Album Review – “Pretty on the Inside” by Hole

“Pretty on the Inside” by Hole is the album that I have randomly picked to review. This random picking, for anyone who is interested, consists of putting my iPod on shuffle and reviewing whichever album the first song that comes on is from. These reviews may not be classic review style, in every manner, as I tend to drift off into my own interpretations sometimes, but I will try. 

“Pretty on the Inside” by Hole, released September 17th, 1991, is the band’s debut album, and a personal favorite of mine, ever since I listened to the short track entitled “Pretty on The inside.” The album is of the punk/alternative genre, I think, but it is very hard to place a genre on this unique album. 

The first thing that struck me about “Pretty on the Inside” was how it was fantastically noisy, but still somehow melodic. Think angels with flaking wings and halos made of broken glass. Each track fitted perfectly to this insane non-existent theme that was like sugar and rot. Some songs, such as “Garbadge Man” were well-structured in a uniform manner, whereas my personal favorite from this album, the song “Mrs Jones” was very nearly an endless stream of free-flowing lyrics. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. “Mrs Jones” was my favorite because of its gruesome imagery, contrasting images like “Stare into the bloodrot, you suicide bitch/it takes an hour like you to make me wanna live” and phrases like “on the sugar star” and “baby angels.” It was a song with a nightmarish, infinite quality that makes it, for me, the masterpiece of the album. 

I would recommend this album for fans of Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland, and maybe even Nirvana fans like myself that can look past accusations made at vocalist/frontwoman Courtney Love, and just appreciate that her lyrics are works of dark genius. “Pretty on the Inside” is my favorite album by Hole, and I would urge everyone to give it at least one listen. It is not for everybody, as some may find it offensive, or be repelled by the noisy, unforgiving, unpolished punk-rock sound, and in my opinion, you either love it or you hate it, there is no grey area. 

 

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Personal Summer Fitness Challenge

With my exams all finished, and time off school stretching from here to September, in between my writing, gaming, drawing, and guitar practice (which shall commence as soon as my new tuner arrives from Amazon) I am undertaking a new challenge. I want to be fitter and healthier by September. 

This may not sound like much, but I have had little success in diet or exercise before. I have tried everything, from completely emptying my diet of sweets (and basically anything I like), to insane calorie-burning tips from websites one step away from being pro-ana (that’s pro-anorexia, for those of you who don’t know – not something I would want to get involved in), and youtube hypnosis. Now that I have an abundance of time on my hands, I have taken a more sensible route. 

Basically, I scale back the amount of processed/high sugar and salt content foods, go for a daily walk with my mom, and do workouts that I found on youtube (Scola Dondo being my favorite fitness blogger) in my bedroom, in a limited amount of space, always at the risk that somebody will walk in and see me looking like a complete idiot. I am horrifically un-coordinated. 

Trying to get into shape is important for me, as I quit my main source of exercise, horseriding, back in October. So now, I am trying to get back in shape. My main objectives that I want to reach by September are – 

1. Lose ten pounds (this will challenge me the most).

2. Become fitter. 

3. Build up a little bit of muscle. 

4. Make better diet choices. 

5. Figure out an exercise plan that I can easily adjust to suit what will be a busier lifestyle once school starts again in September. 

 

I’m writing this here, because I know I will be more motivated if this is online for the world to see. If anybody has any tips or advice for me, please leave them below in the comments! Thanks for reading! 🙂 

Silent Hill: Homecoming – Further Exploration

Today, I had some more time to get stuck into my latest purchase, “Silent Hill: Homecoming,” and so far, I am loving and enjoying every minute second of this game. Right now, I’ve just saved inside the fourth gate of Rose Heights Cemetery, shortly after slaying a grotesque, skinless dog with my default weapon – the combat knife. I have uncovered a few grisly little insights into Alex, the protagonist’s, past. 

The save points are no placed as close to each other after a truck driver drops Alex off in Shepherd’s Glen, amidst the shroud of fog. They are far away enough from each other to keep you quick and alert during combat, for fear of losing a not-inconsiderable amount of effort when mauled to death by a creature called a Lurker. I encountered two save points so far; one in the town hall, in Judge Holloway’s room, and another in the aforementioned cemetery gates. 

One of my favorite moments so far, happened in the flooded basement of Alex’s childhood home (shortly after we encounter his mother in a catatonic state during a cutscene). Using the combat knife to cut away a tarp concealing an entrance that ends in a locked doorway, we tap “X” to trigger another cutscene. This depicts Alex’s stern father, Adam (once a soldier) cutting up something bloody in the hunting room. He yells at Alex, telling him that this room is off-limits to him. This gives us an insight into what Alex’s childhood was like. 

Another glimpse into the protagonist’s past happens when we stumble upon the “cassette tape” item, and later play it on the answering machine. The recording first sounds like Alex and his brother Josh messing around, but soon their father’s voice is heard. He tells Alex to leave, yelling at him, before talking lovingly to Josh. It is clear that Adam Shepherd favors Josh. 

Basically, “Silent Hill: Homecoming” is a great installment in the Silent Hill series. The characters are as complex as those in previous games, which is one of many qualities that makes Silent Hill the greatest survival horror series that I have ever played. The plot is fantastic, and I can, so far, find nothing that I would change about it. 

 

Rant on the modern music industry

The modern music industry is fueled by the crushed dreams of fame-hungry kids, vacant and empty and pretty, and willing to take their clothes off for the masses of glitter-zombie fans. See them, see the fans, like famished dogs, slobbering all over the golden idol lip-syncing above them. Watch their burnt-out flashbulb eyes plastered across the shiny covers of glossy magazines; watch them, splashed across the iPhone cases of a generation.

Sometimes it’s sad, to see a bunch of old white men who can’t sing exploiting the hopes of attractive young men and women, who can tremble their way through a few Top 40 Summer Hits and look good on the pencil-cases of a couple of million twelve-year-olds, following a place in a televised singing competition (that they have only won because of love-sick kids voting for them week after week). It’s sad to turn on the radio and hear that the song everyone’s listening to consists of one sentence chanted over and over again in a seductive, electronically manipulated tone of voice, to an over-produced, unoriginal beat. 

Music has become, for many young celebrity wannabes, a quick gateway to the fame that they are starving for. Music is just something that they will do to achieve being a household name. I long for the day when I will turn on the radio and hear something raw and passionate, and well-written. I know that there are still unheard-of and fantastically talented musicians out there who put time and effort and heart into creating their music, and I just want them to know that I admire them, for not becoming another electronic bleeping in the ears of the dumbed-down masses. 

Silent Hill Homecoming – First Impressions

Today, as I walked into Gamestop to check out the summer sales, I was not expecting to see the game that I had wanted to purchase since I first got my PS3 and went shopping for games for the first time more than a year ago. But as I went through the plastic cases on the shelves, some blood-splattered and some dotted with brightly-colored heroes, something caught my eye. Behind a fantasy game displaying a sword-wielding, armor-clad medieval protagonist, was a copy of “Silent Hill: Homecoming.” There was no mistaking the rusty-colored blood smears and distorted monstrosities, it had to be Silent Hill. I was delighted to stumble upon this pre-owned copy, as ever since seeing one single, solitary copy on that first shopping trip (I left it behind in favor of the Silent Hill HD collection) I had been desperate to find it. 

As soon as I returned from this shopping trip, I ran up to my bedroom to start playing. I then played up as far as (*SPOILERS*) the first save point directly after retrieving Josh Shepherd’s Robbie the Rabbit toy from an ominous, blood-oozing gash in the glass. I managed to get my arm ripped off once,by whatever sinister force lurked behind the bloody glass, from not pressing the red circle quickly enough. That was my first death in the game. 

I must say, my first impressions of “Silent Hill: Homecoming” are very good. The opening cutscene, in which the protagonist, Alex Shepherd, is being wheeled through a dimly lit hospital corridor on a gurney, was considerably more gory than some of the more subtle, haunting openings of other games in the series, but it worked. I enjoyed the part of this scene where Alex glances up at the person wheeling the gurney, to see a surgeon clad in blue scrubs, with a bloodstained mask obscuring his mouth. 

I have not played very much so far, but I am definitely eager to play more. The combat controls are pretty good, though at first I kept forgetting to go into fighting stance before bashing “X” to knife some demon nurses lurking within the rooms of the hospital. You soon learn to get used to these controls, when faced with three demonic, deformed nurses, classic Silent-Hill style, all armed with knives and showing rather a lot of cleavage. The graphics are impressive, and tie in with the bloody, grimy, dark, decaying feel of the series. The save-points are placed very conveniently, and quite regularly so far. At the moment, there are enough health drinks lying around to keep Alex alive, without letting the player become too complacent or at-ease. If you move fast with your combat knife (and don’t get your arm bitten off trying to retrieve a blood-soaked Robbie), you should be okay. 

Whether or not I would recommend “Silent Hill: Homecoming” remains to be seen, but so far I have only positive things to say about this game. 

 

Silent Hill 3 – Beauty in the Dark

heather-morris

Silent Hill 3 was a fantastic addition to the series, which I played after purchasing the HD collection for PS3. The first thing I observed, after beginning the game and finding myself in the rotting, rusting depths of an empty fairground, was how it was instantly different from Silent Hill 2, which I found to be an extremely positive thing. Like Silent Hill 2, It possessed its share of haunting settings that have an almost scarring effect on the mind, but in a very different way. This was wonderful, as sometimes, videogames play it safe and stick to similar setting for many games. I immediately fell in love with the forsaken, dark, neglected fairground setting. I also enjoyed the thrill of only having a small knife as a weapon in the beginning. It made fights more challenging and infinitely more exciting, as I found the wooden plank at the start of Silent Hill 2 to be quite effective, as it has a nice, wide range if used correctly.

As soon as I, playing as a teenager named Heather Mason, reached the next setting of the game, after climbing along the rickety, decaying tracks of an old roller-coaster (and getting hit by the ride as it suddenly speeds towards me) I knew that this game was a work of genius, as its predecessor was. I found myself in an empty shopping mall, soon to face terrible monsters lurking in the clothing boutique. The perk of this none-too-pleasant run in, in which I witness two deformed creatures feasting on the corpse of some unfortunate woman, is that I acquire a more powerful weapon, a handgun and some ammo.

Soon, I face a terrifying encounter with a strange woman named Claudia Wolf, who talks to Heather Mason for a few seconds. She seems crazy, telling Heather that she will “Lead them to paradise with bloodstained hands.” I liked this scene, as it provided some clues as to who Heather really is. Players of the first Silent Hill game will have made some connections by now!

This game was as cleverly crafted as Silent Hill 2, while owning its own feel or ambiance. It was slightly more intense, with a faster pace (in my opinion.) But it really pulled these differences off in the best possible way, while staying true to the core of the series. It is full of the same delightfully demonic style of creature, and the characters truly do come to life. I would recommend this game to all fans of psychological, survival horror.

Silent Hill 2; not just a videogame, but a masterpiece

Silent Hill 2 was the first Silent Hill game that I ever played (I bought the HD collection for PS3 shortly after getting my PS3), and it was maybe the most haunting, beautiful emotionally-engaging videogame I have ever played. I was hypnotized by how artistic it was, and enchanted by the darkly intriguing storyline. The dialogue was beautifully written, and the words clawed at my heartstrings. The characters came to life for me; James, desperately searching for Mary through mist and monsters to try and defy death itself, as he reads a letter she wrote to him…a year after her death. Then there was Angela, lost in her plight, a lonely figure in a graveyard,a young girl eaten up by abuse and left to disappear up the burning staircase, her metaphor for the living hell her life was. There was Eddie, gradually crumbling under the burden of being mocked and loathed, treated as an object of disgust all his life. Not to forget Maria; sexually extroverted, born of a wish, and painfully reminiscent of a certain someone whose memories she possesses fragments of. Last but not least, Laura, a cheeky little child who also loved Mary. 

Silent Hill 2 owns a depressing, beautiful, hopeless ambiance that I have yet to find in any other videogame. It is also quite terrifying at times, which is not just because of the deadly, wicked pyramid head, but also because of the genius soundtrack. Honestly, if you played Silent Hill 2 with the volume turned down, you would be less scared. That is the genius of Akira Yamaoka. 

One of my favorite scenes from Silent Hill 2, is when James enters a room containing a very large mirror, only to find Angela (who he previously encountered in the cemetery at the start of the game) lying in front of the mirror, holding a knife. It is an image that haunts me and sends chills down my spine, even as I write about it. This goes to show the power that the videogame has over your emotions, as you become further tangled in the sinister, morbidly-fascinating web it spins, like a glittering, venomous spider. 

I would sincerely recommend Silent Hill 2 to any gamer, especially one who can appreciate something beyond endless shooting. This is a game that requires patience, but is well worth it. Thank you for reading, and as always, if you have any videogame recommendations, please tell me below in the comments! Thank you all! 😀 Image