Arch Enemy Impresses Once More With New Album, Vocalist

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Stalwart Swedish metal band Arch Enemy released its ninth full length studio effort last month.  While being the ninth full length release for the band, it is the first for the band with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz.  Gluz, the former vocalist of The Agonist, replaced now former Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow earlier this year, shocking a number of fans.  After having spent some thirteen years as the band’s vocalist, one might think that such a shakeup might not be such a good thing.  But as this album has evidenced, it might be the proverbial kick in the pants that the band needed.  As audiences will note in listening through the album, the band has taken the speed/death metal sound that made it famous throughout its previous albums and added a thrash element to the mix, making the album even more of interest to audiences. One of the best of this album is its title track and lead single. The social commentary of the song’s lyrical side alongside the pure aggression and power in the music make it clear why it was chosen as the album’s lead. ‘You Will Know my Name’ will catch listeners’ ears just as much with its scathing indictment of those people that would call themselves friends to ones face but talk trash behind one’s back. The song’s musical side along with that indictment will reach so many listeners. And the instrumental ‘Graveyard of Dreams’ is another show of talent from guitarist Michael Amott. These are just a few samples of what Arch Enemy offers audiences on its latest full length effort. Together with the album’s other songs, they are sure to impress any fan new or old.

Arch Enemy leads off its first album with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz in grand fashion with the absolutely searing ‘War Eternal.’ A better choice for the band’s re-introduction couldn’t have been chosen. Anyone that is familiar with Arch Enemy’s body of work will be just as impressed with this song as those that might be newer to the band’s sound. The song, penned by Amott—Amott wrote the lyrics to each song as an added note—is rife with social commentary. Amott writes in this song, “Friend or foe/There’s no way to know/Through the battlefield of life/It’s ill or be killed/So many times/It’s a matter of degree/From being up on your luck/To down on your knees.” He’s writing about life ingeneral and how it can be tough and easy from one point to another. He goes on to write about those that would make life difficult, writing that “They try to change you/Crush and break you/Try to tell you what to do/They’d like to have control of you.” Whether it be politicians, those within one’s own social circles or otherwise, there is not one person out there to whom this song doesn’t relate. Through all the difficulties, he reminds listeners not to give up, writing, “Search deep inside/Remember who you are.” In the end, it proves to be a song of self-empowerment and inner strength. Again, what better way to introduce the band’s new album?

‘War Eternal’ proves with the combination of its searing musical side and equally powerful lyrical theme of self-empowerment to be the perfect choice to introduce Arch Enemy’s new album. Just as impressive from this new album is the similarly themed ‘You Will Know My Name.’ It doesn’t boast the same buzz saw guitars and machine gum drumming. But the way in which it builds from almost a brooding opening into the driving classic sound which audiences have come to know will impress just as much. That slow boil helps to heighten the song’s lyrical side, in which Amott writes about false friends. He writes of said individuals in this song, “The judging eyes watching me/Is all I’ve ever known/When I try to open up my heart/I am ridiculed and torn apart/You tell jokes I’ll never get to hear/Behind my back at my expense.” He tackles the things that those false friends like to say about others, writing that “There’s something inside me/And I know it’s good/I’m not evil, just misunderstood…Today I break my silence/Strip you of your dignity/Tear down your perfect world/Your perfect lies…No longer invisible/You will know my name.” In its own way, this could be the anthem of those who have been bullied for years on end. And just as the blues helps people in tough situations feel better, so could this song help those who have been bullied by fake friends, and perhaps even prevent them from doing what so many others before have done. To that extent, Amott and his band mates are again to be applauded for this song’s inclusion on this album.

‘War Eternal’ and ‘You Will Know My Name’ are both powerful and important additions to Arch Enemy’s latest full length effort. They both show the band’s technical abilities and its ability to reach fans lyrically as well. Just as much as the band exhibits its continued talents through the aforementioned songs, it shows once again that it can create deep emotion solely with its musical abilities. This is evidenced in the fully instrumental piece, ‘Graveyard of Dreams.’ The song only runs one minute and ten seconds. Even within that short time, it generates quite the emotion thanks to Amott’s guitar work. The very title, ‘Graveyard of Dreams’ creates an image of someone in the depths of depression. And Amott’s guitar work illustrates this image even better. As with ‘You Will Know My Name,’ the depth of emotion expressed in this song could actually serve as music therapy of sorts. That is because of the band’s ability to relate to listeners even just through music. Listeners will hear the music expressing how they might be feeling. In turn, it could serve as a point of strength. Yet again, the members of Arch Enemy are to be applauded here. It is yet one more piece of the whole that makes War Eternal another impressive release from Arch Enemy.

‘War Eternal,’ ‘You Will Know My Name,’ and ‘Graveyard of Dreams’ are each great additions to War Eternal. They are only part of what makes this album a success for the band. The albums’ remaining songs each pose their own argument for the album’s success. And audiences new and old alike will agree to that in hearing the album in its entirety. War Eternal is available now in stores and online. It is available both in standard and Limited Edition Triple-Disc set online via the Century Media Records store at http://www.cmdistro.com/Item/Arch_Enemy_-_War_Eternal_-Ltd._CD_Mediabook_Edit.-/47541?Aff=cus and http://www.cmdistro.com/Item/Arch_Enemy_-_War_Eternal_Ltd._Deluxe_Artbook_-3CD-/47540?Aff=cus. More information on War Eternal, Arch Enemy’s current tour schedule and all the latest from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial and http://www.archenemy.net. 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.

Arch Enemy, The Agonist Announce New Vocalists

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Two bands on Century Media’s roster have new vocalists.

Arch Enemy announced this week that long-time vocalist Angela Gossow has stepped down and will focus her energies on management.  The band announced that in her place, it has tapped former vocalist of extreme Canadian metal band The Agonist, Alissa White-Gluz as the band’s new vocalist.  Having taken over vocal duties with Arch Enemy, White-Gluz has been replaced in The Agonist by Vick y Psarakis.

Members of both bands released statement on the vocalist carousel switch-up.  In regards to naming Psarakis the new vocalist of The Agonist, that band’s members released the following statement:

“Today we announce that after 3 albums and countless tours we officially part ways with vocalist Alissa White-Gluz. We wish Alissa all the best with Arch Enemy and her future endeavors.

 

It is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for The Agonist! We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to the The Agonist family. Please give a warm welcome to very talented vocalist Vicky Psarakis!

 

Stay tuned for new The Agonist material coming VERY soon!”

 

Angela Gossow also shared her thoughts on her decision to step down as Arch Enemy’s vocalist and her thoughts on her own personal future.  She sent the following message to Arch Enemy’s fans.

 

“Dear ARCH ENEMY fans, this is not easy to tell you…I have decided to step down from being ARCH ENEMY’s voice of anger. After 13 years of pure fucking metal, 6 studio albums and countless tours through five continents, I feel the need to enter a different phase in my life, be with my family and pursue other interests. I will however remain business manager for ARCH ENEMY, and I will continue to develop my artist management roster.

I am staying true to my heavy metal roots, just leaving the spotlight so to speak. I am passing the torch to the super talented Alissa White-Gluz, whom I’ve known as a dear friend and a superb vocalist for many years. I always thought she deserved a chance to shine – and now she’s getting it. Just like I got that chance back in 2001.

I want to thank all ARCH ENEMY fans, our labels Century Media (worldwide) and Trooper Entertainment (Japan), our dedicated road crew, and in particular Michael, Daniel and Sharlee for their love and support throughout all these years. It’s been one hell of a ride! We conquered every situation, made it through thick & thin together in the most exciting and rewarding time of my life. Thank you all for being there with me on stage, in front of the stage, and backstage. You have touched my heart, and I hope I was able to give something back to you. I am grateful for the wonderful memories – I will cherish them forever!

I am looking forward to the next decade of ARCH ENEMY madness! Right now I am listening through rough mixes of the new studio album and I am blown away! 2014 will see a renewed ARCH ENEMY at the top of their game. I am proud to be part of this ARCH ENEMY chapter, albeit in a different way – revving up the engines behind the scenes. I hope to see you in front of the stage; I will join you there this time. Let the killing begin, once again!”

 

White-Gluz was ecstatic in her statement regarding being asked to take on vocal duties for Arch Enemy.  She explained about how she had been a fan of Arch Enemy and Angela Gossow ever since the band’s 2001 album Wages of Sin.  She released the following statement regarding the announcement.

 

“I am very honored and happy to announce a new chapter in my life and musical career beginning now; I have joined forces with one of my all-time favorite and globally respected bands, ARCH ENEMY. ‘Wages of Sin’ was the first metal album I ever bought, and it was love at first listen. It is not often that you get a phone call from your favorite band asking you to join! I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such amazingly talented musicians whom I also consider great friends. I look forward to being able to write and perform at a whole new level now with ARCH ENEMY! Music is forever, metal is limitless and this is only the beginning!”

 

Arch Enemy’s founder and lead guitarist Michael Amott spoke fondly of Gossow when asked about her departure and replacement.  He noted her devotion to the band and about his expectations for the band’s future with White-Gluz.

 

“We are eternally grateful to Angela for all her passion, hard work and talent. Her legacy is tremendous and will always be a big part of the band’s history. We feel great pride in what has been achieved in the past, but also look forward to new battles and new victories. We welcome Alissa with open arms – and we hope you will have open ears. We might have just created our most wicked metal opus yet with our upcoming album ‘War Eternal’!”

 

Arch Enemy will release its new album War Eternal worldwide via Century Media Records and via Trooper Entertainment in Japan.  The band will kick off a European tour in support of War Eternal on May 23rd in Bucharest, Romania.  The band’s tour runs thirty-seven dates and runs through October 3rd in Yekaterinburg, Russia.  The band’s current tour itinerary is listed below.

 

ARCH ENEMY Confirmed Live Dates:

23.05.2014 Turbohalle, Bucharest, Romania

24.05.2014 Metal Summer Festival, Istanbul, Turkey

25.05.2014 Mixtape 5 , Sofia, Bulgaria

27.05.2014 Majestic Music Club, Bratislava, Slovakia

29.05.2014 Rock and Roll Arena, Romagnano Sesia (Novara), Italy

30.05.2014 New Age Club, Roncade, Italy

02.06.2014 L’Etage, Rennes, France

03.06.2014 Le 106, Rouen, France

04.06.2014 La Laiterie, Strasbourg, France

05.06.2014 Rosenhof, Osnabrück, Germany

07.06.2014 Sweden Rock Festival, Sölvesborg, Sweden

09.06.2014 Studio USF, Bergen, Norway

10.06.2014 John Dee, Oslo, Norway

11.06.2014 Copenhell, Copenhagen, Denmark

13.06.2014 Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany

14.06.2014 Conrad Sohm, Dornbirn, Austria

15.06.2014 Nova Rock – Nickelsdorf, Austria
27.06.2014 Rock am Härtsfeldsee, Dischingen, Germany

09.07.2014 RockMaraton, Pecs, Hungary

11.07.2014 Rock Harz Open Air, Ballenstedt, Germany

12.07.2014 Masters Of Rock, Vizovice, Czech Republic

13.07.2014 Seven Festival, Wegorzewo, Poland

19.07.2014 Dong Open Air, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany

02.08.2014 Wacken Open Air, Wacken, Germany

07.08.2014 Getaway Rock, Gävle, Sweden

08.08.2014 Leyendas Del Rock, Alicante, Spain

09.08.2014 Alcatraz Metal Festival, Kortrijk, Belgium

14.08.2014 Summer Breeze, Dinkelsbühl, Germany

17.08.2014 Alt-Fest, Kettering, UK

22.09.2014 Re:Republic, Minsk, Belarus

23.09.2014 Yunost’, Kiev, Ukraine

25.09.2014 Arena Hall, Krasnodar, Russia

27.09.2014 Glav Club, Moscow, Russia

28.09.2014 Zal Ozhidaniya, Saint Petersburg, Russia

30.09.2014 Otdykh Club, Novosibirsk, Russia

01.10.2014 Angar Club, Omsk, Russia

03.10.2014 Tele Club, Yekaterinburg, Russia

More information on Arch Enemy is available online at http://www.archenemy.net, http://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial, and http://twitter.com/archenemymetal.  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.

Arch Enemy Announces Details On New Album, Performances

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Arch Enemy has begun work on its latest full length studio effort.

The Swedish-based “extreme metal” band has started mixing on what will be its ninth full length studio release.  The new album, titled War Eternal, is expected to be released this June.  Guitarist Michael Amott explained the meaning behind the title in a recent interview.  “A lot of times life is a struggle, a war against what I like to call ‘mental chains’ in society that try to prevent you from living life the way you want, that try to stop you from making your dreams come true. I have always resented that and I always will. The title sums up our collective attitude a band as well; stages will be destroyed, eardrums will bleed. There will be no choice. This, ladies and gentlemen, is ‘War Eternal’…

Amott went on to explain what fans can expect from War Eternal, musically and lyrically.  Musically, this album is going a few places we haven’t visited before. As our fans have come expect, our albums have all had their own vibe and ‘War Eternal’ will leave its own mark. Lyrically it’s a much more personal record, and I feel the songs have more dynamics and depth than ever before. The songs are loaded with strong and vicious metal, drenched in tons of melody and emotion. All the trademarks of ARCH ENEMY are present, just more in your face and turned up to 11″.

The band will debut some of its new material early this year during its European tour before the album is released in June.  That tour will be followed by a full run of European Summer Festivals including: Sweden Rock, Wacken Open Air Festival and more.  Arch Enemy will then head out for its own headlining tour across Europe, the UK, and North America this Fall and Winter.

More information on Arch Enemy’s upcoming album, performances and more is available online at http://www.archenemy.net, http://www.facebook.com/archenemyofficial, and http://twitter.com/archenemymetal.  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.

Gus G. Debuts EPK Ahead Of New Single, Album Release

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Ozzy Osbourne guitarist and Firewind front man Gus G. will release his debut solo album this Spring.  I Am The Fire is scheduled to be released March 18th in the United States.  It will be released March 17th in Europe.  It will be released worldwide via Century Media Records.  Before he releases his debut, Gus G. has released a brand new EPK that offers audiences a look inside the making of the album.  Fans can check out the new EPK online now via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJd38EoTLkA&feature=youtu.be.

The album’s title track is impacting radio now.  It is currently playing on Sirius RadioXM Octane.  It will be added to mainstream radio stations’ playlists beginning next Tuesday, February 18th.  It features the members of hard rock band Devour The Day as special guests.  It will go on sale digitally via iTunes February 25th.  The track listing for I Am The Fire is listed below.

        ‘I AM THE FIRE’ TRACK LISTING:

  1. My Will Be Done (feat. Mats Levén)
  2. Blame It On Me (feat. Mats Levén)
  3. I Am The Fire (feat. Devour The Day)
  4. Vengeance (feat. David Ellefson)
  5. Long Way Down (feat. Alexia Rodriguez)
  6. Just Can’t Let Go (feat. Jacob Bunton)
  7. Terrified (feat. Billy Sheehan)
  8. Eyes Wide Open (feat. Mats Levén)
  9. Redemption (feat. Michael Starr)
  10. Summer Days (feat. Jeff Scott Soto)
  11. Dreamkeeper (feat. Tom S. Englund)
  12. End Of The Line (feat. Mats Levén)

Gus G. handled all guitar, bass, and keyboard parts on his solo debut.  Brought along for the record were drummers Jeff Friedl (A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Devo) and, Daniel Erlandsson (Arch Enemy) bassists David Ellefson (Megadeth), Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), and Marty O’Brien (Tommy Lee, We Are The Fallen), and vocalists Mats Leven (Candlemass, ex-Yngwie Malmstein/Therion), Blake Allison (Devour The Day), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Alexia Rodriguez (Eyes Set To Kill),Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), Jacob Bunton (Adler) and Jeff Scott Soto (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, ex-Journey).  The album was produced by Jay Ruston (Stone Sour, Anthrax, Steel Panther).

More information on Gus G., his new album, tour news and more is available online at http://www.gusgofficial.com, http://www.facebook.com/officialgusg, and http://twitter.com/gusgofficial.  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.

Of Conquest Is A Surprisingly Entertaining High Seas Hard Rock Epic

Courtesy:  Adrenaline PR

Courtesy: Adrenaline PR

Odds are that many American metal audiences have never heard of Scythia.  That all changes here and now.  Anyone that is a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Judas Priest, In Flames, and even Dream Theater will enjoy the latest release from the Canadian power/prog rock band.  Of Conquest, the band’s fourth full length studio release, offers audiences even more adventure from the four-piece.  Stylistically speaking, this new record presents a sound that fans have come to know from the band’s previous records.  In terms of its content, the band has offered its fans something new once again.  Instead of delving into the world of warriors, wizards, the band has opted this time for a high seas hard rock epic.  Those that might be new to the music of Scythia will enjoy this record first and foremost of its musical content.  While this record boasts a sound similar to Scythia’s previous records, the sound stands out because of its hybrid qualities.  This will be discussed later.  The story presented in Of Conquest is just as certain to entertain any pure blooded metal head that is open-minded enough to give the record a chance.  In giving it a chance, said audiences may very well themselves find this new record to be one of their own favorite rock albums.

The musical side of Scythia’s new record is relatively similar to that of the band’s previous records.  On the surface, it comes across as another power/prog rock record, stylistically speaking.  But a deeper listen reveals something even more intriguing. The band’s sound is actually a subtle hybrid sound.  While the power/prog element comes out above others, there are also some obviously Swedish metal influences, too.  That’s obvious in the performance of lead guitarist/vocalist Dave Khan and even drummer/backing vocalist Celine Derval.  As a matter of fact, if one were to listen to this record without knowing that Derval was a member of the band, one would swear that the screaming female vocals that are interwoven into certain songs were that of Arch Enemy vocalist Angela Gossow.  Speaking of Arch Enemy, Dave Khan’s prowess on the guitar is just as impressive as that of Michael Amott and other fellow Swedish shredders.  It just goes to show the influence of Swedish metal on the rock world.  Some might consider it musical heresy, but Khan’s own vocals are even on par with the likes of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and others.  Considering that this band released its debut album only four years ago, that is saying something.  Audiences that give this new record a chance will be surprised to find themselves agreeing with this comparison, too.  The positives of Of Conquest  don’t end here, either.  Just as noteworthy with this latest release is the album’s lyrical side.

Scythia has given its audiences a new story with each one of its previous releases.  Those releases have been steeped in fantasy and legend somewhere along the lines of perhaps Amon Amarth and others, only toned down.  There is still plenty of myth on Of Conquest.  But this time, the myth is used in a high seas hard rock opera of sorts.  This album presents a young protagonist that decides to take to the high seas in the late 1500s.  At first things seem great.  But it doesn’t take long before the young unnamed subject finds himself on quite the adventure.  From getting caught in an unforgiving storm to battling a kraken to facing some unspeakable figures late in his journey, he has great odds to face.  Making the story all the more interesting to take in is the fact that despite the band’s hybrid hard rock/metal sound, Khan actually sings his way through each “chapter” of the story.  So it’s actually possible to understand what is going on without a dire need for a lyric booklet.  Don’t misunderstand that statement.  Lyric booklets are always a nice addition for any artist’s album, regardless of genre.  It’s just that easy to understand the story.  And that is the final piece of what makes this album a surprisingly enjoyable record.  The band currently has no live events planned.  But fans that want to hear the band live or those that want to check out the new album when it is released can keep up with the band online at http://www.scythia.ca and http://www.facebook.com/scythiametal.  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.

The Final Revolution Is The First Great Hard Rock/Metal Album Of 2014

Courtesy:  SPV/Steamhammer Records

Courtesy: SPV/Steamhammer Records

The Final Revolution, the latest release from veteran New York based hardcore band Pro-Pain, is the first great hard rock record of 2014. The band’s album, its fourteenth, displays a band that shows no sign of stopping, despite its title. The album dozen tracks total just over half an hour. Yes that’s short. But in that time, the band—Gary Meskil (vocals/bass), Adam Phillips (Lead Guitar), Marshall Stephens (Rhythm Guitar), and Jonas Sanders (drums)—offers its fans a collection of songs that will hit them like a musical megaton bomb. It all starts with the relentless ‘Deathwish.’ Meskil and company grab listeners by the ear from the opening moments of this speed/thrash metal style song and refuse to let go even after the song’s end.  Considering that this band has been running full steam since 1991, the merciless metal onslaught of this song as an opener is quite the re-introduction for Meskil and company.  The official video for the song is available online now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2tEetO2eSU.

This critic has already noted that the members of Pro-Pain refuse to back down at any point in the band’s new album. Every song on this new record will have purist metal heads proudly raising their horns high.  ‘One Shot, One Kill’, the album’s second song exhibits this quite well.  It is just as brutal as ‘Deathwish.’  As brutal as it is, it doesn’t have the same speed/thrash metal style sound.  This song’s style is more straight hardcore. All four of the band’s members work with the same precision in this song, as the military figures that don the album. One can so easily see this being a fan favorite both on record and live. It would be so easy to see fans singing along, fists pumping in the air as Meskil and company scream, “One shot/One kill” in the song’s bridge and final moments. Guitarist Adam Phillips shines in the bridge as he drives through his solo. He shows that he is no lightweight. Listeners will note that Phillips’ solo is akin to the style of Arch Enemy’s Michael Amott and Slipknot’s own Mick Thompson.  And it isn’t the only spot on this album in which he and his fellow musicians so expertly exhibit their talents, either.

One more example of what makes The Final Revolution such a strong new album from Pro-Pain is the full on anthem that is ‘Want Some?’  Meskil screams in this song, “Can you see the hate and pain in my eyes/The way they seem to cut through you/The wrath of a billion tortured souls/Will come crashing down through/This God forsaken place called Earth/And leave a voice so well-deserved/In this life you get what you give/So listen up/For if you want some/You better come quick/And come clean/Before reality hits you like a brick.”  He leaves absolutely no question as to what he is saying here.  He doesn’t stop here, writing in the song’s second verse, “I don’t give a f*** what was said/I listen to the voices in my head/Before I take note of what you say/On this particular s***** day/Division has reached a feverous pitch/And in the end, we won’t be missed…”  This is full on defiance in every sense of the word.  The outright defiance mixed with the song’s pummeling musical side makes this song one of the highest of highs on The Final Revolution.  And it would again be no surprise if it becomes a fan favorite for this reason both in on record in a live setting.  The same can be said of the other songs noted in this review.  Fans will get to hear each of these songs and all of the album’s others when it drops on January 21st, 2014.  The band is currently touring Europe in support of its upcoming album.  More tour dates are planned.  Fans can keep up with all of the latest tour updates, news, and more from Pro-Pain while they await the album’s release on the band’s official website and Facebook pages at http://www.pro-pain.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/PRO-PAIN-OFFICIAL-PAGE/215861125115781.  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.

ESTK’s Latest LP Could Be The Band’s Breakout Record

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

Arizona based metalcore band Eyes Set to Kill released its latest full length album back in September.  Masks is not the band’s first album.  But it is the first for the band on its new home, Century Media Records.  And it is more proof of why Century Media has gradually become the rightful leading label in the rock community.  The band’s new album is so impressive because it actually stands out among the far too overcrowded metalcore field.  One listen through Masks reveals Eyes Set To Kill to present a sound that fuses elements of Lacuna Coil, Kittie, and even Evanescence to a lesser degree in terms of its sound.  Lyrically, the songs collected for this album come across as having come from a very personal place.  That mix of personal lyrics and equally powerful music make the band’s latest effort one that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear at least once.

Masks is not the first album from Eyes Set To Kill.  But for those that might be new to this Arizona based band’s music, it is an excellent introduction.  Singer Alexia Rodriguez noted of the title to the band’s new album that it was the result of essentially feeling fake.  She said of dealing with certain people through the band’s history, ”I felt like we were wearing a bunch of masks to impress people. At one point, I had a bit of a revelation. We have gone through so many changes over the years, but it wasn’t about anybody else. It was about us – we’ve really found the band’s face at this point. We aren’t wearing masks anymore.”  She couldn’t be more right.  Her response to those people is made clear on this album’s opener/title track.  The song clocks in at less than two minutes.  In that short time, she throws no punches, singing, “I love the ways they tell us/This is who you should be/We put our faces on/Just like a mask/While they’re trying to make a fool out of me.”  Sadly, this is the case with so many record labels out there even today.  They are controlled by people that are more concerned with the bottom line than actually helping bands and artists develop their talent.  Her response is exactly what so many other bands have felt as far as memory serves.  Making the song even better is the fact that she didn’t just go the classless route and put any one person or label on blast.  She just made a blanket statement that still expressed what she and her band mates felt.  The manner in which the song starts off, eventually building to its peak makes the combination of music and lyrics hit even harder.

As short as it is, the title track from Eyes Set To Kill’s new album is a proper way to open the album.  It’s just one of the songs that listeners will find enjoyable.  Audiences that might be new to the music of Eyes Set To Kill will find that singer Alexis Rodriguez shares vocal duties with fellow band mate Cisko Miranda throughout the band’s new record.  The side-by-side of the two vocalists’ talents is certain to draw comparisons to certain other bands.  Yet the pairing still manages to help make the band’s music stand out at the same time.  One example of how the duo’s vocal pairing stands out comes early on in the album’s third track, ‘Lost and Forgotten.’  Miranda handles the song’s verses while he and Rodriguez share vocal duties in the song’s chorus.  Miranda exhibits quite the power in his vocals as he screams, “We are the scum of the Earth/The voice in the crowd/Of a thousand mouths/The ones who fight on/Because we’ll always fight on/Oh, we’ll never back down.”  That opening verse leaves no room for interpretation.  The song itself is a no nonsense, fist-pumping anthem much along the lines of Slipknot’s ‘Pulse of the Maggots’ or certain songs from Disturbed and other hard rock acts.  That is to say it is similar to those pieces in terms of its defiant lyrics.  It serves to carry on the long-standing tradition of hard rock bands flipping the proverbial bird to those that would look down their noses at the metal minions around the world.  For that fact alone, and for its equally impressive musical side, this song becomes another highlight to ESTK’s new album.

‘Lost and Forgotten’ is easily one of the best of the best from ESTK’s new record.  It should be emphasized here that it’s just one of the album’s highpoints.  There are so many songs from which listeners will find to call their favorite(s).  This critic will provide just one more song as another of that mass of high points offered in this record.  That song is ‘Infected.’  This song lyrically seems to come from a personal place, as with many of the album’s works.  Rodriguez sings on this song, “How does it feel on the outside/Looking inside/Till you feel rejected/I watch you to see what it looks like/On the inside/You’re the one infected.”  She goes on to sing with just as much anger, “Now/Now I feel ambitious/I’m giving away/Giving away your secrets/Just to watch you burn!”  This is a very telling verse.  There were obviously some hurt feelings by someone when these lines were written.  And set against the driving guitars and drums of her band mates, it would be no exaggeration to say that given the proper support, it could easily help to spread Eyes Set To Kill to the mainstream masses.  Those wanting to hear those other songs can do so now.  Masks is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered direct from the Century Media Records store at http://www.cmdistro.com/Item/Eyes_Set_To_Kill_-_Masks_-PRE-ORDER-/46364?Aff=cus.  After ordering or buying the album, fans can find out about the band’s latest tour dates and news online at http://www.facebook.com/eyessettokill.  And 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.

Saxon Shines On Sacrifice

Courtesy:  UDR, Columbia Records, Militia Guard Music, EMI

Courtesy: UDR, Columbia Records, Militia Guard Music, EMI

Thirty-four years is a long time.  It’s a long time any way that one thinks about it in terms of regular time.  IN terms of the world of music, thirty-four years is an exceptionally long amount of time.  That’s how long the British hard rock band Saxon has been making music.  In an era when the music world is top heavy with flash-in-the-pan bands, it says something special about Saxon that the band is still making music and is still a fan favorite.  Over the course of those three decades plus, Saxon has crafted some nineteen albums.  And now on its twentieth (yes, twentieth) full length record, Sacrifice, Saxon shows once again why it is still so popular and successful.

Sacrifice is pure guitar driven hard rock.  The album’s ten-song set will impress anyone that is a fan of the band’s British brothers in Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.  If there is one song that best exemplifies the album’s title, it would have to be ‘Made in Belfast.’  This song pays tribute to the Irish workmen who built so many of the world’s great structures.  That includes both buildings and sailing vessels.  The band sings proudly in the song’s chorus, “Pulling all together boys/Salving for the boss’s boys/Got to meet the deadline now/Pulling all together boys/Made in Belfast/Made in Belfast.”  The song goes on sounding more like something that audiences might expect more from the likes of Boston’s own Celtic punk rock band Dropkick Murphys than from any hard rock act.  Regardless of this, it proves that even hard rock bands can cover more than the standard lyrical themes in their songs.

Just as fitting an addition to Sacrifice as ‘Made in Belfast’ is ‘Walking the Steel.’  This song is an obvious tribute to all who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001 from the innocent victims to the first responders that died trying to save the innocents.  It also pays tribute to those that have made so much sacrifice to help “Ground Zero” return to its former glory as they build the aptly named “Freedom Tower.”  It’s a different form of sacrifice.  But it still fits quite well within the album title’s general theme.  Front man Biff Byford (who co-produced this album alongside famed producer Andy Sneap—Arch Enemy, Killswitch Engage, Fozzy) sings proudly in this song, “Rising from the ashes floor by floor/Reaching up into the sky/Where the eagles soar/The city sleeps/Life goes on/Hope is still alive/Born again the towers rise above the New York skies./Rising from the ashes for all the world to see.”  This single verse, which opens the song, is certain to become a fan favorite both on the record and in a live setting.  It is so easy to close one’s eyes and see fists breaking the air with pride, and the audiences in attendance singing along with the band as it reaches the chorus, “Walking the steel build them high/Walking the steel you touch the sky/Remember the heroes/Remember them all.”  Anyone that is left unmoved by this song is simply not human.

‘Made in Belfast’ and ‘Walking The Steel’ are both excellent additions to Sacrifice.  They were perfect choices for the album, considering its lyrical themes.  There is much more for audiences to appreciate about this album, though.  There is the traditional song about living life on the road in ‘Stand Up and Fight’, and the completely original song, ‘Guardians of the Tomb’, which comes across as being about the famed “terracotta army” of China.  Go through the annals of hard rock and one will struggle to find many bands that have decided on this as subject matter for a song.  Saxon’s members get major credit for that originality and for crafting a song that rocks at the same time.  There are even more songs on Sacrifice from which listeners will be able to choose proving why these old dogs still have plenty of tricks up their sleeves.  They alone are more than worth picking up this album, which is available now.

If the songs on Sacrifice’s main disc aren’t enough for fans, then maybe the bonus EP will impress listeners.  The bonus EP boasts five re-recorded songs from the band’s catalogue, anchored by the beautiful orchestral take of ‘Crusader.’  The cellos used throughout the song conjure thoughts of Apocalyptica.  The album’s liner notes don’t’ make mention of whether or not it is the band in question.  Regardless, they are a nice touch.  The way that the song starts out with the gentle acoustic guitar alongside Byro’s vocals before building into the pounding rhythms of the re-recorded song makes for huge effect.  The effect of that mix is made even better with the inclusion of any number of string musicians.  It may not be the first time ever that a band has incorporated strings into a rock song.  But it still works nonetheless.  The bluesy ‘Just Let Me Rock’ is slower than ‘Crusader.’  But that doesn’t mean that it’s any less enjoyable.  There’s almost a certain ‘Ace of Spades’ vibe about this song.  Even Byro himself sounds a little like Lemmy Kilmister.  Were someone to hear this song without knowing that Byro was singing, one might actually believe for a moment that it was in fact Kilmister singing.  The guitar solos are just as blistering as anything that Motorhead could put out, too.  To say that this album is that impressive is a tribute to both Byro and his band mates.  It proves just how good this album is and how worth it is for any true hard rocker to pick up or order online.  The band is currently on the road in support of Sacrifice.   It is winding down the U.S. leg of its tour before taking a little time off in October to get ready for the European leg of its tour.  More information on this latest release from Saxon, its tour dates, and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/saxon and http://www.saxon747.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.

It Lies Within Has Broken Out Of Its Chrysalis

Courtesy: Luxor Records/Infamous Empire

When one thinks of Michigan, one typically thinks of the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Great Lakes, and Motown.  But if the members of Flint, Michigan have anything to say about it, people may soon be associating Michigan with the metal community, too.  This five-piece has been pounding out its aggressive rhythms since 2008.  In the four years since the band started up, it’s made some big waves in the metal community.  The band has performed on metal festivals such as Rockapalooza, Bledfest, and the Carnival of Chaos.  And now with the release of its new LP, ‘Chrysalis”, It Lies Within is set to become another of the big names in the metal community.

Anyone who is a fan of Dragonforce, Mushroomhead, Crossbreed, As I Lay Dying, or other bands of that ilk will enjoy “Chrysalis.”  Vocalist Zachary Scott does a good job of mixing guttural screams with more melodic sounds throughout the record.  And the use of keyboards mixed in with the guitar work of Matthew Michael and Michael Siva on the likes of ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ and ‘Redefined Identity’ will conjure thoughts of the aforementioned bands.  There seems to even be a touch of Meshuggah in ‘Redefined Identity’ and ‘The Watcher.’  And any fan of Arch Enemy will appreciate ‘Sharp Tongue’, and perhaps ‘Moments and Memories.’  In short, what can be said of It Lies Within on this new release is this.  Whereas so many young up-and-coming bands in the metal community have a tendency to stick to perhaps one influence and try too hard to emulate said band’s sound, It Lies Within shows its versatility with “Chrysalis.”  Consider that the term, “Chrysalis” is a hard outer covering for some living beings.  It’s a fitting title for the band’s new album.  That’s because what this band has shown is that in showing its versatility, ILW has broken out of its chrysalis and is flying free among the young metal masses.  It would be no surprise that with the right coverage and support, this Flint, MI based band may become even more popular as it flies its course.

It Lies Within is currently touring in support of Chrysalis.  The band will be performing a pair of dates in Illinois this weekend and will follow them up with a series of performances across Michigan throughout October.  Fans can get a full tour listing and all the latest from the band online at http://www.itlieswithin.com, http://www.facebook.com/itlieswithin, http://www.myspace.com/itlieswithin, and http://twitter.com/itlieswithin.  The band’s album is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/it-lies-within/id345594889

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Former Gwar Guitarist’s Side Project Will Wow Fans

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

When Gwar guitarist Cory Smoot died from an apparent heart attack in 2011, both fans of Gwar and the metal masses the world over mourned at his passing.  While Smoot may be gone, fans now have quite the impressive way to remember him, thanks to The Cory Smoot Experiment. 

The Cory Smoot Experiment was recorded in 2010, before the guitarists passing.  What will obviously be the only release from The Cory Smoot Experiment, “When Worlds Collide” is a fitting sendoff for this metal favorite.  The album, which was originally intended to be a concept album, has ended up being more metal instrumental than anything else.  Given, many of the songs do include vocals.  But the vocals are the sole setback to this release.  The balance of the vocals to the music was somewhat off.  But that’s not an entirely bad thing.  That’s because it allows fans to really focus that much more on Smoot’s technical expertise as a guitarist.  Expertise would be an understatement in describing Smoot’s abilities as a guitarist.

On the album’s opener, ‘The Blood Red’, Smoot showed his abilities in old school thrash metal.  His riffs are saw sharp throughout the song.  He showed that he could switch tempos without missing a beat.  And just as he showed his thrash chops with ease, he followed that up with a display of his ability to play just as expertly when he played slower, in ‘Fortunate Sun’ before kicking back into high gear on ‘Religion is Fiction.’  Smoot showed over and over again on this record how talented he was as a high speed metal technician.  But he had far more talent than just with high speed thrash style metal.  He showed his bluesy chops in ‘Brainfade.’  Most of the song is a stripped down acoustic piece that showed a whole different side to the guitarist.  If one hadn’t known, one might think this song was actually something from fellow metal favorites, Hellyeah.  Of course, it does eventually break into a more Arch Enemy style song later on.  Regardless, it’s that impressive as a piece to the larger picture that is an impressive tribute to the memory of Cory Smoot.

“When Worlds Collide” is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered direct through Metal Blade records online at http://www.metalblade.com/smootfamilyfund.  All money raised through the sale of this record will go directly to the Smoot family Fund.  The fund was set up to raise funds to help support Cory’s wife Jaime and daughter, Corie.  More information on the Cory Smoot Fund is available online at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Smoot-Family-Fund/187924507981760 and at http://www.metalblade.com/smootfamily fund.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel_Reviews/ 381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.