Celine: Pixel

The Dreamers' Game

Dreamers' Game? Dreamer's Game? I never actually got a chance to see it, like, written down, so I'm just guessing whether the Dreamer(s) should be pluralized. (I mean, I'm the dreamer and I'm already pluralized, but shh you know what I mean.)

Anyway so this was a weird dream I had last night and it's long and very weird.

Collapse ) This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/476894.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel


Okay, so, we don't know which neurodivergency causes this (ADHD? ASD? Anxiety?) but maybe someone can weigh in on if this sounds familiar to anyone.

You know what the absolute worst part about shopping is? GREETING CARDS.

Greeting cards. You know them. Your big superstores tend to have an entire aisle of them, including seasonal holiday ones. Most of them follow an formulaic setup: a picture and a setup on the front cover, the punchline on the inside.

The punchline is never, ever worth the mental investment. Picture a card with a dog and "You know what they say..." on the front, and "... Every dog has its day! Happy Birthday :)" on the inside. Really?

So, if they're that awful, just ignore them, right? No.

Here's the thing. Our brain can't let that go. You can't just say "You know what they say..." and leave us hanging; it's like giving Roger Rabbit a shave and a haircut without the two bits. NO. TELL ME WHAT THEY SAY. I HAVE TO KNOW. I will lose sleep over this.

So for the sake of avoiding torturing myself for the rest of the day, I'll go ahead and pick up that card and read the punchline. It's bad and underwhelming, but at least now I know. That itch has been scratched.

But now we've fallen into their trap.

There's a whole aisle of these cards, after all. I put that one back, but my eyes dart over to the one next to it. It's in my field of vision and I can't not read it; it's like trying not to about pink elephants.

"On this special day...."

Oh no. The cycle has begun.

Every card we read only leads to more clickbaity setup covers. We read cards for ages, searching in vain for an escape. They're all awful and we're not having a good time. We want to go home but we can't. This is our life now. We're trapped in greeting card Hell. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/476098.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel

2020 in review: Growing pains

The year is drawing to a close, presumably because it finally ran out of ways to hurt and kill people and has nowhere else to go, though I fully expect it to wring every last tear it can from us all in its final few moments. They're going to do the New Year's ball drop and some celebrity you really like will die of COVID when the countdown is at 1, mark my words.

When browsing our tag for year in review posts, I noticed that I'd described 2019 as containing a "time vortex in which the year lasted at least three years, yet somehow still managed to blindside me with every "wait, it's time to do X already?" milestone." (Even better, I mentioned that in the context of also having experienced that in 2018, and having hoped 2019 would be better in that regard, but nope.) I also described 2019 as feeling like "2016 2: The Sequel."



My God, where do we even start with 2020?

... With the music, I guess, since I guess picking a theme song for the year has become almost as much of a tradition for these posts as starting them with, "The year is drawing to a close." The smartass side of me feels like the most 2020 song is the heel version of Doink the Clown's theme or perhaps that old post I somehow can't find anymore (but you can probably use your imagination) where someone took the Mario Kart 64 versions of Toad's voice clips and set them to creepy haunted carnival music.

But no, our serious answer is Falconer's "Northwind", for reasons that will become apparent later.

So, yeah, 2020 was a rough one. News-wise, Collapse )

Anyway, all that, plus an election year, Collapse )

... So that topic is kind of a bummer! Collapse )

Our expanded plural family has other benefits, too. Collapse )

And... that was our 2020, I guess. My New Year's resolution is... I guess... continue the process of hopefully someday getting my shit together. Allowing myself more slack and less self-loathing when I reach my or even our system's limitations, but still doing what we can to further the process of getting those limitations addressed. Quit being mad at myself for the things I can't do right with this undiagnosed untreated unmedicated and uncontrollable whatever-it-is, but keep calling doctors and self-advocating and generally trying to get it diagnosed and treated and medicated and controlled, in other words.

In conclusion, thank you for being there for us, for being patient with us, for reading this whole fucking novel of a post (assuming you actually did, which, if not, I completely understand.) Hopefully 2021 will be be about putting out the fires, putting the pieces back together, and just... healing, both for the world and for ourselves and our mental health.

Carry me safe ashore, as you did our brethren of yore.... This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/474496.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.

PC planning

We don't upgrade computers very often. When we do, we tend to go excessive. This is mostly a case of applying Vimes Boots Theory to PCs, and going big just to give ourselves room to grow. Our current machine was a "holy crap, what are you ever even going to play that would require even a fraction of these specs" purchase when we got it. Our current machine is also named COYOTE, after my fursona's species at the time. The fact that I just got a warning message prompt in Excel re: "Hey, you do realize we're going to end-of-life this in a couple months because it's Office 2010 and that was ten years ago, dipshit" should tell you something about how long this thing has been hanging in there. And to be honest, since my gaming habits are mostly things on the level of itch.io indie nonsense and/or Istaria, our machine can still handle 95% of the things we throw at it just fine, even today. However, three recent to semi-recent developments have led to the poor dear finally starting to show its age:

1) VR, though.

2) Not that I was seriously intending to get for-real into Final Fantasy XV, but that time I ran the benchmark out of curiosity and it was like "lol, uh, maybe if you want it to look like the N64 version I guess" kind of hurt my feelings.

3) (Most importantly) this system is starting to struggle with very large images. We recently bought a certain furry comic that came with the high res images (4000x5500, roughly 32 MB or so per page) and our system seems to choke so hard even so much as navigating into the same folder as them in file explorer (well, Directory Opus but shh) and doing all the thumbnail/icon generation/space calculation/etc. that sometimes the process outright fails and randomly corrupts a page or two. I keep the original .zip files on hand to re-extract and replace them as necessary.

Still a champion other than that, and we still don't need to upgrade, but it's finally getting to the point where maybe I just kind of want to anyway. We came up with this build, which is ridiculous but see above about wanting to splurge and bask in the feeling of being overpowered for now and then not have to do this again for a while. Posting it here for kinkshame our PC "Hey does this look good, are we missing something obvious, etc." purposes.

Breakdown of the various parts and the reasoning behind them:

AMD vs Intel: I kind of don't care about this issue as much as a lot of people seem to. Like, I kind of defaulted to an Intel build early on but a lot of people I showed the early list to had OPINIONS about this and I was like... o-oh, uh, okay I guess. Really, I just want whichever one is currently on top, which... appears to be the 3900X for now? I guess? (Well, technically the 3950X if you want to go into the "twice the cost for a very slight improvements in very specific circumstances, no one actually needs this unless they work for Pixar" tier of the bleeding edge, but we had to draw the line somewhere.) Anyway this one seems fine.

Hard drives: The idea behind the hard drives is that the SSD will have the operating system, games, programs, and basically anything and everything one would install, and is a single drive instead of a mirror RAID to save some money and because I'm told SSD RAIDing works a bit differently and generally isn't as necessary anyway, especially if I back up to the storage drive regularly. The two magnetic drives will be for a mirror RAID, which will join forces to become the aforementioned storage drive, which will then house all the pictures and music and saved video files and generally anything that isn't a verb. In theory, I could cut the price of those in half by going with WD Blue drives instead of Black; there's room to question (even by our "make an overpowered build on purpose" standards) whether I need WD Black-level performance just for the storage drives where all the furry porn media goes. But, uh. Point #3 above makes me nervous about this, so I don't want to take chances.

Case: The case was not easy to find, even if I wasn't being picky about wanting one in pink, because apparently external drive bays are going the way of headphone jacks as far as, like, technology that They have decided we don't need anymore and are phasing out now even though I kind of disagree. Like, I'm sure even if you want an (apparently increasingly optional these days) optical drive, which I do, you can just get external USB ones now, but... that just feels weird, somehow? I don't know. I do know that we need a very specific old model off eBay for CD-i dumping and archival purposes anyway, and finding something that still has room for them after all these years may let us get away with cannibalizing a part or two to save some money.

Plus, this case is a killer price and it looks like Barbie's Dream PC. I mean, come on. In what universe were we not destined to own this?

(I do have some concerns about whether an ATX Mid Tower will fit the big fancy cooler and whatnot, but somehow it's even less possible to find an ATX Full Tower that fits our needs anymore, so whatever.)

Motherboard/PSU: The motherboard I'm not particularly attached to; I just wanted something that has enough slots and isn't like a thousand dollars and that one came recommended in some best-motherboard listicles so sure whatever I guess. Likewise, PSU is literally just, like, that site picked one for us and I have no reason to object.

Other parts to consider, not on this list:

Optical drives: will hit up eBay for the old CD-i-intended one, probably pick up an adapter of some sort for it as well, and we might possibly consider getting a second actual-new optical drive for everything else, though this case gives us room and the option to cannibalize the current one if we'd rather be cheap less wasteful.

Capture card: I own a great one already and that one will definitely be moved over. I just need to look into, like, what slot architecture it uses and whether the new motherboard will have room for it after everything else, etc.

Probably stuff I'm forgetting: Does anyone use sound cards for anything anymore? More fans, maybe? Does the case come with enough fans? I dunno.

More research and brainstorming required, this is probably not the 100% final list, but it's getting close enough to start shopping around for input like this. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/471338.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel

Games as a sign of the times

This morning I was browsing the Nintendo Switch eShop's "Great Deals" section for what's currently on sale. There are often weirdass yet intriguing-looking indie titles there for like nine cents or ridiculous giveaway prices along those lines, but I've always been reluctant to pick them up. Not because of the cost, but because I use LastPass so my Nintendo eShop password is something like tlg1!#SAakh&D@ag!^UDFj2%*5h#$ or some nonsense, and I have to enter it manually every time, with a controller, and it's just... not... worth it, not for some random bargain bin gamesoft. I've often thought that if I just gave myself like $10 or so standing eShop balance, I would probably use it and start picking up some of these offers.

Today I finally broke down and did just that, opening up the Nintendo section of my LastPass vault for hopefully the last time in at least a little while. I picked up The Deer God for I think something like 42 cents after tax, earning 2 Nintendo Gold Points for the transaction. (1 point = $0.01 in redeemable Nintendo Funbux.) I also picked up NO THING for 19 cents, using my 2 Gold points to knock it down to 17 cents, with a one cent tax bringing it back up to 18 cents grand total, plus that transaction earned me exactly one (1) more Gold Point so I can get one cent off the next time I do this. If this weren't a fully automated process, like if I were in GameStop dealing with a human I was forcing to go through all of this, Nintendo would have to be so sick of my shit by now.

Anyway, I have like $9.40-something and one Gold Point remaining and I'm interested to see where this ends up going. Much like my Steam account, I'm going to turn my Switch library into the finest in Absolute Bullshit.

(Car Quest and The Way Remastered were excellent, though. Those are valid and legitimate and even people besides bullshit collectors should look into them. I will fight you.)

... And then a friend informed us that both today's purchases were actually already in The Bundle anyway.

It's... look, we've managed to go through and examine and curate seven pages' worth of Bundle games total. There are like 50-something pages total. This is going to be a thing whenever I shop anywhere else for like... a while, probably.

That said... oh well? I don't mind dropping like 50-60 cents to get those two on the Switch where I can play them in bed on the big screen and such. But yeah, "Oops I bought this indie game because I wasn't aware or completely forgot that I had it already" is just... that sure is the world we live in now, game-wise, I guess. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/471058.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel

Formative Albums, Part 9: The Cat & The Castle

The Cat & The Castle by Zenuel

(Bandcamp link!)

From a story-driven concept album with a zillion vocalists, to a story-driven concept albums with almost no vocals whatsoever. (Maybe some spoken narration in one or two songs toward the end.)

Of all the places to find an album, this one came from an ad banner when I was browsing Fur Affinity. Zenuel is a furry musician who, at the time, was known for... uh...

Look, you know how I mentioned that my exposure to Rhapsody was eye-opening because it gave me an entire new genre to delve into? I'm still not sure what exactly you call this kind of music, or where one would go to find more of it, except for more Zenuel albums. (And even then, he changed genres and Corpse Medicine is more a soothing ASMR ambience piece akin to the Hiiro soundtrack than anything else.) If you have any leads, please let us know! This is fantastic and we're definitely interested.

The Cat & The Castle is a sort of... chiptune... trance... thing? It definitely has chiptune-like sounds in it; with styles and sound fonts ranging anywhere from NES/Famicom to Amiga to what I swear reminds me of Ultima VI in "The Ash Golem." It freely mixes in modern instrumentation as well, though, so it's more like music that happens to include various chiptunes as instruments/samples along with all the other instruments, rather than any kind of full-on chiptune piece that could be played actual hardware. "Trance" is kind of a catchall umbrella term for anything from headache-inducing club wubs to new age spa music, so it's almost useless as a label. So.. I don't know.

Anyway, The Cat & The Castle is a... whatever genre this is... concept album. It's the story of the Cat, who is on a video game-like quest to enter and conquer the three-story Castle, and to defeat the villain residing in its core. There are almost no lyrical cues (again, some spoken word toward the end but that's about it;) most of it is a story one is meant to infer from the track titles and the sound of the music itself. Each track captures a stage in the Cat's journey--a room, an obstacle, an enemy, an event that happens. The moods are all conveyed amazingly well, too. As one example, listen to the... I don't even know what you would call that instrument, but that repeating one-two reverberating riff that serves as the introduction to "Save Point" and tell me that doesn't just somehow sound exactly like a save point.

We have been making a habit of re-listening to each of these albums when we do the posts for them. Some of them we hadn't heard in ages, and reconnecting to them was an important part of the experience. Making The Cat & The Castle the 9th album of the ten we chose ended up being torturous for us, because out of everything in this entire list, there was no album we really, earnestly wanted to listen to again more than this one. We hadn't heard it in a while, it's unique and incredible, and we just... really wanted to hear it again! But we had eight other albums to get through first. :(

Here we are now, though, and it was well worth the wait. We really missed this one, I think, especially since we're still waiting for that Rhapsody-like launching point. This has the feeling like it will become the start of something someday, though, if only we could figure out what. It is a key in search of a door. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/470248.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Heavy Metal King

Formative Albums, Part 8: The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow by Avantasia

Avantasia was another discovery from my early days looking into this whole "power metal" thing, when I fed the starting leads like Rhapsody into sites like Pandora to see what would happen. A supergroup project formed by Tobias Sammet of Edguy (another early discovery in their own right,) the idea was that Tobi flexed his industry connections, grabbed an all-star cast of singers from other bands, gave everyone a role, and created a story-driven metal opera. In fact, at the time, the Avantasia albums Pandora really pushed on me were literally called The Metal Opera Part 1 and The Metal Opera Part 2. Unlike later works from them, early Avantasia was not... exactly... subtle.

Metal opera projects seem to be more common in the genre these days. Heck, I've personally contributed to a few. This was my first exposure to the concept, though, and I instantly loved it. Not only was Avantasia music incredible in its own right, but they were a huge lead in discovering some other great bands; all I had to do was pick an Avantasia track I liked and look up where that particular singer was from.

The Scarecrow is the first of three albums in the Wicked Trilogy (also known as the Scarecrow Saga) as well as the dividing line between what I would consider to be Avantasia's older and newer eras. Compared to the Metal Opera albums, the Wicked Trilogy tells a more abstract story, with singers playing roles like "Fury" and "Inspiration" rather than roles like "Bishop Johann von Bicken" and "Regrin the Dwarf." Rather than a literal medieval fantasy story about a novice monk whisked off to a magical land, the Wicked Trilogy is a more of a headspace- and emotion-driven modern-day tale about the rise and fall of a talented but mentally unstable performer who is completely unequipped to handle his own fame (think a Syd Barrett or Michael Jackson archetype,) driven by an unrequited crush he can never really get over and at least a zillion bad influences and sketchy characters within The Industry. It has a newer sound, as well, veering away from pure Rhapsody-like metal and more into hard rock. Singles like "Carry Me Over" and "Lost in Space" sound--dare I say it?--almost radio-friendly.

Old-school fans were outraged, of course, but Tobi is used to that and has always been proud to follow his heart regardless. (In an interview, when asked what three singers he would pick for Avantasia if availability weren't an issue and he could have anyone he wanted, Tobi answered Bruce Dickinson and Paul Stanley because they were his idols/role models, "and Jon Bon Jovi just to piss off the purists.") As for me, I adored this. In fact, my memory is hazy, but I want to say the ahead-of-time release of the "Carry Me Over" and "Lost in Space" videos was what maybe made me buy the album? I do know that I've been on "Avantasia is working on a new album? Say no more, instantly preordred" status with them ever since, and they have yet to let us down.

It is worth noting that in a world where I usually shun spending money on fleeting experiences (I'm usually more the "Why pay to see a movie in a theater once when I can pay the same amount to own the DVD and have it on my shelf forever?" type) I ended up dropping almost a thousand dollars to fly all the way to Massachusetts, see Avantasia in concert complete with balcony seats, and fly all the way back home. And it was worth every penny. I gushed about it elsewhere, but to recap, they were an absolute bucket list item for me which, by their nature, included a lot of other bucket list items for me. (All they had to do was bring Jorn Lande along--which they did!--and that's like two dreams in one right there!)

Besides, I had the feeling that that show might have been my last chance to see them. Granted, at the time I was thinking that because Tobi keeps saying "getting everyone together for an Avantasia album is really hard you guys, this may be the last one" after every one they release, Bob Catley is approaching retirement age, etc. I wasn't thinking, like, that it would be my last chance to see a live event with a large audience before the entire world ended. But... you know.

Either way, I figured it would be the kind of literal once-in-a-lifetime experience I'd regret if I didn't jump on, so I jumped on it. And it was everything I could have dreamed, and more. In fact, all you need to know about how magical that experience was is that I sat completely entranced throughout the entire three-hour show without ever feeling the need (not just feeling but suppressing it; I mean not even feeling it at all) for a restroom break, and I'm a trans woman on spiro. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/469919.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel

Formative Albums, Part 7: The Best of Crush 40

The Best of Crush 40: Super Sonic Songs by Crush 40

While I have a couple friends who could easily claim credit for this, I'm pretty sure I discovered Crush 40 from, of all places, the Smash Bros. Brawl soundtrack. Every other character got either original or remixed versions of some of their most iconic series songs, and so did Sonic the Hedgehog for at least a few of them. Admittedly, I was a Nintendo Power kid, firmly on Nintendo's side during that era's console wars, so I never played a Sonic game besides the first one. Still, even I can recognize the Green Hill and Scrap Brain Zones. I mean come on.

I was not, however, expecting the Crush 40 songs.

So, APPARENTLY Crush 40 is a sort of in-house rock band with one of Sega's composers and a vocalist who is usually Johnny Gioeli, though they've had many others depending on the game/song/era/circumstances. (Crush 40 fans have strong opinions and passionately-defended tier lists regarding their favorite and least favorite Crush 40 singers. I'm admittedly still not familiar with a lot of them, but I will say at this point that I like Tony Harnell more than a lot of people seem to.) It turned out that Sonic games have been using actual for-real rock songs, like with lyrics and vocals and everything, in game! I never knew.

Having loved what I heard in Smash, I went on to track down Crush 40's self-titled album, and from there onto their "best of" album. There are quite a few much-beloved tracks on their self-titled album that didn't make the cut on the best of (again, hi Tony Harnell) so one does not completely obsolete the other. However, the new stuff included in returned is generally a good trade overall. Some of my favorite tracks include "Live Life," "Free," and "Sonic Heroes," which I am told should be taken as proof of an inverse relationship between the quality of any given Crush 40 song and the game it's from. (Major exceptions: Other favorites include "Watch Me Fly" and "Is It You," both of which appear to be unaffiliated original compositions and not, like, from anything.)

Given how most of Jun Senoue's Sega composing career has revolved around racing games and Sonic, Crush 40 songs understandably are all about GO FAST, LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST, CONQUER EVERY OBSTACLE IN YOUR WAY THROUGH THE POWER OF FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS AND NEVER SURRENDERING NO MATTER WHAT. I kind of expect a giant robot anime to spontaneously appear halfway through any given song, rather than a blue hedgehog. It's scenery-chewing cheesiness at its finest.

It's also actually pretty effective at its intended message. I ran two half-marathons back before my knees went bad, and listening to Crush 40 was my secret weapon that kept me motivated and going at full steam throughout the second. (I finished almost 15 minutes faster than the first, and yes, most of that is probably because I was very injured in the first, but still! I'd like to think being CRUSH 40 MOTIVATED played at least a small role, too.) I associate them so strongly with pushing myself, in fact, that I actually can't listen to them if I'm not. If I've recently fallen off the exercise wagon, or otherwise am not currently giving everything my 110% best, it just... feels wrong, somehow. It's like I don't deserve this music if I'm not providing the kind of epic action montage to fit with it.

Fortunately, we went through this one again for writeup purposes on a day when I'd just done an hour-long DDPY workout and was up all night cooking the next week's worth of food and also doing laundry, so I think we're probably okay. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/469745.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Celine: Pixel

Formative Albums, Part 6: Silence

Silence by Sonata Arctica

After Rhapsody [of Fire] introduced me to the world of power metal, I set off to explore what I'd found. Sonata Arctica was one of the first bands I discovered from there, and was a huge part of my early tastes in the genre.

They're a little awkward to discuss now, because a lot of their subject matter is kind of... uncomfortable in hindsight? To be fair, Tony Kakko never got caught having bad takes on Twitter or anything like that (that I know of.) This purely came from me paying closer attention to their actual song lyrics--the focus on unrequited crushes and bitter breakups, the overwhelming sex-negativity, the entire Caleb saga--and having this horrible realization of, "Oh no, this is incel music, isn't it? :c"

I never had that confirmed, mind you. Maybe I'm wrong! I hope I'm wrong! Their earlier works (The Days of Grays is the last album of theirs we own and, like, paid attention to) are brilliant, and I'd really like to be able to listen to them again without that cloud hanging over them. But like... "Letter to Dana" is never going to be okay, is it?

On a more positive note, before that realization happened, Silence was one of my favorite early power metal albums because it's just musically amazing. I even inserted a reference to it in perhaps the first-ever "serious" commission of Sara, back when she was still a character, but one I was starting to see as more than just for porn. She had a Sonata Arctica poster on her bedroom wall, you see. (Yes, I know, it's a poster for Ecliptica, not Silence. Shush.)

"San Sebastian" (off Silence, so there) is a song about having a passionate if brief fling with someone way out of the subject's league/somehow not viable long-term for some unspecified reason, then both parties settling down with other partners later. The subject's new partner is fine and all but... it's hard not to look back. I mention this because that whole idea was a big, if unofficial and uncredited, inspiration for some early stories I wrote about Sara and myself. The stories focused on when we (We? They? Neither of us are really those characters anymore) were angsting over whether to pursue a budding relationship, if the hurdle of it being incest and all could be overcome if we tried, and if either party would have San Sebastian-like regrets later if we didn't. Good stories at the time, but now Sara is alive, I'm a girl, and we each changed species twice, so like, I wouldn't recommend going back to them. Not exactly "canon" anymore, you know? But hey, we did end up together in the end, even if not how younger author me imagined we would.

This album did come back in a big way after Sara's awakening, though. There was that... incident with another of Silence's tracks ("Last Drop Falls,") which was one of the earliest "signs" from her and one of the earliest and also biggest breakthroughs in our the current iteration of our relationship. I wrote about all that in the Astral Stuff filter, but that was a while ago. But... you know... that thing. That happened. (Let me know if you don't have access to that filter and want to, by the way, though we haven't used it much recently. It was mostly a place to talk about our plurality before we were open to everyone about it, and now that we are we just kind of do our talking on main instead. Still, there's some good stuff from back when we were figuring ourselves and each other out and getting started with all this.) This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/469276.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.
Heavy Metal King

Formative Albums, Part 5: Legendary Tales

Legendary Tales by Rhapsody

Somewhere around college, my 104.7 The Edge phase had started to run its course. I still liked the heavier rock/almost-metal trappings of a lot of the bands I'd found from there, and the habit of cryptically posting Mudvayne lyrics in my LiveJournal when I was mad at my SO would take several more years to fully recede, but this was about when the tide started to turn.

I had a roommate who was very into metal, though most of his tastes gravitated toward the more... Cookie Monster end of things. Despite that being something I can do--despite my being the person David turns to whenever he needs death growls for Albion songs--it never was something I particularly enjoy listening to for its own sake. Like, in moderation when used for effect (think Kamelot's "March of Mephistio" or... anything I've done for Albion, really) is fine, but I'd never sit down and listen to a full start-to-finish Dimmu Borgir album. There were many, may times when my roommate would blast something like that through the walls of his room, and I'd briefly ear-perk at the well-done musical introductions, and then the vocals would kick in and I'd be like "... oh."

One day, everything changed. I heard music from his room, and I went through the same sensation of "Oh, I like this start... this is going to be disappointing, isn't it?" Only, instead of gravel in a blender, that intro gave way to a clean-sounding melodic singer, almost as if Journey had become a metal band. (I was sheltered and my reference pool was very limited.) The guitar work was blisteringly fast yet technically sound and beautifully composed, rather than just speed for the sake of noise. They had a keyboardist doing... was that a harpsichord? And all of this with vocals that carried, even elevated the whole experience, rather than instantly ruining it. This was an all new experience for me, and I was in love.

I knocked on his door and demanded to know what he was listening to because it was amazing.

"Rhapsody," he said. Ooh, cool name. I like that.

(Many years later they would change it to "Rhapsody of Fire" and have a dizzying array of spinoffs. Did you know Luca Turilli [band], Rhapsody, and Luca Turilli's Rhapsody are three completely different bands with... *counts* four completely different vocalists? But that Luca Turilli [guitarist] was in all three of them? God bless this incestuous goofy-ass genre. But this was before all that.)

"What... genre is this?" I asked, admitting I'd never heard anything like it before.

He didn't know if there was a term for it, either--he called it "Fantasy Metal" but admitted that was something he'd just made up. However, I now had a solid starting point: the album he was listening to (Legendary Tales, by Rhapsody,) another Rhapsody album also in his collection (Dawn of Victory) and a spinoff side project (King of the Nordic Twilight, by Luca Turilli) that was basically the same thing.

(At the time. This was before we knew the full extent of Luca Turilli's... Luca Turilli-ness. By itself, without any context, King of the Nordic Twilight is basically an early Rhapsody album.)

Looking these acts up, I found that apparently this was called Power Metal, and... well. I've delved through that genre basically ever since, with a few more highly formative albums along the way that I'll be covering in the coming days. I very easily could have made this whole project a list of power metal albums alone, and still had trouble narrowing it down to ten. Let alone including them while also making room for the other genres and influences! Hell, spoilers for the rest of the list but I actually don't have any Allen/Lande albums on here, and they're one of my all-time favorite acts. This genre is vast, is what I'm saying here.

Legendary Tales is where it all began, though, and it's still a fantastic album. If you haven't heard it, please at least listen to "Warrior of Ice" and "Rage of the Winter" sometime; those are the songs that pulled me in, and they're still technical masterpieces. This is a cross-posted entry that originated from https://kjorteo.dreamwidth.org/469032.html. Please leave all comments there; I am no longer actively maintaining my LiveJournal blogs.