Interview with the band Alveole

Alveole are a modern rock crosser band (their style is undefined and unique) from Nürnberg (Nuremberg, Germany).  

You can see their video for “Do you Use a Knife” here.
Like Alveole on Facebook.
Follow Alveole on Twitter.
Visit Alveole’s Homepage.
Silvia: lead Vocals/Lyrics

N. A. Foy:How old were you when you decided to pursue a career in music and was there any particular musicians or singers that inspired you?

Silvia: Since my father plays piano and is a huge music fan I got into contact with music quite early in my life. In my teenage years I was inspired by Nu-Metal bands like Slipknot and Mudvayne, so I decided to take drum lessons at the age of 14. Besides my love for percussion instruments, I started singing and was inspired by Nightwish and the Guano Apes, but I’ve  never had the courage to sing in front of an audience or in a Band before I founded Alveole. I kept my music skills pretty much to myself, and secretly worked very hard to become a better musician. As the singer of Alveole, I suddenly took a big step forward and started noticing that I do not only love Music, but I also love performing. But it is not the idea of a career that gives me motivation – I simply want to create something I can be proud of.

Sebastian: Music has always been a major part of my life and since I’ve started playing instruments, the wish of turning my hobby into a career just grew bigger and bigger. The band that has inspired me the most over the years is In Flames. I love their guitar playing and also the amazing way they’ve evolved as musicians.

Marvin: Pursuing a career in music has been my biggest dream since I was about 12 years old. That’s when I picked up a guitar for the first time. I’ve always worked hard on my skills as a musician and I played in many bands, but I never got to the point where I could say that music was more than just a hobby. Now, being a part of Alveole, it’s different. For the first time in my life, I am convinced that we can achieve something truly amazing. There are a lot of great bands and musicians that inspired me, but it was Klayton from Celldweller who reinvigorated my passion for playing in a band again after I’d been on a kind of hiatus for a few years.

N. A. Foy: What background do you have in music? Did you go to music school or play in bands before Alveole?

Silvia: I love Music and I am passionate for it. Yes, I had some professional drum and singing lessons to get more knowledge about the techniques, but I think this is not what counts as an artist or musician. You have to love what you do, to go your own way, to create your own style and to be persistent. It is much more than a “career” or an “education “. No one can teach you how to become an artist. Be courageous, accept failure and try again.

Sebastian: I started tthe guitar in my youth and joined my first band “The Deputy Pimps” when I was about 17 years old. After moving away from my hometown for my studies, I founded the dark metal band “Adjust the Sun”, but we split up. Finally, a few years ago, I founded “Alveole”, which is supposed to be a band that gives me the limitless creative freedom that I thought I was lacking in my former bands. From time to time I also work on a few solo projects, but they don’t take high priority.

Alan: I started taking piano lessons when I was 6. I joined my first metal band as keyboardist at the age of 16 (I also had a Keytar to play shitty solos!). The drummer of my band was a really talented and I also met other young musicians at our shows, who played more than an instrument. That was very inspiring to me, so I decided to play the drums, but just for fun in the beginning. I founded my first metal band as a drummer with 17 and thanks to my previous musical experience and a lot of practice, I started to focus exclusively on drums. Since then, I have been in a lot of different bands in Spain. Then I decided to move to Germany with 23, where I joined “Adjust the Sun” and where I met Sebastian. After ATS split up, I decided to play with Sebastian in ALVEOLE and here I am, having an awesome experience!   Interview Question #3: Out of the lyrics on the first album, is there a particular one that you like the best? Is there a story behind it?

N. A. Foy: Out of the lyrics on the first album, is there a particular one that you like the best? Is there a story behind it?

Silvia: I can’t say that I like one of the lyrics best, but I can say something about my lyrics in general:

The lyrics I wrote for “Rhythm of Absurdity” have a very intimate character. They mirror the personal feelings and problems I had during the time we worked on the album. I sing about feeling sick, about feeling helpless, about problems in relationships and problems I have with myself. I think these lyrics are very sensitive and emotional. One exception is the Song “Do you use a knife?”. It’s lyrics are powerful, stubborn and rebellious. They can be seen as a foretaste of the lyrics I am currently writing for our next album. The lyrics for our new material will mirror a certain kind of anger – the feeling of becoming strong and healthy enough to defend oneself against the injustice and unfairness of our society.

But in the end, I want my audience to feel free to have their very own interpretation of my lyrics. I’d love that people feel like I am telling their own individual story while I am singing.

N. A. Foy: What do you like to do with your free time when you are not doing music: 

Sebastian: I don’t have much free time between work and music, as well. My favorite leisure activities are also watching movies and TV series, playing Play Station or doing sports, like cycling or longboarding.

Silvia: I am not only passionate for music – I am also a self-employed artist and designer. So I spend all of my time on music, design and arts – . When I need some leisure time, I do sports and I am deeply in love with my two Chinchillas ❤

Marvin: I barely have any free time between music and work. But If I have the time, I love playing video games or watching TV Series and movies. I love RPGs, such as Baldur’s Gate 2, The Witcher series and the Mass Effect series (except for the ending of ME 3, which was garbage and destroyed the meaning of the whole series, haha). As far as movies go, I really dig the Marvel Cinematic Universe and my favorite TV series are The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

Alan: I love to build huge Lego Sets! I also love to travel (for example: I regularly fly to Spain to visit my family and party there). And I like to see other bands or musicians and get inspired by them!

N. A. Foy: What are your top 3 favorite CDs of all time?

Silvia:

#1: HIM – Razorblade Romance

#2: Slipknot – Slipknot

#3: System of a Down: Toxicity

 

Sebastian:

#1: In Flames: Reroute to  Remain

#2: Enter Shikari: The Mindsweep

#3: Bring me the horizon: Sempiternal

 

Marvin:

#1: Machinae Supremacy: A View from the End of the World

#2: Celldweller: Wish Upon a Blackstar

#3: System of a Down: Toxicity

 

Alan:

#1: Wintersun: Wintersun

#2: Scars on Broadway: Scars on Broadway

#3: Leprous: Bilateral

N. A. Foy: This question is for the band members individually. How about some favorites. What is your favorite color? Number? Foods? Movie(s)? Book(s)? Aerobic Exercise? Or any other favorites you want to mention?

Silvia:

Color:  #008989

Number: 666

Foods: Chocolate & Pasta

Movie(s): The Great Gatsby, Fight Club, Pan’s Labyrinth

Book(s): Orhan Pamuk – The Museum of Innocence,  Paulo Coelho – Veronika Decides to Die

Aerobic Exercises: Running

Sebastian:

Colour:  White

Number:  my EC-PIN

Food: every fast food

Books: George Orwell – 1984

Aerobic Exercises: nothing

 

Marvin:

Color: Purple

Number: None

Foods: Pizza

Books: A Song of Ice and Fire Series

Aerobic Exercises: various (going to the gym)

 

Alan:

Color: Purple

Number: 9

Food: “Enblanco” (Spanish Fish Soup)

Books: The Shadow over Innsmouth

Aerobic Exercises: Jumping Lunges

N. A. Foy: If you could tour anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?

Sebastian:

I think Europe is a great place for touring. You don’t have to travel great distances to reach different countries, compared to other continents, and the music scene is very active everywhere in Europe.

Silvia: I like the Arabian culture – I’d love to go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

Marvin: I’d love to go to Japan. I’ve never been there and I would love to see the country, meet the people and experiencing the culture while I’m there. I’d love to perform with Baby Metal. They are one my new favorite bands in the world.

Alan: Japan would be really awesome!

N. A. Foy: Before hearing the band, I have never heard the word “Alveole” before. Is there a story behind the name?

Sebastian:

There is in fact  a story behind the name, not a happy one, but one with a hopeful prospect for the future. Right before founding Alveole, I had been lying in a hospital bed for some weeks with an injured lung. Several of my alveoli bursted. Luckily, the story had a happy ending and I recovered. But from that moment on, I realized that every little alveole in the human lung is crucial for us to be able to breathe and to live. All these little alveoli work together and form one much bigger organ, which makes human life possible. You see, even the tiniest things have an immense effect on our lives. This new perspective on life eventually led me to name my band “Alveole”.

N. A. Foy:  What is the main message you want to give to you fans through your music and example as a band? Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone before we finish?

Silvia: We mix different genres and styles – we rock, we rap, we dance and we love to mix electronic elements with metal . All in all, we love to create something new and don’t want others to put a label on our music. Don’t let guidelines or genre-limitations restrict you while working on your own unique style.

I am a female Singer in a rock band – still I don’t want to fall into any clichés. I walk my own way – some may like it , some may not.

My message is: Do what you love . Have the courage to go somewhere no one has ever been before.

Storm Moon – February Meditation

Tomorrow is the full moon.  Here is a meditation I wrote for the February Storm Moon.

Breath in to the count of 6, hold for 4, and release for 6 and continue this throughout the meditation.  Visualize yourself outside walking toward a castle.  Feel the rain as it is pelting down on your face.  At this moment, the clouds cover the moon and you can see lightning flicker in the clouds lighting up the area and hear the crash of thunder.  This storm represents the difficulties that you are currently facing in your life and they appear to be overwhelming you. 

Ahead you can see a bridge that leads to the castle and you draw close to it.  You walk into the castle and notice that it is not in good condition.  Rain is pouring through the window openings.  Tables are broken and the floor is a mess.  This represents your life and how everything seems out of order at the moment. 

Above the fireplace, you look and see a wand on the mantle.  You walk over and pick up the wand and feel the power flow through you.  At this point, you realize that despite the problems you are dealing with, you have the strength to overcome them.  Visualize yourself holding out the wand and a bluish white light comes out from the end.  Use the power to fix the broken objects that are surrounding you such as the tables and windows. 

Once you are done the castle feels like a cozy homey place.  Use the light from the wand to light the fireplace.  Feel its heat fill your face and allow that energy flow through you to cleanse you from negativity. 

Now walk back outside of the castle and notice that the storm is gone and the full moon is shining brightly overhead.  Raise your wand in hand and feel the moon’s energy flow though you and let calmness take over.  Know that everything is going to be ok as you slowing come back to the present and open your eyes. 

Character Building Blog 2 (Culture)

So in my first blog about character development I discussed race.  Along with race it is important to establish the culture of those involved in the story.  Fantasy writers have to work especially hard at this, but all writers should have an understanding of the culture that their characters are involve in.  Sometimes it is easiest to write a story based on your own culture, but involving cultures outside of your own with help put depth into your story.  I live in upstate New York, but if I want to write a story based in the New York City area, I should seek to understand the way of living there, as it would be different than here. 

If you are writing a historic piece you will want to read what the culture was like during the time your story is set.  What was the technology of the time?  What were the primary religions?  Was it an insult if a man wore a hat in a restaurant among other seemingly small things.  This is also good to figure out if you are writing supernatural books.  In one of the stories I am working on there is a ghost of a man who died in the 1920s so I have been asking myself questions such as:  What kind of slang was used?  What was the town like when he was alive?  What did he listen to for music?  What kind of vehicle did he drive?  And other things as they pop up?   Even with futuristic writing it is important to set up what the culture will be like.  This will take some creativity but having an idea what the culture is like that the characters are placed in will help the story to move along.

You may have to do some creating for non-human races such as vampires, zombies, and others. 

Fantasy writers especially can have a lot of fun with this.  You can create races right from scratch.  The Hobbits in J. R. R. Tolkien’s writings had their own little culture up in the Shire. 

Here is a list of things when looking into culture

          Government Style

          Most Widely used language and minor languages

          Religion and its influence on culture

          Various ethnic groups

          Modes of transportation

          Sources of entertainment

          Dress Style

          Food and drink

          Various jobs and occupations

          Money system (Bills, gold, silver, trade)

          Appropriate greetings (Handshakes, bowing, cheek kissing)

          Gender roles

          Education system

          How the military works

          Law and order – What is legal and what isn’t

          Taboos (What kind of things are rude and offensive)

Websites

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2010/08/11/the-best-sites-for-learning-about-the-worlds-different-cultures/

Cross Culture guide http://guide.culturecrossing.net/

Books that may be helpful (Affiliate Links):

World Cultures: A Global Mosaic, 5th Edition

Book of Peoples of the World: A Guide to Cultures

National Geographic People of the World: Cultures and Traditions, Ancestry, and Identity

Meditation with the Goddess Abundantia

 

Abundantia

 

As the name suggests, Abundantia is the Roman Goddess of Abundance, prosperity, and luck. She often is pictured with a cornucopia which is a horn shaped container usually containing produce such as fruit and vegetables. Abundantia’s cornucopia distributes food and money. Just as the produce in the cornucopia is to improve one’s health, one should only ask for prosperity that will improves one’s spiritual self. In other words, be sure to not approach Abundantia with only greed in your heart. This is not to say you can’t ask for money and physical things. We all struggle, and many of us seek to improve on our current situation in life. Bills need to be paid, basic necessities need to be bought, and so on.

 

Thoughts Before Meditation

 

Abundantia is good to meditate with in order to help focus on the positive side of life.  Before you do the meditation, think of what you want and need in your life for improvement whether it be financial peace, a positive attitude, a job or a better job, or just direction in life.  Know what it is you seek before doing the meditation.

 

The Meditation

 

Go to your meditation space and do a minute of your breathing technique that helps you relax.  After a minute or two, visualize that you are in a lush forest. The green from the grass, trees, and other plants seems to stand out. The sun’s heat beats down, and you feel comfortably warm. Let yourself hear the sounds in the forest such as the wind blowing through the trees and birds chirping. The plants and flowers give off a pleasant smell.

You follow a path before you that is relatively thin and covered with grass. Take in your surroundings and feel at ease as you walk along the path. Keep walking until you feel calm.  Now imagine the path getting wider before you. It eventually widens into a small lawn area. At the end of the lawn, there are large trees and between you and the trees stands the Goddess Abundantia. She holds a cornucopia with various items inside. You might want to visualize fresh produce, but also visualize the needs you currently have being in the Cornucopia. If what you need isn’t something you can visualize, then picture a piece of paper in the cornucopia with words on it to describe what you are looking for.

Walk up to the Goddess and bow your head in respect to her. As you approach her, she reaches her hand into the cornucopia and hands you the item that you are seeking. Tell her “thank you” and take the item in your hand. Visualize this item manifesting in your life as you bring yourself back to the present moment. Believe that you will receive what you need, and then let go and do not worry about it. If you find yourself stressed out by lacking what you need, then return to this meditation in order to help you relax and reinforce your belief. Otherwise, it is good not to dwell on it.

Interview with Aline Happ from the band Lyria

The following is an interview with Aline Happ, the lead vocalist and founder of the symphonic alternative metal band Lyria.  For short, MP is for Minerva’s Portal and AH is for Aline Happ.  Enjoy.

MP: How old were you when you decided to pursue a career in music, and was there any particular musicians or singers that inspired you?

AH: I’ve tried to play in bands since 2013 when I was only 13 years old (laughs). But professionally, I started in 2012 with Lyria.  I was 21 to 22. There are many bands and artists who inspired me such as: Evanescence, Epica, Nightwish, Sarah Brightman, Linkin Park and many many others.

MP: I have watched you perform musicals and also saw the video of Lyria doing “Let it Go” from the movie “Frozen.” You seem to have a very diverse voice. Prior to Lyria, have you done voice training of any sort?

AH: Yes, i started singing classes when I was 13. I had 3 different teachers, but now I am on my own.

MP: You seem to keep very busy with music. What do you like to do with your free time when you are not doing music?

AH: I like taking photos, modeling, cooking, going to the mall, spending my time with family and friends, talking to fans whenever I can, taking a walk, making handcraft items…. I also like to try different makeup styles, and I also like to decorate.

MP: Sounds like there are several things you enjoy. i know I am curious, and I am sure other fans would be curious. What is the story behind the name Lyria?

AH: I was attending Greek Mythology classes at the University which inspired me. The name Lyria was inspired by the Greek Mythology and the lyre which was an important musical instrument for the Greeks. It is also related to the flower lily and to the word “lyrics.”

MP: That is awesome that you have taken Greek Mythology. Do you have plans to release a second full length album within the next few years?

AH: Yes, we already have some songs, but we are currently focused on promoting “Catharsis”. In fact, we will release a new music video very soon.

MP: I really look forward to seeing your new music video. Can you tell us what song you will be doing a video for, or would you rather us be surprised?

AH: Unfortunately I can’t. It is a surprise. [🙂].  We created a Facebook event to promote it and we will be live to answer questions.

MP:  Surprises are always fun [🙂] So us fans want to know more about you as a person. How about some favorites? What is your favorite color? Number? Foods? Movie(s)? Book(s)? Aerobic Exercise? Or any other favorites you want to mention?

AH: (Laughs)! So, I like black, green, blue, and purple. I don’t have a favorite number. Talking about food is complicated because I like a variety of things. I could be here making a list for a long time [😛] So: meat, potatoes, vegetables, chocolate milk, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and chocolate cake. Movies: The Disney ones and White Chicks (Hilarious). Books: The Harry Potter Series and Sherlock Holmes’. When it comes to exercises, I prefer dancing and a running/walking simulator (transfer). I also practice Pilates.

MP: Where do you hope to be 5 years from now? 10 Years?

AH: This question is difficult. Do you have another? (Laughs)  I imagine Lyria gaining more and more success. I want to be playing at big festivals and concerts around the world. I want to help more and more people through music [😊]

MP: What is the main message you want to give to your fans through your music and example as a person? Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone before we finish?

AH: To be a good person and never give up. You can overcome bad moments, you can be stronger, successful, and kind at the same time.

Thanks for the interview. For whom doesn’t know us, give try and check it out our stuff [😊] For the fans, thank you!

Wicca – Lesson 1: “What is Wicca” Part 2

While we believe in working with the supernatural energies around us, we do not believe magic works as it does in fiction such as Harry Potter and the Wizard of Oz.  Many of us love Harry Potter, but no, he is not a practicing Wiccan.  Working with these energies does not replace mundane activity.  If you work magick to lose weight, this doesn’t mean you avoid diet and exercise.  Do not stop taking meds if you work healing magick without consulting a doctor first.  Being that we generally believe that the divine energy exists in all things we are not opposed to using medicine and other mundane methods to work Magick.  Remember that the use of these powers are sacred and shouldn’t be used for entertainment.

Wiccans consider it to be important to treat our earth with love and respect as it is sacred.  It is in our best interests to keep the earth healthy.  We do not have a sacred book as in other religions, but view nature itself as our holy “book.”  Many of us strive to make a difference by:

  • Recycling
  • Cut down on driving
  • Avoid littering
  • Conserve water
  • Reuse plastic bags and other items
  • Volunteer at a food or animal shelter
  • Clean up local areas such as lakes, rivers, parks, and areas cluttered with trash
  • Take in animals that have been neglected or abused
  • Working to live in harmony with others.

Not all of us do all these things, but every little bit helps.  Wicca is often about connecting with nature by doing things as simple as taking a walk in the woods or sitting by a lake.  You may want to focus on the sounds of nature such as birds, or the smells like plants and flowers, and the beauty that surrounds you.  If you are in a city see if there are any parks you can visit.  Perhaps you could enjoy the stars and moon at night.

 

Many Wiccans believe in reincarnation in that we go through many life cycles to learn various lessons.  Summerland is a place in the afterlife, which some believe we go after death to rest and reflect before continuing our next journey.  Some Wiccans believe that we may spend our time there reflecting what we have learned in our last life and plan out our future life.  Perhaps it is here that we are able to clearly see all the past lives that we have lived.  We do not believe in a hell where sinners are punished for eternity.

The Wiccan Rede “An ye harm none do as ye will” is generally universally followed among Wiccans.  This can refer to physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental harm.  For example, it may be harmful to attempt to de convert a Christian because perhaps that person needs to follow that path in order to grow (There also may be cases where it is beneficial if the religion is causing the person harm but I won’t go there with that right now).  It is unrealistic to expect a person to never harm anything.  There are times we may hurt someone’s feelings, step on a bug, etc.  It is more realistic to seek to cause as little harm as possible.  The Wiccan Rede is another item that is a whole discussion of its own which I hope to write more about.

Spells should end with “With harm toward none, and the greatest good of all.”  It’s also necessary to overcome behaviors that are harmful to self such as cutting, alcoholism, drug abuse, etc.  Doing our own will refers to doing the will of our “higher self,” in other words, do what wisest and most loving.  The Rede is difficult to follow at times because it requires deep thought and weighing the situation.  Sometimes there are situations where harm cannot be avoided.

We celebrate the phases of the moon referred to as Esbats and also celebrate 8 Sabbats throughout the year.  Coven witches often come together for these celebrations.

The Law of Three, or Law of Return means whatever we send out in the universe will return to us threefold. If we do negative it will return to us stronger and the same with positive.  Some believe that the Law of Three doesn’t have to be exact but can vary due to such things as intention.  If one unintentionally harms someone and regrets it later this may help to cancel out the Law of Return.

We do not believe in letting life get the best of us, but rather that if life isn’t satisfying that change may be necessary.  We are responsible for our actions, not some deity, negative entity, or other people.

Many witches are interested in healing and may take on professions that deal with medical and psychological healing. Many of us are also interested alternative methods of healing.  We also have no qualm with most technology as many of us own PCs

Below is a Link to the “Thirteen Principles of Wiccan belief.”

http://paganpath.com/study/library/trads/57-13-principles

Wicca generally doesn’t recognize the concept of “original sin.” Instead we believe people are basically good because we all come from the Goddess and God. While people become evil and do bad things, people were not born to be bad.  We focus more on the now than in the after life.  We do not deny ourselves pleasure nor suffer unnecessary pain. There is a lesson to be learned while we are here on earth.

Some Wiccans partake in various magickal training, which may include herbology, divination (Tarot, palmistry, Ruins, scrying, tea leafs, etc), crystal healing, Shamanistic practices, reiki, astrology, etc.

Creativity, freedom of expression, intelligent thinking are all important in Wicca. We tend to avoid dogma and hard rules beyond the basics.  We do not generally have a system of hierarchy such as a pope and bishops, however some traditions have become large enough where outside leadership does exist.

One of the important aspects of Wicca is coming to know yourself, why you think the way your think, why you do what you do, why you feel what you feel.  Here are some questions to ponder over.

One of the main ideas in Wicca and many traditions of Witchcraft and Paganism is to know yourself, however, this is something that is best done on your own so here are some questions to think about on your own.

  1. What makes you feel happy?  Depressed?  Angry?  Excited?
  2. What qualities do you have that you consider positive?
  3. What qualities do you have that make you feel negative?
  4. Take a look at your life and ask yourself how satisfied you are with your life?  What do you want improved in your life?  What changes do you want to make to live a more satisfying life?
  5. Have there been events in your childhood that played a strong part in who you are now?
  6. Do you love or hate yourself or somewhere in between?
  7. Take a look at behaviors you do that you don’t like?  Can you understand what influences these behaviors.
  8. How do you feel when you do something good such as helping a person who needs a ride as compared when you do something such as get revenge on someone?
  9. Do you act before you think or think before you act?  Would this be something you want to change?

Album Review: Lunatica – New Shores

New_Shores

Lunatica broke into the scene with their second album “Fables and Dreams” which I consider to be one of the best albums with female vocals ever. If you started listening to this band through this album you might be somewhat disappointed with “New Shores.” While “Fables and Dreams” was filled with power/symphonic hard driving metal, “New Shores” take a few steps in the lighter direction.

I do believe there are a lot of positive aspects that are over looked on “New Shores.” First the drummer lays down some solid beats throughout this album hammering out the double bass when appropriate and using fills without over doing it. The drums are what give this album the necessary power and drive needed to make this album strong. The bass doesn’t act just as a background instrument. There are many instances where the bass stands out such as with the intro to the title track and other places where he will rail out a bass line that makes the songs sound 20% better than if they just had a bass player who only followed the guitar chords.

The lead guitarist isn’t a shredder but more of a soloist who sticks with catchy lead riffs. The rhythm guitarist gives some variety throughout this album. The metal style scuffing after the title track’s chorus gives it that much-needed metal feel to bridge the melodic chorus and verse. Then there is the riff in “Two Dreamers” after she says “Nothing is impossible” that gives the song a strong extra kick.

Andrea’s vocals are sweet and unique. Thankfully she does avoid the cliché of attempting to sound like Tarja from old Nightwish, nor does she have a rough voice in the realm of Doro. I’m tempted to compare her vocals to the late Sabine Dunser who used to sing for Elis but even that isn’t a close enough comparison. Andrea is the type of singer that could sing 80’s pop however her voice works perfectly with this style of music.

This album does have its weaknesses. First, the two songs “My Hardest Walk” and “The Chosen Ones” kick into some hard driving riffs with the verses kicking in giving the listener a high expectancy of a kick butt chorus. However, the expected kick butt chorus never comes. Rather, in both songs they kick into something that sounds more like a pre-chorus and then go into the second verse. It drives me crazy because these songs would be prefect hard driving metal songs if there was a decent chorus the band kicked into. The songs aren’t totally ruined though because after the second pre-chorus sounding segment there is a guitar solo that comes in to save the day.

The other criticism I have is “Farewell my Love.” I mean, I like ballads and variety on albums and this song is well written and catchy. However, I do not understand why Lunatica keep pulling in a weak male vocalist to do songs like this. It didn’t work for “Song For you” nor harmonizing on the extra “Emocean” on the last album and it doesn’t work any better here. Yeah, they got away with it in the song “Fable of Dreams” but not since. They just need to fire whoever is doing the male vocals and hire someone like Marco from Nightwish or Tobias from Edguy/Avantasia. I mean, the guy singing “Farewell My Love” might sound decent doing a duet with Linda Ronstadt, but he doesn’t complement Andrea’s voice. Just give Andrea the whole song and it would be much better, I mean, it does have a good melody to it. The other two ballads on this album “How Did It Come to This” and “Winds of Heaven” are much better.

The best song on the album is saved for the last “The Day the Falcon Dies.” It is more of a straightforward power metal song more in the realms of what is found throughout “Fables and Dreams.” This goes to show that Lunatica still can rock it out even though they have been taking a different direction.

The lyrics vary. Some of them sound like they could be posted on Hallmark cards. Some are vague and I’m not sure what they are talking about. I really like the lyrics to “The Incredibles” as it speaks out against the corruption of people who lack in caring for our planet. “My Hardest Walk” seems to be about a leader who is leading a bunch of people into war and is struggling with inner conflict and worrying about the results. The lyrics aren’t bad and the band seems to try to put some positive meaning to them.

Overall, this is a good album if you are one of those people who grew up with 80s pop and still can listen to it, but also like hard driving music. If you want growls you will not find them here and if you want lyrics that are vulgar you won’t find them here either. This is the type of metal that goes well with putting your headphones on, walking along the shore watching the sunset.

Listen to “The Day the Falcon Dies” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR2Nt0-0Xe4

Closed Presidental Primaries are a Bad idea

So, I have decided to do a political blog.  Today is voting day in New York for the presidential primaries.  However, NY is a state that has closed primaries.  This means that you have to be registered in a particular party in order to vote for a member of that party.  If you are not registered Democrat or Republican, you can’t vote.  So, onto the problem with this system.

I am 39 years old and there are many from my generation and younger who have been tired of the two party system.  With this being the case some of us have registered parties that are neither Republican or Democrat.  Personally I registered for the Working Families Party, and others are in parties such as the Independent and Green parties.  Being that I had a distain for politicians I didn’t bother with the voting process until 2012.  It was particularly frustrating to decide who to vote for when there are so many lies and half-truths that I didn’t really get involved.

After experiencing the world for a bit and going through varies struggles I became more motivated to pay attention to what is going on.  Memes on Facebook started pouring in supporting and dissing various candidates.  I decided to go on youtube and start listening to the political debates a couple of months ago.  I have to admit, some of the things Bernie Sanders was saying were things I agreed with and after doing some research I became a big Bernie supporter.

The first thing I did after this was research on how to influence the primaries by voting.  Granted, I should have known this but I didn’t for some reason.  Perhaps some of the political words didn’t connect, for example, I didn’t know the difference between a primary and general election.  After doing more research I learned that in order to vote that one had to register to vote by March 25th and the way to change parties was to basically reregister to vote.  It was February so I had about a month.  I reregistered and thought everything was going to be fine.

Then BAM!!!!!!  I found out if one was already registered in a different party and reregistered for another that this needed to be done back in October.  Again, I was ignorant of this.  Come to find out, I wasn’t alone.  Many people who support Bernie Sanders are unable to vote in the primaries because of this law.  It seems that Bernie has strong support from the younger generations, yet it is the younger generations that have registered under parties that make it so they can’t vote in the primaries.

So what happens if Bernie has more supporters than Hillary but loses the election because of the closed election process.  Hillary is a hardcore democrat whereas Bernie kind of doesn’t fit as nicely into the Democrat party and therefore seems to have gathers support from those outside the 2-party system.

I say that NY State should have open primaries from now on.  In fact, all states should have them.  Let me deal with a few objections:

  1. “It is your responsibility to have known this when you registered to vote.” Perhaps, but shouldn’t I register for a party whose platform I most closely agree with? Should I be banned from voting in the primaries because I am not affiliated with the two-party system?  Plus, not everyone has been instructed in all these things and I don’t remember the registration form saying anything about this.
  2. “If it becomes an open primary then people may vote for the least likely candidate to win in the general election of the party they don’t want in office. In other words, a Republican might vote for Hillary Clinton in the primaries because polls indicate that she is more likely to lose against the Republican candidate than Bernie Sanders.”  This seems like a valid argument at first, but each person gets to vote only once.  They will still have the same influence as another voter.  Plus, this can be done whether the primary is opened or closed.

As far as I can tell, there are more reasons to have open primaries than closed.  How are people going to be motivated to be part of parties outside the 2 main parties if they are banned from voting in the primaries as a result?  How can these parties grow if people leave them so they can have the opportunity to vote?

As for now I found this petition in which you can sign to make primaries open in New York.  Hopefully by next election more states will have open primaries

http://www.openprimaries.org/states_new_york

 

Wicca – Lesson 1: “What is Wicca” Part 1

 

I have often had people come up to me and ask “What is a Wicca?” or “What does it mean to be a Wicca? I seem to have trouble giving a good answer and usually find myself not exactly sure how to put it in words. The intention of this writing is to take a look at Wicca and define some of the more basic points over what exactly Wicca is. What makes things more difficult is that each Wiccan defines Wicca differently, and therefore, there are as many definitions of what a Wicca is as there are Wiccans.

While some may believe that in order to be a real Wiccan one must work in a coven, or trace their roots to Gerald Gardner, have Wiccan blood through lineage, others believe that one can be a Wiccan without necessarily subscribing to any of these things.  Some may distinguish Wicca from witchcraft while others use the terms interchangeably.  I have often been asked the question of what is the difference between a Wiccan and a Pagan. I will also take a look at this throughout this article.

In these teachings, it is my belief that one can practice Wicca whether one is or is not in a coven. One does not have to be initiated into a coven in order to practice. For example, the first witch could not have been initiated into a coven of witches, as there would have been none. Another problem is that there isn’t always a coven available to those that desire to follow a Wiccan path. It is my belief that if one feels an earnest desire to follow Wicca, they should have the freedom to do so whether a coven is available or not. Today we live in an age in which information freely flows, and anyone with the desire to learn and practice Wicca may do so. Many well-known Wiccan writers such as Scott Cunningham and Raymond Buckland would agree with the notion that a Wiccan can practice as a solitary. This is not to dismiss the importance a coven can play. Covens are generally more structured and may be beneficial to those who seek a more structured based spirituality. Many covens also hold their members accountable when it comes to such things as studying and practicing Wicca, whereas someone who practices solitary can be tempted to become lazy and not really practice. However, those who truly desire Wicca will practice regardless of whether they are in a coven or solitary.

So let me get the whole confusion of the difference between a Wiccan and a Pagan straightened out, or at least that is what I’m going to attempt to do. The best way to describe this is to say just as Catholicism is a branch of Christianity, Wicca is a branch of Paganism. Christianity is the umbrella term and branches like Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal all fall under this umbrella. Pagan is an umbrella term in which branches such as Wicca, Druid, Shamanism, Asatru, all fall under. These of course are only a few of the Pagan traditions that exist. The term Pagan can even be confused.  Some use the term Pagan to refer to anyone outside of Christianity, others refer to it as anyone who falls outside of a monotheistic religion. However, I will refer to it as an umbrella term used to describe Earth based religions as mentioned above.

So, now one might be wondering what in the world an Earth based tradition is…another item that can be defined in may different ways. I personally view an Earth based tradition as a tradition where one practices being connected with nature in a spiritual since. When it comes to theism many would term Paganism as being Pantheist meaning that deity exists in all things, people, rocks, trees, grass, platypuses, clouds, that strange mark on Jupiter, quasars, politicians (yes, it’s true even those many Pagans would like to deny this aspect of Pantheism), etc. Of course, there is debate even on the definition of what Pantheism is but I won’t go there in this article. We will just go by the simple definition that deity exists in all things. Often Pagans and Wiccans alike will refer to the earth as our Mother meaning that spirit exists within the Earth. If you are not confused by now, give me some time, I’m trying…really.

Soooo, now onto Wicca specifically. Wicca is considered to be a modern earth-based neo-Pagan religion based on ancient practices. While certain practices of Wicca such as the celebration of the Sabbats, Goddess worship, the use of magick are ancient, the religion itself has only been around for a short time as far as we can tell from information available. There is some debate in the area as to whether or not Wicca dates back further than the mid-1900s but that is for another topic. I will try to write an article in the future covering the history of Wicca. All I’m going to say that modern Wicca can be traced back to Gerald Gardner, who allegedly was initiated into a Coven called the New Forest Coven which allegedly claims to trace its roots throughout the middle ages back into ancient times. Of course, there is no solid evidence to verify these claims.

 

Wicca is a religion that welcomes anyone who is interested regardless of gender (male Wiccans are quite common), age, sexual orientation, race, etc. One does not have to be born in a family of Wiccans or be a part of a particular lineage. While it is a religion that accepts anyone, we do not try to push our religion on others who are not interested.  There is no special punishment that someone receives simply for not practicing Wicca. Most religions and spiritual paths have something valuable to offer, and therefore we do not believe it to be necessary to win converts. Wicca is generally friendly toward the LBGT community, and we do not look down on that lifestyle nor try to change anyone in that aspect. Heck, Wicca thrives in individualism so if you live an alternative lifestyle that is great, we encourage people to be themselves as long as it doesn’t bring intentional harm to anyone.

Wicca typically honors both the God and Goddess. However not all Wiccans view the Lord and Lady in the exact same way. Some few them as two personal deities almost like a spiritual mother and father. Others may view them as feminine and masculine energies. Some may believe in many gods and goddess who can be summed up into a God and Goddess. Many believe that the divine spirit is in all things including, stones, plants, animals, humans, etc. Some Wiccans are even atheistic where they still believe in the energies that are within nature but do not associate them with deities. The Goddess may be viewed as the triple Goddess represented by the 3 phases of the moon or as mother Earth. The God may be referred to as the horned God, death, or Green man. Wicca is a very diverse religion itself and while we express various beliefs we also respect others’ beliefs knowing that we all have different points of view. Some Wiccans may refer to the supreme being as “The All” and some believe that “The All” is the Great Spirit that exists in all things and the Goddess and God together represent this all. I will attempt to write more on the nature of deity in another article. However, Wiccan theism varies from Monotheistic, to Duotheistic, to Polytheistic, to Atheistic, to Pantheistic and perhaps other theisms if one looks further.

Hopefully I will be posting Part 2 next week.

Band of the Week – Chaos Magic

Well, I am going to try to do a band each week.  Hopefully I will actually keep up with this. I am a little new at doing reviews so hopefully I will improve as I continue with it.

Chaos Magic

Chaos Magic is a symphonic power metal band includes female vocalist Caterina Nix (Aghonya); Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, Allen – Lande, Ring of Fire) on guitars, bass, and keyboards; Jami Huovinen (Allen – Lande, Ring of Fire) on drums.

I discovered Chaos Magic last year and purchased their first album “Chaos Magic.”  It took a few listens but the songs grew on me relatively quickly.  The songs “I’m Alive,” “One Drop of Blood,” and “A Little too Late” are especially catchy.

The closest band I can compare them to is Within Temptation.  The music is typically mid paced and Caterina’s vocals are superb and stand out the strongest on this album.  The music is quite different from that of Stratovarius.  It isn’t as fast and isn’t as guitar oriented.  While I love shredding guitar, I feel that it was unnecessary on an album such as this.  The atmosphere is rather dramatic and powerful.

I think those who enjoy Within Temptation, Evanescence, and other bands with a strong focus on female vocals and symphonic elements will enjoy this band.  Click on the link below and give them a listen.

Video for “I’m Alive”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l8MnwcPoCs

3 Song playlist

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l8MnwcPoCs&list=PL6Jx1vOczyQnjzFQwY3A-4wKYzY5A3Bqm

Metal Archives http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Chaos_Magic/3540398481

Caterina Nix Facebook https://www.facebook.com/caterinanix/