Posted in books, Events, music

Ragnorok (Twilight of the Gods)

imageAccording to Norse Mythology Ragnorok is said to occur on Saturday 22 February 2014. Ragnarök  is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water (we’ve already had loads of flooding and the Severn is still high). Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in the Norse canon, and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory.

The event is attested primarily in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In theProse Edda, and a single poem in the Poetic Edda, the event is referred to as Ragnarök orRagnarøkkr (Old Norse “Fate of the Gods” or “Twilight of the Gods” respectively), a usage popularized by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner with the title of the last of his Der Ring des Nibelungen operas, Götterdämmerung The Old Norse word “ragnarok” is a compound of two words. Ragna means “conjure” and is used metonymically to refer to beings, most notably creator-gods, who possess the power of conjuring as an attribute. The second word, rök, has several meanings, such as “development, origin, cause, relation, fate.” n Icelandic (ca. 1200) the word was rok, derived from Proto-Germanic *rakō. the word ragnarök as a whole is then usually interpreted as the “final destiny of the gods.” in 2007, Haraldur Bernharðsson proposed that the original form of the second word in the compound is røk, leading to a Proto-Germanic reconstruction of *rekwa and opening up other semantic possibilities.

In stanza 39 of the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna, and in the Prose Edda, the form ragnarøk(k)r appears, røk(k)r meaning “twilight.” Ragna means conjure, roekrs means caring (“conjure caring the voices of the victory gods”). It has often been suggested that this indicates a misunderstanding or a learned reinterpretation of the original form ragnarök. Haraldur Bernharðsson argues instead that the words ragnarök and ragnarøkkr are closely related, etymologically and semantically, and suggests a meaning of “renewal of the divine powers.” usage of this form was popularized in modern popular culture by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner by way of the title of the last of his Der Ring des Nibelungen operas, Götterdämmerung.

Other terms used to refer to the events surrounding Ragnarök in the Poetic Edda include aldar rök (aldar means age, “end of an age”) from stanza 39 of Vafþrúðnismáltíva rök from stanzas 38 and 42 of Vafþrúðnismálþá er regin deyja (“when the gods die”) fromVafþrúðnismál stanza 47, unz um rjúfask regin (“when the gods will be destroyed”) from Vafþrúðnismál stanza 52, Lokasenna stanza 41, and Sigrdrífumál stanza 19, aldar rof (“destruction of the age”) from Helgakviða Hundingsbana II stanza 41, regin þrjóta (“end of the gods”) from Hyndluljóð stanza 42, and, in the Prose Eddaþá er Muspellz-synir herja (“when the sons of Muspell move into battle”) can be found in chapters 18 and 36 of Gylfaginning.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television


the latest version of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula stars Jonathan Rhys Myers as Dracula and is soon out on DVD. Featuring dramatic Transylvanian setting and beautiful, gutsy heroine, the tale of Dracula is one that continues to fascinate more than a century after it was written.Now Bram Stoker’s great-nephew Dacre Stoker has revealed that he believes the author’s unusually vivid take on the effects of blood loss could be the result of a bizarre medical treatment he endured as a child. ‘I believe he was blood-let,’ reveals Dacre. ‘He grew up in Ireland, in a medical family, and several of his uncles wrote treatises in which some sort of undiagnosed illness suffered by Bram was mentioned. ‘The treatment for such illnesses – blood-letting – would undoubtedly have created some sort of trauma in him and I believe that it could have formed the kernel of an adult fear of blood loss. He adds: ‘Like Jonathan Harker, the idea of blood-sucking women would have struck terror into Bram himself. The trauma, that he got over but things you experience as a child stay with you for very long time.’

First recorded in India’s Ancient Ayurvedic Texts, which are more than two millenia old, blood-letting is one of the oldest medical cures in the world.Although rarely practiced now, the treatment was offered by ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, among others, and continued to be used well into the 19th century.During Bram Stoker’s lifetime, the ‘cure’ was used to treat everything from nosebleeds to heavy periods, and was even used to help women through childbirth. Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, could have resulted from trauma. One period medical text went even further, recommending it as a cure for cancer, cholera, diabetes, epilepsy, indigestion, insanity, leprosy, plague, smallpox, and tuberculosis to name but a few. ‘There’s lots of Stoker’s personal life in Dracula,’ adds Dacre. ‘His childhood illness, the universal fear of being thrown into grave…

‘The frightening elements of Dracula never get dull because there is so much that’s still unexplained, particularly in terms of what happens after death. The inspiration for Dracula is a medieval Wallachian ruler whose penchant for impaling his enemies inspired fear throughout the Ottoman Empire. Named Vlad III, also known as Vlad Țepeș (the Impaler), he has gone down in history as a villain, new research suggests that the man behind the myth might not be as black as he’s painted. Born in 1431, Vlad appears to have had a relatively uneventful childhood, although his father, Voivoide Vlad II, spent much of it fighting off challenges from rival dynasties. In 1442, his father finally secured his throne by striking a deal with the Ottomans and 11-year-old Vlad and his younger brother Radu were sent to Istanbul as security. During his years in captivity, Vlad was taught Turkish, the teachings of the Qu’ran and also given instruction on the art of warfare. But in December 1447, rebel aristocrats rebelled against Vlad II’s rule with the help of Hungarian regent, John Hunyadi, Vlad was killed and his heir, Țepeș’ older brother Mircea II was blinded and buried alive at Târgoviște.Vlad was now Vlad III of Wallachia and with the help of the Ottomans, he re-took the throne. But his first reign lasted just a few months before he was ousted

Eight years later in 1456, Vlad returned and this time prevailed. His plans, to strengthen the country’s army, economy and his own position, required ruthless determination – and Vlad had both in spades. He began by weeding out the most troublesome members of the aristocracy, killing many and forcing the rest out of power.He extended the campaign to their allies, the Transylvanian Saxons, and enacted laws that increased the penalty for crimes such as theft to death. With Wallachia secure, he turned his attention to the Ottomans to whom he was expected to pay vast sums of money in tribute, and allied himself to Hungarian ruler, Matthias Corvinus.In 1462, the Ottomans, under Sultan Mehmet II, invaded, bringing their army of 90,000 men against Vlad’s estimated 30,000 troops.He responded with breath-taking cruelty, showing no mercy to prisoners and, according to legend, leaving a forest of impaled Turkish soldiers for the Ottomans to find. Although his campaign of guerrilla attacks and night ambushes slowed the Turkish advance, by 1462, Vlad was trapped at Poenari Castle by Turkish forces led by his younger brother Radu. Forced to flee, Vlad lived in exile until the death of his brother Radu in 1475 left the Wallachian throne unoccupied once more.He announced his return to the throne and by the end of 1476 had begun a new campaign to end Ottoman rule in Wallachia.But just two months in, Vlad was killed and his body buried in a monastery on an island in the middle of Lake Snagov. His head was taken to Istanbul.

Posted in Events, music, Television

Brit Award Nominees 2014

The Brit Awards 2014 take place at the O2 Arena on Wednesday, February 19. See below for a full list of this year’s nominees.

British Male Solo Artist 
David Bowie
Jake Bugg
James Blake
John Newman
Tom Odell

British Female Solo Artist

Ellie Goulding
Jessie J
Laura Marling
Laura Mvula

British Group
Arctic Monkeys
One Direction

British Breakthrough Act 

London Grammar
Laura Mvula
Tom Odell

British Single of the Year
Bastille – Pompei
Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I need your love
Disclosure – White Noise
Ellie Goulding – Burn
John Newman – Love me again
Naughty Boy – La, La, La
Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’
One Direction – One Way or Another
Passenger – Let Her Go
Rudimental – Waiting All Night

MasterCard British Album of the Year
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Bastille – Bad Blood
David Bowie – The Next Day
Disclosure – Settle
Rudimental – Home

International Male Solo Artist
Bruno Mars
John Grant
Justin Timberlake

International Female Solo Artist
Janelle Monae
Katy Perry
Lady Gaga

International Group
Arcade Fire
Daft Punk
Kings of Leon
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Posted in music

Francis Buchholz ( the Scorpions)

Francis Buchholz Bass player with the splendidly noisy German Rock Group The Scorpions was born 19th February 1954. Formed in 1965  by Rudolf Schenker, the Scorpions first had beat influences and Schenker himself did the vocals then things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow. Sadly Michael Schenker left the band, which led to the breakup of the band In 1973, however In 1974 a new line-up of Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. This album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and established the band’s sound. In 1975 the band released In Trance, The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and established their heavy metal formula and contained songs like “Dark Lady”, “Robot Man”. In 1976, Scorpions released Virgin Killer, which featured rather controversial artwork, that brought the band considerable media exposure but resulted in the album being “pulled” in some countries, although the music itself garnered considerable praise from critics and fans. The follow-up album was Taken by Force,  They also recorded material during the band’s Japanese tour, and the resultant double live album was called Tokyo Tapes.

In 1979 The Scorpions released the album “Love Drive” which some critics consider to be the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favourites as “Loving You Sunday Morning”, “Always Somewhere”, “Holiday” and the instrumental “Coast to Coast”. The album’s provocative artwork was also named “Best album sleeve of 1979″ by Playboy magazine but was changed for American release. In 1980 the band released Animal Magnetism,  which contained  “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”. In 1982 The Scorpions released their next album, Blackout, which became the band’s best selling to date eventually going platinum andspawned three singles “Dynamite”, “Blackout”, and “No One Like You”, but It was not until 1984 and the release of Love at First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as metal musicians. Propelled by the single Rock You Like a Hurricane, Love at First Sting climbed the charts and went double platinum in the USA a few months after its release.

The band toured extensively and recorded their very successful second live album, World Wide Live in 1985. The bands next album Savage Amusement was released in 1988 containing the songs Don’t Stop at the Top and Rhythm of Love, which represented a more polished and mature sound. During the Savage Amusement tour, Scorpions became only the second Western group (not American) to play in the Soviet Union as a result, Scorpions developed an extended Russian fan base and still return to perform.In 1990. Crazy World was released and displayed a less polished sound. The album was propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad Wind of Change which muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters’ massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of “In the Flesh” from The Wall. In 1993, Scorpions released Face the Heat but this did not come close to matching the success of “Wind of Change” and was only a moderate success.

Their 13th studio album, 1996s Pure Instinct, contained the singles “Wild Child” and the soothing ballad “You and I” which both enjoyed moderate success. 1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, mixing in elements of pop and techno. The following year, Scorpions had an artistic collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, which featured acoustic reworkings of the band’s biggest hits, plus new tracks. In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, which was hailed by critics as a long-awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and cintained tracks such as “New Generation”, “Love ‘em or Leave ‘em” and “Deep and Dark”. Scorpions released their 17th studio album, Sting in the Tail, on March 23, 2010 and announced that it would be their last album and that the tour supporting it will be their final tour. On 6 April 2010, Scorpions were enshrined in Hollywood’s Rock Walk in a handprint ceremony, with the band members placing their hands in a long slab of wet cement, which was placed on the Rock Walk.  The  Scorpions also recently re-record versions of their older material  for an album entitled Comeblack which was released on 7 November 2011, and also recently headlined the Wacken Open Air Festival on 4 August 2012 Alongside Saxon, Sepultura, Napalm Death and Dio Disciples.


Posted in music

Tommy Iommi ( Black Sabbath)

Black Sabbath guitarist and songwriter Tony Iommi was born on this day 19 February in 1948. He best known as the founding member of pioneering heavy metal band Black Sabbath, who’s hit’s include Paranoid and Iron Man , he is the sole continual member through multiple personnel changes, and is widely recognised as one of the most important and influential guitarists in heavy metal music.

According to Allmusic, “Iommi is one of only two guitarists (the other being Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page) who can take full credit for pioneering the mammoth riffs of heavy metal.” He has also been ranked number one on Guitar World’s “100 Greatest Metal Guitarists of All Time”, and in 2011, ranked 25th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His autobiography was published, entitled Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Sadly though On 9 January 2012, it was announced that Iommi had beendiagnosed with early stage lymphoma.

Heavy Metal band Black Sabbath are recording their first album with Ozzy Osbourne ) since since 1978′s Never Say Die!.The new studio album is produced by Rick Rubin and is their first with original singer Ozzy Osbourne , and also featuring Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, the original guitarist and bass player. However the New record will not feature original drummer Bill Ward, due to a disagreement between Ward and the rest of the band which occurred after he was excluded from the headline show at the 2012 Download festival.

Posted in music

Tribute to Bon Scott

The late great Bon Scott, Former singer with heavy metal band AC/DC sadly died 19th February 1980.  AC/DC were Formed in 1973 by Malcolm and his brother Angus Young, who have remained the sole constant members. The band are commonly classified as hard rock, and are considered pioneers of heavy metal and are sometimes classified as such, though they themselves have always classified their music as simply “rock and roll”. To date they are one of the highest grossing bands of all time.   AC/DC underwent several line-up changes before releasing their first album, High Voltage, on 17 February 1975.

Bass player Cliff Williams replaced  Mark Evans  in 1977 for the album Powerage. Within months of recording the album Highway to Hell, lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott died on 19 February 1980, after a night of heavy alcohol consumption. The group briefly considered disbanding, but Scott’s parents urged them to continue and hire a new vocalist. Ex-Geordie singer Brian Johnson was auditioned and selected to replace Scott. Later that year, the band released their highest selling album, and ultimately the third highest-selling album by any artist, Back in Black.   The band’s next album, For Those About to Rock We Salute You, was their first album to reach number one in the United States. AC/DC declined in popularity soon after drummer Phil Rudd was fired in 1983 and was replaced by future Dio drummer Simon Wright, though the band resurged in the early 1990s with the release of The Razors Edge. Phil Rudd returned in 1994 (after Chris Slade, who was with the band from 1989–1994, was asked to leave in favour of him) and contributed to the band’s 1995 album Ballbreaker.

Since then, the band’s line-up has remained the same. Stiff Upper Lip was released in 2000 and was well received by critics, and the band’s latest studio album, Black Ice, was released on 20 October 2008. It was their biggest hit on the charts since For Those About to Rock, reaching No.1 on all the charts eventually.   As of 2010, AC/DC had sold more than 200 million albums worldwide, including 71 million albums in the United States alone. Back in Black has sold an estimated 49 million units worldwide, making it the third highest-selling album by any artist, and the second highest-selling album by any band, behind Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The album has sold 22 million units in the U.S. alone, where it is the fifth-highest-selling album of all-time. AC/DC ranked fourth on VH1′s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” and were named the seventh “Greatest Heavy Metal Band of All Time” by MTV. In 2004, AC/DC were ranked number 72 in the Rolling Stone list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2010, AC/DC were ranked number 23 in the VH1 list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time