Amaranthe’s Latest LP Is Massively Addictive

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Euro/Industrial metal act Amaranthe released its latest full length studio effort this week.  Massive Additctive, the band’s third album is as many years is one that will impress audiences in its own right regardless of their familiarity with the band.  Anyone that is a fan of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and the ilk will enjoy this record from start to finish.  The combination of the band’s bombastic, old school shredding and solos, precision drumming, and the  vocal talents of the band’s co-vocalists make this a record that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear at least once.  The songs’ lyrical content is just as important as their musical sides, too.  All things considered, the combination of each song’s music and lyrics makes Massive Addictive one of the best of the underground rock and metal community this year.

Audiences that are familiar with the sound established by Amaranthe on its first two records will appreciate that said sound is just as prevalent on this record.  What makes this latest full length effort worth the listen regardless of one’s familiarity with the band is the introduction of more and varied electronic elements.  The album’s mix of keyboards, sampling and other electronic elements show a certain amount of growth from the band this time out. That is evident right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘Dynamite.’  This aptly titled song is a fitting opener for Massive Addictive as it launches the album with the furiousness and energy of a keg full of dynamite.  Yes, that was a cheesy cliché.  But hey, it works, right?  The song opens explosively with that electronic/keyboard mix alongside the solid guitar work of Olof Morck.  The influence of other Gothenburg bands such as In Flames and Soilwork in Morck’s performance.  The juxtaposition of Elize’s clean vocals to the screams of co-vocalist Henrik add even more intensity to the song.  The song’s lyrical content matches its energy quite well.  The vocalist pair Light the fuse/See the sign/Unbalanced heart/I’m in my prime/Get out of here while there is still time/I’m reaching overload/I’m going right on top/While you abide my dynamite.”  The message here is pretty clear. This is someone holding in a lot and getting ready to burst.  If that’s not proof enough, then consider the song’s second verse, in which Henrik screams, “No excuse/Break the bonds/A gasp of air/My will is strong/Get out of here/My mind is futile/I’m just a statuette/Without a timer set/While I apply my dynamite.”  This is someone that has a lot of pent up frustrations, it would seem.  And the song’s energy seems to present that message, too when set alongside such lyrical content.  If that interpretation is correct, then such combination makes this song an even more powerful opener for the band’s new album.  That’s because everybody has reached that breaking point and ready to blow.  Having a song such as this to which people can relate could serve to help diffuse that proverbial dynamite lit inside them.

‘Dynamite’ is a strong starter for Amaranthe on its new album.  It’s just one of so many examples of why audiences new and old alike will enjoy this record.  Another example of why audiences will enjoy this record is the album’s latest single ‘Drop Dead Cynical.’  This song comes across as the polar opposite of sorts from the album’s opener with Elize singing, “I need attention/Feed my addiction/I want the action/The satisfaction/You have to feed me/Worse that I inquire/So my discord someday takes me higher.”  While it comes across metaphorically, the message seems relatively clear here.  If this critic’s interpretation is right, that line alone describes the type of person that is full of himself or herself.  That same person has nothing to spread except for negativity.   Henrik’s response to this declaration is a powerful retort. He screams in response, “I hope to thrill you that expectations rise/I want to bring you/So that you can compromise/I’m coming at you like a killer now/So it’s the truth/You are drop dead cynical.”  That is a pretty strong response.  Everybody has met someone like the subject of this song.  There may be people even now that know someone like that.  If so, this song is a great way to deal with said person(s) without screaming at them or worse.  To that extent, it makes for another great positive to this record.

Massive Addictive’s opening tracks make for a solid first impression from Amaranthe on the band’s latest album.  As impressive as those two songs prove to be, the album’s title track proves to be one of its best.  On a side note, the song’s musical side actually bears a slit resemblance to the chorus of Imagine Dragons’ hit single ‘Radioactive.”  The song’s lyrical content aside, what really makes this song such a hit is its musical side.  The bombastic, old school style guitar solo is there alongside Morten’s drumming drive the song.  Elize’s hypnotic vocals and Henrik’s own vocal assault are not to be discounted here, either.   Lyrically, it is certain to create some discussion especially taking into account the song’s infectious chorus.  Elize sings in the song’s chorus, “Massive addictive/And suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide/Scared of losing my mind/Massive addictive/I’m totally completely afflicted/As I inspire the lie like a lullaby/Crawling around in my mind.”  On the surface one would think that the song makes no bones as to its lyrical topic.  It sounds like it is being taken from the standpoint of someone fighting addiction.  Elize singing “Suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide” sounds like what someone might feel in getting that high from whatever drug.  “Scared of losing my mind…I’m totally completely afflicted” sounds like the psychological and emotional effect of said high.  Again, this could be a completely incorrect interpretation of this song.  If it is indeed incorrect, it would definitely be wonderful to hear the story behind the song.  The very fact that it could garner so much discussion is itself reason that audiences will enjoy this song.  The addition of the song’s soaring musical side makes it even more enjoyable and proves why this is perhaps the best of the album’s songs overall.

The songs noted here each make Massive Addictive enjoyable in its own way.  As enjoyable as they are, the album’s other songs not noted here should not be discounted.  At no one point does Massive Addictive fail listeners.  Every one of the album’s dozen total tracks makes this album enjoyable in its own way.  That is something difficult to say about most albums today regardless of genre.  So for Amaranthe to have crafted an album that shines from start to finish shows that this album is just as enjoyable as anything released by the band’s bigger-named counterparts across Europe.  That being the case, Massive Addictive proves in the end to be an album that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear and an album that is one of the best in the underground metal community this year.

Amaranthe is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour in support of Massive Addictive.  The band’s audiences overseas will soon enough get to experience the songs from this album live.  They will even get to pick up the band’s new album at the band’s upcoming tour dates.  In the meantime, the band’s North American audiences can pick up Massive Addictive in stores now.  Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule and keep up with its latest updates now online at:

Website: http://www.amaranthe.se

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmarantheBand

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Wood’s Latest LP Is Caught Between Good And Great

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Courtesy: HOLMZ Music/Andy Wood Music LLC

Guitarist Andy Wood is most widely known for his work with Creed front man Scott Stapp when Stapp is not recording with his band mates in Creed.  Wood has displayed his own share of talent in his work with Stapp.  With the release of his latest solo album Caught Between The Truth and a Lie, Wood has displayed even more talent.  Throughout the course of the double-disc record, Wood displays his chops as a rock guitarist once more.  That is not the most interesting aspect of this record.  It is his talent within the worlds of country and bluegrass that will really catch audiences’ ears on this new release.  That span of musical talents is the key to the enjoyment of Caught Between The Truth and a Lie.  Throughout the course of the album, Wood mixes things multiple times, throwing instrumentals alongside full compositions.  That stylistic mix of music makes this record even more enjoyable for audiences whether or not said audiences are familiar with Wood’s solo work.  Last but not least worth noting in the album’s success is its sequencing.  Wood doesn’t just go from one genre to another.  He actually slowly transitions from bluegrass to rock to country and back to rock again.  The end result is a work that proves music truly is the universal language as it will most certainly bring together so many different audiences throughout the course of its twenty-four tracks.  By the end, audiences will agree that Between The Truth and a Lie is somewhere between good and great.

Andy Wood’s latest full length solo record Between The Truth and a Lie is, as noted, an album that sits somewhere between good and great. The main reason for this is the range of talent displayed throughout the course of the double album’s twenty-four total tracks.  Wood, who is known largely for his work with rocker Scott Stapp, displays expert bluegrass and country chops right alongside his talents as a rock guitarist throughout the course of the album.  Bluegrass fans will enjoy the old school style of ‘How Mountain Girls Can Love’ and the album’s opener ‘Everybody Loves You.’  Those whose leanings are more in the country realm will enjoy ‘The Ballad of Ricky and Cal’ and the album’s closer ‘the Cowboy Rides Away.’  There was nowhere for this song to go than at the album’s end considering its title.  And Wood’s gentle, bluesy guitar work shows why, too.  Rock fans aren’t left out, either.  Wood offers his rock fans ‘Of Elf and Man’ (perhaps paying homage to Metallica’s ‘Of Wolf and Man?’), ‘Got A Light’ and the toned down cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Fool in the Rain.’  There’s even a jazzy piece thrown in for good measure in the form of ‘Dracula and His Cooky, Spooky Band.’  The use of the horns and Latin percussion alongside Wood’s own talents will have audiences up and dancing on this track, especially with Halloween now just around the corner.  The songs noted here are just some examples of Wood’s versatility on this record.  It goes without saying that said versatility is displayed quite well.  The enjoyment doesn’t end there, either.  The sequencing of the songs throughout the record makes the journey from start to finish all the more enjoyable.

The variety of sounds that Wood includes throughout the course of new record is in itself more than enough reason for audiences to give this album at least one listen.  If audiences aren’t convinced by that aspect, then perhaps the stylistic differences in the songs will convince audiences.  Stylistically speaking, the songs that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are both full compositions complete with vocals and instrumental tracks.  Wood balanced that mix quite well, too making sure not to stay on the full compositions or the instrumental pieces for too long.  It shows that he and all involved behind the glass put a lot of thought into the album’s overall presentation.  Speaking of that thought, the mix of musical genres and styles together make for plenty of reason for audiences to check out Andy Wood’s new album.  If there is still anyone not convinced as to why they should check out Between The Truth and a Lie by now, then perhaps an examination of the album’s sequencing will convince said audiences.

The musical mix of genres and styles that make up Between The Truth and a Lie are equally important to the album in terms of its enjoyment.  They would be nothing without the album’s sequencing, though. It would have been so easy for Wood and those behind the glass to randomly toss the album’s songs in throughout the record.  But that didn’t happen.  Rather, the album gradually progress from Wood’s bluegrass sound to a more rock oriented sound and then back to a country sound.  It is done with such precision that the progression is almost unnoticeable to the untrained ear. Those that listen closely though, will hear the slow change.   It’s especially nice to hear that change happen gradually instead of suddenly.  That is because it makes the album in whole all the easier on the ears.  Combined with the songs themselves and their difference in style, it makes the album one that will bring audiences of all ages and interests together, proving true once more the adage that music truly is the universal language.  And that language is sure to bring together every person that gives this record a chance.

Caught Between The Truth and a Lie is available now in stores and online.  More information on the album, Wood’s tour dates and latest updates is available online at:

Website: http://www.andywoodmusic.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andy-Wood/123741651016472

Twitter: http://twitter.com/awoodshreds

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/awoodshreds

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Eagle Rock’s Reputation Holds True, Strong With Its New Deep Purple Archived Live Recording

Courtesy:   Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Deep Purple are set to release the band’s latest live recording today.  Deep PurpleWith Orchestra Live in Verona is not the band’s first archived live recording released this year via Eagle Rock Entertainment.  It is however the best of the band’s live recordings released this year.  The performance, recorded three years ago, is highlighted by a set list that focuses largely on its older, more well-known songs.  The concert is also not the first time that Deep Purple has performed live with an orchestra.  The band also performed live with an orchestra when it performed at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in 2011.  The two performances being recorded in the same year, were likely part of the same tour.  That fact is in itself another major positive to this brand new archived release.  As if these two factors are not enough for audiences, the audio and video mix collectively make the concert even more enjoyable for audiences.  Audiences will be hugely impressed at the camera work in this show and the balance of the band and its backing orchestra.  That factor along with everything already noted makes this latest live recording from Deep Purple even more enjoyable for audiences.  And that is not to discount the concert’s bonus liner notes, either.  The liner notes included in the recording add even more insight into the concert while noting all the parties involved.  Whether for its companion booklet, its outstanding audio and video mix, or even the set list included in this recording, all of the work that went into bringing this concert to audiences paid off.  That’s because it collectively makes Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona another example of why Eagle Rock Entertainment remains the leader in live recordings today.

Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona is a wonderful addition to the home collection of any Deep Purple fan.  It is another example of why Eagle Rock more than deservedly still maintains the label of the leader in live recordings.    The central reason for this is the concert’s set list.  Audiences will note that this concert, much as the band’s 2011 show in Montreux, focuses primarily on the band’s older material, going all the way back to its 1968 debut record Shades of Deep Purple.  The band’s landmark 1972 album Machine Head is very well represented in this recording, too.  Almost all of the songs from that album are included in this concert, including the rare b-side When A Blind Man CriesFireball is well represented as is Perfect Strangers and other.  The most recent work included in this performance is the band’s 2005 album Rapture of the Deep.  While not every one of the band’s albums are featured in this near two hour performance, the band does choose a relatively large swath of material for its audiences.  And it is that relatively wide array of songs from the band’s catalogue that sets the tone for this recording.  The tone in question is a positive one made even more positive when considering that this concert would appear to be one more from the band’s 2011 tour, which also included a recording of the band’s performance that year at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.

The set list that makes up Deep Purple’s latest live recording is especially impressive as it covers largely the band’s older material instead of its more recent songs.  That set list is much the set list included in the band’s other 2011 Eagle Rock Entertainment recording from its performance at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival.  Simply put, audiences that don’t already own the recording of the band’s performance from that year’s Montreux Jazz Festival won’t be left out in this recording.  Odds are that this concert was part of the band’s larger tour that just so happened to include a show at Montreux.  This factor makes this recording even more a plus for any Deep Purple fans out there.  It shows that Eagle Rock Entertainment’s people were really thinking about the band’s fans.  It’s just one more way that Eagle Rock maintains the mantle of the industry’s leader in live recordings and one more reason that Deep Purple’s fans will appreciate this latest recording.

The set list included in Deep Purple’s new live recording goes a long way toward making this latest recording enjoyable for audiences.  The fact that it directly mirrors the band’s 2011 performance from Montreux, which was released that same year, is even more of a bonus for audiences.  As difficult as it may be to find the band’s Montreux performance, this recording can now take the place of that performance.  That makes this recording even more enjoyable and a bonus for fans in and of itself.  It still isn’t all that makes the recording such a great addition to any Deep Purple fan’s collection.  The audio and video mix that went into the recording is one more of so many positives that makes the recording enjoyable.  David Richards’ work balancing the levels throughout the show paid off in spades.  The orchestra—the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt—blends right in with the band to the point that it sounds like the orchestra isn’t even there.  That is a true sign of expertise.  Richards and his crew compensated for the venue’s acoustics just as expertly.  Being a venue of its size, it had to have been a challenge for Richards and company to keep the band and orchestra from overpowering one another and to keep the sound from overpowering the group in whole, washing out everything.  The end result is a performance from all involved that proves once again why Eagle Rock is the leader in live recordings.  Eagle Rock releases nothing but the finest especially in terms of the concert’s most important elements (I.E. audio and video).  The audio in this case is no different.  The same can be said of director Chris Cowey, editor Kyle Smart’s work, and that of the entire camera crew responsible for capturing the concert on camera.  The camera angles used throughout the show take audiences right up on stage with the band and out into the audiences. There are wonderful sweeping pans that show the sheer immensity of the venue.  Kyle Smart’s post-production work reveals the expert work of Cowey and his camera crew just as well.  All involved make the final product just as enjoyable as if audiences were there in person.

The audio and video mixes that make up Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona were handled with the utmost expertise from all involved.  Together with the concert’s set list and the fact that it serves as a companion to the band’s 2011 performance at Montreux, all three factors together show why this recording is another wonderful addition to the home library of any Deep Purple fan.  Collectively, they show why Eagle Rock remains today the leader in live recordings.  It releases what are only the best possible recordings from one to the next, from the shows’ set lists to their production values.  Even something as minute as the recording’s companion booklet plays its own part in the overall presentation and its success.  The companion booklet included here adds even more enjoyment to the recordings as it offers extra insight into the concert from the vantage point of writer Malcom Dome.  Dome writes of the 12,000 people in attendance and how the band and orchestra worked so well together on its tour that year among much more.  While brief, it adds its own element of enjoyment to the whole; an element that along with the set list and production values makes Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona another hugely successful recording from Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Deep Purple: With Orchestra Live in Verona is available now in stores and online.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Animal Tales Is An Invaluable, Enjoyable Album For The Whole Family

Courtesy:  Worm Hole Productions

Courtesy: Worm Hole Productions

Children’s entertainers Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke will release their latest album Animal Tales next Tuesday, October 21st.  The new album is the fifth for the British duo.  And it is a wonderful companion piece to The Whizpops’ latest full length studio effort Sea Blue Sea.  Whereas The Whizpops take audiences below the waves in Sea Blue Sea, Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke bring audiences back to the land for a journey around the world that teaches audiences about all the different animals that populate Earth’s different regions.  Along the way, they also teach a valuable lesson about ecological conservation that it very subtly mixed in.  So it doesn’t come across as being preachy.  The end result is an album that adults will find just as entertaining and valuable as children.

Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke have crafted an album in Animal Tales that adults will value just as much as children.  One of the main reasons for this is its accessibility in terms of its writing.  The elementary biology lessons prove to be just as enlightening for children as for adults believe it or not.  One prime example of that accessibility comes in the form of ‘Bear Song.’  The song introduces audiences of all ages to just some of the different species of bears that live around the world.  The duo introduces audiences to polar bears, black bears, and koalas, pandas, and even the different species of brown bears including the kodiac and the standard brown bear. Along the way, the duo makes note of pandas being endangered but keeps the mood light by making a light hearted joke about pandas not wanting to have babies in captivity.  It’s a light hearted joke.  But there is also a certain element of seriousness to this statement.  It shows the importance of trying to breed pandas especially in zoos as a means to hopefully one day take them off of the endangered species list.  The song’s semi country-folk sound adds to its enjoyment.  It’s just one of so many different musical styles presented throughout the album.  That variety of musical elements is another aspect of Animal Tales that makes this album such a joy for audiences.

The musical trip on which Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke take listeners on the duo’s new album is the central point of this record’s enjoyment.  Speaking of the album’s music, its musical side is another reason that audiences of all ages will enjoy the album.  Wilde and Clarke present each of the record’s songs in a different musical style from the others.  ‘Armando Armadillo’ is presented accordingly against a decidedly Tex-Mex sound.  ‘The Buck Stops Here’, clocks in at just under two minutes.  But in that short time, its semi-bluegrass feel proves to be just as perfect a fit.  By direct contrast, ‘Platypus’ is presented against a playful Dixieland style musical backing.  The song’s lyrical content makes that sound even more fun for audiences.  And the laid back, bluesy sound of ‘Alligator Get-Together’ fits this song just as well as alligators are so commonly seen mostly just relaxing on the banks of rivers or swimming easily up and down said bodies of water.  It’s one more example of how the musical variety presented throughout this record makes it even more enjoyable for audiences.  What’s more, the variety of musical styles presented on this record also serves as a great starting point in terms of introducing young audiences to different musical styles.  So not only does this album serve as a great elementary level lesson on biology and conservation, but it also serves as a solid introduction for music classes, too.  Once again, audiences are presented with another reason that this record is so enjoyable.

Animal Tales offers so much enjoyment for audiences.  As noted, it is an entertaining and easily accessible musical lesson on biology and conservation.  It also serves as an equally enjoyable elementary level introduction to a number of different genres of music.  Simply put, Animal Tales is more than just a bunch of songs about animals.  It is a multi-purpose teaching tool that can be used in both an elementary level science class and a music class at the same level.  That is actually a much wider expanse of uses than some might think.  Young audiences could even use it as a learning tool at home as it does offer a number of pneumonic devices throughout each song.  That multi-purpose educational use is just as important as the record’s general entertainment value.  When both of those factors are examined in depth as has been done here, they prove once more why this record is just as entertaining and valuable in the classroom as the living room.  It is an album that adults will find just as valuable and entertaining and children.

Animal Tales will be available in stores and online next Tuesday, October 21st.  It can be ordered online direct from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke’s website.  More information on this album, all of the latest news from Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, and all of the duo’s latest tour updates is available online at:

Website: http://keywildeandmrclarke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Key-Wilde-Mr-Clarke/112784651164

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wildeclarke

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Symmetry In Black Is A Welcome Return From Crowbar

Courtesy:  eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

2014 has been quite the year for hard rock and metal.  New releases from the likes of Anti-Mortem, Fozzy, and Wovenwar have already highlighted an already busy year.  And new releases on the way from Machine Head, Exodus, and Slipknot before the year lets out are giving metalheads the world over even more reason to be excited.  If that’s not enough reason for the metal masses to be happy this year, then perhaps the latest full length studio release from Crowbar will excite some members of the metal nation.  The band released Symmetry in Black late this spring via eOne Music.  This latest record, the band’s ninth, presents some of the band’s best material to date.  One reason for the quality and heaviness of the songs on this record is the full focus of guitarist Kirk Windstein.  Having put his other projects on the side so as to give full focus to Crowbar, he sounds at the top of his game.  And along with his band mates—Matt Brunson (guitar), Tommy Buckley (drums), and Jeff Golden (bass)—the work of the New Orleans-based four-piece presents a band that is at the top of its collective game.  The songs on this album are impressive not just for their heaviness, but for their lyrical content.  The album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is proof of that.  The same can be said of ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  ‘A Wealth of Empathy’ offers its own interesting lyrical content set against some rather heavy riffs, too.  The combination of this trio of just these three works shows how much Crowbar still has to offer audiences even today.  There are nine other songs on this record from which audiences can choose their own favorite(s).  In listening through those tracks and the songs noted here, audiences new and old alike will agree again that Symmetry in Black proves to be Crowbar’s best full length studio release to date.

Crowbar’s ninth full length studio release is some of the band’s best work to date as already noted. That is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely.’ This song is a pure, heavy slab of southern sludge metal. Vocalist/guitarist Kirk Windstein is at the top of his game here, having put his other projects on the back burner for the time being. That pure, heavy sound set against the song’s thought provoking lyrics make it a hard-hitting return for the band. Windstein writes in this song, “My will cannot be broken/Cause when I rot I crawl back from the dead/I am the living proof/That you can right what is wrong in your head/The weak can always overcome/But only if they burn with desire.” Those few lines alone are empowering to say the very least. Their juxtaposition against the song’s dark, heavy sound makes them even more impactful. They become two polar opposites that together make a clear statement of determination and its payoff. As if that wasn’t enough of an example of the song’s message, Windstein goes on to write, “I am the living proof/That a soul can burn a thousand times/Accept what God has given you/And you’ll find the answer all around.” Don’t mistake that lien for Crowbar being a “Christian Band.” That’s hardly the case. It is simply Windstein and his band mates hammering home the fully positive message that it is possible to overcome so much of life’s negativity and difficulty. What better way to return after three years than with such a powerful musical and lyrical statement?

‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ is a powerful first statement from Crowbar on its new release. That’s because of the mix of its heavy sound and empowering lyrics. On the other side of things, a song such as ‘Teach The Blind To See’ will raise just as much conversation. That is thanks in large part to its lyrical content. Windstein writes in this song, “So many years so many words/Bringing honesty to you/Just follow me/You won’t regret/It’s what I do/I don’t forget/I’ll lead you to the truth.” One the one hand, one could argue that this is meant to be a social commentary of sorts. It could potentially be aimed at religious leaders whether they come from organized religion or from cults. The message would pretty much be the same regardless in that case. Making for even more conversation, Windstein goes on to write, “Know I’m not the enemy/I can teach the blind to see/Too many tears too many wounds/Bringing healing to the ill/Just follow me/You won’t regress/I’m giving life, I’m giving breath/At times it’s hard, at times I’m blind/But I bring new life to you/And in the end/That’s what is real/Cause agony will make you feel/Into freedom I lead you.” It goes without saying that this makes for even more discussion. It would be interesting to know for certain the inspiration for this song. Regardless, the fact that it has the potential to create so much discussion combined with its pummeling musical heaviness makes it one more of the best pieces on this album.

Both ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ and ‘Teach The Blind To See’ are important in their own right to Symmetry in Black in terms of its overall presentation. Musically, both songs are extremely heavy. Lyrically speaking, they couldn’t be more opposite from one another. One is empowering. The other seems something of a commentary. So both songs present their own value to the album in whole. They just do so in their own way. The same can be said of ‘A Wealth of Empathy.’ Much like the album’s opener, this song presents a rather positive message of hope set against a rather heavy musical side that directly contrasts its lyrical side. Windstein writes in this song of overcoming all of the negativity thrown out in life. One could actually argue in the case of this song that it is in its own right a companion to ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely’ as that song discussed trying to overcome said difficulties and negativity in life. This piece goes more in an introspective direction, with Windstein looking back on those difficulties and negativity, declaring that he has overcome them. He writes here, “I can’t explain my suffering/But I have lived through misery/My faith will pull me through/And bring to me new life/No need for sympathy/I’ve overcome/My strife/No longer feeling cold/The mind grows wise as we grow old.” That is quite the hopeful statement. And as with the album’s opener, such statement set against the song’s foreboding musical element, it makes for an even more powerful statement of personal emotional strength. That overall impact makes this song one of the highest of points on this record. Together with ‘Walk With Knowledge Wisely,’ ‘Teach The Blind To See,’ and the album’s remaining nine tracks, they make up an album that is one that any long-time fan of Crowbar will thoroughly enjoy.

Whether it be for the album’s more inspirational songs such as the pair mentioned here or for others that make up this record, every fan of Crowbar will find their own reason to enjoy this new record. It is available now in stores and online. Fans can get more info on this and other releases from Crowbar as well as the latest updates from the band online at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/crowbarmusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/crowbarrules

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

BTBAM’s New Live Release Deserves A Spot On Any Critic’s List Of 2014’s Best New Live Recordings

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Between the Buried and Me’s 2012 concept album The Parallax IIFuture Sequence is one of the band’s best albums to date.  The follow-up to the band’s 2011 album The ParallaxHypersleep Dialogues, it proved to also be one of the best new metal and hard rock albums of that year.  Earlier this year, the members of BTBAM went into a studio in the band’s home state of North Carolina to record a live in-studio performance of The Parallax IIFuture Sequence.  The end result was the band’s new live recording Future SequenceLive at the FidelitoriumFuture SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is not the first live recording from BTBAM.  Regardless, it is still a great addition to the collection of any fan of this band.  The central reason for the success of this new release is the very fact that it is a live recording that is live without actually being live in the traditional sense.  Another reason for its success is the recording’s audio and video mix.  It doesn’t leave audiences feel like they are just watching a band record in a studio space.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the very fact that Metal Blade Records has presented this recording as a bundle pack with both Blu-ray disc and an audio portion only on separate CD.  Of course that isn’t to take away from the recording’s bonus interviews with the band and the “Behind-the-Scenes feature.  The interviews show just how much thought and planning went into the process of recording the presentation here.  The Behind-the-Scenes featurette that accompanies the bonus interviews lets audiences follow the process of recording the performance, from the initial planning process to the final rehearsals before the actual recording began.  These bonuses round out the whole thing, showing why this recording is a dark horse candidate for any critic’s year-end list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Future SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is, as noted, a dark horse candidate for a spot on any critic’s year-end list of the best new live recordings.  The main reason for that is that the members of BTBAM have crafted in this recording a presentation that is live without being live in the traditional sense of the term.  It is a live in-studio recording rather than being a live recording in front of thousands of fans.  Bassist and founding member Dan Briggs explains in the bonus interview segments that the band consciously made the decision to take this route instead of the traditional live route as it would give a different feel.  He could not be more correct in that evaluation.  BTBAM isn’t the first band to ever record a live recording in studio verses at an actual live venue.  However, the number of music acts that put out releases in this format is not as large as some might think.  Keeping that in mind, it makes this performance all the more enjoyable.  Adding even more enjoyment to the performance is that fact that it also isn’t just some run-of-the-mill making of the album presentation.  It’s better than those all too often used featurettes used to sell records.  What audiences get in this recording is the band in studio performing its hit album in its entirety.  It is like seeing the band record the album without all of the constant stop-start process and useless banter.  Keeping that in mind, the recording itself is made that much more wonderful of an experience for viewers.  It shows even more why this recording stands out in this year’s crop of live recordings as a must see.

The performance recorded by BTBAM in Future SequenceLive at the Fidelitorium is central to the success of the recording’s presentation overall.  It isn’t just some run-of-the-mill in studio piece that documents the making of a band’s album.  It is actually a full performance of the band’s album The Parallax II.  The performance just happens to be held in a studio space rather than a live venue.  Being that the performance was recorded in a studio space, the initial thought pattern among audiences might be that the audio will be hollow and that the video might be recorded in somewhat guerilla style.  The reason for that is that so many in-studio documentaries end up presenting exactly such audio and video.  Luckily for viewers the audio and video mix in this recording are collectively and completely unlike those more raw presentations.  The audio in this recording sounds just as good as that of the originally released album.  And the quality of the recording’s video is just as laudable.  What’s really interesting about the recording’s video is that while presented on Blu-ray, it presents a certain grainy quality.   It’s obvious that said effect was used intentionally.  It adds a certain depth of emotion to the presentation especially when taken into consideration with the music itself.  That wise use of video effects and equally impressive audio mix works in combination with the rather creative format of the recording to make Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium even more enjoyable for the band’s fans.

The format of Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium along with its production values (its audio and video) both play pivotal roles in the success and enjoyment of the recording.  Having examined both of these factors, audiences are left with one more factor to examine in this recording.  That factor is the presentation’s packaging.  The recording is presented to fans both on Blu-ray and CD in one package.  Combining both the audio-only and the AV presentation together in one package presents audiences with a complete musical experience.  As noted previously, the audio portion of the performance is just as solid as that of the original album on which this performance is based.  So listening to the performance on CD whether in the car or at home will leave listeners feel like they are actually listening to the album in question.  The inclusion of the Blu-ray disc is the center of the experience.  It brings everything full circle.  It reminds audiences that they are taking in the album in full and that they are experiencing it in a setting that is rarely used by any musical act when releasing live recordings.  Together with the other previously noted aspects of the performance, it rounds out the recording proving once more just why this recording deserves to be not just a dark horse candidate but a viable candidate for any critic’s year-ender list of the best new live recordings.  It isn’t to discount the bonus material included on the Blu-ray, either.  The bonus interviews show the members of BTBAM as not just another group of metallers, but a group of talented musicians.  The companion bonus “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette  follows the band from pre-planning to final rehearsals before taking on the performance presented in the final product.  It runs just shy of the thirty-minute mark.  Throughout that time, audiences see that preparing for a live in-studio performance takes nearly as much work as prepping for a performance in a traditional live venue.  It makes for even more appreciation of this recording and proves to be the proverbial icing on the cake or the show.  Together with everything else noted, everything noted here collectively makes Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium a must see by any member of the Metal Nation worldwide.

Future Sequence: Live at the Fidelitorium is available now on Blu-ray/CD combo pack in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct online via Metal Blade Records’ website at http://www.metalblade.com/us/releases/between-the-buried-and-me-fidelitorium/.  More information on this and other releases from BTBAM and all of the latest news from the band is available online at:

 

Website: http://betweentheburiedandme

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BTBAMofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/btbamofficial

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.   Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Psychedelic Resurrection Is A Welcome Return From A Cult Favorite Band

Courtesy:  Kayos Productions

Courtesy: Kayos Productions

The Blues Magoos are back! It’s been some four decades since audiences last heard from this cult favorite garage rock band.  And now the wait is over thanks to the release of the band’s new album Psychedelic Resurrection.  The album’s title is slightly deceiving as few of the songs that make up its track listing are necessarily psychedelic per se.  That’s not to say that the songs (both new and re-worked alike) aren’t enjoyable.  That should not be misinterpreted.  They are each interesting works in their own right, though.  And altogether all ten of the songs included on this record make Psychedelic Resurrection a great re-introduction for one of the best of the least-known bands of the 60s. One track on this record that does live up to the album’s title is its closer ‘Tobacco Road.’  This bluesy piece conjures thoughts of both The Doors and Deep Purple believe it or not.  ‘I’m Still Playing’ also presents a little bit of that old school rock sound.  And then there is the equally bluesy ‘Gotta Get Away.’  One can’t help but think about a smoky nightclub in listening to this openly classic rock style piece.  This song is the equivalent of a musical time capsule that has been pried open.  It brings to the 21st century a sound that so many have tried and failed to emulate.  Together with the likes of ‘Tobacco Road’ and ‘I’m Still Playing’ ‘Gotta Get Away’ serves as more proof of why every rock and roll purist should hear Psychedelic Resurrection at least once.  That is not to discount the other songs on this record.  Every track on this record offers its own enjoyment and value.  And in listening to each of the songs that make up this record, audiences of all ages will agree that The Blues Magoos deserves to be more than the cult favorite that it was so many years ago.  It could well be more than that cult favorite when audiences and programmers nationwide give Psychedelic Resurrection at least one listen.

The Blues Magoos was never one of the biggest names in the music industry.  It was thanks to the band’s one major hit ‘(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet’ in the 1960s.  After that one song, the band never really was able to attain the same level of success earned thanks to that single song.  It has still managed to maintain its place in the rock pantheon, though, remaining one of the rock world’s best known unknown bands.  Confused yet? Ok.  Now thanks to its brand new release Psychedelic Resurrection, the Blues Magoos is set to make a name for itself again.  Thanks to the songs included on this record include both new songs and some revamped pieces, too.  One of the best of the songs included in this record is its closing number ‘Tobacco Road.’  The song’s bluesy sound instantly conjures thoughts of both The Grateful Dead and to a slightly lesser degree Deep Purple.  And while it runs just over five and a half minutes, the richness of the song makes it feel like it runs much longer.  That is meant in the best manner possible.  Front man “Peppy” Castro sings of a young man growing up in a difficult situation against the twelve-bar blues sound established by himself and lead guitarist Dennis LePore. Thielhelm sings of the young man’s upbringing, “I was born/In a dump/Momma died/And my daddy got drunk/They left me here/To die alone/In the middle of Tobacco Road/I grew up in/A rusty shack/All I had/Was what was hanging on my back/Only you know/How low/This place called Tobacco Road.”  Anyone that is a fan of The Doors will be able to catch a similarity to that band’s hit song ‘Roadhouse Blues’ in listening to this composition.  It is slight.  But it is there.  And it’s a nice touch, too.  Even Castro sounds a little like The Doors’ legendary front man Jim Morrison as he sings.  That makes this song even more of a joy for any purist rock and roll purists out there.  There are certain elements in the song that conjure thoughts of Deep Purple, too.  Such combination is certain to make this song a favorite among audiences regardless of their familiarity with The Blues Magoos.  Whether they are hearing the band for the first time or the first time in a long time, it is one of the best moments on this record.  It isn’t the record’s only positive moment, either.

‘Tobacco Road’ proves to be one of the best of Psychedelic Resurrection’s moments thanks to its direct link back to fellow greats of rock’s golden age such as The Doors, Deep Purple, and to a lesser extent The Grateful Dead.  ‘I’m Still Playing’ is another of the best moments from The Blues Magoos’ new album.  Unlike the album’s closer, this song is a much more straight-forward rock tune.  Its straight 4/4 time is driven largely by the band’s original drummer Geoff Daking.  His work on the kit alongside Castro’s vocals and work on the guitar may lead some to make a comparison to The Knack.  The song’s infectious chorus of “I’m still playin’/And you’re still hanging around” alone make this song another fun addition to the album.  Castro’s catchy riffs and Daking’s impeccable time keeping make the song even more enjoyable for audiences. The end result is one more song that given the opportunity will make The Blues Magoos more than just a one-hit wonder this time around.

Both ‘Tobacco Road’ and ‘I’m Still Playing’ are great additions to The Blues Magoos’ new record.  They serve as only a tiny cross section of the album’s enjoyable whole, though.  ‘Gotta Get Away’ is perhaps one of the best additions of all to this record.  The reason for that is the seeming musical bridge between music’s golden era and its more modern era.  Castro sounds a little bit like fellow veteran vocalist Elvis Costello in this song, while the song’s musical side bears resemblance to the likes of Neil Young during the verses.  The song’s chorus sections sound are throwbacks to the golden era of rock.  As with the previously noted songs Daking’s drumming and Castro’s guitar work serves as the song’s backbone.  It is one of those musical hybrids that absolutely must be heard to be fully understood and appreciated.   Audiences that give this song a chance and any of the others included in this album will agree that while The Blues Magoos was little more than a cult favorite way back in the 1960s, it could be far more than that today thanks to this album.  Given the chance by audiences and programmers alike, Psychedelic Resurrection will prove that despite the comments of the likes of Gene Simmons, rock is not dead, but alive and well.

Psychedelic Resurrection is available now in stores and online.  In celebration of the album’s release, The Blues Magoos will perform live tomorrow, October 16th at The Bowery Electric in New York City.  Audiences can also pick up the band’s album at that concert, too tomorrow.  More information on Psychedelic Resurrection and all of the latest updates and live dates from The Blues Magoos is available online at:

Website: http://www.thebluesmagoos.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blues-Magoos-Psychedelic-Resurrection/136384816418734

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.