Etikettarkiv: 2008

Books of March 2012

These are the books read or listened to in March.

  • Philip Plait: “Death from the Skies! The Science Behind the End of the World” (2008)
    • Balancing between depression, amusement and fascination, astronomer Phil Plait (of badastronomy.com) lists a number of ways in which the race of humanity could be wiped out – everything from asteroid impact and sunburn to alien attack and black holes.
  • Mayfair Mei-hui Yang: “Gifts, Favors, & Banquets: the Art of Social Relationships in China” (1994)
    • A more non-academic friendly discussion on guanxi than the other books I’ve read on the topic. Yang deals with the more practical issues and less with causes and such, which is both good and bad. Definitely a necessary book for anyone who wants to delve into Chinese social relations.
  • Yanjie Bian: “Work and Inequality in Urban China” (1994)
    • Bian is probably the academic who has researched guanxi most of anyone, and this is his summary of surveys, interviews and official statistics, outlining how guanxi works and what impact it has on the Chinese urban society. A goldmine, albeit with somewhat debatable results which I critisise in an upcoming article this summer.
  • Arthur Conan Doyle: “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” (1892)
    • Twelve of Sherlock Holmes stories, most if not all very intriguing. Also the first book that I’ve ever read entirely on a smart phone.
  • Douglas Adams: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979) book
    • After reading the book several times, this was the first time I heard the purportedly brilliant audio version read by the author. It was indeed brilliant. The book itself is indescribable, it’s a perfect mix of dry British comedy and insane science fiction.
  • Douglas Adams: “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” (1980) book
    • The second book in the series, it’s much in the same vein as the first, continuing where it left off and bringing the same strange mix of sci-fi, suspense and humour. The sentient cow scene at the eponymous restaurant are the first I read from the series, in a primary school English class, discussing both comedy, sci-fi and the ethics of eating animals.
  • Douglas Adams: “Life, the Universe and Everything” (1982) book
    • The third book, it’s a step down to be honest. It’s still exciting and funny, but I think the large scope (stopping a galactic war) hinders the comedy a tad. Reading it was first written as a Doctor Who story and then later turned into a Hitchhiker novel makes a lot of sense, seeing as it’s much closer to Doctor Who (which focuses more on the action and has comedy second, opposite of Hitchhiker).
  • Douglas Adams: “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” (1984) book
    • “So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” is again much closer to the original two novels, with a zanier and harder defined plotline than the somewhat straighter “Life, the Universe and Everything”. It’s filled with observational and absurd humour as well as finally reaching themes of love and friendship, previously relatively unexplored in the series. It is handled well, as is the character of Fenchurch, and the finale is brilliantly Douglasesque.

Amberian Dawn – Circus Black (2012)

For one reason or another (or perhaps for no reason at all), I have missed out completely on music for a while. No good. Until this weekend I hadn’t heard Nightwish’ new ”The Crow, the Owl and the Dove” single with the previously unreleased ”The Heart Asks Pleasure First” b-track (cover of the theme song of the awesome film ”The Piano”), and I have yet to hear the new albums of both Epica, Eluveitie and Amberian Dawn. I suck, I know.

After going through Nightwish (which wasn’t a big surprise since I had heard a crappy live version recording before, but it’s nice to have it in good quality along with the lyrics and an instrumental version), I come to Amberian Dawn.

Last time AD released an album, ”End of Eden” in 2010, I was a huge fan after ”River of Tuoni” (2008) and ”The Clouds of Northland Thunder” (2009), and the result was me waiting like crazy for the release date, going through the forums day and night, staying home from school and waiting for the CD to land in the mail. The CD was awesome, and I wrote an extensive review of it immediately.

When the new ”Circus Black” comes, all is different. I know it’s been out for ages, yet I somehow haven’t bothered. I want to set aside time for it, I want to listen it through carefully and then go all fanboy-y on the internetz for a few days. I simply haven’t had the time.

Now is the time.

Here comes the mega awesome super cool extra turbulent Aki review of ”Circus Black”, written as I listen, with my very first impressions. Hell, I have yet to start it now, and I’m shaking… and it’s not just the coffee in front of me. Let’s go.

[Edit: I listen to a download version, as I can’t wait for my CD to arrive (in a couple days!). I therefore managed to screw up and missed ”Cold Kiss” and ”Guardian” at first, realising the mistake after reviewing ”Letter”. That’s why I complain about no song being over five minutes at one point. The ”Cold Kiss” review was thus done out of order and added afterwards.]

 

1. Circus Black (03:48)

I dislike starting with title tracks. It feels weird. The title track should be an intro of sort – not necessarily a short atmospheric intro, but some sort of kickstarter. Not the main song, as the title track tends to be. Oh well, let’s judge the music and not the title.

Starts with a creepy but cool sound, fits with the circus theme. The metal drums kicks in alongside the background sounds. Heidi sounds great as always, dulls the track down a tad. To nitpick, the chorus sounds like it comes to early, I wanted a longer pre-chorus section. Good vocal lines though, and still great background instruments. Good unexpected drum line before the second chorus. I don’t really listen to the lyrics first time around, but I’m sure there’s some awesome story somewhere.

Unusually interesting bridge section for AD, with good guitar lines and a quick yet suiting solo. Slows down in a good way, this is probably great live. Again, I think the chorus returns too early.

 

2. Cold Kiss (03:30)

Cool beginning! Melodic yet fast, classic AD. Nice whisper effects, but I’m a sucker for even the simplest background stuff. Timo Kotipelto’s guest vocals work great, I was worried if they would feel strange against Heidi’s but they sound excellent without taking over too much or feeling out of place. Nice riffing and cool keyboard solo. Overall a nice song, the riffing was indeed cool, and it feels like one that will grow on me.

 

3. Crimson Flower (04:24)

It looks weird to have three titles beginning with C in a row. Oh well. [written after realising the existence of ”Cold Kiss”: hey, four C’s!]

Good start, doesn’t really sound like AD but it’s good to vary. The vocal lines come in beautifully. Hard not to head bang, great mixture of exciting heavy metal and simply beautiful vocals. Unusually slow a tempo, but that’s what I’ve been looking for in AD for a while.

Wow, interesting turn after the chorus, slowing down completely. Great fairy tale-like theme in the music. The choirs complement Heidi’s vocals elegantly. I like how the tracks so far have had fairly lengty bridge sections, and with a cool solo in this one. That’s something I’ve hoped for in a while. The songs seem overall longer too, at over four allover, lenghtier than the previous ones (though I’m sad to see no five or six minutes tracks like on ”End of Eden”).

Epic finale!

 

4. Charnel’s Ball (04:27)

Another slow intro? Hm, alright. Exciting start with cool tempo and good guitar-bass-drum-combo. Feels a tad weird with another mid-to-slow-tempo after ”Crimson Flower”, but it might still turn. Oh, the intro turns into chorus (or chorus-like section)? Cool, it worked better than I’d imagine. The bass lines in the second verse are unusually imaginative and cool without disturbing Heidi’s vocal lines, I’d like to see more of that in the future.

The guitars and bass really kick in for the second chorus, it works truly epically. Again, this is probably really cool live. Cool drum solo line before the third chorus.

 

5. Fight (03:20)

I’m constantly paranoid about song titles and how they work in an album listing, which I know almost no-one else cares about, but still: I am truly disturbed by ideas such as having the three first track share the same progenital letter (C), and having two one-word tracks in the middle (”Fight” and ”Letter”) and two much longer titles close to the end (”I Share With You This Dream” and ”Rivalry Between Good and Evil”). I know no-one else cares, but IT FREAKS ME OUT. Please send this on to Who Gives a Shit Inc., Penny Lane 156, Switzerland.

Judging by the intro, the title and the length this seems to be one of the speedier ones. Yep, confirmed. ”River of Tuoni” flashback! This would probably have fit better right at the start, not as a wake up call after ”Charnel’s Ball”. I need either a cool atmospheric intro (read ”Of Silence…” by Sonata Arctica) or a kick-in-the-butt super power track to start an album.

Surprisingly kick-ass guitar solo, much heavier and much more… metallic than I’m used to see from AD. Might not work on every song, but this sort of thing should come around more often. ”Fight” certainly is a good title. I find myself drumming the keyboard with my fingers towards the end, awesome stuff. More of this live!

 

6. Letter (04:31)

Is this the quick-start section of the album, with both ”Fight” and ”Letter” starting with bass drums after the other three were much slower? Weird.

Interesting vocal section, and good pre-chorus section. Good tempo, I immediately start kicking with my feet. Good mix of slow and quick music, works organically as well as keeping it interesting and unexpected.

7. I Share With You This Dream (03:36)

Starts with a nice guitar melody and fitting riffing in the background, a tad sudden in my taste but at least it’s radio friendly. I have forgotten who’s doing guest vocals, but it feels like it works fine. I just hope Heidi comes in more than just the background. Nice chorus, but a little expected and too little heavy for my taste. Speaking of which, there has yet to come a real ballad. Is it ”Guardian” or ”Lily of the Moon”? I guess the latter.

In the second chorus I find myself drifting. It’s not bad, but it’s getting a little boring, nothing new comes. An okay solo, but nothing special or unexpected. Maybe it will grow on me in the future. A third solo comes, identical to the other two, only with a slight difference in drum pattern. What? It ends? This didn’t really work for me, at least not on first listen.

 

8. Rivalry Between Good and Evil (04:00)

A little too revealing a title, don’t you think?

Starts out like a fun and melodic instrumental (as it is). AD are skilled musicians who work well without vocals as well as with, and it’s nice to have a track per album to let them show it without restraints. At 1:20 I start hoping for a tempo shift or a turn of melody, and shortly after the song quickens. The circus theme seems to show again, or mayhap it’s just my imagination running wild without lyrics. At 2:20 I start to think the melody is getting a little overused, and shortly after it changes. They seem to know exactly what I want on this one, except that it might linger a little too long on certain sections (prior to the 2:40 mark or so). I hope this goes excellently into ”Guardian”, it sounds like it might. Oops, it didn’t really, but great finale!

 

9. Guardian (05:08)

I always look forward to the longer tracks, not because they _have_ to be better than the rest, but because they often are. They often leave a little more time to get the music across than the shorter tracks. In AD’s history, a lot of the shorter tracks feel somewhat incomplete and rushed, where I would have preferred more time devoted to intros, pre-chorus sections and bridge sections. Their longer (4-6 minutes) tracks are usually more interesting than the shorter (2-3 minutes).

Sounds like I was wrong about ”Lily of the Moon” being the ballad, this one seems to be it. Then again AD has a tradition of making their ballads longer than the standard songs. Heidi’s voice surprises me, it’s almost been a tad dull on the rest of the album but this felt unique. Maybe just because it’s almost alone? The dual-voice in the end of verse one seemed a little too much, but the double choirs shortly after worked nicely.

The chorus is epic without losing tranquility to speed. Slowing down a little too much? Feels a little too much like ”Willow of Tears” in that sense. Nice slowing down to another choir section though, it feels natural before the guitar melody and the second chorus. Nice drum section at around 03:40 before the fitting guitar solo. The heavy riffing is nice and unique to an AD ballad, as is the general heavyness of the song.

 

10. Lily of the Moon (04:06)

Ah, sudden! But nice. Cool to have another quick one, they have been slightly abscent as compared to other albums (especially the first two). I overall enjoy more AD songs being mid-tempo on ”End of Eden” and ”Circus Black”, but it’s nice to keep with the classic speed too. Cool chorus, background riffing seems to be a theme on this album.

The chorus and the overall speed and melody suits excellently for a closing song in a way no previous AD finish has. I can only imagine it would work greatly as a finale live too. I find myself drumming on the table of excitement, this just might be a new favourite. Awesome!

Music releases of 2011

Within Temptation's "The Unforgiving", coming on March 25.

I entered 2011 thinking most music releases came in 2009 and 2010, and this would be a pretty calm year. I’m slowly realising I was damned wrong.

Symphonic metal act Within Temptation will release their first album since 2007, the experimental ”The Unforgiving” on March 25. The album is released alongside a comic book series written by Steven O’Connell, and six pages of the prequel is already out on Within Temptation’s website.

In March also, Swedish thrash metal act The Haunted will release ”Unseen”, the follow-up to 2009’s ”Versus”. The song ”No Ghost” from the album has already been performed and filmed live and can be seen on YouTube already. Generally well received, I take it as an awesome return to the more experimental ”The Dead Eye” era.

Sons of Seasons' second album "Magnisphyricon", coming on April 1.

In March also, German power metal project Avantasia plan to release their first live CD/DVD, The Flying Opera, filmed during their 2008 The Scarecrow tour.

On April 1, the German symphonic progressive metallers Sons of Seasons, the project of Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai, will release their second album Magnisphyricon. Judging by the cover and tracklist alone, it looks like an incredibly promising album, and hopefully with a better production than their debut Gods of Vermin.

In the third or fourth quarter of the year, symphonic power metal giants Nightwish will hopefully release their seventh studio album, the follow-up to 2007’s Dark Passion Play. I have high hopes for this, believing Anette Olzon has grown into her role as the new lead singer, and developed her voice to better suite the music.

After founding member Mike Portnoy’s sudden leave in the past autumn, Dream Theater‘s remaining members are working on an upcoming album, the successor to 2009’s incredible Black Clouds and Silver Linings, presumably with a new drummer they have yet to reveal to the public. I have no idea whether the album will be released in 2011 or not, but as I understand it they have at least entered the recording process, and so the album should be released in late 2011 or early 2012.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony (2010)

I have loved the strange power metal project Avantasia since I first heard The Metal Opera Part II in 2007, and they were in fact the band that made me fall in love with concept albums (alongside Kamelot and their Epica / The Black Halo albums). I loved both two Metal Opera albums, and I loved The Scarecrow when released in 2008, even though I considered and still consider it to be below the Avantasia average of earlier albums.

The Wicked Symphony is the continuation of The Scarecrow, and it is followed by Angel of Babylon which was released simultaneously. I was afraid that The Wicked Symphony would fall below the average settled by The Scarecrow, especially when it came to the poppier tracks such as ”Carry Me Over”, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Out of The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon, I place my vote on The Wicked Symphony. The album is covered with three giant epics (two of which follow eachother!) – the title track, ”Blizzard on a Broken Mirror” and ”Runaway Train” – and the latter two are easily in my top of favorite Avantasia tracks, alongside beauties such as ”The Scarecrow”, ”The Seven Angels” and ”Journey to Arcadia”. Even though ”Dying For an Angel” sound like an Bon Jovi meeting pop metal, it is rescued by the multiple heavy immediate power metal classics on the album, including ”Wastelands”, ”Forever is a Long Time” and ”States of Matter”, and ”Crestfallen” proves yet again that Avantasia easily can reach beyond traditional power metal.

The song that ends the album, ”The Edge”, is a strange song. I generally don’t like its ”kind”, if I may say so – loveydovey guitar ballads with a theme of hanging on when everything looks bleak. But this one is different. Maybe it’s different simply because I have my own personal interpretation of the Scarecrow saga and its story, and I can imagine what the song is really about. And if I am correct (don’t tell me if I’m not), it works phenomenally to end the album, and lead into The Angel of Babylon.

Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)

Power metal pioneer Stratovarius’ twelth studio album Polaris basically shocked the fans in 2009, bringing forth a powerful line-up after the departure of long-time guitarist and composer Timo Tolkki, who left the band in a big feud in 2008. Polaris was a refreshing new album, stepping on new grounds of progressive metal and techno, and meanwhile continuing the twenty-year tradition that made band famous to begin with – technically challenging yet extremely melodic, uplifting songs with heart and emotion.

2011’s Elysium, the second album with the new line-up, is probably even better. The album highlights on melodic hits such as Darkest Hours and Event Horizon as well as the beautiful ballad Move the Mountain and the epic and emotional 18-minute title track as well as the beautiful Lifetime in a Moment. The album perfectly balances all that we have learned to expect from Stratovarius, and it even brings a bunch of new stuff to the table.

1. Darkest Hours (04:10)

Released in late November of 2010 alongside ”Infernal Maze”, Darkest Hours is another one of the many Stratovarius hits and singles that wouldn’t grow on me immediately, alongside especially the Polaris single ”Deep Unknown”. While growing on me eventually and becoming a pretty strong track, ”Darkest Hours” stays somewhat of a medicore track, though it is indeed a good listen.

2. Under Flaming Skies (03:51)

An interesting track with some unique riffs and melodies, even though I hoped for a return of the Arabic (?) theme in the intro. The solo is good but I can’t help but feel that the song would have worked better with a slower C-passage before the final chorus.

3. Infernal Maze (05:32)

Infernal Maze was perhaps a bad choice for a pre-album single release (alongside ”Darkest Hours”), because of its epic and extremely non-singley arrangement, but to me this is a golden song. It reminds me of many of Stratovarius classical epics, alongside the newer, progressive and neo-classical themes of Polaris, especially ”Emancipation Suite”. The song gets a grip on both an emotional and technical level, bringing up speed in perfect balance with slower tempos and excellent guitar and keyboard work. It grows a lot in just five and a half minute, and it does really impress me.

4. Fairness Justified (04:20)

The beginning of this semi-ballad sounds a bit off right after ”Infernal Maze”, but it works. The choir chorus works unexpectedly well, even though it feels a bit sudden and maybe even forced upon the listener. Alike ”Under Flaming Skies”, I think the chorus is better suited for a more epic track, where it can be built in additional two or three slower minutes before the first chorus.

5. The Game Never Ends (03:54)

The Game Never Ends sounds (at least on first listen) a little too much like old school HammerFall for my taste. Power metal is good and HammerFall is okay, but this kind of thing has been done. Hopefully it will grow on me on subsequent listens. The ending keyboard solo is pretty cool though.

6. Lifetime in a Moment (06:39)

The second longer track on the album (after ”Infernal Maze”) is less progressive and more of the traditional epic style, even though it does incorporate some nice new age reminiscent sounds and some techno work after the choruses. Starting out with an interesting choir introduction, it moves into a calmer piece and escalates perfectly as the chorus kicks in just before the three-minute mark. The guitar riffs in the chorus stick out like they seldom do in Stratovarius music, and it works. The guitar solo, alongside several solos on the album, is a bit disappointing and too generic for my taste, and so it also fails to bring the song up properly before the third and final chorus, but it is still okay. The song reminds me of ”King of Nothing”, one of my favorite tracks from Polaris, but I think I might start to prefer this.

7. Move the Mountain (05:34)

Move the Mountain is the first proper ballad on the album, seeing as even though both ”Fairness Justified” and ”Lifetime in a Moment” has ballad elements but I wouldn’t count either as a full and proper ballad. This is a good thing, really, and something I love in music with special arrangements (bands that come to mind include both Devil Doll and My Dying Bride) is how they seldom have real ballads, but they incorporate it well into the music making more songs have a whole new dimension. Kind of like the old-school episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama often ending on a heart-felt tone even though the episode overall is comedy.

I think vocalist Timo Kotipelto brings in some amazing vocals in here, especially in the heart-felt verses. Keyboardist Jens Johansson – one of my all-time favorites – brings in the first really amazing solo on the album at 3:00 – 3:56 until he also brings some beautiful piano melodies when the song moves into a bridge. I was previously disappointed with some of the songs lacking a proper bridge (especially ”Lifetime in a Moment” which ended all too soon), but this kind of makes up for it.

8. Event Horizon (4:24)

Wow! This song kicks off wonderfully well with some strange noices and voices moving into a neo-classical keyboard section before the first verse. And you know what I said about the lack of good solos? I take it all back. This song is filled with great riffs and solos, even though the vocal sections (on first listen) don’t sound that extraordinary. This is definitely a live song, and I can’t wait to see this live in the future.

9. Elysium (18:14)

Basic summary: This song is pretty damn awesome. It is epic and emotional and everything one could want from an 18-minute track from a technical and wonderful band like Stratovarius. It contains three different choruses, all extremely good, and it has some wonderful riffing, solos, picking and vocal melodies, with all instrumentalists as well as vocalist Timo Kotipelto on the top of their trade. I wrote down my thoughts while listening to it the first time, and you can see them here below.

[00:00] The big album epic… I was really looking forward to this. Stratovarius generally bring great longer tracks (many bands do, the longer tracks works good for great composers who need longer time to fully achieve their dream), and I’m pretty sure this is their longest yet – popular bands in general don’t deliver tracks above the 12-minute mark or so, with a few exceptions.

[01:06] The track starts out promising with keyboards and some full band work before being joined by a choir. Nice and epic.

[04:00] The song works into a verse with Kotipelto’s agonised vocals, and then moves into a chorus, a cool mixture of guitar riffing, bass lines, keyboard picking and some guitar melody. Then comes a guitar / keyboard battle solo, and it’s a quite nice one. Why did they save all good solos for the final three songs?

[06:01] The chorus returns a second time, before the song falls into a strange mid-section with cool effects, slow drums and some guitar riffing, moving into a heavier section.

[07:48] Drums and bass lines are joined by Kotipelto’s vocals, and it moves into some new chorus before a guitar solo kicks off, and he repeats the verse.

[11:00] Another great guitar solo! The chorus really starts making an impression the second (or is it the third?) time around, and I realise how emotional the song is on a deeper level.

[13:32] The song moves into a section like its introduction, and it really sits well after the chorus. Kotipelto’s voice works extremely well in with the instruments, and its more varied and emotional than, dare I say, ever before.

[16:52] An instrumental, semi-techno section comes and brings the song up even further, before a choir kicks in and with it kicks some serious ass, followed by the solo. I’m somehow reminded by one of my absolute favorite Strato songs, ”Mother Gaia”, but I can’t tell why. The song then moves into repeated chorus originating in the acoustic section (see 13:32) and it works oh so well. As always, I don’t listen much to the lyrics on first listen, but as soon as I get the actual album and not the Spotify version in my hands I will surely listen through it again with the booklet in my hands.

[18:13] And it ends.

Sverige förlorade i natt

Det finns mycket att säga om valnatten. Jag satt själv tillsammans med fantastiska vänner i PP Linköpings valvaka på The Champ, med lila balonger och flaggor runt om i rummet, med sex TV-skärmar med Twitter och valresultat. Vi alla såg på hur Piratpartiet sjönk och Sverigedemokraterna höjdes. Vi alla såg hur Nazistpartiet 2.0 reste sig upp som det gäng snoriga skitungar det är, och hejade ramsor om vårt lands pinsammaste val någonsin. Men jag är inte helt orolig över Sverigedemokraterna. De är för små. De andra vill inte samarbeta med dem, och de flesta av dem är helt enkelt för blåsta för att göra en skillnad.

Men vi alla såg också hur Piratpartiet föll och brann. Jag var nära att gråta när valresultaten kommit halvvägs igenom och vår högsta prognos var 0.7 %. Jag skrev ett par timmar tidigare på Twitter att jag trodde – inte hoppades – på 2.49 %. Jag var verkligen helt övertygad om att vi skulle hamna en bra bit över 1 %, jag var övertygad om att vi skulle komma långt. Men det gjorde vi inte. Men det var också då som (jag tror) Marit sade, ”jaha, dags för nästa val”.

Hon har rätt. Precis som Anna Troberg har rätt. Vi är en Fågel Fenix som nu reser sig ur askorna. Vi har lärt oss mycket av denna bästa valrörelse hittills, och vi vet vad vi behöver ändra. Jag blev oerhört lycklig av stämningen när valresultatet var framme i går, för det vi pratade om var inte förlust – det var hur vi skulle ta oss vidare. Yan pratade om hur mycket han kunde göra för sina frågor i kommunen även utan mandat. Henry började prata samhällsinformation om FRA och IPRED, att släppa den information som regeringen och EU-parlamentet ständigt kämpar för att komplicera som en statsbudget.

Vi börjar vår mobilisering nu. The Pirate Bay-rättegången börjar om åtta dagar och då kommer vi inte vara tysta. Jag vet att vi kommer få mer stöd väldigt plötsligt. Jag vet att jag kommer ha lust att säga Vad var det jag sade?, men det kommer jag inte. Jag måste ständigt påminna mig om att jag röstade Vänsterpartiet i skolvalet 2006, med argumentet Jag stödjer PP i sina frågor men det är inte tillräckligt viktiga frågor. Det var inte förrän 2008 jag blev aktiv pirat. Men våra frågor är viktiga.

Vi måste kämpa vidare. Inte för att vi annars lagt ned fyra år av våra liv på ingenting (och det har vi inte – vi har nu flera kommunmandat och förstås Christian Engström i EUP), utan för att vi behövs. Vi behövs i riksdagen oavsett vad de andra partierna försöker påstå, och det kommer vi snart att märka ytterligare. Tyvärr.


Anton Nordenfur

Amberian Dawn – ”End of Eden” to be released October

Finnish symphonic power metal act Amberian Dawn has now officially announced their third album ”End of Eden” to be released this October. It is to be heavier than their previous albums ”River of Tuoni” (2008) and ”The Clouds of Northland Thunder” (2009).

Quote of the Day #17

Heaven opened before me
Swallowed me into its shell and spat me out
I barely saw the world turn away
I barely felt the burning bite

They told me I am not alone no longer.
They told me that finally, I am at rest,
Not dead nor alive,
With my heart pounding in the pace of my family.
They told me to walk with them.
I was given raven wings,
Crimson, sharpened teeth,
and a new heart in this life after death.

Feeling scared, lonesome and hated
I couldn’t bare not seeing my reflection
Cracking my mirror with my very pawn
Watching the blood run through the drain

They told me the secret of paradise is sin
They told me that whatever I do, at least I’m better than them.
They told me the only key to the gate of golden ember
Is the one in my very throat.
They told me to carry on my life work or everything is lost,
That while sins not last forever so does life.

They told me hope will always be the only way to heaven.

Stab me
In this darkness
Cure me
Before I avenge myself
Kill me
Only illumination can
Cure me
To become myself again

Oh, this is the end
I will never be myself again
Oh, this is the end
Of human kind, and it’s all my fault

– Sometimes paradise is closer than heaven –

Is it true what someone once said
That reality sometimes is stranger than fiction?
Who actually believes the fairy tales?
But then again
How many people does not check under their bed
Before they go to sleep?
How many people can walk the woods
Without having to resist calling for the Fair Maiden?
How many does not really believe in us?
How many are really scared of us?

A quote from a poem of my own, Them Crimson Bites, written in 2007 or 2008 I believe.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

2008 film Journey to the Center of the Earth starts out – as I unfortunately already expected due to IMDb as your standard kid-and-divorced-dad-don’t-agree-yet-are-forced-to-be-together-for-a-weekend-and-suddenly-agree-after-all-and-then-they-live-happily-ever-after. 13-year-old Sean (Josh Hutscherson) is forced to live with his uncle Trevor (Brendan Fraser) for ten days, while neither likes the idea one bit. It is soon revealed that Sean’s father and Trevor’s brother, Max, had disappeared ten years earlier while on and Icelandian solo expedition on search after the center of the earth, after reading Jules Verne’s famous novel. As Trevor starts looking through Max’s old copy of the book, filled with notes, he soon realises that Max maybe weren’t that wrong about the idea of the center of the earth as he first thought, and together with Sean he travels from America to Iceland. In Iceland they seek for a volcanologist Max were in touch with before his disappearance, only to find that he died several years ago, leaving his only daughter Hannah Ásgeirsson (Anita Briem), who voluntairs to follow them as a guide. While climbing a mountain, a sudden lightning storm strikes, forcing them to seek protection in a cave. As the lightning shuts the cave entrance, they are forced to look for another way out. Though they soon realise this cave is actually a natural entrance to the center of the Earth.

The film first seemed like yet another boring filming of the classic Jules Verne novel, but I was surprised. This film is, I dare to utter, one of the best adventure films created so far in the 21th century. It wasn’t since the first times I saw classic adventure epics like The Raiders of the Lost Arc or Jurassic Park I – II (not as epic, yet great films) my heart pumped this fast. The film held me a fascinated prisoner, constantly jumping in my chair, yelling ”no, don’t go that way!” ”Don’t fall!” ”No, run faster, the dinosaur’s after you!”

The film was originally produced as a 3D release, and this was extremely obvious even though I downloaded it. The sound effects and the filming was… fenomenal. It takes a genious to create a scene such as the one with Sean and the ”floating” rocks (caused by a magnetic field). I barely moved during the entire scene, simply because it felt as if I was there.

 

The film also surprised me by actually semi-masking the obvious inspiration of Jules Verne, making it not a filming of the book but more of a sequel, or a film with constant reference to it. In the film, they constantly talk about the book and it also suggests that the book actually is non-fiction by seeing the corpse of the main character in the center of the earth as they reach it.

I know it’s normal for me to write such things about all films I review, but I can say that ”Journey to the Center of the Earth” actually is one of the best films of 2008, as well as of the 21st century.

 

eight stars

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Made in Hong Kong (And Various Other Places)

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Ready... set... fire!

As I reported earlier, the next release by symphonic metal band Nightwish will be their live EP/DVD with the odd name ”Made in Hong Kong (And Various Other Places)” to be released in March of 2009 (some sources claim the 6th, some the 16th, but officially it’s just ”March”.

The official press letter was rather cryptic, but after seeing actually confirmed sources as well as the Finnish version of the official website (some seemed to get lost in translation), I have come to understand this:

The release is a CD/EP as well as a ”bonus” DVD.

The CD/EP is filled with live contents from different shows from the 2008 part of the band’s Dark Passion Play tour in Europe, Asia, South and North America. The actual shows are not confirmed, nor is the setlist, but obviously Hong Kong is expected. Many fans discusses the track listing, and hopefully they’ll decide to include the more ”unusual songs”, such as Creek Mary’s Blood which is only played on some shows in USA when guest vocalist-instrumentalist John Two-Hawks plays his part, Higher Than Hope which is only played when the Bruelands visit the show and While Your Lips Are Still Red, which has only been played a couple of times. Hit songs such as Amaranth, Nemo, Bye Bye Beautiful and Wish I Had an Angel are almost certain to be included.

 

Nightwish live in 2008
Nightwish live in 2008

The DVD was first thought to be further live clips, but as the Finnish version of Nightwish.com tells us, this is not the case. The DVD is actually a documentary ”with material from Israel to South America”, directed by Ville Lipiäinen. The DVD might however include smaller clips, as most music documentaries do (including the one on End of an Era).

 

Rumours also say that the EP will include either a new Nightwish song or a re-recording of a song from the Tarja Turunen era, but these rumours are unconfirmed and according to me rather unbelievable since the band has been on tour for so long and I don’t really think they’ve had the time to record a new song. The only thing would be if they played a new song live, but they haven’t.

After I heard the name, I was first disappointed. ”Made in Hong Kong (and Various Other Places)” didn’t sound Nightwish-y or ”epic” at all, such as earlier albums; Century Child, Oceanborn, End of an Era, From Wishes to Eternity… After discussing it on the official forum, however, I realised the message that everything wasn’t always to be taken completely seriously. Sometimes you just want to rock out and that’s that. Also, as someone wrote, it’s the hidden message that in this world when everything’s mass produced in Hong Kong or China or Korea or whatever, Nightwish still sticks out in spite all the talk about them selling out.

Another BIG fan, Morrigan told us unknowing minions that the name actually derives from an interview Master Holopainen did in 2004, when he said that Nightwish isn’t to be taken completely serious all the time; and he mentioned the example that if they did a live DVD recorded in Hong Kong they’d maybe call it ”Made in Hong Kong” just for the fun of it.

Please comment if you have any more information that I can add!