")
- We have quite a laugh for Parry Gripp's 2 new RBN songs on the PS3 ("Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom Nom" and "Last Train To Awesometown")
- The last RB2 song we will ever play was "Redemption Song" (Bongoo voxtar, no drums or bass)

PS3 swap

Last week we had a short session due to Raikan's work hours. Thankfully this will be the last time we have to swap days or shorten the session as he just got a promotion. Congrats!

In order to avoid the need for Phoenix to bring his DLC complete PS3 to Raikan's new townhouse every week, they had the great idea to swap PS3s!

- Stars breakdown for the 8 songs: 5 stars (4), 4 stars (4)
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (5), followed by Bongoo (3) and Phoenix (1)
- Phoenix was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (6), followed by Bongoo and Raikan (2 each)
- There were no FCs
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Death Quota for Purification" and "Among The Living"
- It's quite ironic that we barely survived "Among the Living" (Expert)
- Everyone fails within fractions of a second of each other at 20% of "Death Quota for Purification" (Expert)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Short session with some new Hendrix

This week we'll have a shortened session due to Raikan's special work hours, but we'll still try to catch up on some of the unplayed DLC (including this week's new Jimi Hendrix album).

It will be our 2nd last session playing RB2 as the much anticipated RB3 is soon upon us! :)

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Betty and Me", by Jonathan Coulton:

Jonathan Coulton is back with another great RBN song, this time with some neat country guitar and a genetics theme. The drum chart is fairly fast and has a few tough rolls. There is also a decent amount of movement on bass. One highlight is the relentless hammer-ons on guitar, especially in the pre-chorus and chorus... The song is quite funny once you hear all the lyrics. It is in my top 3 Jonathan Coulton songs released so far in RB in terms of story due to its interesting progression (after "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Creepy Doll").

2. "Hey There Mr. Brooks", by Asking Alexandria:

What makes this metal track stand out is its amazing sound. I love the symphonic addition near the end and the various transititions and riffs throughout. It also has a bit of a black metal feel and some well-integrated techno elements. The drum chart is always fun, being fast and diverse with a lot of interesting bass pedal patterns. The guitar and bass charts are not overly difficult, except for a few fast strumming sections. The vocals have a good mix of death + clean vocals. I liked the voice during the symphonic part near the end.

1. "Shallow Waters", by Amberian Dawn:

This is my favorite Amberian Dawn track since "He Sleeps in a Grove" due to its amazing heavy riffs, interesting transitions and great operatic melodies. The drum chart is pretty diverse, including some fun fast rolls with lots of bass pedal. The strumming on guitar and bass can be pretty intense. Watch out for some really challenging guitar solos. As usual the vocals are a treat due to the singer's outstanding lyrical voice.

Honorable mention. "Driver 8", by R.E.M.:

The R.E.M. songs released last week are fairly simple, but I have to say that they definitely grew on me after each listen. There were lots of neat moments, including the infectious chorus of "It's the End of the World as We Know It" (would be great with harmonies), the super catchy "Stand", plus the fun constant sound of "Radio Free Europe", but overall the mellow "Driver 8" was my favorite due to its neat country-ish riffs on guitar and unique melancholic feel. The bass chart is pretty constant, with nice up and down movement. There is also a decent amount of variety on vocals, including some nice long clean lines.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A variety of players in Kanata

Last week we had a great time at Raikan's new place in Kanata. It will be a great place for our sessions for the time being. Chrissy helped us out at the beginning of the session on vocals. Trapper even helped at the end on bass when a sick and tired Phoenix had to bow out. The extra help will come in handy when RB3 comes out (ex: harmonies, keyboard).

We gained 13M points after completing 22 songs (1382M to 1395M).

- Stars breakdown for the 22 songs: 5 stars (11), 4 stars (10), 3 stars (1, for "I Shot the Sheriff")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (12), followed by Raikan (6), Phoenix (2) and Trapper (1)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (11), followed by Phoenix and Chrissy (4 each) and Raikan and Trapper (1 each)
- Bongoo had the only FC of the night (1)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Jeepster" and I Shot the Sheriff"
- Phoenix didn't bring his real pedal and KD-8 combo, so we limited ourselves to the easier drum songs
- We also didn't have a mic stand, so Bongoo used the unfinished ceiling beam as a mic support for voxtar
- The PS3 freezes after the 1st song is played, perhaps due to Phoenix's excessive bass pedal hits at the loading screen?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Off to Kanata we go

This week we're heading off to Kanata (west of Ottawa) for our 1st session at Raikan's new place. We'll continue to catch up on September's DLC, as well as the new DLC from this week and last week (R.E.M., Anthrax, etc...).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Cali Girl", by Ballyhoo!:

This happy RBN song surprised me as it has a great reggae rock feel. Its beat is pretty unique, with some neat quick hits in the reggae section and a fun faster section. The bass chart is not too difficult but it has an awesome groove. The guitar and vocals are also fairly simple, but the song sounds so great that it hardly matters.

2. "Indians", by Anthrax:

I'm not a big fan of Anthrax's rap metal (ex: "I'm the Man"), but they more than make up for it with some great sounding thrash metal classics like "Indians" (also check out "Among the Living" and a neat live version of the GH2 classic "Madhouse"). The drum chart has 1 tough fast beat, but you can omit the extra notes to survive. The guitar and bass charts are always fun due to the amazing variety of heavy riffs, especially in the 2nd half. The vocals are not too difficult, but they have a decent amount of variety and a great theme.

1. "Long Train Runnin'", by The Doobie Brothers:

This classic song from a talented band is my favorite of last week due its great sound and fun charts. I love the groovy bassline and the series of complex fun chords on guitar. The drum chart is fairly easy except for a few tricky fills at the end, but it has a nice flow. The vocals were also fun due to the "Without looooove" sections. You can also check out their other song "Listen to the Music" for some more guitar fun.

Honorable mention. "Now Demolition", by Evile:

Last week also had some interesting moments, including the neat buildups and epic bassline of "Closer to the Edge", the awesome guitar and drum charts of the chaotic "First We Feast, Then We Felony", the fun heavy groove metal riffs of "Hail Destroyer", but overall my special mention goes to the long awaited return of Evile to Rock Band. This song is much slower than 2008's "Thrasher", but with such great riffs and an impressive soundscape with a tinge of black metal, it is a joy to play and hear. The drum chart is always interesting. I especially liked the quick double hits after the guitar solo. The guitar and bass charts are always interesting due to the variety of heavy riffs. It is also one of the rare RBN metal songs with almost no talkies.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The arrival of Emma

This week we canceled the session due to the recent arrival of Bongoo's daughter Emma. She joins 22-month-old Jonathan in his growing family.

Raikan was also preparing to move west of Ottawa this week (Kanata). We'll have our session there next week.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Is This Love", by Bob Marley & The Wailers:

The late great reggae sensation Bob Marley added some nice variety to Rock Band last week (although the genre should be "Reggae" instead of "Other"). There were many great songs, but my overall favorite was "Is This Love". It is a nice laid back song with good instrumentation, including some fun quad hits on drums, a pretty groovy bass line, plus some good diversity on guitar. It is also fun to sing due to the variety of lyrical phrases. Hoepfully the harmonies will be charted in Rock Band 3.

2. "Step Up (I'm On It)", by Maylene & The Sons of Disaster:

This rockin' RBN song has a neat country guitar sound and great energy. Its beat is fairly simple but it has a good flow. The bassline is repetitive but the main line is so fun that it doesn't matter. The guitar chart was the funnest of the week due to its great mix of singles and chords. I really liked the hammer-on additions in the last chorus on guitar and bass.

1. "Riot Act", by Exodus:

This intense thrash metal song from pioneers Exodus was a treat to play. It is heaven for anyone who likes diverse alternating "bass pedal\pad hit" patterns. The bass chart is awesome and quite dynamic, although I wouldn't have put it as tier 7 (only one tricky section with unique strumming). The song is really tough on Expert guitar, so I had to play it on Hard difficulty. It is surprisingly fun on Hard guitar due to its non-stop hammer-on and chord sections. I really liked the 2nd guitar solo and the riff after the solos. I have to say that there is an awful lot of cowbell in the intro... I wonder if the real singer would approve. ;)

Honorable mention. "I Shot the Sheriff", by Bob Marley & The Wailers:

There were many memorable Bob Marley moments this week, including the guitar charts of "Jamming" and "Could You Be Loved", the drum chart of "One Love/People Get Ready", plus the vocals of "Satisfy My Soul", but my 2nd overall favorite was "I Shot the Sheriff". It is a really unique song with a groovy bass (3 great repeating lines), a fun beat (neat double hits), plus some challenging vocals.

"Move"-ing on

This was the 2nd week in a row that we started and ended our session with a bit of 4-player Disc Golf and Bocce, courtesy of the new Playstation Move and "Sports Champions". I am quite impressed with the new technology as it is very accurate.

This also marked our last session at Phoenix's place for a while, as we'll be moving on to Raikan's new abode next week. We played 15 songs, slowly catching up on our backlog of DLC (the whole month of September). It was an interesting mix of genres (urban, country, metal, etc...).

- Stars breakdown for the 17 songs: Gold stars (3), 5 stars (10), 4 stars (2)
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (8), followed by Bongoo (6) and Bongoo (4)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (13), followed by Raikan (4) and Phoenix (3)
- Bongoo had the only FCs of the night (2)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moment was during "Days Go By"
- We get a triple "Worst Performer" at 99% for Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot"
- We also get a double "Top Performer" and double "Worst Performer" for "Fancy"
- Bongoo gets a double FC on voxtar for "Beautiful" (vocals + guitar)
- We manage to survive until the 96% mark in the 8-minute long "Bleed", only for Phoenix to fail... It's a tough song, so surviving that long on Expert was impressive
- Talk about a crazy drum chart on Expert for "Packet Flier". It must be one of the toughest ones to FC, let alone pass, due to its insane speed...
- We get an odd "Song data unvailable" error after trying to play "Nirvana", by Juliana Hatfield. I noticed that the tier info was unavailable for that song. Hopefully re-downloading it will fix the error

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last session at Phoenix's for now

This week will be our last session at Phoenix's house for the time being as Raikan is moving west of Ottawa and won't have transportation. We'll likely have our sessions at his place for the next little while.

Our goal will be to continue to catch up on September's DLC.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Writing on the Walls", by Underoath:

This song is from a 2006 album, right in the middle of the other 2 Underoath songs previously released for Rock Band (2004 was emo, 2008 was metal). This song seemed like a good mix of the two genres, blending quiet melodic segments with pretty heavy sections very well. I liked the drum chart due to its variety and good pad action, plus its fills with varying speeds. There were a few challenging sections but it never felt impossible. Always assume the song is not over until it's over (played the last section with my hands in the middle of the drum sticks...). The bass chart is not too exciting, but the guitar one has enough variety to stay interesting (ex: a few hammer-on sections are fun).

2. "The Final Episode (Let's Change the Channel)", by Asking Alexandria:

This song has awesome riffs and also has a great blend and heaviness and melody. I liked the techno add-in at the end (not typical in metal, but can add some flair when mixed in correctly). The drum chart is pretty diverse and has lots of bass pedal, while the bass one has a dymanic 1st half. The guitar chart has some fast strumming in the 1st half and is quite fun during the techno part.

1. "Holy Diver", by Dio:

This is a classic epic metal song from the late Ronnie James Dio, which you'll remember from Guitar Hero 80s. It has a great driving rhythm with lots of variety, including some fun fills and quick hits. The neat galloping riffs on guitar and bass are a treat to play. The guitar solo seemed tougher than the one in Guitar Hero 80s.

Honorable mention. "Nightlife Commando", by Bang Camaro:

This week had a lot of other great moments, including the fun solos in "Swallow the Razor", the groovy bassline of "This Charming Man", the tough triple chords of "Irish Blood, English Heart", the fun driving beat of "Stand Up and Shout" and the unique tribal beat and vocals in the intro of "Africa", but I have to give my special nod to Bang Camaro's "Nightlife Commando", another bombastic rock song from this charismatic group. It has a good simple drum chart with a neat roll in the middle. The acoustic guitar in the intro sounds neat and is fun to play. The bass is fairly simple, but the guitar chart has a neat chugging riff and some melodic solos. You kind of wonder why they need so many singers to just repeat the title of the song, but I guess that's what gives this group that special something...

Party time

Last week we finally managed to have a session and started catching up on some DLC. We played 17 songs, going up 17M points in the process (1350M to 1367M).

One interesting event was the knock on the door mid-session. We assumed it was Phoenix's next-door neighbour, who would usually ask us to turn down the volume past 11:00 PM. What we had forgotten was that this was a once-in-a-blue-moon Friday night session, so it turned out to be one of Phoenix's female neighbours from down the hall inviting us to a party (he had only met her once a year prior). Phoenix is recently single, so he was happy to find out that almost all attendees were female. After the mini-party, we came back to our session and wondered, what the hell just happened? I guess you never know what can happen when you're rockin' to this great game... ;)

- Stars breakdown for the 17 songs: Gold stars (4), 5 stars (11), 4 stars (1), 3 stars (1, for "Buster Voodoo")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (10), followed by Raikan (8) and Phoenix (4)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (12), followed by Phoenix (6) and Raikan (3)
- Raikan and Bongoo had 1 FC each
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "The Price" and "Asylum"
- We get 999K for "Seasons"...

Friday, September 17, 2010

4 weeks of DLC

We didn't have a chance to play last week due to Raikan's new work hours, but we'll be back this week for a special Friday session. We'll start catching up on 4 weeks of DLC (Disturbed, Country, Snoop Dogg and Dio weeks).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Valkyries", by Amberian Dawn:

This is another fun symphonic power metal song. It is not as heavy as previous Amberian Dawn RBN releases, but is still worth checking out. The constant pedal beat is fun but can get tiring. The guitar and bass charts have tough variable strumming, with some sections that are constant and fast. The guitar solo is short and challenging. The keyboard part in the intro would be fun to play in RB3, but it is unlikely that current RBN tracks have that charted. The vocals were not too difficult, but as usual the female singer has a good operatic voice.

2. "Wake Up", by Me Talk Pretty:

This neat sounding group is like a "rock" version of Lacuna Coil with soaring vocals and heavy riffs. The drum chart is really fun due to a unique flowing beat. It has an odd pattern due to the bass pedal and lots of pad action, but it feels great when you get it. There is nice variety in the groovy bass chart, with slow and fast parts, plus occasional chords. There are simple chord changes on guitar but they are still fun. The singer has a good range.

1. "Bleed", by Meshuggah:

This song will make your ears bleed, but in a good way... :) The volume for RBN songs is louder than regular DLC, so after playing the Snoop Dogg tracks on drums, it was kind of a rude awakening to play this song, especially with my right speaker being fairly close to my drums. This 8 min. song has an awesome chugging technical death metal feel, with non-stop heavy riffs with complex time signatures except for one short interlude near the end. The drum chart is really tough but has at least 4 really fun patterns with loads of bass pedal. There is crazy strumming on Expert guitar and bass, so I had to play it on Hard difficulty. The guitar chart on Hard has some interesting sections that mix singles and chords.

Honorable mention. "We Are the One", by Anti-Flag:

Last week had a few interesting songs from Snoop Dogg (more so the Re-Records than the Mixes due to the better instrumentation, ex: guitar, flute), but the song that deserves special mention is the neat sounding RBN punk song, "We Are the One". It has a fast beat with 2-3 patterns so it can be challenging to keep up. What makes it stand out is a really awesome dynamic bass chart. On guitar there is also a great variety of chord patterns, plus the "Whao, Whao, Whao-ao" section is fun to sing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Disturbed, Country and... Snoop?

Last week we couldn't play due to conflicting schedules, so we're finally back this week for a triple dose of new DLC! I think this will be one of the most diverse session we've ever had (Disturbed, Country and Snoop Dogg)! If they ever released more SpongeBob SquarePants songs, followed by more Cannibal Corpse the following week, then it would beat this combination... :)

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Women", by Jamey Johnson:

This cheekily funny song ("they're all craaaaaazy"...) is my 2nd favorite of the 4th Country pack, mainly due to its really fun hammer-on sections in the guitar solos. The twangy guitar chart also has some quick singles and chords throughout the song, plus a somewhat odd outro. The bass is constant and simple. As for the drum chart, there is enough variation for it to stay interesting.

2. "What Was I Thinkin'", by Dierks Bentley:

Dierks Bentley had one of my favorite tracks of the 1st country pack with "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)", so I'm wasn't too surprised that he ended up having my favorite of the 4th. As usual for this artist, the song has great rhythm and energy. The drum chart includes 3-4 fun beats, including a neat one with the green pad. The song has a very dynamic guitar chart with a great mix of chords and singles, plus a fun solo. The groovy bass chart also has lots of movement. On top of all this, the semi-raunchy story will keep you entertained.

1. "Seven", by Sunny Day Real Estate:

This RBN song tops my list due to its really amazing drum chart. It has 3-4 fast beats with constant movement and variation, but it is never impossible. There is a great section with stop/start sequences, plus another fun one with "double pad/bass pedal" alternating. The bass chart has a tough pattern at the beginning, but it then gets easier. The fast and fun chord patterns on guitar can sometimes be challenging. If only all emo songs were as enjoyable to play as this one...

Honorable mention. "Do Not Disturb (Tell Me How Bad)", by Let's Get It:

There were lots of other higlights last week, including some great hammer-ons and taps on guitar in "Bang Camaro" (also features an army of cowbell vocalists...), the always impressive riffs and solos of Five Finger Death Punch in "Hard to See", the awesome unique flowing beat at the very end of "Days Go By", the challenging patterns and variety on guitar in "Would You Go With Me", the quick double notes on guitar and bass on "It Happens", plus the impressive range on vocals in "Hell on the Heart" and "Fancy", but I have to reserve my special mention for the neat sounding pop-rock RBN song by Let's Get It. The main reason is due to its challenging and fun vocals that are all over the place. It also includes a tough rolling beat on Expert and a good diversity of beats. The guitar and bass charts are simple but the rhythm changes keep them interesting.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Country is back!

This week we'll catch up on last week's DLC (Disturbed, etc...), plus play the new Country pack. That's right, country is back with a vengeance with an all-new 9-pack (called pack #4, although #2 and #3 were released as one "Track Pack" last summer). The country songs in RB are usually a lot of fun on guitar and sometimes have complex vocals, so they will be fun to sightread on voxtar.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Bury Me Alive", by We Are The Fallen:

This gothic metal band with ex-members of Evanescence is quite melodic. Their singer has a deeper voice than Amy Lee and has a good range. I liked the orchestration in the background near the end, but the outro is overly long. The drum chart has a nice steady beat with a good amount of variety, especially in the buildup and the outro. The guitar and bass charts are fairly simple, but the song is fun to listen to so it's not really an issue. I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm hoping we eventually get some Tarja-era Nightwish (ex: "Ghost Love Score"). I think of this every time I hear this genre in RB.

2. "The Great Plains", by Scale the Summit:

This song is an awesome prog instrumental from some very talented musicians. It has a neat flowing beat with great variety and a nice use of triplets. The guitar and bass charts are also quite diverse. I especially like the hammer-ons throughout on guitar (especially in the 2nd solo). The song is not overly difficult but it is always fun and interesting. We definitely need more from this genre, and the RBN is a great platform for it. I hope the Guitar Hero 2 instrumental classic "Gemini" is eventually added.

1. "The Animal", by Disturbed:

This song is my favorite of the week due to its really amazing drum chart. It has a great flow with 3-4 rolling patterns. It doesn't have a crazy constant pedal section like the other 2 new Disturbed songs. The song itself has a neat groove and some nice melodies with a good vocal range. There is a great bass section after the interesting but slightly off-tune guitar solo. As usual for Disturbed, the song has some triple chords on guitar, but it is fairly easy. I wonder why these new songs are classified as metal instead of nu-metal (all previous Disturbed songs), even though they are very similar to their older material. Nu-metal has a negative connotation as a genre due to its commercialization and simplification of metal in the late 90s and early 2000s so that might be the reason.

Honorable mention. "Buster Voodoo", by Rodrigo y Gabriela:

This is another great instrumental RBN song, this time omitting drums as well. The Spanish-style guitar strumming is quite a challenge, alternating between sections with 3, 4, 8 notes, etc... I like how they charted the rhythm guitar as the bass (reminds me of Guitar Hero 2 co-op). The song is quite unique and it has some really tough guitar solos.

Hong Kong Cinema

Last week we didn't play RB as Raikan was sick. Instead, I shared one of my favorite Hong Kong movies with Phoenix.

As you can imagine from this blog and the website I created (RockBandStats.com), I tend to get pretty involved in my hobbies. My passion between 1996 and 2001 was Hong Kong cinema. I owned hundreds of DVDs and even went as far as writing a movie script.

Like most people who got into Hong Kong cinema, it started with Jackie Chan movies. My collection grew to include classics from John Woo, Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Wong Kar-wai, Anthony Wong, etc...

Last week we watched an original version (Cantonese + English subtitles) of what I consider to be Jackie Chan's greatest achievement, "Drunken Master 2" (released here as "The Legend of Drunken Master"). The final 20-minute multi-part fight sequence is one of the most impressive in movie history. The period between "Drunken Master 1" (1978) and "Drunken Master 2" (1994) is to me the pinnacle of Jackie Chan's career.

In future weeks, we'll likely watch what I consider to be Jet Li's best ("Fist of Legend") and Tony Jaa's best ("Ong Bak", a Thailand modern action classic). We'll also see the John Woo movie with the best action scenes ("Hard Boiled", although "The Killer" is a better overall movie). I might even share my favorite Stephen Chow comedies ("God of Cookery" and "Love on Delivery").

Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Disturbed

This week we'll play the new DLC, as well as play our worst songs by star. This includes 3 songs from the new Disturbed album. I've played them on solo drums and I know that Phoenix will wish he already bought a dual bass pedal for his KD-8 (at least for 2 of the songs)...

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "Sins of My Youth", by Neon Trees:

This pop-rock song has a good sound, but what makes it stand is its awesome drum chart. It has 2-3 fairly simple but fun beats, then a great "Maps"-like section closer to the end. The bass chart has enough movement to stay interesting. There is also a fun triple chord pattern on guitar.

2. "Blow at High Dough", by The Tragically Hip:

As Canadians, it's hard not to love playing this "The Hip" classic from 1989. The band has a great rockin' sound with a steady beat that is simple but fun. The repeating bass pattern has some good movement and gives the song a good backbone. The lead guitar is pretty simple but it is always interesting due to its variety.

1. "Unfurling A Darkened Gospel", by Job for a Cowboy:

This death metal band has an awesome heavy sound, alternating between fast and slow sections. The song is crazy on Expert drums (failed right away), but it is great on Hard drums due to its variety of patterns. The guitar and bass chart are also very fun due to the neat hammer-on sections. It is my favorite song of the week because it has great charts for all instruments and it is always changing and interesting.

Honorable mention. "Mandelbrot Set", by Jonathan Coulton:

This week had some good moments like the simple but great sound of "The Black Keys", the fun "Science Genius Girl"-like beat at the end of "Let The Games Begin", and the amazingly dynamic hammer-on sections of "Hook, Line, and Sinner", I have to give another nod to the great Jonathan Coulton. While "Mandelbrot Set" is not as obviously funny as some other Coulton songs due to its subtle math humour (except for the hilarious "badass f'n fractal"), it is worth mentioning due to its awesome drum chart. It has 3-4 fun beats, the best part being the complex but doable fills with some great pad action. The bass chart is simple but it has a great guitar chart with a variety of chord patterns.

All songs played

Last week we managed to catch up by playing all 32 unplayed songs. That will allow us to concentrate only on new DLC this week, as well as our worst songs by star (ex: we have 5 3-star songs). We added 26M points to our total (1324M to 1350M).

- Stars breakdown for the 32 songs: Gold stars (5), 5 stars (19), 4 stars (7), 3 stars (1, for "Crushed Beyond Dust")
- Raikan and Bongoo were the "Top Performers" for the most songs (14 each), followed by Phoenix (8)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (17), followed by Raikan (6) and Phoenix (5)
- Bongoo had the most FCs (4), followed by Raikan (1)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Blow at High Dough", "Bulletproof", "I Got Mine", "The Crying Machine (Live)"
- Bongoo got double "Top Performer" for "Is There a Ghost" (FCs for guitar and vocals), while Raikan and Phoenix tie for "Worst Performer" (both at 99%). Apart from a few full band FCs, this might be the 1st time we have 4 people to mention for top and worst
- Phoenix showed great skills on drums, allowing us to pass "Crushed Beyond Dust" and "Hook, Line, and Sinner" on Expert (even getting 4 stars for the latter)
- Raikan managed to get "Worst Performer" and "Band Savior" on the same song ("Hook, Line, and Sinner")...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rammstein confirmed + RBN metal

This week we'll catch up again as we have 21 songs remaining from previous weeks, plus the 11 new ones from this week (2 new bands with 3 songs each, plus the 5 RBN). This includes another Jonathan Coulton song ("Mandelbrot Set") and the first one by Canadian rockers "The Tragically Hip" ("Blow at High Dough").

It's almost certainly a coincidence, but a few days after my Rammstein wishlist post, it was confirmed that "Du Hast" will be in RB3! :) Thanks Harmonix! Hopefully we'll eventually get some DLC as well.

I was looking at the genres for the 90 RBN songs released so far on the PS3:
32 - Metal
26 - Rock
10 - Indie Rock
7 - Alternative
4 - Novelty
3 - Punk
2 - Pop-Rock
2 - Prog
1 - New Wave
1 - Nu-Metal
1 - Other
1 - Urban

I find it awesome that metal tops the list. Most of the time it is songs that are selling well that are ported over to the PS3 so it proves that there was untapped demand for it. A whole range of metal subgenres would never have been represented if not for the RBN (ex: blackened thrash and technical melodic death, the 2 genres for songs that are 1st in my top 3 for the last 2 weeks).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on guitar, bass and drums):

3. "Tree Village", by Dance Gavin Dance:

Once again the top 3 is all from the RBN. The normal DLC had some fun old school Ministry classics like "Jesus Built My Hotrod" (ding-a-long-ling-long...), but the variety and quality of RBN offerings makes them stand out. First off we have a "metal" song that is amazingly mellow and melodic for a complex and heavy song (Wikipedia says the band is "post-hardcore"). I loved the part with the heavier vocals and the clean vocal one that followed. There are 2 or 3 really unique and fun beats, but if you're on Expert watch out for a really difficult rolling beat. It's even tough to hold a streak on Hard drums during the first roll and intense last section. The guitar chart is also fun due its variety. There are some tough sections with lots of movement and complex strumming (ex: 4 notes when you expect 3).

2. "Icarus' Song", by Furly:

Apparently this was a day 1 RBN song on the 360 that was composed entirely for the RBN. This really shows in the high quality of the charts, but the song itself has a great sound and is very melodic. The singer has a good range and the keyboard fits in nicely. The highlight by far is the variety of the drum chart, which is always changing with 3-4 interesting beats. The best section is the awesome fast beat with lots of pad action near the end. The bass chart is pretty simple, but the guitar one has enough chord changes to stay interesting.

1. "We Are The Nightmare", by Arsis:

Be afraid, be very afraid... When the RBN release info for this song mentioned that playing "Visions" on drums would be a warmup for this song, they weren't kidding. This is the 1st song in 1400+ RB songs I've played where I couldn't even 5 star on Hard difficulty. It pretty much exists on its own as a "tier 8" drum song. It made for an interesting first play on Expert: Odd the intro isn't charted, this doesn't sound too difficult, hmm the drum in the background has an awful lot of bass pedal, it'll probably start soon... WTF wall of notes, fail! :) Arsis is a technical melodic death metal band, and you can guess from my warning where the "technical" aspect comes from. The song's great variety of complex riffs have a well-balanced mix of melody and heaviness. It was really fun to FC on Medium drums (even the Medium chart has a few tricky parts...). The blast beats near the end sound insane so I can just imagine what they look like on the Expert chart. The bass chart was quite fun but it is actually overtiered (should be a 5 or 6).

Honorable mention. "Descend Into the Eternal Pits of Possession", by The Project Hate MCMXCIX:

I could easily have picked "The Crying Machine (Live)" by Steve Vai due to its awesome bass line during the main riff and its interesting violin solos, but I can't help to give a special mention to this epic track due to its value for money. The song is roughly 10 minutes long and costs only $1. This is in contrast to the occasional average length song at $3 (ex: "Blow at High Dough"). If you play this melodic death metal song on Expert drums, watch out for a crazy fast beat 3 minutes into the song (at least it's not at the 9 minute mark...). The song has lots of interesting sections, alternatively sounding like "Lacuna Coil" (female singer sections) and "Bolt Thrower" (male voice chorus). It likely would have made my top 3 if the charts and\or audio didn't have a disjointed and muddy feel, for example during the intro and before the 1st off-tune piano section. This is another song where I wondered why a section wasn't charted (drums during 2nd off-tune piano part). The guitar was fun during the "Bolt Thrower"-like sections (at least on Hard; Expert has some really intense strumming).

Kevin Bacon tastes odd

Last week we managed to catch up a bit and played 13 songs out of the 34 on our to-play list (unplayed + 3-star), gaining about 12M points.

- Stars breakdown for the 13 songs: Gold stars (3), 5 stars (5), 4 stars (5)
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (6), followed by Bongoo (4) and Phoenix (3)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (8), followed by Phoenix (2) and Raikan (1)
- There were no FCs
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moment was during "Yerbatero"
- Bongoo got "Top Performer" (vocals) and "Worst Performer (guitar) on the highly unusual "Tastes Like Kevin Bacon" by "iwrestledabearonce"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Catching up

This week we'll have a shortened session, but we'll still try to catch up on some unplayed DLC. We have the 26 songs we planned to play last week, plus the 8 new ones from this week (3 old school Ministry songs + 5 RBN).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on guitar, bass and drums):

3. "Sturm & Drang", by KMFDM:

I didn't expect industrial metal pioneers KMFDM to be back so soon, as they recently had a RBN song released to the PS3 ("Juke Joint Jezebel"). It's nice to see that are now part of the bands with "offical" Harmonix released DLC. This newer song has great flow and a neat drum beat. I liked the part in the quieter section that has a rolling beat with missing notes. The highlight of the song is the bassline as it is quite dynamic. It might seem like a marathon song on bass due to the constant movement and strumming, but for the main riff it is much easier if you hold your index down and tap the rest of the notes. For guitar, I liked the synth section after the solo. Now if only they could release a Rammstein DLC pack (see last post)...

2. "Saturday Morning", by Eels:

I knew nothing of this group so this rockin' song was a nice surprise. It has a great sound and lots of energy. The beat sounds simple but the drum chart has amazing variety. It would be a great song to practice different pad patterns while doing constant pedal (ex: like some common "The Who" beats but slower). The guitar chart is quite simple, but it has enough variation to stay interesting, especially in the last solo.

1. "Crushed Beyond Dust", by Skeletonwitch:

Unfortunately we missed this group at Heavy MTL last month while walking towards the festival grounds (we missed only 2 of the 28 festival bands from the 2 main stages). What makes them unique is that they play a really unique genre called blackened thrash metal. You can often associate black metal with death metal (ex: Behemoth) or symphonic metal (ex: Dimmu Borgir), but I've rarely heard it incorporated into thrash metal. This band blends these styles really well (ex: section in middle of song). What is also neat is that the singer's voice blends really well with the music. The drums on Hard difficulty were lots of fun due to the nice flow (too crazy on Expert). The bass chart was also really fun due to the variety of non-stop riffs. If you play guitar, prepare for some crazy fast strumming on Expert, plus a really insane chord pattern at the end.

Honorable mention. "Elements", by Texas in July:

Last week's charts had lots of great moments, including the fun double hit patterns on drums in the 2nd half of "Heads or Tails? Real or Not", the fast pattern that happens twice on guitar in the 1st half of "Bulletproof", the rolling beat at the end of "The Perfect Crime #2", the surprising chords on bass in "I Only Want You", the interesting sounds of "Rapture" and the fun bass pedal pattern during "Jesus Freak", but the guitar chart of "Elements" takes the cake for being one of the most dynamic ever. It is really hard to keep up with its frenetic pace, but it is really fun to try. The bass chart was also fun due its variety. As for the song itself, I'd say it is above average for metalcore, but the neat charting more than makes up for it.

Rammstein night

Last week we didn't play Rock Band because Raikan was unavailable. Phoenix and I took the opportunity to watch some amazing Rammstein concerts (1998: Live Aus Berlin DVD, 2005 from France: Völkerball DVD).

They have the best live show in the business, with amazing pyro effects, interesting stage theatrics (especially between the singer and keyboardist) and great atmosphere. I can attest to that as I've seen them live every time they've come to Canada:
- 1999: Metropolis - Montréal
- 2001: Metropolis - Montréal
- 2010: Plaines d'Abraham - Québec

I've managed to get to the front for each concert and really feel the heat from the flames. The highlight was definitely the show in Québec as it was outdoors with a crowd of more than 100,000 people. The open sky allowed for an even greater variety of effects (see "Rammstein Québec" videos on Youtube). It's the craziest concert I've ever seen for many reasons (size of crowd, fight for survival at the front, raw energy from the band, variety of pyro and fireworks, etc...).

If you want to see their concert for this tour in full, search for "fuckingdevotee 2010-05-22" on Youtube (link here). It was 1 of 3 nights in Berlin in May, with all 18 songs filmed in HD by a fan. The band might eventually release a DVD from one of those nights. Here is the setlist if you want to see it in order:

- Rammlied
- Bückstabü
- Waidmanns Heil
- Keine Lust
- Weisses Fleisch
- Feuer Frei
- Wiener Blut
- Frühling in Paris
- Ich tu Dir weh
- Du Riechst So Gut
- Benzin
- Links 234
- Du Hast
- Pussy
- Sonne
- Haifisch
- Ich Will
- Engel

In Québec it was the same order of songs, but without "Weisses Fleisch" and "Engel". They played after it was dark outside so the effects were even more prominent than at the beginning of the Berlin show on Youtube. Some of the pyro and fireworks were also a bit more elaborate (ex: "Pyro line over crowd and explosion on stage during "Du Hast", intense flames at the end of "Sonne", etc...).

It is high time that this truly unique band comes to Rock Band (they have 1 song in "Guitar Hero 5" and 1 in the upcoming "Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock"). I'm surprised this hasen't happened already considering the recent support for industrial metal in Rock Band (ex: Ministry, KMFDM).

There are so many good songs to choose from, but if I had to limit it to a 12-pack, it would be:
- Ich Will
- Du Hast (EDIT: already in RB3, so I'll put "Tier" instead)
- Sehnsucht
- Du Riechst So Gut
- Mein Herz brennt
- Sonne
- Mutter
- Engel
- Morgenstern
- Ich tu dir weh
- Benzin
- Reise, Reise

Thursday, August 5, 2010

13 different bands!

This week will be awesome for diversity as the new DLC includes 13 different bands (8 singles + 5 RBN)! We'll also be playing the 9 DLC we didn't have time to complete last week, plus we'll play the 4 songs where we got 3 stars at the last session. This will keep our "4 stars +" record intact for the entire Rock Band catalog on the PS3.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on all solo instruments):

3. "River of Tuoni", by Amberian Dawn:

Finnish symphonic power metal standouts Amberian Dawn are back with another great track. Their previous RBN release "He Sleeps in a Grove" was one of the best in recent memory and this one also sounds great. Their singer has a really good operatic voice that meshes well with the music, especially in the chorus and the buildup to it. I liked the guitar riffs throughout the song, the guitar solo, plus the neat sound they create in the intro. The guitar chart is very dynamic and includes some tough trills. Watch out for some crazy bass pedal on drums! It is songs like this that make me want to buy a dual pedal right now (will need it for Pro drums in RB3). I hope this genre gets some more releases in the future. I would especially like some Tarja-era Nightwish (ex: the epic "Ghost Love Score").

2. "La Camisa Negra", by Juanes:

This Columbian rocker creates an amazingly catchy sound in many tracks (ex: "A Dios le Pido", "Mala Gente"), but none more so than in "La Camisa Negra". The melodic Latin disco sound in this song is highly infectious. In most of his songs the Spanish guitar riffs and solos are a refreshing change to the usual fare. Some of his tracks also layer in a lot of instruments to create a neat wall of sound effect (ex: I love the addition of the accordion in "Fíjate Bien"). I was happy to learn this morning that he will have a song in RB3. What would be amazing for Latin songs in Rock Band would be "Canción del Mariachi (Morena de Mi Corazón)" by Los Lobos (intro song from the movie "Desperado"). It is very melodic and has some some impressive guitar playing.

1. "Nightmare", by Avenged Sevenfold:

Seeing Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy play with Avenged Sevenfold for the 1st time was one of the highlights of the Heavy MTL festival (sadly, their drummer "The Rev" passed away late last year so Mike is filling in temporarily). I can also say that playing some Mike Portnoy in a song from Avenged Sevenfold's latest CD is also quite a treat. The short fills in the intro are a challenge because they are blazingly fast, plus it has a few really fun and rapid alternating "bass pedal\double pad" sections. In the same sections, the guitar and bass charts have some awesome fast single note sequences. Overall it's a great song due to its many interesting transitions and impressive sound. As usual for this band, it is very melodic and technical. If you get their other DLC, watch out for the mother of all trills at the end of "Seize the Day"!

Honorable mention. "Goth Girls", by MC Frontalot:

Nerdcore pioneer MC Frontalot's "Goth Girls" is a great example of what makes this artist unique. It has impeccable sound production and a great theme. I quite enjoyed the lyrics of his previous track "Origin of Species" due to it parodying of intelligent design and creationism, and this one is also quite entertaining. It has a dark sound with a groovy bassline and a fun unique beat. If you're a fan of unique sounding guitar charts, you'll have a treat with this song. You'll be playing some guitar, piano, violin, accordion and some bells, all on the same track! :)

Honorable mention #2. "Tastes Like Kevin Bacon", by "iwrestledabearonce":

I'll make an exception this week and have a 2nd honorable mention, if only for the zanyness of the band name and song name. But you'd be mistaken if you thought the crazyness didn't extend from the lingual to the aural realm. Avant-garde metal is probably one of the most chaotic subgenres of music ever invented. Pretty much anything goes (ex: Montrealers "Unexpect" are said to include elements of black metal, death metal, thrash metal, progressive metal, melodic heavy metal, classical music, dark cabaret, opera, medieval music, jazz, funk, electro, ambient, noise, gypsy music and circus music...). That can sometimes be a disaster, but you'll occasionally get some moments of brilliance. I'm a bit on the fence on this particular track by "iwrestledabearonce", but it does grow on me on each listen, which is generally the mark of good music (like a fine wine that ages well). Be prepared for an onslaught of sounds, from brutal death metal, to dance metal, to avant-garde Disney deathcore! :) From a player's perspective, watch out for a tough up and down chord section on bass in the middle of the song. I was very surprised to hit the pattern correctly once (no lost multiplier).

RB3 practice session

Last week was almost a Rock Band 3 practice session as Phoenix used his Roland electronic drum kit to get a feel for playing with more inputs. Apart from some lag issues that I assume won't be an issue in RB3, it was a good way to practice for the transition to Pro instruments this Fall.

For Rock Band 3 we'll be doing some 3-part harmonies, so Raikan had his turn practicing doing 2 instruments at once (Vocals + Bass = Voxass?). Normally Bongoo does some sightread voxtar for the new DLC (Vocals + Guitar). Perhaps Phoenix can give it a try soon while drumming (Voxrum?).

The session was also special due to a surprise visit by Phoenix's high school friends. Sylvie also showed up and she played 2 songs on Bass. We had time to play 15 of the 24 new DLC of the last 2 weeks, gaining 9M points (1303M to 1312M) in the process. This will help us continue our climb of the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We had a lower average points per song than usual due to the RB3 practice but it was worth it for the experience gained.

- Stars breakdown for the 15 songs: 5 stars (6), 4 stars (5), 3 stars (4, for "Gotas de Agua Dulce", "Mala Gente", "New Dark Ages" and "Nightmare (Avenged Sevenfold)")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (13), followed by Sylvie (2) and Pheonix (1)
- Raikan was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (9), followed by Phoenix (6)
- Bongoo had the only FC of the night
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Approach the Podium", "La Camisa Negra", "How We Roll", "Goth Girls" and "Indigo Friends"
- It was awesome to play the accordion twice in 1 session on guitar ("Fíjate Bien" and "Goth Girls"). What were the odds of having 2 accordion DLC in 1 week?
- We kept failing during the "Nightmare (Avenged Sevenfold)" intro, only to realize after 6 tries that we had accidentally removed the overdrive before the set! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Variety week + Heavy MTL recap

This week we're back for a double dose of DLC, including the amazing variety of new songs from the last 2 weeks (Juanes, Avenged Sevenfold, The Stooges, Bad Religion, plus all the great RBN tracks).

Phoenix and I are back from an amazing time at Heavy MTL 2010. The festival was back in force after its 2009 sabbatical with a great line-up of 34 bands. Dates are already announced for 2011 (July 23rd and 24th), so it was a definite commercial success (40,000+ fans).

Highlights include the amazing stage theatrics of Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper, the 1st post-The Rev show with Mike Portnoy for Avenged Sevenfold, the technical wizardry of Megadeth, the chaos of Slayer, the high-flying stunt of Airbourne, the contagious enthusiasm of Anvil, plus the impressive crowd interaction of Five Finger Death Punch (see video).

We were also witness to a live rendition of 2 classic metal albums, as Megadeth played "Rust in Peace" (2010 RB DLC) and Slayer played "Seasons in the Abyss" in full. I was always impressed with Dave Lombardo's drumming on "Seasons" and it was great to see him live. As for Megadeth, their amazing new guitarist Chris Broderick played each difficult solo note for note to perfection.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on drums, guitar and bass):

3. "50,000 Unstoppable Watts", by Clutch: This week was once again very impressive for RBN releases on the PS3 (top 3 all RBN). This rockin' song with a "Rage Against the Machine"-like chorus has some good riffs and some fun guitar and bass charts. The drum chart is also great as it has an awesome flowin' drum beat with frequent triplets. The sound quality of this 2009 song is much improved over their 2004 RBN song ("The Mob Goes Wild").

2. "Approach the Podium", by Winds of Plague: This group had lots of energy at Heavy MTL, opening with their great song "Chest and Horns". It was refreshing to see a metalcore band that mixes in other metal genres, in this case one of my favorite (symphonic black). "Approach the Podium" has some great riffs in the 1st half, plus some neat keyboard sections in the 2nd half. The sound is quite epic at times, with a great black metal feel at the end that sounds a bit like "Dimmu Borgir". Dimmu should definitely be in Rock Band one day, especially tracks like "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" and "Blessings upon the Throne of Tyranny". The amazing drumming of Nicholas Barker and the well-integrated keyboard sections would be lots of fun with Pro instruments in Rock Band 3.

1. "Indigo Friends", by Reverend Horton Heat: This song marks the return of psychobilly virtuoso group "Reverend Horton Heat" to music games. They had a really fun and difficult song in Guitar Hero 2 called "Psychobilly Freakout". "Indigo Friends" has a really unique jazz swing beat with lots of variety. The double pad hits and fast strumming are tough to hit at first, but when you get the hang of it it's amazingly fun. As for their GH2 song, "Reverend Horton Heat"'s music is chaotically beautiful, the riffs and solos coming in a flurry from all directions. As an added bonus the song has a neat walking bass during the guitar solos, a good "stay away from drugs" message, plus a surprise Big Rock Ending in a RBN song (I didn't know it was allowed)!

Honorable mention. "New Dark Ages", by Bad Religion: If the RBN tracks aren't your cup of tea, the regular DLC also had some interesting offerings. "The Stooges" are a classic rock band with a neat distorted sound ("No Fun" is the best of the pack). There is also a couple of songs by punk pioneers "Bad Religion". If you've played their songs before (ex: "Sorrow"), you know you can expect some fast paced drumming with lots of pedal, plus some complex strumming patterns. These 2 songs were no exception, with my favorite being "New Dark Ages". It has amazingly fun fills and a beat so fast it's hard to keep up with the deluge of alternating bass pedal patterns. The song sounds great, with many interesting vocal sections. It is probably one of the funnest recent songs on guitar and bass if you like intense strum patterns.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Break week + Heavy MTL

This week we'll be taking a break due to conflicting schedules, but we'll be back for another double DLC week next week ("The Stooges" and "Bad Religion" + "Juanes" and "Avenged Sevenfold" weeks).

The Heavy MTL metal festival in Montréal this weekend will be a treat, with 34 bands playing on Saturday and Sunday. The festival bands that have Rock Band songs are Rob Halford (22 songs, including Judas Priest), Megadeth (18), Alice Cooper (6), Rob Zombie (6, including White Zombie), Avenged Sevenfold (4), Testament (4), Anvil (3), Norma Jean (3), Five Finger Death Punch (2), In This Moment (2), 3 Inches of Blood (1), Airbourne (1), Despised Icon (1), Korn (1), Lamb of God (1), Mastodon (1), Skeletonwitch (1), Slayer (1) and Winds of Plague (1). That is 19 of 34 bands!

One interesting thing to note is that Harmonix released the RBN track by "Winds of Plague" on the PS3 this week, just in time for the festival (they are playing Sunday)! That is perfect timing, thanks! :) Perhaps someone read some of my previous posts?

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on sightread voxtar and solo drums):

3. "The Girl at the Video Game Store", by Parry Gripp: This was an especially strong week once again for RBN songs, with no regular DLC making this list ("Future Perfect Tense" came close with its neat intro and outro). This comedic song by singer-songwriter Parry Gripp is short and sweet. It has fun lyrics, plus a great drum chart due to the variety of fills.

2. "Trippolette", by Andrew Buch: This awesome instrumental prog song is also very short. It has a fun drum beat that is quite varied, plus a very challenging guitar solo. Apparently this was a secret song in Guitar Hero 1, but you needed a cheat device like a GameShark to unlock it.

1. "Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over", by The Devil Wears Prada: This song is interesting by default because of its quirky title, but it is my favorite of the week due to the variety of metal sounds. It is always refreshing as it goes from blackened death to brutal death to groove to metalcore to industrial... I also like the sliding bass note near the end.

Honorable mention. "Top Back", by Alias Unknown: This song deserves a special mention as it is one of the only urban or hip hop song in Rock Band (after the ones by MC Frontalot). I really like the growing diversity of genres that the RBN brings. Hopefully this trend will continue. The song sounds great, although it can be slightly repetitive. The main beat is fun and it has a few slightly more difficult sections.

Castlevania music

Last week we followed the current trend and played 2 weeks of new DLC ("CCR" and "The Vines" weeks). We gained 22M points (1281M to 1303M), which will help us move up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

One interesting music section was the intro and outro of new DLC "Future Perfect Tense" by "Sweet Billy Pilgrim". It sounded a bit like some old school Castlevania music. But I have to say that the best Castlevania-like music sequence I've ever heard has to be in "Fatal Tragedy" by Dream Theater (starting at the 4:12 mark). The same theme is repeated slower later on the amazing "Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes from a Memory" album. That album would be really fun as the 1st RB3 full album DLC! We saw Dream Theater play "Home" in Ottawa a few weeks ago and it was epic. I can just imagine what some of the solos would look like on Pro instruments... :)

- Stars breakdown for the 28 songs: Gold stars (7), 5 stars (17), 4 stars (4, for "Trippolette", "1348", "Henchmen Ride" and "So Says I")
- Phoenix and Raikan tied for the most songs as "Top Performer" (14 each), followed by Bongoo (12)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (26), followed by Phoenix (3) and Raikan (2)
- Raikan had the most FCs (4), followed by Phoenix and Bongoo (1 each)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moment was during "Run Through the Jungle"
- The toughest song for Bongoo to sightread voxtar was "Henchmen Ride"
- Phoenix does an amazing job playing "Henchmen Ride" on Expert drums, allowing us to get 4 stars

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Vines + CCR

This week we'll have another double DLC session, combining the "Creedence Clearwater Revival" and "The Vines" DLC weeks (28 new songs: CCR 12-pack, Vines 5-pack, 1 single, 10 RBN singles).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on solo drums):

3. "1348", by Umphrey's McGee: This RBN song has one of the most unique drum charts I've seen in a long time. You never know what to expect, but each beat is fun in its own way. They categorize themselves as being a "progressive rock jam band", or doing some "progressive improvisation". It would be an amazing band to see live.

2. "Henchmen Ride", by Testament: This an another awesome song by the Bay area thrash pioneers. It has some very heavy riffs and a really tough drum chart. I had to play it on Hard drums, but it still was one of the funnest charts I've played in a while. There are at least 3 really fun beats. For some odd reason I had half the overdrive at the end but couldn't activate it. I've seen this problem in a few RBN songs, with the last energy section being too close to the end.

1. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", by Creedence Clearwater Revival: The CCR 12-pack is highly recommended as it has an amazing variety of classic Southern Rock songs (ex: "Bad Moon Rising", "Up Around the Bend", "Fortunate Son (Original Version)", etc...), plus a surprisingly challenging drum song ("Travelin' Band"). I chose this Motown cover as my favorite because it is truly epic, being more than three times the length of the average CCR song. There is a nice variety of drum beats and fills. I love the jam feel with the lengthy guitar solos.

Honorable mention. "Battles and Brotherhood", by 3 Inches of Blood: This Canadian band has some great old school metal riffs and good energy. The drum chart was lots of fun, especially the faster part at the end, but I think it should have been classified as tier 6 instead of 7. We'll be seeing them at Heavy MTL this summer. Hopefully "Winds of Plague" and "Skeletonwitch" (other Heavy MTL bands) will soon have their RBN songs released on the PS3.

Extreme heat break

Our RB session was cancelled last week due to the extreme heat. We'll be back this week for a double dose of new DLC.

Phoenix and I braved the weather and watched the great documentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" in anticipation of the Heavy MTL festival in late July. It is quite the inspiring human story, I highly recommend it. Being a career musician can definitely be a challenge...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

CCR 12-pack + Anvil documentary

This week we'll play the new "Creedence Clearwater Revival" 12-pack, plus the new RBN songs on the PS3.

A few weeks ago I mentioned some RBN bands playing at Heavy MTL this summer that have some songs not yet released on the PS3. It turns out my release wishes came true as "3 Inches of Blood" and "Testament" are part of this week's PS3 RBN batch. Thanks Harmonix! The only remaining Heavy MTL bands that still have older RBN songs not released on the PS3 are "Winds of Plague" and "Skeletonwitch". These would be ideal for the next 2 weeks! :)

Anvil is another band that will be at Heavy MTL so we'll take the opportunity to watch their excellent documentary "Anvil! The Story of Anvil" before tonight's session (8.1 on IMDB).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on sightread voxtar and solo drums):

3. "Burn It to the Ground", by Nickelback: There was lots of great Canadian content last week on the PS3 with Nickelback, Silverstein and Bif Naked. The Nickelback songs were lots of fun overall but they all typically follow a certain pattern. "Burn It to the Ground" was a nice surprise with some awesome riffs, a tough solo, and some very dynamic guitar and bass charts. The song is catchy and energetic and has a good variety of beats. I liked the ending on drums. Another fun drum song from Nickelback last week was "Figured You Out".

2. "Battle Royale", by The Word Alive: This is another RBN metal song that is all over the place, but as I stated in previous weeks, that can sometimes be a good thing. It is quite heavy at times and even has a tinge of electronica. The drums chart has a neat pattern with fast double bass hits, plus lots of pedal throughout. I think it should have been categorized as a tier 6 drum song instead of tier 7.

1. "Undone", by All That Remains: This is the 6th song by All That Remains in RB and once again they do not disappoint. It has awesome Gothenburg metal-like riffs, plus the usual highly technical and melodic solo. I also really liked the heavy riff after the solo. Jason Costa is a beast of a drummer, this song being another with lots of bass pedal.

Honorable mention. "American Dream", by Silverstein: This song has a great flow on drums, with a few really fun patterns. The singer can sometimes be a bit annoying, but overall it is a very energetic and catchy song with a few heavier sections.

Epic wah-wah bass moments!

This week we had some epic wah-wah bass moments that either had us shaking in our boots (or socks), or made us stop playing as we laughed hysterically.

Of particular note was "Last Night on Earth", where during the overdrive it really felt like a 2nd earthquake had hit Ottawa (we had a 5.0 one recently). We did turn on "Bass Boost" in the options recently, but I'm sure it still would have felt pretty intense without it.

The craziest wah-wah bass moment definitely goes to "See You Again" by Miley Cyrus, where even the non-overdrive intro had a bass sound that was hilariously over the top. We hardly ever restart unless we miss the first unison bonus, but the sound that came out of those speakers during the overdrive was the cause of our first ever laughter-induced restart... :)

DMan couldn't make it to the session after all, so we had our usual line-up with Bongoo on voxtar, Phoenix on drums and Raikan on bass. We actually managed to finish all the remaining Green Day songs on top of the 2 weeks of new DLC, so it was an especially long but productive session. It helped that it was Canada Day the next day.

We gained 37M points (1244M to 1281M), which would technically move us up to 9th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards the next time it is updated.

- Stars breakdown for the 45 songs: Gold stars (6), 5 stars (34), 4 stars (4, for "Burn It to the Ground", "Battle Royale", "Before the Lobotomy" and "Jumper '09"), 3 stars (1, for "Undone")
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (27), followed by Phoenix (11) and Bongoo (7)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (39), followed by Phoenix (2) and Raikan (1)
- Raikan had the most FCs (2), followed by Bongoo (1)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "See You Again", "Last Night on Earth", "21st Century Breakdown", "American Eulogy" and "Sick"
- We all get 99% on "Restless Heart Syndrome", but Phoenix gets the edge as "Top Performer", giving Raikan his first and only "Worst Performer" song of the night

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Double DLC week + the Reject is back!

This week we'll have another double dose of new DLC (Nickelback and Miley Cyrus weeks). We might also get a special visit by DMan, his first appearance with the Macas since our special New Year session.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on solo drums):

3. "Jumper '09", by Third Eye Blind: This was an exceptional week for RBN songs on the PS3. Any of the 5 songs could easily have been my favorite of the week. This is a lesser known song for this group, but it is arguably the best of the 3 released so far on the RBN. The drum chart is great, with a challenging rolling beat, plus a few other fun beats.

2. "HTML Rulez D00d", by The Devil Wears Prada: This metalcore song with a peculiar name is very heavy and melodic at times, making it always interesting. It can sometimes be a bit disjointed on drums, but it has an amazing variety of beats and tempo changes.

1. "Creepy Doll", by Jonathan Coulton: Gool ol' Coulton is back once again on the RBN with a very unique song. The story is interesting and the mood changes quite often. The drum chart is fun with some occasional fast hits. I would put this one in my top 3 Jonathan Coulton songs in RB with "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Re: Your Brains". Looking forward to getting his other RBN songs "Shop Vac" and "Mandelbrot Set" in the future (only on the 360 so far).

Honorable mention. "7 Things", by Miley Cyrus: I didn't know what to expect from the new Miley Cyrus DLC, but I was happily surprised by how fun some of the songs were. This particular song was the funnest on drums by far. It has 2 great beats: 1 unique rolling beat + 1 really fun faster beat.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New highest scoring song ("Jesus of Suburbia")

Last week we played more than half the remaining "Green Day: Rock Band" songs in RB2. Chrissy helped us out on Hard vocals, thanks!

Bongoo played only 1 instrument for the 1st time in a while (usually doing voxtar). It felt weird, like it wasn't enough of a challenge... In RB3 up to 3 of us will be playing 2 instruments at once due to the harmonies.

- Stars breakdown for the 20 songs: 5 stars (18), 4 stars (2)
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (20), followed by Raikan (2)
- Chrissy was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (18), followed by Phoenix (4) and Raikan (2)
- Bongoo had the only FCs of the night (5)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
- We get 999,658 points for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", oh so close...
- We get our 1st triple "Worst Performer" for "When I Come Around" (3 of us had 98%)
- We finally have a new highest scoring song, with "Jesus of Suburbia" surpassing "Down with the Sickness" (2.6M vs. 2.4M)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Voxass Green Day

This week our session is earlier in the week than usual, so because there is no new DLC yet we'll concentrate on finishing most of the "Green Day: Rock Band" songs in RB2. Playing so many new songs will allow us to continue our climb of the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Bongoo is a bit sick, so Raikan will have to assume voxass duties (vocals + bass), or is it voxbass? ;)

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (after playing them on voxtar with the band and on solo drums):

3. "Ikea", by Jonathan Coulton: Another week, another great Coulton RBN song on the PS3 (we're getting "Creepy Doll" this week). I didn't have a chance to read all the lyrics because I didn't play it on solo vocals yet, but the song sounded very good and had the usual subtle humour. The drum chart had a few fun fills.

2. "The Attitude Song", by Steve Vai: This rockin' song from another RBN regular was lots of fun due to it constantly changing. I really love the galloping main riff. Watch out for a crazy section on drums near the end.

1. "No More Tears", by Ozzy Osbourne: This metal pioneer doesn't disappoint in his RB debut, with some great new songs like "Let Me Hear You Scream" (catchy song with difficult guitar and bass) and "Diggin' Me Down" (love the Spanish guitar intro), plus some old classics like "Crazy Babies" (neat double bass pattern). But it is in his other classic song "No More Tears" that he shines the brightest. The song has great atmosphere, in part due to a great keyboard section that I hope is already charted for RB3. It also has a very lyrical guitar solo, a great bass intro, plus some very heavy riffs.

Honorable mention. "Day of Mourning", by Despised Icon: This deathcore band from Québec also has some very heavy riffs and some nice tempo changes. The breakdown section was very fun. The beginning of the song is one of the hardest Expert drum sections in the game. We'll be seeing them at Heavy MTL this summer. Hopefully the RBN tracks by other Heavy MTL bands "3 Inches of Blood", "Winds of Plague" and "Testament" will come out soon on the PS3.

Top and Worst Performer on same song

Last week we played all the latest DLC, plus a few "Green Day: Rock Band" songs. We gained 12M points, slowly moving up the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

- Stars breakdown for the 16 songs: Gold stars (2), 5 stars (8), 4 stars (5), 3 stars (1, for "Let Me Hear You Scream")
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (10), followed by Phoenix (6) and Bongoo (1)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (10), followed by Phoenix (4) and Raikan (2)
- Raikan had the only FC of the night
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Let Me Hear You Scream", "Soul Sucker", "Diggin' Me Down" and "(Good Riddance) Time of Your Life"
- The toughest song for Bongoo to sightread voxtar was "Let Me Hear You Scream" due to the difficult guitar chart
- We finish "Day of Mourning" with exactly 1M points (+ a few points)
- Raikan gets "Top Performer", "Worst Performer", "FC" and a "#1 all-console band score" for his 42K performance on solo vocal song "Song of the Century"! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ozzy + Green Day? Why not!

This week we'll start off by playing the new DLC, including the Ozzy Osbourne pack, plus the amazing group of returning RBN artists (Flight of the Conchords, Jonathan Coulton, Steve Vai, Third Eye Blind). We'll then start playing the new Green Day songs in RB2. This will allow us to move closer to 10th in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Hole in the Earth", by Deftones: The Deftones DLC has some very atmospheric music with always changing vocals. As I mentioned last week, this made it really difficult to sightread on voxtar in last week's session. Out of the 3 Deftones songs, this one had the funnest drum chart. It is very dynamic, with 3-4 interesting patterns. "Cherry Waves" would be a close second, with its neat rolling beat.

2. "Mechanical Love", by In This Moment: This song comes from the band's more mainstream album, but it doesn't disappoint. It has good energy and a nice balance of hard/soft dynamics. The chorus sounds great, plus the drums are varied and fun due to the slow/fast beat changes. The guitar is fairly simple, but there is a fun part with singles near the end. This is another group that some of us will see at Heavy MTL this summer. Hopefully we can soon get the RBN tracks by 3 Inches of Blood, Testament and Winds of Plague, other bands at Heavy MTL.

1. "Collapsing", by Demon Hunter: This song is pretty heavy at times for a somewhat "pop-ish" metal band. There is an interestingly odd rhythm on drums, guitar and bass after the start section, with a tough double bass pattern. It definitely has the funnest drum chart of the week, with a really awesome part before the chorus.

Honorable mention. "The Mob Goes Wild", by Clutch: This is a rockin' song with a nice groovy beat from a pretty unique band. The main drum beat is fun to play, plus there are a few interesting fills. The guitar chart has quite a bit of movement.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time to go Pro!

Yesterday's Rock Band 3 Press Release was a monumental event in rhythm game history. It will be remembered as one of the most important announcements ever, after the unveiling of "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band". Harmonix proves once again that they are the master innovators of this genre.

The most exciting part of the press release is the addition of Pro modes for all instruments except vocals. It pretty much gives us the ability to learn some real instruments (ex: 3 independent cymbals on drums, 6 strings + all fret positions on guitar). After getting comfortable playing Expert on all instruments over the last 3 years, it is truly a chance to rediscover rhythm games all over again. It will be lots of fun to slowly master each difficulty level like I did back in Guitar Hero for guitar and Rock Band for drums (Pro Easy -> Pro Medium -> Pro Hard -> Pro Expert).

If this wasn't enough, Harmonix is also adding a 2-octave keyboard, with a Pro mode that features all 25 keys! This adds an exciting new dimension to the gameplay, bringing the total # of simultaneous players to an amazing 7! Pro mode is seamlessly integrated into all the game modes, so we don't have to all make the transition at the same time, but I can see us eventually being an all-Pro band.

OK, enough salivating about the future... :) This week, after getting up-to-date on the new DLC, we played some "Green Day: Rock Band". Phoenix bought a 2nd mic stand so we were able to try the harmonies, which are lots of fun like in "The Beatles: Rock Band". We'll definitely get a 3rd mic stand before Rock Band 3 comes out so that Phoenix can join in as well.

We gained 18M points from the 20 songs we played in RB2, enough to move us up to 11th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. After we finish the Green Day songs in RB2, we'll improve on our old scores to increase our average points per song (currently 988K).

- Stars breakdown for the 20 songs: Gold stars (1), 5 stars (13), 4 stars (6, for "The Great Southern Trendkill", "Suicide Note Pt. II" and "Living Through Me (Hell's Wrath)", "Cherry Waves", "Collapsing" and "The Mob Goes Wild")
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (11), followed by Bongoo (7) and Phoenix (6)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (17), followed by Phoenix (3) and Raikan (1)
- Raikan had the only FC of the night
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "The Great Southern Trendkill", "War Nerve", "13 Steps to Nowhere", "Collapsing" and "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse"
- The toughest songs for Bongoo to sightread voxtar were the "Deftones" ones due to the constantly changing vocals
- It looked like we were doomed when we failed during the crazy solo section of "Suicide Note Pt. II", only to be saved at the very last second as Phil yelled "Descending down"... :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Day to be Green

"Green Day: Rock Band" was released this week so we'll give it a spin. This will be a 1 night only deal, as we'll concentrate on playing the exported Green Day songs in Rock Band 2 in future weeks.

We'll also play the Pantera DLC that we didn't have a chance to try, plus this week's new DLC (Deftones, RBN, etc...). This will allow us to continue moving up the "All Songs" Leaderboards, most likely passing "Ride Sally Ride" for 11th place.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "Get the Hell Out of Here", by Steve Vai: Last week the PS3's RBN offerings were great as usual, with 2nd RBN tracks by 4 bands. Steve Vai follows up on his slower and melodic "For the Love of God (Live)" with this faster rockin' tune. His guitar virtuosity is once again on display during the very technical solo. The drum beat is quite varied and fun. There are also some great bass sections.

2. "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)", by Flight of the Conchords: This comedy duo is amazing as always. Their 2nd RBN song is very funny and has a neat groovy vibe on drums and bass. The frequent flourishes on guitar are also fun to play. Hopefully more of their comedy classics will come out on the RBN (ex: "The Humans Are Dead", "Issues (Think About It)" and "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros").

1. "Forever In Your Hands", by All That Remains: This song has one of the funnest guitar charts that I've seen in a while. The main riffs with singles and chords are very dynamic. It also has a very melodic and technical solo as usual. The drum chart is also great, with lots of movement and bass pedal. Watch out for a section with lots of consecutive bass pedals 2/3rds in. This band seems to always find the right balance between melody and heaviness.

Honorable mention. "Trouble Comes Running", by Spoon: Some of Spoon's other songs are a bit bland, so discovering their more energetic side was a nice surprise. The drum chart is great, with constant pedal, lots of pad action and some fun fills. Watch out for the triple hits after the song ends. As for the guitar chart, it had a some fun chord changes.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pantera will have to wait

Our goal this week was to play 2 weeks of new DLC, but due to the length of the downloading, we managed to play only 15 of 25 new songs. That will leave the Pantera album for next week, along with the new DLC (Deftones, etc...), plus our first play of "Green Day: Rock Band".

We thought we had gained enough points (15M) to pass "Ride Sally Ride" for 11th in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, but they also played this past week. Our average points per song decreased to 990K. Once we finish the upcoming deluge of new DLC, we'll work on moving that up by increasing on our worst songs by rank, stars, or spread to #1.

Bongoo once again assumed voxtar duties, with Sylvie being on hiatus.

- Stars breakdown for the 15 songs: Gold stars (4), 5 stars (8), 4 stars (3, for "Forever In Your Hands", "The Complexity of Light" and "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)")
- Phoenix was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (9), followed by Raikan (6) and Bongoo (2)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (14), followed by Phoenix (1)
- Raikan had the most FCs (2), followed by Bongoo (1)
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moment was during "Juke Joint Jezebel"
- The toughest song for Bongoo to voxtar was definitely "The Complexity of Light" (constant complex high-pitched vocals plus dynamic guitar)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Double DLC Week: Pantera and Spoon

This week we'll catch up on 2 weeks of DLC (Pantera and Spoon weeks). We'll also be moving up to 11th place in
the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "The Complexity of Light", by Children of Nova: It's great to see more progressive music in the game. If we ever get the full Dream Theater catalog in the RBN it would be prog heaven, but for now tracks like this one are refreshing. The guitar and bass tracks are very dynamic. The drum rolls on Expert drums are crazy, but it is really fun on Hard due to the tempo changes. I didn't have a chance to try the song on vocals yet, but the somewhat odd high pitch section sounded difficult.

2. "We Are Not Anonymous", by Unearth: This is a Gothenburg metal-infused metalcore song that has some good riffs and a really fun drum chart. I liked the sections with double bass hits followed by triple bass. The guitar chart was really fun, especially on Hard during the tough riffs and the solo. Normally I don't like metalcore bands as much but when they mix in some extreme metal (ex: symphonic black, melodic death (Gotherburg), etc...), they can deliver some great tunes like this one.

1. "War Nerve", by Pantera: Being a big fan of the early groove metal-era Pantera, I was a bit bemused by this album choice, as it is faster and more chaotic than their previous albums. After playing it on every instrument except vocals, I have to say that I am happily surprised by the many fun moments. "War Nerve" was my favorite song overall due to the many great riffs and tempo changes, a really neat drum beat 2/3rds in, plus a great bass chart that gives me a better appreciation of Rex's talent. Other highlights include an amazing drum chart for "The Underground in America" (5-6 really fun and unique beats), plus 2 sublime guitar solos in the slower songs ("10's" and "Floods"). All in all, I truly enjoyed playing as Dimebag, Vinnie and Rex, and am looking forward to the eventual release of Pantera's other groove metal albums.

Honorable mention. "A Little Faster", by There For Tomorrow: This was another standout week for RBN songs released on the PS3. I could easily have picked the industrial metal song "Juke Joint Jezebel" due to its great industrial feel on drums and bass, but "A Little Faster" certainly deserves praise for an awesome drum chart. It is fun because it is constantly changing, with some great patterns and accents.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Break Week

Last week was one of the rare weeks where we didn't have a session (everyone busy or sick). We'll be back this week for a double dose of new DLC!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New this week: Pantera + a keyboard?

Having some Pantera songs join the Rock Band catalog would certainly have been the most interesting news of the week if it wasn't for a surprise in the "Green Day: Rock Band" demo. Apparently it shows a Rock Band 3 image with the traditional instrument logos, plus a new keyboard logo!

I wonder what percentage of songs will have keyboard support and if the existing DLC with some keyboard elements will get new charts. It will certainly be lots of fun to try a new instrument for this type of game, the first in the Rock Band franchise since the drums and mic 3 years ago. Due to the vocal harmonies also being included in Rock Band 3, we'll potentially need to grow to a 7-member band! :)

As for Pantera, I'm really happy to finally see them in Rock Band. I saw them live after they released their 2nd and 3rd groove metal albums ("Vulgar Display of Power" and "Far Beyond Driven") and they were one of the best live bands I've ever seen. Unfortunately we are getting in my opinion the worst of their 5 post-"hair metal" albums, but we'll take what we can can get...

Hopefully that means we'll eventually get their best songs as additional full album DLC or as part of a compilation. If it's a compilation, I would love if it included some of these tracks (3 favorites from each of their first 3 groove metal albums): "Cowboys From Hell", "Cemetary Gates", "The Sleep", "Mouth for War", "Walk", "This Love", "5 Minutes Alone", "I'm Broken" and "Planet Caravan". Dimebag Darrell, we certainly miss you!

This week we'll also be passing "Ride Sally Ride" for 11th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week:

3. "A Girl Like You", by The Smithereens: Last week we played this after finishing the new Greateful Dead songs (which are complex as usual), so playing this song was an interesting change of pace. Rarely has such simple music sounded so good. The vocals are quite catchy, the bass chart is pretty simple but always fun, the drum chart has a few interesting off-beat red fills. It also includes a neat guitar solo that has varying strum speeds.

2. "Beat It on Down the Line", by The Grateful Dead: This is an awesome energetic 60s rock song. The drum chart has some really tough fills but the main beat is constant and fun. The guitar and bass charts are very dynamic due to the constant note changes. I liked the single fast notes with the occasional triple note slides on guitar. The vocals had a pretty good range. It was neat to sing a more traditional rock & roll song. Overall this 3rd Grateful Dead pack was well worth the money (other highlights include the great bass groove of "Scarlet Begonias", the fun swingin' country of "Cumberland Blues" and the dynamic guitar and crazy drum pattern changes of "U.S. Blues" ("Truckin'" on steroids...). If you're a guitar or bass player, you owe it to yourself to get these songs!

1. "He Sleeps in a Grove", by Amberian Dawn: Wow, this song is from an amazing "Nightwish"-type Finnish band (symphonic power metal). It's one of my favorite new DLC in a long time. The singer has a great operatic voice with a good range and the riffs are very epic and complex. There were 3 or 4 very interesting drum patterns with a few tough fills. The bass pattern was great, with a very challenging part during the guitar solo. The guitar chart is one of the best I've seen lately, with a few great single note riffs and a pretty complex solo. Hopefully we'll get some other great Scandanivian metal one day (ex: "Opeth", "Dimmu Borgir", "Amon Amarth", "Kalmah", "Dark Tranquility", etc...). In my opinion, "Nightwish" and "Dimmu Borgir" are the best bands to combine metal with a real orchestra (ex: "Ghost Love Score (Nightwish) and "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse ("Dimmu Borgir")), but Amberian Dawn could also produce a great one someday.

Honorable mention. "Talk About", by Dear and the Headlights: This song deserves a mention due to its awesome drum chart. It includes a neat swingin' beat with double hits, plus a very interesting roll type beat later on. The song itself is quite catchy but it is a bit odd. The bass chart has a lot of stop/start moments, but what is there is fun. The guitar chart is quite varied but fairly simple. The vocals were always fun, especially the "la-di-da-di-da" part. Hooray for RBN diversity! :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Amberian Dawn rules!

This week we had a shortened session due to Phoenix having a back injury and being on medication. He played bass, while Raikan moved to drums and Bongoo did voxtar (Sylvie was away again). We only played the new DLC, plus we tried to improve on our 2 worst songs by rank.

We are now only about 12M points behind 11th place "Ride Sally Ride" in the "All Songs" Leaderboards). Our average score per song decreased by 3K to 991K, but we'll make that up and more next week when we improve on our worst songs.

The new songs were fun overall, but "He Sleeps in a Grove" by Amberian Dawn was easily the best of the week. It's refreshing to finally have some symphonic metal in Rock Band. I'll have more info about this song in my top 3 DLC of the week in the next post.

- Stars breakdown for the 15 songs: Gold stars (2), 5 stars (7), 4 stars (6)
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (9), followed by Bongoo (5) and Phoenix (2)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (12), followed by Phoenix (3) and Raikan (1)
- There were no FCs this week
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moment was during "Bat Country"
- It was quite a challenge for Bongoo to sightread the faster Grateful Dead songs on voxtar