• Dear readers,

    As a faithful supporter of the Arizona Coyotes, my favourite NHL team in the Western Conference, I would like to underline the fact that their Canadian coach Dave Tippett will coach his 1000th NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. The former left wing from Moosomin, Saskatchewan, is only fifty-four years old and has coached the Dallas Stars from 2002/2003 to 2008/2009 before joining the organization from Glendale, Arizona. He has a very good reputation and many players join his teams because both young talents and experienced veterans enjoy working with a creative strategist and intellectual motivator who usually avoids the spotlight in a fair and modest way. Despite several difficult seasons with both organizations, Dave Tippett is a faithful sportsman who enjoys building up teams, developing talents and learning from failures and successes. Dave Tippett has reached the Western Conference finals twice so far: in 2007/2008 with the Dallas Stars and in 2011/2012 with the Phoenix Coyotes. He has won the Jack Adams Award for best coach of the National Hockey League in 2010 as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. This outstanding coach still has a dream to realize with his surprising team: winning the Stanley Cup. I wish him good luck and want to thank him for staying faithful to his teams.

    Jack Adams Award 2010 in Los Angeles, California

    Photo taken from coyotes.nhl.com (all rights reserved)

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  • Megadeth - Dystopia (2016)

    I've never been a fan of Megadeth due to their confusingly inconsistent line-ups, an almost constant and significant decrease in musical quality over the past twenty years and especially due to the increasingly weak vocals performing vapid lyrics. ''Dystopia'' comes as a positive surprise and is easily the best Megadeth output since ''Youthanasia'' twenty-two years earlier.

    The success of this release is based upon several elements. First of all, new guitarist Kiko Loureiro of Angra fame delivers an excellent job. His guitar work is technically appealing, the melodies he plays are highly emotional and his style is diversified but still has a clear guiding line. He harmonizes perfectly with Dave Mustaine who offers some of the most gripping riffs he has ever written. 

    The second reason for this return to form is the interesting dystopian concept and the way the band dealt with it. The album has a constant dystopian atmosphere and the sum of the different tracks is even more convincing than its different parts. It's also positive to see that Dave Mustaine didn't include too much political propaganda on this record and the few references to contemporary American politics aren't too shallow, obvious and nasty. A closer look at the solid lyrics is definitely recommended.

    The third reason for the greatness of this output is its diversity despite its clear intellectual and atmospheric guide line. ''The Threat is Real'' is an excellent opener with Indian folk chants, powerful riffs, a chaotic yet gripping chorus and numerous excellent melodic guitar solos. The mixture of melodic yet technically appealing guitar riffs and surprisingly melodic vocals in the brilliant title song ''Dystopia'' has an almost progressive metal touch. ''Post American World'' is a sinister mid-tempo stomper with dominating bass parts and more stunning guitar solos. ''The Emperor'' has more classic heavy metal and hard rock riffs and the whole tune is crowned with the record's catchiest chorus. Two other songs really stand out on this album. The epic ''Poisonous Shadows'' is filled with creative diversity including breathtaking guitar solos, fluid changes of atmosphere and style and a moving piano coda. This track is one of the best Megadeth songs ever written in my book. The closing ''Foreign Policy'' is a take on the Fear track of the same name and usually I'm not the biggest fan of cover songs but this one here's a real grower. The track reminds me a lot of early Voivod. It has an untamed punk vibe, dystopian solos and liberatingly angry vocals. Since no other band produces more realistic dystopian sounds than Voivod, this reference is quite positive and ends a very good album on a strong note.

    Another amazing thing about the album is that the few average tracks can be found in different places on the album. The choice for the track list is very efficient. The opening tracks are really strong, the middle part is outstanding and the final part is also top notch. The record never decreases in quality. The five different bonus track are solid but they are bonus songs for a good reason since they can't catch up with this album's greatest cuts. That's why it doesn't matter at all which version you buy in the end.

    Colour me surprised but ''Dystopia'' is more than just a return to form for band that has disappointed me for a very long time. This record does everything right where the previous albums failed for different reasons. Even the vocals finally sound convincing and suit the topic despite a slight decrease of skills due to Dave Mustaine's age and lifestyle. The band sounds hungry again and I hope this new line-up will stay together for a while. Fans of dystopian concepts and good heavy, progressive and thrash metal can't get around this early highlight of the year.

    Final rating: 8.5/10

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  • Ladies and gentlemen,

    Since winter has become my favourite season over the past few years, I always enjoy doing outdoor activities. Last Friday, I had the chance to go to ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont, next to Saint-Sauveur, a very small town which is about thirty minutes north of Montreal. I was able to do different types of snowtubing during a wonderful winter day. Please enjoy a few pictures I took last week.

    Have a nice day and enjoy your winter activities!

    Sebastian Kluth

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThis is the entrance of ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut''

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurHere is a map or plan of the different types of snowtubing.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThis picture was taken out of a rafting tube and also shows a few so-called tornado tubes. Rafting tubes were really fast while tornado tubes spinned quite a lot.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThis picture shows a wooden shack in front of the slopes for rafting and tornado tubes.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThese are the slopes for smaller and regular tubes.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThis is the highest point of the small amusement park.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThere were two different ways to climb the hills in this park.

    Pictures from my winter activity at ''Les Glissades des Pays d'En Haut'' in Piedmont/St-SauveurThis is a great overview of the main site of this little adventure park. It's also my favourite picture taken that day.

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  • Good evening ladies and gentlemen,

    Last Tuesday, I went to see American metalcore quartet Ice Nine Kills in concert at Club Saw in downtown Ottawa. The band from Boston, Massachusetts has just released a great, brand-new record entitled ''Every Trick in the Book''. Each of the ten songs is inspired by a different novel. Some of my favourite novels such as George Orwell's dystopian fable ''Animal Farm'', Bram Stoker's classic horror novel ''Dracula'' and even William Shakespeare's epic tragedy ''Romeo and Juliet'' are referenced on said album. I was introduced to this band by one of my students (Thank you! You know who you are.) and decided to discover more of this intriguing group that celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. When I heard that the band was playing in Ottawa, it was a great occasion for me to attend my first concert of the year. There are many more to come: I'm going to see Nightwish and Black Sabbath in February and Iron Maiden and Dream Theater in April. All these concerts will take place in Montreal and I will attend the latter three with one of my best friends. Sadly, most bands still ignore the Canadian capital and I have to travel to Toronto or Montreal to see live shows.

    The concert took place in a location I had never heard of before. Club Saw is a small part of a gallery with regular art exhibitions, conferences and craft courses. The club itself is rather tiny and offers barely enough space for about one hundred people. When I arrived there, far over one hundred people were already there and the location was packed. The ticket cost me fifteen dollars even though a lower price had previously been announced on the internet. In my opinion, the location wasn't very well equipped. There was neither a coat check nor a bar. When I asked the ticket seller where I could have a sip of water, they recommended me to go to the washroom. Between the shows of the opening acts, I decided to go to the next supermarket and buy some ice tea instead.

    In the end, I would estimate that more or less one hundred fifty people attended the show which is quite a lot for a Tuesday night in Ottawa. The last time I attended a show on a weekday in Ottawa last autumn, only about fifty people attended the same concert as I did. To my surprise, the majority of the audience was a lot younger than me. I'm not exactly feeling old but I would say that the average age was around twenty. Since nobody checked the identity documents of the concertgoers, I guess there were even a couple of people who could have been of the age of my students. Since no alcool was sold in the building, I guess that no identity cards were required to get to the show. This was actually the first time I experienced such a relaxed procedure since security guards at public events in Ottawa are usually rather strict. Another surprise was that half of the audience consisted of girls and women. When I usually attend rock concerts, at least three-quarters of the audience consist of men which wasn't the case here. The crowd was quite peaceful and polite. There were only a few small circle pits consisting of the same half a dozen men and the fans in the first two or three rows were actually singing along to the songs of the bands.

    Sadly, the opening bands were quite disappointing in my opinion. They were called Southpaw, Trentia and Earthworks. All these bands are from Ottawa and rather young and unknown acts. One could clearly hear that they weren't too experienced since their sound was mostly poor and their performances quite chaotic. All three bands were missing catchy guitar riffs, ferocious breakdowns, intriguing lyrics, memorable vocal performances and vivid rhythm sections. Some parts of the crowd seemed to appreciate these bands more than I did. I was wondering why until I saw that some of the fans of the opening acts left before Ice Nine Kills even entered the stage. I guess that these guys were mostly schoomates, friends or family members of these local support acts. On a more positive note, I must admit that all three bands had some entertaining qualities. The interactions between the bands and the crowd were quite dynamic.

    It was about half past nine when Ice Nine Kills finally hit the stage and brought the entire series of performances that night on a whole new level. From the very first notes on after a short instrumental overture, the band conquered the crowd by storm. Especially singer Spencer Charnas was impressive to watch. He constantly ran across the stage, interacted with the audience, gave handshakes, did some crowd surfing thanks to some helping hands among the audience and climbed on different pipes below colourful fairy lights in the small location. The band opened the show with the catchy and energizing ''Communion of the Cursed'' which was a perfect choice to kick things off efficiently. Over the course of the next sixty minutes, the band played about twelve songs. Five tracks were chosen from each of the two latest records ''Every Trick in the Book'' and ''The Predator Becomes the Prey''. I particularly liked the aformentioned powerful rendition of ''Communion of the Cursed'', the catchy performance of ''The Nature of the Beast'', the calmer tune ''What I Never Learned in Study Hall'' as well as the more relaxed parts of ''Me, Myself & Hyde'' and the great encore ''The Coffin is Moving'' which ended the concert on a strong note. The only negative aspect I might mention is the short length of the show which only lasted for about one hour. It was also a little bit strange to watch the singer who had a lot of problems with his semi-long haircut that seemed to disturb him during some parts of his performance.

    After the show, the four band members took their time to take pictures with their fans, talk to the audience and sign different items. The four men were really down to earth and I had the occasion to talk to them for a while. We talked about the concept of their last record and how it might get younger generations into reading classics. When I told them about the student who had introduced me to their music, they told me that he should come see them next time. I bought the band's two latest records as well as a band shirt. My collection of albums and band fashion keeps growing.

    In the end, I spent a great night in Ottawa and Nine Ice Kills' solid performance made me forget the rather disappointing opening acts. Since the concert finished rather soon, I was even able to get home around half past eleven and to get seven hours of sleep. If the band comes back to town with a new record, I will probably go see them again.

    Ice Nine Kills with Sebastian Kluth

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  • In memoriam: David Bowie

    The year 2015 somehow ended bad with the death of famous rock singer and bassist Ian Fraser ''Lemmy'' Kilmister and it starts on a negative note with the death of famous rock and pop musician David Bowie whose impressive career lasted for an incredible fifty-four years.

    Both veteran musicians died of cancer. My maternal grand-mother, my paternal grand-father and even my father had cancer as well. It's one of the most horrible diseases in our world and something I'm honestly scared of. Whenever I hear someone got diagnosed with this disease, it makes me realize that you have to live your life to the fullest no matter what because you never know when fate strikes.

    But let's not drown in darkness and remember the stunning career of this extraordinary British musician who has influenced several generations. When I was kind, I wasn't exactly fond of him even though my father adored him quite a lot and listened to several of his albums with me. I always thought that David Bowie wasn't the most emotional singer and couldn't find any connection to him. Today, it's a certainly a different thing.

    Today I know that he may not have been convincing on a technical level but definitely on a creative one. There aren't many artists or bands who have had number one records between 1967 and 2016. David Bowie's eponymous first record made it to the top of the charts when it was released in Austria and New Zealand. His breakthrough took place two years later with the futuristic pop song ''Space Oddity'', a visonary masterpiece that made it to the peak position of the British single charts.

    In the early seventies, he played the music that would become commercially successful in the late seventies and tracks like ''The Jean Genie'' (1972) and ''Rebel Rebel'' (1974) were played in any Western discotheque with a good reputation. His lyrics predicted the lights and shades of the Cold War with tracks like the charismatic ''Heroes'' (1977) which became an anthem for hope, love and peace of an entire generation and got him the definite status of an icon, especially in Germany. This artist proved that true lyrical depth and catchy commercial music could work together. His lyrics were a welcome change from the usual songs about romantic relationships.

    David Bowie's collaborations are also legendary since he played with the greatest musicians of his generation. He recorded ''Under Pressure'' (1981) with famous British rock band Queen, ''Tonight'' (1984) with American rhythm and blues singer Tina Turner, ''Dancing in the Street'' (1985) with Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones fame, ''Hallo Spaceboy'' (1996) with British electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys and ''Without You I'm Nothing'' (1999) with British alternative rock band Placebo.

    He formed English-American hard rock band Tin Machine and released two successful albums with them (1989 & 1991).

    After a longer hiatus, David Bowie released his two last studio records ''The Next Day'' (2013) and ''Blackstar'' (2016). The latter one is his twenty-fifth and final studio album which is a mixture of art rock and avant-garde jazz. It includes several lyrical hints where he predicts his own death. David Bowie had been diagnosed with cancer about one year and a half ago but never made any public announcement about it. That's why his death came as a complete surprise to everyone but his closest family members, including his son and film director Duncan Bowie and Somalian wife and model Imam Mohamed Abdulmajid. David Bowie wasn't just an outstanding and visionary musician but also a style icon and one of the first overtly bisexual artists.

    Now it's time to listen to a short selection of his greatest hits. I'm aware of the fact that ten songs are not enough to represent this unique artist but it might be a good starting point if you want to discover this musician's outstanding career. I will keep spinning these songs over the next few days and might buy one or two compilations or maybe his most recent release which only came out a few days ago. May this iconic artist rest in peace.

    ''Liza Jane'' (1964)

    ''Space Oddity'' (1969)

    ''The Jean Genie'' (1972)

    ''Helden / Heroes'' (1977) 

    ''Under Pressure'' (1981) 

    ''Cat People (Putting Out Fire)'' (1982) 

    ''Let's Dance'' (1983) 

    ''Tonight'' (1984) 

    ''Dancing in the Street'' (1985) 

    ''Blackstar'' (2015)

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