‘Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company’ Review

In lieu of a single player story campaign in the highly anticipated Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, author Alexander Freed (who wrote the Imperial Agent campaign in Star Wars: The Old Republic) was brought on board to write Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company, a companion novel set after the destruction of the Death Star told primarily from the point of view of a single unit in the Rebel Alliance military, the titular Twilight Company. Despite this being his first attempt at a novel, Freed has knocked it out of the park and delivered what is easily the strongest canon piece of Star Wars literature thus far; Battlefront: Twilight Company is sure to be a fan-pleasing favorite.

Twilight Company tells the story of Namir, a young warrior from an uncivilized world who finds himself dragged into the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. As part of Twilight Company, Namir takes part in an ambitious campaign by the Rebel Alliance to push inwards to the Core worlds of the Galactic Empire following the events of A New Hope. The overstretched Rebel Alliance soon deems the operation too taxing and orders a retreat, setting up the events of The Empire Strikes Back and culminating in the Battle of Sullust, easily the most ambitious battle scene of the new literary canon thus far and a tentpole of the Galactic Civil War alongside Yavin, Hoth, and Endor.

Fans of classic Expanded Universe novels by Michael Stackpole, Karen Traviss, and Aaron Allston will find much to love in Twilight Company, such as the gritty action scenes, dark humor, and “unit”-oriented storytelling that gives every character a chance to shine; you’ll meet new faces like ex-bounty hunter Brand, four-armed behemoth Gadren, and a shady Imperial turncoat with major ties to another character of the new Star Wars canon.

The book’s morally ambiguous take on the Galactic Civil War paves the way for next year’s spin-off film, Rogue One, painting shades of grey on both sides. The reader experiences several chapters from the point of view of an upstart female stormtrooper named Thara and several high-ranking Imperial advisers of dubious moral nature, while we’ll see soldiers of the Rebel Alliance engaged in horrible acts of war, teetering the boundary between noble freedom fighters to violent insurgents.

Namir himself often questions his own reasons for fighting. On his home planet, Namir found himself bounced between fighting for the dominant military force of the moment before getting swept up in the Rebel Alliance. Does Namir actually believe in the values of the Rebels, or does he just go with the flow? What is preventing him from switching to the Galactic Empire, whose success in the Galactic Civil War is much more realistic? Namir’s character arc contrasts with that of Governor Everi Chalis, an Imperial politician and efficiency agent assigned to a backwater planet in the Mid Rim of the galaxy who opts out of the Imperial war machine and promises to deliver the secrets of the Empire’s infrastructure to Rebel intelligence. The relationship between Namir and Chalis forms the backbone of Twilight Company.

While Twilight Company is easily enjoyed on its own, much of the events of the novel tie in directly with the various stories compiled in the recently released Rise of the Empire bind up, which includes the novels Tarkin and A New Dawn as well as three short stories, the story “Bottleneck” specifically setting up the backstory of one of the major players in Twilight Company. This is an example of the synergy made possible by the LucasFilm Story Group established in 2014, currently overseeing the development of a single, cohesive Star Wars canon, and the novel is easily the most continuity-building of the new novels thus far.

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company’s dense and layered storytelling eschews the traditional Star Wars black-and-white flavoring in favor of a darker and more personal tale of varying. Explosive action scenes and dark humor only punctuate this character-driven tale, and the hardcore Star Wars fan will appreciate its heavy world-building and cameos from other characters throughout the Star Wars pantheon.

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Hardcover/Released November 3, 2015, 390 pages

Interview: Hate Eternal Bassist Discusses New Album And Response to Solo X-mas EP

Tampa’s Hate Eternal has been pummeling the masses since 1997. 2015 has been no exception with the release of their sixth offering Infernus. Recently I had the opportunity to have an exchange with bassist J.J. Hrubovcak via e-mail. We discussed a range of topics from the new album, to what motivates him, and even touched on his death metal Christmas record from 2013.

Looking back what was your favorite moment of the recording process of “Infernus”?

My favorite moment is the actual writing. This band is a collaborative effort and I really enjoy being able to contribute so much to the process. Erik and I live pretty far from each other so we exchange Pro Tools files and Skype, but the best moments are flying down to sunny Florida to jam in person. We both grab a guitar and go to town and see what comes of it, then arrange it. Chaos Theory was one of those born from a 3am jam. I’ve been in the band 7+ years at this point and I really feel like I am in the groove. I contributed on guitar to Phoenix [Amongst The Ashes] as well, but I was newer to the band and my approach to the riffing is different now. Anyway, I’d have to say the creative process is my favorite part of any album. That and hearing the final result!

Any plans for a promotional music video? What track do you feel deserves one the most?

The plans are in the early stages on that front. I’m so proud of every tune on this record and there are choice cuts throughout the album. I think each person has their own favorite and it really depends on what we want to convey in the video. This record is really dynamic so do we choose a slower one? A faster one? A mix? On this album, I don’t think only one tune stands out. There are multiples – all of them! You tell me! Which one is the best for a video?

Speaking from a rhythm perspective, do you feel new drummer Chason, is a great match for you when playing together?

Chason is a great match! He brings a spastic, animalistic energy to the table and you can hear it in his fills. Plus the guy hits like a champ and plays with tree trunks for sticks – I think they are 3A. He also has a lot of groove and can play multiple styles. The videos are out there for folks who are interested in just hearing him jam.

Regarding your upcoming tour with Misery Index, Beyond Creation, and Rivers Of Nihil; Who are you most excited to be touring with?

All three of these bands have their unique styles. Rivers of Nihil have been killing it. I’m new to Beyond Creation and I like what I’ve heard. I’ve always loved Misery Index and we are good friends so it will be a fantastic tour.

What are your thoughts on letting albums stream in their entirety before they hit stores? Did you have any say when it came to “Infernus”? Do you view it as just giving your art away for free?

I leave that up to the professionals. Labels release many albums per year and they’ve obviously seen a boost from it, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. I’m old school so originally I wondered if that was a good idea when labels started it. But the bottom line is that folks who want it for free, will get it for free. By streaming it yourself, you are giving someone the opportunity to 1) realize just how badass the record is, 2) click ‘buy’ on the stream page when they otherwise wouldn’t and 3) view the special collector’s edition packages. Will the future show everyone that it is the right thing to do? I don’t know.

Overall, how would you say was the response to your X-mas metal EP? Would you do it again?

The response was overwhelmingly positive! I was hoping that would be the case because I put so much effort into crafting it as a dark death metal record regardless of seasonal theme. There are so many death metal Christmas tunes out there that are cheesy and campy. For instance, you can find a bunch of growling “Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer” covers. I wanted to do the exact opposite of that. I didn’t want this EP to be a joke, but instead base it on dark, morose hymns with a twist on the lyrical content and frame it in a death metal context. I would like to do another one, but it would have to be right. The musical themes would have to be dark enough, but also recognizable enough. There are a lot of happier, recognizable Christmas tunes, but many of the darker hymns are
religious in nature and I don’t know if they would be too obscure. We shall see…

Who’s your favorite 3-piece metal band (besides Motorhead)?

There are so many good ones – among them are Krisiun, Deeds of Flesh (for a long period) and of course Destruction! Destruction is great!

What is your favorite Hate Eternal song (pre-Phoenix) to play live?

Definitely “Whom Gods May Destroy”. That song is just hauling! Fury and Flames is so tortured! I love that record. Alex’s bass lines on that tune are fun to play also.

What is your desert island album?

That’s a hard one. It’d probably be one of the big four thrash band records like Reign in Blood or Peace Sells. I think that either way, if you have to listen to one record over and over on a desert island alone, you are going to go crazy! My brother used to like some of the Japanese noise bands. If you are going insane, you might as well get there faster with a bunch of noise band static on endless loop!

Interview: Girlschool Vocalist Talks New Album ‘Guilty As Sin’

I had the opportunity to interview Kim McAuliffe, the frontwoman of the legendary all-female Heavy Metal band, Girlschool. They have collaborated with major artists in the Metal community such as Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead and Ronnie James Dio. Girlschool have a new album coming out on November 13 called ‘Guilty As Sin’ and are very much looking forward to its release.

On the early days of Girlschool: Edin and me grew up together in the same street. Her brother and my cousin both played guitar and so we got interested too! We started Painted Lady as a girl band because we couldn’t get any boys to play with us!

We decided to go pro when we met Kelly [Johnson, guitarist] and because we had all been to all girl schools, we thought that would be a good name!

On 1981 collaboration with Motorhead: We had been touring around Britain and Europe for a couple of years sleeping on top of our gear in the back of the van when a friend who had formed his own record label, City Records, asked us to record a single. UK Subs, our mates, had just done one, so of course we said yes. Lemmy was looking for a support band for their first major British tour, heard our single, loved it, and invited us on their tour!

Lemmy has been a great supporter of us, but also many other women in rock. He is one of a kind. A real lovely bloke!

So looking forward to catching up with him and the boys on tour soon!

On Screaming Blue MurderOh yeah, Screaming was produced by a different producer and we had a new bassist Gil. We went in and went nuts for three weeks. I hope the energy we put in shows through!

On working with Dio on “I Spy”: It was amazing to have Ronnie sing on our song! We had got to know him over the years. We first met him when we supported Black Sabbath at the Hammersmith Odeon for four nights in 1980. A lovely man.

On new album Guilty As Sin: Looking forward to the release of our new album. We are very proud of it and hope people will love it as much as we do. Great working with Chris again!

Foo Fighters Planning Sonic Highways II For 2016

Foo Fighters producer Butch Vig has told Billboard that he believes there will be a Sonic Highways sequel, and it will likely happen in summer 2016 if discussions are successful. The first Sonic Highways was released as an album and HBO TV series last year.

“I think there is going to be a Sonic Highways II,” Butch Vig told Billboard. “But it’s still in discussions right now. I know Dave [Grohl] and HBO are both really want to do it, but it’s going to be different. It’s not going to be the same exact format as the last album… if it happens, it’ll probably happen next summer.”

Foo Fighters recently changed the background audio on their mysterious website with a countdown clock to a new instrumental that sounds very Pink Floyd inspired. It it also accompanied by a new image. Click here to download the song clip from Foo Fighters’ lobby website, and view the new image below.

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Foo Fighters have launched a new website featuring a countdown clock with audio in the background of people talking for a few minutes with Dave Grohl’s voice briefly being heard, set to expire later this month. On the website, Foo Fighters’ logo is in the middle of a U.S. highway sign that resembles U.S. Route 66 (and many others). Alternative Nation has put the countdown clock and the Route 66 sign side by side in the above photo.

U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway and colloquially known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year. The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). The announcement may involve a tour in the area or perhaps a continuation of Sonic Highways, the band having recently recorded 5 new songs in Austin shows that the band have no plans to go on hiatus in the immediate future. What do you think is next for Foo Fighters and Sonic Highways? Let us know in the comment section!

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Frances Bean Cobain, Tool, Billy Corgan & Chris Cornell Celebrate Halloween

The stars of the 90’s alternative rock era (and their offspring) celebrated Halloween in style over the weekend. Tool dressed up as Led Zeppelin and covered “No Quarter” at their Monster Mash festival performance. You can view Tool’s setlist after the Halloween photos.

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan was ‘Count William Corgan’ at Madame ZuZu’s Teahouse, interacting with fans and taking Polaroids. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell dressed as Chris Cornell, while his daughter Toni dressed up as Marilyn Monroe.

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Tool Setlist:
1- No Quarter (Led Zeppelin cover)
2- The Grudge
3- Parabol
4- Parabola
5- Opiate
6- Schism
7- Ænema
8- Descending
9- Jambi
10- Forty-Six & 2
11- Vicarious
12- Stinkfist

Top 10 Underrated Alice In Chains Songs

One of the very best bands to come from the Seattle Grunge scene is Alice in Chains. Some consider them the Kings of Grunge. With Layne’s sultry and unparalleled voice, and the harmonious melodies between him and Jerry Cantrell, made this unlike any other band of its kind to date. Though Alice in Chains have had many obstacles, they’ve still managed make some of the most powerful songs ever.   Those same songs are now reaching new generations, and are still among the most played records in thousands of homes worldwide. I can say I’m a true Alice in Chains fan, and honestly, love all of their songs, there are however, quite a few songs considered “underrated”. Underrated because of a few factors: no airplay, critic reviews and lack of promotion.

Over the past two months, Alternative Nation did a poll on a social media site, and asked many Alice in Chains fans what they believed the underrated Alice in Chains songs were. We’ve narrowed down the list based on the numbers and we are sharing results with you, the readers.

10. Sludge Factory:  Album- Alice in Chains

9. Don’t Follow:  Album- Jar of Flies

8. Sunshine:  Album- Facelift

7. Rain When I Die:  Album- Dirt

6. Black Gives Way to Blue:  Album- Black Gives Way to Blue

5. Junkhead:  Album- Dirt

4. Hate to Feel: Album- Dirt

3. Confusion:  Album- Facelift

2. Am I Inside:  Album- SAP

1. Frogs:  Album- Alice in Chains

Certainly, there are more songs that one might consider underrated by this powerhouse band.  Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan, give them a listen, and I’m sure you’ll agree that these should have had more exposure.

Within each Alice in Chains song, there is a story, a personal account of feelings, and a message to the listeners. The message is a subliminal one, and one that brings you back for yet another listen. Alice in Chains have been storytellers for almost 29 years; and even though Layne Staley and Mike Starr are no longer with us, we continue to hear them in the older songs, as we listen to our CD’s, vinyl and even digital downloads. Those songs are never forgotten; who can forget Mike Starr singing in the back ground in ”Confusion”? Or Ann Wilson singing background vocals for “Am I Inside”, and Sir Elton John, playing the piano in Jerry Cantrell’s tribute to Layne Staley, in “Black Gives Way to Blue”.

These days, William DuVall has taken over the lead singing of Alice in Chains, and although he is never expected to fill Layne’s shoes, he’s now a welcome addition to Seattle’s favorite Grunge band.  More stories are being written as we speak, and soon those subliminal messages will be coming to us again, and we’ll be waiting.

Eddie Vedder Arrives In Chile, Still Wearing Cubs Gear

Eddie Vedder arrived in Chile over the weekend ahead of Pearl Jam’s 2015 Latin American tour, and Vedder was spotted wearing a Pearl Jam Chicago Cubs shirt, still showing loyalty to his beloved Cubbies following their elimination from the MLB playoffs. See photos of Vedder arriving below, via Pearl Jam Chile.

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Recently, we published an article titled ’10 Pearl Jam Songs To Keep Cubs’ World Series Hopes Alive’ as Eddie Vedder’s favorite baseball team was fighting to keep their season alive. The Cubs ended up losing, and some readers were upset with Alternative Nation’s bias towards the Chicago Cubs over the New York Mets in the NLCS.

So in order to uphold the fairness doctrine, we have decided to publish Alternative Nation commenter Felonious Punk’s list of Pearl Jam songs the Cubs (and their fans) might be listening to right about now to help deal the loss and Back to the Future Part II’s prediction not coming to fruition.

10. Parting Ways

9. Let Me Sleep

8. Soon Forget

7. Hard To Imagine

6. Unemployable

5. Off He Goes

4. I Got Shit

3. Swallowed Whole

2. No Way

1. The End

Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and former Chicago Blackhawk Chris Chelios dropped by The Lodge in Chicago after a disappointing Cubs loss on Tuesday to the New York Mets in the NLCS. Vedder and Chelios served drinks from behind the bar. He also interacted with fans before the game. Vedder hung out with Kevin Millar from the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox before Wednesday’s game.