Archive for September, 2013

28
Sep
13

Beer Review: Shepherd Neame Double Stout

By PRAYAG ARORA-DESAI

Today I cracked open the second of Shepherd Neame’s six beers waiting patiently in my fridge, awaiting my expert judgement that should not stop you from drinking them anyway. Remember that now. Today’s beer is called Double Stout, and I’m not sure if like it.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about dark beers except how to drink them to the point where I can’t drink any more, but I can do that with any beer, really, and the only stout that I really love to drink is Murphy’s Irish. I didn’t taste my first stout until I was already two years into drinking, I haven’t tasted more than a couple of others since, and after the many brilliant lagers I’ve had the privilege of sampling in my relatively short drinking career, stouts are just a little bit out of my comfort zone.shepherd neame double stout

Double Stout is Shepherd Neame’s signature stout beer, and there’s a good reason why added they ‘double’ in the name.  It’s an overwhelmingly stouty beer, if that makes any sense; it should be called ‘Thick Black Tar’. The stuff is opaque. The creamy head will glue itself to your moustache, and for the rest of the day your moustache will smell like the 5.2% ABV that Double Stout contains. It smells and tastes very, very strongly of very strong coffee, and goes down your throat like a cup of fizzy espresso. Then there’s the overwhelming, persistent aftertaste of liquorice and burnt malts and some other bittersweet chocolate fruitiness which is far from pleasant, at least to my tastebuds.

The recipe for this obstinate brew is almost as old as the Shepherd Neame brewery itself (which means it’s pretty fucking old), and the Double Stout should give you a good idea of what it was that the English were drinking a couple of hundred years ago. If that’s the case though, I’m glad to be alive in 2013, and I’m off to drink something else.

Rating: 2.5/5

Music Review: Sceptre – Age Of Calamity (2013)

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27
Sep
13

Hotel Review: The Lagoona Resort, Lonavala

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If on a rainy afternoon the car-drive takes you to Lonavala, and taking a random turn the vehicle glides through winding roads of Tungarli and finally stops at the gates of an ecotel named Lagoona Resort, believe that you will be living in blissful comfort throughout your stay there. For two glorious days and nights there will be no sign of the daily-life stress that crushes you ruthlessly, and even if your idea of the weekend getaway is to get out of the city and be anywhere on a hill station, such hotels are for reminding you why coziness is so important. TV, mini bar, internet connectivity, direct-dial phone, individual temperature controls and such joys are meaningless when there’s a lagoon under your balcony and it has ducks, and not too far from the lagoon is a swimming pool around which you can waddle. The environmentally friendly hotel in offers you complimentary breakfast and dinner at its restaurant – Patio, and rooms are plush spaces you never want to leave. Awaking to a drizzle, you see green mountains with white waterfalls, and another hotel in the distance, and when you’re done with your morning dose of the misty view, it’s time for a nap in the foamy bathtub.

Stay in Upper Bhagsunag, Dharamshala: Himalayas Yoga

25
Sep
13

Album Review: Sceptre – Age Of Calamity (2013)

Sceptre_ageofcalamityAge Of Calamity marks the return of one of the most clueless bands to grace India – and there are plenty – but Sceptre in a new guise is still Sceptre. I mean, one look at the album cover will have you gaping in disbelief, amusement and embarrassment. Come on now, when was the last time an album cover made you do that? But this isn’t an attack on Aakash Dwivedi’s sensibilities, for he has done enough work in the Indian underground scene to showcase his skills. This diatribe is reserved for the band. Sceptre, in all their enthusiasm of being reborn, forgot to advance their thinking. After giving their singer/rhythm-guitarist the boot, the band that was once held high as the torchbearer of Indian thrash wasted no time transforming into a hipster-pleasing metalcore act. ‘Deathcore’, they call themselves, and that’s even funnier.

As if to testify that the band is confused as ever about how to channelize their influences to create original music, Age Of Calamity is an overproduced metalcore album with forgettable songs sung by a Phil Anselmo wannabe, and he’s terrible. The riffs have potential but the songwriting doesn’t stand a chance, and the production does justice to the punchless music: the bass is barely audible, and from what can be made out, isn’t worth listening to. The programming (I’ll fuck myself sideways if somebody tells me this is a real drummer at work) is obviously not the drummer’s work, and you’ll know it if you’ve seen Sceptre perform live recently.

Getting back to the shitty album cover, the first thing Sceptre should learn is not to be pretentious. You know and I know and they know that they don’t and never have and never will give a shit about the fucked-up situations women have been facing of late. The only thing Sceptre care about is being popular and respected by metal heads, and there is nothing wrong with that, but Sceptre needs to make a good, strong metal album that will earn them the popularity and praise they so crave. Also, an album cover where the chick isn’t flashing a tit at funny creatures would be great, and listen to the artwork designer next time. Age Of Calamity is an impotent comeback that doesn’t take the band forward from their debut Now Or Never. They should have never been pretentious, and they could’ve stopped being pretentious when they kicked the old front-man out, but now is a very good time because they might not have all that long. Now or never, Sceptre, now or never.

RATING: 1.5/5

Music Review: Devoid – The Invasion (2013)

21
Sep
13

Beer Review: Shepherd Neame’s 1698

By PRAYAG ARORA-DESAI

I have in front of me a bottle of Shepherd Neame’s ‘1698’. It is a rather nice looking bottle, and a nice looking beer, too, pouring a lovely dark caramel with a thin, creamy head that doesn’t hang around for too long but clings to the glass for as long as it does.

With an ABV ratio of 6.5%, it’s a beer to drink when you want to get drunk on beer, and not in a Haywards 5000 kind of way. Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery, with a chronology that officially dates back to 1698, and unofficially extends even beyond that year.

This particular beer was first brewed in 1998, to celebrate the 300th birthday of Shepherd Neame. In the fifteen years since, 1698 has acquired not only Protected Geographical Identification (akin to Champagne, Parma ham, Cognac and several awesome cheeses of the European Union), but has also made it to the International Beer Challenge’s World’s Top Fifty Beers list, automatically deeming it a beer I’d want to drink, and I drank it, and it is good, and I am happy.shepherd-neame-16981698 is also a bottle conditioned beer, meaning that instead of carbonating the beer artificially, the guys at Shepherd Neame decided instead to throw some yeast into the bottle, thus allowing the beer to carbonate naturally after bottling. It also means that, like wine, the brew will continue to age ferment while it sits waiting for you on the shelves of a decent liquor store. Let it settle for ten minutes, and look for a small amount of yeast sediment at the bottom of your glass.

The beer claims to be “thrice hopped”, and though it isn’t quite as hoppy as some other European beers I’ve had, the grassiness is apparent in both aroma and taste, countered with some bitter fruitiness on the tongue and a slightly spicy finish that eventually settles at the back of your throat and creeps its way into your breath. It smells strongly of roasted malts, with a slight sweetness that isn’t quite as apparent in the taste, probably due to the heat of the alcohol. Might be a bit sharp for some, but will go down your throat well if you love a stiff drink with layered flavours.

1698 isn’t the best beer I’ve had, but it’s got character. It’s history in a bottle that you can buy for a few hundred bucks and get drunk on. Do it.

Rating: 3/5

15
Sep
13

Solar Deity to perform Devil Worship in Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai

solar-deity-devil-worship-three-city-tourFREE DOWNLOAD: Solar Deity’s Devil Worship

14
Sep
13

Movie Review: Horror Story (2013)

horror-storyVikram Bhatt is the reigning king of horror in Bollywood, but then he’s the only filmmaker churning out scary movies with increasing regularity. Still, Bhatt truly loves the horror genre, and tries to outdo himself with every movie – mostly failing, rarely succeeding – but he really cares about scaring people. As the producer of Horror Story, he lets Ayush Raina take a shot at it.

Seven friends during a farewell celebration ignore the weird barman’s ominous warning and head to the deserted Hotel Grandiose, which has claimed many lives including that of the owner, whose suicide we get to see as the opening scene of Horror Story. The youngsters make a backdoor entry and find themselves trapped in the hotel and are killed one by one by the ghost of Maya, a deranged girl who was undergoing treatment at the mental hospital that once stood where the hotel was built.

Horror Story has a lot of potential but the script is terrible. As two boys attempt to reach the terrace where there will be enough network for them to make phone calls and ask for help, a nurse calls out to them, telling them the doctor is now ready to see them. If I made the grave mistake of breaking into a haunted hotel that hadn’t been opened for years and a nurse came up and said, “Excuse me!” I’d have a heart attack and still manage to run the fuck away. Nobody minds bad acting in horror films, really… it makes the movie more fun. The problem with “Horror Story” is that it uses the same old chudail (learn the difference between a chudail and a daayan here) and she isn’t scary and neither are the scares. There’s no buildup to anything, and what we have is the ghost of an insane girl who only wants to kill all those who enter the hotel.

When I reviewed 1920 for Buzz18 in 2008 or 2009, I found it absurd that Vikram Bhatt showed that the Hanuman Chalisa was more effective at blowing the ghost away than Christianity. In Haunted (read my review of that film here), the lead pair seeks refuge in a mosque, and the maulvi manages to give the ghost some grief. In Raaz 3 (read my review of that movie here), the ghost is killed with Ganpati’s power. I’m mildly pleased to say that in Horror Story, director Ayush Raina hasn’t brought in anything as ridiculous: it is a an old table fan that comes to the rescue thanks to the ghost of the hotel owner.

Horror Story is less than two hours long, mercifully has no songs or blossoming romances, and unfortunately no skin show or scares either.

RATING: 2/5

Horror Film Reviews: The Conjuring | The Cabin In The Woods | Phoonk 2 | Bhoot 2 | Question Mark

10
Sep
13

Solar Deity Lyrics: Supreme Evil

Black temple in the moonlight
in the middle of the forest
guarded by deadly reptiles
abode of the demon goddess

Priests of five, intoxicated
begin the ritual
she awaits the chosen one
naked at the altar

In the darkest shadows
even blood appears black
in the face of the goddess
pure evil does reflect

From midnight till morning
the virgin is sodomized
penetrated, desecrated
defiled beauty divine

In the darkest shadows
even blood appears black
in the face of the goddess
pure evil does reflect




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