• Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct (2016)

    Even though it looks atrocious to me, the album cover actually represents Metallica's new output very well. The band looks back on its early years and successes and offers an eclectic mixture of its first five studio albums. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct includes several tracks that feature the aggressiveness, energy and speed of Kill 'Em All which surprised many critics positively. It offers several longer tracks that keep the balance between tightly performed and very rhythmic passages and more plodding and melodic parts with classic heavy metal influences as on Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets which was to be expected. Other tunes sound more clinical and are based upon groovier rhythms as on ...and Justice for All as this release finally gets the recognition it deserves by the band. A few tunes are slightly shorter, more accessible and quite catchy which represents the self-titled album without reaching the quality of its best cuts. Hardwired... to Self-Destruct basically sounds like a revamped greatest hits collection of Metallica's diverse styles in form of new songs.

    This is not the first time Metallica attempts to go back to its roots. After the controversial yet very unique St. Anger record, the band tried to create a more traditional thrash metal album in form of Death Magnetic. While this album had a few excellent songs, it fell off in the second half and suffered from a terribly loud and unbalanced production. After the experimental collaboration with Lou Reed in form of Lulu, history repeats again as Metallica tries once more to release a more traditional thrash metal release. Death Magnetic and Hardwired... to Self-Destruct are actually quite similar in terms of approach, sound and style. Simply put, if you liked Death Magnetic, you will also like Hardwired... to Self-Destruct but the opposite is also true.

    There are a few things where Hardwired... to Self-Destruct performs better than Death Magnetic. The new album is still overproduced but not as massively as the loudness war offered eight years earlier. While the predecessor only featured long and often unfocused, tedious and repetitive tunes, the new album finally features a song that is short, precise and concise in form of the quasi title track ''Hardwired''. I would have liked to hear more songs like this ferocious opener that sounds so motivated that one might actually think that this track is a forgotten bonus track from the Kill 'Em All sessions. Despite being more than twice as long, the pitiless epilogue ''Spit Out the Bone'' remains highly addicting from start to finish and closes the circle to the brilliant opener.

    There are also a few elements where Hardwired... to Self-Destruct convinces less than Death Magnetic. The predecessor had a few fillers in the second half but the new album falls really flat on the second disc and offers quantity instead of quality. Aside of the vivid album closer, all other five tunes on the second disc are plodding and overlong, feature different unfocused song writing ideas that don't stick together and have no flow and rehash several structures and lyrics the band has already used before and employed with more urgency in the past. While the predecessor features many memorable songs that work very well in concert, the only truly outstanding tunes on the new record are the thrash metal masterpieces ''Hardwired'' and ''Spit Out the Bone'' as well as the more melodic mid-tempo stomper ''Moth into Flame'' that goes successfully back to the ...and Justice for All era. While several other tunes have good passages, the new record only features three excellent tunes that convince in their entirety out of twelve or thirteen if you consider bonus track ''Lords of Summer'' as part of this release. It's not a disaster but it's not a great ratio either.

    Another reason why this record sounds two-faced to me is related to the individual performances on this album. James Hetfield sounds as convincing, juvenile and passionate as in his early years. His vocals are constantly powerful and he even mostly avoids his usual flaws and trademarks in form of silly exclamations like ''oh!'', ''uh!'' and ''yeah!'' that have dominated Metallica albums for about two decades. People like to criticize Lars Ulrich to unfair extents but it sounds obvious to me that his drum play sounds much improved on the new album as if he had taken additional drum lessons. He seemingly unforcedly keeps the speed, rhythm and urgency alive during the entirety of the challenging album closer ''Spit Out the Bone'' for example and he also adds interesting drum patterns in several tracks as in the calmer passages of ''Now That We're Dead''. He shows the numerous critics that he's still able to pull off an expert job. Both Hetfield and Ulrich deliver their best performances since ...and Justice for All in my book.

    On the other side, the other two members are lacking creativity, presence and urgency on the new album. Robert Trujillo has one shining moment with a vivid bass solo in ''Spit Out the Bone'' but otherwise he doesn't take much space and offers a rather conservative background performance. He only has one single song writing credit on the entire album in form of ''ManUNkind'' which is one of the most uninspired tunes on the entire record. The most disappointing element about the new record is Kirk Hammett's performance though. He has no song writing credit at all which can't just be excused by the doubtful story that he lost his iPhone including numerous riff ideas. To make things worse, his uninspired guitar solos almost always sound the same and often don't fit to the vibe of the specific song. They often sound like bluesy hard rock solos with unnecessary spectral glides. To be honest, Hetfield and Ulrich could have pulled this record off with some young session musicians in the key of other thrash metal bands like Annihilator and Megadeth and the final result would have been the same or even better which is a very sad thing to say. Trujillo and especially Hammett need to step up and have something to prove on a potential next studio record.

    In the end, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct is a very average thrash metal record that doesn't deserve the attention it gets. Occasional fans, die-hard completionist and non metal fans who are only purchasing this record because of the group's famous brand might be momentarily satisfied. More experienced, faithful and intellectual metal fans should download ''Hardwired'', ''Moth into Flame'' and ''Spit Out the Bone'' or wait until these songs will be included on an upcoming live release.

    Final verdict: 65%


    ''Atlas, Rise!''

    ''Now That We're Dead''

    ''Moth into Flame''

    ''Dream No More''

    ''Halo On Fire''



    ''Here Comes Revenge''

    ''Am I Savage?''

    ''Murder One''

    ''Spit Out the Bone''

    Bonus track: ''Lords of Summer''

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

  • Sonata Arctica - The Ninth Hour (2016)

    I have always had a hard time approaching Sonata Arctica's music. Their early years always sounded like a light version of Stratovarius to me. Their catchier tunes were so saccharine, fluffy and amorphous that I considered them worse than exchangeable radio pop music. The group's more experimental and progressive tracks sounded tiring, structureless and mismatched to me since instruments and vocals often didn't harmonize in my opinion. It's more by coincidence that I saw the group playing live three times in the past few years. In fact, I was always coming to see them because they were playing with another interesting band such as Leaves' Eyes, Nightwish and Xandria for example. Despite not being too fond of their style, I liked the band's energetic, intimate and sympathetic live performances and decided to give them another shot. Despite all its obvious flaws that have rightfully been mentioned in numerous reviews, The Ninth Hour somehow manages to transform its flaws into strengths and to sound appealing to me. It's not a masterpiece by any means but a calm, harmonious and intellectual release that European power metal fans should pick up.

    Let's try to point out how Sonata Arctica manages to make its flaws work in its favor with three concrete examples. The first debatable track is already the opener ''Closer to an Animal''. When I first heard the song, I felt that the vocal melodies and the lead guitar melodies didn't harmonize at certain moments and sounded strangely out of tone. The vocals sound somewhat powerless and the dull production adds to this impression. I still think this track is a bad choice as an album opener. It neither opens the record with a powerful bang nor with a catchy hit. Songs like the classic up-tempo power metal stomper ''Rise a Night'' or the catchy ''Life'' would have been much better choices to open this album. Still, I didn't want to give up on the song and it ended up growing on me. The opener is a rather progressive track with ambitious lyrics, hypnotizing soundscapes and unusual song writing. It's actually quite a statement to open the album with a song that is that hard to digest. Sonata Arctica make it clear right from the start that they have their very own and unique sound and think out of the box. I respect the group's motives and since the song has enough atmosphere, depth and diversity, it ended up being one of my favorite tunes on this release.

    A second example comes ahead with the second tune ''Life''. This song does so many thing that aren't hold in high regard. The melody lines are extremely soft, melodic and catchy which is quite unusual for metal music in general. Even in their own power metal genre, this track is outstanding in terms of commercial appeal. In addition to this, the song includes rather unusually life-affirming lyrics that come across quite awkwardly with strange passages such as ''Life is better alive''. If that wasn't enough, the entire song builds up towards a chorus that focuses on a happy sing-along part instead of actual lyrics. The entire track makes me think of a fluffy rose teddy bear with colored hearts drawn all over its soft plush that just needs to be hugged by a joyful toddler. No matter how hard I try, I just can't escape this song's comforting, hopeful and optimistic charm. The obtrusive chorus ends up being completely unforgettable, the joyous melodies get me every time and even the unusual lyrics are stuck on my mind because they are so particular.

    A third example is the fact that The Ninth Hour almost entirely consists of balladesque tracks with the exceptions of the moodier ''Fairytale' and the powerful ''Rise A Night'' that end up being highlights on here because they provide some much needed energy to an otherwise quite soft record. The number of calm, harmonious and slow-paced tunes is almost overwhelming. Still, it's undeniable that the band simply does what it knows best and excels in this genre. This can be seen as predictability, repetition and standstill but in this case I see it as a band's rare awareness of its own strengths and limits. Even though a first listening experience of this ballad collection might be tiring, it turns out that most of the songs on The Ninth Hour show enough variation to stick out and convince in different manners. The folk-inspired ''We Are What We Are'' develops a smooth, epic and enchanting atmosphere with soothing vocals and floating keyboard sounds. The elegant, neoclassical and imaginative ''Till Death's Done Us Apart'' sounds like an inspired interpretation of a creative fairy tale. The mixture of uplifting melodies yet sorrowful lyrics in the very melodic ''Fly, Navigate, Communicate'' develop an intriguing contrast that unfolds its imaginative charm more and more with each spin. 

    In the end, Sonata Arctica manage to transform what seem to be obvious flaws into unique strengths on The Ninth Hour. This record definitely isn't for everybody but you can't get anything better if you're looking for smooth, melodic and enchanting European power metal these days. Aside of the unnecessary and overlong ''White Pearl, Black Oceans (Part II: By the Grace of the Ocean)'' and the album closer ''On the Faultline (Closure to an Animal)'' which is actually just a softer alternative version of the opener, this record includes nine songs that may take some time to open up but will unfold their magic if you bring some patience and appreciation for this genre. This is why these unique Finish magicians deserve a fair rating here.

    On a closing side note, the Japanese bonus track ''The Elephant'' is one of the best tracks on the new record and comes along as an energizing up-tempo power metal track with meaningful lyrics about the madness of war. This track is a definite highlight on the record and might appeal to fans of the band's early years. Faithful fans should really get their hands on the Japanese version.

    Final rating: 80%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

  • École du futur

    Bonjour à vous,

    Récemment, la question suivante a été discutée dans un comité pédagogique dont je fais partie: À quoi ressemblerait l'école en 2025?

    Je trouvais la question vraiment pertinente et j'ai travaillé sur dix points différents qui me sont venus en tête. Mes idées sont évidemment inspirées de mon propre lieu de travail, mais elles pourraient s'adapter à bien d'autres institutions scolaires. Je me suis dit que je pourrais partager mes idées sur mon blogue afin d'amorcer des discussions constructives avec d'autres internautes. N'hésitez donc pas à laisser un commentaire. 

    Voici les dix points (sans ordre spécifique) auxquels j'ai pensé:

    1.) Apprendre aux élèves de prendre soin d'eux: intégrer des concepts de santé mentale et bien-être dans tous les cours et renforcer la santé physique en développant davantage la création d'équipes sportives au niveau parascolaire pour renforcer également le sentiment d'appartenance et l'esprit d'équipe (il y a plusieurs élèves qui m'ont dit qu'ils seraient intéressés par une équipe de soccer au sein de mon école par exemple).

    2.) Collaborer entre enseignants: il serait dynamique de réaliser davantage de projets multidisciplinaires.

    3.) Consulter les élèves: Il serait intéressant d'avoir le point de vue des élèves également: à quoi ressemblerait leur école du futur? (On pourrait peut-être faire un concours et l'élève décrivant le meilleur projet pourrait recevoir un prix ou voir son idée se réaliser).

    4.) Développer l'autonomie des élèves: par exemple en misant sur l'approche pédagogique de la classe inversée, en organisant des projets thématiques lors d'une période d'études par mois et en mettant constamment à jour certaines mesures adaptatives en lien avec les résultats scolaires des élèves.

    5.) Développer le potentiel créatif des élèves à l'aide d'activités parascolaires (par exemple en lien avec les arts plastiques, l'art dramatique et la musique).

    6.) Intégrer l'école dans sa communauté locale: aider les plus démunis de notre société, intégrer les nouveaux arrivants comme les réfugiés dans notre culture, organiser des projets communautaires etc.

    7.) Intégrer le fablab et d'autres innovations technologiques dans les cours et projets scolaires.

    8.) Intégrer davantage de cours de langue: la plupart des écoles européennes offrent au moins l'apprentissage de deux langues étrangères (dans mon cas, il y en avait même quatre à cinq) et ce serait intéressant d'intégrer un cours de langue optionnel pendant une année scolaire (par exemple l'espagnol, l'arabe ou l'allemand).

    9.) Les voyages forment la jeunesse: organiser davantage de voyages scolaires et surtout des échanges avec des élèves d'ailleurs (par exemple sous forme d'échanges inter-provinciaux: les élèves québécois vivent dans une famille ontarienne et fréquentent une école privée ontarienne pendant deux semaines et par la suite, les élèves ontariens viendront vivre dans une famille québécoise et fréquenteront notre école pendant deux semaines).

    10.) Offrir des perfectionnements et remises à niveau durant l'été (ou durant une fin de semaine): non seulement aux élèves ayant échoué un cours, mais aussi à ceux désireux d'apprendre plus (peut-être sous forme d'ateliers avec un certificat à donner aux élèves comme source de motivation additionnelle).

    Quelles seraient vos ambitions, idées et opinions? 

    Merci pour votre attention,

    Sebastian Kluth

    PS: Voici un article fort intéressant en lien avec le sujet que j'ai lu récemment: https://sympa-sympa.com/inspiration-education/lecole-du-futur-a-ouvert-ses-portes-en-finlande-11355/ 

    Images tirées du blogue ''easydoor.over-blog.com'' et du blogue ''http://exopclab.blogspot.ca/2011/12/exopc-hd-classroom.html''

    L'école du futur II

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

  • Ladies and gentlemen,

    I have decided to write two completely different reviews for the same album for the very first time. The first review is a more traditional and serious review that exposes the record's strength and weaknesses. The second review is close to a theater play and focuses on a dialogue between two people who have quite opposite views. I hope you enjoy this little experiment of mine. Don't forget to check out the album as well!

    In Flames - Battles (2016)

    First review

    In Flames is without a doubt one of the most controversially discussed metal bands. The Swedish quintet has changed, finetuned and progressed its sound on each studio record and shifted away from melodic death metal to electronic alternative rock over the years. While many traditionalists see the band as traitors who are trying to be commercially successful by any means necessary, the group is still playing sold-out shows in front of several thousands of old and new fans alike. I have been a fan of all phases this band has gone through and thoroughly enjoyed each of the last three albums because they had consequent, diversified and energizing tracks that always offered something new.

    This isn’t the case on the band’s latest record Battles. It’s not a bad album by any means and on a purely subjective level I listen to this record quite regularly. From a more honest and objective point of view, one must admit that the band offers quantity instead of quality on Battles. Among the fourteen new tracks, only about half of them manage to stick out and offer something interesting. The other half is solid but ultimately exchangeable and repetitive at times. The band offers catchy electronic alternative rock with minor melodic death metal elements but a true evolution compared to the last effort that felt more courageous is missing here.

    The band convinces during its more concise tunes. The single ‘’The Truth’’ was controversially discussed because it is dominated by simple guitar riffs, rhythmic electronic elements that are almost danceable and a catchy and mellow chorus you won’t get out of your mind. The saccharine clean vocals and the juvenile anthemic backing vocals only add to the controversy. I really like this song because even experienced alternative rock and pop bands don’t come around with such a precise, melodic and addicting track all the time. The lyrics are also quite interesting and the lines ‘’We are the truth that hurts the most; it hurts when your denial’s exposed’’ might as well be addressed to the closed-minded traditionalists that have kept criticizing the group in a most nonconstructive way for far over one and a half decades by now. It fits that this message is delivered in the band’s most commercial track ever and that this song has been chosen as a single. This earworm is one of the few moments on the album where the band really takes some risks. Another great track is the other single ‘’The End’’ that convinces with a balanced mixture of a harsh vocals recalling the band’s roots, a melodic pre-chorus in the key of the group’s more recent material and a powerful chorus supported by a children’s choir that offers something completely new.

    This album also offers several songs where the band either rehashes ideas that have worked better in the past or where the group experiments in an unsuccessful way. An example for the first category is the uninspired power ballad ‘’Here Until Forever’’ that reminds of several mellower tracks on the last studio effort with calm verses and emotional choruses. This song doesn’t have the uplifting lyrics of ‘’Dead Eyes’’ or the emotionality of ‘’Paralyzed’’ though and sounds more like a pop punk ballad that could have been released by Blink-182 or Good Charlotte one and a half decades ago. The chugging ‘’Wallflower’’ falls into the second category with its overlong build-up and a total length above seven minutes. While previous epic tracks of the band such as the menacing ‘’Your Bedtime Story Is Scaring Everyone’’ or the emotionally driven ‘’The Chosen Pessimist’’ had a clear evolution from start to finish, ‘’Wallflower’’ disappoints with simplistic riffs, uninspired electronic background sounds, vocals that are more breathed than sung and weird atmospheric breaks that break the flow over and over again. All those elements are never going anywhere and dragging on for far too long.

    The main difference between Battles and Siren Charms is that the predecessor sounded dark, mysterious and pressured at times while the new album is more catchy, melodic and uplifting. One reason for this might be that the new album was recorded in California while the predecessor was made in Berlin. Since I usually prefer albums that are a rather dark, experimental and profound over more positive, traditional and repetitive efforts, it might not come as a surprise that I prefer Siren Charms over Battles.

    In the end, Battles is a good alternative rock record but only an average release in In Flames’ varied discography. Aside of this record’s more uplifting atmosphere, the band fails to explore new territories or to deliver a consistent return to something it had explored before in the different individual tunes. Overall, the record sounds like a mellower version of the group’s previous five studio outputs. Faithful fans should purchase the record while occasional fans can skip it without any regrets and traditional fans will still be stuck in the past and blindly despise the group’s new style anyway. 

    Rating: 3.5/5

    Second review

    This review is based upon true events. It focuses on the meeting of two metal fans named Willy Wrong and Rudy Right at their local HMV store in Montreal last week. They discussed In Flames’ controversial new record, the group’s debatable identity and the questionable evolution of the metal scene in general.


    WW: ‘’Man, don’t buy that record. In Flames really suck these days.’’


    RR: ‘’Oh, have you already listened to the album?’’


    WW: ‘’No way, I only listen to real metal music. I have heard that abysmal single ‘’The Truth’’ though. Boy, that one really sucks. It sounds like Muse or something like that.’’


    RR: ‘’Like Muse? That’s interesting. I like this band but didn’t realize the similarity. Which song or album of Muse did the song remind you of?’’


    WW: ‘’I don’t know, man. As I said, I only listen to metal music. I’ve read that comparison to Muse in a review. You know, In Flames sound like commercial radio rock these days. Some describe it as a mellow and modern version of Depeche Mode. And let me tell you that I really hate Depeche Mode.’’


    RR: ‘’That would be a big complement if it were true. Depeche Mode have revolutionized the music scene and are an outstanding group in my book. Personally, I think that the new single rather recalls bands like Thirty Seconds to Mars. The chorus might be somewhat saccharine, melodic and catchy but the verses are more guitar-driven and offer some great alternative rock.’’


    WW: ‘’Yeah, it’s too catchy for my taste. Like Lady Gaga or something like that.’’


    RR: ‘’Well, only few bands are able to write such a precise, melodic and addicting song. Even most commercial rock and pop bands don’t manage to be as memorable as In Flames. This song really is an earworm. Just like the other single ‘’The End’’ that offers a balanced mixture of harsher verses recalling the band’s roots, a melodic pre-chorus recalling the band’s more recent outputs and an uplifting chorus with a children’s choir that offers something new.’’


    WW: ‘’A children’s choir, huh? That fits, this kind of music is made for naïve teenagers who don’t really know what metal is. Metal music these days really sucks. I’m glad I grew up in the eighties and nineties.’’


    RR: ‘’Well, if teenagers discover the metal scene thanks to bands like In Flames, I don’t mind that at all. Everybody has to start somewhere and from that point of view In Flames are indeed quite good ambassadors of our scene. The same goes for groups like Five Finger Death Punch, Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold.’’


    WW: ‘’Yeah, they all suck!’’


    RR: ‘’Have you actually listened to Avenged Sevenfold’s new album? It’s truly creative, intellectual and progressive and really goes away from the group’s metalcore roots.’’


    WW: ‘’No way, I only listen to real metal. Those kids don’t have a clue. Even if they claimed that the new In Flames were the best album of the year, I wouldn’t give a damn.’’


    RR: ‘’It actually isn’t the album of the year. The record sounds like a mellower version of the group’s five previous albums with a more uplifting atmosphere. The album has quite a few fillers with the exchangeable power ballad ‘’Here Until Forever’’ or the overlong ‘’Wallflower’’ that seems to go nowhere. But when the band delivers its catchy, concise and melodic tunes with a few new soundscapes, they hit really hard. The electronically driven and highly atmospheric opener ‘’Drained’’ has an absolutely irresistible melodic chorus for example and opens the album with a bang. Or let’s take the effect-ridden closer ‘’Save Me’’ that mixes the band’s melodic death metal roots with a harmonious and uplifting chorus for the ages. Other bands wish they wrote such an addicting song once in their career and in In Flames’ case this highlight isn’t even the lead single of the album. One might not like In Flames’ new commercial and mellow style but one can’t deny that it’s high quality song writing if you simply can’t forget a song after listening to it for the very first time.’’


    WW: ‘’Man, I hear you talking about catchy tunes, experimental soundscapes and power ballads. The metal scene doesn’t need that at all!’’


    RR: ‘’Any form of art evolves. Bands like In Flames actually rejuvenate a genre. This helps the scene to stay alive. I think metal music is even more creative, diversified and energizing than it was decades ago. There is something to find for every taste. I’m glad I didn’t grow up in the eighties and nineties. By the way, In Flames have never claimed to make metal music. They simply do what they like without any boundaries.’’


    WW: ‘’I see, you are like one of those gay teenagers that don’t have a clue about anything.’’


    RR: ‘’I’m not gay and I don’t see what someone’s sexual orientation would have to do with it.’’


    WW: ‘’Dude, I’m telling you. The eighties and nineties were the greatest decades for metal music. You’re only jealous you were still a kid back then and couldn’t see bands like In Flames in their prime. Back then, only real fans listened to metal music. We would skip classes and take a bus ride of two hours to get a new album. We would trade tapes in small fan clubs at the weekend. We would go to the airport to buy some of the few international metal magazines that existed back then to read some reviews about our favorite acts. These days, kids just download their music in a matter of seconds, go to international streaming websites and read exchangeable metal magazines on the internet.’’


    RR: ‘’I’m getting the impression that you are actually jealous of these kids because it’s easier these days to discover new music thanks to a globalized world, new technologies and social media. Most of these kids that you criticize probably know much more about metal music than you did at their age. It’s not because times have changed and because it’s easier to get information these days that fans back in the eighties were better than nowadays.’’


    WW: ‘’You have no clue about these things because you didn’t grow up in the eighties. You keep defending those kids and that commercial nonsense In Flames keep releasing. I’m getting the impression you aren’t a real metal fan either.’’


    RR: ‘’I have about seven hundred physical metal albums in my collection, I attend numerous concerts and festivals in different cities, states and countries each year and I have dozens of metal shirts and other memorabilia in my collection. Maybe that doesn’t mean a thing to you but I do identify with the metal scene these days as much as I did fifteen years ago.’’


    WW: ‘’Bands like In Flames are traitors. Their first four albums were awesome, their fifth was okay and then they decided to suck. I have tried out songs from their last seven albums and they all sucked.’’


    RR: “In Flames have pioneered and excelled in the melodic death metal genre during the first ten years of their career. They have progressively moved on, experimented and tried out new things over the past one and a half decades. I guess that’s better than keeping on releasing the same type of record over and over again without being able to reproduce the chemistry of the early years. If In Flames released a record that sounded like The Jester Race these days, people would rightfully call them fake and you would probably also complain and idolize the group’s early years anyway. In Flames have moved on. Why don’t you move on if you despise everything the group has released during the majority of its career?’’


    WW: ‘’You don’t even know how much this band once meant to me. Lunar Strain was the first album I bought with my pocket money. In Flames were the first big metal band that played a concert in my town. When the Jester Race was released, I hung out with my friends in a metal pub and we knew every song on that record by heart. I kissed my first girlfriend during the Whoracle release party in my metal pub. She was the hottest woman I’ve ever had. These days, everything is different. No metal band is coming to my town anymore. My old metal pub has become a discotheque. I haven’t seen my friends in years. My girlfriend back then left me for another dude with short hair who listened to Depeche Mode. Today, I’m married and I have two kids. My wife forced me to cut my hair and made me lose part of my identity. I had to sell my vinyl collection because there isn’t enough space for it in our house. My son listens to Drake and my daughter to Miley Cyrus. I haven’t attended a metal show in more than ten years. I’m so lonesome. My life has changed for the worse, just like In Flames! Boy, I miss those days.’’


    RR: Don’t cry, my friend. I know a great metal pub. Let’s go there and drink a beer. Just give me two minutes to buy the new In Flames record. It might not be the band’s best one but it’s still an above average alternative metal album. And a true fan has all the albums in his collection anyway, aren’t I right?’’ 



    Shortly after this conversation, Rudy Right invited Willy Wrong to a couple of pints in the local metal pub. Willy Wrong decided to make some changes in his life. He decided to let his hair grow again, discovered his children’s favorite music with an open mind and bought tickets for In Flames’ next concert for his whole family where they all had a great time.


    Final rating: 70%

    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

  • Pantommind – Searching For Eternity

    November 15, 2016 in Reviews by Sebastian Kluth

    PantommindPantommind – Searching For Eternity (2015)

    Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth

    Pantommind is one of my very favorite progressive metal bands of all time, and it’s a shame that the quintet never really got its international breakthrough. One reason for this might be that the band has only released three regular studio records over a career that started twenty-two years ago (under the Lavender Haze banner).

    Things might change soon however, since the band re-released previous records Shade of Fate (from 2005) and Lunasense (from 2009) in the form of an inexpensive dual digipack edition. These days, the band and its management have been putting a lot of effort into the promotion of third studio album, Searching For Eternity. Despite breaking for some time, the band had already worked out most songs for a third release, and after a lengthy but highly efficient maturation period of two years, the quintet finally recorded, mixed, and mastered a new record. This really shows how much these artists care about their music. This band might only have released three records in twenty two years, but each output is a quality, creative milestone of its genre. Searching For Eternity is worth the extended waiting period, and is on the same level of excellence as its predecessors. The overall sound of the album is comparable to the laid back feel of Shade Of Fate – which recalls progressive rock acts such as Pendragon and Yes – rather than to the more versatile and vivid Lunasense, which I feel is more inspired by progressive metal bands such as Fates Warning and Symphony X. Just to give you an idea of what to expect from this third record, I might point at the first three studio records and the first EP of Dream Theater as comparison points, or maybe the Chinese progressive rock band Mirage for a more recent example, though Pantommind indeed has a very unique sound. 

    Something I have always adored about this band is its sound, which is filled with mysterious atmospheres, profound soul, and appeasing warmth instead of focusing on lengthy tunes where each musician tries to show off his talent. The band really functions as a collective, even though each musician himself is technically outstanding. The calmer songs on this album are unbeatable. The uplifting “Moon Horizon” has a soothing sound crowned by a simple yet magical chorus you can’t get out of your head. There is no doubt that, for my taste, “Lost Lullaby” is one of the very best progressive metal ballads ever written. The relaxing keyboard, the gentle, harmonious acoustic guitar, the temperate, slow, and carefully employed electric guitar, and last but not least, the charming lead and uplifting backing vocals fuse in a simple, yet most enchanting way. “Down To The End” has a longing, melancholic, and mysterious tone as it starts with a wonderful combination of acoustic and electric guitars before crystal clear vocals take you on a hypnotizing journey. The song then takes on some speed and adds powerful riffs and versatile drumming. The perfectly integrated middle section features keyboard-driven symphonic fills and passionate guitar solos. As is the case for the very best of progressive metal ballads, the circle is closed when the last minute goes back to the soft acoustic guitar introduced in the overture. My favourite song, however, is the incredible title track “Searching for Eternity’’. It’s a slow- to mid-paced epic closer of nine minutes with warm acoustic guitar, longing, lightly distorted electric guitar, cryptically rumbling bass, smartly diverse percussion, and of course, uplifting vocals that entreat the listener to dream of a place far away. Even among the elevated number of fascinating progressive pearls from this band, the title track really stands out as one of their best ever, and is an example of a perfectly written genre song.

    Pantommind also offers some dynamic mid-tempo tracks, and this helps to deliver its most balanced record so far. I might point out the two collaborations on this album. Bonus track “Lost (Beautiful Life)” features former Pantommind guitarist and keyboardist Jiip Randam. While the main riff sounds a bit more clipped, a tad heavier, and slightly dystopian, the dreamy vocals and sensitive guitar solos add the warm signature sound of the quintet to the tune. The vivid “Walk On” features Swedish vocalist Michael Anderson of progressive metal act Cloudscape and heavy metal outfit Fullfore. His darker, lower, and slightly raspy vocals cooperate stunningly with Tony Ivan’s cleaner, more gracious style in an epic chorus that could find a home in an Activator or Ayreon album. Tony Ivan proves that he can employ more aggressive and strained vocals on his own in the fittingly tight opener “Not For Me”, which is probably the heaviest track on this release that reminds me a little bit of the Allen/Lande project.

    In the end, this perfectly balanced effort doesn’t include any fillers. Even the two instrumental tracks work well as interludes during this sixty-three minute metal gem: the faster, almost power metal-inspired “Hypnophobia” and its melancholy, neofolk-sounding slow motion counterpart “Heart”. As with all great progressive metal records, this release has both songs that leave an immediate deep impression (such as “Not For Me” and “Walk On”), and tracks that open up in all their beauty after several spins (“Searching For Eternity” and “Lost”). It’s the kind of inspiring record to completely escape from reality to for an hour. Despite its progressive and sophisticated style, this release sounds effortless and fluffy or dreamy in a positive way. As you might have realized by now, I consider this record to be a must-have for any progressive rock and metal fan, and a serious candidate for my album of the year of 2015.

    I can only solicit the five outstanding musicians from Gabrovo in Bulgaria to continue making this kind of music. Even if it takes them another decade to come around with another release, I’m confident that all of the reviewers and true fans are willing to wait. Since the band wisely reworked three outstanding songs from one of its three demos (recorded between 1996 and 2004) into this output, I would like to point out that many more comparale gems are hidden amongst these demos for the searching listener. Believe me, if you care for progressive rock or metal music at all, you just can’t miss out on Pantommind.

    4.75 // 5


    Partager via Gmail Delicious Technorati Yahoo! Google Bookmarks Blogmarks Pin It

    Suivre le flux RSS des articles
    Suivre le flux RSS des commentaires