Posts Tagged ‘ Power Metal ’

Interview – Lovebites’ international metal ambitions


Within Japan, but certainly also outside of the country, Lovebites has been doing well recently. After a couple of one-offs at festivals in England and Germany, the all-female metal band is about to embark on their first European tour. Not long after that, on December 5th to be exact, their second album ‘Clockwork Immortality’ will be released. Plenty of reason to catch up with guitarist Midori.

Performing outside of Japan has always been an ambition for Lovebites. Part of the reason for that is the European-tinged sound of the band. “We would like to play at places our style of metal originates from and is beloved at“, Midori explains. “Besides, there are many places in the world where metal is much more accepted than in Japan. We want to play at those places. These days, metal is not as big in Japan as some people think it is. We hope that our shows abroad will contribute to other bands from the Japanese scene being introduced to a more international audience.

We hope that metal fans all over the world want to listen to our music, regardless of if they have some special interest in Japanese culture or not. That is usually the type of audience you have to limit yourself to when your lyrics are all in Japanese. That’s why we thought it would be a better idea to write our lyrics in English. All our English lyrics are checked and corrected by native speakers or people who lived in English-speaking countries for a long time. They do not just pay attention to our choice of words and our grammar, but also the way the words are supposed to be pronounced. We want to do anything to improve and enhance our lyrics.

Prejudice

When I had just started playing guitar, my influences were mainly Japanese non-metal bands. Later on, I went to a music school and got involved with bands that played covers of modern metal bands, such as Pantera and Avenged Sevenfold. That created the basis for my current guitar style.

That guitar style is notably different than that of her fellow guitarist Miyako, though Midori points out that they are a bit looser with that than they used to be: “Generally, I play flashy and aggressive solos, while Miyako plays slower, more melodic solos. That division is not that strict though. Sometimes we switch if it feels right. When we had just started, we thought it was very important that the two of us had a completely different style or technique, but these days, we don’t really care about that anymore.

Midori is not the only Lovebites member that once started out playing different music. While she has been playing fairly aggressive metal for a while now, singer Asami never sang metal at all before joining Lovebites. “The best thing about that is that she had zero prejudice about which vocal lines were metal or not“, says Midori. “Her vocal lines are very natural and rooted in her own background, which is R&B and gospel. Her delicate, but powerful singing style really enhances the music of Lovebites. Her vocals have provided us with extra opportunities.

Confidence

And yet, Lovebites’ music is deeply rooted in the European heavy and power metal tradition of the likes of Helloween and Iron Maiden. With all the high tempos and technical antics that come along with that. “Lovebites’ songs are fairly difficult to play“, Midori admits. “Most of them are pretty close to the edges of our capacities. If we practice one of the more difficult songs, we always start playing them at a slightly lower tempo. After that, we gradually raise the tempo bit by bit, so we can play them at the normal tempo confidently. That is something I do when I practice by myself, but also when we all play together.

My favorite artists have a lot of songs that I would love to play, but that are a little difficult for me. Those songs, I also practice by first playing them slowly and increasing the tempo as I go along. I am always looking for new songs that I would like to play. Sometimes, I keep the live situation in the back of my mind when I’m arranging guitar parts for Lovebites. But whenever it is necessary, I don’t have any problems with altering the phrasing of certain pieces a little.

As for myself, I am always working on new ideas for licks and phrases. When the production of our albums starts up, we always write the type of song we need at that particular moment. For instance, when we already have a bunch of fast songs, we could decide that it is time for a slower one. We work with several production teams and for the compositions, we frequently work together with Mao, Light Bringer’s keyboard player. All the guitar solos are written by Miyako and myself.

Female-friendly

Save for their debut ‘The Lovebites EP’ (2017), all artworks of Lovebites’ releases have something in common. ‘Awakening From Abyss’ (2017), ‘Battle Against Damnation’ (2018) and the upcoming release ‘Clockwork Immortality’ all prominently feature a wolf on their covers. “Since metal is not a mainstream genre, the wolf symbolizes us being a ‘lone wolf’ in the music scene“, Midori explains. “We are planning to use the wolf on all of our releases. This way, he can become a character that belongs to the band, like Eddie from Iron Maiden, Vic Rattlehead from Megadeth or Johnny from Riot. That is why we are considering giving him a name.

That is not the only visual aspect that makes Lovebites stand out. Not only is the quintet an all-female band in a scene where male musicians have long been the norm, they also dress in white. “Most metal bands dress in black“, Midori smiles. “That is why we thought it would be a good idea to dress in white to give the band something unique. Male musicians are still the majority in Japan, but a lot of great female musicians have come to prominence in recent years. We have the feeling that the current generation of metal fans really gives the music a chance rather than just watching how the band members look. I think the scene has become a lot more female-friendly.

It is a trend among Japanese all-female metal bands to gradually drop metal elements from their sound and aim for something more pop-oriented. Midori reassures that this is not something to worry about in this case: “Our fan base consists of metal fans. They have supported us from day one. We are not planning to get off-track and have faith in the fact that we will continue to be a metal band.

Variation

As said before, there is a new Lovebites album about to be released. What can we expect from ‘Clockwork Immortality’? “The album will largely feature the same sound that we had on ‘Awakening From Abyss’ and ‘Battle Against Damnation’“, Midori promises. “Our sound will still be rooted in power metal and feature notable influences from thrash metal and speed metal. However, we did experiment with the use of acoustic guitars. In addition, we tried to adopt a different approach than we usually do for some songs. This way, we still try to add a little variation to our sound.

Remarkably, an international release date is yet to be announced for ‘Clockwork Immortality’. “We hope to be able to give this album an international release as well“, Midori says carefully. “Of course we are aware of the fact that hardcore fans import our cd’s from Japan, but we would at least like to offer the opportunity to buy the cd for a normal price. Fortunately, we have already received some positive feedback from a couple of labels outside of Japan.

Differences between Japanese and European shows are largely practical, says the guitarist: “When we tour in Japan, we always have a big group of roadies with us. Because of that, all we have to do is play. Everything else is done for us. When we go to Europe, we have to do everything ourselves. In terms of the audience, there is not much of a difference. Both of the audiences are very warm and welcoming. One thing I do notice is that people in Europe sing along to our choruses louder. Sometimes the audience sings louder than the band. That never happens in Japan.

We use the exact same equipment in Japan as abroad. I’m using a Kemper digital amplifier, but when we play outside of Japan, I unmount it, so I can travel lighter, but still have the same sound. For this European tour, we will also leave our wireless systems at home. Furthermore, I have an endorsement with E-II Guitars, of which I will bring two. Both of them will have a Floyd Rose tremolo system, but I use them for different tunings. If there ever is a Kemper at the venue already, I will just have to bring a USB stick with the data. That would be even better.

Lovebites will tour Europe in mid-November:

13 November: Haarlem, Netherlands – Patronaat
14 November: Essen, Germany – Zeche Carl
16 November: Hamburg, Germany – Logo
19 November: Aschaffenburg, Germany – Colos-Saal
20 November: Paris, France – Nouveau Casino
21 November: London, UK – O2 Academy Islington


There are two people who deserve extensive gratitude for this interview. First of all, Arlequin Photography for helping me set up the interview with Joël Heijda from the Patronaat crew. Also, a major “domo arigato” to Fubito Endo for translating Midori’s answers for me. This article is largely an English translation of the article published on The Sushi Times, albeit enhanced with some of the technical information on the Gitarist website.

Advertisements

Album of the Week 43-2018: Witherfall – A Prelude To Sorrow


Fans of dark progressive power metal are having a good few weeks. A week after the final recordings of Warrel Dane came out, Witherfall releases its incredible sophomore album ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’. Despite being aware of the other activities of guitarist Jake Dreyer (Iced Earth) and singer Joseph Michael (filling in for the aforementioned Dane in Sanctuary), this powerful combination of elements from various metal subgenres took me completely by surprise. With equal parts old school epic heavy metal melodicism and contemporary progressive touches, ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ is a dynamic album that stays engaging all the way through.

Upon first listen, ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ struck me as a more progressive take on the approach Winters Bane took on ‘Heart Of A Killer’, but that assessment may be influenced by Michael’s voice, which bears a strong resemblance to Tim Owens’ on that record. However, Witherfall is even darker and more adventurous from a songwriting perspective. Most of the songs are quite long, two of them even exceed the eleven minute mark, but they are over before one can realize how long they actually are. The immersive atmosphere certainly helps there, but atmosphere alone only takes you so far.

Musically, Witherfall’s sound is based upon a complex, but not needlessly virtuosic riff and rhythm department, upon which Michael builds some impressive multi-layered vocal mayhem. Keyboards are sometimes added to the mix as a subtle enhancement, but ultimately, Witherfall is really about riffs, rhythms, voices and occasional blazing lead guitar work. None of the elements ever become overbearing, because despite all their progressive leanings, the band knows that the songs and the melodies should prevail, however challenging they may be to execute. The songs generally feature a lot of twists and turns, but not so much that you lose track as a listener.

Naming highlights is not possible without mentioning the massive bookends ‘We Are Nothing’ and ‘Vintage’. The former is a masterpiece that almost feels like a three-part suite due to the acoustic middle section splitting up an otherwise monstrous, almost doom metal-like track, while the latter is a particularly epic power ballad in tribute to the band’s deceased drummer Adam Sagan. The powerful ‘Moment Of Silence’ has an oppressively dark atmosphere and ‘Shadows’ constantly moves from aggressive to mournful and back remarkably effectively. ‘Ode To Despair’ proves that metal bands can do power ballads without immediately sacrificing their power.

Anyone who listens to the likes of Nevermore, Morgana Lefay, ‘In Search Of Truth’-era Evergrey and Sanctuary’s ‘Into The Mirror Black’ should certainly give ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ a spin. Though the music is highly atmospheric and Michael’s vocal delivery is fairly theatrical, the compositions and performances are so powerful that even those who are generally discouraged by such terms might enjoy this. Although I was aware of the individual skills of the musicians involved, ‘A Prelude To Sorrow’ overwhelmed me upon first listen and has enough interesting details to keep surprising me every time I put it on again. That may end up happening a lot.

Recommended tracks: ‘We Are Nothing’, ‘Moment Of Silence’, ‘Vintage’

Album of the Week 40-2018: Saber Tiger – Obscure Diversity


It is difficult for me to be objective about the new Saber Tiger album, having made a minor contribution to its production, but the fact is that ‘Obscure Diversity’ would have excited me regardless. Saber Tiger won me over with their intense combination of traditional heavy metal and contemporary progressive touches a long time ago. ‘Obscure Diversity’ miraculously manages to explore the possibilities of that trademark style more extensively than anything the band released since ‘Timystery’ whilst simultaneously sounding more streamlined than their previous efforts. This makes ‘Obscure Diversity’ an extremely pleasant listen that reveals several secrets over multiple spins.

Once the surprisingly theatrical intro ‘Daguerrotype Of Phineas Gage’ is over, ‘The Crowbar Case’ seems to suggest we are getting a more aggressive take on Saber Tiger’s sound here. The opening riff is thrashy, almost Bay Area-styled in character. When this type of riffing mixes with the band’s tried and tested sense of melody and drama later on, a winning combination is found. This type of high velocity meets supreme sense of melody metal can also be found in the pulsating ‘Permanent Rage’, the dense, stomping and climactic ‘Beat Of The War Drums’ and to a lesser extent the album’s first video ‘The Worst Enemy’.

Uptempo aggression is hardly the only thing the band goes for on ‘Obscure Diversity’, however. After all, its title delivers a promise to live up to. In that respect, the first contribution bassist hibiki made to the Saber Tiger canon is a real winner. ‘Distant Signals’ takes all the melodic and especially progressive influences people may expect from his history with Light Bringer and combines them with all of Saber Tiger’s trademark aspects to create a gorgeous dynamic metal track that truly allows singer Takenori Shimoyama to shine. ‘Distant Signals’ is a unique track, but it makes complete sense within the context of ‘Obscure Diversity’.

Dynamics are also key in ‘The Shade Of Holy Light’ and ‘The Forever Throne’. Technically, both of these tracks would qualify as semi-ballads, but they are much darker and more atmospheric than one would usually predict from that description. This approach provides all the room that guitarists Akihito Kinoshita and Yasuharu Tanaka need to play at their most passionate. Their spectacular guitar work is a main attraction of Saber Tiger anyway. ‘Stain’, for instance, is full of incredible lead guitar work even outside of the solos. Their trade-offs are incredible. The solo spots for hibiki are relatively limited in number, but when he does get them, it does not take long to realize he is one of the best bass players in Japan.

More than 35 years in the music business does not appear to be slowing down Saber Tiger. In fact, this decade has arguably been the most consistent of their career. Relative youngsters hibiki and Yasuhiro Mizuno form an incredible rhythm section that is both intense and complex, upon which Tanaka and Kinoshita can build their timeless riffs. Shimoyama is also as passionate as ever. But how can he not be with such an incredible set of songs to work with? ‘Obscure Diversity’ is a no-brainer for anyone who enjoyed Saber Tiger’s last few releases, but the more adventurous fans of the likes of Nevermore and Iced Earth  should certainly give this a chance as well.

Recommended tracks: ‘Distant Signals’, ‘Beat Of The War Drums’, ‘Permanent Rage’

Album of the Week 29-2018: Concerto Moon – Savior Never Cry


In the light of Atsushi Kuze joining Jupiter, his works with Concerto Moon have been receiving more than a few spins in my household. I have been fairly critical of Kuze’s competent, but somewhat Dokken-ish voice in the past, but there is one Concerto Moon album on which he is really pushed to his best performance thus far and that is ‘Savior Never Cry’. Of course, the fact that the band sounds at their heaviest and most aggressive here works miracles as well. The fact that their classy, hardrock-inspired melodicism is not sacrificed is an impressive achievement in its own right.

Somehow, I think I prefer Concerto Moon without a keyboard player. The keys are indispensable for their early progressive hardrock meets neoclassical power metal approach, but on ‘Savior Never Cry’, band leader Norifumi Shima’s riffing takes center stage. His sound appears to be just a tad heavier too, to the point where it’s hard to believe that he’s actually playing a guitar with single coils. This powerful, bottom-heavy sound really pushes Kuze to a performance that foregoes his usual gentle rasp in favor of a throaty, full-force approach that is not too dissimilar to what Yukio Morikawa does with Anthem.

Concerto Moon certainly proves that the first strike is deadly. The opening title track of the album’s predecessor ‘Angel Of Chaos’ was already impressive, but ‘Savior Never Cry’ really has the band firing on all cylinders. Shima’s riffs are thick and tasteful, Masayuki Osada’s drumming is pulsating and punishing and Kuze is inspired to do some of his most intense screaming yet. The rumbling double kick work and heavy riffing is continued on the following ‘Straight From The Heart’, which I consider one of Concerto Moon’s most underrated tracks to date. Its eighties Dio-esque vibe is simply irresistible.

From then on, the album does not get quite as heavy anymore, though the speedy closer ‘Slash The Lies’ – which inexplicably only is a bonus track – comes pretty close. The heaviness is hardly missed though. The fact that Shima (mostly) has to fill his end of the sonic spectrum by himself results in very powerful hardrock and heavy metal tracks like ‘Lay Down Your Life (To Be Free)’, ‘Over The Fear’ and the midtempo ‘In My Dream’. Even the ballad ‘Lovers Again’, often a weak point for Japanese bands, is surprisingly good. Only ‘The Shining Light Of The Moon’ is a little too watered down for my taste.

Norifumi Shima and Concerto Moon were obviously on a roll around the turn of the decade. ‘Angel Of Chaos’ is one of the band’s best albums, but ‘Savior Never Cry’ ups the ante in terms of heaviness, compositional quality and vocal performance. After the release of ‘Savior Never Cry’, Concerto Moon would continue in a somewhat more hardrock-oriented direction. Quite accomplished hardrock too, but after being infatuated with the almost ‘Painkiller’-like intensity of this album’s title track, it’s difficult to settle for something else. ‘Savior Never Cry’ is highly recommended to anyone who longs for the time when hardrock and heavy metal weren’t two separate things yet.

Recommended tracks: ‘Savior Never Cry’, ‘Straight From The Heart’, ‘Slash The Lies’

Album of the Week 28-2018: NoGoD – V


Within the visual kei realm, NoGoD is a bit of an anomaly. With a sound that is a lumpless blend of modern hard rock and heavy metal, they don’t really fit any of the trends that exist in their genre and because they are not a cast full of pretty boys – they are fronted by the clownesque Dancho – their fan base is largely male. With that different take on Japanese rock music, NoGoD is certainly a band to check out for those who are usually discouraged by the visual approach. And there hardly is any better place to start than ‘V’.

Though NoGoD is mainly known for energetic, riffy songs with rather upbeat choruses, ‘V’ is notably darker in tone than any of their other albums. It is also slightly more metallic than their other works, though the catchy bits are almost all arena-worthy in their sing-along glory. The first half of ‘IV – Tasha / Philosophia’, the fourth part of a suite that stretches out over four albums, has a stomping 5/4 beat that many of their peers would not dare to attempt and the awesome ‘Sabbath’ is probably the darkest NoGoD song yet. Coincidentally, it is also one of their very best.

In more familiar territory, ‘V’ also shines just a little bit brighter than the rest of NoGoD’s discography. While earlier albums had masterpieces like ‘Kamikaze’, ‘World Ender’ and ‘Kakusei’, ‘V’ just rolls on without ever losing steam. Sure, the more punky, upbeat songs ‘Kane wo Narase’ and ‘Pandora’ feel a little odd atmosphere-wise, but that is easy to accept on an album that also has fist pumpers like the anthemic ‘Stand Up!’ and ‘Zetsubo Bye Bye’. The album is even bookended by two tracks that are surprisingly riffy; the guitar work in opener ‘Utsushiyo Horror Show’ and closer ‘Tosohonno’ is almost speed metal in nature.

Dancho’s voice is the thing that seems to spark most debate amongst people who are not sure if they like NoGoD. While that is understandable – the fact that he is almost exclusively in full-on passionate mode does not account for a lot of dynamics – Dancho is probably the factor that makes NoGoD stand out in a scene full of Kamijo and Gackt soundalikes. I like him a lot. Dynamics and subtlety are built by the tastefully layered interaction between guitarists Kyrie and Shinno. Kyrie even has one of his many acoustic solo pieces here in the shame of ‘Yume No Awa’. A perfect little break between intense songs.

Although the criticism that the visual rock scene is full of bands that blindly copy each other in terms of musical style and appearance is justified, once in a while a band pops up that can truly deliver in terms of originality and playing. While NoGoD doesn’t really do anything new, the band doesn’t really sound like any other band inside of Japan and outisde. And they still don’t, despite the fact that their recent albums lean towards modern rock a little too much. If you like great riffs, passionate vocals and a tight rhythm section with a thick bottom end, NoGoD should be right up your alley.

Reccomended tracks: ‘Sabbath’, ‘IV – Tasha / Philosophy’, ‘Stand Up!’

Album of the Week 26-2018: Iced Earth – Night Of The Stormrider


‘Night Of The Stormrider’ is often mentioned as a favorite by those who followed Iced Earth from the very beginning and it is easy to hear why. The song material is notably more complex than the songs that would make the band a big name less than a decade after its original release in 1991, though there is more of a polish than on the self-titled debut. The fact that it’s a concept album certainly helps its continuity as well. Whatever happened in the intervening year, it helped. Most of the songs would remain live staples for many years to come.

Whether or not ‘Night Of The Stormrider’ would be your favorite Iced Earth album depends on what you want to hear from them. If you want the hooky choruses and dramatic vocals that are currently synonymous with them, the album may come off disappointing. Jon Schaffer’s trademark aggressive, hyperspeed palm-muted riffs are all over the record though. And there’s certainly a higher riff density than usual. Verse-chorus structures are broken up by extensive middle sections full of tempo and atmosphere changes, while the overall tone of the album is notably darker than most of the band’s other output.

Compositionally, the album contains some of Iced Earth’s finest work. Especially when the band combines fierce aggression and the first traces of theatricality, as is the case in the massive opener ‘Angels Holocaust’, Iced Earth proves they were easily among the best metal bands of the early nineties. Closing epic ‘Travel In Stygian’ manages to wrap up all the elements of Iced Earth’s style as well, with fierce semi-thrash riffs, balladesque sections and a particularly climactic chorus following each other seemlessly, though it could have used a shorter middle section. ‘Stormrider’ and the more melodic, oft-forgotten ‘Mystical End’ are more concise, but no less impressive.

Another song that doesn’t always get the praise it deserves is ‘Desert Rain’. It is easily the darkest moment on the album musically, with the rage and confusion of the lyrics perfectly illustrated by the juxtaposition of forceful metal and more desperate tranquil sections. Its chorus is one of the band’s first experiments with vocal harmonies and it is quite tasteful. If you’re splitting hairs, you could argue that the song is more a collection of riffs or segments than a composition, but that is the case for ‘Pure Evil’ as well and that one is still a fan favorite to this day.

The album is not without its flaws. First and foremost, John Greely is merely adequate, though significantly better than his predecessor Gene Adam. His cleans have a pleasant tone and his rawer work sounds delightfully aggressive, but his high-pitched screams lack character and his range is quite limited. The acoustic interludes ‘Before The Vision’ and ‘Reaching The End’ don’t add much musically and some sections (most notably the parts before the final verses of ‘The Path I Choose’ and ‘Pure Evil’) sound too similar. The pros outweigh the cons though. Unlike Schaffer, I think the bottom-heavy production benefits the music and there is a simple reason why a majority of these songs are considered Iced Earth classics: they’re very good.

Recommended tracks: ‘Angels Holocaust’, ‘Desert Rain’, ‘Stormrider’

Album of the Week 23-2018: Onmyo-za – Hado Myoo


Heavy, dark, but without forsaking their trademark streamlined melodicism. How they do it is a mystery to me, but Onmyo-za manages to upgrade the formula of their already impressive latter day sound on ‘Hado Myoo’ without the help of a potentially alienating stylistic shift. Despite its fairly heavy use of seven string guitars, its predecessor ‘Karyo-Binga’ had its lighter moments. ‘Hado Myoo’ has not, except for maybe the relatively accessible first single ‘Oka Ninpocho’. And that is a great thing, as this powerful, relatively riff-driven monster of an album truly confirms Onmyo-za’s relevance in the year before its twentieth anniversary.

Being quite a short album by Onmyo-za standards, ‘Hado Myoo’ wastes no time setting the scene and drags the listener into an unsettling, yokai-infested underworld by means of its massive opening track ‘Hao’. The song truly plays to all of the band’s strengths, with especially the contrast between the crushing sections sung by bassist and bandleader Matatabi and the more melancholic introspection of the parts lead by his wife Kuroneko being nothing short of genius. ‘Hao’ is more than a mind-blowing opener though. It is a warning that ‘Hado Myoo’ is not going to be for the faint of heart and it delivers on that promise.

‘Shimobe’ follows a similar structure, albeit on a higher tempo, with its fierce riffing unveiling a distinct melodic death metal influence. The 7/8 intro is vicious and it is quite remarkable how many new things happen in the latter three minutes of the song. Easily the heaviest Onmyo-za song in quite some time. But while the aforementioned songs are peaks in intensity, ‘Hado Myoo’ does not let go until it is over. The songs vary in heaviness – ‘Haja no Fuin’ brings some of that delicious NWOBHM-inspired twin riffing to the fore, while ‘Ippondara’ is a grinding midtempo stomper with a cool bass solo – but none of them will be relegated to background music. Fortunately.

Elsewhere, ‘Tesso No Aza’ teaches many European and American bands a lesson or two on how to do epic heavy metal and ‘Oka Ninpocho’ and ‘Fushoko No O’ feature some tasteful Japanese folk elements as part of their arrangements. ‘Izuna Otoshi’ and ‘Itsumade’ are the typical melodic heavy metal we have come to expect from Onmyo-za, though the latter does feature some borderline thrash riffs. Even the closing track is very powerful. Onmyo-za usually reserves that spot for lighter, upbeat rock tracks, but while ‘Bureiko’ does have a more “rocky” feel than the rest of the album, it is still very much rooted in pounding riff work.

As far as my expectations for ‘Hado Myoo’ went, this was not what I was expecting. Not many metal bands can say that their fourteenth album is one of their heaviest thus far, but Onmyo-za can proudly declare that. It never sounds forced, however. ‘Hado Myoo’ is clearly the work of a band doing something they feel comfortable doing. It is a sonic triumph as well, with the guitars of Maneki and Karukan having the perfect amount of grit and Matatabi’s bass rumbling underneath slightly more prominently than usual. Yours truly for one was stunned and unless you listen to Onmyo-za for their ballads – there aren’t any – most of their fans will too.

Recommended tracks: ‘Shimobe’, ‘Hao’, ‘Haja No Fuin’, ‘Tesso No Aza’

Advertisements