• Meine Damen und Herren!

    Gestern habe ich eine sehr unschone Nachricht erfahren: die Leverkusener Gothic-Diskothek Shadow ist ausgebrannt und ihre Zukunft ist ungewiss. Schuld ist das defekte Kabel eines Kuhlschranks. Einige bereits angekundigte Parties werden im naheliegenden Samara gefeiert werden. Ob und wann die einst liebevoll dekorierte Gruft wieder offnen wird, steht derzeit in den Sternen.

    In meiner Jugend habe ich viel Zeit an diesem Ort verbracht. Zum ersten Mal war ich dort bei einer Metal-Party, wenige Tage nach meinem Geburtstag im Spatsommer 2005 mit meinem Freund Krister. Zu den Klangen von Helloweens ''The King for a Thousand Years'' stiegen wir die steile Treppe des Glaskastens zum ersten Mal hinunter, vorbei an einer dunklen Nische und in Richtung einer Tanzflache umgeben von ungewohnlichen Dekorationen vom Flipper im Stil von The Addams Family bis hin zum Poster von Frank Zappa auf dem Lokus. Unvergessen bleiben die Stummfilme, die auf kleinen Monitoren liefen, die Kirchenlichter auf den Tischen und die weitlaufige Bar voller kunstlicher Spinnweben. Ein kleines Kolsch gab es anno 2005 fur gerade einmal funfzig Cent. An manchen Abenden kostete ein Absinth einen Euro.

    Uber die Jahre habe ich immer wieder aussergewohnliche Abende dort erlebt und ungewohnliche Menschen getroffen. Eine Schlangenfrau, die mir bis heute zwei Euro schuldet. Einen hochgewachsenen Transsexuellen mitten im Transformationsprozess. Eine Prostituierte, die fur ein kostenloses Salitos so ziemlich alles tat.

    Ich habe dort so ziemlich alles gesehen und gehort. Ich wart dort mit Freundinnen und Ex-Freundinnen. Ich habe dort Bekannte zusammenkommen und auseinandergehen gesehen. Von Neuer Deutsche Welle bis Black Metal lief fort an manchen Themenabenden jede Menge Musik, die ich vorher nicht kannte und die mir sehr wichtig geworden ist.

    Eine Sache muss man ganz besonders hervorheben: in den dreizehn Jahren, in denen ich im Shadow immer wieder Gast war, gab es keine einzige Schlagerei. Die Leute akzeptierten sich so wie sie sind, was in unserer heutigen Gesellschaft leider ein Ausnahmefall ist. Ich habe mich dort immer wohl, unterhalten und sicher gefuhlt. Auch nach meinem Umzug nach Kanada vor mittlerweile fast neun Jahren bin ich bei meinen Aufenthalten in Deutschland immer weiter ins Shadow gegangen, auch wenn ich bei manchen Freunden immer mal wieder Uberredungskunste einbringen musste. Ich bin stolz zur Shadow Community gehort zu haben.

    Ich wunsche dem Laden und seiner Besitzerin alles Gute und viel Kraft. Falls das Shadow in Zukunft neu eroffnen sollte, mochte ich gerne wieder dort sein.

    Wer etwas fur einen guten Zweck spenden mochte, kann das gerne hier tun: 

    https://www.leetchi.com/c/shadow-leverkusen-wiederaufbau

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  • Caught somewhere in time - A review of Kobra and the Lotus' Prevail I

    Kobra and the Lotus - Prevail I (2017)

    Kobra and the Lotus is a female-fronted Canadian heavy metal quartet that finds an intriguing balance between traditional heavy metal of the eighties with gripping and melodic guitar play and a more contemporary touch with alternative and industrial breakdowns, streamlined riffs and occasional sound effects. Prevail I is the band's fourth studio record and the first part of a duology.

    The record offers several great songs such as the fast, melodic and refreshing ''Hell on Earth'' that should please heavy, power and thrash metal fans of yore, the more contemporary ''Victim'' with its minimal electronic sound effects and very melodic and commercial vocals that could please to fans of the gothic genre and the slightly sinister ''Manifest Destiny'' that offers contemporary alternative metal on a high level that should strike a chord with younger audiences.

    The outstanding element of the band are the melodic and variable vocals by Kobra Paige. She neither fits into the classically trained symphonic metal stereotype nor into the rough and grounded type of female metal vocalist. Her harmonious vocals could also fit to pop music and I mean this as a compliment. Her style really is quite unique.

    On the negative side, Prevail I isn't as vivid as the band's live concerts. The production is a little bit too mellow, most songs are only focused on strong choruses and the rhythm section isn't given the occasion to shine. Due to the fact that the band constantly meanders between traditional and modern metal, Prevail I doesn't fully convince in either category. Traditional metal fans might find this release too soft and simplistic while fans of contemporary metal might find the riff work and guitar solos somewhat old-fashioned and predictable.

    In the end, Prevail I is a record that is enjoyable to listen to with ten consistent tracks and a clever running time of just above forty-five minutes. On the other side, despite its eclectic mixture of genres, great guitar work and unique singer, the record isn't too memorable. It's fun while it lasts but nowhere near as memorable as the band's much heavier live performances. I would recommend this record to fans of melodic hard rock and heavy metal with a modern touch. Imagine a better version of Battle Beast and you know what to expect from this release.

    Final rating: 72%

    Flirting with symphonic rock, pop and new age - A review of Kobra and the Lotus' Prevail II

    Kobra and the Lotus - Prevail II (2018)

    Kobra and the Lotus' Prevail II is a slight improvement over the first chapter of the duology. While the second part is even more melodic and mellow than its predecessor, it has a clearer guiding line and much better flow. On the other side, the album goes even further in its experimentation as the traditional heavy metal band includes more new age and pop influences in its eclectic and intriguing sound.

    ''My Immortal'' is such a courageous song. It's an appeasing track with soft vocals recalling a mixture of new age singers Enya and Loreena McKennitt. While the title of the aforementioned song might recall symphonic rock band Evanescence, ''Heartache'' actually recalls the music of said band with its uplifting voals, strong pop vibe and dreamy piano melodies. ''Human Empire'' sees the band enter symphonic metal territory since the track is particularly adventurous, epic and rich, recalling veterans like Epica.

    There are still a few more aggressive tracks on the album for fans of traditional heavy metal like the engaging opener ''Losing My Humanity'' or the fast and oppressive ''You're Insane'' that combines vivid instruments with melodic vocal lines and catchy sing-along passages that could make this song a future concert highlight.

    However, Prevail II doesn't really qualify as a heavy metal record overall and even someone who is interested in new age and pop elements might think that the cheesy acoustic version of ''Let Me Love You'' with its predictably stereotypical vocals is going a little bit too far. Overall, I would categorize this release as melodic rock album.

    Prevail II represents two steps in a new direction. The first step leading towards a more melodic, mellow and focused guiding line is very positive. The second step that flirts with symphonic rock, pop and new age might go a little bit too far. If the band could find a balance between the first and the second part of the duology, it could finally define its genuine own identity.

    In the end, it would have been better to release one single strong record instead of two albums with some filler material. A potential track list of one single record entitled Prevail could have looked like this:

    1. Hell On Earth

    2. Manifest Destiny

    3. My Immortal

    4. Human Empire

    5. Victim

    6. Heartache

    7. You're Insane

    8. Prevail

    Final rating: 77%

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  • Kobra and the Lotus - Prevail II (2018)

    Kobra and the Lotus' Prevail II is a slight improvement over the first chapter of the duology. While the second part is even more melodic and mellow than its predecessor, it has a clearer guiding line and much better flow. On the other side, the album goes even further in its experimentation as the traditional heavy metal band includes more new age and pop influences in its eclectic and intriguing sound.

    ''My Immortal'' is such a courageous song. It's an appeasing track with soft vocals recalling a mixture of new age singers Enya and Loreena McKennitt. While the title of the aforementioned song might recall symphonic rock band Evanescence, ''Heartache'' actually recalls the music of said band with its uplifting voals, strong pop vibe and dreamy piano melodies. ''Human Empire'' sees the band enter symphonic metal territory since the track is particularly adventurous, epic and rich, recalling veterans like Epica.

    There are still a few more aggressive tracks on the album for fans of traditional heavy metal like the engaging opener ''Losing My Humanity'' or the fast and oppressive ''You're Insane'' that combines vivid instruments with melodic vocal lines and catchy sing-along passages that could make this song a future concert highlight.

    However, Prevail II doesn't really qualify as a heavy metal record overall and even someone who is interested in new age and pop elements might think that the cheesy acoustic version of ''Let Me Love You'' with its predictably stereotypical vocals is going a little bit too far. Overall, I would categorize this release as melodic rock album.

    Prevail II represents two steps in a new direction. The first step leading towards a more melodic, mellow and focused guiding line is very positive. The second step that flirts with symphonic rock, pop and new age might go a little bit too far. If the band could find a balance between the first and the second part of the duology, it could finally define its genuine own identity.

    In the end, it would have been better to release one single strong record instead of two albums with some filler material. A potential track list of one single record entitled Prevail could have looked like this:

    1. Hell On Earth

    2. Manifest Destiny

    3. My Immortal

    4. Human Empire

    5. Victim

    6. Heartache

    7. You're Insane

    8. Prevail

    Final rating: 77%

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  • Kobra and the Lotus - Prevail I (2017)

    Kobra and the Lotus is a female-fronted Canadian heavy metal quartet that finds an intriguing balance between traditional heavy metal of the eighties with gripping and melodic guitar play and a more contemporary touch with alternative and industrial breakdowns, streamlined riffs and occasional sound effects. Prevail I is the band's fourth studio record and the first part of a duology.

    The record offers several great songs such as the fast, melodic and refreshing ''Hell on Earth'' that should please heavy, power and thrash metal fans of yore, the more contemporary ''Victim'' with its minimal electronic sound effects and very melodic and commercial vocals that could please to fans of the gothic genre and the slightly sinister ''Manifest Destiny'' that offers contemporary alternative metal on a high level that should strike a chord with younger audiences.

    The outstanding element of the band are the melodic and variable vocals by Kobra Paige. She neither fits into the classically trained symphonic metal stereotype nor into the rough and grounded type of female metal vocalist. Her harmonious vocals could also fit to pop music and I mean this as a compliment. Her style really is quite unique.

    On the negative side, Prevail I isn't as vivid as the band's live concerts. The production is a little bit too mellow, most songs are only focused on strong choruses and the rhythm section isn't given the occasion to shine. Due to the fact that the band constantly meanders between traditional and modern metal, Prevail I doesn't fully convince in either category. Traditional metal fans might find this release too soft and simplistic while fans of contemporary metal might find the riff work and guitar solos somewhat old-fashioned and predictable.

    In the end, Prevail I is a record that is enjoyable to listen to with ten consistent tracks and a clever running time of just above forty-five minutes. On the other side, despite its eclectic mixture of genres, great guitar work and unique singer, the record isn't too memorable. It's fun while it lasts but nowhere near as memorable as the band's much heavier live performances. I would recommend this record to fans of melodic hard rock and heavy metal with a modern touch. Imagine a better version of Battle Beast and you know what to expect from this release.

    Final rating: 72%

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  • Numb (2015)

    Well, at least some of the landscapes were beautiful.

    To be honest, Numb had few more things going for it than gorgeous Canadian landscapes. The film had an appropriately cold and sinister atmosphere. Numb doesn't overstay its welcome with a running time around ninety minutes. The initial story sounded interesting enough to spend five bucks on it.

    Numb is about an indebted couple that comes across two hitchhikers, a former prisoner and his prostitute sister. The four come across a man suffering of hypothermia who dies when they try to rescue him in the middle of the night. They find out that he was the only survivor of a group of thieves who robbed four million dollars in gold coins twenty years ago. They retrieve a piece of paper with some GPS data among the dead man's belongings and assume that this must be the spot where the thieves caught the money twenty years ago. The four decide to go out in the woods despite harsh weather conditions to get the money and start new lives. However, conflicts soon occur as the weather gets worse by the hour.

    The premise of the movie sounds good but everything described above is initially the whole story. One never gets to know where the former prisoner and the prostitute actually came from and why they were aimlessly walking outside in the cold weather in the beginning of the story. The reasons why the thief decided to get the money in the middle of winter just after being released from prison after twenty years instead of waiting for the summer are never explained. The fact that the four treasure hunters go out in the woods without gloves, snowshoes, toques or any other kind of equipment to survive in the harsh winter doesn't make any sense at all either. The reasons why they start turning against one another are shallow as well. A random side character who is living in a cabin is introduced out of nowhere and soon killed for very shallow reasons. Even the movie's resolution with the police officer doesn't make any sense at all if you think about it for a second. Overall, the entire script is poorly written. If you expect any explanations, suspense or twists, you are going to be disappointed.

    The acting is just as wooden as the faceless characters for whose fates the viewers don't care because it's impossible to empathize with them: a lying husband, his egoistic wife, a philosophic prisoner and a greedy prostitute with anger management issues.

    Camera and light techniques are average, the film's pace is quite dragging and even the soundtrack is somewhat sleep-inducing.

    At the end of the day, my rating for the film is generous and if I didn't like Canadian winter, I would even give this film a lower rating. This average thriller wastes much initially intriguing potential. You can watch this on a snowy afternoon if you have one and a half hours of free time. Don't spend too much money on it. There are numerous movies set in harsh winter weather conditions like The Grey that are so much better than this Canadian independent film.

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