• Ladies and gentlemen,

    ''Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein'' is a song by German medieval rock band In Extremo. The song is the third single taken from the 2016 studio effort ''Quid pro quo''. The German title of the single translates to ''Dear fatherland, be calm'' while the Latin title of the studio record translates to ''What for whom''. This requires further explanation. ''What for whom'' relates to the ''give and take'' principle and many songs on this album talk about the fact that most people only want to take but never care to give anything. The lyrics deal with the negative impacts of capitalism, death, greed, megalomania, revenge and war on many levels.

    The third single deals with the horrors of war seen through the eyes of a child. It tells the story of a teenager who has to go to war to defend his home country. In the beginning, the teenager is energized, motivated and proud to fight for his country. As he finds himself in the middle of the war, he realizes too late that he has been blinded by exaggerated patriotism, peer pressure and military propaganda. As the teenager is about to die on the battlefield, he just asks the home country to be quiet for once because he wants to die by himself. Instead of letting patriotism, peer pressure and propaganda into his heart, he swears to only let the neutral death into his heart.

    The lyrics of the song might be inspired by some of the band members' ancestors who were forced to participate in senseless wars they didn't understand but they also relate to many contemporary armed conflicts where children still have to die during the horrors of war. The intense video clip of the song that also includes a child's choir and air raid siren sounds shows scenes from armed conflicts from all around the world, from the Second World War over the Vietnam War to the horrors of Aleppo and other places. The video shows these horrors of war with the underlying message that mankind alone is responsible for the gruesome deaths of its children.

    This meaningful song happens to be my favorite track from In Extremo's excellent ''Quid pro quo'' record and one of my very favorite tracks this year. Music, lyrics and video form a coherent trinity. If you don't feel anything while listening to this song and watching this video clip, you're probably already dead in a certain way. Let's save our children and let's speak and stand up against the horrors of war: ''Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein''.

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  • Limitless (2011)

    ''Limitless'' is an entertaining science-fiction movie based upon the theory that humans are only using ten percent of their brain and the question what might happen if we were able to access more or all parts of our brain efficiently. Instead of focusing on the scientific and philosophic thoughts behind this concept, ''Limitless'' wastes a lot of potential as it limits itself to being an entertaining action- thriller with a debatable ending and moral.

    The story focuses on the life of Eddie Morra. In the beginning, he seems to be a naive loser who never gets anything done and gets dumped by his girlfriend. When he starts taking a drug offered to him by a shady acquaintance, his life seems to change for the better as Eddie Morra becomes a popular writer, makes a lot of money on the stock market and becomes friends with a group of careless jet- setters. Soon, his addiction to the drug starts having negative impacts on himself and people around him as he gets tracked down by other addicts, competitors and loan sharks. In addition to this, he starts having blackouts and severe pain at times. He even gets involved in a murder case where he can't remember whether he killed the victim or not because of the drug. As he tries to find out more about the nootropic NZT-48, he realizes that a lot of addicts got sick or died of it either because of overdosing it or because they tried to stop taking it.

    At this point, the movie could have taken a more thoughtful approach to elaborate on the horrors of drug addiction and its side effects. Instead, we get to see a lot of chasing passages, conspirative manipulations and murder scenes leading to a morally debatable ending that is explained very weakly. Overall, you get an entertaining, fast-paced and well done action-thriller but the story wastes its scientific potential midway through the movie and lacks inspiration in the second half. 

    From that point of view, I like the very similar ''Lucy'' by Luc Besson much better because it keeps asking philosophic and scientific questions and has a thought-provoking ending. People probably preferred ''Limitless'' because it glorifies the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle and because it's easier to understand. In the end, I can recommend ''Limitless'' if you are looking for an entertaining action-thriller with solid actresses and actors and a stylish production. If you are looking for something which is both entertaining and intellectual, I would rather recommend Luc Besson's ''Lucy''. 

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  • Ladies and gentlemen,

    This is the second out of three parts revisiting the numerous concerts I have attended in Montreal and Ottawa over the past few months. There are many more to come in November with Ghost, In Flames. Sonata Arctica to only name a few. Here we go again. 

    Cenograph

    Most of the following pictures were shot during a show involving numerous bands at Foufounes Électriques in Montreal. I attended this show with a friend and we had a great time. The line-up consisted mostly of progressive metal bands with some of them being entirely instrumental and featuring some outstanding musicianship. The opening group featured in this picture is called Cenograph. They were one of the very best opening acts I have ever seen. They convinced with numbing, melancholic and melodic compositions reaching lengths around ten minutes without ever getting boring. If you like mellower progressive metal with an intellectual side, go check out their Bandcamp presence: https://cenograph.bandcamp.com/ 

    Unbeing

    Up next were instrumental progressive metal band Unbeing. This band has released the very best record of 2016 so far called Ceres in my opinion. Just like Spacemak3r a few weeks earlier, this underground group doesn't play a lot of shows, so I couldn't miss out on this opportunity. This band didn't disappoint. The atmosphere of the songs was gripping and found a perfect balance between heavier and liberating parts on one side and mellower and hypnotizing structures on the other side. The group offered a great selection of tracks from all its records so far. The members are all absolutely outstanding musicians and proved it in concert without forgetting to interact sympathetically with the crowd here and there. Overall, the band's slot on this long night was one of the best moments in concert of the year in my book. If you're interested in hearing more of them, please check out my reviews for their first three albums.

    Unbeing (2011): http://kluseba.eklablog.com/unbeing-unbeing-2011-diversified-instrumentals-with-a-soul-of-sadness--a47774677

    Raptus (2014): http://kluseba.eklablog.com/metro-2014-a-review-of-unbeing-s-raptus-a125900918

    Ceres (2016): http://kluseba.eklablog.com/join-the-revolution-a-review-of-unbeing-s-ceres-a126183414

    Gone in April

    The third band of the night was rather different from the previous two groups. Gone in April are a classic gothic metal band featuring a classically trained female vocalist and a supporting male vocalist adding some harsh parts here and there. In the beginning I thought this band didn't really blend in but I enjoyed the group's show quite a bit because it offered a breath of fresh air that night. Since I'm a gothic metal fan, I appreciated the band's performance that stood out with a strong female main vocalist, some violin play in the mellower tracks and a few slightly progressive structures here and there. I purchased the band's two records so far for a reasonable price after the show and didn't regret it.

    Cydemind

    Before headliners Kreise, which would offer some alternative metal in the key of System of a Down, hit the stage, one last progressive metal band with some more outstanding musicians would amaze the crowd in Montreal. Cydemind stands out with an overall softer tone supported by melancholic violin parts and a more dominant use of keyboards. The band was able to create a truly dreamy, enchanting and mysterious atmosphere and the crowd responded really well to this. The band was on one level with Cenograph and Unbeing, slightly above Gone in April and clearly above Kreise. This was another great discovery and I also purchased this group's EP after the show.

    Tengger Cavalry

    This picture was taken a few weeks later during a show of international folk metal act Tengger Cavalry at Maverick in downtown Ottawa. The founding member Zhang Tianran is the only remaining member of the original line-up from the People's Republic of China which had come together six years earlier. The band had risen to fame thanks to its unique Mongolian folk metal style and a clever use of social media. Zhang Tianran is now living in the United States of America and has joined forces with four different international musicians. Sadly, only two musicians accompanied him on Tengger Cavalry's tour through North America which resulted in the fact that a lot of instrumental passages came from a tape during the show. I also got the impression that the chemistry between Zhang Tianran on traditional instruments, guitars and vocals and his hired guns Alex Abayev on bass and Jogh Schifris on drums wasn't always the best. After a difficult start, the band got better and better towards the end and the crowd cheered, danced and moshed along to the exotic songs. Even though Tengger Cavalry's performance was far from being the best I have witnessed this year, it was definitely a unique experience to hear this kind of music in concert. The opening groups Black Oak Decline and Incite had been rather forgettable though.

    Once again, here are a few videos from the shows I have just described above.

    Cenograph:

    Unbeing:

    Gone in April:

    Cydemind:

    Kreise:

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  • Ladies and gentlemen,

    I have attended numerous concerts over the past two months and before I start losing track of them, I simply wanted to post a few pictures of these shows in Montreal and Ottawa with a couple of comments on each band. I will also write a longer and separate report about the show of Disturbed, Chevelle and Nothing More very soon. Here we go.

    Michael's Laundry

    This band is called Michael's Laundry and I saw them as an opening act for Spacemak3r at Foufounes Électriques (still the weirdest name for a venue I have ever known) in Montreal. The band plays an entertaining mixture of electronic and industrial rock. Imagine a mellower version of Rob Zombie and you might have a slight idea. The group's performance was solid but not outstanding.

    Graveyard Strippers

    I know this picture isn't particularly great but it was the best I was able to shoot with my old cell phone in a dark venue filled with smoke. The group is called Graveyard Strippers. They play a mixture of industrial and nu metal. While the band performance itself was rather average, they put on a great show with a lot of background dancers, make up and massive posing.

    Porn

    This group is called Porn and they are a tribute band to nu metal pioneers Korn. They mostly played some older material from their idols and did a quite a good job. I'm not a massive Korn fan but the short set of this cover band was performed very well.

    Hollow

    Hollow is a symphonic black metal band in the key of Dimmu Borgir and the likes. I don't know if it's a coincidence but this band has a song called ''Cryptic Howling'' while the symphonic black metal band Cryptik Howling from Rouyn-Noranda has a song called ''Hollow'' which was supported by a very cool video clip five years ago:

    This video makes me think about this cult scene from the movie Blue Velvet from 1986 by David Lynch who still is one of my favorite directors:

    I know, I'm missing the point here. Where was I? Oh, yes, Hollow. Their show was good, why? I bought their latest record Mordrake as well: bleak, intellectual and intense.

    Spacemak3r

    This is the reason why my friend Charles and I went to this concert in Montreal: Spacemak3r. We are both massive fans of this group that doesn't play a lot of concerts, so we didn't hesitate when we heard that they would play one of their rare shows in Montreal. It's almost impossible to describe this band accurately but if you want to get a better idea, I would invite you to read my two reviews of their two studio records.

    Spacemak3r: http://kluseba.eklablog.com/spacemak3r-spacemak3r-2010-10-10-a58676735

    Spacemak3r II: http://kluseba.eklablog.com/poor-alex-lucky-listener-a-review-of-spacemak3r-s-spacemak3r-ii-a117870814 

    Spacemak3r

    The band isn't only musically stunning but also visually. Under the slogan ''Space Carnival'' the band put up a haunted circus show reminding me of a mixture of The Rocky Horror Show, Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. If you like horror movies and rock music, this one's for you!

    Spacemak3r

    The band doesn't only consist of musicians and a singer but also of acrobats who are working with different costumes and objects on and in front of the stage. The whole concept of combing metal music and arts is quite dynamic and entertaining. Even if you didn't like the music, I'm sure anybody would still recognize the group's creative quality performances. It was a pleasure to finally see this group in concert. I would definitely go see them again in the future.

    Vantablack Warship

    Did you realize that this is a different venue? I hope so! This is at The Brass Monkey in Ottawa. Now Ottawa is a very big city and it took me more than two hours to arrive using public transport. Sometimes, I'm telling myself that I should spend some money on a car. I will think about it for next spring. Anyway, there aren't that many bands that are worth such a long ride but Annihilator definitely are. The thrash metal band from Ottawa has become famous around the world in the past thirty years and is still around with a brand new touring line-up around band leader Jeff Waters. Annihilator's opening act was a dynamic death/thrash metal band called Vantablack Warship from Montreal with members from groups such as Buffalo Theory MTL and Les Ékorchés. I liked the band's energy despite a shy crowd (business as usual in Ottawa I might say) and encouraged them by spending five bucks on their demo which turned out being a really solid one. I hope to hear more from these five lads soon.

    Annihilator

    Up next were obviously Annihilator and they put up a great show. Despite the new line-up, the chemistry was great. Jeff Waters entertained the crowd with some memorable anecdotes of his long career and he even gave a guitar to someone in the audience chosen by a lottery system. I wish I had won this even though I don't play any instruments. I know I should. I always wanted to learn to play the bagpipes but as a teenager I was busy practicing four sports at the same time and hanging out with friends in shady bars at the weekend. Maybe I could learn it these days but I'm busy working as well as attending concerts and sports events. I know life is full of difficult choices. Anyway, Annihilator played a great and balanced set with many classic tunes such as ''Alison Hell'', ''Set the World on Fire'' and ''Refresh the Demon'' on one side and more recent tracks such as ''Creepin' Again'', ''No Way Out'' and ''Suicide Society'' on the other. I had tons of fun during the show and didn't care about the long ride anymore.

    Before I go on with the next bunch of bands and concerts, here are a few nice videos from the shows I have just described.

    Michael's Laundry:

    Graveyard Strippers:

    Porn:

    Hollow:

    Spacemak3r:

    Vantablack Warship:

    Annihilator:

    If you watch carefully, you can even see me in the two Annihilator videos. If you have found me, congratulations on having no life. I'm just joking. The second part of my concert reviews is going to be uploaded soon. Stay tuned and rock on!

    Sebastian Kluth

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  • Sunshine in Ottawa

    This picture was taken at the Canadian Museum of Nature in September. I hope the current bad weather front will pass soon, especially since weather really affects my mood.

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