Faro, Portugal: Travelblog #1

So I totally had forgotten about my trip to Faro, Portugal (it was cool), by which I mean that I never wrote about my stay in Faro. Due to some issues in our personal lives, me and the misses decided to go on a quick trip to the most southern point of Europe this far for us.

Sometimes the motivation to go somewhere is very simple: money and time. We didnt have the time we wanted to go see what we wanted, so we just wished to get away for a short spell. Five days of Faro was a cheap option so we took it. Originally we hoped to also see Porto, but well. I guess that makes the motivation bigger than the budget in this case.

Faro has some marvelous city gates, full of nestling Storks.
Faro has some marvelous city gates, full of nestling Storks.

We stayed in the New Faro Hostel, which is a small, quiet hostel with one of the most helpful and friendly (and chaotic) owners I’ve ever met. The building was across the street from the train station and had the air of an old house, of which kind you see many in the transit town Faro. For travelling its a hub, it connects the whole Algarve to the north and has its own airport. It may seem small and a bit run down, but Faro has a charm of its own, holding a university and some beautiful beaches.

The endless, empty beach on the deserted island, just off the coast of Faro.
The endless, empty beach on the deserted island, just off the coast of Faro.

There’s a clear flavor of history to the town, though it probably never was as significant. It’s the surrounding nature that holds the most interest, specially the Ria Formosa, a wetlands region, which is also a protected nature reservate. It feels like you are in the Mississipi delta (I haven’t been there, don’t judge me), when you go through it on a pond to the ‘Illa Deserta’ to lie on the almost empty beach. The zone is a joy to watch and teaming with life. Only this makes it worth to stay in Faro for one day. On the island itself, you can walk around it to end up on the beach. You can see the town from there and a wide view, with many birds nestling on the island.

The typical way of prepping seafood in the Algarve.
The typical way of prepping seafood in the Algarve.

The town itself offers plenty of locations where the thirsty or hungy traveller can indulge his or her wishes. The hidden Academic restaurant is one well worth visiting for no-nonsense local food, fresh from the ocean. Sardines will always be a struggle, but life is a bit like that. You make do, whatever way you can. Make sure to try the local fish cuisine if you ever end up there. You can smell the ocean, so you better be sure to taste it there, specially made in a Cataplana. This is a copper, shell-shaped pan that betrays the Arabic origins of many of the traditions in these regions.

Enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer in the lovely little bar next to the harbor and just enjoy Faro. That’s what I did atleast.
There’ s a tiny chapel of bones in Faro too. Here’s a picture:

IMG_0061

Sounds of the Underground #20

New music for the people! A batch from the underground with Khemmis, For Giants, Les Attitudes Spectrales and Benoît Pioulard. Good music for your ears, this is.

Khemmis – Absolution

source: bandcamp

Though the name is not ringing any bells yet, the cover of the new record by these doom lovers reminds me of 70’s fantasy and immediatly attracted my attention. A big sounding band with a classic influence. Towering riffs and majestic solo work. The Colorado band has only been around for a short while, releasing their debut on 20 Buck Spin. Production was in hands of Dave Otero (Cobalt, Nightbringer). This promises much for the future of these young men, since their sound is that kind which has a quality that doesn’t tie itself to certain decades.

Six monumental tracks of clean vocal doom, sounding mournful but still keeping an energetic pace that works pretty well from your lazy chair. It has pretty much everything going for it. A fancy cover, good production and the sound of earthy catacombs. Lyrically the band is in love with grandeur and dark themes. How else would you like to have it? There’s a certain pop sensibility to the sound of this band, that makes the music very accesible. I would argue that this is a good thing for what they are aiming to do. Doom traditionally has that element and these guys put it to their best use.

For Giants – You Are The Universe 

Source: Bandcamp

Nothing beats a good bit of atmospheric, instrumental rock music. Specially if it masterfully sets down a mood and tells a story on its own without using words. This continent spanning American project has produced a couple of releases over the last few years and this is the most recent album, number two if we were counting. The sound is a clean, sharp and spacious. It feels a bit like an outer space adventure sonically.

The feeling this music gives can be described as a bit of Ayreons grandeur (call me crazy if you will) and The Mars Volta’s experimental zoning out. Add a bit of that good old Devin Townsend weirdness and I guess you got a bit of the vibe these guys offer.  The clean, soaring guitar parts take over where you’d expect vocals and do so rather succesfully. The band themselves put their sound between progressive, djent and metalcore and that seems pretty much fine as well. It’s a good listen, thats for sure though.

Les Attitudes Spectrales – Floral Wreck

Source: Bandcamp

Maybe its a personal thing, but a noisy/experimental French/Latvian duo that is being compared to the White Stripes is for me reason enough to check some music out. The result is a psyched out, primitive, jangling series of pop tunes featuring drums and guitars from the duo. There’s a certain weary drag to the sound that is slightly remniscent of the more dreamy and hypnotic psych bands of these days.

The unpolished, raw sound of the band is in fact the greatest charm of their sound, which is natural and free in shaping itself. Labelling it as compost rock or ghost punk seems rather fitting. The lo-fi sound only adds to the charm of the band, which has been performing in the Baltics mainly. Truth be told, I feel this is a worthy candidate for next years Eindhoven Psych Lab. The sound is much more adventurous, daring and yet minimal to the almost primitive with a good dose of weird.

Benoît Pioulard – Stanza 

source: Bandcamp

Thomas Meluch decided to take up an artist name with Benoît Pioulard for his organic work. It’s music and photography, and the two seem to have become intertwined somehow. The soothing, fuzzy sounds are like the nature pictures accompanying them. Free of human intervention, clean and pure. Meluch is extremely productive and every other month another record appears to be released on his bandcamp. A good thing, if you ask me.

The seven songs of this record are not action packed tracks. They embrace a sense of tranquility, calm and atmosphere like the sunrays through a forest on a summer morning. Life is slowly awakening and things are still quiet. Slow droning sounds quiver in the air, sounding a bit distant as if its a concious lo-fi recording to create more ambience. The record is intended as a companion piece for the LP ‘Sonnet’, but I’m fairly sure it stands strong enough on its own as a soothing piece of ambient.

The source of happiness (for an anxious, pessimistic idiot)

Happiness, it’s a tricky concept and the title of a very depressing film.  Happiness can be achieved in many ways and I’ve found that there is more happiness in my life, since I let it in. But what is it that creates happiness?

Google ‘happiness’ and you’ll learn that it involves jumping in the air and stretching out your arms. You’ll also be entertained by the horrible cliché quotes that are representing the mental state of happiness.

Yoda
I listened to the Smodcast by Kevin Smith today, where Smith and Scott Mosier (allegedly) get stoned and discuss stuff. They discussed a little video of George Lucas, talking about happiness. Happiness, he says, can be achieved through either joy or pleasure. Pleasure is an intense rush, like a drug infusion to your system, that gives momentary happiness… and eventually sadness when it wears of. It’s self centred as well, it’s all about you. That makes sense. I used to be satisfied with one Kinder Bueno, now I need five and then I feel depressed due to my stomach ache. It’s a silly metaphor, but you always want more of the things that give you pleasure.

Joy however, is a persuit that last forever. It’s something you can recall, it’s giving something to another from yourself, its compassion. It’s much smaller and a choice. I chose to persue happiness in the happiness of persuit. So where do I take my joy from these days? He was being true to his creation of Yoda there, very much so. Giving a shard of wisdom in a humble and traight forward way.

The world looks very nice
I had a strong tendency to look at the world as a grimy, grim place full of people that were evil. Seriously, that is a hard way to go through life if you aren’t playing Skyrim (even there compassion only sometimes bites you in the ass). Something changed though, I can see things differently now. Today I was feeling joy at things I saw around me. I was cycling and listening to this podcast, passing by the bus station. I saw a bus driver with his son. He had dreads, that looked very good, like he really took care of them. He greeted his colleague and walked through the bus. It sounds sad, but the fact that two people with different skin colours actually say hi makes me happy and hopeful these days. He proceeded, while smoking a cigarette, while instructing his kid to open the bus and get in. That was nice, a dad showing his kid the ropes. I enjoyed that. A little later I cycled over a small bridge. A man in dress shirt, carrying a brief case walked over it too. He stopped and turned towards the water, his face relaxed and he stood there enjoying the water. It was nice to see. This is the beauty I see around me now.

People
My greatest joy comes from interacting with people. It’s still a conscious thing sometimes to show empathy and ask those helpful questions, but more and more it goes automatically. It feels natural and I enjoy giving these small amounts of good to others. I love nothing better than cheering someone up, helping them out or succesfully arguing about some point. Not in the manner I used to, where I’d be aggressive, impatiant and defensive, but calmly and openly.

Noise
All in all I enjoy the world around me a lot more and I feel much calmer and more patient. Still, that’s all on a good day. I have more good days then I ever had before I think. Still, there are days when there’s all this noise, this distortion in my head and I can’t get to those good parts, where pleasure is my happiness.

Let me try to explain what that noise is. I have a lot of anxiety, so much that I have decided to try and really work on that. Now, everyone feels anxious sometimes, but why does it become noise? Well, simple. Imagine that anxious moment, where you worried everything would go wrong and the worst possible outcome was waiting for you. Everyone has such moments. Got it? Now imagine having that pretty much about anything, worrying and preparing for the worst all the time. It creates a lot of buzzing noise in ones head. Sometimes enough to not see the beauty around you anymore and the good side of people.

Source: Abdol Rauf

So what is the point? Well, Karma.
So what am I really saying there about happiness? Well, even though I still struggle in my persuit of joy, I am finding it and through it happiness. George Lucas is spot on, unlike with Jar Jar Binks, with his statement. This persuit is well worth it and has improved my life a lot this far. It’s all about Karma, what you give you get. If you invest in your happiness by giving, you’ll receive. I can tell you that much. I’m not there yet and I certainly had to ask for help many times along the way.

Surely, I don’t have the final answers. Just an uphill struggle and my experiences with that. I’m trying to give that little bit to anyone who is willing to appreciate it. That’s enough for me.

Sounds of the Underground #19

This time I listened to underground sounds by  sound artist Honda, ambient warriors Elador, black metal knight MoonKnight and the mighty Krallice. Plenty of stuff you should check out too.

Honda – Bells Beach

source: Bandcamp

I use a lot of means to find music, but rarely the search option on bandcamp. Today I did and I picked the ‘devotional’ category. I was expecting Jesus stuff. I got this wonderful minimal/ambient recording. It has two sides and is made by an artist named Celer, actual name William Thomas Long, who lives in Japan. It was made with a Roland MC-202 Microcomposer and field recordings. It feels like a travel record, a description of landscapes in an aural way.

Side A feels minimal, just little bells in a wide landscape where the wind is blowing. Playful moments are exchanged with mild ambient noise and gentle wavy sounds. The sound appears to be blowing away a little bit now and then, adding tot he organic feel of the music. Side B has those astral projection like synth rays, remniscent of krautrock and Jean Michel Jarre. Buzzing drones and twinkly keys fill the sound up, on this much more energetic and vibrant track. This record feels special, warm and pleasant. A recommended listen for late night reading or enjoying a drink without the TV on.

Elador – Expanses of Syrim 

source: bandcamp

Well, I’m a fan of Skyrim so I was intrigued if any concept band had been working on that theme this far. Sometimes you find the odd death metal band picking up on a thing like this. I found a load of covers or rip offs (some Vietnamese guy claims to be Lindsey Stirling). This Russian project is from Egor Morozov, who is inspired by epic ambient/medieval projects like Mantle Of Dust, soundtracks like those by Jeremy Soule (yes, Skyrim guy) and other similar projects. The logo’s used do show an influence from the black metal scene. Think Clanned, think Burzum… You’ve got it.

The soothing music feels cold at times, depicting the landscapes of Skyrima nd specific regions. The languid tones are nordic in atmosphere and other sound effects breathe life into the music by Elador. The gloomy ‘Folgunthur’ stands our for me, for its minimal and dark atmosphere, where the other tracks feel mildly playful. The trickling sound of ‘Snowfall in Winterhold’, the wavering of ‘Dawnstar’ and the gentle feel to the track ‘Rivenwood’, it all paints the landscape in aural perceptions. The latter makes you feel the gentle look, the simple habitations and the wind rustling through the trees. Elador captures Skyrims essence beautifully in this tribute.

MoonKnight – Valinor

source: bandcamp

This obscure one-man black metal band provides the listener with a particular dirty and grim type of black metal. MoonKnight is the project of Roach (James L. Brown) from Kentucky. Claiming to be influenced by Akita, Bone Awl and Ildjarn, this is the third full lenght from the project, after a series of splits. The sound is gritty, distorted and hazy. As if hearing music through a hail storm. The vocals therefor come from afar and the listener is challenged to really embrace the sound, entering the storm on opener ‘An Initiation’. It only clears up a bit when the intro notes of ‘Aconitum’ soar in, feeling cold and sharp.

The trebly, high guitar tones on ‘Helplessness’ create a cold atmosphere. The screeched vocals filled with despair, raging against that torrent of grainy sound that feels very lo-fi. The drum is just a rumble under your feet. Then there’s the warm rain of the title track, creating a strange after effect, following the bleak songs like ‘Broken Blade’ and the bludgeoning ‘Pleasure Funeral’. The slow epic final song is a crescendo to this powerful record. No need for tons of extra effects, synths. A one man metal band that knows how to make limitations in strenghts by not overdoing it. Thats why this is such a good record.

Krallice – Ygg Huur

source: bandcamp

Sure, I was going for somet different sounds this time, but then I came across thenew Krallice album. I used to think of Krallice as too fierce for my tastes, but the new Yorkers surprised with this new record. I always have a hard time with the word ‘hipster metal’. I feel it makes no sense when you deal with a band that creates atmosphere like the best of them. The sound is more clean, but just as harrowing. The jagged pace, keeps tensions high and creates a vibe of discomfort.

So, I couldn’t get into what they were doing before. I guess it was too smart, too complex and lacked a certain feel to it. That’s no what you get on Ygg Huur. Razing fast guitars, tremolo picking are enriched by deep emotions of despair and untamed wiredness. Blistering speed and incredible atmospheric wavering tremolo parts, generate an unheared of like vibe. Sudden assaults after seemingly ethearal calm. This is one amazing album. Clocking only 35 mins, nothing is overdone on this release. Everything in balance and fuck that hipster tag. Krallice know how to make a great record and put black metal on the road to recovery.

Small man, big mouth: This is not hardcore

Compete, compete, do it for the boys
Empty barrels make the most noise
You’re always on the move
You’ve always got something to prove

– Minor Threat, ‘Small man, big mouth’

I’ve written a bit about music on my blog this far, mainly discussing metal and a bit of hiphop. For years my thing was hardcore though, and its a genre I love profoundly. I’m particularly into the old stuff, from the early days and the nineties, which was laden with ideas, philosophies and views. It’s all about making a difference.

I loved that stuff, because it opened my mind to so many other ways to live life. I think it sparked my interest in buddhism, my love for a healthy life and I even dabbled witht he straight edge idea. What I also loved, and you need to read books about this to find it out, is that hardcore has always been about opening doors, not closing them. Equality, freedom of opinions, anti-discrimination etc. Later this scene became a bit more stale and hermetic, but I guess that might get reinvigorated at some point.

What I’ve noticed over the last years is a change though, to the meaning of the word hardcore. For me it contains the PMA (positive mental attitude), respect and a certain decorum which you take through life. Don’t be that which is wrong in the world already, don’t be a racist, women degrading asshole. Show respect to others. That’s what I’ve tried to take from it. Now, I was never deep in the scene, just at the edges and taking my individual lessons from it. I got disillusioned by bands like Deez Nuts, Your Demise and the likes of Asking Alexandria. This was all pertaining to be hardcore, I don’t know if they were doing that themselves or the media. I liked Deez Nuts at first, they sounded crude and confronting, but seeing them live it also felt so hollow, so empty and devoid of meaning. Sure, Deez Nuts are staying true, but true to what? It seems to just be the music.

Don’t get it twisted its still fuckin hardcore,
stage dives, high 5s that’s what I’m in this for.
I ain’t in this for money or fame
but if I stack a little change fuck it I won’t complain.

– Deez Nuts, ‘Stay True’

I’m not trying to put these band in a bad light though. There’s always been room for bands that created the image for the scene and being a bit about the posturing and being tough guys. Tough guy hardcore was definitely a thing. What these bands seem to have opened the door for is a subgenre, which is just as much about the outside, the looks and the posing. That’s where the beef starts.

I tried some of the Deathcore bands as well, but found the same void there. It’s all about looks and not about the message. T-shirts got to shocking instead of inspirational and empowering, but have reached a point where it actually has nothing to do with the movement it claims to be part of. So do the lyrics and the off stage presentation fo certain bandmembers.  Apart from the switch from meaning and teaching the crowd to posure and gangster attitudes, some bands have taken a dive deeper into giving hardcore  a bad name….

source: metal injection

For girls, hardcore and metal is still a rather new place. Back in the late nineties, when I guess I started listening to music, it was still rare to find female musicians. I was well impressed with Brody Halle from The Distillers or Angela Gossow from Arch Enemy, but theyw ere still rarities. In hardcore even more so, maybe that’s why I always felt sympathy for bands that did have female vocalists. Not necessarily because they were good, but because they were necessary. Their acceptance would create more equality for guys and gals alike and you will get good girl fronted bands. At some point, it wont matter what gender the person fronting it has. Then we got to deathcore and bands like Emmure, Attila and  I Declare War take a whole leap backwards with their offensive as hell t-shirts.

This has nothing to do with hardcore anymore, this is everything the scene riled against from its inception. You have to imagine, what it does to the listeners of this music now. All the good vibes you may have gotten from hardcore, when you were that age, they just get this stuff. Gangster posing, calling girls bitches and being as rude as possible. Sure, that sounds old and boring, but ittouches upon that very thing that gives this music meaning.

Let me get to a close on my rant on this topic. I was not there, when hardcore was a thing. I only know the music and I’ve seen the bands. Let me mention an H2O, that band gave me more stuff to work with than all the deathcore crap combined. I’ve seen entire festival line-ups, with less heart than Terror, Boysetsfire, Madball or Ignite. This is what it ment, this is why its worth protecting. This is why these guys are douche bags and have no place in hardcore.

Source: City Rat Face

The reading of books #13

Another series of books read, this time Plutarch, Greg KeyesDayal Patterson and Richard A. Knaak. From Ancient Rome to the Elder Scrolls and Warcraft.

Plutarch – The Fall of the Roman Republic

source: Goodreads

Yes, another book by Plutarch. This time focussing on the transferral periode from the late republic to the empire, describing the lives of Marius, Sulla, Crassus, Pompey the Great, Cesar and Cicero, who brought an end to the Republic. It’s a fascinating bit of storytelling, where Plutarch clearly shows he’s not in love with Cesar. In fact, he barely manages to keep it out of his words. Then again, none of the figures in this book appears to carry his favor, maybe Marius a little bit in most of his life. Sulla doesn’t get of lightly and Crassus looks like a buffoon. Pompey is the tragic figure in this version of events, together with Cicero I suppose.

The one life missing would be that of Cato, who opposed Cesar for as long as he could. It was a great read, that I enjoyed very much. Enough to order some more actually. What is lacking here, is the pairings with Greek lives. I’m also very curious about those and I must say I doubt the way the publishers dealt with that. All in all, it gives good insights in a highly confusing period of our ancient history.

Dayal Patterson – The Cult Never Dies: Volume 1

Source: Goodreads

Dayal Patterson started something big with his first book ‘Black Metal: Evolution Of The Cult’. It was not enough, he had the desire to catalogue the entire black metal scene and its aspects, so here is the second book and first in a continuing series of looking at the blackest music genre you can find. Patterson takes a clean, journalistic approach to bands like SatyriconSilencer and Mgla and many, many more. It opens up the scene to new investigators, without disclosing all and keeping its edge of mystery in place.

The print looks minimal, which is good. The pictures are only in black and white, which is also rather enjoyabable and fitting. Patterson illuminates specific sections in this book, like the Polish black metal scene and the SDBM scene that emerged as a progenitor of post-blackmetal. He does this by taking out pivotal bands, but also interesting marginal acts to illustrate the broader whole. A well worth read for fans of the genre and intriguees.

Greg Keyes – The Infernal City

Source: Goodreads

This is the very first novel of the Elder Scrolls franchise by Bethesda (known for their game Fallout mostly, but also Skyrim). The book tells the story of a human character Annaïg and an Argonian called Glim (Lizard people) in the world of Tamriel. A strange floating city approaches and brings doom to the lands. Annaïg and Glim decide to assault this city and try to warn others of the coming doom. While being captured by the dark denizens of the city, they succeed in reaching prince Attrebus.

Another story there unfolds, with the Prince’s life being under threat and his carreer an apparent illusion to facilitate Empire propaganda. The central imperial city has little interest in helping those under attack by the floating city on the fringes of the empire (even just outside it). Attrebus sets out to carve his own destiny and to become the person he is supposed to be as a prince. The book is well written and the characters do get some background, though sometimes they are a bit foggy in personality. The work introduces the figures and peoples of the Elder Scrolls universe and thus makes for a nice read and introduction. Now I should get part two though.

Richard A. Knaak – Night of the Dragon

Source: Goodreads

I felt this urge to read the only Warcraft book that was still unread on my shelves. Probably I was not up for some literary masterpiece, but the writings of Knaak for Blizzard are always fun and catchy. So I started reading this follow up to Day Of The Dragon, the very first in the novel series of Blizzard. In this book we return to the doomed mountain where the first novel took place and the same key players converge, unwittingly of eachothers whereabouts on Grim Batol. Krasus, the dragon/mage, Vareesa Windrunner and a bunch of angry dwarves.

The plot deepens, when another of the black dragon flight emerges and plans to…dare I say? Take over the world. This time the book does not involve Deathwing, but some familiar elements of his evil will return in this story. It rekindles and connects other  storylines, which is always very pleasant for an afficionado of the game like myself. The series of near-death escapes is a bit too dense for my taste though, but you can’t win ’em all, can you now? Looking forward to maybe playing some more in that fabulous world of Azeroth.

 

Why you should just give up on Marvel films.

(if you think they aren’t as good as the comics)

Holy shit! The rage is strong in geek land again. Marvel/Fox is releasing some footage about that new X-men film ‘Age of Apocalypse’. Yeah, Apocalypse looks like some weird seventies Doctor Who swamp monster, part of some ancient warrior caste.

Even though this is my favorite story arc of the classic X-men, I’m not going to be bothered too much about it. I mean, there are various reasons why you shouldn’t be having these crazy expectations. Sure, I did watch a bunch of the films much later on my pc and sure they were enjoyable. Did I expect the same magic as I did when I was a child? No… Ok, lets start with some numbers.

1. It’s NOT a Marvel product

No matter how your view on crime and punishment is, the end product is no longer in the hands of Marvel, but the movie company they sold it too. Happens that this is FOX, not known for their subtle ways I guess. Sure, there’ s one hell of a producer behind the cameras, but you have to start realising that this film is not made for you, the comic book or animated show loving geek, but for that audience of millions that needs to feed the box office with moneys. It needs to appeal to that, so the ‘complexities’ and spin-off storylines are not in there. It’s sad, sure, but the way of things.

2. You’re not 12 anymore

Remember how you were baffled by Santa Claus as a kid? How adults seemed like heroes and the world was all good? The perspective as a child is very different and you are no longer that. Those complexities and world-changing ideas you think you found in that comic book once, were probably just you growing up a little bit. You’ve changed, but the X-men haven’t really.

The classic stories will always be great, because they came to you on an age when you were full of wonder and easily impressed by them. Reliving them in a new form, without them being told in the same way and without you expecting them, will prove that the stories are not that dense and full of meaning. It kinda rhymes with the beef Simon Pegg has with superhero films. It’s not like the makers are trying to make it more mature, special effects are a shortcut to succes.

source: Buzzquotes.com

3. You know that he’ s not Charles Xavier…

You have these ideal images of the characters from the comic and now you have a bunch of flawed, human figures in their place. You know that Ian McKellen is actually Gandalf and that Patrick Stewart really belongs on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Ok, yes! They are not in this film! James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are, two guys you’ve probably seen killing it in any other film they were in, so wrapped up in different roles and faces… Sophie Turner is always going to be the Stark girl from Game of Thrones and Jennifer Lawrence is the chick who’s titties you’ve probably seen thanks to that phone hack incident. If she played anyone else than Mystique, that would seriously taint the image of perfection of these characters.

What I’m saying is, you’ll probably feel like not a single actor is good enough for their role (except Hugh Jackman, y’all love Hugh Jackman), because of this idealized image you have of your favorite franchise. Let it go, it’s not this and if that’s the attitude you’re going to bring, no one will share their popcorn with you.

4. The Bad Guy is going to suck, because there’s no Ian McKellen

Let’s face it, the only decent bad guy depicted in this series of films was Magneto. The cold rationale, the persistence and humanity, that was all Ian McKellen and he was awesome. Specially opposite Patrick Stewart. Every other villain kinda sucked. Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut? Come on…

Apocalypse should be larger than life, almost divine in a way, but he won’t be. He is going to look like a bad reproduction of a Mortal Combat villain (did you ever see that show? That sucked balls…) or one of those other nineties doofy, low-budget shows. Why? Because that’s how it’s going to be.

source: musingsbystarlight.com

5. There’s only so much you can get out of a good thing….

There’s  a bunch of films out now, and it seems to have run its course. There were 3 Lord of the Rings films. That was it, that was a good thing and for many reasons there was not more. That was also it, that was the material. So why was The Hobbit, a much slimmer little book, brought in 3 films as well? Because they were milking it for whatever it was worth. Is that a bad thing? Yes, it usually is and gets the viewer swamped in overdone dramatic cut-scenes, special effect extravaganza end very, very little narrative. This may be a personal Peter Jackson rant, but the point is valid. Set your limits, do not keep going on milking stuff.

The time of the films that get  a part 10 is way behind us. The thing is, good things come to an end and even the great cast of actors is not going to carry this concept into the future.

I’m just awaiting the disappointment of ‘Gambit’  (Channing Tautum, wtf?) and the long awaited ‘Deadpool’. I’ll go into that fully knowing that it’s not going to be the awesome I expect, but maybe I’m just a bit sadomasochistic…. Who knows…

I did like Guardians of the Galaxy. What do you think?

Sounds of the Underground #18

Another session of delving into the underground, with Bong, Deuil, Wiegedood and Suðri. Great releases and great fun listening to them. I’m always eager to hear more new things ofcourse.

Bong – We Are, We Were And We Will Have Been

source: bandcamp

A new album from the arch-stoners Bong. Drugged out, stretched out like lukewarm tar and always so hypnotic, this album is not a shift of pace in any way for the Britons. Basically the albums opens with a  drone, that seems to go to infinity and beyond. For seven minutes it’s just that with a minor bit of percussion going on. Suddenly a dark voice launches itself, proclaiming dark words, like a high priest of an occult, old ceremony. This ends a couple of minutes later, leaving you to drift of on that same drone for the rest of opening track ‘Time Regained’.

‘Find Your Gods’ starts with a spoken word element, but from there on it slowly rund away in a long, reverberating drone that takes you to far of places. Hypnotic and transcendent, this record is definitely a work of art from the masters of its kind. I have to admit that I’m impressed with this band and I might be willing to check some more of their stuff later on. Later… I ‘m comin back to earth now for a bit.

Suðri – ReiseReise cover art

Ukrainian DSBM that sounds a bit Burzumesque, well I’m going to give that a spin. I know nothing of this band, just that this came out yesterday. Turns out this is a Ukrainian label with a Chilean band, a one man project. That is surprising, because from the whole aura of this release, you expect it to be continental stuff. The opener ‘Die Reise’ is one of those minimal, quasi-acoustic dreamy tracks that prompted me to use the Burzum reference. That slow, atmospheric feel remains throughout the four track record, but its always nice to find that Burzum inspiration again with bands playing this niche sound.

The depressed element becomes clear rather quickly with ‘Ashes and Solitude’, a seven minute lasting drag with barked vocals that convey the despair. The creeping tone is that of a desperate, malformed being clawing at the light. Wafting riffs are like a cold rain. ‘Im Regen’ utilizes the piano for its intro, creating the ambiance suited for this kind of muic. It’s surprising how powerful these elemetns are on a record like this, the acoustic part. ‘An Endless Journey’ wraps it up with tha typical barrage of layered, tremolo guitar and the hoarse vocals. An impressive record, using the interplay between two very different sounds with succes.
Deuil – Shock/Deny…

Source: Bandcamp
Only two songs, but for some bands that is more than enough to convey the message. These Belgians from Liegè combine doom, sludge, drone and stoner to a potent brew of fucking sonic magma. Screeched vocals, landslide riffs chugged out and a constant feeling of discomfort is what ‘Shock’ opens with. Blast beats keep slapping you in the face later in the song, while the guitars are crying out in despair. Around the seven minute mark, the sound gets lighter, warmer as if the sun gets a moment to illuminate the blackness, reminding you more of post-rock. Then the door shuts and dark, looming riffs fall like curtains. From there on its a dark way down.
‘Deny’ is the frenzied twin brother of the opening track. Furious riffs and pummeling drums create a more black metal atmosphere on this track with continuous blast beats and atmospheric density. Eerie tones fill the air and the band drudges on in their typical way to construct a big song with some, epic passages. A whispering female voice enters the fray, speaking mysticly over the churning bass lines. The song slowly fades out with only buzzing and then only whispering. A great record for those who love the dirty, dark Roadburn sound.
Wiegedood – De Doden hebben het Goed
source: bandcamp
Yeah, that name means ‘crib death’, the word for parents finding their child in the crib deceased, after being apparently healthy. It’s a cruel and sad thing, but also a great name for a black metal band. These Belgians from Ghent picked it up and made some intriguing music on their debut ‘The Dead are doing well’ (losely translated). The opener ‘Svanesang’ (Swan Song) is a burst of flurried riffing and tremolo guitarplay, that seems to shift between minor and major at some points, leaving behind a trail of ice and fire.
The 13 minute epic dwindles down for a minute, but then ‘Kwaad Bloed’ (Evil blood) launches again, with those particular sunny passages and the screamed vocals (which are very tight btw). This song sinks away in a swamp of distortion and guitar picking notes, gently ending the suffering. There the slow-paced, gloomy title track starts, with an eerie, meandering riff soaring high above. Super fast tremolo gives it that gloomy feel. Its doom pace makes this a slow descent into hell, depicted by the creeping rhythm section. Final track ‘Onder Gaan’ (going under) picks up the blistering riffing and majestic sound again.

Dynamo Metal Fest: The personal review you might not care for

Dynamo Open Air is a festival that touched many, many lives, but also those of the kids who didnt make it. I was quite late coming to the metal world, but Dynamo has been a landmark, an iconic thing that put me on my musical path. I loved it.

Some kids are blessed with parents that hate their music. It’s glorious, because you know exactly what it is your opposing or rebelling against. I was not so fortunate. My mom would watch the big festivals on TV throughout the nineties and pointing out the cool stuff to me. So there was this Brazilian band I had to see, they were really special. There I was, gaping at Sepultura. I’ve always thought it was at Dynamo that year, but it was old footage from 1990 or somehing. Then there was this other funny band called the Heideroosjes, that I had to see. Suffice to say, my parents got me in touch with most of the music I listen to nowadays.

Looking back, it seems like a planned thing. There was a nudge here, an Iggy Pop album for that birthday, concert for the next… I would watch all the footage of these big festivals on TV and enjoy it, be amazed by the extreme music, the long haired people and the energy. I saw Sepultura again on Pinkpop and I always had a special place in my heart for that band. Truth be told, I didn’t get the music back then, I just knew it was cool. I guess you need that one band to hit you at some point to get into it. The prequel for me was Sepultura. It was much later that I got into metal seriously, through punkrock in fact. I read all I could and watched videos whenever there was something on TV. Dynamo was always there. Later, when I missed those last few editions, the old posters were my guide to what stuff was good and should be listened to. I will always regret not visiting it when I had a chance. Still, it was my guiding light into the world of metal.

So thats what I’m thinking today, when I’m riding my bike towards the Ice Sport Centre in Eindhoven. Lots of memories of that place, but I’m not thinking of any of them. I’m thinking back to what got me here, on my bike, going to my very first Dynamo Metal Fest (which feels like Dynamo Open Air). I’m thinking of how my mom stole my Finntroll CD and how my parents went to see Rammstein on Pinkpop. I’ve been enabled to explore and discuss music freely from childhood onwards and now I’m full of energy and excitement. I’ve left my meds at home and I am hoping my back is going to hold out today, but I’m going to be at my first Dynamo. This is awesome. It doesn’t even matter that I’ve seen pretty much all the bands on the bill play live a bunch of times.

The crowd at any metal festival is one big bunch of weirdos, strangers and mad men. It’s that strange bunch that makes me feel so much at home. I’ve tried the other stuff, the dance music, the indie crowd and even the scifi conventions, but this is my home. I’m anxious almost anywhere and big groups of people are a bit intense for me, but not here. Even though I have little friends in the metal scene as yet, I feel like I can relate to everyone here. In reality, sure, that is not true, but I like the feeling that it is. I’m just enjoying the atmosphere. Old friends meeting up, telling stories of the past. One guy is telling me how everyone had their hair cut or got grey and he cant recognize his old friends. Another tells me that they all got fat and bald (to which I go over my own head with one hand). It doesn’t matter though, the bands hardly matter (though I love the old thrashers from Nuclear Assault and Death Angel). It’s all about the community, the atmosphere and the guitars playing loudly somewhere. This is not just your next run of the mill festival, this is a festival with a whole lot of love for music and this city of Eindhoven.

Ok, I guess I’m being a bit too softy on this article. It would be so much more borin to put on those rational goggles and complain about the stuff that was not great. That would spoil my whole experience, though. I had an excellent time on this festival, because it felt like everything was done with love. The whole thing, it’s not about making money, it’s about this crazy music and everything attached to it. I got to enjoy this festival with my girlfriend and some real good friends, some I have not spoken to for too long. I heard stories, which were about Dynamo, metal and why it means so much to people. I’ve been in this thing for years now, mostly as a writer, but first and foremost as a fan. It’s all love, you know. I think that is the best review any festival can get.

PS. Line-up:
Facelifter, Bodyfarm, Orange Goblin, Alestorm, Biohazard, Nuclear Assault, Death Angel, Arch Enemy (without Angela Gossow, it wasn’t the same for me*)

*Not that I think Gossow is hot, she just looked powerful and had a certain aura that this new girl doesnt have.

Keep on Bloggin’

So I started blogging about a year ago, I thought it would be a good way to start expressing myself and put some feelings and words on paper. Looking back, there’s a lot of personal posts I’ve deleted. I felt that it was just too much open wound sadness and sorrow.

About a year ago I started a series of conversations, which were supposed to help me overcome certain personal problems and I saw a lot of value in trying to share that. It created a lot of tension and clashes in my life, that did not make me very happy. I’m still not sure if those were good things or bad, I know where I am now and I’m quite ok with myself.

So recently I switched that blogging around and Im more getting into stuff I find cool and writing down rants and thoughts. Sorry for the many Skyrim references, I hope to start playing another game soon but my time is a bit limited when it comes to that. Or… Skyrim takes up too much time. I had given up on gaming to be honest, becuase I thought it was not mature and stuff. Thanks to following people like Wil Wheaton (again, my blog is named after that dude) and other geeky heroes, I’m ok with it. Why would I not do the things that make me happy?

I feel like I’m hitting the form of my original posts  and that I’m trying to say relateable things that are interesting and perhaps a bit funny. I feel good about that. Recently there were quite some positive responses to my blogposts on facebook, even if those were just likes, they were much appreciated.

The ones that seem to attract less attention are the ones about the books I read, but then again I received nice words about those to my face. All in all, it’s been enough inspiration to keep on blogging. Hopefully putting out some stuff that is appreciated. I strive for a strong personal element and hope to touch upon my favorite topics, which are nerdism, thoughts, travel and lifestyle (mine I guess) with some music mixed in.  Hopefully you’lll keep reading and enjoying it. Thanks for all the thumbs up.

I guess you’ve noticed the strange cover picture? That’s where the magic happens. Yes! It doesn’t look as pleasant as this:

Source: Blogsuccesschool.com (click for that site, its quite a cool site about professional blogging)

So yeah, that’s not my set up, I do not own a Mac and my notebook is a random collection or whatever crap I need to write down. It does not look appealing. I wouldn’t mind if it was though. You know what, next time I’ll make a picture of my setup at the kitchen table, with my chromebook.

Gotta go now, my cat Frankie is lost somewhere behind the bathroom unit and making the saddest sounds (which also occur when hungry).