Album Review – Sabaton’s Last Stand

By David Winlo

Everyone’s favourite Swedish power metal group is back, with another concept album. Upon hearing the first single from The Last Stand, titled ‘The Lost Battalion’, I must admit I wasn’t sure we were in for a worthy successor to the fabulous Heroes album. I didn’t exactly mind the change of style, as style changes are often very positive, but this felt like a step in the wrong direction, musically. When hearing the rest of the album though, the song fits in very well between two somewhat livelier tracks.

I immediately liked the story of this first track, of an American battalion making a last stand under terrible conditions whilst lost in the Argonne in France during WWI. The whole album is once again filled with an array of astonishing stories from history, this time all of dynamic ‘last stand’ battles. This album is more wide ranging than any previous effort from Sabaton, both musically and geographically in terms of inspiration. By track three we have visited Greece, Serbia and Scotland. By track nine we’ve been as far as South Africa and Japan. Long-time fans will be pleased by the new subject matter, which along with the general theme of last stands makes for a fascinating and lyrically exciting album.

Sabaton are a band who tend to stick to a formula when writing music. In some bands, this gets annoying very quickly. With some variations to it though, Sabaton have filled this album with soaring solos, catchy riffs and their classic and addictive keyboards. Fans of the band’s energetic live shows will enjoy some of these new songs. Personal favourites include ‘Blood of Bannockburn’ about the Scottish Revolution, ‘Shiroyama’ about the last stand of the samurai, in which every one of the last samurai was killed, and ‘Winged Hussars’ about the Polish Hussars and their role in the Battle of Vienna.

If you are a history student, or you have a non-academic interest in history, this album and this band are high on my list of recommendations to you.

Image from Sabaton.net

Why Learn a Language?

by David Winlo

 

So, you are a student now. A student of… biology? Or history, or English literature. You don’t need to know another language for that, do you?

Well, it might help quite a lot actually. Another language will enable you to read about your subject in other languages, talk to more people working or interested in your field and help your brain perform better, whatever you’re doing.

Depending on your subject you may well find some of the most useful literature is not written in your language. Reading foreign scientific literature may seem impossible, but it needn’t be. You may never have studied another language, or you may never have enjoyed studying another language because it wasn’t taught well in your school, but rest assured that now is a good time to start.

If you can’t decide what language you want to learn, what country you want to learn about, what nation’s studies will benefit yours the most, pop along to the languages fair. There you can hear more about why languages are important for your studies, career and more. You’ll see what languages UEA can offer you, how you’ll fit them in with the rest of your subjects and get advice on which language you should learn.

The languages fair will be in ARTS 0.24 (James Platt Centre) on Thursday 29th September from 13:00-14:00 and free to all first year students

 

Physical Health for Freshers

By Alyssa Ollivier-Tabukashvili

gwnsgnsafqm-brooke-larkAs you dive into a new kind of independence at university, it’s easy to get caught up in a spiral of nights out, drunk takeaways, and then hangover food. Of course, you might not be the type to go out at all, but without your parents or guardian looking out for you, it can be difficult to stay in control of your physical health.

The important thing is to have good habits from the start. Sure, it’s called “Freshers’ Week”, but in reality, freshers’ lasts practically a month, and some treat the entire first year as freshers’ week. If you don’t give yourself boundaries from the first day, you’re likely to develop long-lasting bad habits or fall into a downward spiral.

With this in mind, you can go out, drink (or not), and maybe get that late night take out if you really want, while keeping control throughout the day. That’s to say, eating well, getting into a good exercise routine and drinking plenty of water. These three things can be simple enough if you start right.

– Have a water bottle that you drink from throughout the day so you know how much you’re taking in. You could even have 3-4 disposable water bottles nearby (generally 500ml each) so you don’t ‘forget’ to refill.

– Make drinking this much water a habit. Yeah, you’ll have to pee a lot, but think of how satisfying and detoxifying it is, especially when it’s clear or a light yellow.

– We all get a little carried away when student finance comes in, so if you’re going to splurge, why not on good food? Get yourself some fish, lean meats, eggs, tofu, and then fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re unsure on how to use them, even a 1kg bag of frozen vegetable mix is all you need to get you going and is much cheaper.

– Everyone has different priorities with finance, of course, so if you decide food isn’t one, you don’t have to buy organic or fresh all the time, if you’re making the minimal effort to get a balance of protein and vitamins then you’re starting well.

– To avoid eating processed and high-sugar snacks, don’t buy them. Easier said than done, but if they’re not there to eat, they won’t be going in your body.

– Also, remember that no one will think you’re strange for turning down a flat take out. Sure, they’re great for bonding with your flatmates, but if consumed regularly they’re costly and unnecessary. Your cooking will impress them far more and you can still eat together.

– For exercise, you have a number of options: join a sports club, this keeps you committed to some form of movement on a weekly basis; join the gym, maybe knowing you spent money on that membership will keep you going; or go for a run for free or use online workouts.

– Even if you’re not motivated to do rigorous exercise yet, going for a decent-length walk multiple times a week is enough to get your heart rate up a bit. Walk a couple rounds of the lake by the Ziggurats (you’ll get a nice Insta-worthy picture that way), or walk into the city centre.

If you are going out and drinking, here are also a couple of things to remember:

Pre-drink reasonably. Pre-drinking is this big phenomenon I only heard about once coming to university. In theory it’s excellent, but in practice, from all that I have seen and heard, it defeats itself.

-Remember to be reasonable then, if you’re pre-drinking to save money, don’t actually buy the drinks at the club after.

– Don’t start so early that you have to keep drinking to avoid ‘sobering up’.

– Even better, don’t buy into the idea that you can only have a good time if you’re throwing up at the door.

– If you are capable of making the decision, don’t get the post-club pizza or chips. All the salt and fats that go into your body after all the alcohol won’t do you any favours- except maybe emotionally.

Most of all, freshers’ week is your fun way to ease yourself into your new life. But it’s important to remember that you can be moderate; you can go out and have fun and drink if you want, but that does not mean that everything else has to be crazy too. Do your body a favour and remove your makeup, have a glass of water next to you, and tuck yourself into bed.

 And when you’re not going out, give your body the best remedy possible: a good night’s sleep.

Image from Unsplash, by Brooke Lark

Five Steps to Enjoying Your Food at University

By Alex Stapleton

You have a fantastic amount of freedom at university, perhaps for the first time in your life. This also means that you have to feed yourself as well! I realised how much I enjoyed cooking when I was in my flat at UEA, and while you will undoubtedly miss home cooking, there are plenty of ways to still enjoy your food while you are studying in Norwich.

 

  1. Learn to cook

Possibly the most important thing on this list, being able to cook is a very important skill that you’ll need. Not only can it be cheaper to cook your own food than buy ready meals all of the time, it is far healthier and is another activity that you can do to get out of your room and socialise with your new flatmates. There are also cooking classes available through the Student’s Union throughout the year, often labelled as “Give It A Go” sessions, so make sure you are in the loop when it comes to these things.

 

Of course, cooking isn’t for everyone. You can make meals as complex or as simple as you like and can even enlist the help of friends! Ready meals are also becoming healthier, so it is not always a bad choice to have one of these after a long day of lectures if you don’t feel like cooking.

 

  1. Know your kitchen

In the campus flats, one of the first things you may notice is that there are no ovens. In fact, the microwaves double up as ovens, which took my flat about a week to actually realise and figure out how to work! Familiarise yourself with the appliances in your kitchen, as well as the utensils that you are going to bring with you. It can be very irritating when you have decided to make a certain meal and realise you haven’t got the right equipment! Sharing kitchen utensils is a great way to minimise this chance, so long as you all wash up after yourselves!

 

  1. Eat out

Food that you know you have put lots of effort into can be very enjoyable, but there is nothing like eating at a restaurant or getting a takeaway every now and again. It gives you a break from cooking for a night and also a chance to bond with your friends and flatmates (if you choose to eat with them!). There are so many restaurants in Norwich, especially at Riverside, so you will always be spoilt for choice! Going with other people is obviously a lot cheaper and more enjoyable, just don’t forget your NUS discount card!

 

There are also plenty of places on campus to eat. The Campus Kitchen, Zest and Ziggy’s all offer food at a reasonable price, and the bars also have a selection of pizzas and fast food cooked on site to enjoy.

 

  1. Get a cookbook

Getting a cookbook is a brilliant idea for many reasons. It gives you a whole range of dishes to cook and enjoy, and encourages variety in your diet. Making something new is always exciting, and I always add a little note in my cookbooks about how the food turned out. Most cookbooks now offer healthy and vegetarian alternatives, and there are so many out there to choose from. I recommend the “Nosh” student cookbook series. These are filled with easy recipes that can be cooked in student accommodation, and give you an indication of how easy they are, as well as how much they cost, so you can stay on top of your finances. It also gives examples of food planners, where you can plan out your meals for a week, identify the ingredients you need, and find out how much it is all going to cost. Shopping around for ingredients is also encouraged, as you can get a good quality week of meals for between £15-£20 if you shop right!

 

  1. Try to eat healthily

It can be so tempting to just go off the rails at uni, since you have no one to tell you to eat your vegetables or have your five-a-day. It’s all down to you, so creating food which is not only tasty but nutritious is very important. Make sure you are buying and using fruit and vegetables (many of which are available frozen so they don’t go out of date in a week) every day, and a variety of these is also important. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I know it can be very difficult to stomach it when you wake up at 2pm with a hangover after a night at the LCR (we’ve all done it at UEA and the new Freshers will do soon too!), but having even a piece of fruit within 10 minutes of waking up prepares you for an exciting day at university. Ideally, a perfect breakfast is a bowl of cereal, a glass of water and a piece of fruit, so try your best to start your day right.

 

Cooking can often be seen as a chore, but there are many ways to make it fun and interesting when you have your kitchen and all the freedom you like.

Image from: www.unsplash.com

Billy Talent Continue Change in Lyrical Theme With New Album ‘Afraid of Heights’

By David Winlo

Billy Talent have always shown a mixture of themes in their lyrics, mainly focusing on relationships, trust and politics, since their 2003 self-titled debut album. As of their 2012 album ‘Dead Silence’ though, the main focus has moved slightly from relationships and trust to politics. This is shown clearly on their new album, right from track one, ‘Big Red Gun’, an anti-gun, anti-Donald Trump song – something I’m sure we can all agree is needed these days.

The album’s central and titular theme, that we as a society should not be afraid of “heights” (in a metaphorical sense, of not limiting ourselves or our efforts to improve ourselves), is effectively conveyed throughout, both through Ben Kowalewicz’s lyrics and singing, and the band’s music. Billy Talent is known for their unique style, which has not been lost here. Fans of Ian D’Sa’s guitar work won’t have to go far on this album to find yet more original riffs, and a fair few interesting guitar solos. Jordan Hastings, drummer of Alexisonfire, also deserves special mention for his excellent work filling in for the band’s usual drummer Aaron Solowuniuk, who was unable to play for the recordings of ‘Afraid of Heights’ due to an MS relapse.

As yet unmentioned highlights include ‘Ghost Ship of Cannibal Rats’, which speaks of class struggle and our unsustainable treatment of the environment, ‘Louder Than the DJ’, which serves as an anthem for rock music, and ‘Leave Them All Behind’, which tells us not to listen to those who tell us what we can’t achieve and instead to let go of our worries of failure and, to put it simply, just go for it. I recommend this one to anybody struggling with an essay in the coming academic year!

Readers who are fans of Billy Talent or their new album may be interested to know they can catch the Canadian punks on Wednesday 12th October this year in the LCR. I look forward to seeing you there.

Image from Billy Talent’s website