• 2018 CFL season opener of the Ottawa Redblacks

    Ottawa Redblacks defeated Saskatchewan Roughriders 40-17 in front of 24,224 enthusiastic fans at TD Place in Ottawa.

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  • Ladies and gentlemen!

    Here are some pictures from the 2018 Volleyball Nations League that took place over three days in June 2018 at TD Place in Ottawa, Canada. The participating nations were Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States of America. It was quite a big event with a dynamic host, a group of drummers, a disc jockey, two additional disc jokeys and singers on the third and last day as well as four cheerleaders. The Australian team was particularly stunning due to ist enthusiasm and fan interactions. I would definitely attend such an event again.  

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

    VNL 2018 in Ottawa

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  • 1. Liga

    1. FC Bayern München               56

    2. VfL Wolfsburg                       53

    3. 1. FFC Frankfurt                    44

    4. SC Freiburg                          35

    5. MSV Duisburg                       33

    6. 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam         33

    7. Bayer 04 Leverkusen             30

    8. TSG Hoffenheim                    25

    9. SGS Essen                            24

    10. SC Sand                             18

    11. Borussia Mönchengladbach  10

    12. Werder Bremen                   7

    2. Liga

    1. 1. FC Köln                          67

    2. SV Meppen                        60

    3. USV Jena                           58

    4. VfL Wolfsburg II                 56

    5. FC Bayern München II        55

    6. BV Cloppenburg                 48

    7. 1. FFC Frankfurt II             46

    8. Turbine Potsdam II            45

    9. FSV Gütersloh                   37

    10. 1899 Hoffenheim II         33

    11. 1. FC Saarbrücken           32

    12. SGS Essen II                  24

    13. Hessen Wetzlar              16

    14. SV Weinberg                  12

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  • Ladies and gentlemen!

    This is the first part of a weekly series of articles on my blog about artistic discoveries I have made. I could talk about a band, a movie or even a museum I have visited to just give three examples. Today, I would like to talk about a band I have just discovered: Alien Weaponry.

    Alien Weaponry is a band from Waipu, New Zealand, consisting of three teenage friends honoring Maori culture. The band sings in Maori language, occasionally uses traditional instruments and addresses cultural and historical topics. The band's debut full length record Tū was released about a month ago. The band sound flirts with thrash metal, groove metal and a few core stylistics but the trio certainly is unique enough to give it a try. If you like bands such as Sepultura and Soulfly, you can't get around them. The following video represents the band spirit rather well in my book. Enjoy!

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  •  Ladies and gentlemen!

    Grave Digger's legendary Middle Ages trilogy - consisting of the records Tunes of War (1996), Knights of the Cross (1998) and Excalibur (1999) - left a very positive impression on me when I discovered heavy metal music as a Teenager one and a half decades ago. Recently, I revisited and reviewed all three albums and wanted to share my impressions with you. If you like powerful heavy metal with energy and intellectuality, you can't get around these three fascinating conceptual records that have stood the test of time. Enjoy!

    Grave Digger - Tunes of War (1996)

    Grave Digger - Tunes of War (1996)

    Timeless heavy metal history lessons

    Those who claim that the nineties were a particularly difficult decade for the metal scene must have forgotten about innovative masterpieces like Grave Digger's Tunes of War. Obviously, there have been brilliant conceptual releases like Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime before but Tunes of War offers fascinating history lessons about Scotland like no one else did before. There are several elements that make this release stand out. It already starts with the iconic cover artwork, showing an undead bagpipe player on a bloody battlefield in the Scottish Highlands. It continues with the elaborate lyrics penned by bassist Tomi Göttlich and guitarist Uwe Lulis, two teachers who researched Scotland's history from the medieval conflicts between its clans in the eleventh century to the Jacobite rebellion in the eighteenth century. The record starts with the patriotic "The Brave", performed by Scott Cochrane on bagpipes, a song which is often considered Scotland's unofficial national anthem. Grave Digger's Tunes of War is a brilliant example how to mix gripping heavy metal with complex historical concepts.

    Obviously, what matters in the end remains the music and even from that point of view, German heavy metal quartet Grave Digger offers one of the best records of its career that started the iconic so-called Middle Ages trilogy and that would be revisited fifteen years later with the great The Clans Will Rise Again. The record includes unchained heavy metal tracks like the powerful "Scotland United" but also atmospheric ballads with cinematic keyboard sounds and soft clean vocals in form of the beautiful "The Ballad of Mary (Queen of Scots)" and the unforgettable band anthem "Rebellion (The Clans Are Marching)" that sounds angry, fast and heavy but also includes a fitting extended bagpipe solo. Grave Digger played folk metal a decade before it actually became popular. It's hard to believe that a band that repeats itself quite a lot these days was so innovative once. Pretty much everything Grave Differ released between Symphony of Death two years prior to this release to Liberty or Death eleven years later shows a band willing to push boundaries while remaining rooted in traditional heavy metal. You won't find one single filler on this record that offers fifty-three minutes of emotional yet intellectual heavy metal.

    Even more than two decades after ist initial release, Grave Digger's Tunes of War is a timeless heavy metal record with a unique atmosphere inspired by Scottish culture, history and music. It's one of the most exciting releases of the decade and has stood the test of time. Anyone who likes heavy metal and history should purchase this masterpiece.

    Final Rating: 95%

    Grave Digger - Knights of the Cross (1998)

    Grave Digger - Knights of the Cross (1998)

    One of the amazing metal records of the nineties

    Grave Digger was one of the first bands of the metal genre which I discovered one and a half decades ago. I regularly listened to their Middle Ages trilogy featuring the albums Tunes of War, Knights of the Cross and Excalibur but I later discovered and adored the more recent stuff of the band and fell in love with their experimental works like Rheingold or The Last Supper. A few days ago, I stumbled over the band's old stuff again and gave this album a couple of spins. When I was young I liked the album but it didn't impress me all too much. As I have listened to this record over and over again, I realized that this album has aged quite well and is much better than I had remembered. In fact, Knights of the Cross is easily a highlight in the big back catalogue of the legendary German heavy metal band. I still wouldn't say it's the best record of the band but maybe the most complete work of the typical Grave Digger records. If there were an album to choose to introduce someone to this band, this one would probably be my first choice.

    Not only the conceptual approach is particularly interesting and well worked out on here but the songs are all quickly addictive and feature numerous catchy fist-pumping choruses for the crowd. After a less convincing introduction, the album kicks off with the title track "Knights of the Cross" that takes no prisoners and features all elements one likes about this unique band. This includes simplistic and heavy riffs, unpolished crispy vocals, epic keyboards and emotional guitar solos as well as a simple but efficient chorus that immediately stays on your mind. The strong accent of the vocalist sounds mildly amusing but soon becomes a trademark and is what makes Chris Boltendahl so unique. This record features many typical Grave Digger songs with numerous catchy choruses such as the fist-raising mid tempo hymn "The Keeper of the Holy Grail".

    As always, there are also some little experiments on the album that keep the whole release dynamic and gripping enough until the end. A good example is the slow and epic half-ballad "Heroes of this Time" featuring amazing clean vocals by Chris Boltendahl that he doesn't use very often anymore which is quite sad because they build a stunning contrast to his normal ranges. Another good example for his vocal talent is the outstanding "The Curse of Jacques" which is maybe the best track on this release because of its atmospheric parts sending shivers down my spine and a very epic chorus one won't get out of mind. On the other side, there are also harder tracks on this record such as the addicting banger "Inquisition". Another experiment comes with the slight oriental influences in "Fanatic Assassins". After so many conceptual tracks about the medieval history of Europe, it would be great if the band headed for a record about Asian history. The closing "The Battle Of Bannockburn" goes back to the concept of the previous release with a gripping pipe introduction and an overall epic structure featuring a great chilling closure. This track surely is a highlight for those who praised the critically acclaimed precedessor.

    In the end, almost every song has something outstanding in its structure and all twelve songs make this release one of the most complete ones the band has ever written. Any fan of early or modern Grave Digger records should like this album that unites all the trademarks that make the band what it is. The high amount of catchy choruses and potential live anthems make this release even more entertaining. Nervertheless, the record is never just orientated on catchy hooks but also presents many interesting historic stories in the lyrics that are more versatile than ever before and even among the best the band has ever written. If you care about German heavy metal music and are among those that actually know that the nineties were not such a bad decade for the metal genre after all, this release is a definite must have. Anybody else should get hooked by my review and try this album out now.

    Final rating: 91%

    Grave Digger - Excalibur (1999) 

    Grave Digger - Excalibur (1999)

    A blueprint of Grave Digger standards

    Many fans and even critics justify the popular opinion that this album might be the best Grave Digger record ever done. This album was also by far the Grave Digger record that got the highest chart position ever. Many tracks from the album are still played live by the band on a regular basis. To keep it short, this album is probably the most famous and respected one the legendary Teutonic metal icons Grave Digger have ever done.

    That's the popular opinion but my view of the facts is a little bit different. I must admit that apart of a few great folk influences with bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy sounds in a couple of songs like the fast banger and still slightly diversified opener "Pendragon" or the often overseen album highlight "The Final War" and some majestic choirs and backing vocals performed by leading German metal musicians as in the catchy and yet epic single "The Round Table (Forever)" or the majestic "Avalon", aspects that have though both been present on the last two records and first two parts of the Middle Ages trilogy, Grave Digger offer nothing new on this album.

    While the first four tracks of the album are the strongest part of the record and include catchy choruses and some epic moments, the band can't keep up with this quality for the rest of the album and promising topics as in the ordinary "Morgane Le Fay" or the mediocre half ballad "Emerald Eyes" fall off the edge and bore with the usual patterns, ideas and melodies. These tracks all have one hundred percent Grave Digger trademarks but don't try out anything fresh or surprising.

    Even though the album has an epic flow, the certain something that would justify this album's status is completely missing for me. I would even go as far and say that this record is not only among the average but even the weaker albums of the band. The album is still a solid old school heavy metal album with a lyrically interesting concept and few well done efforts but it feels stretched and lacks imagination. I would have preferred a shorter and more consistent record or a truly experimental and detailed Magnum Opus but the final result we got here is somewhere between those worlds and by sounding exactly like a classic Grave Digger blueprint, this album sounds almost lost and faceless as if the contextual concept and the pressure to lead the once innovating medieval trilogy to an end would have been two weights on the band that seem to have blocked the sense of creativity, freshness and authenticity of the different musicians. In the end, I would suggest you to purchase the album if you want to complete the band's entire trilogy but if you want to buy it as a single album apart from the two previous ones, I would honestly give the advice to go for one of the two previous ones or even the upcoming three records rather than for this one here.

    Final rating: 76% 

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