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By Ibrahim

Given the alarming rate at which metal bands keep forming (and breaking up) in BD, you really need to have something unique to rise up out of the masses. Well, how about a vocalist who can reach the 4th octave? Those who have no idea what I'm on about, the 4th octave is a very high pitch which even some women have difficulty reaching. This amazing vocal range is reminiscent of the legendary singers of the 80's and 90's. Add to that a guitars and keyboard line-up capable of covering the likes of Dream Theatre and you basically have Ace of Spades, an emerging power metal band from the underground circuit in Bangladesh.

Formed in May 2010 with the purpose of competing in ISD Battle of the Bands (which they ended up winning), Ace of Spades sports a six-man line-up. Speaking on his amazing vocal abilities, Rubayet said, "It's not something I had thought was possible, but the others really pushed me on and I found out it could be done." Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Mike Matijevic of Steelheart are notable 4th octave singers and the band's cover of "She's gone" in their shows really draws wild cheers and stunned looks. As far as the band goes, Imroze says, "We are all just very passionate about music and that really helped us gel at first. As with all bands, the most important thing is trusting in each other's abilities and that gives us the confidence to create good music."

The band's influences include Steelheart, Alter Bridge, Dream Theatre, Sonata Arctica, Edguy and Artcell. They are currently working on a number of their own compositions. While Ace of Spades has enjoyed success in the underground circuit, notably finishing runners-up in the King of the Ring 2011, they acknowledge the difficulty underground bands face. "Basically there's a lack of opportunities to showcase the talent there is in music in our country," says Saimon, "And the channels for exposure are also not suited for metal bands. We hope that changes." For now they upload their music on YouTube and on their band page on Facebook. It really is refreshing to see the 'high-pitch' 80's trend being carried on in Bangladesh in such style. One can only hope more talented bands like AoS surface to carry on the metal genre in our country. To listen to their music and to give a shout out to them go to: www.facebook.com/aosbd. Be sure to check out Shomoy Ekhoni, Stranded, Seconds from Reality and The Ace of Spades.


By Shaer Reaz

The original Test Drive Unlimited was a great game that no one bought. Those who did, however, had a great time playing a brilliant car game, with a great car list, good gameplay, and a seriously massive free roam map, with the beautiful lushness of Hawaii rendered perfectly. So when Test Drive Unlimited 2 came out in mid-February, there was a lot to live up to, and with expectations running high [among the small fan base], the disappointment was bitter.

You start off the game as a valet for the rich and famous, daydreaming about partying like a rockstar and driving Ferraris under the Mediterranean sun. The intro and the character selection process are pretty creative, but modifying your character's looks is not an option. After the intro, you're told to prove yourself in a time trial race, and if you can complete that (not hard at all) you launch your career as a pro racer. You'll have to obtain licenses, compete in races and time trials, and make a name for yourself.

The free roam is still there, set in the Mediterranean island of Ibiza this time [“Must… not… think of… Vengaboys!”], while the map from the first game, in Oahu, Hawaii, is still there, providing a good combination of old and new. The driving mechanics are the worst of any car game in recent years, bringing back the horror stories of old Test Drive games, before the first TD Unlimited came out. This is a perfect example of why one should not try to fix something that isn't broken.

The car list is decent, but there are some classics missing that made the previous game great. The songs are also pretty ok.

Although fine, the houses and property available for purchase is nowhere near the quality of the previous game. One addition to the experience of buying houses in a car game is the option of buying furniture. Yes, furniture. The gameplay is utter crap, but you can buy furniture for your house. Yay!

Another irritating aspect of the game is the cut-scenes: incredibly bad voice acting, riddddddiculous dialogue, and horrible animation. They get on your nerves and rip them apart slowly, minute after minute. You don't even have the option of skipping them.

2010 and 2011 were the years for car games. With so many good car games released back then, some hoped 2012 might be the same. Sadly, that's not the case here. It's hard not to rant on this game. So much promise, so much expectation, all blown away because some exec at Atari and Eden Games thought it'd be a good idea to mess around with a tried and tested formula, instead of refreshing a great game and calling it a sequel. As a result, TDU 2 feels over-engineered, clunky, and not fun at all. Stick to Test Drive Unlimited 1 or look elsewhere for your car games.



By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Book-to-movie adaptations are rarely done well. But when they are, they can have a tremendous effect on the audience's perspectives. Exhibit A, Shawshank Redemption. The use of “'Nuff said” feels justified here. But sometimes, things can go horribly wrong and you might end up with the disaster like Eragon. Then along comes something like The Hunger Games, which reads as if it is tailored to be a movie. Does it succeed? Yes.

The plot is relatively simple and already known to those who read the recent flurries of book reviews on the trilogy. In a post-apocalyptic world, there is a country called Panem, which is ruled by the city of Capitol and features 12 other districts. The districts are exploited greatly by the Capitol, which led to a revolt that was eventually crushed. It was decided that, as a reminder, two tributes one male and one female between the age of 12 and 18 will be selected from each district annually to participate in the namesake of the trilogy The Hunger Games where they will fight against each other to the death, leaving one lone Victor.

Enter Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence - Mystique for X-Men: First Class), our protagonist, who volunteers as District 12 tribute to replace her little sister. She travels to the Capitol with her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and their mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) who is the only Victor from their district. In the Capitol, the Hunger Games are treated as, well, games. Bets are made, contestants are cheered. Impressions are very important as that might gain sponsors who might finance some much needed medicine or weapon when the tributes are in the arena. The story progresses from there in a journey of love, manipulation, rebellion and loss.

As a movie, it is decent, like the book. It's nicely paced and the two-hours fly by pretty quick. Lawrence is brilliant in her portrayal as Katniss, getting everything just right. Hutcherson is not the best of actors, but does a pretty good job with Peeta. The movie scores were very well executed; specially striking was the lack of them during the quiet, hostile moments of the Reaping. If you loved the trailer though, you might notice the absence of Deep Shadows by Through The Lens.

Certain things may seem slightly out of context. Haymitch's sudden turn-around from a useless alcoholic to a capable mentor for example; this could've been better depicted with only a few extra scenes. Also, seeing Harrelson, who is more of a comic relief actor than anything else, one might just wish for John C. Reilly, one of the actors originally considered for the role.

The story is not completely original, seeing as the theme has existed since the myth of Theseus. There are some other movies, such as Death Race (Jason Statham) and The Condemned (Stone Cold Steve Austin), which feature similar fight to the death TV-show ideas. The Hunger Games has more continuation than those movies though, and there is a little more sincerity, a little more at stake, than just the lives of the tributes. Collins doesn't take the story where she could've, but she does take it some distance. But for that, you'll have to wait for the next instalments.

Right now, if you are looking for a quick popcorn movie with some tried and tested Young Adult twists, this is the movie for you. If you're looking for Shawshank Redemption, sorry bud, wrong place.



By Shaer Reaz

There are a few shows that are buried in between the folds of mainstream/popular TV, which, when you find them, make you feel like an idiot for not having heard of the show earlier. “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is one such comedy.

Take what you know about humor and comedy from mainstream sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother (eww) and The Big Bang Theory (bleh), throw it out the window, douse it in alcohol, and light it on fire. IASP (name's too long) re-writes every single rule in the sitcom rulebook.

The show follows the misadventures of four friends who are devoid of any business sense, and thus, own a bar in Philadelphia. The bar is as important as the characters themselves, as only a run-down bar in a creepy alley could host and entertain such an egotistical, twisted, and self-obsessed bunch of idiots, namely Charlie, Dennis, Mac and Sweet Dee. Between Dennis' twisted, evil ways, Mac's messed up womanising (or “it”-ising, you'll know if you watch the “Charlie Has Cancer” episode) attitude, and Sweet Dee's obsessive nature, Charlie steals the show as the stalker guy that everything bad happens to.

Charlie Day acts brilliantly as Charlie, while the rest of the gang is played by relatively unknown faces doing a great job. In the second season, Danny De Vito joins the show as permanent cast, and being Danny De Vito, makes the show double the fun.

The first season will look and feel like a high school movie project, with crude lighting and barely believable sets, which somehow add to the outlandish feel of the show. Things change a lot in later seasons, but it's up to you decide if it's for the better or worse. The soundtracks used are quirky and comically perfect for the retarded things the gang does. Every single one minute scene, before the opening credits, will leave you rolling on the floor or facepalming your, umm, face, as the crude humor and political incorrectness smashes down your morals and qualms.

There are nine seasons out (2005-2011) with roughly 10-12 episodes per season. Not a lot of people know about this show, so finding DVDs would be a massive pain. Thankfully, there are other means available.

A fair warning though, going through this show will leave you a morally depraved, soulless and twisted human being. Join the dark side (but leave your younger brother/sister behind). Good luck.


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