Empty Review – Zimbellina

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Empty is a sci fi audio drama which starts off with a few audio diaries of various staff of astronauts. They are working on colonising a totally new galaxy. The universe is too crowded so they’re opening up the options to outside the galaxy. Our ship is coming after some colonising ships have already been sent so this ship is not the first. 

We go through a few different peoples diaries about readying the ship for landing outside the galaxy. It’s a slow intro into the main meat of the story. It builds up slowly, teasing different aspects of the show to come. Each audio diary is only about 2 minutes long, and there are 6 of these. The last being the log of a robot which is an interesting look at what goes on in a robot’s brain. This is a good way to give the listener a piece of what the meat of the audio drama is about. It’s interesting, I guess it’s like previews or teasers but done in an new and fresh way. 

After these the show starts with a two parter, with the astronauts coming out of cryosleep. They all have no memories of themselves and slowly discover things about themselves and each other. The narrative jumps from person to person as they learn more about themselves. 

The unfolding of the story is intriguing and keeps you invested in the characters and story line. The audio is perfect and the voice actors are great. You get totally invested in the story quickly and there are mysteries to be solved from the very beginning. The sound effects are excellent as well, very realistic. I think the robot is my favourite character. He calls the others ‘meat’ and tries to kill people yet can’t because of his directives so asks one of the crew members “Will you kill yourself for me?” Bwhahaha. Love it. 

Something has obviously happened to the ship as robots have been destroyed, files are missing and there was some kind of fire. This leads to a discovery that the universe they’re heading into is empty. It was meant to have been colonised before they got there. 

I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in this world. The world building is excellent and gives just enough information to leave you wanting more. Can’t get enough of this audio drama. So far they’ve released probably half of the first season I assume so there’s lots more to be discovered! But enough already to get a good binge going. 

5/5 lonely stars 

The Blood Crow Stories Review – Zimbellina

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The Blood Crow Stories

SS Utopia

Max, a college student doing a history thesis on Dr Wiseman and the SS Utopia, a cruise ship which could become a submarine. So he’s doing a podcast which combines his notes and the recordings from the ship. He says something is happening on the tapes which shows something intriguing and maybe even dangerous which is perplexing and troubling him. Which is why he makes the podcast. 

The ship hired Dr Harold Wiseman to do a study on the inhabitants of the ship to see if they got any signs of going ‘stir crazy’ or getting cabin fever. He asks a range of people to record their interactions and thoughts on tapes which Max plays for the listener and talks about in his thesis. The SS Utopia project was shut down after the ship sank but the recordings were luckily in a safe so they were kept usable. 

6 recorders were handed out on the first week of the study. Each person is tasked with recording their thoughts and to report about their life on the ship and Dr Wiseman wants to see how the psyche is affected by living on the ship. The first is handed to Tommy, who is married to Mary and rich. Penny is the next to be given a recorder, she’s on the ship without her husband because he wanted to stay on land in case he was wanted for the war. Number 3 goes to a stowaway, one of the builders of the ship. Then Fiona the artist comes in and Leo who farms on the ship, which provides the fresh food for the ship. Lastly is Nora who wants to share the life of a poor/middle class perspective. 

Max feels these recordings which are like diaries for public consumption much like social media now. He wants to share this strange mystery he hears as he keeps going through the tapes. The mystery leads him down a dangerous path. 

The sound production is excellent, with the tapes sounding thoroughly authentic to the period of time it was meant to be recorded in. The story moves at a good pace and is very interesting and intriguing. It’s fun to follow the ships passengers as well as the other mystery of the recordings. 

Blackchapel

The second season is a totally different story, a western story told through the eyes of a men and women who are out in the west and they go on a journey to various towns trying to solve a true crime mystery. They’re in the middle of this story and I highly recommend is although I did like season 1 a bit more. But it’s still an interesting story which brings in new, intriguing characters and shows that the producers and writers of this audio drama know what they’re doing even across genres. 

This audio drama is definitely recommended to anyone who likes twisty stories with interesting plot lines and strange happenings. It’s one of my favourites. 

5/5 sunken stars 

The End of Time and Other Bothers Review – Zimbellina

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The End of Time and Other Bothers is a new podcast coming April 15th. I got the awesome chance to listen to the first episode and I feel like such a lucky girl. What a lovely gift to wake up to!

So, firstly to be totally honest I didn’t know how I would react to this podcast as it is a role playing game being played in real time over the episodes. I’ve never played a real life role playing game like D&D, I’ve never even been in the same room as one being played. However, I’d love to learn it’s just not something that ever crossed my path. Until now. The End of Time and Other Bothers is like a D&D game but in the world of Alba Salix. There are two other Alba Salix podcasts, Alba Salix and The Axe & Crown, this is the third release by these world builders.

Sean the GM does a wonderful job building up the world. He leads the characters through their worlds, building up piece by piece, until you can have a fully imagined world. He’s fabulous at his job and really pulls you into the world he is building.

The other main characters, Blat, Darcy and Eggerton, are very well built up over the first episode. Blat, a half demon, is introduced first, is a file clerk who works in the bottom of a main building in the main part of Steadfast and it’s through him that we learn of the big event of the episode which I won’t say because that would ruin the surprise. Eggerton, a flightless fairy, is then introduced while he’s in the middle of getting ready for a big presentation that gets turned on its head by his nemesis very quickly. And finally Darcy, human cafeteria worker, is introduced. She’s quirky and interesting, I’d keep your eye on her she seems important. There is one other character but I’ll let you learn about that one on your own.

I’m so excited for this to launch. It is funny and surprisingly captivating. It is just like an audiodrama but it’s unfolding as you go in a way that audiodrama’s don’t really feel like. This feels different, like anything could and does happen. It adds drama and excitement to the show. I didn’t know what I expected going in but this was very good and I expect it to be a huge hit with the audiodrama and role playing communities. At least we’ve only got a little bit left to wait! Definitely get on this once it releases.

5/5 slightly singed stars.

Mars 2060 – The Colony Files Review – Zimbellina

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This podcast is a hidden gem of an audiodrama. I haven’t heard much about it but then maybe I just don’t run in the right circles on Twitter. Anyway, the first season of Mars 2060 focuses on the first set of astronauts to set up a habitat on Mars and study the planet. A second ship filled with supplies and more people comes about a year later. The story is told through a series of interviews by two people, Jenna and Megan. Megan is on Earth, interviewing the team on Earth and those who returned with the second ship when it went back to Earth. Jenna is on Mars and interviews both those from the first and second crews.

At first everything was going fine for the first crew then people started getting sick. A lot of people were falling ill but they couldn’t work out what was causing the illness and they couldn’t contain it. This happened when the second ship was on it’s way to Mars but wasn’t quite there yet. The sickness had to be contained and they needed to find the reason everyone was getting sick before the second ship landed. The second ship had orders that they weren’t to disembark if the sickness was not contained and they had to turn around and go back to earth.

“Mars is unfriendly. We are at work here everyday.” 

At first the major worries are psychological, such as anxiety and depression, but they had psychologists on Mars and they found ways to deal with this adequately such as with music or in extreme cases with medication but medication was not used a lot. These people were chosen to be able to withstand a lot of mental and physical strain. They were well trained and eager to do their jobs.

Some people were up there to search specific rock formations on Mars. The ship is divided into people who believe the rock formations are made by aliens and those who think there is either not enough evidence for that or they believe the formations are naturally made. The divide is not extreme, but it is there.

There is an interesting unfolding of the story through the interviews. Slowly with each interview more and more is learnt by the listener but at the same time more and more questions are raised. The interviews make you feel part of the crew and you feel what they feel as they explain the different reactions they had to landing and living on Mars. For example, there is an underlying questions of whether or not there were once aliens on Mars. If there was what happened to them? Did someone make the rock formations? And then there is the sickness that takes over the crew. How are they getting sick and what can be done to stop this sickness before it takes over the entire crew?

I listened to this in one go, so I don’t have a standout episode for you today because it seemed to me to be just one story. The voice recording is outstanding, the story telling is realistic and there are recognisably human moments even in such an inhuman place as Mars. The story quickly descends into a tense, mesmerising tale, told tantalisingly slowly, giving bits and pieces of the story before changing track and focusing on something else. This way of storytelling can sometimes be frustrating but all of the storylines in this audiodrama are so interesting you don’t mind being pulled from one storyline to another. It ends on a cliff hanger, but luckily I have been told there will be a second season. I cannot wait to see where this story takes me, it’s wonderfully told and everyone involved in the making of this podcast should be very proud of what they have produced. Loved it!

“The option of quitting was taken off the table the day we launched.”

5/5 red and dusty stars.

True Crime Guys Review – Zimbellina

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True crime guys

True crime guys, Michael and Lorne, offer a range of crimes to choose from. They cover heavy hitters like Bonnie and Clyde and lesser known stories like the death of Colleen Ritzer. They lay out the story in a logical manner, telling the tale of the death in chronological order, adding in details about the killer as they go. It’s obvious these two have done their research.

The boys go into a lot of detail and don’t shy away from the gory stuff but they don’t use it in an exploitative way, they just relate the facts of the case as it is. They are very easy to listen to and their voices are quite soothing. I’ve fallen asleep to them before. Not because they’re boring obviously but because their voices are so nice to listen to.

They add in extra stuff about themselves when it’s relevant, such as memories that the crime calls up but these asides are always relatable and they quickly get back to the story without getting too distracted.

Standout episode – The tragic death of Colleen Ritzer. This episode focuses on the story of school teacher Colleen Ritzer who was killed violently on school grounds. The boys take a deep dive into the background of not only the victim but the killer as well. The killer has obvious mental issues, probably relating back to his childhood. The hosts go through all the things in the killers childhood which could have affected him to the point where he raped and murdered a teacher. They don’t make excuses for the teenage killer but they do go into the possible reasons why he did what he did. The boys talk about a lot more in the episode but I don’t want to ruin the episode for you because it’s well worth a listen.

You’ll want to binge listen to this podcast and they have a good amount of episodes which means more hours of binging! They don’t get boring, they keep what they talk about fresh by talking about different kinds of killings and adding in the more famous cases with the lesser known cases. They also cover recent cases as well as past cases which keeps things interesting.

Overall I give True Crime Guys 5/5 stars! Keep it up guys, your work is greatly appreciated.

Extraordinary Stories Podcast – Zimbellina

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Extraordinary Stories Poscast

I have to admit I’ve been a loyal fan of ESP since almost the beginning. I’ve enjoyed the host, Baz’s successes over the past year and loved every second of it. Baz is all about telling an interesting story. Not all his episodes deal with true crime but they are all about extraordinary people. Or people doing extraordinary things. He concentrates on the story and is a natural born storyteller. You’ll be transfixed once he starts talking. His voice is also quite soothing so it’s good to listen to to unwind, even if the subject matter is not relaxing, his voice lulls you.

Here you’ll find stories about people you’ve never heard of before. Although the older episodes deal with some familiar names, Baz looks out for stories which have not been told before on other podcasts and you know you’re going to get something original when a new episode drops. He goes the extra mile to find new and interesting stories and people to talk about.

Baz has also started dropping mini episodes mid week which is fantastic for fans like me who can’t get enough. These mini stories are just tiny snatches of amazing stories. The latest one, Attic, was about a person who decided to live in someone’s attic without the home owners knowing with a tragic end.

Stand out episode – this is so difficult because I’ve loved all of the episodes. But to choose one to introduce people to the podcast I would choose Episode 26: Twists, Turns and Truths. This is a story about an abusive husband who would throw hammers at his wife and also hurt his children. The wife reached out to family members so people knew what was going on and she finally files for divorce and the husband leaves. His children do not want to talk to their father at all. The father on the other hand says he has never been abusive. And the judge agrees with him. He says there’s no evidence of abuse. There are no physical marks or scars etc. Baz goes into the idea of evidence of abuse and how one would document that. The judge argues that the wife is lying and turning the children against the husband. Now the husband has been convicted for road rage, a bar fight and stalking. So he’s shown to be an angry man. However the judge rules against her, tells her to leave the house and leave the children with her abusive husband. And then things start getting even trickier. I won’t ruin the episode for you. This was just the first 10 minutes of the podcast. It’s well worth a listen.

Baz has a way with words and knows how to tell a story for maximum drama and interest. He’s a lovely guy who just wants to tell stories. This podcast should definitely be on your subscribed list. 5/5 brilliant shining stars!

American Crimecast/ Out of the Shadows podcast review – Zimbellina

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Out of the Shadows Podcast

This true crime podcast is hosted by a private investigator, Shane, which means he has access to information that most podcasters don’t. He delves deeply into cases to get to the answers behind the crime. The host has a soothing voice and is very easy to listen to. He’s also a very intelligent investigator, asking questions I wouldn’t even think of to ask. Which is why he’s a private investigator and I just review the pods!

The podcast changed its name from American Crimecast to Out of the Shadows. The podcast focuses on cold cases and bringing them “out of the shadows” and giving them the attention they deserve. The host deals with a range of different cases, from disappearances to murders to whether or not Jim
Morrison faked his own death. Steven goes through the case in a logical way making it easy to follow who everyone is and what’s going on. He has a lot of guests, which is interesting and brings a different perspective to the podcast.
He uses a lot of primary sources such as interviews with people involved in the case and a lot of audio clips and phone interviews. Sometimes the audio on the interviews is a bit choppy but not much can be done about that if the connection is bad. It’s all still understandable so I don’t see that as a big deal.

Standout episodes – The Mysterious Death of Cindy James Part 1-3. This is a very interesting case where a woman was found bound, with a stocking around her neck and a lot of drugs in her system. She said she had been stalked for years and there were a lot of scary incidents before her death. But the police believe it was a suicide, and that she hadn’t been stalked at all but was doing it all herself. A medical examiner is asked for her opinion in the Part 1 and she argues for the suicide aspect. In Part 2 Steven talks to a psychic detective and gets her take on the crime. She argues that Cindy was murdered after being terrorised by someone. In Part 3 we get Steven’s take on this case. I’ll leave you to listen to what his arguments are. All in all this is a very intriguing and different case.

Overall this is an excellent podcast, well written, well produced and very engaging. The cases are unusual, not the ones that podcasters usually focus on. This makes it even more interesting to listen to. I can’t recommend this podcast enough, definitely 5/5 stars!

– Zimbellina