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  1. Albums To Watch Out For In 2018

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    Avatar – Avatar Country

    The Swedish melodic death metallers will release the follow up to Feathers And Flesh 12th January. With the theatrical nature of the band, the concept behind this album could be anything, but there are a couple of things we do know. The resulting tour will be an amazing show, and there could well be a bit more experimentation on this album, following the warm reception of their last album, being a concept album telling the story of a battle between an eagle and an owl.

     

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    Bullet For My Valentine – TBA

     The Welsh metalcore quartet have been working away in the studio, working through a change in personnel, to record the follow up to Venom. Their last album was a vast improvement over the universally disappointing Temper, Temper and we all hope that this album will continue in this vein. Matt Tuck has spoken to the press and has stated that it will be a little more stripped back, but will have a big sound.

     

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    Rammstein – TBA

     The German industrial giants have been in the studio for a while, and have gotten back on the road, making festival appearances across Europe last year. This band do not need to prove anything and thus, can take their time over their output. Given their last original material was released in 2009, fans could be forgiven for getting a little impatient awaiting the new album. Rammstein are consistently sound and fantastic with each album, and with the album release will come something even more exciting – a tour. Arguably the best live act on the planet, fans are begging for another full tour.

     

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    Skindred – Start The Machine (TBC)

     Another contender for best live act on the planet, Skindred will be releasing album number seven in April. What we can expect from this album is almost anyone’s guess, as Skindred successfully blend many different musical styles. All we can say for certain is that the tunes will be banging, they will sound amazing live, and Skindred fans will again be wondering why the band isn’t playing arenas like the O2, or headlining UK festivals.

  2. Stone Sour - Review by Carl

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    A chilly evening in London is the setting for a concert that would have a lot of meaning for me personally. My idol, Corey Taylor, is bringing his band Stone Sour back to the UK, supporting their latest album “Hydrograd”. The album itself has brought mixed reviews from critics, but appears to have been embraced by the fans.

    Kicking off proceedings tonight is The Pretty Reckless. The set flows well, the tempo of the songs rising and falling, without losing the audience at all. The pace quickens toward the end of their set, which is longer than most warm up acts, as The Pretty Reckless are the only support act tonight. Opener Follow Me Down is a great way to kick things off, the heavy rock with a slight Southern twist working to defrost the gathering crowd. Voices are raised throughout the set, but it isn’t until Heaven Knows that the audience is given a chance to really stretch their lungs. Taylor Momsen’s voice belies her slight frame, her throaty rasp conveying the emotion of the song with more power than one would imagine her being able to deliver.

    After a brief interlude of watching the roadies set up Stone Sour’s stage, the main attraction begins. The lights drop, and the crowd is greeted by the opening track on “Hydrograd”, YSIF. And what better way is there for a band to announce they are taking to the stage, than by playing a song that starts with the phrase “Hello, you b******s”? The band kick things off with Taipei Person/Allah Tea, before moving on to Knievel Has Landed. All the fans within Brixton Academy sing along, confirming that the people at large are enjoying the new material. Corey Taylor is stalking the stage, a near maniacal grin occupying his face. The crowd lend their voices to the chorus of Made Of Scars, reinforcing the amazing power of Corey Taylor’s voice. The older material goes down just as well as the newer songs, with Reborn giving Corey Taylor the chance to show off his astonishing ability to scream, and Say You’ll Haunt Me proving to be the most poignant song of the evening for the author.

    30/30-150 again show’s the singer’s screaming abilities, before Corey Taylor comes to the front of the stage with a guitar, and launches into a small “sing-a-long” section, with Hesitate and Tired being the next two songs. The audience is then told that the next song has possibly the longest title ever, and the crowd is in

    fine voice for Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I). Staples of the Stone Sour set, Get Inside and Through Glass follow, mixed in with tracks from House Of Gold And Bones, and lead single from “Hydrograd”, Song #3. The UK audience is then treated to a Black Sabbath cover, Children Of The Grave, with Corey Taylor informing the crowd that every time he performs in the UK, and London especially, the people who come to see him make him feel so welcome, that he feels as though he is performing in front of a home crowd, that he is from here. The band retires, before coming back out to perform the final three songs of the set, Gone Sovereign, Absolute Zero, and Fabuless. It could be argued that the band made a mistake in omitting Bother from the set, but in all honesty, it’s absence is barely noticeable in amongst some excellent song choices.

    The newer members of the band have slotted in seamlessly, and there is a good vibe within the members. From start to finish, the band have kept a near rabid crowd pumped up, even during the slower songs. The most apparent thing is just how much fun the band are having. It’s clear how much they are enjoying tonight’s performance, and this will surely translate to even better concerts, and a magnificent album to follow in a couple of years’ time. It has been several years since we had a proper album tour from Stone Sour, and whilst the band may have changed slightly, they are a cohesive unit, and have lost nothing in their downtime. That being said, obviously some members of the band had less downtime than the others. There were some big hints to a summer appearance for the band, with Corey Taylor mentioning Download 2018, which may still be possible despite the band announcing three shows in June being their only UK appearances for the year. On the strength of tonight’s showing, we can only hope that they will grace the hallowed turf of Donnington in the summer, and before too long, headline the festival.

  3. Chester Bennington – A Tribute by Carl

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    "Who cares if one more light goes out? Well I do"

    In July 2017, I watched Linkin Park perform at the O2 Arena in London. The last time I saw the band was three years earlier, at the Download Festival. The shows were supporting two very different albums, the latter being an album that had proved derisive amongst fans. One More Light was a shift away from the hard rock/alternative sound the band were known for, towards a more “pop” sound, hence the splitting of the fans’ opinions. Whilst it was very different from previous albums, there were still some of the trademarks of the band that were a vanguard for nu metal in the early 2000s. Less than three weeks after the show at the O2, Chester Bennington was found dead at his home, having taken his own life. I, like many fans around the world, was in a state of shock. I had been aware of Chester having fought against demons in the past, having faced battles with drink and drugs, but believed that he was winning these battles. On 20th July, the world lost the spokesman for a generation, and arguably one of the greatest voices it had ever been witness to.

    It was the release of Linkin Park’s debut album that brought Chester’s talents to my attention. Nu metal was a massive force in alternative music, and Hybrid Theory was almost what people would define nu metal as being. The band formed in 1996, with Chester joining three years later. I remember a documentary of the band being shown on one of the music channels, in which a fellow auditionee recounts walking into the room after Chester’s audition, and telling the band that if they didn’t hire Chester, they were stupid. He had an amazing vocal range, being able to do both the screaming which was almost typical of metal bands that emerged around the same time, and also capable of wonderful clean vocals. Not only was there a lot of power behind both his lyrics and his delivery, there was a distinct emotional content being displayed. The lyrics were accessible, and whilst they focused on the issues and experiences of both Chester and Mike Shinoda, fans were able to relate them to their own lives. Tales of alienation that came through in Linkin Park’s songs spoke to the disaffected youth, but also made them dance out their troubles in nightclubs around the world. As a band, they were not

    afraid to experiment. Their third album, Minutes To Midnight, was a very different album to the previous two, a trend that continued for the next two albums, before album number six, The Hunting Party, saw them return to a more traditional heavy rock sound. However, this album still had some of the electronica influences running through it. Many videos were shared, extoling Chester’s prodigious talent, including isolated vocals of songs like “Numb”. Even people who were not fans of the band or their music mourned the loss of an amazingly talented vocalist.

    When news broke of Chester’s death, the alternative community was shaken. It was a death that came out of seemingly nowhere. However, if you now listen to the band’s music again, especially the One More Light album, there are clear signs that Chester was losing his battle with depression. Speaking from personal experience, when a person is lost to suicide, there is a certain amount of reflection that is inherent to hearing the news. It is probably no coincidence that Chester took his own life on the birthday of his good friend Chris Cornell, who had taken his life the previous May, in almost exactly the same way. Chester’s suicide reached beyond the alternative community, bringing the subject of mental health to the attention of the world as a whole. In the wake of his death, a mental health helpline was set up, with its focus being on those within the music industry, an industry that seems to have many people within it that are suffering from a mental health issue. The face of both depression and suicide had changed. Chester’s widow released a video of the singer playing with his children, laughing. No longer was the picture of suicide that of a person having been down or outwardly sad for a while. Now it was shown to the world that depression could be hidden, only revealing itself in private moments, to prey upon the person battling it.

    Chester Bennington and the music of Linkin Park touched the lives of millions. Metal fans, alternative fans, and even pop music fans can find something within the works of this unique band that would appeal to them, and something to find solace in, and to some degree, a strength to be yourself. This band changed styles, not allowing themselves to be pigeon-holed. At the fore-front of this, was their

    charismatic front man, Chester. On stage, his boundless energy was infectious and inspiring. One moment, his voice would have you bouncing, and the next, the raw emotion he could convey would touch your very soul. There are few people who have not only the ability to do anything with their voice as well as making the words genuine and relatable. Chester Bennington was a unique character, and will be mourned by the millions of fans around the world, who had found in him someone who could vocalise what they were feeling, offering a form of counselling as well as entertainment. You could take what you wanted from his lyrics, going as deep as you chose with them. There has been no word from the band as to what they are going to do going forward. However, with the loss of the one of a kind voice that Chester possessed, it is hard to imagine how Linkin Park will continue. All we can do is take heart from the albums they have released, enjoy Chester’s talents, and use his death as an example to remove the stigma attached to talking about depression.

    Chester-Bennington

  4. The Man Who Invented Christmas: Review by Eanna

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    The Man Who Invented Christmas

    As a writer, I cried and laughed all the way through this movie. I cannot begin to explain to you all how much it means to have a movie accurately portray both sides of being a writer. It’s not all fun and games, or struggling to find the right word. Trying to balance your reality with your own delusional fantasies can be really challenging, and at times it’s maddening. This film perfectly captured that. It acted beautifully by the talented Dan Stevens, and captured the true heart of bringing the characters to life. I learned so much about Charles Dickens life and how he wrote his books, that I left wanting to make serious headway on my own. If you want some writing inspiration to start a novel, or finish the one you’re on, then watch this. It’s nothing less than beautiful. This gets another 9/10 stars from me, and I cannot wait to watch it next Christmas and make it a tradition.

  5. Murder on the Orient Express: Review by Eanna

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    Murder on the Orient Express:

    I will admit that I haven’t read the book nor have I watched the original movie, this is a first-time experience for me. I was left speechless after this amazing story that was so well developed I couldn’t find a single flaw. The acting was flawless, which I expected going in considering the cast, and the plot twist at the end was awesome! Poirot was acted very well, and the way they presented the era and time-appropriate speech and props, it was all done to an amazingly high standard. This movie hasn’t done very well, but I cannot see why. I don’t have a single negative comment to say about this movie, other than the fact that it’s one of films that wouldn’t be as enjoyable if you knew the ending, so I couldn’t re-watch it with the same excitement. 9/10 stars from me, and I hope they do another!