• Babymetal - Metal Galaxy (2019)

    Japanese kawaii metal pioneers Babymetal who revolutionized a combination of melodic danceable idol pop music and diverse metal subgenres have gone through numerous changes over the past few years. Lead guitarist and member of the band's backing group called Kami Band Fujioka Mikio died from injuries sustained after falling from an observation deck about two years ago. Singer and dancer Mizuno Yui had stopped touring with the band about two years ago and definitely left the band one year ago. She had been replaced by a revolving line-up of different dancers and singers. In addition to this, the teenagers had now become adults with lead singer Nakamoto Suzuka being twenty-one years old and backing singer and dancer Kikuchi Moa being twenty years old as we speak. Most idol bands would have opted for a new line-up but Babymetal's international popularity associated to its original singers would have made such a change extremely debatable. The band doesn't have its youthful charm anymore and must now opt for a new direction. Instead of dwelling on the past, Babymetal has now released a record entitled Metal Galaxy with a new background story and numerous futuristic electronic elements.

    While evolution is generally positive, one can't help but miss the quirky eclectic energy that distinguished the stunning debut record Babymetal five years ago and its even more diversified successor Metal Resistance three years ago. Metal Galaxy features six popular guest musicians and singers varying from Thai rapper F. Hero to Canadian death metal vocalist Alissa White-Gluz but all these collaborations are only briefly entertaining and fail to leave deeper impressions. ''Distortion'' for instance is a faceless and short first single as the solid melodic death metal riffs don't blend in with the heavily distorted and auto-tuned vocals. Nakamoto Suzuka's enchanting clean vocals can't really unfold. Kikuchi Moa's shy backing chants are lacking conviction. Alissa White-Gluz's growls are merely a gimmicky side note. The other collaborations aren't much better. ''Oh! Majinai'' featuring Sabaton's Joakim Broden makes Alestorm sound like serious and professional artists as that failed attempt at a pirate hymn might not even be entertaining enough for a pre-school birthday party at an amusement park. ''Brand New Day' features two guitarists of progressive rock band Polyphia but if you expect this song to be more adventurous than the rest, you've got it all wrong. The staccato riffs sound nerve-firing. The omnipresent electronic elements are plain irritating. The vocal effects take any depth, feeling or soul away from the song. It's a pity that the producers didn't let Nakamoto Suzuka unfold her angelic vocals.

    How about the songs without guest musicians or singers? They aren't much better to be honest. ''Future Metal'' is a bland plodding trance tune that opens the first disc while the overlong ''In the Name of'' sounds like a less convincing copy of the opener from the eponymous debut record. Japanese bonus tracks ''BBAB'' and ''BxMxC'' are as random as their weird titles and materialize as nervous short tunes mixing futuristic trance and dubstep elements with vapid industrial and nu metal riffs but the worst elements are the heavily processed vocals that are much closer to a robot than a human being.

    In order to not be completely negative, there are still a few noteworthy songs. ''Shanti Shanti Shanti'' focuses on danceable Indian folkore music and could come straight from the soundtrack of a Bollywood movie. The song manages to sound creative, enchanting and exotic and isn't too heavily processed. ''Shine'' isn't innovative but sounds refreshing as an epic pop ballad that stands out because it's less overloaded and processed than most of the other songs. Album closer ''Arkadia'' offers epic power metal melodies in the key of Rhapsody of Fire, Helloween and DragonForce that nostalgically recall the spirit of the previous full length effort. It's ironic that what might be the most conservative tune on the new album is easily its best.

    In the end, Babymetal has both moved away from its quirky pop music roots and its numerous metal subgenres and offers futuristic electronic music where too many cooks spoil the broth and quantity outweighs quality. The heavily processed vocals of the brilliant lead singer Nakamoto Suzuka are unnecessary, nerve-firing and even insulting for such a talented artist. Kikuchi Moa's exchangeable background vocals have nothing in common with her energetic screams on the two previous records. Mizuni Yui's absence is noteworthy but it's debatable whether her presence could have improved this vapid plastic product. The instrumental quality has also decreased and one misses Fujioka Mikio's crunching extreme metal riffs.

    The only hope that remains is that the new songs sound more warm, vibrant and organic in concert. Babymetal's quirky shows are still second to none despite the line-up changes. This third studio record however is a step in the wrong direction. Fans are craving for Babymetal and not Young-Adult-Trance. If you happen to be disappointed by Metal Galaxy, try out BRATS' eponymous debut record featuring former Ladybaby singer Rei Kuromiya.

    Final rating: 30%

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  • The End... Again

    Pre-orders are available here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/the-old-dead-tree-the-end-cd-dvd-digital

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  • Ladies and gentlemen,

    About one month ago, I decided to spend one weekend in Montreal to assist a game between Montreal Impact FC and FC Cincinnati, an intrasquad scrimmage of the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre and a concert of Battle Beast, Sonata Arctica and Kamelot at Soda Club. I also managed to try out several pubs and restaurants I had never been to before. The weather was great as well and I had an excellent stay in a cozy hotel room. Overall, it was one of the most beautiful weekends I have ever spent in Montreal and I'm looking forward to returning there again soon.

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Vegan campaign at Berri-UQAM metro station

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine House

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Montreal Impact FC lost 0-1 against FC Cincinnati

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Olympic Stadium in Montreal

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    L'amère à boire

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Le Saint Bock

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Saunt-Houblon

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    View of downtown Montreal

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Next to Bell Centre in Montreal

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Montreal Canadiens intrasquad scrimmage

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Warm-up session at Bell Centre

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Face-off seen from afar

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Close-up of another face-off

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Celebrations at the end of the game

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Bell Centre as seen from the outside

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Brutopia

    Late summer weekend in Montreal

    Sota B.B.Q. Korean restaurant

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  •  Ladies and gentlemen!

    I had three different sets of visitors in only three weeks from late August to mid-September. After my friend Jean Daniel's visit and a wonderful prolonged weekend with my parents, it was then the turn of my dear friend Charles to pass by. We spent one wonderful day in Aylmer and the next one in Ottawa. The weather was great and the atmosphere was really relaxed. We didn't visit much but decided to hike, eat and drink peacefully. Our wonderful weekend gave me the opportunities to spend quality time with a friend while finding some time to relax.

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Breakfast at Eggspectation in Ottawa

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles in front of a building on Lisgar Street

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     This beautiful marmot can't read!

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Canadian Tribute to Human Rights

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles on the backside of Ottawa City Hall

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles in front of Fire Fighters Monument in Ottawa

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles next to a monument beside National Arts Centre in Ottawa

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles next to Yousuf Karsh Statue in front of Hotel Fairmont Château Laurier

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles takes a break next to Lord Stanley's Gift Monument

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     Charles in front of Ottawa Tourism office

    Fin de semaine à Gatineau et Ottawa avec Charles

     My friend Charles in front of the excellent Genji Japanese restaurant

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  •  Dear readers!

    It doesn't happen very often that my dear parents come to visit Canada and spend some time with me. We had an amazing time four years earlier but the prolonged weekend we spent together in late August and early September of this year was absolutely amazing. We visisted Wakefield, Chelsea and Gatineau in Quebec as well as Arnprior, Smiths Falls and Ottawa in Ontario. We had a great time together and I'm already looking forward to meeting my parents again in December and January.

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Rideau Canal in downtown Ottawa

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Hotel Fairmont Château Laurier

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Dam in downtown Smiths Falls

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Centennial Park in Smiths Falls

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My father in front of Smiths Falls Water Tower

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     One of numerous colourful birds on Turtle Island in Smiths Falls

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents in front of  a lock in Smiths Falls

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

    My parents on a gigantic chair next to Parks Canada administration building in Smiths Falls 

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My father is exploring Smiths Falls

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     View of a boat entering one of Smiths Falls' locks

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My mother at Daniel McLachlin Park and Bell Tower in Arnprior

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents in front of the place where the Madawaska River flows into the Ottawa River

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Arnprior and District Museum

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Downtown Ottawa on a sunny September morning

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents at Dunn-D's Mini-Putt in Chelsea

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My father took as many pictures as I did of this wonderful place

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

    My father next to old railway tracks in Wakefield 

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents on a bridge in Wakefield

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

    My parents at the entrance to Mackenzie King Estate in Gatineau Park 

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My mother is visiting the ruins of a church on Mackenzie King Estate

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents in downtown Ottawa with a view of Rideau Canal

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Fountains and monuments in front of Ottawa City Hall

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

    Ottawa Fire Fighters Memorial 

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents in front of a totem pole at Confederation Park

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My father at Lord Stanley's Gift Monument

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My mother is completing the Ottawa sign on Sparks Street

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My father is completing the Ottawa sign on Sparks Street

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Bank of Canada Museum and its surroundings

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     Garden of the Provinces and Territories

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     A boat on Ottawa River

    Fin de semaine à Wakefield, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Gatineau et Arnprior avec mes parents

     My parents' favourite spot near Bytown Museum on the Rideau Canal

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