This Is Your Life Is Not Just Another Throw-Away Tribute Album

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

Tribute albums are a dime a dozen. So many tribute albums are released each year that one can’t help but feel that the labels that release them care more about their bottom line than about actually celebrating said artists being given tribute. That being the case, one can’t help but wonder why This Is Your Life, the new tribute album to iconic rock front man Ronnie James Dio, would be any different from those records. The answer to that is not a simple one. One reason that this tribute album stands out is the list of performers and bands that recorded songs for the compilation. It’s a who’s who of hard rock from the past, present, and even future of the genre. Another reason that this compilation stands out is its track listing. This record boasts some of the most beloved songs of RJD’s career. And last but definitely not least important to consider in this record is the fact that it isn’t just a means for the label distributing it to make money. It actually doubles as a fundraiser for RJD’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. So it’s actually a record crafted to essentially help give back. How many bands, artists, groups, etc. can say that they have crafted an entire album simply to raise funds for charity? That–along with the list of songs and performers, bands, etc. on this album–makes This Is Your Life an album that stands well above the rest of the otherwise throw-away albums claiming to be tribute albums.

Courtesy:  Rhino Records

Courtesy: Rhino Records

The primary aspect of This Is Your Life that makes it stand out against all of the other tribute albums out there is the list of performers drafted to record songs for the record. The list of performers drafted for this record is a who’s who of hard rock’s past, present, and even future. It wasn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists and groups tossed together. Everybody tapped to record for this tribute record is either a counterpart to RJD or someone that grew up idolizing him and his talents. Veterans such as Anthrax, Motorhead, Scorpions, Biff Byford, and Rob Halford perform alongside younger acts such as Adrenaline Mob, Killswitch Engage, and Halestorm over the course of the record’s fourteen total tracks. That collection of bands and artists singing Dio’s hits is in itself a musical history lesson. It introduces younger audiences that might be more familiar with the latter grouping of bands and artists to the veterans and to the music of Dio. To that extent, This Is Your Life quickly earns major points. Even more points come from the sampling of Dio’s music in question chosen for this compilation.

The list of bands, artists, and groups tapped to record RJD’s music for This Is Your Life is in itself a major boon for the record. As noted, it isn’t just a mish-mash of bands, artists, and groups. It is a collection of bands, group, and artists that played alongside Dio during his career, and those that have come since, growing up with the music of Ronnie James Dio. In short, it’s a collection of individuals that have the utmost respect for Dio and his music. Speaking of that music, the songs chosen to be included on this record are another part of the whole that makes it so enjoyable for listeners. Every song on this record is a classic in its own way. From the more well-known pieces such as ‘The Mob Rules’, ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘Holy Diver’ to slightly lesser known songs such as ‘Straight Through The Heart’, Egypt (The Chains Are On’, and ‘Temple of the King’ This Is Your Life does quite the job of chronicling the career of a man that was and is still even in death, one of the greatest vocalists and performers in the history of hard rock.

The music and performers chosen for This Is Your Life are both key components of the success of the album. As important as they are to the success of the record, there is still one central aspect of the recording that makes it so worth picking up. That aspect is the fact that a certain portion of the sales of the album will go to benefit Dio’s Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which was established by Dio’s wife Wendy Dio. Bands, groups and artists go out on tour every year or they take part in fundraising concerts. How many artists can say they were part of a recording project that was also meant as a way to pay tribute to one of their own, too? It’s just like bringing home a hard rock festival without having to pay the exorbitant prices for tickets, souvenirs, sodas and more. And at the same time, audiences that purchase the album will actually be helping to fund an organization that works to research and promote awareness of cancer, as well as educate people about early detection in hopes of one day stopping it.

This Is Your Life is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ronnie-James-Dio-This-Your/dp/B00IACUO8S/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1396440364&sr=1-1&keywords=dio+this+is+your+life and can be downloaded via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/ronnie-james-dio-this-is-your/id829325064.

More information on Ronnie James Dio, This Is Your Life and other RJD releases is available online at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio and http://www.ronniejamesdio.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, 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.

Adrenaline Mob To Join AX7, Hellyeah On Shepherd Of Fire Tour

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Adrenaline Mob will join Avenged Sevenfold and Hellyeah on the road this Spring.

The band will join the “Shepherd of Fire” tour beginning Wednesday, April 16th in Moose Jaw, SK.  The performances are part of Adrenaline Mob’s larger schedule in support of its sophomore album Men of Honor.  Along with its dates on the “Shepherd of Fire” tour, Adrenaline Mob will perform at its own headlining dates during off days.  The band will also support Hellyeah on its headlining dates both during and after the “Shepherd of Fire” tour.  Adrenaline Mob’s schedule on the “Shepherd of Fire” tour is listed below.

Dates for the Avenged Sevenfold/Hellyeah/Adrenaline Mob shows are:

 

April 16th- Moose Jaw, SK Mosaic Place

April 17th- Edmonton, AB Shaw Conference Centre

April 19th- Winnipeg, MB MTS Center

April 21st- Minneapolis, MN Target Center

April 23rd- Huntsville, AL Von Braun Center

April 28th- Lafayette, LA Cajundome

April 30th- Hollywood, FL Hard Rock Live

May 6th- Knoxville, TN Knoxville Civic Coliseum

May 8th- Hershey PA Giant Center

May 12th- Quebec City, QC Colisee Pepsi Arena

May 13th- Montreal, QC Bell Centre

May 15th- Syracuse, NY Oncenter Complex

 

More information on Adrenaline Mob’s new album Men of Honor and its tour schedule is available online at http://www.facebook.com/adrenalinemob, http://adrenalinemob.com, and http://twitter.com/AdrenalineMobMen of Honor can be downloaded now via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/men-of-honor/id794415264, via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Men-Honor-Adrenaline-Mob/dp/B00HGFILLM/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1395001186&sr=1-1&keywords=Men+of+Honor and through the Century Media online store at http://www.centurymedia.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=551.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Adrenaline Mob Signs New Deal With Century Media

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Century Media Records is proud to announce that it has added Adrenaline Mob to its artist roster.  The band—Russell Allen (vocals), Mike Orlando (guitar), John Moyer (bass) and A.J. Pero (drums)—will release its next album, Men of Honor via Century Media on February 24th worldwide and February 18th in North America.  The album was self –produced by Allen and Orlando.  The pair also co-wrote the album’s eleven songs.

The band’s new deal with Century Media also means the band will stream a new song from its new album each week beginning with its current single, ‘The Mob is Back.’  That single is streaming now.  It all leads up to the release of the band’s new album.  Fans can stream each new song at the band’s official website, http://www.adrenalinemob.com.

A world tour in support of Men of Honor is currently in the works for 2014.  More information on the band’s upcoming album, tour, and more is available online at http://www.adrenalinemob.com, http://www.facebook.com/adrenalinemob, and http://twitter.com/AdrenalineMob.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Winery Dogs’ Debut A Super Record From A True Supergroup

Courtesy:  Loud & Proud Records

Courtesy: Loud & Proud Records

2013 has been quite a year for new rock records.  The list of new records vying to make critics’ lists of the year’s best is already cluttered.  And the year’s not even out yet.  That list already includes releases from the likes of:  Pop Evil, Queensryche, Buckcherry, Filter and Joe Satriani just to name a handful of releases.  Now with the release of its self-titled release, rock trio The Winery Dogs has added its name to that already massively cluttered landscape.  The band—Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater, Adrenaline Mob), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big), and Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big, Poison)—instantly draws comparisons to Chickenfoot from early on with its brand of rock.  If one were to listen to this and not know it was another band, one would instantly think one was listening to the latter of the two.  Even vocalist Richie Kotzen sounds at times like Chickenfoot front man Sammy Hagar.  At others, he sounds like Soundgarden/former Audioslave front man Chris Cornell.  The similarity in the singers’ voices is eerie.

The band’s new self-titled album is a solid mix of sounds, opening with a trio of heavier, energy-laden songs in: ‘Elevate’, ‘Desire’ and ‘We Are One.’  From there, things slow down a little bit in ‘I’m No Angel’ ‘The Other Side’ and ‘You Saved Me.’  What’s interesting here is that while this trio of songs is a little more subdued, there is still a certain controlled energy throughout all three.  The guitar solos in ‘We Are One’ along with Portnoy’s expert drumming in this song is just one of so many of the album’s highlights.  ‘You Saved Me’ is impressive not just because of its musical content, but also for its uplifting lyrical content.  Kotzen sings, “You saved me in my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You gave me all my strength and power/And when sunshine turned to grey/In my darkest hour/You stood by me and stayed/You stood with me/My guiding angel.”  This could be interpreted in a religious sense.  It could just as easily be considered more in the sense of a relationship.  Regardless of which angle one takes here, the ballad with its moving music and equally uplifting lyrics is sure to impress any listener. 

‘You Saved Me’ is a fitting midpoint for The Winery Dogs’ debut record.  That is because it is after this point that things pick back up beginning with what is one of the best of the best from this record in ‘Not Hopeless.’  This song is a standout thanks to the contradiction of the heavier, slower sludge rock style verses to the more standard rock style choruses.  Kotzen shows throughout both sections (and his solos) that he can easily hold his own alongside fellow guitar great Zakk Wylde here.  And if this isn’t enough to get listeners excited, the album’s next track, ‘One More Time’ definitely will.  Bass virtuoso Billy Sheehan gets his chance to shine in this up-tempo prog rock piece alongside Portnoy.  Sheehan gets his own solo alongside Portnoy in the song’s bridge.  Kotzen eventually joins in to add in his own spice, too.  By the time the song ends, it will have left listeners in awe of the trio’s talent once more.  Forget the lyrics.  This song is entirely about the talent of these three musicians.  And it definitely doesn’t disappoint.

After the high energy of ‘One More Time’ and ‘Not Hopeless’, the band slows things down only momentarily in ‘Damaged’ and ‘Six Feet Deeper.’  This gives listeners just enough time to catch their collective breath before diving back in the deep end again on the album’s final trio of songs.  ‘Time Machine’, ‘The Dying’, and ‘Regret’ finish off the album.  And they do so in expert form.  The energy in these three songs is just enough to keep listeners engaged right to the final notes without skipping even one song.  Suffice it to say that listeners that are familiar with the musicianship of Sheehan, Portnoy and Kotzen will be just as impressed with this record as anything else that the trio has recorded throughout its career.  For those that are new to the trio’s talents, these final three songs are certain to seal the deal and make new fans of three of the most talented individuals in the music industry today. 

Winery Dogs’ debut record is slated to be released Tuesday, July 23rd via Loud & Proud Records.  Fans can pre-order it now via the Loud & Proud Records website at http://loudandproudrecords.com/releases/winery-dogs/.  In the meantime, fans can check out the band’s new album live on its tour.  It will be touring through Japan and South America during the month of July before coming back to the United States on August 3rd.  Fans can get a full list of the band’s tour dates online at http://www.facebook.com/TheWineryDogs.  Fans can also “Like” the Winery Dogs’ Facebook page for all of the latest news and updates from the band.

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

Scale The Summit Impresses Once Again On Its New LP

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Metal Blade Records was a powerhouse of a record label in 2012.  It led this critic’s lists of the year’s best rock records, best Hard Rock/Metal albums, and Best Albums overall with releases from Horisont, O.S.I., Gypsyhawk, and Trioscapes, just to name a handful.  But with 2013 now halfway over, this critic’s list of the year’s best Hard Rock and Metal albums at least is being controlled by a different label.  This year, Prosthetic Records leads the way in the world of Hard Rock and Metal.  Holy Grail, which is being touted as the second coming of Judas Priest tops the list of the year’s best metal records with its sophomore album, Ride the Void.  And now with the upcoming release of its brand new album, The Migration, Scale the Summit becomes the second band signed to Prosthetic Records to make this critic’s list of the year’s best Hard Rock and Metal albums.

The Migration is an impressive introduction to this Houston, Texas based band for first-time listeners.  It’s just as welcome a return for long-time fans.  The band wastes no time getting right into the swing of things with this album.  Its opener, ‘Odyssey’ is a fittingly titled piece.  In its roughly five-minute plus run-time, the band—Chris Letchford (7 & 8-String guitars), Travis Levrier (7-String Guitars), Mark Michell (6-string bass), and Pat Skeffington (drums, percussion)—takes listeners on a three movement opus that boasts three completely different musical emotions.  Most interesting about this is that those listeners that are open minded enough will be able to close their eyes and truly take in all three movements and understand the emotion being presented in each one.  It is a song that more than makes for a solid re-introduction for the band after having spent the past couple years touring in support of its previous release, 2011’s The Collective.

‘Odyssey’ as a whole is an impressive opener to the Migration.  Looking deeper into the song, the transition from the song’s slower, more subdued third movement into ‘Atlas Novus’ is another factor to note in the success of the upcoming album.  The transition itself is notable as it’s not the only time on this album that this happens.  It is just one of so many transitions that make The Migration one of those rare albums this year, which audiences will enjoy taking in from start to finish without skipping songs.  That’s not to say that The Migration is some instrumental concept album.  It’s anything but.  It’s just that the sequencing (along with the equally impressive production and mixing) has made this album so easy on the ears.

Getting back to the songs as a whole, ‘Atlas Novus’ is more subdued than ‘Odyssey’ by and large.  But it also has its own kick.  Fans of fellow experimental rock band Animals as Leaders will appreciate this piece with its controlled guitar and bass runs throughout its run time that also comes in at just over five minutes.  In an odd way, it proves the old adage that less truly is more.  That’s because as impressive as the song’s runs are, Letchford and company prove in the song, that some of the best riffs are ones that are not loud, shredding riffs, but softer, more controlled pieces.  Drummer Pat Skeffington gets his own opportunity to shine here, too.  Skeffington shows that he’s just as good as Mike Portnoy (Adrenaline Mob, ex-Dream Theater) or any other far more experienced drummer here and throughout the album.  He shows that he can handle some extremely tough polyrhythmic patterns without missing a beat and even some simpler rhythms, too.    

So much was done right with this album that one could ramble on for some time on everything right with this record.  As already noted, it’s not just the songs, but the album’s sequencing and its general production that makes it one more record that the band’s long-time fans will enjoy just as much as new listeners.  The variety of musical styles from harder edged prog-metal to a slightly progressive jazz sound to something a little softer make this album worth more than just one listen, too.  It will prove with each listen to be an album that grows on listeners more each time.  Considering all of this, it may end up even on this critic’s list of the year’s best albums overall.  The Migration will be available in stores and online Tuesday, June 11th.  It can be ordered online via the Prosthetic Records store at http://www.indiemerch.com/prostheticrecords/item/19303.

The band is currently on tour in support of its new album.  Fans in North Carolina will get to see the band live in Charlotte on Saturday, June 22nd at the Tremont Music Hall.  It will be joined by Intronaut and Mouth of the Architect.  The show is slated to start at 9:00pm.  Tickets range from $13 – $15.  They can be purchased online at http://www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/244625?skinName=tfly&utm_medium=api&wrKey=AF9450BAA81C7D8C2DAA1CA5ED7CAC4F

For the most current list of tour dates, all the latest news and more from the band, fans can “Like” the band on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/scalethesummit.  Fans can also keep up with the band online at http://www.scalethesummit.com

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.