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Weekly Music Review

Black Metal

By Ahsan Sajid

Black metal is an often misattributed genre of music. Before I go any further I would like to clarify here that in spite of popularly held belief, Cradle of Filth is NOT black metal (neither is it death metal). Continuing with the reviews, this week we will discuss the most often unrecognized and misconstrued brand of metal, and the many bands, influential and influenced, that it has spewed over the decades.

Bathory: the first wave of black metal cannot be mentioned without mentioning the names Venom and Bathory. While Venom's album titled 'Black Metal' was more of a friendly gag than much else, Bathory's consequent albums 'The Return' and 'Under the Sign of the Black Mark' gave birth to what we now know as the basic tenets of black metal- dark and desolate fantasy-related lyrics, low-fi production and an inhuman vocal style. These albums are still regarded as major influences on black metal acts of today, even after we have passed the third wave of black metal. With his next album, Blood Fire Death, Quorthon, the driving force behind Bathory, literally invented an entire new genre of metal, what we now call Viking metal. With his next album, Requiem, he changed his style again to retro-thrash, and continued making music till his death in 2004. And he did it all without ever wearing corpsepaint! Give Bathory a listen; one can't possibly get bored of a musical project this diverse.

Similar Artists: Falkenbach, Venom, Moonsorrow, Isengard, Windir etc.

Agalloch: jumping from Bathory to Agalloch may seem like a rash choice, but if we are talking about bands that have changed the face of black metal in their own ways, and stayed true to its roots without any corporate involvement, then Agalloch is right up there with Bathory! Frustrated with all of their previous involvement with other musical projects, John Haughm and Shane Breyer started Agalloch in the mid-90s and began recording songs together, that were later further refined by their new third member, Don Anderson. These songs would later become the influential black metal album, 'From Which of This Oak'.

This album primarily focused on black metal, while in succeeding years, after adding a bassist to their lineup, Agalloch's primary focus from black metal evolved to more technically savvy spiritual music- folk metal and neo-folk. While they still fall under black metal, that single tag cannot do Agalloch's sound any justice. Their last album, The Mantle, cemented their foundation as an underground band here to stay. They may have only a handful of fans worldwide, but their fans are true to them. One such fan, when asked, says about The Mantle, “I shall not speak dully of this masterful effort. I find myself at piece on The Mantle, lulled by such aplomb.” Agalloch performs a progressive and avant-garde style of folk metal that encompasses an eclectic range of tendencies including neo-folk, post-rock, and doom metal.

Similar Artists: Nest, Woods of Yrpes, Primordial, Empyrium, October Falls, Wolves in the Throne Room etc.

Black metal is a genre too diverse to get into too much detail on. Some second wave bands include Mayham, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Darkthrone, Immortal and the likes. Third wave is a term not adapted yet, but a lot of musicians playing today have incorporated their own styles, making it officially the new face of black metal.

If you have any trouble finding a decent way to download any of the music mentioned above, read the article printed in Star Weekend Magazine on the 14th of November this year about how to download effectively. Happy listening!

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Flustered by the lack of customer service at your local restaurants and stores? Thinking about starting your own business but don't have the flashy degree? If you've enjoyed the brisk professionalism at traditional food-houses Fakruddin's Biriyani, or Star Kabab, you'll know that you don't always need a fancy degree (although it certainly helps) to start your own thing. If you're looking for a quicker, cheaper way to learn the basics, all you'll need is a PC with a halfway decent Internet connection, and a flash player.

In this day and age of fancy graphics and souped-up special effects, flash games are frowned down upon by serious gamers who prefer their Playstations and Gamecubes, or Wii, or whatever fancy gadget that's currently rocking the gaming scene. These 'fluffy' games are probably at the bottom of the ladder of PC games as well. But with cutesy 2D graphics, catchy midi jingles and addictive, easy-to-master gameplay they never lack fans.

This week, we take a look at time-management flash games (TMFG), and see how they could help build your entrepreneur skills.

Chefs rule
One of the first TMFG's to really hit it big was Diner Dash, developed by Gamelab Studio, and published by Playfirst. The game featured a lovable character by the name of Flo, a stockbroker who quits her job and decides to start her own diner. The gameplay involves seating customers and guiding Flo around the restaurant to serve customers. If enough money is earned after each level, play progresses to the next. As the game progresses Flo updates the dilapidated restaurant she begins with and builds three further restaurants, which provide new settings. You use the mouse to drag and drop customers into place, take and place their orders, serve them food, and clean up after them. Points are scored for quick service, and keeping the customers happy with little extras like a coffee boost. With each level, you have a higher cash goal to reach, and the customers get more demanding.

The success of Diner Dash prompted sequels like Diner Dash: Restaurant Rescue, where Flo has to save a friend's restaurant from going under, Hometown Hero, where the zoo at Dinertown is about to close down, and Flo must run the zoo restaurant to attract business there, and Flo on the Go where Flo helps out at the kitchen on a luxury liner. Recently, Playfirst has also released Cooking Dash, where Flo's chef gets called away to his own celebrity chef show, and Flo and her Grandma must now run the restaurant without his help.

Following the success of Flo's ventures, other game publishers brought out similar games like the Cake Mania series by Sandlot Games, where Jill puts her baking skills to the test in order to try and save first her grandma's bakery, then a business by either one of two friends (you get to choose), and in the latest release, Cake Mania 3, where Jill's friends are blasted into the past by a Time Bender right before her wedding, and she must go back in time to rescue them, usually by running a bakery business at each time zone. The newer games add a dimension of personal growth along with the growth of the business.

In Cake Shop, a game by Big Fish Games, along with serving the customers with sweet treats and gradually building your confectionary business, you have to keep the main character Emily happy by building her a nice place to live. That puts a whole new spin on the budget considerations you as a player would have to make, whereas in the slightly older games, like Cake Mania, all your purchase decisions were based on your business alone.

While the Dash series deals with the business as a whole, there are some time-management games that focus on a particular aspect of the job. Yummy Drink factory by Amaranth Games stresses on good customer service, where you are banished to a fairytale world for your rudeness, and the only way you can escape is by learning humility through serving drinks to fairytale characters. The gameplay features different combinations of ingredients that lead to one of several drinks on the menu. The bonus level features a request by a customer for an item that uses the same ingredients, but is not on the menu, and you have to figure out how to make it. Cooking Academy by Big Fish Games puts you in a culinary school, where you have actual recipes to learn, using your mouse to manoeuvre your utensils and ingredients.

Other chef games to watch out for: Burger Island, Hot Dog Bush, and Go-Go Gourmet.

Passion for fashion
If cooking's not your thing, you can opt for fashion-based TMFG. Following the cast and characters for Diner Dash comes Dress Shop Hop, where Flo's sister Bobbi decides to follow her sister's cue and start her own business: a dress shop. The gameplay follows a similar principle: you click to select customers, take their orders, make the clothes and deliver them. Whatever money you earn goes into upgrading your business.

Posh Boutique by RealArcade follows the same concept, and includes mini-games where you have to match clothes on display to fill out requests by VIP clients to gain bonus points. Fashion Boutique by RealArcade includes the personal development angle, where at the end of the busy week, how you choose for the main character Maya to spend her weekend has a bearing on the storyline. Spa treatments and yoga boosts her mood and stamina; business classes improve her customer service skills, and entertainment options help her in her personal life. There are also dress-up games where you have to dress Maya for a particular occasion.

Jo-Jo's Fashion Show by iWin. Inc takes a different spin on the fashion scene. In this game you are a fashion designer who has to mix and match clothing articles and accessories in order to create outfits to send to the runway. As you learn certain genres of fashion (Boho, Indie, Bollywood chic) you get levels where you direct photo shoots for fashion magazines, and have to spot the right look.

Other fashion flash games to watch out for: Dress-up Rush, Fashion Dash, Fashion Fits

The Truth about Cats and Dogs
In love with your furry (or scaly) friends? Try the animal based TMFG. There's Doggie Dash from PlayFirst Games where partners Walter and Scarlett run a pet spa. You drag and drop your kitties and pooches to their service stations, where they get washed, groomed, and prettied up. As your bank balance grows, you invest it on upgrades for your spa. Special challenges come when either Walter or Scarlett has a day off and the other one has to go solo. Dairy Dash is another PlayFirst game which revolves around running a farm. Farmer and Mrs Smith work together to feed their animals, milk the cows and goats, collect eggs from their ducks and hens, and deliver produce to Dinertown. The graphics are a lot simpler than the other Dash games.

Pet Shop Hop revolves around a pet shop where you buy and sell animals. The gameplay includes serving the customers as well as ensuring your stores are stocked, the cages and tanks are clean, and the animals are well fed.

Other games to look out for: Farm Mania, Farm Frenzy, Pet Show Craze

A popular game in the Dash series by Playfirst, Wedding Dash puts the focus on knowing your customer, as Quinn the wedding planner has to take down client requests for particular menus, cakes, floral designs and honeymoon destinations. The main gameplay involves seating the guests at appropriate tables, and ensuring that they're fed the right courses, and taking care of contingencies like sound system malfunctions, kitchen fires, fighting bridesmaids, and more.

Day Care Nightmare has Molly babysitting toddler-sized monsters. Each baby poses a different threat, be it a tendency to bite you, or scare the other babies, or breathe fire. Sally's Spa has a similar gameplay to Doggie Dash, but you're dealing with human clients. Jane's Hotel will have you tending to every whim of your hotel guests.

Efficiency, quick thinking, budget smarts, and customer care are just a few of the concepts one learns from these time-management games. The underlying message of most of these flash games is that hard work pays. The simple graphics are fairly easy on the eyes, and most of these games require under 100 Mb of space. Do you really need another reason to play them?

By Hitoishi Chakma

We are usually rock-solid and at most times appear impassive during the critically emotional and romantic stages of a movie. But that doesn't mean that we guys are devoid of emotion. In fact, guys are more romantic than girls. How? Well, we are the ones who go through the hassle of arranging candlelit dinners, we are the ones who usually end up serenading the girl and 'we' write pathetic love songs. It is paramount, to say the least, that guys around the world pick themselves up and be a man! The usual way would be to watch action movies with a hint of romance. Here I go.

Casino Royale (2006)
This movie is capable of blowing anyone's brain. Not because of the action but because of a whole new Bond who doesn't care if his drink is shaken or stirred. In Casino Royale, James Bond gets to taste his first real love and then his first real heartache! (eesh) And in between, there is poker action and some really strong dialogues between the 'evil banker of the terrorists' and Double O.

Hell Boy 1 & 2 (2004-08)
Now, Hell Boy is one boy that keeps the delicate balance between attitude and muscle just right.

Ok so, Hell Boy is not just happy with killing devilish creatures and sawing of his devil horns. He falls in love with the amazing Liz who when angry shoots fire out of her body. A match made in heaven! Or hell!

V For Vendetta (2006)
When you get mutated to suit your purpose later on in your life you turn into a hero! Yes that is what V is. A hero! One classy hero, who likes to watch the movie 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and fight a hollow armour. As well as bad guys. Never once during his talks with Evey Hammond does he let slip that he is crushing on her until the end of the movie. I guess that is just how guys are. I mean 'a hero'!

The Lion King (1994)
This is one movie that I am sure people around the world still hold dear to their hearts. It would be a safe bet to proclaim that many teenagers around the world still have the VHS tape of this flick that they got from their parents as kids. But the real issue here is, what Simba and Nala go through. Well yes, the two become paramours!

Now it would be disingenuous to say that blokes don't have breakdowns from watching movies. They do. But they are usually the 'soft' kind.

By Shatabdi Biswas

"Sorbonasha Padma nodi
Tor kache sudhai bol amare
Tor kire ar kul kinara nai”

This popular song portrays the dangerous Padma river, once full of water to its brim but now just like a barren desert. People in early days trembled if they heard the name of Padma but now even the old walk upon the sandbars and go from one side to the other. The sandbars have been increasing in size in the recent years.

Padma River, situated in Rajshahi, originates from the Himalayas and enters our country through Manakosa and Durlabhpur unions of Shibganj upazila. It meets the Jamuna and Meghna near Chandpur and takes up the name of Meghna, before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. In India, Padma is commonly known as the Ganges. This major hydrodynamic system is about 120 kilometers long and 4 to 8 kilometers wide.

There is frequent mention of the Ganges (Padma) in the Vedas, the Puranas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It has a deep connection with the Hindu mythology. They are described as goddesses in the myths.

The fearsome Padma of old is completely different now. In the past, the Padma was a flowing river; particularly in the rainy season, the water level surged up right up to the edges of the banks. The mass upsurge of water frightened the boatmen, and they thought a hundred times before taking their boat into the water. The enormous waves were deadly, but the fishermen took up the challenge to catch fish and battle with the mighty Padma. The abundant water was a habitat for different fishes, particularly the Hilsas, who found Padma as their ideal breeding ground. The Padma was rich in Hilsa fishes and that is why, we are known as "mache bhate Bangali". Those were prime Hilsas, and their cannot be depicted in a few words. That Padma was destructive, sometimes calm and sometimes angry. She was her own creator who could build herself. But with time by, the raging Padma is fading into oblivion.

The change of climate has had a great influence upon the present Padma. This river has reached its deathbed and although it is inconceivable that the Padma will be destroyed gradually and will be depleted,that is the unacceptable truth.

We may question ourselves about how the Padma, creator of her own fate has arrived at its end but human beings have carried out a part in polluting this river. Padma has now turned into arable land and with the amount of water decreasing tremendously day by day. Chars have grown up and formers are using this land as a blessing. They have begun cultivation of rice, pulses and other food to meet the growing demands of the increasing population in Bangladesh. They are even using pumps to water the plants in these fertile sedimented chars. The chars have provided a better transpiration system. People are seen walking to reach the land on each side of the river. Well looking at the bright side makes people happy but peeking at the dark side creates terror within the mind.

Pollution is a major aspect, which has rendered the Padma almost lifeless. Those who live beside the river wash themselves, clean clothes, plates and do so many other things with the river water. They dump the waste products into the clean river water thus making it dirty and impure with germs.

"The Farraka Barrage" is another facet in this case. Our neighboring country India has built this barrage, which has wrought widespread damage upon this river system. This Barrage changes the direction of water flow causing the water to carry sand and soil with it to Bangladesh, eventually depositing it and reducing the water level. Moreover, the industries that have been built near the Ganges dispose their waste effluents into the water.

Such are the heartrending reasons behind Padma's current state. Some take up this topic frivolously while others turn a blind eye. The advancement of technology has gifted us comfort, enjoyment and so many other things but it has not yet been able to do anything to save the rivers on the verge of destruction. The motherly Padma has given us her cool water and picturesque beauty to enjoy and instead of being satisfied with the gifts, we have been influenced by greed and used the Padma for our incessant wants. To solve this huge problem the practice of dredging has to be adopted on a wider scale, and something must be done to resist the disastrous effects of the Farakka Barrage. Pollution has to come to an end and for that widespread campaigns must be started as soon as possible to raise consciousness within the common people. Finally, educating the masses about the river system may protect the Padma to some extent.


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