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Van Halen
A Different Kind of Truth

By Bareesh

The problem with awesome old bands releasing new albums is that after all the excitement comes a lingering sense of dread. What if the new album sucks? What if it's terrible? What if it ruins them in our eyes? It happens all the time. The best example would be Guns'n'Roses' last album, Chinese Democracy. Till this day, I am filled with shame every time I admit its existence. So, as I started listening to the new Van Halen album, the first thought that came to mind was the utter crap that was Chinese Democracy.

The first song, Tattoo, nearly confirmed this fear; a mediocre throwback to their old glories, which failed to capture the spirit. The song's vocals fluctuated too much, the chorus was over simplistic and Eddie's catchy guitar riffs weren't enough to make up for it. The equally substandard Beats Workin' had this reviewer's fingers crossed by the end.

The songs in this album were supposed to be based on 1970s demos. The songs mentioned so far should have stayed demos. But then it got better. The almost-Iron Maiden inspired China Town has you headbanging along with the atomic fast tempo. You and Your Blues is where Roth shows his vocalist creds best with range that you wouldn't expect him to retain since the 70s. Most of the album is very fast paced. The slow dizzying drums in As Is pick up into a classic VH beat, reminiscent of the legendary Hot for Teacher.

Roth pursues “stone cold soccer moms” through a swirling bass and guitar frenzy in Honeybabysweetiedoll. The flow takes a downwards turn with the anthem Blood and Fire which was too unabashedly safe. The Trouble With Never exudes serious badassery. Oh and be sure to check the audacious, arrogant, insane 30 second power-chord-and-drumroll-finale to the intentionally annoying Stay Frosty.

Original bassist Michael Anthony's soaring background vocals are missed but Eddie's son, Wolfgang Van Halen, fits in seamlessly.

This is the first Van Halen album in 27 years with both Van Halens and David Lee Roth in it. When they broke up, it was to the anguish of all rock fans. It was the first album since the 90's when they had the obscenely bad Van Halen III. Eddie has rediscovered the guitar skills that made him one of the greats; he has unplugged the synths (because no VH fan in history would ask for a horror such as putting down the guitar and picking up the keyboard), it's almost as if Roth's presence has reminded him about exactly who they are. Somehow, against all odds, this seems to be a real Van Halen album.


The Descendants

By Orin

Years ago, Tolstoy wrote: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. The Oscar nominated movie, The Descendants, goes to show how true these words are as George Clooney continues his run of superb acting as Matt King, a troubled middle-aged father.

Matt King is a busy lawyer and a man with a few problems. One of them is his wife, who has been in a coma for 23 days; another is his out of control daughters to whom he barely qualifies as a parent. Just to add to that, he is the sole trustee of thousands of acres of pristine Hawaii land that developers are dying to get their hands on. The world seems to be crashing down on Matt King, but he learns to cope with whatever life seems to throw at him.

The Descendants builds up on the complex love-hate web of family relationships in a raw and fearless manner that many movies fail to do. The last movie that managed to do it would probably be Little Miss Sunshine.

George Clooney's acting is simply brilliant and his portrayal of Matt King is fierce. No surprise that George Clooney is a favourite to win the Academy Awards this time around, having been snubbed previously for Up in the Air and Syriana.

Scenic Hawaii looks absolutely magnificent throughout the movie. Alexander Payne did a great job adapting the screenplay as well. It is very well written with in-your-face honesty that is absent in family dramas these days. The average cast acting is quite good in the movie, and Shailene Woodley shines as the elder of Matt's daughters.

True, The Descendants is a movie of mature emotions, but it portrays things all of us can relate to. Incredible acting from the cast and powerful yet subtle messages take it far, although the movie might seem a tad bit overrated at times.

RS rating: 8/10

ANIME REVIEW Age Group: 18+


By Mahir

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Shounen

Do fairies have tails? That's the question that first pops up when this anime is mentioned. The answer, of course, still eludes me because not even the Mages of the guild Fairy Tail have ever actually seen a Fairy and the origin of their name remains a mystery.

The anime was adopted from Hiro Mashima's popular shounen manga Fairy Tail and it's one of those few mangas which remained loyal to its genre. The plot of the anime is set in Fiore, where mages train day and night to be the strongest magic user in the realm and join magic guilds to take on missions. Fairy Tail is Fiore's number one guild and is hated by their government for its destructive - and sometimes idiotic - members who just drink and party all day.

The anime, instead of portraying a single protagonist, follows a team of mages. The main character is Natsu Dragneel, who uses Fire Dragon Slayer magic and is looking for a dragon named Igneel. Along the way he meets Lucy, a stellar spirit summoning mage and together they team up with Gray Fullbaster (an ice mage) and Erza Scarlet, an S-Class mage (high ranking, dangerous missions mage) and one of Fairy Tail's best.

The thing I liked most about the anime is its variety in the arcs. Every single arc in the anime is extremely entertaining and there's no repetition at all (although some of the characters just keep coming back), whether it's a rival guild invading Fairy Tail or going to war with a dark guild, Natsu and company is always in the centre of trouble.

The anime has got awesome theme songs and these are one of the best I've heard since the legendary ones of FMA and the artwork is fantastic. The plot has got depth and perception and it reaches to almost every character in the guild. There are a few hilarious moments between the actions sequences, the mirth of which will leave you bent over with laughter and there are enough eye candies in the anime to hold a Miss Fairy Tail competition (which they actually do).

One drawback I found in the anime is that there is no equilibrium of strength. No matter how much stronger the opponent is or how beaten down Natsu is, he always (miraculously) wins gloriously. Of course this happens in all shounen animes but in this case, it happens every single time.

The second season of FT is currently airing in Animax but if you want to watch it faster or watch the first season, any good shop should have its DVD collection or if you're short on money, you can just download it before SOPA comes back into action.


By Mahir

Red Dead Redemption came out back in 2010 and was an instant hit among gamers of all genres. Its mindblowing graphics and neat gameplay turned hardcore FPS players into RPG fans. So, why are we reviewing a game this old? Because RDR is too awesome to be ignored (and we also wanted to see John Marston in the RS centrefold) and if you haven't played this game yet, it should have the No. 1 spot on your to-play list.

RDR lets gamers play as an ex-bandit John Marston, who has turned over a new leaf and decided to lead a peaceful life with his family. But the government has other ideas. Marston is caught and ordered to bring his old bandit pals to justice and his family is held as hostage against his good behaviour (typical Government). Thus begins his journey to capture the people who once rode with him and the chase continues from Western America to Mexico and then to the Great Northern Plains.

The strongest point of the game is its superb graphics. Even though some of the characters lacked finesse, the Wild West countryside was done beautifully. Roaming around in the desert in the middle of a moonlit night while wolves are howling all around can't be any more realistic and those of you who ever dreamt of living a gun-toting Western life, this is the best experience you'll get.

The game introduces gamers to true bounty hunting life. If you catch your target alive by binding him with a lasso, you get paid more. Earning money in this game is a challenge. Unlike the old Western movies, this game has a lot more realistic shooting sequences and if you are caught off guard in a place with no cover, you won't survive through the first round. The game provides a wide range of weapons to pick from, but for the really good ones you'll need a big wad of cash.

You can also change your ride to your liking. You can either buy a better horse or can catch a wild three star stallion on the fields and tame it. The latter is recommend as it will save you a lot of money. You are also given the option to hunt wild animals and sell their hides for a little extra cash.

You can also play Western games like five finger fillet, liar's dice, and, of course, Poker. But if you are caught cheating, you will be forced to duel but no offender stands a chance against Marston's Snake Eyes which allows him to react faster than his opponents.

Each and every character of the game has their own depth and integrity but some of them could have been made better. The plot, however, is brilliant and the ending couldn't be any better. Although initially the going is slow, the game eventually picks up the pace.

RDR was elected Game of the Year in 2010 and it had every reason to win that award. So if you are finished with Skyrim (probably not) then you can try out RDR. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.


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