Alexa Statistics for this blog

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The Axis Of Perdition: Heart patients,be warned...

They say there's nothing to fear but fear itself.That fear is all in the mind.That fear is the unknown.The unseen.But what about hearing it?What happens when in the middle of an eerie silence one hears a loud crash?Does your heart race?Do you wish you were not in that place,that situation?

Now imagine CHOOSING to be in that situation.Confused?Well let this quartet from Middlesborough,U.K. help you out.They call themselves The Axis Of Perdition.Their style of music can at best be described as 'horror black metal'.These guys don't rely on technique or melody to get their message across.They rely on FEAR.Pure,unadulterated fear.With songs structured mostly on minor chords and discordant chromatics,The Axis Of Perdition are the aural embodiment of fear.And its not the epic kind of darkness.I'm talking static noises,gurgling,metallic,resonating voices;sudden clangs and very disturbing echos.They also sometimes use discordant voices (a scream and a mellow tone) to deliver that ultimate breath-shallower.The vocals are neither 'here' nor 'there',in the sense that they use rasps,shouts,static-laden screams,digitized growls and even conversational voices. The rhythm style is not the typical tremolo picking-dominant,4-note style of black metal but mostly slow,doomy chords and dissonant harmonies.Even the drumming hardly has a blast beat,but thanks to a drum machine,one tends to hear a lot of INSANELY fast double bass.

All in all, TAOP is a band like none other.TAOP is like a sadistic vampire that feeds on the fear in the listener.With lyrical themes like zombie experiments in a defunct hospital and the breeding technique of Ichneumon wasps (wasps that lay eggs in a live host and whose young kill the host), TAOP scare you.They heighten your senses.In a way so disturbing that it makes you want to hear them again and again.

Fear,for some it seems,is an art.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Indian schools: The mechanization begins here

Parents have always been proud of seeing their children in some sort of uniform.Whether its the 1st school uniform,an Army uniform or that of a doctor, the 'photo in the uniform' is mandatory.I'm not too fond of uniforms myself,but they're acceptable to the point of giving a certain identity in society to the wearer.But Indians have somehow misused that concept of identity in a VERY personal manner.Let me explain:

The school that I have passed out of has officially gone to hell. The principal stepped down, we now have one incompetent asshole as an acting principal (this guy's ONLY claim to fame in school is 100% attendance.Oh and emptying whole bottles of perfume on himself before he comes to school),all the good,well-established teachers are leaving only to be replaced by educationists who can at best be described as 'graduates' and basically the remaining ones are trying to hold this school together with a very loose grip of disciplinary extremity. For example: no guitar performances or western dance performances are allowed as that 'westernizes' the school.No dancing on songs with words like 'love' and 'dil':we don't want to 'corrupt' these clean minds.Anyone wearing a dangling earring,a nose piercing,sporting hair longer than a certain length,wearing PT uniform on a non-PT day AND carrying MP3 players or CDs is IMMEDIATELY scrutinized and sent to the principal,who is a fucked about discipline himself.Moreover,even PICNICS have to be attended in uniform.

All this,JUST because you are in a school and you carry the 'values' and 'morals' taught in the school out into the real world.The only problem is that if you do that,the real world will pull you down and enslave you for life.I'll tell you the REAL reason behind all this: pressure from society.Every school administrator wants to be top school.And since discipline is sadly the main reson for judging that prestigiously worthless position,discipline enforcement seems to be the only way.Every school needs money.Not money to be able to continue because I'm sure they get enough of that through contacts.No...they want money to show their position in society.They want to be the alpha male of the pride.Or the matriarch of the herd.They want to have the 'best' students.The most controllable and conformistic idiots.Ones who will listen to ALL they say.

Damn.So this is where education is going in India.This is not education.Its subjugation.Its a loss of identity.Its a 'mass hypnosis',as Sepultura put it.And it must end.And the only way that will happen is mutiny.Students need to start throwing it back into the faces of the teachers.Silence is not the solution.Make them realize how idiotic they are behaving.Formality must come to an end.Don't worry about the consequences.NUMBERS are all that count.This is THE only way to ensure India progresses.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Well today's Diwali. Greetings to all. We Bengalis have this tradition of making 'alpanas' or colourless rangolis. Usually its the same old Lakshmi feet and some other generic stuff. THIS time, I decided to make one as well. THIS^ is what I came up with. A tribute to one of the few TRUE gods on Earth. Comments are necessary.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


FINALLY!!! A blog header of my own!! That ordinary, boring Times New Roman-bastardized bloated text was becoming an unbearable eyesore. I was longing for a custom-designed banner. YES!!!(plays air guitar to 'Cry of the Black Birds'). Opinions are welcome.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Gates of Winter: Another Step-up with Epic,Progressive music

This is another review I wrote for Encyclopaedia Metallum. Its a band from Canada called Gates of Winter. They play prog-power metal. The album's name is 'Lux Aeterna'. Here goes:

I came across Gates of Winter through a podcast. The song I had heard was 'Winter Flight', a song that, in one word, made me feel 'released'. And that's the kind of feel I got throughout the whole album. Right from the start of the album, one can tell that this band's intention is go STRAIGHT for the listener's mood. Their songwriting is VERY emotion-oriented, something that I find lacking in most progressive metal bands, who are busy showing off their technical prowess and superior education in music.

Gates of Winter may not come across as progressive to someone who's definition of 'progressive' is based on music by bands like Dream Theater and Andromeda. No. Don't expect ridiculously brain-jarring time signatures and beat skips OR virtuosic technique. So what makes them progressive? Well their ability to change rhythms frequently and constantly make the listener feel like he/she is part of the story they are trying to tell. And they CAN tell stories. Case in point: the 'Burning Kingdom' trilogy. The way the 1st part, 'A Dark Affliction' begins, sets the tone running for part 2 and finally closes with the instrumental part 3 that shares its name with the album title, bears testimony to their storytelling prowess.

Another highlight of this album is that there is never a dull moment. This is something that many progressive metal bands have not been able to master. Gates of Winter ensure that their songs do not drag on unnecessarily, clocking at 11-15 minutes JUST for the sake of being called 'progressive'. Hence one never feels that the same riff is being repeated for too long, or that the lead guitarist can stop his 5-minute long wankery already. Also, this band has a VERY solid backing rhythm. None of those 'falsely promising-sounding intro' problems here.

All in all, this is a wonderful album. The production though, DOES give away the fact that it is self-released because of the unusual prominence of the bass. No matter, it is still a piece of art. No matter what kind of a bad day one has had, one can be assured that he will feel total bliss for those 49 minutes and 44 seconds that this album runs for. A few of my favourites:

-Winter Flight
-From the Flesh
-Burning Kingdom II- Heavenly Insurgence

Sunday, 19 October 2008

When the addiction began....

Yesterday my mom and I were cleaning out my room,which used to be used by both my sister and I. There was a lot of stuff that NONE of us had taken out for at least 3 years. Some were even more. One out of those fossils was a diary I had kept in class 8. It contained a HUMONGOUS bio-data, some drawings and one poem. The poem was basically an attempt at shrinking the story of 'Star Wars:Episode I- The Phantom Menace'. Remember,if you think its lame, I was just 13 years old then. Here it is:

In the galaxy there was a commotion,
because of the greedy Trade Federation.
They stopped all shipping to the planet of Naboo,
and Queen Amidala did not know what to do.

Chancellor Valorum secretly dispatched,
2 Jedi knights who were a match.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn,
set off with The Force within.

During their urgent 'negotiations',
they had a chance meet with a Gungan.
Known by the name of Jar-Jar Binks,
to Otoh Gunga he no longer bore any links.

With him they reached the city of Theed,
and left for Coruscant to complete their deed.
Attacked by the Federation on the way,
on planet Tatooine they had to stay.

There they met a slave boy of nine,
known by the name of Anakin.
Sensing that he had The Force within,
he was freed by Qui-Gon Jinn.

Then came the arrival of the Sith,
just when The Sith had become a myth.
Trained by Sidious to destroy all,
this Sith's name was Darth Maul.

Alas! Darth Maul had arrived at Theed,
to fulfill his master's deed.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan jumped to the scene,
to try and save the Jedi Regime.

He was killed by Obi-Wan, his efforts in vain,
but alas! Qui-Gon had also been slain.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was now on his own,
but the ray of hope still shone.

Meanwhile Naboo made a pact with the Gungans,
to get back their glory and vengeance.
Young Skywalker did the trick,
by destroying the battleship very quick.

This drove Naboo out of its blues,
no Trade Federation on the loose.
They became friends with the Gungan city,
Peace was restored to the galaxy.

-----------------------MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU-----------------------

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Damn tagging thing

OK, Kirti (my girlfriend) has tagged me,so I can't refuse her tags.Hence,I shall tag as well.Here goes:

I am : Ishaan

I think : this tagging business is not very enjoyable

I know : what I plan to write here.

I want : a proper bass amplifier

I have : not had sex yet

I wish : for an ESP or a Warwick bass guitar

I hate : bollywood/indipop music

I miss : while peeing...HEEHEEHAHAHAHA

I fear : not getting into Tisch Asia for a Master's in animation

I hear : my neighbours' colony of servants fighting.

I smell : the blood of a runty one!!!

I crave : a lifetime supply of Mughlai food

I search : on Google and Wikipedia :p

I wonder : why so many people are prejudiced against metal

I regret : missing my date with Kirti and spoiling her evening.

I love : Kirti

I ache : when I have to study

I was not : going to do this tagging thing but did it only because Kirti tagged me

I am not : narrow-minded about music.

I cry : when Kirti cries

I believe : that people will lift the veil of religion from their eyes before its too late for the world

I dance : ?

I sing : as well as death-growl

I read : when I'm not feeling lazy to.

I don't always : talk about metal.

I fight : for what I worship

I write : about what I worship

I win : seldom

I lose : most of the time

I never : dance

I always : sit at the computer ;-)

I confuse : the gullible

I listen : to METAL\m/\m/!!!!!

I can usually be found : in front of the computer or playing my bass guitar.

I am scared : , are you?

I need : to shut up

I am happy : with Kirti, my friends, around the metal gods.

I imagine : a world where metal is the only religion.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


Well I've always been one for lists of my own. I like analysing/taking-apart/revering/spitting on all those people and groups and aspects of what I'm crazy about. So here, I'm going to make a list of my top 10 Metal instrument players. I'm not going for top 10 bands as that's a VERY,VERY dynamic list and the only permanent members there are Metallica, Iron Maiden, Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica and Mercenary. So,here are my favourite mic and instrument abusers. NOTE: Not in any order of preference.

-Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth,Bloodbath)
-Johann Hegg (Amon Amarth)
-Roy Khan (Kamelot)
-Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica)
-James Hetfield (Metallica)
-Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
-Angela Gossow (Arch Enemy)
-Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus)
-Henrik 'Kral' Andersson (ex-Mercenary)
-Matt Barlow (Iced Earth)

-Jason Becker (Cacaphony, solo)
-Chuck Schuldiner(R.I.P)(Death, Control Denied)
-Michael Romeo (Symphony X)
-John Petrucci (Dream Theater)
-Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
-Yngwie Malmsteen (Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force)
-Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom,Sinergy)
-Michael Amott (Arch Enemy)
-Roope Latvala (Children of Bodom)
-Jaani Liimatainen (ex-Sonata Arctica)

-√ėyvind Johan Mustaparta a.k.a Mustis (Dimmu Borgir)
-Marco Sneck (Kalmah)
-Janne Warman (Children of Bodom)
-Henrik Klingenberg (Sonata Arctica)
-Per Wiberg (Opeth)
-Rickard Zander (Evergrey)
-Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater)
-Attila Publik a.k.a Perspicacious Protector (Lost Horizon)
-Tuomas Planman (Norther)
-David Pavlicko (ex-Kamelot)

- Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
-Janick Bercier (Quo Vadis)
-Chris Adler (Lamb of God)
-Hellhammer (Gorgoroth,Mayhem,ex-Dimmu Borgir)
-George Kolias (Nile)
-Martin Axenrot (Opeth,Bloodbath)
-Fredrik Andersson (Amon Amarth)
-Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy)
-Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
-Jaska Raatikainen (Children of Bodom)

-Cliff Burton (R.I.P)(ex-Metallica)
-Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)
-Alex Webster (Cannibal Corpse)
-John Myung (Dream Theater)
-Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus)
-Martin Mendez (Opeth)
-Michael LePond (Symphony X)
-Hennka Seppala (Children of Bodom)
-Scott Clendenin (ex-Death)
-Troy Bleich (Into Eternity)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Dream Theater: Gods of Prog-Metal? Debatable

I've always noticed how Dream Theater is the 1st name that springs to mind when the term 'Progressive Metal' is mentioned. How everyone marvels at their sheer ingenuity with time signatures and technique. How (surprisingly) many people think that James LaBrie is one of the best vocalists in Rock/Metal ever. I personally, don't really agree.
Granted that each and every instrument player in that band is HIGHLY,extraordinarily talented. I myself am a HUGE admirer of John Myung(bass), John Petrucci(guitar) and Mike Potnoy(drums)(I think Jordan Rudess overdoes the honky-tonk on the keyboard). But THAT very talent is something that works against this band at times. Overall, I feel their music is just TOO calculated (weird time signature-this and beat skip-that). Once you think you've FINALLY figured out the beat pattern of one section of the song,they change the damn pattern to another mind boggler. It just gets too frustrating. I mean,music is something that connects with the soul as much as it does with the mind. I feel the soul connection lacking in bulk in Dream Theater's music. And lets not even START with the solos, those things go ON AND ON!!! Its like: "Yeah OK,you can play.I believe YOU!!!NOW can you stop??". Another aspect that troubles me is the vocals. At times, his voice is soothing, but for the most part of the song he's just WAILING. There's no other description. They are the kind that make you want to say "SHUT UP!!!" more often than not. And I'll never forgive him for pooping all over 'Master of Puppets'.

These were the reasons why I seldom heard Dream Theater and for the most part, Progressive Metal itself. But then there came a time when I thought "They can't ALL sound like DT,can they?" and that was when I treated myself to a HOST of AMAZING bands. Bands that strike the perfect balance between progressive thinking and melodic outlook. Bands that make catchy YET intelligent music. To hear them,click on their names. To all you adamant worshippers of Dream Theater, let me help you free your mind...

1.Opeth :

Well, lets just say that if you're HALF the metal (or even music) fan that you claim to be and you haven't heard Opeth, hiding your face around other metal-heads would be a good idea. For me, Opeth are nothing short of phenomenal. Their unique style combines progressive song structures, unconventional time signatures, switches between aggressive and calm moods and between clean and harsh singing. Yes,their songs are long as well, but at least there are no 4 to 5/4+5 minute long solos and frustrating beat skips involved. Opeth instead,rely on continuous rhythm and scale changes AND of course,the vocal style changes. The latter is the reason why Mikael Akerfeldt counts as one of the best vocalists in metal today,and THE best for me. To sum it up in layman's language, expect soft,haunting melodies laced with fast,aggressive ones,topped with vocals of both dark and light kinds and seasoned with jazz-influenced basslines and occasional death metal-influenced drum patterns. A treat indeed.

2. Symphony X :

Well if Opeth were progressively haunting, these guys are EPIC. With a guitarist who could give more than fair competition to John Petrucci (Michael Romeo) what with his 8-finger tapping style and all, these guys take the 'Progressive' aspect to a whole new level. Expect sweep tapped neo-classical leads, atmospheric keyboard rhythms as well as solos, neo-classical bass shreds, well above average drum playing and semi-aggressive yet clean singing. All nicely packaged within a progressive shell of long,multi-rhythm songs with well-placed beat skips and unconventionally epic time signatures. Unleash the FIRE!!!

3. Amaseffer

Well if you've visited my blog regularly,you would have noticed my review of Amaseffer's debut album 'Slaves For Life'. If not, well these guys are a VERY new band from Israel whose debut album released in June this year. Their style is basically storytelling oriented. They use traditional instruments along with the regular guitars and drums (AND symphonies as well). Their song-structuring involves continuous rhythm shifts and is regularly punctuated by dialogues in Hebrew,serving as the perfect backdrop for the story of Moses. The vocals on this album have been given by Mattias Levin (most well known with Therion) and are REALLY well delivered. All in all,these guys are going to be under many a watchful,hopeful eye of fans of great music.

4.Into Eternity :

This particular band from Canada is one of the most enjoyable prog-metal bands I have heard till date. Their music is a combination of modern Death Metal and Progressive Metal styles. Think fast,technical(yet melodic) riffs, mood and time signature swings, the occasional blast beat battery among the regular double bass-dominated drumming style and VERY dexterously played bass. The vocals,as in Opeth, are both clean as well as harsh. But instead of the progressive singing style adopted by Mikael Akerfeldt, Into Eternity's Stu Block uses a very modern rock style of clean singing and guttural death metal vocals. All in all, VERY catchy and very progressive at the same time. DO NOT overlook. I mean it.

5.Evergrey :

Another very talented band is this one from Sweden. Evergrey's music can be described as dark/gothic progressive metal. They regularly use symphonies and clean guitar tones. Their music tends to be very dark and a bit ambient and their lyrics are usually about negativities associated with society e.g kidnapping, extortion, war, abduction etc. But this band also has its fair share of romantic poetry. They tend to not use very unconventional time signatures but their 'progressive' stems from their rhythm changes and choice of note sequences. Highly reccomended.

6.Circus Maximus :

When I heard this band, I was simply SWEPT AWAY. Even more so when I learned that these guys are from Norway (the world's unofficial black metal beehive). Their style comes a bit close to Dream Theater's at times, but they maintain their originality by playing heavier,more aggressive riffs and dabbling less in beat skips. The vocals are a very power metal-reminiscent style but also have a bit of James LaBrie in them (but NOT the irritating wailing thankfully). Their rhythms tend to be epic and laden with lots of palm-muted powerchords. A brilliant band and a MUST HEAR.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Blood & Iron: Power Metal raises its epic fist in India

India does not lack musical talent. If you look beneath the deceptive talentless surface of beat-bastardized,simplistically created indipop 'music' that is doing very well to reduce the overall IQ of the country,there's no dearth of talent. Especially in the metal circuit. Gone are the days when bands were cheered on for covering favourite songs of people in the crowd. Now bands like Kryptos, Demonic Resurrection, Acrid Semblance, Bhayanak Maut etc, are making the effort to write orginal music and are getting BRILLIANT responses for it. And that's happening in almost EVERY sphere of metal: Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Metalcore, Nu-Metal etc. Now I say ALMOST because, barring Bangalore's Slain, there was no word of a SINGLE Power Metal band in India. Even Slain are TOO busy preaching Christ to the public using a very generic NWOBHM/Old School version of the genre. Its not bad music, but Power Metal's 'Power' comes from its very EPIC sound. But breathe easy fellas, that aspect has been taken care of very well.

Say hello to Blood & Iron from Chennai. They are epic in every sense of the word. Long songs, atmospheric keyboards, driving,marching fretwork and aggressively melodic and powerful vocals. Their songwriting is a sort of amalgamation of old school and new wave power metal, with groove and thrash-influenced instrumental moments (occasionally). Their sound is very rightly an original one, reminiscent of many styles, but doesn't let you conclude that they follow only those styles. Their lyrical themes range from history to spirituality to personal struggles. And who knows what else they could conjure up. They plan to release a concept album as debut. I personally hope it carries forward the World War II theme heard in 'Stalingrad'. I'll be damned if I don't buy that album. And I hope they come to Delhi regularly. Listen. Indulge. Surrender.

Monday, 8 September 2008


Okay for those FEW,scarce people who are loyal to this blog and expected part 2 of the 'The Force' discussion, that will have to wait because this current thought is eating me up.Its a very simple rant; what the FUCK is the purpose of religion? Now, don't run away,I'm going to give you reasons for this rant. I personally think religion has given nothing to this world except war, hatred, austracization, destruction, death and many other not-so-good things. Think about these: Godhra riots, Sikh riots in 1984, 'The Da Vinci Code' banned, Christ Illusion banned, Amarnath row, Shiv Sena+Raj Thackeray (the MF that he is), Sethusamudram Project etc etc. And these are just problems in India. Worldwide problems include The Crusades, Khartoum, Gaza Border (though that's largely political), the general vendetta against 'Anitchrist' heavy metal music etc. What's common amongst all of these? Religion. Every conflict, every battle, every ban has some 'religious sentiments getting hurt' as the primary reason. I just don't see how people can actually fight over something whose existence has not been proven. How people can actually create a set of rules and principles based on what someone that may not even exist would be happy or angry about.

But I guess this stupidity and blind faith is part of human nature. Man has created god so that he can hide behind someone for HIS crimes, blame someone else for HIS lack of action, use someone else as an excuse to kill/destroy/party-poop. But you know what? Even I pray to god every night,but actually I guess that's just out of habit because I've never got what I asked for. But obviously I have to WORK towards getting what I want right? In that case what the hell does god have to do with that? Will he jump up and down screaming 'GO ISHAAN GO!!!' as I toil to reach my goal? Or is he the true 'Keeper of the Seven Keys'?

And for the few sensible people who are not religious, don't say so in public man!!!You have no shame.You have no direction in life.Because you can't contribute towards that religion that you 'rightly belong to' and more importantly, you're not secretly abusing every other fucking religion in this world.

Seriously,if global warming doesn't get there first, the world will implode because of religion.Mankind will cease to exist because everyone will kill off everyone else in the name of Jesus/Allah/Shiva etc. This thought is shared and expressed very beautifully in the form an album by power metal giants Iced Earth in 'Framing Armageddon (Something Wicked part 1)'. The story is such:

Framing Armageddon: Something Wicked Part 1 tells the story of the Setians, who were the original inhabitants of Earth, and are directly descended from the "Great Architect". They are said to have nearly omniscient knowledge. Humans, who have developed space travel, invade Earth in a bid for "ultimate power and ultimate knowledge", killing all but ten thousand Setians.

''The remaining ten thousand go into hiding in the mountains in the east. The Setian High Council, which consists of the twelve Elders and the High Priest, make a plan to get revenge on the invading human race. They plan to initiate "The Clouding", which involves brainwashing all the humans and making them forget their origins. Once completed, the Setians will manipulate history by creating religions--Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.,--to further divide the humans. Once human kind is sufficiently divided, after ten thousand years, the Setians will await, as the prophecy told millennia ago, the birth of the Antichrist, Set Abominae. Set Abominae will destroy all of the human race and execute the revenge the Setians have long awaited.

Framing Armageddon tells the story from the prophecy to the events right before the birth of Set Abominae.''

Set Abominae is Iced Earth's mascot BTW.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008


Well people, here's a new thing on my blog: a series. I've decided to start this particular one because I've always been a huge Star Wars fan and I've wanted to show tell people how its not 'just another Sci-Fi movie series' by getting them to look at it from the philosophical perspective. Star Wars is actually quite a fascinating amalgamation of philosophy and technology and LOTS more.

So, lets start with the 1st in the series. The Force. The Force is, well the crux of Star Wars. All the events in the whole series of movies took place because of The Force: The Sith(about whom there will be detailed discussions later) plan the blockade on Naboo, the Jedi(also to be discussed about) end up discovering Anakin Skywalker who has been prophecized to bring about 'The Balance' in The Force and who in turn breaks the code of conduct by falling in love and starting a war- a war that nearly wipes out the Jedi and turna Anakin over to the Dark Side, Anakin's son then learns the ways of The Force to triumph over the Sith in the end and restore peace. All of it revolves around The Force. So what is The Force? Well in 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope',Obi-Wan Kenobi describes it as 'energy created by all living things that surrounds the galaxy and binds it'. In the same movie though, Han Solo describes it as a 'hokey religion', but that's hardly important. Now, this sounds like a 'ridiculous concept'.Or is it? Well actually, examples similar to the concept of The Force exist on this very planet itself. Sages in India claim to have tapped some mystical energy that ensures that they don't spill their guts when using their bodies as pincushions for swords; Japanese martial artists believe that every living being possesses energy called Chi and martial arts is one way to tap it; the whole concept of Feng Shui revolves around 'positive and negative eneries and vibes'. The Force is not very different from these examples. In Star Wars, not ALL people can tap into The Force. It is only creatures (yes, creatures, because Humans are not the only sentient species in Star Wars) that possess cells known a Midichlorians that can tap into it. But that's not where it ends.

Just like there are positive and negative sides to either Chi or the energies in Feng Shui, so too does The Force have a 'Dark Side' and a 'Light Side'. Those who CAN use The Force make a choice between the 2 sides. Force users (as they are called) who use the powers of The Force to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy are on the Light Side and are called The Jedi. These beings are generally considered the 'heroes' in Star Wars. On the other hand, beings that use The Force for destructive and selfish purposes and to quench their thirst for power are on the Dark Side and are called The Sith. But its not as simple as that. When George Lucas introduced such a concept to the world, he conveniently created lots of complexities through its portrayal. Let me explain with the help of the example of 'day and night'. To a 5-year old kid, 'daytime' is when the sun is visible in the sky, and 'nighttime' is when the moon is. But as he grows older, he learns that there is more to this. He learns about the sunrise and sunset, about how the sun 'travels the sky' with every passing hour and finally 'gives way to the moon'. Hence, he learns about those hours when its not exactly 'daytime' but not 'nighttime' either. This is exactly how the concept of The Force works. To an untrained mind, The Force would basically just consist of the Dark and Light Sides i.e the 'good' and 'bad' sides. But people who have seen the movies and read the books will know that there is no real good or bad. Its all just a point of view. 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter'.

This fact glares most brightly in Star Wars:Episode III-Revenge of the Sith during Anakin's conversation with Chancellor Palpatine (who eventually turns out to be the Sith Lord Darth Sidious himself and is the reason for Anakin's defection). Palpatine tells Anakin how 'the Dark Side is a window to powers many consider unnatural'. Which is true. They are not powers that The Jedi can tap. But that doesn't necessarily mean they are evil. To elaborate, he tells Anakin 'the tragic tale of Darth Plageuis the Wise', a Sith Lord who could use the Dark Side to save people from dying. According to that tale though, Plageuis taught everything he knew to his apprentice (whose identity is still unkown but going by the smug look on Palpatine's face as he told this part,he seems to be the most likely candidate) who one day killed Plageuis in his sleep. 'Ironic, isn't it?' Palpatine continues, 'he could save others from dying but he could not save himself'. Why is that?Well it because Plageuis taught his apprentice EVERYTHING. He did not leave himself the upper hand. And that is where the separation between The Jedi and The Sith is apparent. While The Jedi follow the path of selflessness, The Sith follow the path to power. Plageuis's apprentice capitalised on Plageuis's blunder, because he seeked to be more powerful than his master.

So, that about wraps up an introduction to The Force. I hope this was interesting. Watch this space for part of The Force where the focus is on the Light Side.

May the Force be with you.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Don't bother talking to him about music, he likes 'death metal' man!!!

How many times has a metal-head heard this?And why is it that this is said to him/her?And why is it that once you tell someone that you listen to only metal,its interpreted almost 90% of the time as 'Death Metal'???The answers to these question right after this break....

So, there I am,just hanging out in college with some guys and when asked what I like to hear,someone promptly says 'nah,no Floyd for him,he likes Death Metal'. Now,please allow me to enumerate exactly how much Death Metal I like: Death,Bloodbath and to small extents Nile and Six Feet Under.That's 4 bands.Out of I don't know HOW many.These 4 would make about 5% of the bands I like.Good enough?I don't think so. See,the point is not 'which band belongs to which genre' (that's a different story),the point is,why does the term 'metal' NOT seem synonymous with 'music' for so many people?And the less important one,why is someone who has a reputation of listening to metal shunned as some psychopath who has no musical taste or sense because he likes 'Death Metal'? Time for another break.We'll be right back...

All right,I guess the 2nd question easier to answer:prejudice. When Black Sabbath came out with their self-titled debut that started a whole new revolution in music,people were TOO scared to actually sit down and see that there was a very classical influence to their music.In fact,most of metal has been influenced by western classical:the sweeps,the fast riffs,the palm-muted chugs etc. Anyway,it was this fear,coupled by the churches labeling such music as 'antichrist' that started deterring people from this genre.Soon it was just people cautioning their kids and other kids to stay away from this music.

But herein lies part of the answer to the 1st question as well.Metal was,and still is,the heaviest,fastest and most bass-rich form of music. Its these traits that prevent people from actually listening to the rhythm sections and tunes. Now,I say PART of the answer because frankly speaking,the general public's basis for deciding how good an artiste is is from the vocals.Everyone is too centred on the vocals. Anything screamed,growled,shrieked etc. is just plain NOISE because 'that guy can't sing'. Or,if it IS the music that they like,they like it because its CATCHY.Which is why a band like Fall-Out Boy or Creed finds more favour than say Iron Maiden or Children of Bodom. Now,I understand that a scream or a growl would take some getting used to at first,but when you actually try to see what style of vocals would best suit the given rhythm,mood and lyrical content of the song, clean singing sounds absolutely RIDICULOUS. Take the example of Children of Bodom's 'Everytime I Die' - melodic guitars,atmospheric keys and THUNDEROUS bass= heavy,slow rhythm=melancholy,epic feel= perfect backdrop for screams and growls (though Alexi could try to NOT eat up half the words). If someone actually decided to sing those words like "no sparks of hope inside,no shooting stars on my sky,on broken wings,no flying high",it would sound totally out of place.

But thats the problem; no one cares about the rhythm.Thats NOT the 1st thing that catches one's attention.In fact, when I asked a female friend of mine what she thought of 'Nothing Else Matters' she said that it takes too long to start. Why? Because the intro instrumental portion is too long. So Hetfield and Ulrich should have just kept the singing part? So they are idiots to have 'disrupted' the song by painstakingly writing that solo and riff? Ridiculous, but true. But if you're a metal-head and reading this, don't bother getting people to appreciate metal. They won't. Give them some stupidly easy song or something with a ridiculously simple, beat-bastardized rhythm and cranky vocals, they'll LOVE it. No one has time to sit and appreciate the emotion or the epic feel in a song's rhythm. Everyone is too 'scandalized' by 'death metal'. So that's what Megadeth referred to in 'The Day the Music Died'.

Poor things.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Amaseffer: Progressive storytellers

Israel.The land of many stories.The most famous of those being that of Moses and the Ten Commandments.Recently,Israel also found a place on the world metal map thanks to that very innovative Progressive Metal band Orphaned Land. I have hardly heard anything by these guys,but I've heard a lot about them. Then I stumbled upon another Progressive Metal band called Amaseffer.They released their debut album 'Slaves For Life' in May this year. All it took was a snippet hearing on,and 15 minutes later,the album was on my iPod. To be frank,this album is GRAND. It tells the story of Moses and the Ten Commandments, and is the 1st in a trilogy of albums. What follows now is a review that I wrote for that album on to enjoy:

A Better Concept Album There Will Seldom Be...

I have always been a bit wary of progressive bands, mostly because of their attempts at complexity. Be it with time signatures or technique or just those ridiculously long solos, band just FORGET that their aim should be to make good music and not write a staff notation of a solution to Schrodinger's equation. With Amaseffer's Slaves For Life however, I felt blessed to have stumbled upon such a work of art.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge this band's sheer songwriting prowess. It was truly unlike anything I had heard before, or even expected from this album. Right from the start, one can tell that the aim of this band was to present a story to the listener through their music, not how the drummer can beat Mike Potnoy at complex time signatures. Their use of folk instruments, the Mid-Eastern tunes and symphonies and of course,their use of sounds from everyday life and the dialogues in Hebrew; all of them made it seem as if it one was watching a movie and not listening to an album. The vocals by Mats Levin of Therion are perfect.Not too whiny, nor too cheesy. Sometimes, they even remind you of Roy Khan's (Kamelot) singing. The lyrics are very to-the-point. Amaseffer have not tried to be excessively poetic by using verses that could mean ANYTHING, which is something I really appreciate. If a story has to be told, the events within it should unfold with ease.

Now, the fact that this band is a progressive metal band, could mean that people will expect a high level of technique. Unfortunately (for such people), that is not the case. But its not a problem either. Their rhythms are pretty simple and straightforward powerchords, notes and chords and their solos are not very fast or technical; but they all add to the overall mood of the album. There's not a single moment where the mood of the song becomes casual due to a rhythm that may be technically sound, but that's all it is. Every song generates its own mood because each song talks about different phases of the Moses story. And all the dialogues and sound effects make sure that even if you're not very knowledgeable about that story (like me),you WILL know what events unfold (even though the dialogues are in Hebrew).

If I was to describe what band these guys sound like, I would say a slower, less technical but exponentially more melodic version of the newer Symphony X. I don’t have a personal favourite song as every song is great and paramount to the album. But yes, I enjoyed ‘The Wooden Staff’ the most for its digitized Hebrew voice in the beginning and that section in the middle where the guitar, bass and xylophone are playing this catchy Mid-Eastern tune.

All in all, this is the best concept album I have heard till date. Once again, I’d like to congratulate the band. To be able to come up with such brilliance on debut itself is nothing short of a world record. In fact, if the band continues to write music like this, and improve, they could easily dethrone even veterans in this genre like Opeth and Symphony X. A brilliant collection of music. Something that every fan of good music should possess.

Its Star Wars season again!!!!!

Boy,am I kicked!!!!Just when I had thought that George Lucas had decided to go over-and-out with Star Wars,its BACK!!!!This time in an animated form.Today marked the day 'The Clone Wars' released in the US and the UK.A revolution in terms of animation, this movie basically gives you some of the little details as to how Episode II led to Episode III i.e it basically elaborates on the wars itself. Unfortunately,from the little research that I have done online, the release date in India has not been decided yet. Well I shall declare a bounty on the censor board if the movie isn't released in India, but really,I can't wait to see this movie. I'm especially looking forward to seeing Asajj Ventress, the bald female dark jedi,in action (what with 2 lightsabers and all!!1).

May the Force remain with Lucas FOREVER. More Star Wars!!!!!

Monday, 11 August 2008

The arrival of romance

Yes 'Thought Processor' loyalists,I have a girlfriend.Her name is Kirti. Yeah, hard to believe isn't it?I found it hard to believe myself. I mean,just look at me.For years people have laughed at the idea of me going out with someone. I mean, I like metal and Star Wars. I can be quite mean sometimes,and I've never really thought I look good (though Kirti vehemently differs). But here I am all the same. And its a WONDERFUL feeling. I always thought getting a girlfriend would be a pain, because people have always complained (throughout history) about how girlfriends suck out your time and money, but Kirti is just AMAZING. She respects the fact that you have other responsibilities in life, doesn't drain the money out of you (in fact she pretty much pays for everything in life) and is just SO understanding.

Its been 6 days now,and it just feels like it JUST began everyday. Haha.Sorry people, I'm just TOO ecstatic about it. I love her. And she loves me too. And its just great.

OK, bye.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

A (most well-deserved) Tribute to the Four Horsemen

I have heard a fair share of tribute albums to Metallica e.g:Kerrang! Remastered and Metallic Assault.No doubt I've liked them,what with some of them being performed by so many legendary bands themselves.But this particular one,a Nuclear Blast Records tribute,has to be the best in my opinion.The selection of songs,the 'all-star' nature of the selection of bands and most importantly,how each band has tried to throw in THEIR signature style into a song rather than just playing it EXACTLY the way the original sounds;all contribute to make this one legendary tribute album.Which is why I'm discussing each song.So read on and as before, just click the name of the song to hear it.

1. Primal Fear-Seek and Destroy: Well this song has pretty much been done in the same way as Metallica originally did it.But yes,Mat Sinner's pounding bass does add 'feel' to it.An enjoyable song nevertheless,and Primal Fear are a pretty good power metal band themselves.The link only provides a 30-second preview,but that was all I found.

2. Therion-Fight Fire with Fire: Though I'm not entirely sure,I don't think this is the Swedish Opera Metal band,but the British Thrash Metal band.Anyway,well the violin version of the same intro tune sounds very promising,but the way it just abruptly gives way to a 'more-than-necessary' staccato version of that killer verse riff,and the vocalist's snappy,irritable growling style kinda disappoints.Also,the solo section is a far cry from its glorious original counterpart.I appreciate the endeavour to write an original solo,but it was nowhere around the same league of song-writing as the original.All in all,a just-about decent cover is all that this song is.This link is a youtube fan video with clips from the Ghost Rider movie.

3.Destruction-Whiplash: Well with Nuclear Blast being a German company,there are no surprises at the fact that the majority of the bands on this album are German.Primal Fear are,so are these guys.In fact,Destruction,along with Kreator and Sodom,are credited with starting the German Thrash Metal movement.Now their version of this song can be generalised as more maniacal,in a good way.Something that adds to the aggression of this song.The lyrics are screamed out loud,the riffing is heavier(thanks partly to the fact that one guitar and the bass are playing 16th notes while the other guitar plays 8th notes,and partly to the guitar tone) and there's a constant double bass pattern thats maintained.A very enjoyable cover,something you shouldn't be surprised about instantly headbanging like a retard to.The link is another youtube video,this time with clips of skateboard crashes .

4. Anthrax-Phantom Lord
: Well,I wasn't ever much of a fan of this song and Anthrax's cover hasn't changed much of that either.Which goes to say that this is a very decent cover of the song.Even the vocals are almost the same.What they HAVE changed (and not for the better) is that the 'nice clean' guitar arpeggio interlude has been played on a VERY suppressed,'minimum flanger' tone,that just takes away ALL the feel that the original gives.But don't let this deter you,its not THAT BAD a cover either.

5. Sonata Arctica-Fade To Black:
Well, till now,I haven't pointed out any EXCEPTIONAL covers on this album.This song puts an end to that trend.To generalize,it is BEAUTIFUL.Sonata Arctica have always made beautiful music.Music that is emotional.And the way they have added THAT feature of their music to this song,gives you the impression that it was the song that chose them,and not the other way round.Right from the synth-guitar intro,to the self-composed 2nd solo and of course,that PHENOMENAL latter half.With that improvised 'distortion-less' latter half,they just made the song's message EVEN more evident:Death is not the end,it's just a new beginning.And Tony Kakko's voice just fills the gaps in the song,if any at all.It makes it all the more atmospheric.The keyboardist though,has more of a 'guitarist's' role on this song,though there is a keyboard riff towards the end.Thank you Sonata,for making this flawless masterpiece.Take a bow.

6. Burden of Grief-Master of Puppets: All right,there's no denying THIS fact:When one hears about a cover of THIS particular song,one expects the highest of standards.Now,Burden of Grief,a German melodic death metal band,have not really done a remarkable job of this song.On the other hand,just the use of a heavier guitar and bass tone has made this song very interesting to hear.The vocals are traditional melodic death style harsh vocals,which don't go too well with this song,but you get used to them.The part where they blew is,very predictably,the harmonic solo in the middle.Now,I heard this happen on the Dream Theater cover as well as the Apocalyptica one,which is that the tune played is actually the HARMONIC of the actual tune.The only band that did harmonic justice to this tune was Trivium,where each guitar played a different harmonic.But the major deterrent was the bass.A very 'empty' tone that just followed the guitar just DIDN'T click.But they made up with a BRILLIANT fast solo,so overall,no real complaints against this song.In fact,barring the pooped harmonic solo,its a very enjoyable cover indeed.

7. Dark Tranquillity-My Friend of Misery: Just when you thought that the presence of Anthrax,Destruction and Sonata Arctica was 'all-star cast' enough,in come the godfathers of melodic death metal themselves.Now I mentioned something like 'the song finds the band' on the Sonata Arctica description,remember?Well,the same is applicable here.And HOW.The melancholy mood of the song is something everyone associates with Dark Tranquillity's music as well.The bass intro had just the right amount of 'flanger' to sound good and yet not overcooked.Even Mikael Stanne's harsh vocals found a place in the song.The rest was executed perfectly.Nothing new.But nothing bad either.One could be excused for mistaking this song as a DT original even.

8. Crematory-One: Well,this is the 4th German band so far on this album (not that that is a problem in any way) and,as with MOP,one expects REALLY high standards from a cover of this song as well.And I'm actually quite proud of what Crematory,a Darkwave Gothic Metal band,has made of this song.The intro starts with that 1 guitar,but when the solo starts another rhythm guitar enters the song with a harmonic of the intro riff.A pleasant surprise.The pre-verse section introduces the keyboards that play a very industrial 'harmonic' of the vocal tune.During the verse,the keyboards go symphonic.The vocals are clean during the verse and are growled for the chorus,something that brings out the contrast between submission and despair pretty well.But,as with almost every other cover,the 2nd solo is missing and the band very abruptly switches to the heavy,double bass-dominated latter half.All of this is growled and while the rhythm section is good,the fast solo has been replaced by a not-so-fast self composition that is basically just the vocal tune of the song (Kurt Cobain,anyone?).The rest of the song is just techno keyboards but all said and done,a very innovative and inventive cover.

9. In Flames-Eye of the Beholder: Well,I never said that the 'star cast' ended with Dark Tranquillity, did I?But now since you know its In Flames,please don't get disappointed if I say that they didn't do anything special with this cover.It sounds just like the original,just sped up a bit.Hell,they even decided to use some other vocalist who sounds much closer to Hetfield than Anders Friden.The only innivations that are present are 'FREEDOM' beings screamed by a backing harsh vocalist during the chorus and then during the harmonic interlude,the keyboard atmosphere.Apart from that,its the same as the original.But then again,its grittier with the heavier guitar and bass tones,so an overall enjoyable listen nevertheless.

10. Primus-The Thing That Should Not Be: Well,there you go.Yet another addition to the 'star cast'.But...stop.Because the reputation of the band is their only saving grace in this case.The song,to put it mildly,is ATROCIOUS.A very sloppy and almost ZERO-distortion
guitar tone,averagely played drums and semi-irritating vocals are the highlights of this song.And the bass?Oh NO.OK,I know that Les Claypool is one hell of a badass with anything that has 4 strings,but what kind of a tone was THAT?!?Was that even a BASS guitar?Or did he just cut out a hole in a shoebox and put 4 rubber bands around it and go 'plonk-plonk'?Nuclear Blast could EASILY have used a more METAL band like Dimmu Borgir to cover this song(in fact,this song would sound rather wonderful if it was covered by Borgir).By far the weakest link on this album.Thankfully for you,the link provided is only to a 30-second snippet,should you actually take the bold step of hearing this song.

11. Apocalyptica-Harvester of Sorrow: And so,the 'all-star' trend continues.This band has always amazed me.The bold step of playing metal on cello and actually doing it well is very admirable.This cover is just another example of that.Although the original song has a lot of sustained notes,Apocalyptica have done the best one can possibly do with sustained notes on cello.I also like the way they use the bassoon as an all-important foundation to the song,in true Classical fashion.Even more admirable are the way they handle vocals and soloing on the cello/violin.A great cover,but not their best (but you can't really blame the band for that).

12. Die Krupps-Battery: If you think the previous song is innovative,wait till you hear this one.Die Krupps (German for 'The Crips',a German rip-off of the infamous American gang's name) are a,well,German industrial/electronica band.SO the whole song is played on turntables and weird digital noise-makers.There is a drummer though.And a vocalist.And there's a constant 'lightning' sound that keeps punctuating the rhythm,adding to the 'charged battery' feel of the song.Brilliant innovation,my friends.Keep it up.Unfortunately,this link is also a 30-second snippet.Sorry,that was all I could find.

13. Sinner-Wherever I May Roam: Well,yet another great German band.Interestingly,their vocalist/bassist also handles the same duties with Primal Fear.And I firmly believe he's the driving force of their music.Brilliant high-pitched power metal-style vocals and POUNDING bass,this is yet another example of 'the song finding the band'.They took care with the 'nice-clean' arpeggio that accompanies the chords in the verse,but cut out the trademark sitar intro and the 1st solo and latter half of the 2nd.But that shouldn't bother you too much,as just about everything else more than just compensates.Another great song on this album.Unfortunately (again), I couldn't find the song on youtube so you shall have to suffice with an Amazon 30-second snippet.Just click the 'play' icon to the left of the song's name.Ditto with the next song.Really sorry.

14. Rage-Motorbreath (live): Well,a nice idea to conclude with a live cover.This particular song has the 'live to ride,ride to live' vibe to it,and Rage does a good job of not destroying it.Te cover is again,almost a copy of the original.What IS different though is that the filler riff between 2 verses has no rhythm guitar playing the 16th notes on the bass clef,just the hammer-ons(and that too throughout on the same not,no change of note on the 3rd measure).But,no point complaining.The crowd cheering along and going 'aye,aye,aye,aye!!!' also adds to its vibe.A decent end to a great album.

OK,so that about wraps up this highly monotonous review.What I liked about this album was that equal importance was given to each of the albums that the songs are originally from.Also quite happy that it was just the 1st 5 albums.But they could have added just 1 more each from Ride the Lightning and The Black Album and got 2 more of Nuclear Blast's greats like HammerFall and Nightwish perhaps to record them,but...what the hell.Hehe.Thank you for reading.I hope its influenced you to buy/download the album.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The DLF Indian Premier League:All surprises,all the time

Ok,its time for the final.After watching both teams during their run,one would have been more than just disappointed to not see the Rajasthan Royals in the finals.As for the other team,well going by the fact that the Kings XI Punjab had a much more ferocious batting line-up,one would think that it was their complacency more than the bowling attack of the Chennai Super Kings that got the latter through.

But what about the other teams?Well no doubt that the teams that made it to the semis deserved to be there(although I would have preferred the Mumbai Indians to go through rather than the Daredevils.And I'm a Delhi boy).But,why on earth did the Deccan Chargers lose out?Initially,when I saw their batting line-up,I wouldn't have been able to imagine a more destructive one.Just imagine the havoc that the 'big 4 of the big hits'(Adam Gilchrist,Herschelle Gibbs,Shahid Afridi and Rohit Sharma) could have wreaked.Throw Andrew Symonds into the mix and you have 'total annihilation'.Even the bowling,though not a very impressive line-up,WAS led by R.P Singh and Chaminda Vaas after all.But I guess this boon turned out to be their bane as well.Since there were so many world class players,everyone just ended up playing for his own personal records.Throughout the series you could see that they weren't really gelling together.And with a TEST player as captain (V.V.S Laxman),that about drove the final nail into their coffin.

The other 'hahafest' were the Bangalore Royal Challengers.Poor Mr. Mallya.Apart from Misbah-ul-Haq and Cameron White,everyone else was a test player.This was a bunch of geriatrix caught in the wrong job.And the reason for this was 'cricket expert' Charu Sharma who thought he had got it all covered.Well,Vijay Mallya will need to get some pull to work in his favour if he wants to entertain ANY hopes of reaching the semis in the next season.

So,all said and done,the IPL was a ROARING success.For those 2 months nearly,it became a way of life for India AND the rest of the world.May the Force be with you,Mr. Modi.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Metal Intros from hell

I'm writing after some time,I know.The reason for this hiatus was that I have had exams from 5th April and I had to spend time studying.But I have just one left and I had this list which I wanted to share with the world.I've heard a lot of metal in the past 2-3 years and will continue to do so for a LONG time.Metal has always had some songs that just PULL YOU towards it like a tractor beam because of its intro.Even if you try to,you can't bring yourself to remove those earphones from your head. I have had this experience with a handful of songs.Here they are,along with the reason for their HELLishness.To hear the songs,just click their names:

1.Metallica-For Whom the Bell Tolls: The bell tolling,that IN YOUR FACE intro,and of course,that DOOMY bass riff.Any metal fan could be suckered in by that intro,and not get dissapointed by the rest of the song either.If you haven't heard the song yet,hear it,after you're done hanging your head in shame(BTW,this is not the music video but a fan video.And a DAYUMM good one at that):

2.Evergrey-She Speaks to the Dead : This song begins with a church-goer speaking to the priest about his sightings of the girl next door performing rituals to resurrect the dead and how he needs to stop her. Only when his misty voice trails off with "She speaks to the dead..." does that gothic tune begin on nice-clean guitar,with the keyboards creating the perfect atmosphere of darkness and uncertainty.Even the bass(which has a very raw sound in this case) just improves matters.And Tom S Englund has a brilliant voice.Enjoy the song.Its just the intro portion though,but its enough.

3. Dimmu Borgir- The Fundamental Alienation : Dimmu Borgir is just one of many bands to be shunned by the 'purists' for changing their style, theirs being from symphonic black metal to a more melodic yet dark genre. This song exhibits just how dark they can get,without any chaotic blast beats or bad production quality. It starts,not with guitars,but with a VERY doomy,built-up orchestra piece,complete with Gregorian chants.In fact, its something that could even strike fear into the heart of someone who doesn't know what to expect.Me,well it just AWES me.Like NOTHING ELSE.Click on the link,it might just awe you too.

4. Bloodbath- Cry My Name: Hmmm, a death metal band.Something I'm not really into.But Bloodbath,well,there's just something to them.Maybe its the way they focus more on aggressive perfection rather than chaos,maybe not.Maybe because their songwriting just bleeds brutality,maybe not.Or maybe its just because Akerfeldt is their vocalist,maybe not.Either way,this particular intro is the last thing you expect from a death metal band.A lead guitar intro,its one of the DOOMIEST things I've ever heard.Its beautiful.Yes,it is.

5. Iron Maiden- Wasted Years: I'm pretty surprised I haven't mentioned this song yet. The 1st time I heard it,well,let's just say this song was my 1st taste of something 'epic' in metal.At least,the intro was.Its such a haunting tune,it's not funny.And it's been conceived so well.I remember wanting to buy a guitar just to be able to play this tune.It has a very 'celestial' feel to it.Click on the link,after following the same instructions as on For Whom The Bell Tolls.

6. Children of Bodom- Downfall (live at Tokyo): This song (particularly this live version) was my 1st taste of Bodom.It was the 1st time I had heard keyboards in a metal band.Needless to say,it blew me away. I had heard the studio version of this song after the live one,and I was a tad dissapointed.Everything about the live improvisation is perfect ;the keyboard riff,that complementing guitar riff that kicks in with a short riff before it that Alexi created and the best part, the way Alexander and Hennka burst in with the rhythm section,and shortly afterwards,enter Jaska,all drums blazing!!!!!

7. Pantera- I Can't Hide: This song starts with a very simple bass intro,but its the picking and selection of notes that I like.It just gets you in the mood for metal. Even the complementing guitar riff does total justice to the bass riff.Great song,great band,great intro.

8. Mercenary- World Hate Center: Its amazing how many lesser-known bands there are whose songwriting skills have had very little acknowledgement. Mercenary are just one of them. This particular song's intro has one definition;explosive.It just JUMPS out at you.And IS IT EPIC!!!!!!In fact,Ive always admired Mercenary for being brutal and at the same time,emotional.But,the thing about this song is that its the 2nd song on the album 11 Dreams,and for a very good reason. The 1st song is an instrumental keyboard intro called Into the Sea of Dark Desires,that contains the basic note sequence of this song. And the EXPLOSIVE impact is felt EVEN better after hearing the 2 songs one after the other.Which is exactly what I found on the net.Enjoy.

9. Iron Maiden- Moonchild, Caught Somewhere in Time,Seventh Son of a Seventh Son: And I had thought Wasted Years was the most epic I had heard. Was I wrong!!!!!Each of these 3 songs represents just how epic Maiden,and in general,metal can get. Moonchild has that keyboard riff,7th Son has those Gregorian chants and,my favourite Maiden song of all time,Caught Somewhere in Time,with its bass chords and guitar harmonies.Listen to them,and get the most ultimate high that no amount of cannabis can ever give you.

10. Megadeth- In My Darkest Hour,Trust,Kill the King: I'm not a big Megadeth fan,but I just LOVE these 3 songs.But I still think that Megadeth can't chug out those metal riffs too well,and Dave Mustaine is one of the WORST vocalists in metal EVER.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

1 down,5 to go

So,my exams have begun.Today was the 1st.Mathematical Physics.Fucked-up subject.But I was pretty satisfied with the way I did my paper.It wasn't EXCELLENT,but it was much better than my mid-term paper (which is not really saying much because I got 12/38).I should get above 20.

On to the next...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Physics Honours: worst mistake...last mistake

When I got the hell out of class 12(12th grade for people outside India) I was a naive little 6 footer who was torn between his parents' wish to see him as another product out of India's engineering factory and staying the fuck at home and devoting myself to metal. I gave 3 (of the least easy to clear) engineering exams, and (luckily) did not get in.Then my parents started panicking but were pacified when I consented to take Physics honours in 'the best college in South Campus'...Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Sri Venkateswara College (no,you are not supposed to mention the whole name each time you speak it). Even the pep-talk given by the teachers initially charged me up a bit in the scientific direction.Then, the studies began piling on, the college premises itself started looking morbid. Then I started to see how INSANE the teachers were('insane' as in what you become when you go beyond being passionate about something,Physics in this case). Every one of them works as if the student is the enemy. Forget about guidance.Once you've taken Physics honours, you fend for yourself. You're expected to be reading up about freakin' electrical BRIDGES or different lenses or some SHIT like that in your free time!!!!!!!! And practicals? Forget it!!! They aren't even going to tell you how to START!!!Read about it,do it yourself and if you find it gratifying to go to the teacher when you get stuck somewhere only to hear "try again'',do right ahead. Its like the relationship Darth Vader has with Palpatine: he keeps getting sent on dangerous missions CREATED by Palpatine so that Palpatine can keep trying to kill him and make Vader angrier(basically a better Sith).

Personally, I have got more than sick of all this. And to think that I have to endure one whole year more makes it even WORSE!!!I can almost hear Satan laughing at me!!!!! I shall now make my decisions MYSELF!!!! No one,repeat, NO ONE makes them for me!!!!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Curse of the 4-stringed One

Ever since I bought my bass guitar last year,I have been plagued with problems that keep me from exploiting my inner musical prowess.First,I had no amplifier(but that was in '06 when i bought my friend's old Givson Jaguar from him for 2000 bucks).Then, that Givson's headstock broke and I had an excuse for an amplifier in the form of a Stranger Cube20M(a pocket-sized piece of shit that doesn't say 'bass' ANYWHERE on it).Then, I was 'bass'less for 2 whole months before I bought my Ibanez Gio Soundgear(the one in my photo) and then when I thought I had settled down finally, that amp coughed up and died. Another blessing in disguise( but sometimes I just wish for DIRECT blessings).This was when my best friend/almost brother Aneesh (the same guy I bought the Jaguar from) stepped in and gave me his Stranger Cube 80M, a BASS amplifer. BUT, since it was in MY custody,it HAD to have problems AS WELL!!!!!!!!!!! The problem with that (currently still persisting) was that its circuitry had burnt out so comprehensively inside,that a volume increase from 0 to 1 would result in INSANE amounts of noise and the volume would be as high as it would sound at 10. To provide icing to the cake, I had been smart enough to store my bass guitar in a TUNED condition,so that the fretboard kept bending and now I have an action so high you could do a Physics experiment on the fretboard.

Such is the wrath of the 4-stringed one...

Friday, 29 February 2008

Metallica: Lightning Raiders or Puppet Masters?

Of all the artistes in the world,I doubt whether any have faced reactions as varied as Metallica when their name is spoken.Some would outright kill for them, some would outright kill them for selling out,some like just the '1st 4' and some don't give a shit. But none can deny that Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets are by far the 2 most definitive,if not legendary, albums by them. Both have so much in common,yet different in their own ways.Both have 8 songs with similar track structuring, both have bass god Cliff Burton 'pounding out the low-end aggression' and...well...both are legendary.And this exactly what makes you want to compare the 2 albums.Not necessarily in a critical manner,but just how different they are in their similarities and similar in their differences as well.I know I'm not the 1st person in the world to do this,but I sure as hell won't be the last either.

So,here's a head-to-head,blade-against-blade,song-v/s-song review of 2 of the most influential albums in metal ever.May the best record win...

  • Fight Fire with Fire v/s Battery: The classic thrash metal album openers, these 2 songs are a perfect example of how the songs on these 2 albums are different in their similarities. While both have an acoustic intro giving in to raging melodic madness, Fight Fire with Fire has a very deceptively happy tune as compared to Battery (which starts melancholy).The verse riffs differ as well. FFWF has a very Slayer-like 32nd note sequence with E being the root note and '3-2-3,2,1' measure ending note on the 1st 3 frets. Battery, on the other hand, has a very groove-based fast version of the 1 8th note, 2 16th notes sequence with powerchord doublets ending each measure. The aggression is more evident on FFWF. But the crowning moment of the song is its solo. Played in classic thrash metal style(full-on shredding, arpeggios and tapping), its more melodic than most thrash metal solos of its time. In contrast Battery has a bend and whammy-dominated solo, something that does not give you much musical feel. The vocals on Battery though, are much more rhythmic than FFWF. So, final conclusion: Fight Fire with Fire wins over Battery. I’ll give the former 4.7/5 and the latter 4.2/5.On to the next.

  • Ride the Lightning v/s Master of Puppets: The showdown of the title tracks. Judging this one is not too difficult (but lets not be too conclusive going about it). The intro to RTL packs more of a punch than MOP’s does with its low end-high end guitar interpolation, Lars pounding away on the bass drum and Burton slapping away on his bass guitar. After that its pretty much the same tunes for verse, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge respectively being played twice. MOP has a similar approach, only its intro has 2 rhythms instead of 1 and is much more technical. The singing on RTL involves more screaming while that on MOP basically delves in higher pitches. After this is when things start to change drastically. ‘Ride the Lightning’ goes into a pre-solo classic thrash section where Hetfield goes insane on the vocals, followed by a well-written technical, almost progressive masterpiece of a solo. MOP just stops, with fading ‘Master…’ chants. This gives way to probably the most well-known piece in metal today; the harmonic solo. The most striking feature of this part is the way the mood changes from happy to depressive to happy again, repeated again. After their solos is where the songs take totally different paths. While RTL goes back to the verse and ends the song with the intro tune, MOP goes into ANOTHER solo, this time a total contrast to the harmonic one. The verse is then played twice, and the song ends with fading distortion and cackling, evil laughter. The judgment : score one for Master of Puppets(the album).4.8/5 to MOP and 4/5 to RTL.

  • For Whom the Bell Tolls v/s The Thing that Should Not Be: The reason why I have chosen these 2 songs is because both are well known for their bass handiwork a la Cliff Burton (R.I.P). The former is a bold and legendary experiment with distortion and wah pedals, while the latter leaves the listener wondering whether there was a ‘detonate’ button on the bass guitar. The bass intro on ‘Tolls’ is probably the 1st thing a metal bass beginner tries to play. In fact, this is one of the few songs I have heard where bass overshadows everything else. Now, this is probably the only song on this album that has no solos, but the lead riffs in the latter part of the intro as well as the bridge more than compensate, giving a very epic feel to the song (which fits the lyrical theme of a battle for a hill very well). ‘The Thing’ starts with a doomy guitar doublet that later becomes a groove, and what follows is a sound pounding to the ears. The main tune lacks the feel that was present on the previous track on the album and the pre-chorus sounded very haphazard to me. The part that DOES sound good though is the verse with its lyrics doing prefect justice to the menacing effect created by the trailing chords and the intro tune played again. This song DOES have a solo, a very…vengeful sounding solo. The end to this song is where the pounding bass is felt most strongly with chorus riff being repeated and trailing off. The ‘jet’ flanger effect on the guitar just makes it all the more better. The ending of ‘Tolls’ is easily more convincing, a doomy interpolation being played, backed by screaming, furious lead. Good work Mr. Burton on both songs, but ‘Tolls’ is the undoubted winner here; 4.5/5 and 3.4/5 respectively.

  • Fade to Black v/s Welcome Home (Sanitarium): These 2 are the ballads in their respective albums, and probably have the most sensitive lyrics in their respective albums as well. While FTB gives a very calming, inevitable image of death, ‘Sanitarium’ is about how the sense of rebellion keeps growing when you are treated as nothing more than a test subject. The song is based on the Jack Nicholson starrer ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Both may be ballads, but again, songs on this album being different in their similarities, each has a different emotion being portrayed. FTB has a very soothing vibe throughout the song (even in the heavy latter part) while ‘Sanitarium’ starts melancholy and then becomes one raging fireball of anger. FTB starts acoustic in a very classic rock fashion with powerchord notes being separately picked, whereas ‘Sanitarium’ has a slightly eerie, resonating, ‘nice clean’ twang, with higher note doublets. The verse in FTB is all chords, whereas that in ‘Sanitarium’ has powerchord notes singularly picked over 3 scales. Overall, Sanitarium generates more emotion to me, including the vocals. During the heavy latter parts, ‘Sanitarium’ takes a thrash metal turn whereas FTB has a very hard rock-oriented sound, something like a heavier Deep Purple. FTB’s solo has more feel to it, even though its less technical than that of ‘Sanitarium’. But the aspect that I love most about ‘Sanitarium’ is that its bass lines are SO intelligently created, from the verse riff to the last riff after the solos. Overall, ‘Sanitarium’ gets the better points than FTB; 4.5/5 to the former, 4/5 to the latter.

So, the scores at half-time: Ride the Lightning: 17.2/20
Master of Puppets: 16.9/20

We have now reached the point where corresponding songs cease to be similar, but the similarity within songs itself does not cease. So, on with side-B…

  • Disposable Heroes v/s Creeping Death: The reason why I chose these 2 songs is because…well…I had no choice. There were similarities between each of the 3 remaining songs in both albums. But, on closer evaluation, the similarities start becoming evident. Both have a heavy staccato intro, both have the same riff in the verse as well as the post-intro section, both have chants in the middle portion and both…ummm…both….are Metallica songs!!!!! Sorry, that’s a bit escapist of me, but I couldn’t think of anything else. Anyway, while both begin with the same staccato intro, the former has a longer measure, which means ‘Creeping Death’ is a faster song. The verse riffs themselves differ and the most evident difference of course, is their durations. ‘Death’ is a more simply-written song than ‘Heroes’, with the latter having 2 chorus rhythms (‘Soldier boy……’ and ‘BACK TO THE FRONT!!!!!!’) and a MUCH longer soloing session. Still, the solo (and overall music itself) has a very epic tune to it, in a very catchy manner. And the ‘DIE,DIE’ chants are absolutely legendary! Hence, the winner: Creeping Death. 4.2/5 to ‘Heroes’ and 4.5/5 to ‘Death’. Might I add, Metallica continued their winning habit of writing anti-war songs with Disposable Heroes. The next album saw another anti-war song, probably the most legendary one in the history of metal.

  • Leper Messiah v/s Escape: One is a song about the pointlessness of religion, the other is about freedom denied. Both are moderate tempo songs with the same beat. But the main riff of ‘Leper’ reminded me quite a lot of ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits whereas that of ‘Escape’ reminded me to shut up and listen to the song. Also, the bass tone in that song seemed to be ‘beefed up’ quite a lot, giving a pretty powerful punch. The overall effect given by ‘Leper Messiah’ is pretty, well, random. But wait, halfway into the song, everything suddenly speeds up!!!!! A furious double bass groove on the drums, and a total thrash metal barrage of riffs from the strings. Even the solo starts with a really psychedelic tune, and overall ends up as a very good one. But the solo of ‘Escape’ bleeds finesse, and is much more thoughtfully written. Even the fade-out ending of the song with blaring alarms in the background beats the sudden end to ‘Leper’. Hence, we have a winner in Escape. 3.8/5 to ‘Leper’ and 4/5 to ‘Escape’.

  • Orion v/s The Call of Ktulu: Ah, the instrumentals. Integral to their respective albums, they are each brilliant examples of what Cliff Burton could create from his bass guitar {with the other members involved as well of course; unlike the 1st Metallica instrumental ‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)’ which is basically a bass solo}. ‘Orion’ starts with a very atmospheric bass triplet intro, whereas ‘Ktulu’ starts nice clean on guitar. Orion has a bass interlude where Burton plays a slow,jazzy bass solo with a slow guitar riff played by Hetfield, but in contrast, Burton’s solos are heard every time the filler between 2 riff sections is played on ‘Ktulu’, WITH distortion and wah!!!!!! Fast and technical, the songwriting is as good as the technique(even for those 3 seconds or so). Both songs though, are brilliant examples of Burton’s versatility. The solo on ‘Ktulu’ sounds much better in writing and speed, than Orion (which basically has a more progressive focus). ‘Orion’ has a more complex beat pattern, with one section having additional beats every alternate measure. Overall, ‘Orion’ has a very progressive sound, something the band carried forward into and elaborated on in their next release ‘..And Justice for All’. In total contrast, ‘Ktulu’ has a very symphonic sound to it, WITHOUT any orchestra or keyboards. Such is the power in Metallica’s songwriting. Keeping these in mind, I declare ‘Ktulu’ as champion. ‘Orion’ gets 4.3/5 and ‘Ktulu’ gets 4.9/5 (I was tempted to give a full score, but maybe the slight repetitive nature of the main riff held me back).

  • Damage, Inc v/s Trapped Under Ice: The ‘other’ classic thrash metal songs in each album. While the latter starts pretty abrupt, the former has a very ‘Fight Fire with Fire’-like deceptively slow and happy intro that ALSO gives way to melodic carnage with a distortion feedback interval on guitar. The riff of the latter has a bit of a punk rock feel to it, while that of the former has a very menacing sound. Even the difference in the vocals is similar. The latter has punk rock-like screams while the former has an aggressive, gravely tone. Though the solos may sound similar, the former’s sounds much less random and is technically sounder (and the fact that it SUDDENLY explodes after Hetfield shouts ‘GO!!’ adds to its brilliance). The theme of ‘Damage’ (mob violence) also seemed better to talk about than just being frozen in time in ‘Ice’s case. So ‘Damage jackals’ get 4.4/5 and ‘Trapped Under Ice’ gets 3.9/5.

As you may have noticed, I have not really commented on the vocals much as they sound pretty much the same on both albums, but where they deserve mention, I have done so. Another thing you may have noticed is that in the 1st half, I have compared RTL songs with MOP songs,and in the 2nd I have reversed roles. Thats just to maintain symmetry.

So, that about wraps up the match, the final scores: Ride the Lightning: 34.5/40
Master of Puppets: 33.6/40

So, the winner is Ride the Lightning. The outcome that I wanted (and I DIDN’T fabricate it). Somehow, I always felt that RTL ‘had it’ more than MOP did. Still, that doesn’t stop MOP from being the phenomenon that it is, doesn’t stop it from continuing to inspire the songwriting for bands of today and most importantly, helps all metal-heads to remember the phenomenon that was Cliff Burton (this being his last album and his tragic death occurring in the same year as its release).