Attraction Review – Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum (Thal bei Graz, Austria)

You want to know what is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to visit the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Austria!

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Arnies_Life_ThalIf you’re a fan of Heavy Metal, you’re probably a fan of the one and only Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger too. Also known as the Austrian Oak, the Styrian Oak, The Governator or simply Arnie, he is unquestionably the greatest action movie actor of all time, the most successful bodybuilder in history and, of course, a hero for millions of people all over the world. Movies like The Terminator (I, II and III), Predator, Last Action Hero, Conan the Barbarian, The Expendables II, among others, are either an inspiration for many heavy music bands such as Austrian Death Machine, with awesome songs like Get To The Choppa and I Need Your Clothes, Your Boots, and Your Motorcycle, or their soundtracks are full of powerful Heavy Metal/Hard Rock tunes like AC/DC’s Big Gun, Megadeth’s Angry Again and, of course, one of Guns N’ Roses’ greatest hits, the awesome You Could Be Mine. Who doesn’t love when Arnold stares at Axl Rose, grins and walks off in the official video for this song?

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“I’m a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.”

That’s why the third (and last) installment of my recent trip to Europe will be dedicated to reviewing one of the coolest museums in the world, and by far my favorite one of all: the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum (or Arnie’s Life) in Thal bei Graz is not just a regular museum with some of Arnold’s old stuff and memorabilia, but a place where you can live his life and truly breathe all his accomplishments as a Hollywood star, his work as a the Governor of California and his exceptional achievements in bodybuilding. And the location of the museum was not chosen in vain, as it’s the actual house where Arnold grew up and spent a great part of his life, including his childhood and adolescence, and where he started his path to glory in the world of bodybuilding. Moreover, the overall quality of this amazing collection of documents, awards, props and everything else you can imagine about his bodybuilding, acting, political and personal life is enhanced by all the beauty and peace of the sorroundings of Thal. Arnold himself said many times how all the nature and peace in Thal inspired him to be a protector of the environment, especially during his years as “The Governator”.

In regards to the museum itself, I would say the top must-see items available are everything related to his role as the T-800 terminator, including his totally awesome Harley-Davidson from Terminator II, all his bodybuilding equipment (which by the way are all original from when he started working out), and many documents and other items related to his years as a politician. In addition, things like the sword used by the mighty Conan, the jacket and gun used by Sheriff Ray Owens and the costume used by Mr. Freeze make the whole experience even more fun, and of course, the Arnold statue at the entrance of the museum, just outside the front door, is truly inspirational for anyone, even if you have never been a fan of Arnie.

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“Conan, what is best in life?”

Finally, although many people say the museum is located in the city of Graz, it’s not that easy to get there from the city centre, especially walking. Arnie’s Life is actually located in the city of Thal, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Graz if you’re driving. I went there by car and used my GPS, typing in the museum’s postal code (8051) instead of the city name as it wasn’t finding Thal in the list of cities, and that worked perfectly. However, if you’re backpacking and travelling by train or bus only, there are some options available by public transportation from Graz which you can see HERE.

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“The best activities for your health are pumping and humping.”

To sum up, instead of “getting to the choppa”, get to Arnie’s Life and enjoy all your moments there: it’s such a pleasant and entertaining environment you won’t even notice time quickly passing by. In a world where pretty much all blockbuster movies are pure garbage and the actors and actresses have zero charisma, it’s good to “go back in time” and admire the history of a man that has always helped change the world for better, no matter what he does. I just loved the museum, and when I left it the only sentence I could think of was, of course, I’LL BE BACK!

Opening hours
Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm (last entrance: 4:30 pm)

From June 1, 2014 on: every Saturday and Sunday guided tours through the museum (start: 11 am, 3 pm)

Admission charge
Adults: € 6,50
Concessions*: € 5,00
Children from 5 to 14 years / school groups: € 3,00
Regular guided tour: € 10,00 (unique for a group)
Audioguide (German or English): € 2,00

* Valid for groups of 10 or over, children up to age 15, teens, students up to age 27, senior citizens over 65 or on presentation of a valid pensioners´ ID, challenged people, military and community service conscripts, unemployed persons.

Contact info & location
Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum
Linakstraße 9
A – 8051 Thal, Austria
+43 (0) 316 571 947
http://www.arnieslife.com/

 

Album Review – Gamma Ray / Empire Of The Undead (2014)

Gamma Ray return with their unmatched empire of Heavy Metal.

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CoverAfter a very long and exciting wait, Empire Of The Undead, the new album by German Power Metal masters Gamma Ray is finally among us, and once again the one and only Kai Hansen and his crew deliver us excellent music full of great riffs, nice lyrics, and above all that, lots of passion for what binds us all together. Yes, I’m talking about pure HEAVY METAL. And yes, Germany keeps on rockin’ nonstop in 2014.

As a long-time fan of the band, from the times when Dirk Schlächter was still the guitarist and Ralf Scheepers was still on vocals, I, for one, am a huge advocate of Gamma Ray’s music and style. In my humble opinion, they have reached that same stage bands such as Motörhead, AC/DC and The Ramones have, a stage where changing their music direction would be the major mistake of their lives. Who wants to see to Kai Hansen singing Rap or the band adding any electronic elements to their music? Other less important bands can try that, but Gamma Ray exist to provide us the most traditional heavy music we so much love.

BandTo kick off things in an exceptional way, how about the 9-minute epic tune Avalon, with its excellent solos and harmony, which reminds me of one of their biggest classics, “Rebellion In Dreamland”? Then comes the best, fastest and most awesome song of the album,  the pure fuckin’ metal song Hellbent, with its lyrics and especially chorus being  a tribute to Heavy Metal fans all around the world (“Hellbent for Metal / That’s what we are / Hellbent for Metal / Straight from the heart”). Kai Hansen is not only always amazing on vocals and on the guitar, but he’s also one of the best Heavy Metal poets of all time.

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Empire of the Undead CD Jewelcase

And Empire of the Undead continues in a very enjoyable way, with the excellent Pale Rider with its totally Judas Priest-ish riffs and another awesome performance from the whole band; and Born to Fly,  a very traditional Gamma Ray tune with a great chorus. The following two tracks are not exactly new, as they featured in the Master of Confusion EP, released in the beginning of 2013, but who cares? Both Master of Confusion and Empire of the Undead are powerful songs, with the latest having those classic riffs and guitar solos that explain why Gamma Ray are so fuckin’ awesome. Moreover, I had the pleasure to see them playing both live already last year, and those songs kick some serious ass.

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Empire of the Undead LP

In order to give us some air, Kai & Co. come with the smooth ballad Time for Deliverence, with its beautiful lyrics, and Demonseed, which despite its weird intro and headbanging riffs, is not a very entertaining track; however, the band gets back to their roots with Seven, another classic tune that will surely please all of their fans. And to end this pretty cool album, we have the song I Will Return, which starts with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous “I’ll Be Back!” quote, but doesn’t keep up with the same energy level as the previous tracks. And if I were you, I would buy any of the special editions of the album (each with a different front cover color), because all bonus tracks and other stuff are worth the extra money.

In terms of the musicians, kudos to drummer Michael Ehré, as although he had some big shoes to fill he nailed it, and of course to Mr. Kai Hansen, the creator of Power Metal, Helloween and Gamma Ray. Kai is the “Midas” of heavy music: everything he touches becomes GOLD, and that’s valid for Empire of the Undead, another very good release from one of the most influential German bands of all time. May the amazing empire of Heavy Metal built by this great guy “hellbent for Metal” live forever more.

Best moments of the album: Avalon, Hellbent, Pale Rider and Empire of the Undead.

Worst moments of the album: Demonseed and I Will Return.

Released in 2014 earMUSIC

Track listing
1. Avalon 9:21
2. Hellbent 5:23
3. Pale Rider 4:24
4. Born to Fly 4:32
5. Master of Confusion 4:55
6. Empire of the Undead 4:26
7. Time for Deliverence 5:11
8. Demonseed 6:39
9. Seven 5:07
10. I Will Return 6:56

European bonus track
11. Built a World 4:23

Limited Edition Digipack bonus tracks
12. Avalon (Live from Studio) 9:52
13. The Spirit (Live from Studio) 4:19
14. Empire of the Undead (Live from Studio) 4:27

Band members
Kai Hansen – lead vocals, rhythm & lead guitar
Henjo Richter – lead & rhythm guitar, keyboards
Dirk Schlächter – bass
Michael Ehré – drums