Thursday, September 27, 2007

Spotlight: At the Gates

So here we go with another spotlight, this week it is At the Gates. ATG was the first real death metal band I really enjoyed. To be honest, I'm not sure how I got into this band. If I was to guess I would say it was because of The Haunted. You see The Haunted was founded by 3 members of ATG. I will have more on The Haunted later on in the year, so let's stay focused on ATG.

ATG play a genre of death metal called melodic death metal. I'm not to sure what makes it melodic, I would probably say it is the guitar work...very NWOBHM twin guitar sound going on. Musically, ATG is for ANY classic thrash metal fan...Metallica to Megadeth to Slayer, you would love this music. I would say the hard part for most would be swallowing the vocals. Tomas Lindberg has a unique sound to his screams. They aren't deep death growls, but rather a sort of drowning screams...definitely unique.

Unfortunately, this band disbanded after their classic album Slaughter of the Soul. When I talk about classic albums, this one is on there. I would say it belongs in the same category of a Master of Puppets, Peace Sells, Reign in Blood...a definte classic. As I said musically, it is class bay area thrash with tight guitar solos and solid drumming. That would be the one positive of this band is that the drumming isn't the insane blast beats that never slow down, it is actual drumming going on back there.

As I said earlier after ATG broke up the guitarists and drummer went onto form The Haunted. The lead singer went onto a bunch of other projects, nothing coming close to ATG until he joined Nightrage. Their first 2 albums sound like a continuation of ATG, more on Nightrage later.

Playlist for the week:
Monday: The Swarm, Terminal Spirit Disease, Forever Blind from Terminal Spirit Disease
Tues/Wed: Blinded by Fear, Slaughter of the Soul, Cold from Slaughter of the Soul
Thursday: Legion, World of Lies, The Dying from Slaughter of the Soul
Friday: Drug, Descent onto Chaos, Being Nothing, from Nightrage's Descent onto Chaos

Friday, September 21, 2007

Thoughts Without Words: Rachel's Challenge

so yesterday we had an assembly about the Columbine shootings. At first, I thought it might be one of those "feel sorry for the shooters because they were picked on" assemblies, but it wasn't. It was without a doubt the best assembly/presentation I have been to.

It was based upon Rachel Scott, who was the first victim of the Columbine High Shootings, and her journals and writings about how to treat people better. She appeared to be the kind of person that actually did what she said. She would help out and do anything for someone. I was moved when I saw video of her as a baby because I couldn't help but think about my daughter. Rachel was only 17 years old...that's just too young to die. I can't imagine losing my daughter...the mere thought of it makes me sad.

Rachel's Challenge takes her writing and ideas and spreads them around the country to other schools. Her ideas are simple, but powerful
1. Eliminate Prejudice
2. Dare to Dream
3. Choose your influences
4. Kind words
5. Start a chain reaction with family and friends

She was a special person and I feel for her family and friends.

For more information go to Rachel's Challenge.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

test results

well we got our results back from last years state testing and talk about a mixed bag. My Algebra B classes did do well. I was able to get the number of profecient and advanced up 6% from the previous year. But all my efforts in Geometry didn't pay off. Only 6 out of 36 were profecient or higher...ouch! I had 20 students that were basic. I will have to look up to see how close/far they were from becoming proficient. As for Algebra 2, a mixed bag again. I only had 14 students take the test and only 4 were proficient or higher. Looking back I realize that the high amount of seniors (16) derailed that class second semester. This year I don't have any classes that are a majority of seniors...which is good news.

I plan on doing pretty much the same thing in Algebra B as last year; multiple choice quizzes, no calculators 2nd semester, review questions daily, and mad minutes. If I get 2 years in a row of growth then I am doing something right...if not then it might indicate that I had a few bright classes.

As for Algebra 2, I will be implementing a lot of my Algebra B strategies. This means review questions throughout the year, multiple choice tests, and no calculators 2nd semester. Hopefully it will pay off.

Let me say I understand I don't control a lot of what happens on the tests. I teach the material. It's like coaching, is it the coach that just called a great game or was it the players that made his gameplan a success?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Spotlight: Chick metal

ok so that isn't the most p.c. term, but whatever. Now this isn't gothic metal ala Lacuna Coil (we will get to that style another week), this is straight up metalcore/thrash metal. I am old fashioned. I like my metal fast and sung by guys. But there have been a few thrashier bands led by women that have caught my eye. The first was Amaran. They were described as Nevermore with female vocals. And you know what? They were...they broke up a few years back sadly.


They did a nice job of having the classic thrash sound with clean female vocals. Now I was used to hearing females singing gothic style metal, so this was new to me. Pristine in Bondage is a classic metal album that is worth trying to track down.

Now minus Amaran, I didn't hear any female thrash I like. I can't stand Arch Enemy...gimmie some sign you are female please. Well earlier this year came along a band that worked for me...In This Moment. It sounds like dual vocalists because the screams and growls are so fierce. But in reality it is the same lady...Maria Brinks.


Now I heard Prayers first and was blown away by the guitar work first. It took me awhile to get used to the chick scream thing, but I did. Their follow up single Beautiful Tragedy is a classic metal song in the same vein as Amaran...not alot of screams but a majority of clean vocals


The Agonist is another band very similar to In This fact they are the same. Fast guitars, pounding drums, breakdowns, and chick screams followed by melodic clean singing. I like it, but it is missing the catchiness of In This Moment.


This leads me to a band that uses female vocals for clean singing only, Deadlock. Now I have talked about Deadlock before, in fact I put their latest in my Top 10 of 2007. Imagine At The Gates style metal with clean choruses or verses sung by a female. She doesn't slow down the music like the other bands...once again like Amaran. Wolves did add more of a keyboard element to their sound, hopefully they won't add any more on the next album.


Playlist for the week;
Monday: Rise and Fall, Business Suits and Combat Boots by The Agonist from Once Only Imagined
Tuesday: Prayers, Beautiful Tragedy, Ashes by In This Moment from Beautiful Diaster
Wednesday: Prayers, Beautiful Tragedy, Daddy's Little Angel by In This Moment from Beautiful Diaster
Thursday: Awakened by the Sirens, End Begins by Deadlock from Earth.Revolt & Wolves
Friday: Atropine, Revolution Without Arms, Primal Nature by Amaran from Pristine in Bondage

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spotlight: Into Eternity

Ok so I figure once a week I will take some time to talk about the band or genre that I am playing in my room for the week. This week is one of my favorite bands of all time... Into Eternity. Into Eternity is a Canadian band that play a variety of metal, I talked about them awhile ago here. One moment it is pure death, then power, and then throw in some progressive time/tempo changes. On top of all that you have a vocalist that goes from death to clean in a second. In fact before their current vocalist, they used 3 different vocalists; a screamer, death growls, and clean. The harmonies they created on the records was amazing, but apparently it didn't translate as well live so they went this way.


I have been listening to metal for some time now and have never found another band that plays the same style of music...with the vocals like this. Mercenary has the dual vocalists, but doesn't have the time/tempo changes like IE. 3 Inches of Blood has the two vocalists as well, but they play more of an old school power metal/thrash. Into Eternity is a unique band that so far hasn't fallen prey to copycats.


Now on the spotlight I will either rank the albums from the artist or give top choices for the genre. Into Eternity has released 4 albums, with their debut suffering big time from a lack of production. I read a few years ago they were going to remaster it, but nothing so far.

1. Buried in Oblivion: their 3rd album, still my favorite. 3 vocalists, great song writing (especially the last 3 about a roller coaster ending). No filler on this album...highly recommended.

2. The Scattering of Ashes: this is their latest album. Shorter songs, one vocalist [trust me he does the job well], the drumming is faster as well. I miss the vocal harmonies and the twists and turns of Buried in Oblivion. Still a solid album, some say it's better...but who knows right?

3. Dead or Dreaming: second album. They really started to shine on this one. I have nothing bad ot say about this album... it's just that the others are better. The first 4 songs are classics though.

4. Into Eternity: I have heard this thing like 2 times...really bad production stops this from being better. I hope they remaster it.


The playlist for the week;
Monday: Shallow, Distant Pale Future from Dead or Dreaming
Tuesday: Embraced by Desolation, 3 Dimensional Aperture from Buried in Oblivion
Wednesday: Spiralling into Depression, Beginning of the End from Buried in Oblivion
Thursday: Timeless Winter, Surrounded by Night from The Scattering of Ashes
Friday: Severe Emotional Distress, Nothing from The Scattering of Ashes

Friday, September 07, 2007

Branding Iron spirit & some thoughts

so tonight is the big rival football game between Diamond Bar for the Branding Iron. It's really sad to see just how little our school has for school spirit. Kids asking the players how much they are going to lose by or coming to school wearing purple and saying it's for D-Bar. It's easy to jump on the bandwagon and pick on a losing team I guess. The thing that the students don't understand is how different this game is. It brings out something special in the players. Hopefully, they will step it up and bring home the Branding's been gone for too long.

As for my classes, we are into factoring in Algebra B. I like to think that I teach factoring pretty well. I have the whole chart of techniques and model the thought process for them and everything. I always ask other kdis how they learned factoring. Some say they learn the box method or guess and check...I am always wondering if I do it the best way. Oh well right?

Algebra 2 is still working on chapter 1, mainly a review of algebra skills. I am doing well on keeping up on the daily quizzes. I am really expecting to see a turn around on the test scores this year.

Music for next week...Into Eternity. I figure it's a good transition band. You got the screams, growls, and some of the best clean vocals around. On top of that the music is insane... time/tempo changes galore and some killer drumming.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

one week in....

So we are one week in to the new school year and everything looks good. Classes seem to be nice and friendly for the most part. I am really concentrating on keeping up on reviewing the material (like I did last year for Algebra B) so hopefulyl it will pay off.

Music this week is a little Ozzy Osbourne. It's a nice change of pace because last year I went straight into Industrial Metal, this year I am kinda building it up. As of right now I am thinking of Into Eternity...still up in the air on that one though.

In the meantime, this week we play our rivals in football ... Diamond Bar. I can't stand anything associated with D-bar, maybe that what I get for going to school here for 4 years, and coaching against them for 6 more. Who knows what the outcome will be, both schools lost their openers. Winning the Branding Iron game would make this a successful season for most of the players...good luck.