• Good morning ladies and gentlemen!

    I would like to share some pictures taken from the official Facebook presence of my workplace. These pictures were taken last Thursday during a great soccer game between the teachers and students of our school. Even though several teachers had never played soccer before and despite the fact that we had never played together as a team, we were victorious. The energy, motivation and team spirit were great. The students also played really well and it was everything but an easy victory. In addition to the soccer game, there was also an ultimate frisbee game that the teachers lost to the students. I didn't participate in this game because I'm not good at this type of sports. I enjoyed the sunny lunchtime, talked to a few students and encouraged the participating teachers instead. I would like to thank the students and teachers who have organized these great activities. I would definitely participate again and help organizing further events.

    Soccer 1 

    I'm the guy in the white Montreal Impact jersey on the right side.

    Soccer 2 

    Students and teachers were shaking hands at the end of the game.

    Soccer 3 

    This is a picture of all the students and teachers that participated in the soccer game.

    Soccer 4 

    This is our winning team and we were proud of our 3:0 victory.

    Soccer 5 

    After the game, I discussed soccer with some of my students and watched the ultimate frisbee game.

    Soccer 6 

    This is another picture of the crowd. I'm on the left side with three students.

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  • Unbeing - Raptus (2014)

    ''Raptus'' is a conceptual and entirely instrumental progressive metal record about the Montreal subway system. The four diversified tunes take you on a metro trip from the entrance to your home station to the exit of your final destination.

    If compared to the band's first full length release, ''Raptus'' sounds mellower and smoother. There are still a few gloomy and slightly oppressive sounds but most parts sound surprisingly relaxed and mysterious. The band includes several musique concrète elements with some field recordings of announcements made in the different stations and trains. These elements add a lot of authentic atmosphere to this release. This band really seems to want its listeners to go and discover the subway system on their own. Honestly said, this listening experience is much more impressive than an actual ride through Montreal's subway that isn't as spectacular as similar systems in Moscow, Paris, London or even Toronto. 

    The transitions between the four tracks are nearly flawless and the sum of the four songs is much stronger than its different parts. Musically, floating keyboard sounds meet a very playful bass guitar play and a technically skilled yet atmospherically integrated drum play. While most guitar riffs are rather calm and have an obvious classic space rock influence, the more vivid parts often have a modern djent sound. The sound is dominated by guitars and keyboards while the rhythm section is incredibly rich without taking too much space. Each song is excellent on its own but the little details make each track unique. I'm not even remotely missing any type of vocals at any point of this album which proves how complete the final result sounds.

    The balance between soft and harsh parts, between rock and metal elements, as well as between classic genre influences going back to the early seventies and more modern metal passages make this EP a highly enjoyable release without any unnecessary lengths. Fans of any type of progressive music should buy this record on the band's Bandcamp presence and pay a fair price for this extraordinary gem.

    Final rating: 9,5/10

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  • Metallica - Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, Metallica!

    This limited Record Store Day live album by American thrash metal legend Metallica is a really interesting release. First of all, it's limited to twenty thousand copies in the world and includes a little certificate that gives you the feeling to own something exclusive. Secondly, the album has the very meaningful title ''Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica!'' and all profits of this release are donated to the victims of the terrible attacks in Paris last year which is a very good cause in my opinion. Thirdly, the record was recorded at Le Bataclan were the most violent part of those attacks took place and it's a great sign to show that rock and metal music as part of our liberal Western lifestyle have survived and won't adapt, change or vanish in any form despite the rough circumstances. Fourthly, this concert was recorded almost thirteen years ago when the band played three shows at three different locations in Paris in just one day to support the release of the controversial studio record ''St. Anger'' which was a quite unique idea. 

    Some of the tracks recorded at Le Bataclan had already been used for the recommendable ''Some Kind of Monster'' EP twelve years ago but this is the first time we get to hear the entire concert featuring nine tracks and a running time over one hour. To my surprise, the band only played two songs from said studio album that day and only one was performed at Le Bataclan in form of the unchained ''Frantic'' that sounds quite potent on stage. It would have been interesting to hear more rare live versions of several ''St. Anger'' tunes but this live album still has an interesting selection. 

    In fact, the band played a few tracks which aren't performed very often nowadays. Instead of delivering the usual suspects such as ''Master of Puppets'', ''One'' or ''Enter Sandman'', this album features some less popular material that sounds great in concert. The powerful opener ''The Four Horseman'' is among the strongest cuts of this release, the bass-driven stomper ''Leper Messiah'' is also a nice choice just like the chaotically unchained version of ''No Remorse'' or the pitiless closer ''Damage, Inc.''. 

    Concerning the performance itself, this record includes a few short jam sessions or improvisations but they are never too long or distracting as on earlier live releases like ''Live Shit: Binge and Purge'' that felt more like a circus show at times. The communication between the band and the audience is also solid and the band seems to have fun and develop a solid chemistry despite the new line-up. The fans are quite enthusiastic and give this intimate show a surprisingly powerful atmosphere. 

    Back in the days, the band wasn't as constantly solid on stage as they were back in the eighties or happen to be nowadays. Especially James Hetfield misses a few notes here and there and even messes up the lyrics of ''Ride the Lightning''. These little mistakes make this record very authentic though and I prefer this raw and natural approach over theatrical larger-than-life experiences on some of the band's other live outputs. This charismatic touch makes this record so outstanding and should immediately appeal to any fan of emotional, powerful and unpolished rock and metal music. 

    If you can get your hands on a copy of this limited release, don't hesitate to invest twenty bucks for a good cause and to get a fairly intense live record in return. This might not be Metallica's greatest hour but this album is definitely an entertaining fun ride.

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  • Annihilator - Feast (2013)

    Annihilator's ''Feast'' is one of the most diversified, energizing and technically appealing thrash metal releases in recent memory. In addition to an addicting record without any fillers, this special edition comes along with a generous re-recording of fifteen classics that are on the same level as the original tunes and a DVD featuring the band's entire performance at the renowned Wacken Open Air 2013 plus two more video clips. This excellent package is completed by a new cover artwork that should please fans of horror and gore cinema. I've never been a fan of the band in the past even after trying out several classic tunes and seeing them in concert after their most recent line-up change, but this package has made me a true fan and has become my soundtrack of the Canadian spring over the past few weeks.

    The main record offers a vivid mixture of pitiless thrash metal in the key of the opener ''Deadlock'', more rock 'n roll inspired tunes such as the dynamic ''Wrapped'' which was co-written and features a guest performance by Canadian hard rock columnist, guitarist and singer Danko Jones and a few more progressive tracks with many shifts and changes such as the epic album closer ''One Falls, Two Rise'' that offers both gripping riffs and hoarse vocals as well as uplifting melodies and cleaner vocal efforts. The album also includes an acceptable mellower ballad in form of ''Perfect Angel Eyes'' that works well as a slow and stripped-down change in style in the context of the album despite its cheesy lyrics. 

    Despite this enormous diversity, two other tracks really stand out for me. First of all, there is ''No Surrender'' that features funk rock driven guitar licks, a quite dominating bass guitar play and a highly rhythmical drum play that meet a modern and stomping chorus somewhere between traditional thrash metal and sinister groove metal. This unusual genre combination works extremely well because of its tight and structured execution and even includes dystopian progressive thrash metal guitar sounds and a few psychedelic sounds in the middle section. Even though the lyrics against drug abuse are nothing new for the band, this song really hits the nail on the head since the lyrics that evoke nightmarish descriptions and yet deliver a clear message fit with the twisted musicianship between meandering psychedelic sounds and focused brutal parts. In times where a carefree majority in this country seems to be supportive of legalizing drugs by playing down its dangerous impacts while exaggeratedly and unfairly stigmatizing regular cigarette smokers in publicity campaigns, it's both important and refreshing to hear about this kind of experience and get a logical message from time to time. This song is clearly my favorite on the album.

    The second track that stands out is the dynamic up-tempo track ''Demon Code'' that experiments with uplifting traditional heavy metal guitar leads in the middle section while the rest of the song is much angrier and features an oppressing chorus that will haunt you for a long time. Decently employed atmospheric sound effects in the coda, slightly uneasy guitar effects in the few slower parts and a fast bass guitar line add to the gloomy atmosphere of this song. This track brings the visual concept and title of ''Feast'' to the point in an outstanding manner.

    In the end, any thrash metal fan should get his hands on this extraordinary package that offers more than three hours of high-quality entertainment. This underestimated album convinces with its high degree of entertaining diversity without any shifts in focus or quality since the band always manages to sound exactly like itself and nothing else. This is mostly due to a truly inspired and technically impressive guitar and bass guitar play by band leader Jeff Waters, Dave Padden's most diversified and skilled vocal performance of his career and a vivid breath of fresh air brought to you by new and young drummer Mike Harshaw. This package is definitely a perfect introduction to this legendary Canadian band, a beautiful special edition for collectors and fans of long date and an intense swansong for singer Dave Padden who left the band after this album.

    Final rating: 9,5/10

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  • こくまろみるく / Kokumaromilk - 海神 / Poseidon

    If you think you knew everything about Kokumaromilk's strange genre potpourri, you might not be prepared for the level of weirdness included on the project's last release ''Poseidon''. While the debut record sounded childish and random at times, the sophomore effort had a much darker and more progressive vibe and this final record is a mixture of both styles that sounds so radical that it's still taking you by surprise. In a certain way, Kokumaromilk seem to have found their very own style after all since this release summarizes everything this band is about. Maybe these songs are also leftovers from previous recording sessions since this record doesn't have any guiding line aside of its randomness.

    The opening title song might actually be the best song in the project's short yet intensive career. After a disturbing overture recalling classical composer Edgard Varèse, this track mixes classical music and swing elements with Japanese retro pop music over some simplistic heavy metal riffs and a much more distinctive funky bass guitar and vivid percussion performance that even includes a drum solo. The middle part adds psychedelic vocal samples, some electronic music and harsh vocals. The coda offers a well-deserved break and ends on a more harmonious note with relaxing piano melodies. This song sounds as if it was taken from the soundtrack of an old Godzilla movie from the early seventies and remixed by visual kei outfit Mucc with some help by Russian multi-instrumentalist Senmuth. You really have to like the random weirdness of Japanese music to enjoy this overwhelming genre potpourri. The only Western band with a comparable style that comes to mind is Canadian progressive metal group Unexpect. Still, this song somehow works because the progression of experimental ideas is somewhat coherent and fluid and this entertaining song simply never gets boring and has an intriguingly sinister atmosphere.

    ''Bruises and Screw'' is a typical example for a song that is so bad that it's good again. If the opener represented the band's complex and dark side, the second track exposes the band's childish and commercial touch. Artificially flavored keyboard beats and childishly female Auto-Tune vocals are intertwined with extreme metal passages including growls that sound like burps or farts. Despite this cringe-worthy combination, the track is extremely catchy and won't get out of your mind. This tune sounds like the little retarded brother of the band's catchiest tune ''PIPIPI''.

    How may I describe the concluding ''Prelude to the Drama''? It sounds like an aggressively discordant retro pop tune that could come right from a David Lynch movie. Nerve-firing sound effects and muddy vocals meet abrupt breaks before the track ends with a sudden sample of applause that sounds quite ironic in the context. Despite its experimental style and dystopian mood, this short closing tune is rather pointless in my book and one of the project's worst songs. The track is simply going nowhere and too short to build up any kind of momentum.

    Who might purchase this weird record? Fans of eclectic Japanese music might pick this up as a special gem for their extensive collection. Those who are pretentious enough to show everyone how experimental and open-minded they are to listen to this kind of music might also take a shot at buying this expensive rarity. This release is also a perfect way to get rid of someone who is stalking you like an annoying friend or someone who's exaggeratedly in love with you since listening to this type of music will definitely isolate you and offer you some peaceful hours on your own. If you are the kind of person who wants to scare elderly people by blasting this type of music in your car, you will surely get a lot of negative attention with this record. If you don't do drugs but want to be in a transcendent state of mind, this sonic bad trip is certainly a daring experience. In my opinion, Kokumaromilk's ''Poseidon'' is an occasionally entertaining gimmick but nothing more.

    Final rating: 65%

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