Reviewed: Gojira @ London Kentish Town Forum, 12/3/2017

Last Sunday, French death metallers Gojira kicked off their Magma Tour UK at the Kentish Town Forum in London. What did we think?

 

#Repost @peterageofficial ・・・ SOLD OUT The Forum in London, England! #gojira #tourlife

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It’s always kind of a shame when a gig is on a school night, as you end up rationing your drinks and keeping half an eye on the clock so you can catch the last Northern line train home. But it certainly didn’t stop the crowd getting into the moshpit spirit on Sunday night when Gojira took over the Kentish Town Forum.

The show was opened by New York mathcore thugs Car Bomb with an immediate blast of aggression that made it clear it was not going to be one of those quiet Sunday nights. Their discordant and extremely heavy style with a progressive edge is reminiscent of the godfathers of extreme djent (is that a genre? It should be!), Meshuggah. In fact, whilst I was musing on how much they obviously wanted to be Meshuggah, I noticed their guitarist wearing one of the Swedish band’s t-shirts. Case closed.

The punchy start was followed up in style by Code Orange – a Pittsburgh-based hardcore/metalcore troupe who came with a mission to destroy the venue. I hadn’t heard them before, but I can say for sure they picked up a legion of new fans throughout their tightly-coiled performance. A vein of serious groove ran through their set, despite the very hard edges to their sound. Whilst punk is ostensibly at the root of their sound, and shows in the rawness of the vocals, there’s something more sinister lying underneath the in-your-face punch of their aggressively bass-fuelled music. The aural assault was backed up by astounding energy on-stage, as their charismatic bassist high-kicked his way through proceedings. If other bands are metal, these guys were adamantium. One to watch.

It’s around my 4th time seeing Bayonne metallers Gojira, but it seems that in the time I’ve been following them they’ve exploded from being one of those great niche bands that opens the smaller stage at Sonisphere, to being genuine heavy-hitters in their own right – and rarely has a band deserved that as much as these guys. Fresh from releasing their latest LP, Magma, they’ve subtly evolved their sound in a direction that’s lost a tiny amount of the aggression, but gained a razor-sharp edge that’s bumped them up into the big-league of technical metallers. Whilst ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ was good, ‘Magma’ was truly great – a career-defining album that runs like a perfectly-oiled piece of machinery. Which is lucky really, as the band drew heavily on their new baby in their set, playing almost all of the 8 full-length tracks. ‘Only Pain’ kicked things off, but for me it was the arrival of the monumental ‘The Heaviest Matter of the Universe’ that really signaled the start of the evening. This aural juggernaut, one of my all-time favourites, is a guaranteed pit-starter, and the ensuing circle pit did not disappoint. Unless you were hoping to get out of there without having your feet stamped on and some guy’s elbow in your eye. In fact, there’s often a pit just a few rows back from the front, but here it expanded like an oil spill, engulfing the reticent along with the hardcore stompers. Which is quite a good explanation for how Gojira’s music works live – their maelstrom of rhythms pulls you in and turns the audience from a group of people into one unified organism.

The L’Enfant Sauvage and Magma hits-parade was popular, but for me it’s all about the classic behemoths from ‘From Mars to Sirius’ and the genre-defining ‘Way of All Flesh’. No Gojira show is complete without a hefty dose of space and whales, delivered with aplomb in the form of the musical leviathan, ‘Flying Whales’. Whilst other bands cling to the same old tired themes: love, death, drugs; Gojira have never shied away from writing a few songs about ocean-dwelling mammals. One of the many reasons I love them. ‘Backbone’ is always another guaranteed hit, with a riff that just calls for you to start throwing yourself into the nearest person. It’s these inherently moshable grooves that have allowed the band to carve their place as a festival legend, and the atmosphere carries over even in a smaller and stuffier indoor venue.

No evening would be complete, though, without a good ol’ drum solo. Sometimes bands throw these in as a bit of a filler, but in Gojira’s case, drummer Mario is approximately half of the band – his ear for unique syncopated rhythms is one of the undoubted cornerstones of their sound, and sometimes the ‘je ne sais quoi’ that elevates their best songs from great heavy metal to something almost stratospheric. No surprise then, that the crowd went wild to his playful 5 minutes of fame. It was also a clever way to segue into the tectonic ‘Toxic Garbage Island’, which opens with drums that speak for themselves. By the end, a whirlpool of sweaty humans was screaming together about the injustice of plastic bags in the sea. My kind of moment.

But all good things must come to an end. Although they’d saved some of the best for last, with a serious hard-hitter to close, in the form of ‘Vacuity’. They seem to play this live much less often than the other big tracks from ‘The Way of All Flesh’, although it’s a raw powerhouse of a song. Vacuity bottles the intensity of the human instinct to survive, and had me punching the air and screaming every word. Inspiring stuff.

Gojira fan? Check out EMP’s range of Gojira merchandise, CDs and vinyl today!

What Did We Learn From the New “Doctor Who” Trailer?

Let’s break down the latest trailer for Peter Capaldi’s final series as the clock strikes twelve for, um, Twelve…

If you’ve been gawping at Doctor Who trailers for over a decade, as I have, you’ll know that because of the show’s flexible format, all a trailer needs to do to generate a buzz is hammer viewers with dozens of cool visuals, like in this promo image – I bet you if that precise scene occurs in the show, it’ll be a gag and over in a second, but that doesn’t matter:

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Whereas a trailer for a show or movie based around one locale, storyline or set of characters will require a genuine hint at what’s to come plot-wise, the vast sandbox and infinite possibilities for the Whoniverse allows their trailers to poke the gurgling, cooing part of a Doctor Who fan’s brain that says “World War II spitfires flying through space? Cool!” or “a steam train driving into a tunnel built into an Egyptian pyramid labelled ‘AREA 52’? Awesome!” – so trying to draw conclusions about what’s ahead based on a Doctor Who trailer is largely a futile exercise.

Right. Let’s get on with this futile exercise, shall we?

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We kick off in typically understated fashion, peeking out from within a bag as Nardole (Matt Lucas) peeks in. What’s in here? It can’t be what Nardole expects – his initial expression is his usual slightly vacant, unfocused gaze, before he catches sight of what’s inside and changes to the look of confusion and concern you see above…

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And what do you know? A mere eighty words after cracking a gag about pyramids in Doctor Who trailers, here’s a pyramid in a Doctor Who trailer. But where is this one? Surely not Egypt; there aren’t any grassy bits around there, are there?

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Two lads in spacesuits doing their daily rounds in the cornfield, or something more sinister? I don’t like the look of that black cloud…

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Once new companion Bill (Pearl Mackie) has pricked the pomposity of the Doctor’s claim that the TARDIS is “the gateway to everything that was or ever can be” by comparing it to a kitchen, we find ourselves here. But where’s here? It’s a reasonable shout that this is her first trip in the TARDIS; she seems to be wearing the same clothing she was wearing a few shots prior where it looked like she was at the university – has the Doctor tried to impress her by taking her to some futuristic wellness spa? And look above – there’s that swarmy-cloudy-looking thing that we also saw in the cornfield. Am I onto something here?

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I am? Great, thanks. There’s no sign of this robot that “speaks emoji” in the previous still, but here it is. It looks like we’ve identified our friends from the cornfield – could that black swarm be how they travel; disintegrating into a black cloud before being reconstituted at their destination? They already speak emoji; maybe they get from A to B by being ‘uploaded to the cloud’?

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Moving on – a spacesuited Bill exclaims is surprised to find herself on “Mars?!?” here. Now, who do we know from Mars? Hmmm…

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Hold that thought – we’re now in 1814, according to the Doctor. Bill cries “get in!” at the prospect in the following shot, giving us all flashbacks of the “down with the kids” dialect of 1980s companion Ace. We know when we are here, but where are we? 19th century London perhaps…can you recall Doctor Who ever visiting that period?

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And just when are we here? Nardole’s cute bobble hat and dressing gown combo initially made me think we were still in snowy 1814, but the primitive clothing and weaponry in this still suggests otherwise. Vikings? Is the Doctor going back to visit Ashildir’s clan from “The Girl Who Died”? Where and whenever they are, it’s not going well. And what’s that on their faces? Surely they can’t all have fallen asleep at a party and been attacked with a Sharpie?

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The clan haven’t taken kindly to the Doctor and Nardole but it looks like Bill’s in their good books. She’s not being threatened in the previous still and it looks like she’s looking on in horror at what’s about to happen. Although, look at her left shoulder – perhaps there’s a lot of seagulls in the area and that look of horror is for another reason…

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“So how do we stay out of trouble?” Bill asks in the next shot. Doesn’t she know what show she’s in?

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I’m going to go out on a limb with this still and guess that at some point, we go under the sea and encounter a very large sea creature.

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Yep.

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The Daleks are back! This scene looks to be taken straight from “Friend from the Future”, the fun little scene which was shown around a year ago to introduce us to the new companion. I assumed that had been specially shot, but no, it looks like it’s found its way into the new series. The last we saw of the Daleks, they were back on their home planet of Skaro, being attacked by their own sewers (sounds mad, but it made perfect sense in the context of the episode, honest). Did they find a way to overcome that, or are we encountering a different squadron to the team that were stationed at home, looking after Davros?

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Whatever their plans are, it involves humans forming from some kind of goo and copying their catchphrase. We’ve seen human Dalek agents in the past, but they had eyestalks protruding from their heads rather than this curious ability (and let’s not get started on the pig slaves) – so are these a different species entirely, taking on human form?

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“Something’s coming, Bill…” says the Doctor over a shot of him confronted with this ominous-looking door. My initial instinct was that this shot was from the same episode which saw the Doctor and Nardole threatened with spears, but take a closer look and you’ll see that the Doctor’s in different clothing, and there are tiny red LED lights on that door…

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…oh yeah, and spikes. Take a closer look at those circles – that looks like Time Lord text to me; is this the entrance to, or exit from, a TARDIS? Or – remember the last time we were in a castle that turned out to have something to do with the Time Lords? Are we back in the Doctor’s Confession Dial from “Heaven Sent”?

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Who are these handsome fellows? They’ve got shades of Sycorax, Sybilline Sisterhood and, if you want to get really niche, the Ambassadors from the City State of Binding Light from way back in 2005’s “The End of the World”…

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Remember them? No? Just me? Fair enough – something tells me these boys are a new proposition entirely. Although, having been reminded of the Ambassadors from the City State of Binding Light for the first time in about ten years, if the production team want to bring them back, I won’t stand in their way…

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“It’s time…” says a character who we’ve been officially told is called ‘the Landlord’, played by David Suchet. Respected British star of stage and screen, playing a character with a ‘the’ prefix in his name, talking about time…I’ll eat my hat if he’s not a Time Lord. But which one? The fact that he’s been called ‘the Landlord’ rather than anything more ominous in press releases suggests to me that he’s not going to bring about the end of the universe, but is involved in some more light-hearted japes…could the Meddling Monk, another rogue Time Lord who appeared opposite William Hartnell’s Doctor in the ‘60s be in for a return?

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Of course, no episode featuring emoji robots would be complete without the scarier emojis getting in on the action. I wonder if ‘smiling poo’ or ‘monkey covering its eyes’ will make an appearance?

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The bitch is back! Missy, aka the Master is back to wreak havoc once more. Last time we saw her, she was trying to strike a deal with the Daleks as she too got caught up in the sewer uprising, but this doesn’t look like the Dalek episode…could she be shacked up with ‘the Landlord?’

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And does she later get turned to wood? Certainly, this still appears from the same episode that Missy appears in…the hair’s different, but being turned into wood will do that to anyone.

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UNIT?!?! No – these aren’t the outfits we’ve become accustomed to seeing our favourite paramilitary organisation wearing, and, though it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that the rest of the soldier on the left’s helmet reads ‘IT’, looking at the two soldiers on the right it looks like they’re just plain old UN soldiers. Zzzz.

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“Bring it”, the Doctor says, seemingly channelling The Rock, before we see the Amba- sorry, this new species closing in on us with some seriously creepy-looking hands.

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Fun fact: the extra at the front here dressed in what looks like a beefed-up X-Wing pilot’s outfit gets disintegrated onboard the Dalek Crucible in 2008’s “Journey’s End”, is among the Futurekind in 2007’s “Utopia” and appears as a wedding guest, an undercover police officer and a nurse at a secret care facility in three separate episodes of Torchwood – and those are just the examples I can remember off the top of my head. Coincidence? Maybe. Limited number of supporting artists available in North Wales? Possibly. Epic story arc spanning almost a decade which nobody picked up on? Fingers crossed.

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This freaky-looking cloth-faced chap is one of the original breed of Cybermen, who last appeared in 1966’s The Tenth Planet, were responsible for the show’s first regeneration as William Hartnell became Patrick Troughton, and are still arguably the best execution of the species’ chilling concept to date. We know that these guys appear in the season finale – does their appearance lead to the demise of the twelfth Doctor as it did with the first?

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At this point, things start to get really exciting. Just after we’re given an old-school Cyberman, we’re treated to a glimpse of a never-before-seen Ice Warrior. We’ve never met the female of the species before – are they more deadly than the male?

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We briefly see Nardole trying to escape an explosion in what looks like it may be the TARDIS (check out the pillars behind him) – but what’s that in his hand? Why, it’s a sonic screwdriver. But not just any sonic screwdriver…

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It’s only blummin’ Tom Baker’s sonic screwdriver. Has the Doctor given Nardole a hand-me-down?

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Seconds later, we see Nardole catching it as it’s thrown to him, so it looks likely. Is he a mini wee Doctor in training? We’re yet to learn why the Doctor retrieved him from King Hydroflax’s body in “The Wedding of River Song” (again, sounds daft, makes perfect sense in the episode) – perhaps he saw something in him?

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“Nardole! Bill! With me! To the TARDIS!” Classic Who trailer line.

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I’ve got chills. Has it really only been a year and a bit since the last series? Feels like forever…

Doctor Who returns for Series Ten on April 15 – meaning you’ve got plenty of time to check out EMP’s out-of-this-world range of Doctor Who merchandise. From Funko Pop! figures of all your favourite characters to exclusive Doctor Who clothing unavailable anywhere else in the univ- okay, Europe, there’s something for everyone, whether old fan or new, human or Time Lord…

Breaking Down the New “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” Trailer

I am Groot! I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot. I am Groot! I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot! I am Groot. I am GrootI am Groot. I am Groot! I am Groot, I am Groot. I am Groot…I am Groot!

With just a few short weeks to go until release, Marvel have treated us to our third sneak peek at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Shall we suck all of the fun out of that trailer with a frame-by-frame breakdown of what we were shown? What else are movie trailers for?

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We open with the same battle we’ve seen in the other trailers, but I’m lucky enough to have quite a high tolerance for former wrestling champs throwing themselves down Abilisk throats. As always, Drax does so with a throaty laugh.

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And here’s the trailer’s first proper glimpse at Baby Groot! All together now: n’awwww…

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This cheerful-looking bunch are the Sovereign. “I see it within you – fear. Jealousy. Betrayal. It is our job to cleanse the universe of this weakness”, says Ayesha, their High Priestess…

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…which looks like precisely the kind of thing they’re up to a few frames later in the trailer…

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…which is possibly why Star-Lord’s trying to make a speedy getaway here. “Groot, put your seatbelt on!” he cries.

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But ickle Groot is too busy chowing down on sweets. Now, what are these? Skittles? M&Ms? Smarties? And is that the same pot he was dancing in one movie ago? And what happens when you don’t put your seatbelt on, young man?

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Bad things like this happen. Let’s hope something soft breaks Groot’s fall…

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Earlier in the trailer, we saw Yondu and his Ravagers looking like they’d finally managed to corner Rocket. Here, it looks like Rocket’s turned the tables with a trap. I’ve used this image to illustrate it because there’s nothing better than capturing the precise moment somebody’s thinking “ooooh, shi-“

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“So we’re saving the galaxy again? Awesome! We’re really gonna be able to jack up our prices if we’re two-time galaxy savers!” Rocket’s seeing dollar signs…

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…and so is Drax.

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Gamora and Star-Lord are getting close here. And where are they? This environment all looks very utopian – could they be on the planet of the gold gang, the Sovereign?

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“Die, spaceship!” roars Drax here, seemingly whilst covered in bubble wrap.

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Every Groot appearance in the trailer seems to be cuter than the last. Here, he thinks nothing of giving Gamora a nice wave mid-fight with the Abilisk…

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…and look closely here and you’ll see him perched on the shoulder of Yondu, a Ravager earlier in the trailer but seemingly now a fully-fledged Guardian as he sends space villains flying all around him.

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Seems that Nebula’s not quite ready to sign up, though. Here she’s going after her dear adopted sister – and has she hijacked the Guardians’ ship?

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We’re back on the same sumptuous-looking world that Star-Lord and Gamora looked like they were having some time to themselves on earlier. Is it the Sovereign homeworld? Or perhaps it’s…

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…a living planet?!?! The trailer’s zOMFGGG moment comes when the gang (with Nebula in tow – perhaps she does make nice with her sis after all) come into contact with this mysterious chap played by Kurt Russell, who announces “I’m your dad, Peter.” We know from the comics that this is Ego, a living planet who is indeed Star-Lord’s pops. Marvel have said that Ego doesn’t appear in his planetary form in the movie, but do you really introduce a character who’s a living planet without actually showing, yannow, that living planet form?

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We’ve only got to wait until April 28th to find out!

Want to join the Guardians? EMP have sourced some of the universe’s best Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise from an array of distant worlds, including tons of brand new GOTG Vol. 2 merch available to pre-order. You can travel far and wide, but you won’t find this EMP-exclusive Star-Lord t-shirt anywhere else, nor these rather fetching Groot boxer shorts – and if you came away from that trailer thinking nothing could possibly top Baby Groot for cuteness, you were wrong. Check out this Baby Groot Funko Pop! figure! All together now…we are Groot!

Fancy winning a Guardians of the Galaxy merch bundle worth £150 and a £100 gift voucher? All you have to do is head to our competitions section and answer a very simple question to be in with a shout. Hint: the answer might just occur more than once in this post…

GAMERS – WIN a PS4, VR Headset and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Bundle Worth Over £650, Courtesy of EMP!

We’re kindly folk here at EMP – that’s why we’ve decided to give one lucky winner a PS4 VR bundle worth over £650!

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That’s one Sony PlayStation 4 console with DUALSHOCK 4 controller, one PlayStation VR headset and one copy of the terrifying Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (check out the review on this very blog) – and all you need to do is head to the competition, follow the link to our Facebook page or gaming merchandise section, enter your name and email address and you’re done! You’ve got until Monday March 6th to enter – be sure to share the competition with your friends to give yourself the best chance of sampling some of that survival horror action!

Gamer? You’ve come to the right place! With hundreds of items available including exclusive products unavailable anywhere else in Europe, EMP is the only place you ever need visit for your gaming merchandise. Represent your chosen side in the console war with PlayStation and Nintendo merchandise including t-shirts, wallets, keyrings, mugs and bags or immerse yourself in your favourite gaming universes with merch from the worlds of The Legend of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, Resident Evil, Pokémon, Halo and plenty more. Game on!

“The Walking Dead” Recap – Season Seven, Episode Nine: “Rock in the Road”

AMC’s The Walking Dead has finally returned after its loooong mid-season break – and boy, has it given us a lot to talk about!

We left the series in December with Rick and Daryl reuniting - just the boost the group needed to take on the Saviors. But how long would it be before they were seperated again? ©AMC

We left the series in December with Rick and Daryl reuniting – just the boost the group needed to take on the Saviors. But how long would it be before they were seperated again? ©AMC

On December 16th we left Rick Grimes and the others in the process of finally waking up from the spell of terror they were under, realising that it’s time to fight once and for all against Negan (cover star of the EMP spring 2017 catalogue) and the Saviors. If, like me, you watched the series from day one and feel like you know each character inside out, you’ll know how hard and frustrating it’s been to see Rick acting like a ghost – so powerless against Negan’s strength, strategies and favourable numbers. But no more! Daryl Dixon (my favourite character together with Glenn – yes, I don’t want to admit that Glenn’s gone…damn you Lucille!) is finally free and back to his group, Michonne and Carl are as badass as they’ve ever been and Rick is starting to lean forward and we all know what that means: “shit’s about to get real”!

It most certainly is.

It most certainly is.

Yesterday, when I finally sat down to watch the new episode, “Rock in the Road”, I was bouncing around with anticipation.  So what went down?

SPOILER ALERT – if you haven’t seen The Walking Dead season 7, episode 9 – “Rock in the Road” yet, turn away now! Why not head to our The Walking Dead merchandise section, stock up on goodies and come back once you’ve seen the ep?

All that time ago, at the end of the last episode, we left Father Gabriel on his night watch atop Alexandria’s walls, as someone with some fancy boots watched on. The new episode opens with Gabriel again on the watch, then suddenly loading a car with all the food and weapons left in Alexandria and riding away. Traitor?! Perhaps not – a second figure joins Gabriel in the car, and the pair drive away…

The scene suddenly jumps to the Hilltop where Rick and Maggie, finally reunited with Daryl, are trying to convince Gregory, questionable ‘leader’ of the colony, to join them in war against the Saviors. Attempt failed… no-one wants to mess with Negan and Lucille.

Next hope for Rick and company is King Ezekiel and the Kingdom! Guided by Jesus, the group visit his realm to speak with the King (and his cool tiger) and ask his community to join the fight.

After heavy consideration, King Ezekiel decides that, even if the Kingdom’s situation with the Saviors is precarious and not ideal, it’s still better than war, denying Rick the help he’s looking for.

After his escape from the Saviors, Daryl has a target on his head, so King Ezekiel offers him protection in the Kingdom. Rick talks Daryl into staying for his own good and gives him the duty of convincing Ezekiel to join them in the fight. It’s so disappointing to see the group dividing again and my heart broke a little to see Daryl’s sad face as he was left behind AGAIN…looks like Daryl actor Norman Reedus wasn’t happy either:

 

WHY THE F YOU ALWAYS LEAVING ME BEHIND !!!!!! 😡

A post shared by norman reedus (@bigbaldhead) on

But where is Negan in all this? We’ve all kind of built a love/hate relationship with the character; we hate him for caving our heroes’ heads in with Lucille, then makes us laugh out loud with jibes about spaghetti. It’s confusing!

Negan in a good mood, cracking some jokes. Somebody must have told him he'd made the cover of the EMP catalogue.

Negan in a good mood, cracking some jokes. Somebody must have told him he’d made the cover of the EMP catalogue.

Alas, Negan doesn’t appear during “Rock in the Road”; during the episode we only hear his voice on the radio Jesus stole, talking to his group when he realizes that Fat Joe is dead and Daryl is missing.

Rick and the rest of the group rush back to Alexandria, as they know the Saviors are on their way to look for the fugitive. On the way back they come across an anti-zombie dynamite trap set up by the Saviors. Thanks to Rosita’s skills the group manage to steal the dynamite – their first real weapon after the Saviors took everything they had! Rick and Michonne then drive two cars connected by the metal cable the dynamite hung from on either side of the horde, slicing hundreds of zombies in two. Nice.

Rick’s group arrive at Alexandria, closely followed by the Saviors, who arrive and turn the place upside down in their search for Daryl. It’s just in this moment that Rick finds out about Father Gabriel’s ‘betrayal’. Rick being the trusting soul that he is, he doesn’t believe it, and so he searches for clues and find a hidden note left by Gabriel: ‘BOAT’, referring to the place where Rick had discovered supplies earlier.

The group decide to go and look for Gabriel. While following some footprints (I think they’ll probably belong to Gabriel’s fancy-booted companion, don’t you?) they find themselves surrounded by a big group of people armed with an incredible number of weapons, all pointed at their heads… and what does Rick do, in a classic moment of bad-assery? He smiles! ‘Cause he’s probably already sussed how to get this mysterious group to fight with them and get rid of Negan once and for all!

It’s great to have The Walking Dead back, isn’t it? This episode managed to maintain the quality that we were given with the first half of the series. I was disappointed not to see Negan in this episode, but the character’s spectre looms large over everything that happens when he’s not on screen, which may be an equally effective way of using him. Selfishly, however, I wanted to see him; despite how evil Negan is, how much pain he’s caused through his unnecessarily violent demonstrative killings (RIP Glenn and Abraham, gone too soon) I can’t deny how damn entertaining he is! His game-changing presence has set season 7 apart from its predecessors and proved that there’s plenty of mileage in the series yet. And now, I get the sense that the game is about to change yet again – Rick, Michonne, Carl, Daryl and the others are (almost) ready to take their lives back! And it’s going to be epic!

What did you think of “Rock in the Road”? Let us know in the comments below or on the EMP Facebook page, and check out our range of The Walking Dead merchandise – you can’t buy your very own Lucille (probably for the best), but we do have a cool Negan Funko Pop! figure and Negan and Lucille tops for women and t-shirts for men, amongst a horde of other great merch. Arm yourselves!

The EMP Spring 2017 Catalogue is Here – New Beauty and the Beast Merchandise, Guns N’ Roses Merchandise and More!

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Has yours arrived yet? It’s new catalogue day – 332 pages packed with merch from your favourite bands, brands and franchises!

If yours hasn’t dropped yet, never fear – it can be viewed online here. If you see something that takes your fancy, just click on the item’s image in the catalogue and you’ll be taken to the product page, where you can purchase the item in just a couple of clicks!

If you’re not signed up to receive our quarterly catalogue – what are you waiting for? Head to the EMP catalogue page and, enter your details and your catalogue will soon be winging its way to you!

So, what’s new in the catalogue? Let’s take a look…



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EXCLUSIVE TO EMP Beauty and the Beast “Tale As Old As Time” T-Shirt – from £19.99
Get ready for the remake of this all-singing, all-dancing 1991 Disney classic with this top, available in sizes up to 3XL. The top’s rose design has a glitter effect, giving you a shimmer that ensures you’ll always stand out in the ballroom! Want to check out the rest of our Beauty and the Beast merch? Be our guest! It’s on page 313 of the catalogue, with even more available in our Beauty and the Beast merchandise section.

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EXCLUSIVE TO EMP Guns N’ Roses Women’s Top Hat Skull T-Shirt – £19.99

Will you be there when the “Not In This Lifetime…” tour rolls into London this June? You’ll need to look the part! If you’re gazing at this ladies’ tee thinking “you could be mine”, you’re absolutely right – it can be yours for less than twenty quid. It’s available in sizes up to XXL and can be found amongst more GNR t-shirts plus hoodies, leggings, jeans and more on page 19 of the catalogue or in the Guns N’ Roses merchandise section of EMP.co.uk.

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EXCLUSIVE TO EMP Wolverine Chest Sublimation Print T-Shirt – £19.99

Logan hits theatres next month, and looks set to be a gritty, bleak end for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine. Return to the king of the X-Men’s colourful comic book roots with this tee – available up to XXL for just £19.99. You’ll find it on catalogue page 152 and among our Wolverine merchandise and Marvel merchandise areas on the site.

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EXCLUSIVE TO EMP Kreator – Gods of Violence 2-CD, 2-LP Boxset featuring Live Blu-ray, Poster, Photocard, Certificate of Authenticity – £49.99 – only 1000 available!

Gods of Violence, Kreator’s first album in five years, has wowed critics and represents the thrash metal outfit’s fourteenth studio offering. That’s worth marking with something special, right? And what could be more special than becoming one of only a thousand people to own this ultra-limited edition boxset? Find it amongst thousands of other CD, vinyl, DVD and Blu-ray offerings on pages 64-66 of the catalogue, or on our Kreator merchandise page.

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Black Sabbath “The End” World Tour Hoodie – £32.99

“The End” may have been and gone, but Ozzy, Tony and the rest of these rock legends will never, ever be forgotten. Whether you were lucky enough to be at the final Birmingham shows, you caught them somewhere else down the road or you missed your last chance to see Sabbath live, you can commemorate the momentous occasion with this hoodie. Find it on page 12 of the catalogue or online with more great Black Sabbath merchandise.

This selection of brand new items hasn’t even scratched the surface of range available in the new catalogue. It should be with all catalogue subscribers soon – once you’ve got yours, sit back and relax with a highlighter and start planning your next EMP shopping spree…

What Were Our Favourite Metal Albums of 2016?

We had some epic rock and metal releases to cheer us up during a gloomy 2016. Here are the albums we’ve been loving here at EMP UK…gojiramagma

Gojira  Magma (order from EMP on CD or vinyl)

The environmentally-conscious Frenchmen have been providing us with metal that’s heavier than a neutron star for around 20 years, and their latest release Magma was no exception. Some say it’s less heavy than their previous releases, but without a doubt it’s up there with their greats (From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh, if you were going to ask). The first single, “Stranded”, had us hooked from the first seconds where that riff kicks in, and we literally cannot wait to mosh to this one when they come back to London in March. Whilst there are some more mellow and more experimental moments on here, the metal gems are rock solid, especially “Silvera”, which blends their heavier moments with a frankly genius main riff, and the title track, which lures you in with the classic, grinding guitar sound that the band have perfected over the years.

We kind of miss the whales, but musically speaking Joe, Mario and co. have really outdone themselves on this one.

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In Flames  Battles (CD | Limited Edition CD featuring 2 Bonus Tracks | Vinyl | Limited Edition Picture Vinyl | EMP-Exclusive CD & 2-LP Boxset with Photo Card, Poster, Slip Mat, Certificate of Authenticity and More)

Who doesn’t love a good bit of melodic death metal? Are you with us? If so, you are not going to want to miss Battles. Our favourite screaming Swedes are back in style with this all-round rocking release. Sing along or mosh? It’s hard to decide, with instant classics like “Drained” combining top-class singable choruses with impassioned screams and soaring melodies alternated with punchy metal riffs. In fairness, nothing has really changed here. If you liked Siren Charms, you will not be disappointed by Battles. Considering that these guys haven’t really changed their sound one bit since the 90s, you might be forgiven for wondering if it’s worth picking up the new CD, but we say ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ If you’re new to In Flames, and 60 minutes of high-energy metal with great clean and growled vocals sounds like your cup of tea, then you should definitely give this one a try. If you’ve been listening since Jester Race days like us, then you’re not going to be able to argue with one of the most technically flawless slabs of metal the band have ever released.

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Amon Amarth  Jomsviking (CD | Vinyl | EMP-Exclusive Viking Ship CD Boxset with Bonus Live DVD)

Let’s face it. Every time there’s a new Amon Amarth release, you kind of know what’s coming. 60 minutes of Viking battles, gutteral growls and a mixture of brutality and joyful Norse spirit that only the Swedish thunder gods can reproduce time and again with aplomb. It’s immediately clear that festival season will see us all raising our horns (and beers) to the chants of epics like “Raise Your Horns” along with a legion of muddy and sweat-soaked fans. The melodic elements are intact, and show up time and again, especially on our fave from the album – “Wanderer”. In case you’re wondering what a Jomsviking is, they were actually Norse mercenaries, and the album follows the tale of a young man who swears revenge after his love is married to another man. Not everyone loves a concept album, but Amon Amarth struck a good balance here between providing Viking fireside stories and the semi-melodic, semi-brutal death metal that we know and love.

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Opeth  Sorceress (CD | Limited Edition 2-CD Digipak | Vinyl)

Every time Opeth bring out a new album, it has us all on tenterhooks waiting to see whether it’s going to predominantly feature blistering death metal, folksy acoustic rock or complex jazzy blues. This time, it turned out to be a mixture of them all. As the last few albums have hinted, the Swedish prog death maestros have been drifting away from the truly heavy material they produced on classic albums like Ghost Reveries and playing a hell of a lot more proggy, jazzy experimental stuff that has split opinion. Well, that stuff certainly hasn’t disappeared on Sorceress. In fact, the title track seems to be the distillation of years of work on each of these styles, and perfectly demonstrates Åkerfeldt and crew’s ability to make genres that really shouldn’t work seem like they were born to be together. Coming in at ‘only’ 6 minutes, Sorceress is as close to perfect as anyone could wish. Even fans of the sublime prog rock produced by compatriots like Beardfish are going to be blown away by the mix of bluesy guitars, proggy solos and soothing folk elements. The only people who are going to be disappointed are those who expect to have their faces ripped off by the type of death metal that Opeth have produced in the past, but those types have had more than their fair share of warning. In fact, this is classic Opeth but with a real leap forward in terms of experimentation and seamless blending of styles. Don’t miss it.

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Metallica  Hardwired…to Self-Destruct (CD | 3-CD Digipak Deluxe Edition | Vinyl | Limited Edition 3-LP Boxset with Bonus CD)

You didn’t think we’d have any sort of ‘best of’ list without including Metallica, did you? Come on! Anyone who thought that Metallica were past their best had to eat a pretty big slice of humble pie when they heard Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. Whilst it doesn’t quite match up to their …And Justice For All glory days, it makes a pretty good attempt. The title track makes it clear what’s to come: a relentless slab of classic riffing, with catchy melody after catchy melody hitting where it hurts. Our highlight has to be “Moth Into Flame”, which could easily have nestled in among the hook-driven classics on the black album, with guitar work that reminds us all why Metallica are the KINGS of modern thrash. True, there is no track that stands out quite as well as, say, “Master of Puppets” but the progress made since the opinion-dividing St. Anger is clear. Welcome back, Metallica!

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Sabaton  The Last Stand (CD | 2-CD Digipak with Bonus Live DVD | Vinyl | EMP-Exclusive Limited Edition Red Vinyl )

2016 delivered a heavy blow to power metal fans with the semi-breakup of genre legends Rhapsody of Fire (ok, that’s another post in itself), but it’s not been short of epic music for fans of the musical answer to Dungeons & DragonsThe Last Stand, as the name might hint at, has drawn inspiration from a number of historical ‘last stand’ battles – such as the final battle between the samurai and the Japanese army in “Shiroyama”. If you don’t find yourself shouting along with rousing refrains such as ‘overrun but never outdone’, or ‘surrounded and outnumbered’ then please send back your power metal fan badge right now. Otherwise, stand alongside the last 500 samurai, raise your fists and sing along. Power metal gold right here.

Loved these releases, or totally disagree? What were your top picks for 2016? Let us know! Here’s to 2017 rocking even harder.

Peter Capaldi Leaving “Doctor Who” – Who Will Be the Next Doctor?

It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…twelve is set to become thirteen, with a regeneration set for Xmas 2017.

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. ©BBC

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. ©BBC

After three series of galactic gallivanting, Peter Capaldi yesterday announced that the tenth series of the revived Doctor Who, scheduled to air this spring, will be his last. His final episode will be the 2017 Christmas special, leaving incoming executive producer Chris Chibnall with an almost entirely blank slate to kick off his vision of the show.

I for one will miss Capaldi’s fiery, acerbic Doctor, who literally exploded onto the screen at the climax of 2013’s “The Time of the Doctor”. He replaced Matt Smith’s altogether cuddlier incarnation, and immediately set about transforming the show, jerking viewers out of the safe zone they’d been in with friendly, take-home-to-your-mum Doctors Smith and his predecessor David Tennant. Suddenly, here was a Doctor who didn’t want to be your mate, who was largely unsentimental and, a lot of the time, seemed to believe that the ends justified the means. Though he softened somewhat in his second series, his lined face, sharp, Scottish delivery and I’m-going-to-bite-your-nose-off-if-you-get-on-the-wrong-side-of-me eyebrows gave the Twelfth Doctor a distance and a gravitas that only Capaldi could have pulled off.

Whoever the next Doctor is, one of the first things they'll have to nail is the customary weird alien hand pose. ©BBC

Whoever the next Doctor is, one of the first things they’ll have to nail is the customary weird alien hand pose. ©BBC

And that’s what’s unique about the role of the Doctor. Actors can approach the role like a blank canvas, adding aspects of their own character to create a totally new version of the character. Casting directors can cast a Doctor as a response to the previous one, giving the show an almost entirely new leading character and thus keeping it fresh for audiences. That’s what kept Doctor Who alive after William Hartnell’s departure in 1966 – moving from Hartnell’s stern grandfather to Patrick Troughton’s wacky uncle – and that’s what will continue to renew the series.

So, who could be the Thirteenth Doctor (fourteenth if you count the late John Hurt’s War Doctor), and what might they bring to the role? Let’s take a look at some of the frontrunners…

BEN WHISHAW – better known as techie Q in the Bond films, Whishaw certainly has the right look – almost too much so; anybody else think he looks like the love child of Tennant and Smith?

RICHARD AYOADE – has just taken on the position of another face-changing TV eccentric, taking over hosting duties on The Crystal Maze. He’ll have long finished that by the time he’d be starting on Who, but, like Whishaw, he has echoes of lovably-nerdy Tennant and Smith about him. Do we not want something brand new at this point?

RORY KINNEAR – aka Tanner in the Bond films, aka the guy who has been among the bookies’ favourites for the last three or four Doctor departures. Claims to have never seen Doctor Who in his life, and has no idea what it’s all about, but that’s no bad thing – perhaps this lack of knowledge and reverence for what has come before could lead to an entirely new take on the Doctor?

JASON FLEMYNG – A great shout, IMO – let’s have Flemyng playing a dishevelled, disorganised, unkempt Doctor. Tom Baker’s ensemble was a bit all over the place, granted, but we’ve never had a real scruff as the Doctor before – and in today’s world of slicked-back, perma-tanned, buttoned-up, gym-worshipping young men, what better example to set to the kids that it’s what’s on the inside that counts than the almighty Doctor walking into a room looking like he’s had a night on the rum and cokes?

MIRANDA HART – Is it time for the Doctor to regenerate into a female form? Such a thought isn’t the tabloid bait it used to be; Michelle Gomez’ take on the Master has been so universally well-received that gender no longer comes into the discussion, and we even saw a gruff, male Time Lord General regenerate into a female body during 2014’s “Hell Bent”. Hart’s unique look and penchant for physical comedy would certainly make her a good fit.

Though I’m gutted to be losing Capaldi, who ranks as my favourite of the twenty-first century Doctors (since you asked: Patrick Troughton), new-Doctor-speculation-season is always a fun time, especially when this new Doctor’s arrival will coincide with the makeover Chibnall will inevitably give the show when he takes over from Steven Moffat. And we’ve still got a full season and Christmas episode of Doctor number twelve left – but that sure is gonna be one sad, sad Christmas special…

The new series of Doctor Who is scheduled to start this spring. Get ready for the new series and the Twelfth Doctor’s demise with our range of Doctor Who merchandise, including tons of EMP-exclusive items that you won’t find anywhere else in the universe!

“Resident Evil 7: Biohazard” Reviewed

Seventh heaven for the zombie franchise, or has the latest instalment left “Resident Evil” (un)dead and buried?

I grew up playing the Resident Evil saga, or to be more precise (and honest), I grew up WATCHING my older brother playing Resident Evil, as I was too scared to even touch the controller (I was 6 years old, I guess it’s understandable). I spent hours and hours being my big brother’s second pair of eyes, helping him solving puzzles and scaring him whenever I would jump out of my skin while sitting next to him on the sofa! Damn you, zombie dogs jumping through windows!

Then growing up I started playing myself (with the light on, of course) and it’s interesting to see all the changes of style that the saga went through. I loved all of them, but as a fan of Resident Evil’s first trilogy I had to admit that the last few games had lost a certain something compared to the first three, going in what in my opinion was the wrong direction (outside of Raccoon City, for one).

Which brings me to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The reviews have been strong, with many stating that this was a return to the Raccoon City trilogy’s horror-and-puzzle-based roots from the more action-oriented style of the post-Nemesis games. I just couldn’t wait to play – and I’m extremely pleased to report that Capcom absolutely nailed it!

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Me after a 7am alarm. Only joking, it’s one of the game’s villains, the Baker family. © Capcom

Here’s a little introduction to RE7 (NO spoilers, I promise):

In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, you’ll help Ethan Winters in the search for his missing wife. A mysterious email leads Ethan to Dulvey, Louisiana, to the game’s primary location: a derelict mansion occupied by the creepy Baker family. You’ll get to know the house in every detail (where to hide, shortcuts, quickest ways to get from A to B). This time around, you’re a normal citizen, not a badass soldier or special agent trained to kill, adding an extra layer of fear to proceedings. My advice? Save your ammo and find your ways around certain enemies. And practice your headshot! That’s always satisfying and helps you to save precious bullets.

For the first time in the Resident Evil series, the game utilises a first-person point of view, making every scene more personal, dramatic and direct, and upping the fear factor tenfold.

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The game’s stunning graphics, first-person view and VR capabilities mean having a shovel rammed into your innards feels more real than ever before. © Capcom

I recommend this game to every fan of Resident Evil, especially to those who preferred the more contained survival horror scares of the original PlayStation versions to the scale and action of later versions. If you haven’t played Resident Evil before, don’t worry – the game stands on its own, with few references to earlier versions.

Get ready to be scared! And – in my case, anyway – sleep with the light on.

Elena

Are you picking up Resident Evil 7: Biohazard or heading to see Resident Evil: The Final Chapter at the cinema? Then check out EMP’s range of Resident Evil merchandise. Show your zombie-killing credentials with some S.T.A.R.S. dog tags, protect yourself from showers of blood with an Umbrella Corporation umbrella (very meta, we know), or pick up one of our Resident Evil t-shirts. And stay tuned to the EMP blog for more news, reviews and opinion on all things EMP from our team – as long as they’re not eaten by zombies in the meantime!

The WWE UKC Tournament and the Potential of WWE: UK

This weekend, WWE decide their first “United Kingdom Champion” via a 16-man single-elimination tournament broadcast on the WWE Network, which is likely to pave the way for a UK-based weekly TV show.

Wrestling to me has always been a wholly American thing (I was born a little too late for the legendary British institution World of Sport, though I did get a kick out of its gaudy New Year’s Eve reboot a couple of weeks back), mostly conducted (until recent times) by North American wrestlers for North American audiences, quite understandably. This tournament and the potential series that is likely to follow, however, are a totally different proposition, giving Network subscribers in the UK localised content with exposure and financial backing not seen since the days of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. And that’s very exciting.

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Irish-born Sheamus batters Roman Reigns. The UKC tournament won’t have quite this crowd – perhaps if they follow the template outlined in this post, one day they will…

Though British grapplers like William Regal and Finlay have all had great runs as big-ish players in WWE in recent ties, they mostly represented their country via an early 2000s Nickelodeon movie kind of Britishness. Regal was a snooty, tea-drinking toff; Finlay a Northern Irish pub brawler who was accompanied to the ring by his leprechaun son and used to bonk people over the head with a shillelagh. Even in 2017, Mancunian Jack Gallagher’s current run has come about due to his character “The Extraordinary Gentleman”, a sophisticated, urbane sort of fellow who challenges rivals to gentlemen’s duels and requests one-on-one meetings “in parlay”.

This is not a slight on WWE, fashionable as that may be. No, I’m of the school of thought that believes it’s all about character, and that you need to get maximum mileage out of whatever makes you different from the next guy along; if that’s toff-toffington Englishness or an association with folklore fairies, then so be it. Two recent examples of English talent whose nationality was incidental rather than central to their character that prove the rule are Wade Barrett, a generic baddie who progressed through about seven indistinct characters and seventeen entrance themes, shouted “BOOM” a lot and left the company last year after treading water for half a decade, and Neville, who was immediately dealt a dud hand by being made to share a name with one of the least capable students in Gryffindor’s history and is only just emerging from the wilderness after barely being featured on TV for months.

The point I’m making is that when you’re putting Brits in a ring to tell a story of good vs evil in front of 10,000 baying Americans every night, there isn’t a lot of room for nuance. But what a UK WWE brand gives us is an opportunity to enjoy more characters that are exaggerated versions of the stereotypes of people we in the UK are familiar with; rather than having to go out in front of a US audience and play “British {insert British-ish gimmick here}” in a way that allows a global audience to immediately understand who they are, the new recruits can just play “{insert gimmick here}” in a way that a UK audience can immediately recognise and get on board with.

Some of the tournament competitors look like they’ve already nailed this; Tyson T-Bone wants to declare himself “King of the Travelers” and uses a finisher called the “Gypsy’s Kiss”, while Tyler Bate’s twirly moustache and use of the “Gotch-Style Tombstone” suggest he might play some form of wrestling Shoreditch hipster. Others’ WWE.com profiles suggest little more than “nice man who wrestles” and “nasty man who wrestles”.

What I want from this potential new brand is more of the former and less of the latter. Think a stable of The Apprentice contestants who walk down to the ring to Prokofiev music in mid-range Debenhams suits, cut promos in illegible business jargon and have a different member take on the role of ‘project manager’ every week, resulting in each match being wrestled in an entirely different style every time, followed by an inevitable defeat and post-mortem in a greasy spoon. Or an obnoxious public schoolboy who wrestles with a style influenced by the tribes he met on his gap year, accelerated to an improbably high position on the card despite being only six months out of university due to his dad being in a position of power, who makes his prone opponent do a beer bong after defeating them with his finisher, the “D.I.O.”. Or an old-school saaaahf-east Laaahndan boxer sort accompanied by a dastardly flat-capped, chain-smoking “promoter” who bonks people over the head when the ref’s not looking with a spit bucket or corner stool. Or, if you want to get really base with this, a builder whose tights don’t quite cover up the entirety of his posterior. Just think of the storytelling opportunities!

These lads can wrestle to a very high standard – but so can every talent WWE features on TV. This is why to differentiate itself, the UK operation has to be British through and through; I want brawls to look like they’re taking place in a pub car park and technical matches to carry on using the slow, methodical style introduced to American audiences by Zack Sabre Jr. and Jack Gallagher in last summer’s Cruiserweight Classic. I want Michael Cole’s stint on commentary this weekend to be a one-off before he’s replaced with a gravelly-voiced Brit yanked from an obscure subscription channel’s coverage of regional MMA. Also, fingers crossed we get a rowdy crowd seven or eight pints in by the time the first bell rings and who cheer and boo who they’re supposed to, rather than the sort that chant “this is wrestling!” at the first chinlock of the match.

Who’s gonna win the thing? My head says Trent Seven, based purely on the fact that he’s at the front of the pack in most of the promotional images that I’ve seen and is one of the few guys I’ve heard of with my limited exposure to non-WWE wrestling. But my heart wants Danny Burch, for precisely the reasons I’ve outlined above: though he’s not the biggest guy, he looks like he’s got a bod honed not by months of careful dieting and gym work, but years of backbreaking manual labour and Saturday afternoon post-football tear-ups, knows all of the staff in Wetherspoons by name and would glass anybody who got in between him and the fruit machine. Come on Danny.

Wrestling fan? Check out EMP’s range of WWE merchandise here, and stay tuned to our blog for more WWE coverage as well as thought and opinion on rock, metal, movies, TV, gaming and everything else EMP!