Sichgart, Uncategorized

Sichgart-Chest’Ta Krov Review

“Synerhiia,” is dark and foreboding, slowly moving into the darkness whilst making the listener think that there might be a chance of light shining through.  This theme continues with the next song “Boii,” which brings some serious heaviness to the fore. “Stalevyi Bii,” continues bringing breakneck riffs to the masses. “MH17,” a force for nature, about the Malaysian Airlines flight shot down by Russians. “Forpost,” another brutal onslaught.

“Ostannii Son,” slow and moving within reach and breaking time. “Zhnyva,” is brutal thrash to groove to. “Kriz Viky,” Another mover and shaker. “Grad,” slow and dark. “U Vogni,” dark and moving.

The album is out now.

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Onkel Tom, Uncategorized

Onkel Tom-Bier Ernst Review

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“Ich Ste.” comes barrelling in with some solid riffage and pounding grooves. “Flasche,” pounds the literal shit out of the listener’s ear drums, ensuring that the listener is hooked from the get go for this opus. “Wir Tri,” another song that has some interesting hooks and melodies, dancing upon the ground and getting the crowd going. “Bier Bi,” filled with swagger, and an ode to Bier, that fine beverage. “Durst I,” pounding and heavy, a true groover. “Hatten,” dangles the bait with the trumpet intro, and then it moves into overdrive, with the drinking song melody. “Was Sin,” slithers along the pathway, ensuring that the listener has another dose of fist pounding metal. “Jacky C,” slows things down somewhat, a cowboy song in the chains. “Durst W,” picks things up, blinding delivery. “Trunken,” a swaggering drinking song, that is sure to get beer swilling. “Bier Bi,” another classic tribute.

“Prost,” another song that slows things down, taking the hype down a notch, but also producing some fascinating little sing alongs. “Ich Fin,” pure metal coming out of the stream, and a blinding light for all to see. “Todgewe,” driving and pounding and filled with energy. “Ich Mus,” fast hell raising and ground pounding. “Egal,” groove orientated and based on energy and grit. “Von Ars,” a song that takes a turn and a twist, and produces some fascinating melodies. “Zwische,” an anthem and a half that builds from an intriguing place and goes from there. “Auf Dun,” swagger filled riffs, and energy based on the halves. “Das Bla,” a rocker and a half, swaggering around like a beast. “Polizis,” another song that finishes things off quite well with flair and grit.

Bier Ernst is out on September 28th via Steamhammer/SPV.

Black Alice, Uncategorized

Black Alice-Endangered Species Review

No Warning begins with the guitars beating out a nice rhythm and melody, the vocals come whispering into being changing and growling as suits. Rat Catchers Eyes is fierce, dark and growling, a true rocker. Running Hot, Running Wild drives and springs, moving through the gears, bringing some serious energy to the fore. Hell Has No Fury is good old fashioned metal, big bold riffs, and a pounding rhythm. Wings of Leather is slower, more Black Sabbath than Ac/Dc and that works just fine, producing a shredder of a song. In The Hall Of Ancient Kings is another epic number, with the pounding bass, and the soaring vocal line, carrying the song through. Psycho is fast and brutal.

Roll The Dice has some seriously bitchin’ riffs, a grooving chorus and vocal line and enough to really shift the groove and tone of things. Blade of Slaughter moves up and down, shifting between truly badass and epic with enough groove to ensure the listener is never left wondering. Power Crazy comes howling into being, with a strong riff and an even stronger vocal line. Hellhouse follows a nice bluesy groove, slithering and dancing around whilst the vocals tell an intricate story of a hellhouse. Man Of Metal has another bit of swagger to it, slanting and dancing around all the while. Knightmare follows a nice interesting change of pace, with an acoustic lead and a soaring vocal line.

The album is out 28th September via Karthago Records.

Uncategorized

Night Demon-Live Darkness Review

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A live album in this day and age is just as bold and brave as it was back in the 1970s, back then they were a rarity, now they’re a standard set piece, but getting the quality and the feel right is just as important, if not more so. Night Demon deliver 23 tracks of unfiltered metal and rock and roll on this live album.

Welcome To The Night is filled with energy, the guitars are focused, the vocals are fierce and the band sound as if they’re having a lot of fun. Full Speed Ahead delivers fierce pace and energy, snarling right out of the gate. Ritual has a little bit of that fun and go side to it, a nice hooky riff that gets the crowd moving. Curse Of The Damned is a nice little call and response, with an infectious beat, and a slamming riff and groove. Dawn Rider hammers itself home, beating the literal shit out of the listener’s eardrums. Save Me Now is slower, filled with energy and harmonies.

Hallowed Ground is an interesting shift, filled with energetic riffs, the energy purely bounds up and down, reflecting the energy within the band themselves. Maiden Hell is led by an absolutely irresistible riff, filled with energy, soul and fire. Mastermind is another absolute belter of a song, brimming with energy. On Your Own starts with solid drum patterns and continues with energy and grace. Life On The Run has a fierce riff, and some serious groove. The Howling Man is fast, energetic, melodic and filled with subtle variations making it one hell of a song.

Black Widow comes barrelling out with the harmonised riffs, the soaring melodies, and the dancing grooves, promising so much and delivering it all. Ancient Evil is a good old fashioned rocker, moving, shaking and grooving with the best of them. Satan is a classic rocker, moving with big riffs and snarling through on the vocals. Evil Like A Knife is fast, a song that gets the crowd going. Stranger In The Room is slower, more anthemic, and definitely a great song to be played live.

Screams In The Night, call and response, frenetic riffs, blistering energy all throughout. Flight Of The Manticore moves with energy and grace, the riffs dancing throughout. The Chalice is slower, more thoughtful and just as menacing. Darkness Remains starts soft and then gets gradually heavier, reflecting the nuance of the song on record perfectly. Heavy Metal Heat pounds its way through. Night Demon is energetic and a fitting closer.

The album meets all the criteria for a good live album, energetic, audience participation and authenticity. The album is out August 10th via Steamhammer/SPV.

Sign Of The Jackal, Uncategorized

Sign Of The Jackal-Breaking The Spell

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Reagan is the start of this seminal album, an organ with demonic undertones, or overtones, with the manic riffs that underlie it. It moves into the fast and pounding Night Curse, with its frantic riffs and sledgehammer drums, to ensure that things are kept interesting, the vocals are sharp and impressive. Class of 1999 is a good old rocker and shocker, right to the point with the impressive riffs and rhythms of good old numbers.

Mark Of The Beast is big, thrashy and quick, producing the sort of metal awesomeness that was commonplace throughout the eighties. Heavy Rocker is another anthem, Judas Priest is written all over this song, and it is sure to be a hit when played live. Nightmare is big, pounding and grooving, the guitars sing, the drums make the listener move their head and the vocals tell a fascinating story.

Terror at the Metropol is dark, cinematic, and a horror song in the waiting, with its absolutely ripping guitar riffs and grooving rhythms, the story and stage are set for the vocals to really tell the story of the terror. Beyond The Door is oldschool thrash with pounding guitars, fast rhythm and a screecher of a vocal. Headbangers is fast, moving and an absolute shaker of a song a great way to end the album.

The album comes out on 9th June via Dying Victims Productions.

Uncategorized

The Right and Left Divide In India: Does It Exist

The terms right and left have not always existed, indeed, they are by historical standards recent terminologies. They developed during the French Revolution, where those in favour of changing the system of government sat on the left, and those who favoured order and keeping things the same, sat on the right of the monarchy. Since then, both terms have been used to describe anyone who might hold a view that fits in roughly with either side of that original divide, regardless of their more ingrained and personalised views. As a phenomenon that started in the Western World, it makes sense that with the advent of colonialism, these two terms were brought onto the new lands that countries such as Britain, France, Portugal and Spain would colonise and make their own. In many countries, the terms have largely been adapted and accepted as fact, however, there remains one country where perhaps it is not completely clear whether the terms are truly applicable. With India being the country with the second largest population in the world and the largest democracy in the world, it would make sense that there would be a slight lack of clarity over whether the right and left wing labels truly fit. It can be argued that the presence of the more socialist Congress party and the more nationalist BJP, would suggest that yes, the labels can be applied here. However, further investigation reveals that everything is not as clear cut as one might hope it to be.

Following India’s independence in 1947, there was a common consensus amongst many of the new elites, to follow the method of governance championed by Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru who from 1947-1964, served as India’s first Prime Minister, advocated a heavy role for the state, he favoured rapid industrialisation and he wished for all sides to work together. The Nehruvian model as it came to be known, brought initial good fortune to India, seeing heavy industry outgrow any other industry in Independent India, which did put the country on a solid footing. It also achieved that rare thing of cross party consensus, with many politicians seeing it as a good thing. However, toward the end of Nehru’s life, the model which he had so passionately championed had begun to become more of a burden than a boon. India became heavily reliant on foreign aid to fulfil its actual input needs, and for a country which had so recently found independence from foreign powers, this chafed. It can be noted that this was the first time that divisions on traditional right and left lines began to emerge. Nehru and his supporters wished to remain true to his model, whilst others such as noted Indian economist B.R. Shenoy argued that either India must open its markets to foreign investment, or it must invest in other sectors to bring a proper economy to bear. Nehru died in 1964, and his successors largely pursued the same policies as him, until the 1980s where his grandson Rajiv Gandhi finally decided to open the Indian economy to foreign investment and business. A move which has seen India become one of the fastest growing countries in the world.

Gandhi’s move to open the Indian economy brought with it some consequences that were perhaps unintentional. Congress has always been a party that sought to use vote banks, and bring in as many voters from minority backgrounds as possible, especially from the Muslim population. Consequently, there have been times when Congress has sought to put in place policies that would benefit these groups, such as bringing in LGBT rights and allowing the Triple Talaq- a way for Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying the phrase Talaq (meaning divorce) three times- policies which have at times been unpopular with other members of the Indian nation, and have seen more conservative elements turn to more radical fringe groups.

For many outside observers, with its Hindu Nationalist outlook the BJP is the very definition of right wing, the BJP has not always been the most forward thinking of parties. It is made up of conservatives who wish for minimal government interference and the hand of the free market, and radical Hindu nationalists who fear the growing Muslim presence within India and the growing erosion of Hindu culture. Indeed, the current leader of the BJP and the current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat was at the helm during the vicious riots in Gujarat in 2002 which saw thousands killed, most of them Muslims. His lack of a response to the riots, had led many to accuse him of Islamophobia and actually advocating for the murders that occurred. A stain that has yet to remove itself from his person, and has, in the eyes of many put him firmly in the side of the radical fringes of the grassroots BJP movement, the RSS.

There are clear dividing lines here, however, as mentioned before, when one looks deeper into the matter of right and left, there are some things that become more readily apparent. For example, though the RSS might espouse a clear vision of a Hindu dominated society,  they are also one of the few groups within Indian society to espouse a clear abolition of the caste based system, which has harmed India for so long.  They also have worked to remove much of the stigmatisation from groups such as the Untouchables and the Naxals and tribals, all groups which one would think would be under the purview of the more ‘left wing’ Congress, but have suffered under the burdens of discrimination that Congress failed to remove. The election of Ram Nath Kovind a man from the Dalit caste, as President of India, under the nationalist government of Narendra Modi, would suggest that the BJP are actually more forward thinking than Congress, who never considered such a man during all their years in power. Furthermore, Congress which has traditionally been socialist, and as the party of the five year plans in India, contains many members who favour more free market operations than their forbearers would’ve thought bearable. There are members of the BJP who are also in favour of the Free Market, but many of their members are wary of the unrestrained hand of the market, and just how damaging such a hand was to India under Congress. Especially in lieu of the corruption scandals and graft cases that hit during the last few years of Manmohan Singh’s tenure as Prime Minister.

To conclude, after much research and thought it would appear that the right-left divide in India does exist, in that there are clear dividing lines over things such as LGBT rights, and other social issues, but that in other matters there seems to be some overlap. Such an overlap is to be expected due to the size of India, and the broad voting base that is available for either of the two large parties in Congress and the BJP to tap into. Consequently, there will always be push and pull and switching and taking of policies between these two parties as long as it is politically beneficial to them.

Salem, Uncategorized

Salem: Dark Days Review

Salem was founded during the glory days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, in the late 1970s, and drew a decent following through the release of several demos, however, for some odd reason they never quite caught on and eventually disbanded. However, their demos remained hugely popular on the underground circuit, and as the band members slowly reconnected and played a gig, they were approached and asked if they’d be interested in recording. A compilation album with their demos was released in 2010, followed in 2013 by their first true album entitled ‘Forgotten Dreams’. Three years later, they followed up their stellar debut with their second album ‘Dark Days’.

Dark Days, as guitarist Paul McNamara says was “Influenced  by a lot of the confusing things happening around the world today, political, social and economic.” That is apparent by songs such as ‘Complicated’, ‘Lost My Mind’ and ‘Dark Days’ which speaks to the state of confusion that there is in the world and the sense that things really are getting quite dark and gloomy. The soaring vocals of Simon Saxby lend themselves well to the dark and thoughtful lyrics of the songs, showcasing his talent and vocal range.

The guitar work is simply exquisite, with the epic Nine Months, showcasing the lead abilities of both guitarists, as well as their ability to hold down the solid changing rhythms as the song dictates.  What distinguishes the guitar work on this album from their debut, is that it is more refined, whilst still keeping that solid gritty edge that earned Salem a legion of followers in their early days and since their return.

The drums and the bass hold down the fort brilliantly, allowing the songs to really shine through, something that many other bands could take note from. The drums and bass might not be doing anything too fancy, but for the songs, it really works. Thus, the band sounds complete, it sounds whole, and really, considering the theme of the album, this only helps add to the heaviness of the entire record.

Overall, I would say that Dark Days is a brilliant follow up to Forgotten Dreams, and will most definitely have held up to the test of time. If you are fan of heavy metal, and love bands that bring contemplative thinking to the heaviest of genres, you will love this album. Get it as soon as possible!

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Quartz Interview

Image result for quartz bandQuartz were formed in 1974, in Birmingham, UK, they were considered part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and have had a profound impact on a good two generations of metal and rock bands that have emerged since their forming. Their latest album ‘Fear No Evil’ was released in 2016, and I was lucky enough to sit down with drummer Malcolm Cope to talk about the album and much more.

 

  1. What Inspired the Name, and what were your influences?

 

“Originally we were called Bandy Legs, but when we were with Jet Records, they didn’t quite think that was a name that would really get us much traction, so they suggested a name change. Ronnie Fowler who had helped Queen break through when he was with EMI, was flipping through a book on rocks when he landed on Quartz, he recommended the name, and we discussed it and agreed, and that’s how we changed our name. As for our influences, well growing up in Birmingham during the sixties, there was a really vibrant music scene, The Beatles, and the whole Rock ‘n’ Roll thing was something that really inspired us as kids growing up.”

 

  1. Compared to when you first started out recording, what do you think has changed in your thought process and recording mannerisms?

 

“When we started out everything was recorded on tape, and there was a limit to how much you could actually put onto it, consequently, as time went by we learned how to manipulate things, something that we learned from The Beatles and bands like that. The longer we were around, the more things expanded and changed, eight track, sixteen track, thirty-two and sixty-four tracks came about, then digital came around.  And it was really a case of just getting used to the different types of recording. When we reformed, we learned it all over again.”

 

  1. How has the loss of Geoff Nichols changed the band?

 

“He was one of the main writers to the band, and obviously he can never be replaced, but I think that with his passing, there will be a chance for the focus to move to other people, and allow them to adapt and grow as writers now. And obviously as a band we will now need to think about what direction we want to go in.”

 

  1. What plans do you have for the future?

 

“We’re currently recording a new album, some of which is stuff Geoff recorded before he passed away. We’re planning on finishing it as a tribute to him and our time together. We all write stuff and collaborate on songs, so it should be a fun time.”

Uncategorized

The World Needs A Hero

I was never that into comic books as a kid, I knew they existed, I knew what they were, but I never really read any of them, nor did I quite get why they were so popular. I knew about Batman and Superman-who doesn’t- but I never quite got why they were so popular or why they had such a devoted fan base.  Even when Marvel started releasing their movies, I never quite understood the whole hoopla, I mean got that the movies were good and the actors were fantastic, but there was nothing more to it for me.

A friend shared the Injustice video game movie with me,  and for those who aren’t aware of what it is, it’s a scenario where Superman loses the love of his life Lois Lane and goes about trying to make the world a better place through force as a consequence, and the fall out from all of that. I watched part of it and couldn’t get into it, I didn’t understand why the female characters had such big breasts, I didn’t understand why the male characters were all muscled to fuck. I really didn’t get it. Needless to say, when I stated this, my friend wasn’t impressed. But he left it alone.

Then, a few months later this same friend recommended that I watch the television show, The Flash, saying he thought I’d enjoy it. I wasn’t quite sure, I resisted for a while, but then my curiosity got the better of me and I watched it.  Man, that was the best decision I could have made at that point in time. Before I knew it, it was twelve in the morning and I’d watched half of the first season. I was hooked, over the next two or three weeks, I watched all of Season One and then all of Season Two. There was something about the show that really appealed to me. It was a mix of hope, joy, growth and love that I think at that point in time was something I really needed. I went out searching for something more and found Arrow. Another show that I got hooked on. Then there was Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, and man, watching those shows, I found something I thought I’d lost.

You see, and this sounds really cheesy, but when I discovered The Flash, things were a bit tough for me, I’d gone from being a very happy dude, with a lot of friends, to someone who was not sure he liked who he was, and was struggling with work and with finding a way to connect with the people around him.  I felt as though I was adrift in a sea of faces and there was no hope, there was no chance at joy again. Watching The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl and Legends, but especially The Flash, I found hope again. As cheesy as it sounds, seeing Barry Allen discover his powers, seeing him save the day, and seeing him fall in love and work with a team, man that was something that made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me feel again. It showed that there was hope out there, and that was something I really needed.

I watched the Injustice movie again after getting baptised into the CW’s Arrowverse, and I understood. I got it. I got why these characters meant so much to people and I understood the fascination with these different scenarios. Hell, I’ve got a few dozen of them in my head right now. I told the very same friend who introduced me to all of this about this, and he recommended watching Smallville. Now for those of you who don’t know, Smallville is the show we have to thank for the Arrowverse. It was the show that showed how awesome it was to explore these heroes who have so much history behind. Smallville detailed the childhood and early years of Clark Kent/Superman, from his time growing up on a small farm in Kansas, to his first few years at the Daily Planet and his steps into becoming the legendary symbol of hope that everyone knows. Throughout there is love, there is heartbreak, there is joy and there is plenty to make you laugh and smile.

Again, I was a bit hesitant, but I gave it a shot,  and man was it worth it. There’s something about watching Superman, go through the struggles of being a kid and coming out on top that really, I guess makes things better. This dude is essentially a God, and yet he does all he can to fit in, he struggles, he falls in love, he makes friends, he loses friends, and he saves the day. That’s pretty fucking awesome and also somewhat relatable, apart from the saving the day part, haha. Smallville is a show that has so much depth to it, so much hope to it and so much I guess potential of great things inside it, that it’s impossible not to love it. I watched ten seasons of Smallville over a year and a half, as Clark Kent grew, so did I. I graduated university, I started being an adult-somewhat, can’t go full adult yet!- and I watched Clark Kent go from being this nervous kid, who was just trying to fit in, to being a man grown, with his whole life before him. We see him put on the iconic blue and red toward the end, and when he did, I was crying, it was something that I think needed to happen. It felt like this was a huge moment, as stupid as that sounds.

Smallville was the thing that when things got dark in my head when it seemed like there was too much shit that was just too fucked up to make sense, made me realise that maybe everything ain’t so bad. That there was still hope, there was still light out there. That might seem dramatic, fuck, writing this it seems dramatic now, but at the time, when I was stuck inside my own head, it made sense, it was what I needed. And I think it’s what the world needs now.

There is so much darkness out there, there’s so much hate, so much anger and rage, I think we have forgotten what it means to love, to listen, to care. I think we’ve lost sight of what it means to be a person, to be human. I think we could all do with a bit more hope in our lives. I think we could do with being a bit more like Clark Kent, a bit more like Barry Allen. If more people wanted to do the little things that make the world a better place, be it saying hello to a friend, to picking up litter and putting it in the bin, to talking to someone and making new friends, maybe there would be a little less darkness in the world. Maybe that sounds naive, maybe that’s too fanciful, but I do truly believe that if we were more willing to listen and talk, instead of shouting at one another, we could actually try and do what the heroes countless generations of kids have read about, do. There might not be a Clark Kent or a Barry Allen in real life, that doesn’t mean we as people can’t try and stand for what they stand for, or strive for what they strive for.

Finally, I owe so much to these shows, to Barry Allen and Clark Kent, for teaching me that it’s alright to be angry, it’s alright to be sad, but it’s also possible to strive to make the world better. To remember that no matter how dark shit gets out there, there is always light present. There is always hope. I can never say thank you enough to them, to those shows, nor to my friend who introduced me to these characters, to this universe. Thank you for reminding me that there’s still good out there.

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Brexit, What Is The British Government Doing?

It has been a year since the vote on the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU happened, a year since the country woke to news that it was leaving the EU. In that time it seems as though there are two very different narratives developing over how negotiations are being handled.  Soon after the referendum result came in, leaders of the other twenty-seven European nations met to discuss what their views and goals were for the upcoming negotiations, once that was decided they quickly appointed Michael Barnier as the chief negotiator for the EU in regards to Brexit. The UK government on the other hand dithered. David Cameron resigned, there was a ‘leadership’ election and Theresa May after winning by default, duly rejigged the cabinet and created several new departments filled with those who were pro-Brexit, but also with those who were of a more cautious bent. Whilst the EU came to the table with proposals, the UK did not seem to have anything concrete other than empty platitudes meant to pacify the Eurosceptic press and the UKIP voters who May and the Conservatives wanted to poach. The slogans: ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘Red, White and Blue Brexit’ were echoed constantly by government officials, but there was no serious plan put forward as to how they wanted to achieve that.

When they were not repeating endless slogans, government ministers were stating that the British public had voted for a hard Brexit, and that anything that did not deliver on that was a sham. May played hard ball throughout early negotiations blaming EU officials and European leaders for not understanding what she wanted, and for rejecting the will of the British people. Anyone who did not get on board was a traitor, and not a true patriot. And yet, there was nothing solid put forward by the British side. Merely audacious statements from cabinet members, stating they would not pay any divorce bill, and they would want what was best for Britain at any cost. Still there was nothing presented before the EU negotiating team, there was nothing presented to the public. Then Britain’s top official to the EU resigned, and warned his colleagues to not get bogged down with empty rhetoric and to actually advise the government as they were meant to.

What followed were several more months of pointless posturing by the British government, including the call for a general election by Theresa May, to give a real and true mandate for a hard Brexit. The election did not give the Conservatives a thumping majority, instead it took it away, and left them needing to form a government in partnership with the DUP. Since then the posturing has gone. Theresa May is no longer the strong leader she was previously seen as. The cabinet, who previously had appeared as little more than obedient dogs had suddenly found its voice and there was constant infighting, between the pro Brexit David Davis and Liam Fox, and the more cautious and business friendly chancellor Philip Hammond. The divisions have left the EU and the world wondering, what exactly is the British government doing. A proposal for trade deal talks has been ignored by the EU until the divorce bill is settled.

A half-hearted proposal on a customs union with the EU customs union has been mentioned by the government recently, but that too is receiving criticism from EU officials as being too fairy tale like and light on actual detail. Something that would be bad news for businesses within Britain who hope to keep access to the single market or even the custom union for their benefit and for the benefit of the economy. The lightness of this proposal shows that the government is not completely united behind what their Brexit strategy should be and despite fears in some corners of the EU that this chaos and confusion is all just a ploy, it really does seem as though the government is scrambling to find something that suits them before March, 2019 which would be when Britain really leaves the EU.

What this shows is that this government does not appear to have a real clue as to what it wants, nor what is really happening around them. Talks of trade deals have been cut down, businesses are continuously expressing their concerns of what would happen without a proper deal for exiting the EU. The days of pointless slogans might be gone, but the chaos and confusion remains. The current government looks like a child lost within the maze of reality, and it is not a pretty picture. They need to figure out what they want, stop their infighting and come together for the good of the country, and quickly.