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Gavin White is a second year fine-arts student at the University of Saskatchewan. He is also the awardwinning author of How to Win Hip Friends and Influence Douchebags.
Identity - It’s become pretty common
knowledge that asserting your individuality is a big deal these days. Idiosyncratic tattoos and fashion accessories are usually a good place to begin. Your next step is to amass a collection of cultural interests, friends and local hangouts that are perceived as inaccessible, and even mystifying, to the lay population. Unfortunately this still leaves room for a sense of community and higher purpose within your insular little group and that could really stifle your staunch individualism. The important final step to becoming a profoundly distinct individual is to dissent even from the people you closely identify with. If too many friends like the same band as you, just give up on them (the band and, if need be, the friends as well). Likewise if you’re into conservation and too many people you know start tree-planting then give up on that pursuit as well. The important thing to realize is that your personal identity shouldn’t be about contributing to any higher, more noble
mission unless of course that mission is the cultivation of your relentlessly idiosyncratic identity.
God - YOLO! But seriously, sometimes I
think about how big the universe is and I go, “Whoa, I’m kind of small in the grand scheme of things.” Or sometimes I think, “Maybe nobody will even remember the name Gavin White in five thousand years.” But you know, I’m just too much of a free spirit to start praying to God simply because I can’t cope with mortality. Life’s too short for that and, as I already explained, “YOLO!” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m young and I have no life threatening illnesses so I’d rather spend my Saturdays dancing to electronica till 7AM than going to bed early because I have church in the morning. I guess if you’re old
3 GAVIN WHITE
February 11, 2013
and shit you can’t really party all night so because I just don’t care what people think maybe that’s why older people choose of me. I play by my own rules. religion over having fun. Politics - Getting serious about political Social norms - Reality is what you change is pointless because you’re just this make of it. Having said that you don’t want one small person who can’t really change to be too radical. You’re best off to look and big social problems. Still it makes sense for see what everyone else is doing first. you to watch stuff like Stephen Colbert and Because if you believe in things that no one read political articles in newspapers insofar else does then you’re going to look pretty as political events blend over into pop stupid in the eyes of others and that could culture and it looks cool if you can make really hurt your social status. But if you references to hot button political issues should break a social norm make sure you because it shows how culturally aware you have a group of wingmen behind you to are. Just don’t forget that voting and vouch for your coolness. And make sure grassroots political action should ultimately your radical behaviour never requires any be for your own entertainment and sense of great deal of courage or self-sacrifice. self-satisfaction because you aren’t going to Here’s a good example of how to change the world by becoming an activist. stand out in society without having to do anything really difficult. Last Friday I went Ethics - The other day I was riding my down Broadway Avenue at night playing a bicycle to an organic farmer’s market—to saxophone—even though I have no clue purchase vegetables (because I’m a strict how to play—while my buddies followed vegan)—when the thought struck me that most humans are really ignorant. Then the other night I was at this rave—I was like crazy high—when I had an epiphany that people don’t take care of their bodies enough. I mean, most North Americans just behind me, one holding a boom box blasting eat all this greasy meat and drive to their canned backing music. Meanwhile another suburban homes every day which in turn buddy videotaped the whole thing so we makes them all fat and causes all this could put it on Youtube. We walked back climate change. That’s why I take action and forth down the street doing this for a against consumer culture. For example, I solid hour while passerbys watched us in buy all my clothes off websites that only sell utter confusion. Haha, see I do this stuff organic, fair-trade garments. And last year "I just try not to be like
those people who shop at Wal-Mart."
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my ex-girlfriend and I took our Mopeds out to Shambhala because we wanted to do the trip in an eco-friendly manner. All in all when it comes to ethics I just try not to be like those people who shop at Wal-Mart. Like I say I have my fair-trade stuff purchased online then I have it flown across the world because I care about the earth.
Egalitarianism - My main rule is to
treat everyone with equal respect. But I realize most Canadians live in their little white-privileged worlds where all they see is outward appearances. Personally I don’t think this way at all. I have a ton of friends who aren’t even white—not that I think of them as my “non-white friends.” I’m totally not one of those people who go out of their way to mention things like, “A ton of my friends aren’t even white” even though if I had to bet I’d wager that I have more nonwhite friends than most other white males. I also support sexual liberation and realize most of our society is stuck in this repressed Victorian-era mindset. Now, being a feminist, I understand that women deserve to have sex with as many people as they want and not be called sluts because of that. I think it’s really unfair that like, I can have sex with a huge number of women and, simply because I have a penis, my male buddies will tell me, “I hear you nailed that chick. Awesome!” even though they will scorn women for the exact same behaviour! Really, I think we should congratulate
women for their sexual exploits the same way we congratulate men because all this prevailing, patriarchal double-standard currently does is shame women and honestly that’s making women a lot less willing to having sex with me. "The only lasting joy in life comes from surrounding oneself with a cult of personality..."
Meaning - Raising a family, giving to
charity and getting a big corporate job are all things that unsophisticated people try to find meaning in but these are fleeting pleasures. The only lasting joy in life comes from managing to surround oneself with a cult of personality that makes oneself appear like an important cultural figure. The only way to feel important about your purpose is to figure out some shtick or some angle that shows others that you are a truly unique human being in a society full of yes men. One typical way to go about this is to join a calculating indie-band, grab your fifteen minutes of fame and nab some spillover pussy from the mystical, Thom Yorkian front-man. And remember to always remind yourself that by choosing this particular lifestyle you are a brave, trailblazing counterculturist in a world rum amok with poseurs that only wish they were as special as you.
5 THRASH METAL
February 11, 2013
Album review of Kreator's
Phantom Antichrist Last year the German thrash metal act Kreator released their latest album Phantom Antichrist in which they continued to push the boundaries of thrash metal and keep the genre as relevant as ever. As with their 2009 release Hordes of Chaos, Kreator does an exceptional job of writing unabashedly fast and technical thrash anthems, while also integrating highly melodic ideas particularly in their choruses. In speaking of the material on Phantom Antichrist, Kreator guitarist Sami Yli admits, “Some riffs are ridiculously hard to play and we’re at the edge of our abilities.” Indeed, tracks like “Civilization Collapse” and “Death to the World” get about as fast, tight and intricate as the work of any metal band out there. As in recent albums, frontman Mille Petrozza’s voice continues to only grow stronger. His distinct scream (heard for example at 0:54 of “United in Hate”) remains my personal favourite of any singer out there. Petrozza’s vocals and revolutionary sounding songs also work well with lyrics that are focused on both the overthrowing of the powers that be as well the impending doom that our generation is
(Above: Thrash metal act Kreator) running towards. While many music fans, especially those who aren’t partial to metal, tend to ridicule the epic darkness portrayed in a great deal of metal lyrics, I find such lyrics to be consistently well executed by Kreator, who make songs that sonically capture the feeling of a looming apocalypse. Regarding the original concept of the album, Petrozza explains that he, “had the vision of a Kreator album that’s larger than life and over the top without being power metal or something.” This mission is well achieved, largely through crisp, thicklylayered studio production that gives that “larger than life” sound, and subsequently
(Continued on the back page )
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When you look at the scale of the problem of climate change, the possibility of a solution can look quite dismal. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth report, it is estimated that by the end of this century the overall temperature of our planet could rise as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius. Furthermore the report finds that such a substantial rise would result in a majority of all species on earth going extinct. It’s a very depressing scenario. But before we despair it is important to realize that it still is ultimately up to us (as well as our corrupt, lazy-ass governments) whether or not we stop such a catastrophic change from happening to this planet—which is our one and only home.
6 CLIMATE CHANGE
We shouldn’t sit around and wait for the apocalypse to come. We live in an age of advanced science that has repeatedly worked miracles before. And we live during a special time when a large portion of the world can now freely educate themselves and discover the truth about important issues such as climate change. Most importantly we live in an increasingly democratic world where people can vote for politicians that give a damn about the environment. Okay, so maybe this isn’t the case in most countries, but political parties like the Green Party of Canada are definitely showing that times are changing and some rare politicians are willing to act in defence of the environment.
In light of all this I believe that humanity could put up a seriously good fight to mitigate the negative effects of climate change simply by electing those politicians whose policies would nurture the environment. It sounds like such a simple solution but then I remember that people are extremely lazy, selfish, greedy and don’t really care if all the wildlife and millions of humans die. "It sounds like such a simple solution but then I remember that people are extremely lazy, selfish, greedy and don’t really care if all the wildlife and millions of humans die."
The main obstacle to making a typically ignorant human being care about the earth is related to how humans view time. Most people usually only worry about the problems happening in their lives this very week as opposed to problems that will happen to them fifty or even five years from now. Back when I smoked a lot of cigarettes my friend told me that people keep smoking for years—despite the extremely harmful side effects—because of a phenomenon he referred to as “the time-horizon problem.” According to this problem people often make choices that ultimately harm themselves largely because the negative effects of these choices occur long after the
February 11, 2013
pleasurable ones do. Cigarette smoking is a prime example of this phenomenon since smoking cigarettes feels good, yet dying from lung cancer thirty years later does not. The exact same kind of imprudent reasoning is present when humans choose to pollute the earth with fossil fuels, only here instead of putting the toxins directly into our lungs we are pumping them into our atmosphere. But just like smoking cigarettes, burning fossil fuels will result in premature death and a terrible quality of life for many human beings if we do not quit using them before it is too late. Unfortunately in countries like Canada our addiction to fossil fuels—and the economic activities that they have resulted in—has led average people to believe that switching our society over to renewable energy usage immediately would destroy our economy and make our nation extremely poor. This is a decidedly flawed argument for two reasons. Firstly in a matter of decades the effects of climate change are already going to devastate our economy (as cleaning up climate change related disasters will cost us billions and billions of dollars if the climate problems go unaddressed). Secondly renewably energy is an industry that will only grow in importance and value over time while the fossil fuel industry will shrivel up and die as the reserves run dry. However, before we can get renewable energy industries up and running we need to
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make them a far more profitable business Below: The oil sands "development" venture for private companies and this is to which Harper is giving millions of where our governments need to step in dollars in tax breaks.) without delay. Currently in Canada our Conservative government gives major tax breaks to dirty energy industries while Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his party simultaneously stifle and cut funding to the most important climate change research being conducted in our nation. Truly Mr. Harper and his followers have an outstanding talent for adopting the most myopic policies imaginable. Essentially the conservatives have to start doing the complete opposite of what theyâ€™re currently doing if we are to have any hope of developing renewable energy industries fast enough to prevent the aforementioned catastrophic climate change scenarios from happening. Our governments need to start offering significant tax breaks to renewable energy industries immediately and imposing steep taxes on the production of all dirty fuel. In fact, the dirtier the fuel being produced the higher the tax should be. Most people might not have a social conscience but they certainly have a love of money and this love needs to be tapped into in order to protect the earth. Gasoline prices similarly need to be heavily increased to discourage the senseless and opulent waste of gas that is evidenced by the ubiquity of trucks and SUVâ€™s carrying only one passenger on our
CLIMATE CHANGE "...the whole problem of climate change and the possibility of a solution rests in our civilization’s political will (or lack thereof) to address this truly catastrophic problem our generation is faced with."
roads. Finally huge research grants need to be given to the renewable energy sector to fast track the development of these desperately needed technologies. It is evident to me that the whole problem of climate change and the possibility of a solution rests in our civilization’s political will (or lack thereof) to address this truly catastrophic problem our generation is faced with. Surely the burning of fossil fuels is a personal problem too (but let’s be honest,
February 11, 2013
simply having a few hippie do-gooders biking around and using reusable grocery bags isn’t going to cut the many megatonnes of carbon emissions that need to be cut if we are to fix this global crisis). Rather we need the commanding power of governments to step in and enforce substantial climate change initiatives. Our cultural viewpoint also has to change along with government policies. It is essential that burning fossil fuel is transformed into such an expensive, inconvenient and disgraceful consumer behavior that even wealthy people will avoid it at all costs. Subsequently we need to make the use of renewable energy as convenient for the self-interested human beings that populate this earth as the use of fossil fuels has been for humanity throughout this past century. It’s time we leave the fossil fuel age behind us.
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Eighties computers - When I was
just starting school my family was given an old computer from my uncle. This was technically our household’s first “personal computer.” The screen was black and the text was yellow. It had delightfully awful clip-art and when the computer started up there was no desktop to scroll around on; it simply showed you a list of all the files you could access on the computer. As I child I wrote some of my first stories on this machine and I’ve recently thought that I could enjoy returning to writing in this particular platform because it combines the non-distracting, non-Internet-equipped appeal of a typewriter with the user-friendly, non-linear editing capabilities of a modern
computer. (Actually I’m not sure about that latter benefit since I think you could only move through your document by holding down the forward and backward keys.)
February 11, 2013
Land-line phones - Growing up in
- Last year Encyclopaedia Britannica discontinued the print version of their encyclopaedias which have been published for the past 244 years. And while World Book continues publication of print encyclopaedias, it seems having a shelf of alphabetized reference books is fast becoming an irrelevant thing. Admittedly, some content in these books becomes outdated fairly quickly. My family’s World Book set from the Eighties hardly seems to understand what climate change is, which is a dreadful omission, and the article on the future of computers is a laughably, if not amusingly, dated document. But for information on subjects such as trees or Ernest Hemingway the info usually remains plenty useful. Most of all,
the Nineties I remember people, mostly adults and teenagers, having long and even heartfelt conversations on land-line phones. These conversations could be about nothing much at all, similar to the kind of conversation people have when they go for coffee. Nowadays if you make a phone call (almost always to someone’s cell) it is usually assumed you aren’t just calling to say hello. Evidently something about the absence of the Internet and texting in the past, along with the sedentary nature of the landline phone, encouraged people to engage in longer, more meaningful phone calls than they in reality (not in theory) make on their cell phones today.
something feels sacred about holding an encyclopaedia because unlike your computer it only contains academic content. To see a shelf of gilded pages that represents humanity’s general understanding of the universe is an inspiring site (moreso than a computer screen, at least).
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Reel-to-reel recorders - Many
audiophiles will still admit that analog is a high-quality and delightfully idiosyncratic medium to record on. As one tech-geek on the Internet aptly described it, when sound peaks in digital recording “it’s like hitting a brick wall” whereas analog peaking “is like a big, soft mattress of happy.” For this, and other aesthetically pleasing reasons, home music recording could stand to benefit from a resurgence in this consumer product’s availability.
Print-format zines - This past year,
thanks to the creation of the MC Press, I’ve discovered the rather insular online community that represents modern zine culture. Surely this zine culture attracts a lot of hackish and undisciplined writers, mostly because a zine maker—or “zinester”—can set the bar as low as they want when it comes to their publication standards. Nevertheless print-copy zines can be an effective way for like-minded individuals to network. Sure a person could put all this work online, but bothering to publish something in print says something about a writer’s commitment to their craft that pressing “publish” on a blog site simply does not. Overall the digital world, far from making paper zine production an obviously outdated method, actually enhances the creative layout possibilities as well as the publishing independence of any zinester that possesses a half-decent computer and printer.
Pride is a bizarre word in the English language and even when given some context I’m often confused when I hear things like “He’s a very proud man” or “She takes great pride in the accomplishments of her children.” The main problem is that pride is a contronym: two words with the same spelling that refer to nearly contradictory concepts. In the shorter Oxford Dictionary, pride is listed as being the quality of having an excessively high opinion of one’s own worth or importance and is succinctly described as arrogance. Yet pride is also listed further down as describing selfrespect and a consciousness of what befits or is due to oneself. When it is said that “Joe is a proud man” typically the image that is drawn is of a man who seeks to maintain a strong sense of dignity throughout his life, a man who does not want to be a charity case and so on. The problem is that, even with all this context, the value judgement about Joe being proud is completely ambiguous. I am left with no clue as to whether or not “proud” here is a compliment and a description of his virtue, or an insult and the pointing out of a
February 11, 2013
character flaw. The same problem occurs when people say they are proud of their children’s accomplishments. On one hand, I take this to mean that a parent is simply happy to see their offspring flourishing and that seems respectable enough to me. But I might also construe this statement to mean that these parents take some personal vainglory in what their children have done and this presumably is a negative quality. The problem with the word "pride" is two-fold. First it seems like two separate words are needed to discern the meaning, one word to describe pride in the selfrespecting sense, another to describe pride in the boastful sense. Indeed words like dignified and vainglory can help describe these two disparate concepts confused by the word pride. But the deeper problem, one that even a hefty lexicon may not solve, is whether “pride” itself is a good thing, which is more of a philosophical question. Is it always better to be self-effacing or is it a virtue to have a grand sense of self-worth, or does the truth lie somewhere in between? There may be an answer to this question, but it is certainly not illuminated by the English word pride and the ambiguous ways in which we use it.
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The Replacements’ final album All
came out in 1990 just as Paul Westerberg was sobering up from a decade of serious drinking. Personally I have heard no album that better captures the sound of getting one’s head together after a lengthy period of substance-related excess. The songs are gentler and the vocals groggier than one hears on the Eighties Replacements albums. But also by comparison the recordings on All Shook Down sound highly precise and clearly thought out. Throughout this final album the listener can really sense Westerberg coming back to sobriety and encountering all the relief and angst that such a transition brings. Shook Down
Brain Salad Surgery is a highly
listenable, yet exploratory prog album from the height of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s fame. “Jerusalem” showcases their mastery of classically based pop while the 29:38 long “Karn Evil 9” is a delightfully pompous demonstration of their writing abilities and gives us a third impression that personifies the stadium-rock world this power-trio brought progressive-rock into.
demonstrates how bright a future this band could have had if they stayed together. The album fuses throwback rock ’n’ roll (notably on “From the Back of the Film” and “Oh My Soul”) along with the characteristically jaded lyrics and vocals of early Nineties alt-rock. Based on Joel Plaskett’s vocal performances on Clayton Park it would seem that he was trying to move the band into a more distorted, straight-up rock ’n’ roll direction—which is kind of surprising considering how soft and folkie he became as a solo artist.
February 11, 2013
Sam Cooke’s Club,
Live at the Harlem
is an arresting presentation of Sam’s smooth yet immense vocal presence and a natural introduction to his catalog of soul hits. From his “Aww yeah!” vocal fills, to his truly hypnotic power over the crowd, Sam achieves with this album a feat that few live albums can pull off: putting the listener front and center at the scene of a monumental musical performance. Indeed most of the live renditions featured here outshine the already delightful studio versions of Sam’s many hits. Square
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The Fat Wreck Chords
compilation Survival of the Fattest may well be the best introduction to the Nineties punk scene that a person can hear. Most of the scene’s heavy hitters like NOFX, Strung Out, Propagandhi and Lagwagon all make appearances. Also the typically anti-establishment, “fuck the world” lyrics of Nineties punk abound on this compilation, as does the often surprising technical proficiency of some of these rather young, unassuming punk musicians. Most importantly this record allows more devout punk music fans to recall the special era following the generally homogenous punk sound of the late Seventies and the eventually commodified, bubblegum punk sound that reached pop culture at the dawn of the 21st century.
A Train Bound for
Glory may have a vintage folk,
country sound but there is still something refreshing about hearing this album today. For one thing, unlike many modern guitar-slingers, Molinari doesn’t try eccentric variations on the singersongwriter theme, but rather focuses simply on perfecting old methods. His Dylan influence may be too palpable for some but there is no denying his song writing would have pleased the young Mr. Zimmerman. And for an Englishman, Molinari sure has the southern United States twang vocals down to a tee (as evidenced on gems like “A Place I Know So Well”). His softer ballads like “What a Day, What a Night, What a Girl”, contrasted by his rockin’ numbers like “Streetcar Named Desire,” show the breadth of his song writing ability. Ultimately whether you love this album or find it trite will come down to whether or not you wish to hear a Sixties sound masterfully revived for the 21st century. Personally I’m all too happy to hear that.
February 11, 2013
A New Earth The following story is an account ofa particularly vivid dream I had. Everyone was talking about how big the war would be. I sat in a high-rise living room staring out the glass windows overlooking the muggy skyline of Los Angeles. A thin, 30-something woman in a dress sat beside me on her couch. I explained to her why I used to grow my hair long. We heard a huge explosion outside along with the noise of shattering glass and distant, muted screams. We looked out to see black smoke and debris billowing up from a downtown high-rise. “So this is the end of the world.” The woman said casually, as though it were only a minor disappointment. Suddenly the woman and I were in a farm field passing confused looking groups of one or two people and their dogs. We seemed to be in Midwest America. Things were painfully quiet. The dogs didn’t bark or make any sounds. They were scared because their masters were scared. Every so often you passed people peeing at the side
of this strange path. They didn’t look much ashamed of peeing in public though. Nobody had a reputation to lose anymore. By now you knew civilization was done. But you didn’t feel very nostalgic about civilization. You just wanted to stay alive. You looked at the hardened faces passing you and saw the exact same look you were wearing yourself. You saw the exact same wish to stay alive in the eyes of every fellow human you passed. And you felt in spite of all the misery that you were united with others like never before. No one held a title or possessed wealth anymore. All a person owned was their own body. You felt scared about dying. But you also felt brought back to earth. Humans were humans again, hardly above the other animals. And as I walked with the woman in the dress, we passed our fellow humans hoping like everyone else that our species could make things work. We all just hoped that man was less evil than men.
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When you set foot in a Starbucks today, you will be hard pressed to not find at least one person with their eyes glued to a computer as they sip their custom-made latte. But you will also find throngs of people engaging in a decidedly ancient tradition—vis-à-vis conversation made over a cup of coffee. In the 17th century, coffeehouses reached England and quickly became regarded as
the more dignified and sober alternative to taverns. Before coffee arrived in Europe, beer and wine were still the most popular beverages for Europeans, even at breakfast. Yet nearly the exact same culture we associate with modern coffeeshops today was dominating cities like London almost immediately after coffee first arrived in Europe from the Arab world. In A History of the World in 6 Glasses, Tom Standage writes that “above all [these early coffeeshops] were clearing houses for news and gossip, linked by the circulation of customers, publications, and information from one establishment to the next. Collectively, Europe’s coffeehouses functioned as the Internet of the Age of Reason.” Interestingly enough, even in the age of the Internet coffeeshops still serve precisely this role of social networking (not to mention getting people jacked up on caffeine). Granted people rarely go to coffee shops anymore to find new business connections like they did in the 17th century, but people still patronize coffeeshops primarily to discuss gossip and business with others. The continuing prevalence of this trend might sound unimpressive, but when one
considers how much the digital age has changed where and how we communicate, the coffeeshop reveals itself to be an extraordinarily durable cultural edifice. Furthermore, the idea that the particular coffee shop a person patronizes is associated with their identity and social status, has also been prevalent since the beginning of coffee consumption in the western world. Standage writes that different English coffee houses during the Age of Reason became associated with specific trades. He explains that in 17th century London, where hundreds of coffeehouses operated, clergymen and theologians had one particular coffeehouse they frequented while poets had another and so on among countless other trades and professions. One still finds this distinction today where, in Canada at least, cardigan wearing indiekids will be found in ample supply at Starbucks but not Tim Hortons, while construction-working, half-ton truck driving people will be found populating the drivethru at Tim Hortons but not at Starbucks. While it's possible, itâ€™s hard to imagine how or why coffeeshops would lose their cultural significance in the future. Considering theyâ€™ve survived the fall of many other cultural institutions, I anticipate they will outlast most anything except a total collapse of civilization. And even then people are still going to need their daily fix of caffeine and conversation.
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Hoser of the Week
"Peanuts, coffee AD cigarettes! Maybe it ain't as good as hockey but it's damn close I tells ya. DAM close!" - Bruce O'Hannigan (full-time sportsfan, parttime electrician)
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through a complexity of song writing and soloing that places this album far more in the thrash-metal camp than the power-metal one. Looking at the early years of Kreator in the Eighties, I personally find the band has only improved with time, now playing exactly what each song calls for and possessing a technical prowess all their own (with their skills they are really only limited by their imagination). After many listens to Phantom Antichrist I am already (Kreator's albums sound precise and looking forward to seeing what kind of familiar with evil powers: no surprise coming from a German band.) album Kreator puts out next.