Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's not always Shakespeare...but it's genuine.

"It's not always Shakespeare...but it's genuine," is the title of a new project I've decided to undertake. I've had it on my heart for some time to write a faith/life book, and I thought that instead of just me trumpeting my views (as wise and deep as they may be) it would be far more fun to include the views of many people in this project.

My proposition is basically to get a bunch of people together and just write whatever is put on their heart to write about, in a mature, tasteful respectful way; this includes, love, life, death, faith, sex, music, art, whatever it is anyone feels led to write about. There's no minimum length or maximum length; whether it's a paragraph or an essay is all good. I do not intend this to be a book on theology, political preaching (though writings on either of those are acceptable, but be aware this is not intended as a study guide for either) or condemnation but rather reflections on life from differing perspectives, all in one volume.

This is a project headed up by me, and I am a man of Christian faith, so it will come from that direction. I'm open to thoughts that may go against what I believe so long as it is (A) well thought out, (B) written in a non-derogatory, non-accusatory and more open tone. No insults, purposely controversial attacks against other beliefs though as I said above, I am not opposed to differing and even opposing viewpoints being included. However, I do reserve the right to screen all writings and either propose changes/edits to the writer or not allow it should it be inflammatory.

This honestly is more of a blogging idea and as much as I would like to be in published book format, I doubt that will happen. I've not yet worked out the exact format for this so do bear with me, but I can assure you that I have no guarantee of any kind of attention, fame, credit, profit or recognition for this.

My goal in this is to create somehting that will allow anyone who reads it, of any creed to come away with food for thought. I aim to neither convert nor preach.

If anyone is interested in being a part of this, contact me through comments on this post or email (which you can find on my info page) and let me know what you'd like to submit. The actual writing I leave to you. I will edit obvious errors in spelling or punctuation, but aside from that there is no standard I'm holding in terms of style. Write as you feel. If you specifically want certain grammar or punctuation to not be edited, please let me know.

I'm also thinking for organizational purposes, I'm going to come up with certain topics (like love, faith, stuff I listed above, etc), and then assign them to people who feel led to write on it. If anyone who's interested has a specific area they feel led to write on or like to write on, let me know.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Beer Review - Sierra Nevada Kellerweis

Wheat beers are proving to be my favorite brews; I love the tastes, textures and looks of every one I've had so far. Sierra Nevada's Kellerweis is a great example of a solid beer.

This is a gorgeous looking beer, with a solid gold color and that foggy look that wheat beers have. It smells great too, giving off a bubblegum/banana aroma. The first thing I noticed taste-wise was that it seemed slightly more bitter than some of the other Hefeweisens I've had (like Blue Moon, for example) and few fruity tones to it. The aftertaste is a pretty standard bready/wheaty flavor that lingers for a good while and is quite enjoyable.

This is a medium bodied brew, I'd say, not super-potent but enough that you'd definitely want to take your time with it and have some food in your stomach before enjoying it.

Sierra Nevada's Kellerweis is a great beer for lazy, warm summer evenings; it's warm colour and welcoming flavors make it one I'll definitely be going back to.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music Review - Raison d'Etre - The Stains of the Embodied Sacrifice

Ambient is an interesting genre that covers a lot of musical ground. There's artists like Eluvium, whose gentle and warming static and nostalgic piano tunes are relaxing, happy and joyful. There's industrial ambient, martial ambient, blackened ambient, organic ambient, and probably thousands of other combinations. My favorites tend to be martial, industrial and organic, though I am partial to Eluvium and his joyful static.

Raison d'Etre, one of the oldest and most respected artists in the ambient world, is probably one of my favorite artists from any genre. Anyone who can take normal sounds,like clanking metal and make you feel uneasy, upbeat, depressed or any other emotion really knows his stuff, and this guy really knows his stuff. The Stains of the Embodied Sacrifice is probably one of Raison d'Etres harshest albums, with a lot less emphasis on more normal, gentle ambient keyboard work and a lot more emphasis on harsh sound, at times bordering on the actual genre of noise with the grating sounds of metal and screeching industrial tones.

A lot of the tracks here follow the fairly common formula of a nearly silent beginning, a slow build up to a harsh, loud climax with a sudden cutoff, and it works really well when it's used right. The only thing I don't like about it here is that it's used a little too much and sort of ruins what the effect is going for. There's three or four shorter tracks that follow this exact formula and they do tend to blend together after a while.

The real strength of the album is in the longer tracks(ranging from about 9 minutes to well past the 15-minute mark), "The Spirit Will Not Share the Guilt",  "Desecrated by the Blood", "Without the Shedding There is No Forgiveness", "Death in the Body but Made Alive by the Spirit", and the closer "The Temple is Eternal Sacred." These are all brilliant tracks that alternate between harsh and grating noise, softer and more accessible ambient, slow and eerie industiral ambient, more religiously themed ambient (which is somehting I've always liked about Raison d'Etre) and the occasionally trippy ambient section. The closer track is one of my favorites off the album, being a track composed almost entirely of subtle, soft shimmering keyboard work and the soft but still commanding ringing of church bells which add that religious touch I mentioned earlier.

On an unmusical note, the song titles for this album are some of the coolest I've seen in a long while; and though I don't usually try and put a religious spin on lyrics/titles that don't really have one, these do carry a sort of religious feel to them. I'd actually venture a guess that the titles of the songs relate to the Christian faith in some way, but that's pure speculation on my part; the point of all that being that these are just really interesting song titles.

The Stains of the Embodied Sacrifice is a brilliant album by a brilliant artist, and while I'm not a huge fan of the shorter, harsher tracks, I feel that the longer pieces more than make up for those shortcomings. This is an album I'd recommend to fans of any kind of ambient and even to fans of more metallic music, though those who are not well acquainted with ambient and particularly the more harsh side of the genre will definitely need patience with this album. Give it a listen though, and I'm sure you'll get something out of it.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Now that I'm of legal age to enjoy such things, there will be from time to time my opinions on whatever most recent drink (beer, liquors, and maybe once I acquire the taste for it, wine) I've enjoyed. Being that I've only been of legal age for a few days, it will be some time before these reviews appear, but rest assured, they'll be here in the near future. Any suggestion and discussion of good drinks is more than welcome

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Music Review - Antestor -The Return of the Black Death

Antestor's The Return of the Black Death is often hailed as the definitive black metal album by the Christian metal realm; while I don't agree with this completely I do certainly think it's one of the better albums that has ever come out of the Christian metal world and probably one of the better albums in this genre.

TROTBD is heavily influenced, at least in my mind, by Satyricons Masterpiece Dark Medieval Times. Raw but not really lo-fi, medieval but not folk and a gloomy and even depressing atmosphere at times. A lot of the music sounds similar between the two as well, from the drumming to the vocals and while the two do share similarities, TROTBD is definitely it's own album. The atmosphere is slightly less medieval and more oppressing here; I'd even say at times it becomes suffocating. While there's nothing really mind-blowing in terms of musical playing here this is a very well put together album from an atmospheric standpoint. The drums stick to pretty simple fast/slow patterns, keyboards provide an excellent backdrop for the guitars to wander and the vocals really tie it all together. The vocals, by Martyr, feature less of the extreme low guttural bellows from previous albums and much more black metal-esque screams and shrieks.

To elaborate on a point above, this isn't a technical masterpiece at all, nor does it have inhumanly fast drumming or guitar work. This is pure atmospheric black metal with some folkish/medieval touches. From the catchy "Sovereign Fortress" to the depressing dirge "Sorg" to the more uplifting "Kongsblod" and the chord-driven "Ancient Prophecy" this album oozes with a atmosphere that brings to mind the plague after which the album is named. If you want good, dark mood music, look no further.

While not the pinnacle of Christian black metal this is certainly one of the strongest albums from that realm as well as being one of the better pieces of atmospheric black metal out there. Dark but not overwhelming, oppressing but not crushing and bleak but with a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, The Return of the Black Death is an album I recommend to every fan of extreme metal.