BLS, Judas Priest Tied For The Top Spot On The Year’s Top New Hard Rock, Metal Albums List

Courtesy:  eOne

Courtesy: eOne

Zakk Wylde and his Black Label brethren released early this year what is without a doubt one of the year’s most thought provoking albums.  Musically speaking, the album is classic Black Label Society from start to finish.  Lyrically, it proves to be a work that will most definitely have listeners paying close attention.  Those that have already picked up the album’s deluxe edition will understand why.  Throughout most of the course of the album, listeners are presented with songs centered on some rather deep themes.  By the time the album reaches its end in ‘The Nomad’ however, those themes have turned to a more positive light.  And it all starts with the album’s opener, ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  With its mix of heavy guitars and equally heavy lyrics, it makes for quite the opener to the record.  Things eventually take a sharp turn with the equally hard rocking yet rather angry song ‘Damn The Flood’, which seems to see Wylde writing about all the people out there that would try to spit lies as easily as a snake spitting its venom.  By the album’s ultimate end though, the outcome is more positive, with Wylde singing about moving on with life wherever it may lead.  Whether all of these songs came from a personal place or simply as a concept idea, they combine with the album’s musical side to make what is one of the most powerful records that Wylde and his band mates have written to date.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican opens on a powerful note in the form of ‘Fields of Unforgiveness.’  This first impression from the band is what leads one to wonder if this album is indeed a concept album of sorts or if it came from personal experience.  Wylde sings in this piece, “So you think that it’s over/So you think that it’s done/The fields of unforgiveness never die/They’ve just begun/You thought you’d elude life’s sorrow/emptiness and grief/The oceans of life’s contempt/Drown the liars and the thieves.”  That one line concerning liars and thieves is the center point of this song.  It almost comes across as addressing someone that has done something really bad.  The person in question thinks that he (?) has gotten away with said deed.  But as the chorus notes, it’s never over.  “The fields of unforgiveness never die.”  Such a searing indictment set against an equally hard rocking musical backing makes this song one heck of a first impression from the members of Black Label Society on its latest record.

As hard hitting as ‘Fields of Unforgiveness’ proves to be with its mix of Wylde’s trademark shredding and equally searing lyrics, it isn’t the album’s only heavy piece. Just as heavy and hard hitting is ‘Damn The Flood.’ With its equally driving sludge rock sound and its indictment of the proverbial snakes out there, this song stands out as one of the album’s most powerful moments. Wylde sings against the song’s solid, southern sludge sound, “This flood of snakes/The breeding lies/Existence of unjust/Spewing falsehoods as they crawl/Assassins of one’s trust…Poisoned blood manipulates/The bending of one’s will/Assassins of your sacred words/For trust it shall be killed.” These verses could be applied to so many situations. It could be applied to this nation’s political leaders. It could apply to an everyday basis in terms of those that call themselves friends, only to kill others’ trust once those backs are turned. As pessimistic as the song sounds, it’s actually positive as listeners will note in the song’s chorus. Wylde sings in the song’s chorus of dealing with those people and their evil ways. Yet again, it proves in the end to be one of the album’s best moments with that combination of musical and lyrical heaviness. It shows once more Wylde’s long ago argument that a song can be heavy without being heavy.

Through all of the lyrical and musical heaviness that makes up Catacombs of the Black Vatican, those that have the album’s deluxe edition will note that these is a message that through all of the negativity in the world, one can persevere through it all. He sings in ‘The Nomad’ of facing one’s past but moving on at the same time. As audiences will hear, he sings, “I’ve left the past behind/So much more to see/Like a feather to the wind/Wherever it may lead/Wherever it may lead/Where I’ll never know/For I can’t be tied down/I can hear it call.” He is singing about accepting the past and knowing it’s there, but not letting it weigh down an individual on one’s journey in life. Wylde and company exhibit such talent musically in this song. It isn’t the driving, hard rocker that the previously noted songs prove to be. It is more controlled. That more controlled nature makes this song a fitting end to an album that boasts just as much heaviness in its finale as in its beginning. That solid heaviness from start to finish both musically and lyrically prove why Catacombs of the Black Vatican is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums of 2014.

Catacombs of the Black Vatican is available now in stores and online. It can be downloaded via iTunes here. It can also be purchased at any BLS live show including tonight’s show at the Vogue Theatre in Indianapolis, IN. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news from the band are available online at http://www.facebook.com/blacklabelsociety and http://www.blacklabelsociety.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.

Wovenwar Debuts New Single

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Wovenwar premiered its new single Monday.

Wovenwar premiered its new single, ‘Profane’ yesterday on the official website of Revolver Magazine. Audiences can stream the video now through the magazine’s now at http://www.revolvermag.com/news/wovenwar-premiere-new-song-profane.html. The single comes from the band’s upcoming self-titled debut record. The album will be released worldwide via Metal Blade Records next Tuesday, August 5th. After checking out the band’s new single, fans can also leave their thoughts on the song in the “comments” section of the site. Fans can also check out two other songs from Wovenwar’s upcoming album—‘All Rise’ and ‘The Mason’—and four In Studio videos filmed by the band through the band’s Metal Blade Records website, http://www.metalblade.com/wovenwar. Fans will get to hear the album in its entirety this Friday, August 1st when the album stream goes live ahead of its release in store and online.

Wovenwar is currently touring in support of its upcoming album alongside Black Label Society. That tour wraps next Monday, August 4th. After that, the band will take a couple of days off before playing a trio of album release shows August 7th and 8th. The third show will be at Phil Sgrosso’s new club, Brick By Brick. Fans that come out to that show will have the chance to hang out with the band, celebrate the album’s release, and even have the chance to win prizes provided by Wovenwar, Metal Blade Records, MotorCult, and Dirtbag Clothing. Fans that attend the band’s August 8th show at Soma can use those ticket stubs to get into the show at Brick By Brick for free. Others get in for five dollars. The Brick By Brick show is a 21+ show. The band will also perform Saturday, August 9th at the famed Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. The full schedule of performances is listed below.

08/07 – Anaheim, CA: Chain Reaction Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: SOMA (side) Tickets — Here

08/08 – San Diego, CA: Brick By Brick – **Wovenwar Album Release Party** Tickets — Here.

If fans aren’t able to make it to any of the shows noted above, they can still catch the band live at the famed restaurant Grill ‘Em All in Alhamba, CA. Details on that upcoming show will come soon. Fans will also get plenty of chances to see the band live as it tours in support of its debut album. It is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour. It will be in Indianapolis, IN tomorrow. That date will be followed with performances in Texas and new Mexico. It all wraps with the band’s upcoming shows in California. After that, the band will take some time to rest before kicking off the European leg of its tour on August 15th at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Germany.

All of the latest tour updates, news and more from Wovenwar is always available online at http://www.wovenwar.com, http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar and http://twitter.com/WOVENWAR. 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.

Battlecross Announces Tour With Machine Head, Children Of Bodom, Epica

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The members of Battlecross announced Monday that the band will embark on a North American tour this fall in support of its latest album War of Will.

Battlecross will join Machine Head, Epica, and Children of Bodom beginning Saturday, October 4th in Denver, Colorado. Tickets for the band’s joint tour will go on sale this Friday morning at 10am ET. Battlecross guitarist Tony Asta discussed in a recent interview, his thoughts on touring alongside Children of Bodom and Machine Head once again and with Epica for the first time ever. “What an honor to be on this tour!,” he said. “We’re really stoked to reunite with Machine Head and Children of Bodom, both legendary bands and friends from last summer’s Mayhem Fest, and to see what Epica is all about. This is a tour with something for every metal head and we can’t wait to be bring it brutal throughout the USA & Canada, banging heads and melting faces from coast-to-coast.See you in the pit!”

Before Battlecross makes its way across America this fall, the band will join Black Label Society in Mexico City before performing a trip of dates with Killswitch Engage and Memphis May Fire in Brazil. Hiran Deraniyalaga, who also plays guitar for Battlecross, commented on the upcoming performances. “What a year this has been for us so far,” he said. “We’ve been to Europe twice and now we’re going to Mexico and South America! We’re so honored to be invited to play with Black Label Society in Mexico City. We have so many loyal rabid fans there and we finally get to play for them! After that we fly to Brazil for three dates with our good friends Killswitch Engage, who we can’t thank enough for always inviting us out for awesome opportunities like this one. Get ready to rage my friends! This will be one for the books!”

The schedule for Battlecross’ upcoming tour with Machine Head, Children of Bodom, and Epica is listed below.

Battlecross
Tour w/ Machine Head, Children of Bodom, Epica
10/04 Denver, CO @ The Summit Music Hall
10/06 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues Dallas
10/07 Houston, TX @ House of Blues Houston
10/09 Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
10/10 Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
10/12 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
10/14 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
10/15 Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
10/16 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
10/17 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium – Rock and Shock festival
10/18 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
10/20 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
10/21 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave II
10/22 Minneapolis, MN @ Skyway Theatre
10/23 Winnipeg, MB @ Pyramid Cabaret
10/24 Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brians Event Centre
10/25 Calgary, AB @ The Republik
10/26 Edmonton, AB @ Shaw Conference Centre
10/28 Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theater
10/29 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO
10/30 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
10/31 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
11/01 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
11/02 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues

Battlecross
Summer Headline Tour w/ IKILLYA
07/30 Reading, PA @ Reverb
07/31 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room
08/01 Hartford, CT @ Webster Underground
08/02 Albany, NY @ Bogies
08/03 Ottawa, ON*** @ Mavericks
08/04 Quebec City***, QC @ L’Agitee
08/05 London, ON*** @ Rum Runners
08/06 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
08/07 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
End tour
08/08 Louisville, KY** @ Expo 5
08/09 Birch Run, MI @ DIRT Fest
08/10 Libertyville, IL** @ Austin’s
** w/ Killswitch Engage
***w/ Crimson Shadows & IKILLYA
Battlecross
South American tour dates
w/ Black Label Society
08/20 Mexico City*** @ Jose Cuervo Salon

w/ Killswitch Engage & Memphis May Fire
08/22 Curitiba, Brazil @ Music Hall
08/23 Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Carioca Club
08/24 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil @ Circo Voador

All of the latest news and tour updates from Battlecross is available online at http://battlecrossmetal.com, http://www.facebook.com/battlecrossmetal, and http://twitter.com/battlecross. 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.

Judas Priest Back In A Big Way On Redeemer Of Souls

Courtesy:  Epic Records

Courtesy: Epic Records

Judas Priest’s new album Redeemer of Souls is one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. As a matter of fact, it is, in this critic’s eyes (and ears) a contender for the top spot on said list. The only other album that can even come close right now to vying for that spot is Black Label Society’s Catacombs of the Black Vatican. What makes Redeemer of Souls such a top notch album despite its slightly touchy production is its mix of music and lyrics. Musically, this album has been likened to previous hit Priest albums including: British Steel, Nostradamus, and Painkiller just to name a few. That it could be compared in such positive light to so many other of the band’s releases is a statement in and of itself. Lyrically, it covers some interesting themes throughout the course of its thirteen tracks and sixty-two minutes. One of those themes is of standing up for what one believes. That topic comes in the album’s fourth track ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Another interesting topic is that of the tribute paid to the fans of sorts in the album’s lead single ‘March of the Damned.’ Late in the album, front man Rob Halford and his band mates cover an interesting topic in ‘’Hell & Back.’ The topic in question is one of the band’s survival through the years. Or it would seem so at least. Regardless, its lyrics and music together make for one more prime example of why Redeemer of Souls is one of this year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums. That argument is made even stronger through the two songs noted before it and through those pieces not noted. Altogether, this album is proof that Judas Priest is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today.

Judas Priest has proven without a shadow of a doubt on its new album that it is still one of the most dominant forces in the world of hard rock today. It has done so through an album that is easily one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums in Redeemer of Souls. One example of why this album deserves such recognition comes early on in the album in the form of ‘Sword of Damocles.’ Musically, it is a full on, rocker that comes across as being about false leaders and standing up for one’s own beliefs. As audiences will hear, front man Rob Halford sings here, “When men lead by words that are false as they preach/Fatality waits in the wings/Surrounded by fools behind walls that are breached/Beware of the jester that sings.” Right there, audiences are led to infer that Halford and company are singing about said false leaders. And those leaders don’t necessarily have to include religious leaders, either. They can include political leaders, too. Halford and company go on to sing, “Stand tall/Rise up/Stay strong/Fighting your enemies/Truth will find its reward/If you live and die by the sword/The whispers can’t hide when the tongues are let loose.” Listeners might get from this verse a message of not giving up against certain insurmountable odds. They come across as telling audiences don’t just give in like sheep to the words of those false leaders and to stand up to said leaders and those that would harass an individual for having views other than their own. This could very well be the wrong interpretation. It is merely the interpretation of one single critic. If it is at least somewhere in the ballpark though, it once again serves as solid proof of why this record is one of the year’s top two new hard rock and metal albums.

‘Sword of Damocles’ is just one many examples of what makes Redeemer of Souls one of the top new hard rock and metal albums of 2014. With its mix of adrenaline-fueled music and thought provoking lyrics, this song is an instant hit. The album’s lead single, ‘March of the Damned,’ is just as solid a choice for a single. As guitarist Glenn Tipton explains, this song is simply about the fans that come to the band’s shows. There’s no deep, hidden message for the religious right wingers to hunt for. It is for all intents and purposes a tribute to those fans. Halford sings against the song’s driving guitars and drums, “Can’t stop us/They don’t know why/They try/Can’t hurt us/We’ll never die/We are on the march of the damned…We know what’s at stake/Won’t take your mistakes/Won’t break us/We’ll never fall/That’s all/It’s over/Just watch us crawl.” Referencing Tipton’s statement about the song again, these lyrics illustrate quite well exactly what he was saying. They come across as a collective statement from the band’s fans saying that they don’t care what anyone says. They are fans for life. It is easy to see why this anthem was chosen as the album’s lead single. It’s a powerful statement from an album that could be the last from one of metal’s most legendary bands.

‘March of the Damned’ is a powerful statement from the members of Judas Priest. It puts expertly into words the devotion of the band’s fans regardless of their fans’ ages. It’s especially fitting that there’s no telling whether or not this will be the band’s last album, especially considering that some years ago, Halford and his band mates said they were through touring. Yet once more the band has in fact hit the road in support of another album. Speaking of being on the road, ‘Hell & Back’ will have audiences wondering if perhaps this tour will be the band’s last. Halford ruminates on the band’s past here, singing, “Still in the land of the living/Rocking the home of the brave/Staying alive and still kicking/Ain’t got no need to be saved/Out of the fire and into the black/We’ve been through it all/We’ve been to hell and back.” The song’s musical side is not the high-powered, straight forward piece that the previously noted songs prove to be. But set against the song’s lyrics, one can clearly see the song’s chorus and verses play out clearly in one’s own mind. That clarity will again lead one to wonder about the band’s future after this album and tour. If it proves to be the last for the band on both counts, then this song will have proven to be one more powerful statement from the band. And along with each of the album’s other songs—both noted and not—it is one part of a whole that is easily one of the top two new hard rock and metal albums of the year.

Judas Priest will kick off the U.S. leg of its tour in support of Redeemer of Souls this fall beginning Wednesday, October 1st in Rochester, NY. The band’s current tour schedule is listed online along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.facebook.com/OfficialJudasPriest, http://twitter.com/judaspriest, and http://www.judaspriest.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.

The Pop Ups’ Latest LP Is Fun For Children and Children Of The 80s

Courtesy:  Pop Up City Records

Courtesy: Pop Up City Records

Appetite for Construction, the latest new release from kindie-pop rock band The Pop-Ups is an interesting work. The twelve-track album from the Brooklyn, NY based band will take parents all the way back to the 1970s and 80s with its mix of sounds all while celebrating the joys of childhood with its lyrical side. That lyrical side will also entertain parents as it will take them back to their own childhoods with songs such as ‘Craft Night,’ ‘Costume Party,’ and ‘All These Shapes.’ That these songs and those not mentioned could reach audiences of so many ages and entertain them at the same time proves once more why children’s music can be and often is just as good as anything crafted specifically for grown-ups.

The Pop Ups’ latest album is such a joy for parents and children alike because of its ability to reach audiences of all ages. It reaches so many audiences thanks to a combination of music and lyrics that takes listeners back to the 1970s and 80s musically while celebrating the joys of childhood through various avenues. One of the best examples of that mix comes late in the album in the form of ‘Craft Night.’ The duo—Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein—sing about the fun of creating a picture collage. They sing about sitting at a table, taking those old tubes of glue, and gluing pictures to sheets of construction paper. Anyone that ever did this as a kid will understand and appreciate this song just as much as any child today provided schools still teach children about making collages. The men sing, “Can you find some macaroni/Glitter too/Find some pink construction paper and some glue/And you’ll make some beautiful things on craft night/Beautiful things that’ll make the world delight.” They go on to sing about cutting out a heart and combining that with the glitter and macaroni to make a child’s own work of art. From there, the pair sings about finger painting and other crafts. Any parent that ever took part in such craft making as children will be taken back in time thanks to such vivid imagery. And any children that actually still take part in such activities in schools today—apparently there are children that focus more on computer-based learning than on arts and crafts—will relate to it just as much. The addition of an old school 1970s/80s sound will entertain parents just as much. The end result is a song that as already noted, is just one prime example of what makes ‘Craft Night’ one of so many examples of the joy offered on this record.

Sitting down and making arts and crafts has been a time-honored tradition for children for generations. Hopefully it hasn’t become an entirely extinct tradition considering the increased emphasis being placed on computer-based learning in schools across the country. Just as much of a time-honored tradition among children is that of the costume party. Boys and girls alike dress up all the time. And their parents did, too. Such a tradition crossing generations, it makes for another great topic for a children’s song. Thus the aptly titled ‘Costume Party’ in which the duo sings of getting dressed up in different outfits. It’s one that both boys and girls will enjoy. That’s because there’s mention of girls getting dressed up in princess dresses and of boys getting dressed in a relative’s clothes. That set against the song’s 80s pop vibe will help the song to connect both with kids and their parents. Speaking of 80s pop, parents that grew up in the 80s will also appreciate the equally creative ‘All These Shapes.’ That song is one more piece from this album that serves as a solid example of what audiences have to expect from this record.

‘All These Shapes’ is another piece that is set against a 1980s era sound for all the grown-up children of the 80s out there. Stein and Rabinowitz sing in this song about all the possible things that could be drawn from the shapes. They sing, “What can you make with all these shapes/Little circle magnet on my fridge/Just like a baseball we could pitch/Round as an eye that you could wink/Or a head filled with a brain that thinks/Could be a planet or the moon/A floating helium balloon/Maybe a wheel to steer a car/Or the top of a big ol’ pickle jar.” Parents will appreciate how this song really encourages thinking and creativity. And they will also appreciate that in its own right, that emphasis on creativity makes the song itself creative. It’s just one more piece that shows the extent of creativity and originality that fills this record. There are nine other tracks that display that creativity and originality just as much as this song and those previously noted. Audiences will be able to hear those songs for themselves when Appetite for Construction is released next month.

Appetite for Construction will be available in stores and online Tuesday, August 19th.  It can be downloaded online via iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/appetite-for-construction/id899582693.  The Pop Ups will hit the road in support of its new album beginning Wednesday, August 6th at 4pm ET at The Springfield Museum in Springfield, MA. From there, The Pop Ups will head to New York, New York for a performance at Riverside Park on August 7th. A complete listing of The Pop Ups’ current tour schedule is available online along with all of the latest news from the band at http://www.thepopups.com, http://www/facebook.com/thepopups, and http://twitter.com/thepopups. 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.

D-Day’s Sunken Secrets Is Another Important Chapter In The History Of WWII

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS’ NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets is another invaluable program for anyone that has any interest in the history of World War II or in military history in general.  As informative as the program is, one can’t help but note that it perhaps could have benefitted from a different title.  That’s because most of the program focuses more on the operations of Operation Overlord than on the sunken remnants of the Normandy invasion.  That isn’t to say that that moment in time is completely avoided.  But it doesn’t focus on that aspect near as much as one might be led to believe by the program’s title.  That aside, it is still an interesting piece of World War II history that adds yet another chapter to one of the biggest operations in military history that might otherwise not have been known by some.  And that’s just the beginning.  Audiences will be interested, too to discover that the program’s narrator is himself a WWII veteran who was also there on D-Day.  And last to note is the use of vintage footage against modern video of Normandy today to help illustrate the story of what happened on D-Day and the days that followed.  Each factor plays its own important role in the overall success of this presentation.  Together, they make a program that while perhaps improperly titled, still is an important story that needed to be told.

The first aspect of NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets the fact that it reveals another chapter of sorts to the story of the D-Day invasion.  It reveals a part of that history that might not have otherwise been known.  Everybody knows about the initial invasion by Allied forces.  And sometimes discussed by historians is the immense planning that led up to the invasion.  However, many might not know that then general Ike Eisenhower actually wrote a letter taking full blame for the operation should it fail.  Interestingly enough, whether or not the initial operation actually failed comes up between a military veteran and a military historian.  The true irony is that the veteran, when posed with the question actually says that in his own view, the operation did in fact fail.  He notes that it failed in that the men that took the beachhead went without the air coverage or the planned naval coverage, either.  Add in changing tides, much like at Dieppe, and the argument is made that while Allied forces eventually took the beaches of Normandy, the operation was still a failure at least in its planning.  That argument actually makes sense.  Had those men had the planned coverage, it is possible that casualties would have been far fewer among Allied forces.  Just as interesting to note is that German U-boats were still patrolling the waters off of France’s coast even after the initial invasion, which led to its own share of sinkings.  There was also the failure of the “floating tanks” and much more discussed throughout the course of the program’s near two-hour runtime.  All of that and more will definitely keep audiences watching and wanting to learn more about what really happened on D-Day and the days that would follow.  It is but one part of what makes NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets another important addition to the vast history of World War II.

Another important factor to consider in the overall success and enjoyment of this episode is the use of an actual WWII veteran as the program’s narrator.  For that matter, the use of a veteran that fought at Normandy makes it especially interesting. Peter Thomas narrates the program. And while he does quite the job in his role, it is obvious that he does at times become somewhat choked up as he carries out his duty. It could very well be this critic’s own interpretation. But it certainly sounds like he does in fact choke up at times. If that is the case, it’s a welcome change from every documentary out there. It actually adds a certain realism to the program that is sadly lacking in those other programs out there. It adds a more human element for lack of better wording. That human element will pull in viewers even more and lead them to feel at least a modicum of the emotion felt by those that served on that fateful day. It’s one more impressive touch to this program that makes it another invaluable addition to the library of any lover of military history or history in general.

The use of an actual WWII vet that fought on Normandy and the inclusion of even more information on the history of that groundbreaking operation both are key to the overall enjoyment of NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets. The final aspect of the program that audiences will appreciate is the inclusion once again of actual footage filmed as Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. Just as much, audiences will appreciate the use of video illustrations outlining the movements of both Allied and German forces before and after the initial landing and battle to reclaim the beachhead. Viewers will be amazed at the CG recreation of the Allied forces’ man-made harbor and how it worked with the waters off the French coast. The bridges that were created were an engineering feat far ahead of their time. So, even those with an interest in engineering and construction will find something to like about this episode of NOVA. It’s the final touch to another overall impressive albeit slightly mis-titled piece of World War II history.

NOVA: D-Days Sunken Secrets is available now on DVD. It can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=34895296&cp=&sr=1&kw=d+day&origkw=D+Day&parentPage=search. More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline, http://twitter.com/novapbs, and http://www.pbs.org/nova. 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.

Wovenwar’s Debut Record Puts AILD To Rest At Last

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The self-titled debut record from Wovenwar is a triumphant return for the now former members of As I Lay Dying. The former band recently disbanded after the arrest of its front man Tim Lambesis for a murder-for-hire plot against his now ex-wife. The fallout from the band’s breakout and Lambesis’ arrest was far reaching for fans of AILD. Now thanks to the upcoming release of Wovenwar audiences will find that AILD is gone and from its ashes is a whole new band with a whole new sound. It is a band and sound that while unlike that of AILD is even better than that of that band. The sound on this record is one that promises a hopeful future ahead for Wovenwar. The melodic hard rock sound churned out right off the top in ‘All Rise’ is a clear indicator of this. The straight forward, driving energy of ‘The Mason’ makes for another wonderful addition to this record with its straight forward, driving energy. And or those hoping that the band that was AILD hadn’t lost its full on metal edge, ‘Matter of Time’ will assure them that they most definitely have not. These songs are but a few examples of what makes Wovenwar a welcome new birth for the members of AILD. And it is even more welcome for audiences that have waited with baited breath for this record.

When it was announced that the members of AILD had formed a new band and were hard at work on said band’s debut release, anticipation immediately built for that release. Both the band’s members and audiences alike needed a fresh start what with the black eye brought on by Tim Lambesis’ arrest. Right off the top of the album, the band lives up to all of that anticipation thanks to ‘All Rise.’ This melodic hard rock was the perfect way to open the album. Its pounding drums and shredding guitars are a bridge to what was once AILD while the more melodic vocal style of front man Shane Blay displays the band’s different direction. He sings in this song what may well be a reference to Lambesis’ arrest as he sings, “Who stands the storm and faces/The horrors that darkness breeds/Who will take the life they’re given/And cast light for all to see/Who stands the storm if not the brave/What’s built from cowards that we praise/Who stands the storm if not the brave.” It’s very possible that this could be in reference to comments made by Lambesis regarding his eventually changing views on faith that apparently led to his fate. That argument is made even stronger in the song’s opening verse as Blay sings in the song’s opening verse, “Oh You feel the hunter’s gaze/A shadow even in the dark of night/scheming your early grave/He’s going to leave you dead or dying/Draining all the blood he craves/You never thought you’d be meat for the market/What’d you expect when you sold your name?” One can’t help but wonder if this was directed at Lambesis’ ex-wife considering what is known about their relationship now. It would definitely be interesting to hear the story behind this one. Regardless it makes for a fitting introduction for Wovenwar on its debut album.

‘All Rise’ is a fitting opener for Wovenwar on its debut album. Just as impressive as an example of what audiences can expect from this album is the song ‘The Mason.’ The full on almost speed metal style sound combined with the song’s melodic metal sound makes it stylistically one of the album’s most intriguing moments. Blay shows in this song that he can do more than just sing, too as he screams and sings, “And I/I have caved in/Again but/I’m building from the wreckage.” It’s honestly nice to hear an album that is essentially a metalcore album without so much screaming and growling. Blay is a vocal powerhouse throughout the record. Audiences will agree as they listen to him make his way through the song’s chorus, singing, “We bend, we break, we’re forced to heal/The toll it takes in time revealed/The trial awakes and then creates or tears us down/We bend, we break, we learn to heal/Failings I claim for mason hands to shape/So strike away the grip of past mistakes.” He seems to be saying that things happen, but we have to learn to put the past behind us. As always, that is merely the interpretation of this one critic. It could very well be incorrect. Regardless of wrong or right, one must agree to the depth of these lyrics. That depth and the song’s straight forward, full throttle musical side together make it one more example of just how much Wovenwar has to offer audiences.

‘All Rise’ and ‘The Mason’ are both excellent examples of what audiences have to look forward to on Wovenwar’s upcoming self-titled debut record. They both exhibit both the band’s sound from its previous life as AILD while also exhibiting an obvious musical and lyrical growth at the same time. There is still at least one more example of that growth on the album’s penultimate piece, ‘A Matter of Time.’ This full-throttle piece presents almost a death metal style sound as Blay sings, “We fight to conceal this truth/But it’s all a matter of time/Time/The years wasted/Persuaded to smile/When it feels so wrong inside/How could we let ourselves/Continue this routine/The artificial beat/Of a heart that’s long since ceased.” One can’t help but wonder from what perspective this was written. It comes across as someone suffering from depression and what such person must feel. If that is indeed the case, then it could serve as a starting point for a discussion on such a topic that is all too often swept under the rug. As with the previously noted songs, it would be interesting to learn the story behind its creation. Regardless, it makes for one more great addition to an album that audiences will agree deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.

Wovenwar will be available Tuesday, August 5th in stores and online. While fans wait for the album to drop, they can hear these songs and more at all of the band’s current live dates including its show tonight at the Minglewood Hall in Memphis, Tennessee. Its current U.S. tour wraps up August 9th at the famed Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. After that, the band will take some time to rest up before kkicking off the European leg of its tour August 15th at the Pukkelpop Festival in Hasselt, Belgium. Audiences can see the band’s current tour itinerary and keep up with the latest news from the band online now at http://www.facebook.com/wovenwar, http://www.wovenwar.com and http://twitter.com/wovenwar. 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.

Fozzy Shows Real Growth On Its Latest P

Courtesy:  Century Media

Courtesy: Century Media

Guitarist Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo) and pro wrestler Chris Jericho have been friends for many years.  The pair’s friendship goes back to the days of Jericho’s tenure on the now defunct WCW.  So it came as not too big of a surprise that the pair’s friendship would eventually lead to the creation of Fozzy in the late 90s.  What has come as a surprise is the success that the band has enjoyed since the release of its self-titled debut back in 2000.  That album was pure covers.  And the use of faux names for the band members made Fozzy appear as little more than a one-off Spinal Tap style project put together by the two friends.  Little would anybody know that almost fourteen years after the release of that album, Fozzy would go on to release four more albums each one separating the band even more from its semi-satirical cover band roots.  Now in 2014, the band has released its fifth full length studio album titled Do You Wanna Start A War.  And it is everything that audiences have come to expect from the band and then some.  Whereas the band’s previous albums were full on hard rock opuses, this album maintains more of a balance between that hard rock sound and a more mainstream feel.  It’s almost as if the members of Fozzy have finally found that “happy, familiar place” on this record.  The end result is a record that offers plenty for audiences in both the rock and hard rock realms of the music industry.  On the hard rock side, audiences have already been offered up a solid slab of hard rock in the form of the album’s lead single, ‘One Crazed Anarchist.’  This song is sure to impress fans of both Fozzy and Ward’s other primary project, Stuck Mojo.  On the more mainstream, radio ready side of things, the band offers a heavy yet uplifting piece in the form of ‘Unstoppable.’  And in the completely radio ready realm, the band offers up the up-tempo yet happy-go-lucky style ‘Tonight.’  These are just a few examples of why Fozzy remains a fan favorite nearly fourteen years after its debut record’s release.  Each of the album’s remaining nine songs plays its own role in the overall enjoyment of this record.  And together with the trio of songs noted here, all twelve tracks on this record collectively make it an album that is sure to impress Fozzy’s fans new and old alike.

Fozzy first built the hype over its new album early this spring with the release of ‘One Crazed Anarchist,’ the lead single from its new album.  There is quite a bit to note concerning this song that makes it work.  Musically speaking, audiences that are familiar with the work of Rich Ward and fellow Stuck Mojo band mate Frank Fontsere will instantly hear the influence of the pair’s work with that band in this song.  Front man Chris Jericho’s vocals are just as powerful as he sings about quite a disturbed individual, singing, “One crazed anarchist/He’s ready to blow/Grenade in his pocket and he’s ready to blow/Finger on the trigger/And he’s waiting to pull/It’s time to deliver and his docket is full.”  The song’s chorus seems to hint at how said individual became what he become as Jericho sings, “How did my love just fade away/Faith and hope/Have gone astray/I can’t run away from the beast/Rip the scab/And set it free/It’s the killer in me.”  Of course, he’s speaking metaphorically about “running from the beast.”  It almost hints at someone that has become an extremist of sorts as a result of having lost everything both physically and emotionally.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the song an even harder hitting piece coming at it from a lyrical angle.  Add in the songs steady crunching guitar line underneath Ward’s primary guitar part and an even deeper emotional impact is created.  One should take into account, too Jericho’s own vocal delivery.  He does quite the job of interpreting the subject’s seeming emotional and psychological state as he sings about the unnamed man.  This serves to make ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ one of the best examples of how much Fozzy has grown over the course of its life.  Audiences can check out the songs video now online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9aKjbRIJ_k.  Just as much of an example of the band’s growth, is the still heavy yet uplifting song ‘Unstoppable.’

‘Unstoppable’ is another example of the growth on Do You Wanna Start A War because while it is a rather heavy song in its own right, it also presents a positive message.  That message is one of self-determination.  The band brought in guest singer Christie Cook for this song.  Her vocals are just as powerful as Jericho’s.  But there’s something that just makes it all perfectly fit here as she sings in the song’s chorus, “You’ll never break me/I’m unstoppable/You’ll never shake me/I’m unstoppable.”  Perhaps it is that certain grittiness in her voice that makes it work.  It’s almost a mix of Lita Ford and Joan Jett, if one can envision such a hybrid sound.  And just as ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ bears its own similarity to Stuck Mojo’s sound, so does this song bear a certain similarity to Stuck Mojo’s ‘Invincble.’  That song in question comes from Stuck Mojo’s most recent release, 2009’s The Great Revival.  One can almost see her on stage with the band, pumping her fist in time with the audience as she sings, “I do just what I want to/Because I know it’s right/Don’t tell me I can’t make it/Won’t down without a fight/Away from my past/Because in my eyes/I can do anything/Now watch me rise.”  This is such an anthemic song.  It is the kind of piece that could easily inspire people in so many situations.  That ability to so easily inspire audiences combined with such a heavy sound make this song one more of this album’s examples of how much Fozzy has grown throughout the years.

Fozzy’s new record shows so much growth from the band. That’s already been evidenced in both the album’s lead single ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ and the driving, uplifting ‘Unstoppable.’ There is at least one more example on this record of just how much Fozzy has come since its earliest days. That example is a song that is perhaps the album’s most mainstream song of all—‘Tonight.’ If ever there was a song that could be used as a radio single it is this song. Jericho and his band mates sing in this arena anthem, “This is our last chance/To show the world/Jus what we’re made of/We’ll bring this town to its knees/And then/We’ll take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly(and stage our battlecry)/Take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly (it’s time).” That positive vibe runs throughout the course of the song. It offers that same sort of inspiration as ‘Unstoppable’ that is sure to uplift audiences and entertain them at the same time. It is one more example, as audiences will hear, of how much this band has grown from little more than a novelty cover band to a serious musical group. And as audiences will hear from the album’s other songs, those songs along with the pieces noted here exhibit that growth even more.

Do You Wanna Start A War is available now in stores. Audiences can currently pick it up at Best Buy and get a free Fozzy bandana with purchase. Fans can also pick up the album at any of the band’s live shows. The band is currently touring alongside Theory of a Deadman in support of its new album and will be in Syracuse, NY next Friday, August 2nd at the Chevrolet Court. The band also has a performance scheduled at the famed Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, September 24th. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news and updates from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/FozzyRock and http://www.fozzyrock.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.

San Francisco Hosts Los Angeles This Weekend On ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The MLB divisional races are starting to heat up now that the annual MLB All-Star Game has come and gone and the cutoff for the playoffs is only weeks away. And one of the hottest of those divisional races is the race for the NL West. This weekend, the San Francisco Giants play host to the L.A. Dodgers in a three-game series beginning Friday, July 25th that will see the two teams fight it out for the divisional lead. Saturday’s game, the second in the series between the teams, will be available on ESPN Radio. Jon Sciambi will have the call. He will be joined by analyst Chris Singleton.

The third game in this weekend’s series between the Dodgers and Giants will be broadcast live this Sunday, July 28th on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell. The Giants currently lead the Dodgers by a game and a half in the NL West standings.  Dan Shulman will have the call for Sunday night’s game. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Jon Kruk and reporter Buster Olney for commentary. Coverage of Sunday night’s game is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET.

Before either team takes to the field, and the first pitch is thrown, ESPN’s Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet will highlight all of the game’s major storylines. Host Adnan Virk and analyst Aaron Boone will discuss those storylines and all of the latest MLB news beginning at 7pm ET.

Audiences that want that can’t be near a TV for Sunday night’s matchup can catch every pitch and hit on ESPN Radio with host Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton. It will also be available on ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes Radio.

Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays will be on the road against the Big Papi—David Ortiz—and the Boston Red Sox next Monday, July 28th on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball presented by USAA. Coverage of that game is scheduled to begin at 7pm ET with Dave O’Brien, Aaron Boone, and reporter Tim Kurkjian providing commentary.

All of the latest MLB news and more is available online at http://espn.go.com/mlb and http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight. 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.

NASCAR’s Road To Homestead Begins This Weekend On ESPN, ESPN2

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This weekend is going to be a busy one for ESPN.

The schedule is jam packed this weekend for The Worldwide Leader in Sports and its family of networks. The biggest of this weekend’s events across the ESPN family of networks is the annual running of NASCAR’s Brickyard 400. ESPN takes over coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from TNT this weekend and carries it straight through to the series’ season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This weekend’s coverage of the Brickyard 400 events begins Saturday morning at 9am with the broadcast of Sprint Cup Series practice on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. This is the only coverage that will be carried on ESPN2. All other coverage throughout the weekend will be carried on ESPN and WatchESPN.

Qualifying for the Brickyard 400 will be broadcast at 2pm ET followed by ESPN’s weekly broadcast of NASCAR Countdown at 4pm ET and the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Lilly Diabetes 250 at 4:30pm ET. The green flag for that race is expected to drop at 4:49 pm ET.

Sunday’s coverage of the Brickyard 400 begins with NASCAR Countdown at high noon. The green flag for the Brickyard 400 is expected to fly at 1:19pm ET weather permitting. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will serve as in-race reporter for the Brickyard 400. He will discuss all of the latest in-race happenings with ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett during the race’s pace and caution laps.

More information on this weekend’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races is available online now at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar. 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.