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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Victory.

May the best man win, they say.

And how fucking glad I was when it was announced that David Cook was the next American Idol.

On the other side of the world, Manchester United beat Chelsea in a penalty shootout to clinch the UEFA Champions League title.


***

But first, to Idol.

Cook's win was totally unexpected, really. I thought that it was David Archuleta who performed better the night before, and who had the largest fan base right from the beginning.

FINALLY AMERICA DOES SOMETHING RIGHT OH MY GOD.

Ryan Seacrest announced at the beginning of the show that one of the Davids (the winner) had claimed 56% of the votes, while the other had the remaining 44%. And there I was thinking, yeah yeah, that 56% is Archie's.

David Cook has arguably been the most interesting, original contestant this season. Damn, how many times have I said that. It's the truth though, and finally Cook fans and I have been vindicated. Ah, contentment.

But if you think about it, there really isn't THAT big a difference. Regardless of whether Archuleta had won it or not, the young man is gonna become a star anyway. And so will the other top 12 finalists.

For now though, I'm savouring Cook's victory.


***
Complacency and poor luck.

I was absolutely incensed when Frank Lampard scored Chelsea's equaliser close to half time. A while earlier, Cristiano Ronaldo had scored with a brilliant header to put the Devils ahead, but yet again, complacency crept in.

No surprise, really. Carlos Tevez missed two great opportunities, as United dominated in possession and in terms of clear-cut chances. I began to feel nervous, as Chelsea did gain some confidence getting forward.

Things continued in Chelsea's favour from the second half onwards, with Drogba hitting the post, and the Blues the better side in general. In extra-time, Lampard could have got the second, as he hit the bar with an instinctive shot, but then silly old Didier Drogba got himself involved in something so meaningless, giving Nemanja Vidic a little slap on the face, and inevitably getting sent off.

Drogba would definitely have been a clear penalty taker, but even without him,
Chelsea still looked strong.

And after the first four penalties put in by both sides, at 2-2, the 'best player in the world' Ronaldo stepped up to take his pen. And I was very unsurprised he had it saved. Ronaldo had finally stepped up to such a huge occasion as this one by scoring the opening goal, but that penalty miss will surely leave the pundits wondering whether he really is worthy of being the best player in the world. I still think he is, though.

Chelsea looked set to clinch victory. Captain John Terry strode forward, and somehow missed. I was elated, but to be honest, after the shootout, just watching Terry in tears on the ground made me feel sorry for him. I mean, let's salute Terry, he got injured only like 10 days ago, and yet he did his best to make sure he was fit for the final. That indicates such dedication from the captain to his club.

Mr. Milestone Ryan Giggs scored the pen which ultimately sealed the win, before Nicolas Anelka saw his penalty saved by United keeper Edwin Van der Sar.

Champions of England.

Champions of Europe.

The best team in the world.

GLORY.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Indifferent.

So even without even knowing for sure, I conclude that the next American Idol is David Archuleta.

Simon said it himself. It was a knockout. Unfortunately, David Cook didn't quite stand up to the challenge. Not quite the right song choices. And plus, Archuleta performed his favourite song Imagine as his last of three, which was practically his 'winning' song. Cook on the other hand decided not to sing a song he had done before. Pity, cause if he had done say Billie Jean, round 3 could well have been tighter.

But it wasn't to be. All rounds quite obviously went to the 17 year-old, and it would really take a great deal to stop him from being crowned the next Idol.

Don't get me wrong. I am not against and do not despise Archuleta. I am a Cook supporter, but I firmly believe that this was a perfectly fitting final with the two best, most consistent contestants throughout this year's installment.

Maybe this proves something, that when one dares to be different, when one dares to reach beyond the boundaries, when one dares to be original, it doesn't always pay off. This pretty much sums up David Cook. In my opinion which was similar to all three judges', Cook was possibly the most original contestant Idol has ever seen. I was sorely disappointed, watching him belt out those three songs, and not quite stamping his mark on them ultimately with his own version.

Someone who wrote in The Star last week said David Cook's version of Billie Jean was 'copied' from Chris Cornell's version. I would have to disagree with this, because from what I listened to, the two versions weren't close enough to be called 'carbon-copies' of each other. I would say David Cook's version was 'inspired' by Chris Cornell's, not 'copied'.

But Cook didn't live up to the hype surrounding him. He didn't choose Billie Jean for his last song, when he should have. But there you go, how did he respond to it? "I wanted to do something I hadn't done before" (or something along those lines, at least). A true mark of a true artist who dares to take risks.

And for the young Archuleta, I still think that Imagine is possibly the only song in his repertoire that he actually managed to significantly play around with to call it his own. He's a really good voice, no doubt, plus he's really heart-felt and earnest, but apart from Imagine, I don't think he does much to the songs he performs, week in week out. Sorry, Archie.

After considering this case again, maybe it is better for David Cook not to win Idol. Why? Well, simply because there is a chance that he may just become one of those, singing songs he doesn't really want to. Cause that's what happens when you win a competition like this. You are under pressure from producers to come up with something that suits the market more than yourself. Just look at past winners. Then look at past runners-up or simply non-winners.

So it seems Archuleta has it made.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Something.

Have you ever felt paranoid as if you have done something wrong which turned out to jeopardise yourself?

Have you ever felt like you want and need to do something sooo badly, but you just CAN'T fucking do it for some reason or another?

Have you ever felt you just don't understand why a certain something happened to you?

Have you ever felt like you miss something so much, yet you're so glad you've thrown it all away with the intention to forget it?

Have you ever felt as if something you never expected to happen on the outside, but something you half expected to happen in your mind really actually happened?

No, these questions are not merely meant to be rhetorical. No, these questions are not meant to bore you.

I'm losing this race. Should I pull out from it before it's too late?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Red.

Finally.

After weeks of underperforming, Ryan Giggs does something right at last.

Chelsea two years in a row?

What about 10 times in 16 seasons?

Glory.

GLORY.

For justice is done.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Finality.

So it all has come down to this.

Arguably the tightest fight for the Premier League title in ages.

Mind games.

Partying.

Distractions?

All Man United need to do is match Chelsea's result.

After last week's defeat of Newcastle, Chelsea lived to fight another day.

And that day, is today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fatigue.

Well, what can I say.

I guess you lied.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

ICONOCLAST (PART 1: THE FINAL RESISTANCE) Review



HEAVEN SHALL BURN
Iconoclast (Part I: The Final Resistance)
Century Media Records

Release date: 28 January 2008

Sometimes, band names can spark controversy. The first time I heard the name of this band, I was wondering to myself if they were satanists, or simply anti-Christ for that matter. Being my inquisitive self, I did some research, and discovered that the word ‘heaven’ was actually used as a metaphor, to depict a fake paradise people create.

Hailing from Germany, many would think that this metalcore (melodic death metal? deathcore?) band would bear great similarities to another metalcore band from the same country, Caliban. After all, they did release split albums with Caliban in 2001 and 2005. But in actual fact, they do not. While their fellow countrymen have a pretty clear cut metalcore sound with some hardcore influences, Heaven Shall Burn are a bit more on the agressive side.

From the musical point of view, Heaven Shall Burn barely ever slow down throughout the album, until before the last two instrumental tracks. But when they do, such as on the interlude of Like A Thousand Suns, they manage to bring about a change in mood, which diverts back to the original in perfect fashion. A Dying Ember’s interlude also displays the band’s ability to write slower, emotive parts. Song structure-wise, this German quintet pretty much stick to the conventional verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, while breakdowns and solos are not featured. Repetition does occur though, which at times makes it difficult to differentiate between songs. A particular example would be when all the instruments just stop, with only the lead guitar playing a short riff, before barely two seconds later it picks up again. This seems to be a trademark of Heaven Shall Burn’s, and although it is gut-busting, it occurs too many times throughout the album. Lyrics really play an integral role in this band, as they combine themes such as anti-racism and fighting social injustice, which does great favours for the band by adding to the agression and emotion. During the chorus Like A Thousand Suns, vocalist Marcus Bischoff screams in agony:

Betrayed by their proud leaders,
And executed by atrocious enemies,
So many homes, so many lives,
A silent sense of guilt should rise.


There are some interesting moments, the first which I would point out, the drums on Murderers of All Murderers. About 15 seconds into the song, the drumming pattern shifts to a really unique, electronica disco-type beat, which you would never expect to hear in this genre, yet it fits so perfectly. Another very fitting musical inclusion would be towards the end of A Dying Ember, in which a choir-like ambience is created, within the heaviness of the instrumentation.

As mentioned, Heaven Shall Burn are masters of the trade when it comes to brutality. After the first track Awoken, which is a 90-second intro of piano and strings, Endzeit just screams the word heavy. During these close to 50 minutes of heaviness, the vocals may lack variety, but are extremely powerful and refined. Plenty of pounding double bass, which is one of the many characteristics of the impressive drumming, adds to the whole frenzy of things. The guitars are mostly rhythm-oriented, although when some melodic lead riffs stand out during the choruses, they really do soar. A perfect example would be on Forlorn Skies, and on The Bombs of My Saviours, which happens to be a song about the strong fight against terrorism in this world today. Luckily for the band, they also succeed in making the bass fairly noticeable at times too.

And just when you’re thinking, slightly more than midway through the album, that all the songs are gonna be just heavy, heavy, you’re wrong. Black Tears, which is an Edge of Sanity cover done by the band, acts pretty much as a melodic cyclone to keep you and your ears sane (irony of the pun not intended). Against All Lies is another song which starts off slightly slower, but predictably goes back into classic Heaven Shall Burn roughly about a minute later, though it generally turns out to be a lot slower and more emotional (especially during the chorus) than the other heavy tracks. The final track, the instrumental Atonement, showcases great instrumentation once again and is a great way to end the record. This is where pretty much every instrument can be heard clearly, probably helped by the fact that the drumming isn’t the usual, explosive.

Some may argue that Heaven Shall Burn’s first single off their previous album Deaf to Our Prayers, Counterweight could have easily been a song off Iconoclast (Part I: The Final Resistance). To some extent this is true, but there is definitely an increase in quality of production on this latest album.

Rating: 4/5