• Wintersun - The Forest Seasons (2017)

    Can you disscciate an artist from his art? This is a very difficult question. It's up to each individual to answer it. Jari Mäenpää is at constant war with his label, tries to lure fans into spending an exaggerated amount of money to support his megalomaniac visions and has offended numerous supporters with his questionable release strategies. The Forest Seasons is a very controversial release. Instead of the promised second part of Time, this record is more like a filler release which was nearly entirely made by Jari Mäenpäa. He performed vocals, played the guitar and the bass, worked out the keyboard orchestrations, programmed drums and percussion and even took care of the mastering and production. The name Wintersun on the album cover is pretty much a lie because this is nothing but a Jari Mäenpää solo record. Many people didn't give this record a chance because of those controversial circumstances. Others genuinely hated the album. Some praised this release as a masterpiece. While reviews are always subjective, most people had a biased judgement of this release because of its release history and often failed to solely analyze the qualities of the final product. Just take a look at the numerous reviews on the internet. I'm aware that this is difficult but this is what I'm going to try now that this formal introduction is out of the way. I will dissociate the artist from his art.

    The Forest Seasons is a positive surprise to me. The predecessor included two instrumental tracks out of five songs, sounded all over the place concerning the instruments, the production and even the songwriting and had massive ups and downs concerning its quality. The Forest Seasons has a simpler and more coherent topic, structure and instrumental guideline. The record has a great flow and rarely feels out of focus. There are no filler instrumentals, overtly overproduced orchestral passages and this album isn't the first part of something either. Each of the four tracks has some positively outstanding elements. The songs all make sense separetly and as a whole unit. The opener "Awaken from the Dark Slumber" has an appeasing atmospheric overture that gets you into a hypnotizing and relaxing mood before the song evolves into a gripping symphonic extreme metal track that takes the better elements from both black and death metal with cold riffs and harsh vocals before the songs ends with an epic finale thanks to majestic choirs. In my book, this might be the best song in the history of Wintersun or even the greatest track Jari Mäenpää has ever written. "The Forest That Weeps" convinces with its vivid folk influences and epic choirs, "Eternal Darkness" surprises with the record's best guitar solo and an abrupt finale and "Loneliness" is a melancholic mid-tempo track that takes its time to develop a haunting atmosphere. All four songs are at least clearly above average and I would consider the opener a nearly excellent track and the closer almost on the same level.

    The record also has a few imperfections however, especially in the middle section. "The Forest That Weeps" has an overlong and repetitive middle section despite being the shortest song on this release. The track would have sounded much more compact and impactful if it had been three minutes shorter. "Eternal Darkness" suffers from uninspired and clinical blastbeats throughout the track's most important passages. The record's biggest issue is the production. The drum computer sound is clinical and takes away from an otherwise vivid atmosphere. The lead guitar riffs are sometimes static and buried under the keyboard orchestrations. The production isn't as overloaded as the predecessor's but would have been much better with a more dynamic and organic sound.

    On the other side, the choirs and orchestrations sound majestic and the diversified vocals sound very gripping, no matter if they are rooted in the black, death, folk or even power metal genres.

    An additional positive aspect is the absolutely stunning cover artwork which is one of the most gorgeous I have ever seen. It really captures the four seasons and the spirit of nature. As someone who loves nature, I can really relate to the artwork, some of the lyrics and most of the music.

    From a point of view that solely focuses on the final product, The Forest Seasons is a very good album and a highlight for epic folk metal and symphonic extreme metal fans. It's a very creative, detailed and diversified album that does its ambitious topic justice and brings the different seasons and the spirit of nature to life. Only the flawed production and a few repetitions in the songwriting keep this record away from being a serious contender for metal album of the year. It's definitely a record to discover over and over again which justifies a purchase rather than just listening to it via Bandcamp or other legal streaming websites.

    Now, if you can't dissociate the artist and his art, I might understand that you wouldn't want to purchase this release. If you are however able to do so, I would recommend you to buy this gem.

    Final Rating: 80%

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  • Wintersun - The Forest Seasons (2017)

    Can you disscciate an artist from his art? This is a very difficult question. It's up to each individual to answer it. Jari Mäenpää is at constant war with his label, tries to lure fans into spending an exaggerated amount of money to support his megalomaniac visions and has offended numerous supporters with his questionable release strategies. The Forest Seasons is a very controversial release. Instead of the promised second part of Time, this record is more like a filler release which was nearly entirely made by Jari Mäenpäa. He performed vocals, played the guitar and the bass, worked out the keyboard orchestrations, programmed drums and percussion and even took care of the mastering and production. The name Wintersun on the album cover is pretty much a lie because this is nothing but a Jari Mäenpää solo record. Many people didn't give this record a chance because of those controversial circumstances. Others genuinely hated the album. Some praised this release as a masterpiece. While reviews are always subjective, most people had a biased judgement of this release because of its release history and often failed to solely analyze the qualities of the final product. Just take a look at the numerous reviews on the internet. I'm aware that this is difficult but this is what I'm going to try now that this formal introduction is out of the way. I will dissociate the artist from his art.

    The Forest Seasons is a positive surprise to me. The predecessor included two instrumental tracks out of five songs, sounded all over the place concerning the instruments, the production and even the songwriting and had massive ups and downs concerning its quality. The Forest Seasons has a simpler and more coherent topic, structure and instrumental guideline. The record has a great flow and rarely feels out of focus. There are no filler instrumentals, overtly overproduced orchestral passages and this album isn't the first part of something either. Each of the four tracks has some positively outstanding elements. The songs all make sense separetly and as a whole unit. The opener "Awaken from the Dark Slumber" has an appeasing atmospheric overture that gets you into a hypnotizing and relaxing mood before the song evolves into a gripping symphonic extreme metal track that takes the better elements from both black and death metal with cold riffs and harsh vocals before the songs ends with an epic finale thanks to majestic choirs. In my book, this might be the best song in the history of Wintersun or even the greatest track Jari Mäenpää has ever written. "The Forest That Weeps" convinces with its vivid folk influences and epic choirs, "Eternal Darkness" surprises with the record's best guitar solo and an abrupt finale and "Loneliness" is a melancholic mid-tempo track that takes its time to develop a haunting atmosphere. All four songs are at least clearly above average and I would consider the opener a nearly excellent track and the closer almost on the same level.

    The record also has a few imperfections however, especially in the middle section. "The Forest That Weeps" has an overlong and repetitive middle section despite being the shortest song on this release. The track would have sounded much more compact and impactful if it had been three minutes shorter. "Eternal Darkness" suffers from uninspired and clinical blastbeats throughout the track's most important passages. The record's biggest issue is the production. The drum computer sound is clinical and takes away from an otherwise vivid atmosphere. The lead guitar riffs are sometimes static and buried under the keyboard orchestrations. The production isn't as overloaded as the predecessor's but would have been much better with a more dynamic and organic sound.

    On the other side, the choirs and orchestrations sound majestic and the diversified vocals sound very gripping, no matter if they are rooted in the black, death, folk or even power metal genres.

    An additional positive aspect is the absolutely stunning cover artwork which is one of the most gorgeous I have ever seen. It really captures the four seasons and the spirit of nature. As someone who loves nature, I can really relate to the artwork, some of the lyrics and most of the music.

    From a point of view that solely focuses on the final product, The Forest Seasons is a very good album and a highlight for epic folk metal and symphonic extreme metal fans. It's a very creative, detailed and diversified album that does its ambitious topic justice and brings the different seasons and the spirit of nature to life. Only the flawed production and a few repetitions in the songwriting keep this record away from being a serious contender for metal album of the year. It's definitely a record to discover over and over again which justifies a purchase rather than just listening to it via Bandcamp or other legal streaming websites.

    Now, if you can't dissociate the artist and his art, I might understand that you wouldn't want to purchase this release. If you are however able to do so, I would recommend you to buy this gem.

    Final Rating: 80%

    Wintersun - The Forest Seasons (2017)

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  • La Cara Oculta / The Hidden Face (2011)

    La Cara Oculta, internationally known as The Hidden Face, is a Colombian-Spanish co-production. The movie is probably best described as a mixture of a psycho thriller and a drama. The movie has its very own style which makes it stand out but also quite difficult to digest to be honest.

    The story revolves around Spanish orchestra conductor Adrian who accepts a job occasion in Bogota for one year. He asks his girlfriend Belen to come with him and after some hesitation she decides to leave her family and job behind and move to Colombia. Her husband and she settle in a stylish mansion previously owned by Germans who fled their country in the aftermath of the Second World War. Soon, Belen believes that her husband is cheating on her with a violinist called Veronica which leads to some arguments and discussions. One day, Adrian comes home and Belen has disappeared, leaving only a video message behind to tell her husband that she can't live with him any longer. However, Belen seems to have completely disappeared as she doesn't give any news to family members or friends and doesn't seem to leave Colombia to return to Spain. Adrian is initially unsettled but soon starts a new relationship with a sensitive barmaid called Fabiana who is looking for a rich boyfriend. Meanwhile, the police investigates Belen's disappearance and starts to believe that Adrian might have some skeletons in his closet. When Fabiana starts to witness strange events in Adrian's house, she also starts to investigate.

    On the positive side, most of the story takes place in the remote mansion outside of Bogota which is a gorgeous building with a few interesting secrets. The locations of the movie are out-thought, stylish and unique. The movie has a slightly uneasy and mysterious atmosphere from start to finish which can be described as the film's guiding line. The initial story line is intriguing enough to keep the audience interested during the movie's first half.

    However, the movie loses its pace halfway through the film when the most important secrets are already revealed. There is also a lot of repetition in the plot and what many critics described as a twisted ending is actually quite predictable. The movie though fails to tell us what happens after this little twist which might have added some tension to the film. Another problem is that the characters in this film are all very unlikable, especially the antipathic lead character Adrian. It's difficult to get into a movie if there isn't a single character to root for.

    To keep it short, the main idea behind the movie is quite intriguing but the repetitive storytelling and the unlikable characters waste a lot of potential. The film has a mysterious atmosphere, great locations and a few stylish sex scenes but the movie is lacking suspense and tension. Regular psycho thriller fans can give this movie a shot but anyone else can skip this one.

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  • Meine Damen und Herren!

    Am gestrigen Abend war ich wieder einmal an der Diepentalsperre. Das Gebiet sieht immer noch sehr verwildert aus, aber auf Grund des schönen Wetters hat mich die Natur schon fast an die kanadische Wildnis erinnert. Es waren tatsächlich auch viele Leute unterwegs, die entweder in der Bauernstube speisten, auf dem Campingplatz feierten oder sogar im Freibad waren. Die Atmosphäre war sehr entspannend. Auch wenn die Diepentalsperre immer noch nicht verkauft ist, vor einer ungewissen Zukunft steht und alles Andere als ordentlich gewartet wird, war mein Gesamteindruck gestern doch eher positiv, da sich dort immer noch viele Menschen gern aufhalten; vermutlich sogar mehr als zuletzt. Es folgen hier wieder eine Reihe Schnappschüsse von Schildkröten, Gänsen, Enten und der Natur allgemein. Ich wünsche euch viel Spaß damit!

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

    Diepental 2017

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  • Mesdames et Messieurs,

    Voici quelques impressions de mon tour au Luxembourg aujourd'hui avec un peu de musique du coin.

    Lucilinburhuc 2017

    Lucilinburhuc 2017

    Lucilinburhuc 2017

    Lucilinburhuc 2017

    Lucilinburhuc 2017 

    Um Fiels do steht se an stolzer Pracht
    A geheit hieren Schiet iwwer Bierg an Dall
    De Wopen démonstréiert hier Macht
    An hieren Numm kennt een iwwerall

    Et as eis Buerg a Steen geschlo'n
    Mat Stolz däerf s'eisen Fändel dro'n
    963 erbaut
    Besangen mär Ons Hémecht nach haut

    Mam Ro'de Léiw gin ech Hand an Hand
    Uechter mäin schéint Lëtztebuerger Land

    Daat Ro'd steet fier de Buedem
    Daat Wäisst fier eiweg Trei
    Daat Bloot, daat as eis Uelzecht
    Eist lëtzebuerger Blutt

    Dräi Foarwen eis an d'Häerz gebrannt
    Dräi Foarwen un der Spëtzt vum Land
    A wann vun den Zënnen d'Fanfare ertéint
    Dann as de Ro'de Léiw gekréint

    Castellum Lucilinburhuc
    Lucilinburhuc

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