Hammercult’s Sophomore LP Is An Intentionally Over The Top Slab Of Metal

Courtesy:  SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Courtesy: SPV/Sonic Attack Records

Anyone that keeps up with the news of the world each day knows that there is a lot of trouble going on in the Middle East right now. Tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis have really stepped up again in recent weeks as have the attacks. It’s really a sad state of affairs. For all of the negativity coming from that part of the world, at least one positive has come from that war-ravaged land this year. That one positive is the sophomore album from the Tel-Aviv, Israel-based band Hammercult. Steelcrusher, the band’s follow-up to its 2012 debut album Anthems of the Damned, is a full on assault on the ears that will make any purist member of the Metal Nation worldwide proud. The album’s songs are sung with tongue planted firmly in cheek. One look at the obviously intentionally over-the-top album cover, the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page and one listen through this album proves this to be the case. The band pokes fun at the stereotypes placed on metal and its legions of fans from start to finish. The end result is an album that will have audiences both laughing and rocking along throughout every song. One of the best examples of that satire comes in the form of the metal anthem ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ There is also the full throttle song about the stereotypes of metal bands on the road in the album’s penultimate song ‘Heading For War.’ And then there is ‘Unholy Art,’ which seems to poke fun at the stereotypes of metal and hard rock in general created by certain groups. It’s one more example of the works on this record that will again, have audiences laughing and rocking along from start to finish.

Audiences will note in listening to Hammercult’s recently released sophomore album Steelcrusher, that there are some pretty dark sounding songs, lyrically and musically speaking. But the reality of the albums on this record is that they were obviously written with tongue planted pretty firmly in cheek. One look at the cover photo on the band’s Facebook page drives home the argument that the band is anything but the dark, evil entity that others such as perhaps Ghost, Emperor, etc. One piece of evidence in that argument comes in the form of the anthemic ‘Metal Rules Tonight.’ Not only does the band encourage the metal legions of the world to put their collective metal horns in the air, it also goes so far as to pay tribute to one of the biggest names in metal in the form of Metallica. Front man Yokir Shochat sings in this full-on anthem, “I’m so wasted/I can’t stand/Grab a *&$$%/Get some #&@%/Speakers blasting through the wall/Master of Puppets and Balls to the Walls.” He goes on later in the song singing to listeners, “Bang your head in full conviction/Raise your fists and show the horns/No remorse or lamentations/Play it loud/Or die/Metal rules tonight/Trends will come and fade away/Heavy metal is here to stay/We are damned but we are free/It’s our way of life/The way it should be/Metal!” That last line sort of echoes AC/DC’s ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution’ in which front man Brian Johnson sings that “Rock and roll ain’t noise pollution/Rock and roll it will live on.” The song’s speed/thrash metal musical backing will have its fans putting their horns high in the air with pride as they sing along to this metal anthem.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ is one of the highest of points on Hammercult’s new album. It is only one piece of evidence in the argument that despite the band’s speed/thrash metal sound and its seemingly dark lyrics, it should be taken with a relatively large grain of salt. Another piece of evidence in that argument comes late in the album in the song ‘Heading For War.’ Right off the top, Shochat makes that clear once again as he screams, “Thrashing hotels every day/Heads are banging/Ears are bleeding/Raise your hammers/Ready to explode.” He sings in another verse, “Racing to another city/Party hard tonight/Heavy drinking/Never stopping/It’s the only way we stay alive.” These two verses alone more than tell audiences everything that they need to know about this song. If that’s not enough, the song’s chorus makes painfully clear that there’s nothing evil at all about the band or its album. Shochat sings in the chorus, “Heading for the stage, heading for war/Yes, we live or the fight/And die for the cause we believe to be right/Giving it all with fury and force/Spreading the sound of destruction.” Shochat likens being on the road, performing on stage after stage to like being in a war. Though, interestingly enough, one could argue that there is a lightly veiled reference to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians there and the lack of sense in it. Instead of being involved in that conflict though, the band lives and dies for metal in that “battle” to spread metal’s word to the world. If that veiled commentary on the war in the Gaza strip is in fact there, then that double meaning in this verse makes the song in whole all the more interesting. And along with ‘Metal Rules Tonight,’ it makes the album in whole all the more worth the listen, too.

‘Metal Rules Tonight’ and ‘Heading For War’ are both prime examples of what audiences can expect from Steelcrusher. Both songs show that despite the album’s similarity to works from the likes of Exmortus, Arch Enemy, and others of that ilk, it actually stands out quite a bit from those bands. There is one more example of the band’s tongue in cheek delivery on this album. That example is the song ‘Unholy Art.’ The band’s commentary is perhaps at its strongest in this song as Shochat and company point the finger right back at those that would judge the metal community, singing, “The blackest hearts and darkest minds/You never know just what you will find/It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art/Dishonored/A branded kind/The masses will burn in the flames of our pride/We’ll rise to our own blackened skies/And devour the worlds/And we’re starting tonight. The band singing together, “It’s not for the faint of heart/This is the Unholy Art” is itself a sarcastic statement. It’s Shochat and his band mates almost laughing as they say, “oh it’s such evil stuff. It’s not for the faint of heart.” Again, it’s just one more example of how firmly in their cheeks the band members’ tongues are planted in this record. The statement of “The blackest hearts and darkest minds” is something of a statement against the stereotypes created by certain groups against the metal masses around the world. Those judgmental groups are so fast to throw the first stone even without knowing the full story or doing their research. It’s such searing commentary in so few words. It makes for one of the most powerful statements of the album’s entire body of songs. Of course together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted) it makes the entire collection of songs an album that any true-blooded member of the metal nation worldwide will enjoy and appreciate.

Steelcrusher is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes and Amazon or purchased at the band’s next upcoming performance. The band is currently scheduled to perform live August 9th at Brutal Assault in Jaromer, Czech Republic. Audiences can pick up Steelcrusher at that performance, too. More information and tour updates are available online via the band’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog.

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.