July 6, 2010

Make it sound like 12 years in the past!

Lately, I heard the news that the Italian power metal band Labyrinth will soon release their new album which will be called "Return To Heaven Denied - Part II: A Midnight Autumn's Dream". It will be the successor of their (broadly considered best) classic "Return To Heaven Denied" from 1998. And again, I'm reminded of the fact that 1998 was a mindblowingly brilliant year for fans of great metal music.

On my profile page of the german social community "meinVZ" (some sort of Facebook ripoff) I have a list mentioning things I like and things I don't like. On the "like"-side I wrote "most metal albums that were released in 1998". I thought it was funny, at first, but over and over again I stumble upon absolutely awesome albums that were indeed released in 1998, too! So it's actually true!

My first metal album ever was "Tales Of Mystery And Imagination" from Nocturnal Rites, which was also released in 1998. I was 16 back then and it was my entrance to the amazing and enchanting world of awesome metal melodies, great guitar virtuosos and overwhelming keyboard arrangements. Up to this day, THIS is what I'm looking for when listening to new releases in a store. But let's see... what awesome albums were released in 1998? Some of my favourites from that year are:

Ayreon · Into The Electric Castle
Blind Guardian · Nightfall In Middle-Earth
Destiny's End · Breathe Deep The Dark
Fates Warning · Still Life
Fear Factory · Obsolete
Helloween · Better Than Raw
Iced Earth · Something Wicked This Way Comes
KenZiner · Timescape
Labyrinth · Return To Heaven Denied
Mephistopheles · Songs For The Desolate Ones
Nightwish · Oceanborn
Nocturnal Rites · Tales Of Mystery And Imagination
Rage · XIII
Rhapsody · Legendary Tales
Shadow Gallery · Tyranny
Symphony X · Twilight In Olympus

Of course there are many more - but these are the ones I like most.

Back then, I wasn't THAT thrilled about the Labyrinth album. It was quite nice and had its unique moments but I preferred Nocturnal Rites, Blind Guardian and Rhapsody back then. Still, I'm really tensioned about the release of the new Labyrinth album - mostly because for once, the lineup is exactly the same as it was back in 1998, so there's actually the chance of getting a TRUE successor this time.

Some years ago, Helloween released "Keeper Of The Seven Keys - Part III: The Legacy" which was a nice idea - and it was a decent album, too - but the biggest problem about that album was the vocalist.

Back in 1987 and 1988, when the two "Keeper" albums were released, Helloween still had their second (and best, in my opinion) vocalist Michael Kiske. All the fans out there who love the original "Keeper" albums have HIS voice in the back of their heads when remembering the old songs! And not the voice of Andi Deris! Andi does a nice job with the later albums - he's not a bad vocalist - it's just that he's not Michael Kise! And if you don't have his name on your passport: forget about singing on a "Keeper" album, will ya?

I'm not too fond about Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime", otherwise I could have mentioned that they released a successor to that one, too and I could have reflected on that a bit - but quite frankly, I've not a clue about Queensryche. And I tried listening to "Operation Mindcrime" several times as the concept sounds really interesting (I'm a huge fan of dystopias) - but Geoff Tate REALLY gets on my nerves already at the beginning of the album...

Now, where was I...? Oh yeah, the new Labyrinth release. Well... it's not only that there'll be another potentially good album from this specific band which makes my metal-senses tingle - it's something better! It's the possibility that there actually MIGHT be a new album out that has the potential of sounding like a great old 1998 album!!
This is a bit like the sensation when Capcom released the game "MegaMan 9" which was exactly like the great classics from 20 years ago - PERFECTION!! Now, if something like THAT could happen in the world of metal music - that would be something huge!

Now why do I have a vague premonition that this sounds too good to actually happen...?

April 7, 2010

Take the thoughts right out of my brain

I remember a conversation with some friends I had a while ago, talking about the power of the subconscious. We talked about how our subconscious seems to know everything a bit earlier than we ourselves realize it in our brains. Like... MINUTES before we grab the glass of whiskey that stands on the table right in front of us, our subconscious already planned it all. That itself is quite an overwhelming fact, if you ask me. But... thinking about it made me realize (or... better yet... assume) that there's more to it than that. In fact, a lot more.

Most of the blog entries I wrote here contain thoughts and unanswered questions about the Universe. Perhaps to the extent that some of you readers wouldn't want to read another syllable about it anymore - but bear with me on this one. Because it may concern you more than you'd think this time.

Did you ever hear about twins being connected by some force we can't grasp at all? There are countless reports of twins experiencing the most awkward - and allegedly coincidental - occurrences. Of course, certain similarities can be traced back to similar genes and stuff. Like the most obvious of course: a uniform appearance. But there are other things that can only be described as some inexplicable bond. One twin catches a cold and two days later the other twin gets ill, too, even though he might live 500 kilometers away. Or like... one twin feels the urge to call the other twin and seconds later the phone rings because that other twin had the same idea at the same time. Mere coincidence? Oh, and there are other - even almost paranormal - reports about things like that. So... what's the deal with it?

It seems that there's an invisible bond which - in its power - could be compared to a magnetic force or any other law of nature. This brings up ideas and questions that you may not have thought of before. One would be: could this be a remaining trace of a subconscious bond we humans once all had or will have some time in a far away future? Could it really be that if we ever were to take a next step on the staircase of evolution and to actually use our brains to a full extent - scientists say that nowadays we merely use 10% of it - there might be some sort of... powerful controlled subconscious bond between all us humans. Which would make us far less lonely and thus be a really bright future. Maybe. Maybe not. And: if we live to see that result and not blast our planet to space debris.

Then there's this other thought I want to elaborate on. It's the origin of all this. Have I ever told you that we know next to nothing about the Universe? So what if this mystical invisible bond, this power, this force, actually has its origins in the mystical and vast depths of space? Maybe it's another law of physics we just haven't established a formula for yet! The subconscious - another key to the legendary Theory Of Everything?

Doesn't sound THAT far fetched...

February 2, 2010

And another thing...

Sundays (and Saturday afternoons, too) suck. They are days that are destined for spending time with your loved one. And when you don't HAVE a loved one (anymore), those moments simply suck. How to fill the emotional black hole that cruelly sucks you in? No book can distract you from the loss of warmth. Not even your favourite music can keep the memories from avalanching onto your uncovered, unprotected, unarmed soul. Spending time with friends seems to be the only alternative - now while it doesn't cure completely it's definitely healthy and lifts you up. Especially when they're dear compassionate friends who comprehend your situation. Either way... sometimes it seems like putting a small adhesive plaster on a gaping flesh wound - a lovely idea but noneffective in the end. Still it's better than to spend your time alone.

If I'll ever put an end to it all it'll most probably be on a Sunday. Then again, ending it all doesn't help either, that's the problem! The only thing it does is hurt others. Let's jump back to the previous blog entry - even if there WERE an afterlife-place it wouldn't be the way to go anyway! Of course the loss of love can be the most horrible phase to go through in life! But at least you can still be in places that feel like home. Spend time with people who you know and who know you. Do things you've always done and be the one you've always been.

Now imagine!

Imagine what it would be like to journey into the afterlife from where you can watch your old home and the people that once were your friends and relatives. You could watch them, maybe hear them talk, watch them spend their time. But you couldn't go there anymore. Wouldn't that be a hell of a lot worse? I think so. Especially when you would see them suffer and cry and grow disconsolate.

So get a grip. Chin up as much as you can. Open up to people so that they can lift you up. Listen to Muse's "Origin Of Symmetry" and maybe IQ's "Frequency" (in case they don't remind you of your lost relationship). Get a good cup of English tea, grab that favourite blanket, plant yourself on your couch and sweep the dust off the good old "Friends"-DVDs. Whatever it is you're doing - just get a fucking grip.

"Spend the days with all my friends
They're the ones on whom my life depends
Gonna miss them when the series ends..."
("Prodigal", Porcupine Tree)

Note to myself: the autobiographical aspect of blog entries is too damn obvious. Stop that. TL;DR, TMI, exposure, vulnerability and stuff.

January 26, 2010

The Sardaukar are closing in!! What to do, Paul, what to do??!

Do you also do that? Sometimes when there's a captivating book you read that really sucks you in, you get sort of carried away. There are moments when you even try to think of solutions to the protagonist's predicaments! (Hey, there's some tongue-twister! Try saying these last two words quickly 20 times!) At least that's what happens to me when the book/videogame/film/tv-series is REALLY good. Provided there's nothing serious going on in my own life - nothing that makes me worry or ponder or lay awake at night. You really need a carefree mind in order to be able to ponder about irrelevant stuff like that.

Sometimes when something absolutely grave happens in your life, something crushing like, say, your girlfriend breaks up with you after a long relationship, it seems there's nothing that can lift you up. You hear all the advice, maybe even read about the "key to positive thinking" or some other crap but in the end it all doesn't ease your mind at all. It's yourself you're doubting. You're in search of all the negative aspects that might have been the cause of the breakup - even if those weren't the cause but only outer circumstances you personally couldn't change. You end up tormenting your mind over and over again. And there's no way out of that. Especially not when... well...

...did you ever hear the person who broke up with you say "I just need time for myself"? If so, you might have thought about it a little while. You might have also come up with the impression that there's a sheer endlessness of thoughts that declare this sentence as a complete shitload of crap! For starters, we humans are alone all our lives.

In the 1956 sci-fi novel "The City and the Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke there's a tribe of people who have one collective mind and thus are never alone. Those people pity us "regular humans" immensely saying "how awfully lonely you must be in your seperated minds".

If you live in (or visit) some random big city you'll notice: the frickin' place is crowded with people! And most of these people stroll from A to B with no company but their own thoughts. They're alone in their own minds. Each person seems to resemble a world of his own, without any company.

No matter how much we bond with another person, no matter how many things we share with others, no matter how intimate we are towards other people - at the end of the day we're all alone in our minds. (That's one of the reasons why sleeping next to another person feels so comfortable, too. So that we can at least be next to each other and share what we can.) No one else will ever have the insight we have of ourselves, no matter what we do.

So why would anyone choose to be completely alone instead of at least sharing what we can share?

Also, if said relationship was limited to seeing each other at weekends because of living apart from each other - WHY ON EARTH should someone need any MORE time? You realize you had 5 days for yourself while only 2 days of spending time with your loved one, don't you?

Doesn't this sentence, this hardly bearable "time for myself"-crap simply translate into the much more logical "I think I'd prefer to look around some more - maybe there's someone other than you I'd rather share my time with!"...?

Man, how's making up phrases easier than saying the truth?

Oh, if you thought this blog entry might help you with that "tormenting your mind"-stuff... there's only one way out. And no, I don't mean taking your own life.

Contrary to what I might have said about life, death, resurrection, The Maya, the Beyond and all that in previous blog entries - and contrary to the lasting impression left in me by the breathtaking journey into the afterlife I regularly take part in through the solo album of Riverside vocalist Mariusz Duda, "Lunatic Soul" - when it all comes down to one thing, there's only one reality I do believe in.

There's nothing after you die.

"What will survive of me
A cardboard box with thoughts inside
What will survive of me
My little escapes from real life"

─ "The Final Truth" by Lunatic Soul

We humans are the only creatures that are aware of death. Dogs don't know they'll die. Cats don't (or at least we think so - who knows what's in their mystic little heads anyway?) and all the other animals don't either. We're not satisfied with that uncomfortable definitive fact, of course. So we constantly think up things that might occur after we die. A light at the end of the tunnel, Heaven and Hell, some resurrection process we have to go through in order to live again someday, some afterlife harem place with tons of virgins or waterfalls of milk and honey...

I could list hundreds of fantastic outcomes, all of which would be based on hope; all of which would be some moral Karma-thing by which we lead our lives. You know like... in order to get reborn or get a great seat in the front row in Heaven with lots of pleasures - just be good during your lifetime (or bad, of course, if you're one of those badass suicide bomber mofos). It's ridiculous but at least it serves a purpose, I guess.

Sorry, got off the track again... what was I about to say? ... Oh yeah, the solution to that "tormenting your mind"-thing. It's not ending your life - that's what I wanted to say. Cause that would be plain stupid as you wouldn't get any positive consequences out of that. Suicide is pointless as you're not relieved of any pain because relief is a feeling and you don't feel shit after you die - so you couldn't even enjoy the lack of pain.

No no no, that one thing you can do is something different. It's one of the hardest things to do - yet it's the easiest choice you'll have - cause there's no choice.

Let time pass.
Try to live your life.
It may be hard but it's always better than nothing at all.

That's all.
Nothing else to do.

And I'm sorry about that, I am.