Whitechapel Winning The “War” With Its New Album

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Tennessee based metal band Whitechapel released its fifth full length studio effort last Tuesday. That album, titled Our Endless War, has been met with mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike in the short time since its release. Those that are more experienced with will obviously be far more opinionated than those that might not be so familiar with the band’s body of work. One thing that both sides should be able to agree upon with this latest record is its heaviness both musically and lyrically. The album opens with the album’s absolutely searing title track that is an indictment of the country’s current state. Just as blistering is the Fear Factory style song ‘Worship The Digital Age.’ This song delves into the world’s overwhelmingly increasing obsession with things such as social media and all things digital. The band doesn’t let up an inch even as it reaches the last of the album’s dozen total tracks. The album’s closer, ‘Fall of the Hypocrites’ is brutal to say the absolute least. This applies both in terms of the song’s lyrics and its music. It will leave listeners breathless by the time it ends. Having experienced the album’s eleven other tracks, it will leave any naysayer agreeing that this is an album that any metal purist should hear at least once.

Whitechapel makes quite the statement on its latest release. The album’s opener and title track is a solid speed metal piece. There’s no denying that it is more listener friendly than some of the other material on this album. But in the band’s defense, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to a wider audience. The three-guitar attack of Ben Savage, Zach Householder, and Alex Wade makes for so much depth to the song. While one provides the song’s primary line, the other two work in tandem with bassist Ben Harclerode and drummer Gabe Crisp for an absolutely pounding opus. Vocalist Phil Bozeman’s heavy growling vocals are among the most powerful of any vocalist within the band’s sub-genre as he screams, “America our wasteland/Where death is entertainment/The place where moving forward/Means you turn the other direction/A place where reality existed/And we still continue to bleed.” This seething indictment of the current state of the nation continues throughout the course of the song, going after both the people and the politicians all at once. It’s a full-on unrelenting piece that is certain to impress any metal purist with its mix of adrenaline-fueled music and standard socio-politically charged lyrics. It’s just the start of what Whitechapel has to offer listeners on its new record, too.

Our Endless War’s socio-politically charged opener is a solid reintroduction for the band on its fifth full length studio effort. Just as blistering as that piece is ‘Worship The Digital Age.’ This song comes across as the band’s commentary concerning the world’s ever-growing obsession with the 24-hour news cycle, celebrity gossip and all things linked to the digital era. Given, it’s not the first song to ever tackle such topics. But it will most definitely keep listeners engaged thanks to its combination of music and lyrics. Again, each member of the band does his part to make this song one of the album’s most pummeling, musically. Bozeman backs up that heavy, grinding sound with his equally grinding vocals, screaming to listeners, “I can’t find it in me to resist and look away/This is where civilization falls/We have been convinced we need this to be entertained/This disease has consumed us all.” If this is indeed an indictment of people’s obsession with the noted topics, Bozeman couldn’t be more right. It really has become a disease of sorts. We are constantly living our lives online more and more. We are becoming more and more obsessed with our favorite celebrities and political figures. It makes one believe that this is truly where civilization finds its end. Bozeman notes himself in the song’s final verse, “Don’t waste your time/We’re already numb/Programmed for the now/And the future is none.” That one line, “programmed for the now” says it all. Our obsession with staying up with all the latest trends, etc. is going to be civilization’s end. Burton C. Bell and his band mates in Fear Factory would definitely be impressed by this piece.

Those that hoped for Whitechapel’s signature death metal sound on this record will be happy to know that the band hasn’t completely branched away from that sound this time out. The band closes its new album with the song ‘Fall of the Hypocrites.’ The band as a whole is razor shard throughout this final salvo. The song’s final verse puts the proverbial nail in the coffin, with Bozeman screaming, “You know who you are/Everyone sees right through those hateful scars/It’s a matter of time before we start to right these wrongs/We can start by using my chainsaw/The tongues come out first/to prevent venomous words/Then we’ll cauterize them and hang you by your necks/Behold the 8th wonder of the world.” Violent? Yes. A bit sarcastic in those final words? Yes. There’ no denying the fury and certainty in Bozeman’s words, either. Together with the song’s equally blistering musical side, it collectively leaves a lasting mark for the band.

‘Fall of the Hypocrites,’ Worship the Digital Age’ and ‘Our Endless War’ are each strong samples of what Whitechapel has to offer listeners on its new album. They aren’t the only positives to this new record. Listeners will each find their own favorite songs when they purchase or order Our Endless War for themselves. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct from the Metal Blade Records online store at http://whitechapel.merchnow.com/products/173521. It can also be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/album/id828056300.

Whitechapel is currently touring in support of its new album alongside Devildriver, Carnifex, Fit For An Autopsy, and label mates Revocation and Rivers of Nihil. It will perform today at Plaza Condesa in Mexico City, Mexico before taking a short break to recharge for the next leg of its tour, which begins next Wednesday, May 14th in St. Louis, MO. The band’s tour schedule also brings it to North Carolina this Summer. The band is scheduled to perform at the Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday, June 15th. The band’s current tour schedule, news and more is available online at http://www.facebook.com/whitechapelmetal, http://www.whitechapelband.com, and http://twitter.com/whitechapelband. 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.

Numan’s New Album Is A Musical Masterpiece

Courtesy:  Machine Music USA, Inc.

Courtesy: Machine Music USA, Inc.

Veteran musician Gary Numan has shaken up this critic’s list of the year’s best rock and hard rock albums with the release of his latest album, Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind).  Numan’s new record, his twentieth full length studio release, takes listeners once again into the ever darkening world that he has crafted throughout his more recent releases.  Numan grabs audiences right from the album’s emotionally desolate opener ‘I Am Dust’ straight through to ‘My Last Day’, which closes out the album’s dozen tracks and never lets go.  It may not be the most uplifting album out there.  But the sonic landscapes crafted throughout this near hour-long record make it worth more than just a couple listens.  As a matter of fact, that landscape makes this album a darkhorse candidate to be one of the year’s best new rock or even hard rock albums.

Numan made the completely right choice opening his new album with ‘I Am Dust.’  There is so much that can be said of this song.  The first thing that listeners will take away from this song is the different musical and vocal influences obvious throughout the song.  Numan’s own vocal style in the verses conjures thoughts of Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer front man Maynard James Keenan.  However, when he reaches the choruses, there is almost a mix of Peter Steele (Type O Negative) and Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) in his voice as he sings, “We are yours/We’re waiting for you/We are yours/We’re waiting for you.”  The Fear Factory and Type O Negative influences can also be heard in the choruses in the song’s musical side.  Numan’s nihilistic lyrics in this song echo that of Trent Reznor circa The Downward Spiral.  He sings, “We all pray for the end/For the God to take us/We were falling down/One by one/We were weak/And the fear/Was all around us/The machines screamed from moon to sun.”  The musical and lyrical combination along with the obvious influences from across the rock world collectively make this song the perfect introduction to Numan for those that might be new to his music and an equally impressive re-introduction for those that are more familiar with his music.

For all of the dark, brooding songs that Gary Numan includes in his new album, he also tackles relationship issues in his own way.  He tackles the subject in the very Nine Inch Nails-esque ‘The Calling.’  Were a person to hear this song on the radio without knowing it was Gary Numan, one might actually think it was Nine Inch Nails because of how close it sounds to Trent Reznor’s work circa The Fragile.  The string arrangements and electronics set against Numan’s brooding lyrics make this song one of this album’s key moments.  Lyrically, there is little to this song.  But even in its few lyrics, Numan captures the emotion of someone that realizes that he or she has been nothing but a pawn in someone else’s game.  He writes in the song’s final verse, “You don’t love me/You don’t know me/Is this some kind of game for you/Is that why you’ve called me?” This is a situation to which plenty of audiences can relate.  Not everyone has gone through the situation presented in this song.

Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) is front loaded with more than its share of impressive new material from Gary Numan.  There is not one bad moment throughout the record’s near hour-long run time.  One of the highest of the records high points has already been noted here.  It isn’t the only of the album’s high points, either.  ‘We’re The Unforgiven’ is another of this album’s highest of points.  This song has a very obvious Nine Inch Nails influence both musically speaking and lyrically.  What’s so interesting about that is the contrast of the song’s musical and lyrical sides.  The song’s musical side is powerful to say the least.  That is thanks in large part to the manner in which each verse crescendos before dropping back.  That dynamic contrast alone would make this song work even without lyrics.  But set next to the song’s lyrical side, both the music and lyrics come together to make the song this album’s best song.  He writes about figures that were once great but are now pale shades of themselves.  He writes, “Once there was life/And we were strong/Full of pride/Once we bread fear/And we would take the flesh denied/Once we were gods/And all things knelt before our word/or died.”  Obviously, he is writing metaphorically here.  But the message is still the same. He goes on, writing in the song’s chorus, “Now we’re just a ruin/We were our undoing/We’re the unforgiven.”  This is a powerful statement.  And again, set alongside the song’s musical side, it becomes even more powerful.  Together, they make this song just one more of so many standout moments shared by Gary Numan throughout his new record.  Fans overseas in the Middle East and Europe will get to experience these songs and many more live beginning February 10th in Tel Aviv, Israel.  From there, Numan will make his way into Belgium and across Europe for the next leg of his tour in support of his new album.  Fans can get Gary Numan’s latest tour dates, news, and more online at http://www.facebook.com/GaryNumanOfficial and http://www.garynuman.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.

Gojira Albums To Be Reissued On Vinyl

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Officials with Prosthetic Records have announced that the label is set to reissue the two albums that helped to establish the French tech-death metal band in the metal community worldwide.  The label will reissue From Mars to Sirius and The Way of All Flesh in gatefold double vinyl sets in very limited quantities beginning August 27th

gojira1

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Both albums will be reissued to the total number of one thousand copies each.  From Mars to Sirius will be released in three 180-gram variants:  “Eco-green” (600 copies), “Mars Red” (200 copies), and Sea Blue (200 copies).  The Way of All Flesh will be reissued on only two variants: 180-gram Clear (500 copies) and standard-weight blue-white split vinyl (500 copies).  The reissue of The Way of All Flesh marks the first time in three years that the album will be available on vinyl.  The album features a guest spot by Lamb of God front man Randy Blythe and was produced by Logan Mader (Five Finger Death Punch, Devildriver, Fear Factory).  The band toured alongside In Flames and All That Remains in support of this release.  There was even an arena tour with Metallica in support of the album.

Courtesy:  Prosthetic Records

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Both The Way of All Flesh and From Mars to Siruis can be pre-ordered now online at http://www.indiemerch.com/prostheticrecords/pre-orders.

To keep up with the latest news from Gojira, fans can follow the band online at http://www.facebook.com/GojiraMusic and http://www.gojira-music.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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Honour Crest’s New EP Will Impress Industrial Rock Audiences

Courtesy: Indianola Records

Honour Crest’s new full length release, Metrics is a work that established fans of this band will likely enjoy.  The Virginia Beach, VA based band continues its tradition of melding electronics and heavier metalcore sounds to make a sound similar to that of Fear Factory, Spineshank, and Crossbreed.  One of the best examples of the band’s abilities on this release is in its new single, ‘Horcrux.’  Not only does it impress with its melding of electronic elements and its more metal side, but lyrically, it breaks the mold of the standard relationship based songs.  Front man Lucas Borza writes in this song, “We cannot give in/No matter what they will tell us/Our hearts were made to withstand/We cannot give in/No matter what/They will test us/and push us/To the very edge/We cannot give in.”  It’s a very empowering song that will appeal not only to younger listeners, but even to older audiences as there will always be those who will test us and push us to the edge, just as the song’s chorus notes.  The combination of this song’s lyrics and music makes it easily one of the best tracks on this release.

The band impresses just as much on the album’s opener, ‘Flux.’  Again, it carries a theme of personal strength mixed with a balance of electronics and harder edged metalcore sounds.  Borza writes in this song, “Stop/Hold your ground/Our enemies can never/Breach these walls/I persevere/In a place that has no cover.”  Again, there is that sense of self assurance and empowerment. That positive message, mixed with the musical backing of the song will make it another fan favorite.

Metrics boasts even more interesting tracks than just this pair.  For example, the pairing of ‘Interlude’, which comes in at just under a minute and a half, and ‘Search and Seizure’ sound like they could have easily fit onto the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron Legacy.  Forget the lyrical content.  The musical side of this combination makes for another high point to this EP.  Metrics is available now in stores and online.  It can be downloaded via iTunes at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/metrics/id564027702.  Fans will also get the chance to hear the band’s music live as it is touring in support of the new release.  The band will be performing in Richmond, VA today, and then follow that with a home town show tomorrow in Virginia Beach.  The band will also be in Raleigh, North Carolina for its NC based fans on Sunday, November 4th.Fans can get a full tour listing and all the latest from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/honourcrest

To get the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online 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.

Fear Factory adds one more to the list of 2012′s best metal albums

Static-X, Rammstein, and Spineshank are all some of the bigger names in today’s world of industrial metal.  But if not for Fear Factory, none of those bands–or any other for that matter–likely would have become as famous as they are.  Fear Factory broke industrial metal through as an acceptable standard with the release of its 1992 debut album, “Soul of a New Machine.”  The band built a worldwide fan base from there on, with albums centered on stories of man versus machine.  Now two decades later, Fear Factory continues to pave the way as a leader in both the industrial metal community and the metal community as a whole despite both changes in labels and band members.  Fans will hear that loud and clear on June 5th with the release of the band’s eighth album, “The Industrialist.”

“The Industrialist” is one of Fear Factory’s best album’s to date.  Just as the band’s previous release, “Mechanize” has been compared to “Soul of a New Machine”, “The Industrialist” is easily compared to another of the band’s mega hit albums, “Demanufacture.”  The two albums are very similar both musically and lyrically.  While it doesn’t go the exact same route of man vs. machine, “The Industrialist” does take the route of man using machine to destroy himself and wipe himself off the face of the Earth.  Fans who pick up the special expanded edition of the album will get the full story written by frontman Burton C. Bell in a companion booklet.  The band’s website, http://www.feafactory.com also offers a trailer that explains the premise behind the album’s story.  It’s all the more motivation to pick up the expanded edition and get the entire story behind the album.

Musically, the album is just as crushing not only as “Demanufacture”, but as anything that Fear Factory has written.  The album’s opener sets the tone for what’s to come with its title track.  It’s clearly old school Fear Factory.  From the guitars to the bullet sharp work of new drummer Mike Heller, this track alone will bring out fond feelings of nostalgia among all Fear Factory fans.  As precise as his drumming is here–and throughout the album–one wouldn’t even know that Raymond Herrera wasn’t the man behind the kit.  Another of those moments comes in ‘Depraved Mind Murder.’  Heller’s work on the drums is just as tight on this song.  Of course, he isn’t the only one who impresses.  Vocalist Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares have seemingly mended their fences.  And the pair are a force to be reckoned with.  Bells vocals are as strong as ever on ‘Recharger’ and ‘Depraved Mind Murder.’ 

“The Industrialist” is a top notch album from Fear Factory.  The entire band works like…well…a well oiled machine (yes that’s a bad pun).  However, as great as the band works together, the people behind the glass played a hand in the album’s creation, too.  Back on board again is long time producer Rhys Fulber (Frontline Assembly).  Fulber has had his hand on nearly every one of Fear Factory’s records.  That familiarity with the band obviously played a major role in how impressive “The Industrialist” turned out.  Greg Reely (Paradise Lost, Machine Head) mixed the album.  The combination of two such accomplished individuals made for quite the expectations from this album.  And the album more than lived up to said expectations.  Add in the album artwork of Anthony Clarkson (Devin Townsend), and long time fans of Fear Factory will have on June 5th, what is some of Fear factory’s best work to date.

The band is currently on tour in support of its upcoming tour, alongside Shadows Fall on the “Noise in The Machine” tour.  It will be in Winston-Salem tonight at Ziggy’s.  Fans can keep up with the band’s full tour itinerary and more on the band’s website, http://www.fearfactory.com, its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/fearfactory, and on its Twitter page, http://twitter.com/fear_factory.