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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An old promise made true

It was announced 2 and a half years ago that there would be 18 Grateful Dead songs released as DLC. The last 6-pack was finally released this week. We'll be playing these, as well as the new DLC and RBN singles.

We're about 22M points behind "Ride Sally Ride" in the "All Songs" Leaderboards, so we'll make good progress catching up this week. We'll also improve on our average points per song (currently at 994K) by playing our worst songs by rank, stars and spread to #1.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (once again less detailed as I only had time to play them on voxtar with the band, plus on solo drums):

3. "Steeler (Live)", by Judas Priest: While "Rapid Fire (Live)" was also fast and fun to play, "Steeler (Live)" was my favorite Judas Priest song due to its great "Painkiller"-like beats and riffs. Watch out for a crazy amount of bass pedal, making it difficult to keep a streak near the end.

2. "I'm Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?", by A Day To Remember: This song has great energy, being quite heavy for a punk song. I love the tempo change near the end. The drum chart was great, with lots of pedal and some tough fills. The indie rock song "Tongue Twister Typo" also had a couple of interesting drum patterns, but I give this one a slight edge overall.

1. "Mordecai", by Between the Buried and Me: The 1st half of this song is insane on all instruments except on vocals due to its chaotic and ultra fast riffs. It then shifts dramatically to a slower melodic groove for the 2nd half. I love bands that can hit such musical contrasts at will and pull it off (ex: Opeth). Although I prefer when the heavy sections are a bit more melodic, this song delivers due to its originality. I had to play drums on Hard difficulty due to the crazy intro. Another section sounded like it would be extremely difficult on Expert a bit more than halfway through the song.

Honorable mention. "Breaking the Law (Live)", by Judas Priest: Normally I don't like Live versions as much, but last week's pack was an example of a great Live release. This is quite evident for this early metal classic, which is enhanced by a great performance by Rob Halford (good energy and crowd interaction). The drum beat is pretty constant, but there are also a few interesting fills with varying note speeds.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A new contender in the top 10

This week we got bumped to 12th place in the "All Songs" Leaderboards) due to the emergence of a new top 10 band, ".Pheonix Rising.". Sylvie was away, so Bongoo assumed the voxtar duties once again.

After playing the new DLC and our worst ranked songs by star, we are now only 22M points away from 11th place "Ride Sally Ride". All our scores are now 4.1 stars and up. We also increased our average score per song to 994K, ever so close to our goal of 1M points.

- Stars breakdown for the 26 songs: Gold stars (4), 5 stars (19), 4 stars (3, for "Rapid Fire (Live)", "Stick Stickly" and "Mordecai")
- Raikan was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (14), followed by Phoenix (13) and Bongoo (8)
- Bongoo was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (26), followed by Raikan (5) and Phoenix (2)
- There were no FCs this week
- Raikan's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "The Rage (Live)", "Burn It Down" and "Thrasher"
- Bongoo tied himself for "Worst Performer" during "I'm Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?"... (voxtar)
- We got a quadruple 99% on "Origin of Species"! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Classic Judas Priest Week

This week we'll play one of the early Judas Priest album ("British Steel", re-released as a live version for its 30th anniversary), plus the 5 regular RBN songs. We'll also improve our worst songs by rank, stars and spread. This will help us move up the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We are 50M points behind 10th place "Ride Sally Ride", plud 9K away from having an average score per song of 1M.

Considering we will see Halford this summer at Heavy MTL 2010, it's nice to see a classic Judas Priest album come out for Rock Band (Rob Halford is Judas Priest's singer).

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (less detailed this time as I only had time to play them on guitar with the band, plus on solo drums):

3. "Dearest (I'm So Sorry)", by Picture Me Broken: This is a good rockin' hard/soft metal song with lots of variety. The drum chart was quite interesting throughout, including a fun fill at the end. I liked the heavy breakdown, with its melodic keyboard section.

2. "World Go 'Round", by No Doubt: Most of the 9 missing songs from the "Tragic Kingdom" album we got last week were a lot of fun to play, especially the last 5. This particular song had a great reggae feel and had imho the funnest drum chart of the bunch. The band's drummer is really good so that is saying a lot. I liked the variety of drum patterns, for example the alternating number of rolls in one of the main beats, plus the fast left-right-left-right beat about two thirds in the song.

1. "Bodies", by Drowning Pool: This song is fairly simple, but it delivers in spades! It has a nice flow and lots of energy. The drum chart was lots of fun to play. Anyone who's watched ECW before will recognize this song as one of the main themes.

Honorable mention. "Tragic Kingdom", by No Doubt: Although I enjoyed many other No Doubt songs last week (ex: the reggae feel of "Sixteen", the funk of "You Can Do It", the interesting drum patterns of "End It on This"), the last song of the album deserves a special mention due to its uniqueness. The variety of instruments in the background makes the song always interesting. I particularly liked the buildup near the end, with the drum beat accelerating nicely and changing patterns quite often.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Worst Performer: PS3

Last week we decided to start tracking the worst performers for each song (see Highlights section below, or should it be Lowlights?). It means the person who got the lowest percentage for any particular song. Tracking this info gives us extra motivation to perform well, but it does put Raikan at a disadvantage as it can be tough to match pitch for songs he's never heard before.

We actually decided that the real worst performer for the night was the PS3, as it froze after our 6th song in the first 8-song set. Was the PS3 shocked that Sylvie got her 1st song as worst performer, even though she's on bass? ;) Those 6 songs are now still marked as unplayed in the Stars sort in-game. Fortunately the scores are automatically sent to Harmonix's servers after playing each song, so we have all 1167 songs marked as played at (see the "All Songs" Leaderboards).

After playing the 2 weeks of new DLC (24 songs), we gained 25M points, for a total of 1,156M points. This leaves us 50M points behind 10th place "Ride Sally Ride". Our new average points per song is 991K (up 1K from the previous week).

- Stars breakdown for the 24 songs: Gold stars (8), 5 stars (14), 4 stars (2, for "End It on This" and "You Can Do It")
- Bongoo was the "Top Performer" for the most songs (17), followed by Sylvie (6), Raikan (3) and Phoenix (2)
- Raikan was the "Worst Performer" for the most songs (14), followed by Phoenix (6), Sylvie (4) and Bongoo (3)
- Bongoo had the only FCs of the night (3)
- Sylvie's funniest wah-wah bass moments were during "Push Push (Lady Lightning)" and "The Climb"
- We got a weird bug once again during a RBN song where the percentage for the solo stayed on the screen even after it was finished

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Double DLC Week, it's Business Time!

Due to the PSN updates changing to Tuesdays, we'll have a special double DLC session this week (8 songs from last Thursday + 16 from Tuesday).

We are currently 65M points behind 10th place "Ride Sally Ride" in the "All Songs" Leaderboards. We are also approaching the coveted 1M points per song mark (10K behind). We'll need a 30M point increase to move our average up by 5K.

After finishing the new DLC we can improve some of our old scores. For example, we can play the last 3 songs where we don't have 4 stars.

Here is my top 3 DLC from last week (all from the RBN!):

3. "Business Time", by Flight of the Conchords: What a wonderful comedy duo! If you have a chance, check out this song and other songs from their amazing HBO special concert. Their HBO show is also a treat, with memorable performances by the "clueless boss" and the "super fan". This song is quite fun to play in Rock Band, although some of the lyrics in the game's version aren't as funny (ex: what happened to the hilarious "team building exercice" bit..., the curry joke is funny but the other versions are better). The guitar chart is pretty challenging with the fast changing chords.

2. "Burn it Down", by Five Finger Death Punch: This energetic metal song has some awesome riffs and a fun drum chart throughout, especially during the solo and at the end. There are a few very difficult fills. The bass chart is quite fun with all the hammer-ons, but it gets tougher at the end. As for the guitar, the hammer-ons are also fun, but watch out for a tough solo and some crazy fast up and down riffs that are streak killers. Phoenix, Sylvie and I will have a chance to see this group at Heavy MTL this summer (metal festival in Montreal with 25 bands over 2 days). Hopefully the RBN songs from other Heavy MTL bands will be released soon (Testament, Winds of Plague, 3 Inches of Blood, In This Moment)! :)

1. "Push Push (Lady Lightning)", by Bang Camaro: This Guitar Hero 2 classic is finally available for Rock Band! I liked the "Big Rock Ending"-like section on drums at the end. Was it kept "normal" so that it matches the original guitar chart? I found the bass chart quite fun in the chorus and in the breakdown. Like the original, what makes this song particularly great to play is a guitar chart with amazing variety.

Honorable mention. "Stick Stickly", by Attack Attack!: Wow, this metalcore song deserves a mention due to its amazing diversity of styles and tempos. I really liked the numerous heavy sections, although the "techno-pop" section at the end left me a bit baffled as it was totally unexpected. After playing the song on other instruments, I came to accept even that transition, making this song quite a fun blend of musical styles. As for the charts, the guitar and bass ones were pretty challenging during the heavy parts (ex: alternating 3,4,5 strum sections). As for the drum chart, it had a few fun patterns.