Anti-Mortem Makes A Solid First Impression On Its Debut LP

Courtesy:  Nuclear Blast America

Courtesy: Nuclear Blast America

Anti-Mortem’s debut record New Southern is one of the best new hard rock records of 2014. The band’s debut record, which is available now in stores and online, has taken the best elements of Black Label Society, Hellyeah, and Pantera—just to name a few—and has blended them together to make a record that clearly shows why the band signed with what is one of hard rock’s “big three” labels in Nuclear Blast Records. For those that might be curious, the other pair of labels that comprise that “big three” are Metal Blade Records and Century Media Records. The band grabs listeners right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom’ and doesn’t let go until the final strains of the album’s closer. Along the way, the band more than makes its argument as to why it deserves to be on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. Case in point the band’s latest single ‘Truck Stop Special’ and the southern rock sludge of ‘Black Heartbeat.’ These songs are just a few examples of why Anti-Mortem’s New Southern has earned a spot at least on this critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock records. Audiences will agree that any of the songs on this record show why the band deserves such an honor from any critic.

Anti-Mortem proves to audiences why its debut record is one of the year’s best new hard rock records right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Words of Wisdom.’ The comparisons to Black Label Society and Hellyeah are instantaneous thanks to the heavy guitar riffs of Nevada Romo and Zain Smith, and front man Larado Romo’s searing vocals. In an era when it seems that crunching down-tuned guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls seem to be leading the way in the rock world, this combination of musicianship is a breath of fresh air even in the rock community. Of course the equally pounding drumming of Levi Dickerson and bassist Corey Henderson’s solid low end aren’t to be forgotten, either. They add their own depth to the song’s musical side as Larado Romo sings (Yes, he actually sings to a certain extent unlike so many rock vocalists today), “I was told my whole life/Don’t do this/Don’t do that/Force your opinion on me/Like it was fact/You tried to hypnotize/And teach me to act/the truth is you lied/And there’s no going back.” He and his band mates go on to sing in the song’s chorus, “You wonder/What’s under/What’s underneath my skin/You wonder what is under/Underneath my/I see no reason why/We should lay down and die/No words of wisdom.” There is no cryptic hidden message here. This song is a full-on, horns-high hard rock anthem. And it will have any true fan of the genre singing along with pride. That pride doesn’t lessen at all even after this song ends. That’s evident in another of the album’s highest points, ‘Truck Stop Special.’

‘Truck Stop Special’ is southern sludge rock at its finest. What can be said of this song but it is destined to be just as much a favorite for audiences both on the album and in a live setting. It’s a powerful song both musically and lyrically. Lyrically, Romo comes across as singing about making the most of life. This argument could be made in noting the song’s chorus. Romo sings in the chorus, “You can’t live your life, no/With your head in the sand/You can’t waste your time, son/On a fool’s errand.” That argument is made even stronger as he sings in the song’s second verse, “No money to drown in/No hope to hang/Trouble’s the way I’m living child/When there ain’t no fame/Our education boy/I’ll show you how to be yeah/To never want nothing son/To take all you need.” In the song’s final verse, Romo goes on to note how the last to a given point suffer the possibility of losing everything. He is speaking metaphorically here saying that those that waste their time in life are in danger of negative consequences. Overall, he is saying people shouldn’t waste their lives and let life pass them by. That carpe diem message of sorts next to the song’s solid driving musical makes this song one more of so many of New Southern’s many high points.

The members of Anti-Mortem show time and again throughout the course of New Southern’s twelve tracks and forty-six total minutes just why the band’s debut record is so deserving of being added to any critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. ‘Truck Stop Special’ and ‘Words of Wisdom’ are both prime examples of why it deserves to be on that list. There is one more song that could be noted among the many standout tracks on this album proving that argument. The song in question, ‘Black Heartbeat’ comes almost halfway through the album. The song focuses on broken relationship, lyrically. But it doesn’t come across in the typical ‘oh woe is me’ style of so many songs. It really captures the mixed emotions of anger and pain felt by someone that has been on the receiving end of a broken relationship. And Romo makes no bones about the song’s subject matter as he sings, “It’s safe to say/It’s over now/At least until you call/Sometimes I wonder why I care/And loved you at all/Go on and pretend/It’s not your fault/Your cold black heartbeat/Has come to a halt/So use me/Abuse me/To get what you need/Confuse me/Lie to me/Your damage has been done/You can’t take advantage of my love anymore/No trust/Don’t wanna see/Then just walk out the door.” Some out there might not like the comparison, but one could almost compare this piece to Theory of a Deadman’s song ‘Get What You Deserve.’ The two songs are very similar both in terms of their themes and musical sides. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. ‘Get What You Deserve’ is rather scathing in its own way just as this song proves to be. And it comes from a similar vantage point. It’s one of those pieces that when one is going through a separation of any kind will most definitely empower listeners and help them to get through such times. Ergo, ‘Black Heartbeat’ will have done its job. And in turn it will have proven once more just why New Southern more than deserves to be considered one of this year’s best new hard rock records.

All three of the songs noted in this review are prime examples of why New Southern deserves a spot on every critic’s list of the year’s best new hard rock records. They are also prime examples of why this album deserves a spot on the CD rack of every purist hard rock and metal fan. They aren’t the only examples of the album’s solidity. Every song on this album could be used for this argument. That’s truly saying something. The album is available now in stores and online. It can also be purchased at any of the upcoming live performances on the band’s current concert schedule. The band will kick off a summer tour at Strummer’s in Fresno, California on Tuesday, July 8th. Audiences can check out the band’s current tour itinerary online now and even buy New Southern at the band’s official website, http://anti-mortem.com. The band’s current tour schedule and updates are also available via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/AntiMortemUSA and http://twitter.com/antimortemusa. 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.

No Kidding, Destrage’s New Album Is A Metal Masterpiece

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

Metal Blade Records has never been a label to rest easy on its laurels.  Every year, it proves to be one of the leaders in the world of hard rock and metal.  The only other label that measures up to Metal Blade is its counterpart, Century Media Records.  Metal Blade has consistently released some of the music industry’s best hard rock and metal albums in recent years.  This year is no different.  And that is especially evident with the release of the new album from the Italian experimental metal act Destrage.  Are You Kidding Me? No is the band’s Metal Blade debut.  And it is quite the aptly titled record, too.  That’s because every single track will leave listeners asking those words.  For those that have yet to hear Destrage’s music, the best comparison that can be made is a hybrid of Between The Buried and Me, Slayer, and Mr. Bungle.  Front man Paolo Colavolpe even sounds like Slayer front man Tom Array at more than one point throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks.

Destrage—Paolo Colavolpe (Vocals), Matteo Di Dioia (guitar), Gabriel Pignata (bass), Ralph Salati (guitar), and Federico Paulovich (drums)—exhibits so much creativity right from the album’s opener, ‘Destroy Create Transform Sublimate.’ The only term that can best describe this song is controlled chaos. The song goes from full throttle, shredding guitars to a more jazz-influenced sound a la its Metal Blade label mates Trioscapes to an almost symphonic metal sound complete with a slight dubstep finale. Colavolpe’s vocal style changes from one movement to the next to match each portion of the song, too. He switches between his seemingly Tom Arraya style vocals to something more akin to Hellyeah/Mudvayne front man Chad Gray and back again over the course of the song’s near six-minute run time. Add in the song’s lyrical side and audiences get in this piece an even more complex song. Colavolpe sings and screams through this song, “We are all here to witness the indomitable power of creation/As creative energy spreads like a relentless force/infecting every single atom/Art in all its manifestation conducts us close to God/And the struggle of our thinking/into uncontaminated imagination/Pure imagination.” Yes, this is rather metaphysical thinking. And that’s why it works so well with the songs musical side. Those words are a direct mirror image of what the band presents with the song’s music. And together, the two sides make the song title all the clearer and the song itself all the more enjoyable.

For all of the frenetic energy exuded by the band in the first half of its Metal Blade Records debut, the band actually does slow things down in a manner of speaking at the beginning of the album’s second half. Where The Things Have No Colour,’ is the band’s most radio friendly single. Interestingly enough, as much as this song is pulled back and more radio friendly, the band doesn’t sacrifice too much. That’s evident in the song’s lyrical side. Colavolpe sings in this song, “You won’t take this moment away from me/And make me a silent slave of yours/You won’t put me down on my knees/I will make this time as I always meant it to be.” If properly interpreted, Colavolpe’s words come across as being rather defiant. If they are meant to be interpreted in such fashion, one must admit that it is one of the most original lyrically defiant statements ever made. The guitar work of Matteo Di Dioia and Ralph Salati adds so much more depth to the song. The pair shines and soars alongside drummer Federico Paulovich and bassist Gabriel Pignata to complete what is easily one of this album’s most powerful pieces.

‘Where The Things Have No Colour’ isn’t the only radio ready song that Destrage boasts on its new album. ‘Before, After and All Around’ This song comes across as a song based in the topic of relationships. That interpretation is made through lines such as “Speechless, smileless/Smilesless, hopeless/Haven’t got you yet/Maybe you understand me better than I know/I’ve got this feeling we are going nowhere/Stupid, don’t you see/Why the f&*% do you deny it/I feel wrapped up in pain/Because we are going nowhere.” However, as Colavolpe writes, “At this point/A girl lives in a dream/In a little fairy house/At the following point/She lives surrounded by sweet things/Hers. Mine./At the same point/A few months ahead/she looks forward/She realizes she wanted a man/But was a boy/I should have built a fairy house/In the same time a few miles away/But what would I have missed?” he leaves the song wide open to interpretation. The ability of Colavolpe to generate so much discussion from this song is another sign of the importance of this album. He writes so cryptically and metaphorically that his writing creates discussion without even trying. It makes the song—much like the album’s other works—more than just a song. It makes it a true musical and lyrical work of art. It becomes something to discuss and truly appreciate, again much like the other songs noted here and those not noted here.

All of the songs noted here each play an important part in the overall enjoyment and success of Destrage’s new album. That isn’t to take anything away from those songs not mentioned. The album’s remaining seven songs each play their own part in the album’s success, too. Regardless of which song one chooses, one thing remains true about this album. That one thing is that there is no kidding that this is one of the best hard rock/metal records of 2014.

Destrage will perform live May 10th in Legano, Italy in support of its new album and then in Moncalieri, Italy at the Audiodrome on June 1st. Audiences can find out about Destrage’s upcoming tour dates and general information online now at http://www.facebook.com/Destrage, http://www.destrage.com, and http://twitter.com/destrage. 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.

Band Schedule, Pre-Party Announced For Welcome To Rockville Festival

Courtesy:  Ashton-Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

The organizers of the annual Welcome to Rockville festival have announced the complete schedule for this year’s festival, including performance times for each act on the bill.

Courtesy:  Ashton-Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

Digital Summer and World Gone kick off this year’s festival. Digital Summer and World Gone are schedule to open the festival at 11:15am on the Monster Energy Fire Museum Stage and Jagermeister Stage respectively. Cathercist, winner of the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands, is up next at 11:45am ET on the Ernie Ball Stage. Within Reason and Ghost of War will open the festival’s second day at noon on the Monster Energy Fire Museum Stage and Jagermeister Stage respectively. The complete performance schedule for the weekend’s events is included below.

Performance times for Monster Energy’s Welcome To Rockville are as follows (subject to change):

Saturday, April 26

Monster Energy Fire Museum Stage

11:15 AM         Digital Summer

12:30 PM         Rev Theory

2:00 PM           Adelitas Way

3:30 PM           Hellyeah

5:15 PM           Chevelle

7:15 PM           A Day To Remember

9:40 PM           Avenged Sevenfold

Monster Energy Metropolitan Park Stage

11:45 PM         Gemini Syndrome

1:15 PM           Middle Class Rut

2:45 PM           Chiodos

4:15 PM           Alter Bridge

6:15 PM           Volbeat

8:20 PM           The Cult

Jägermeister Stage

11:15 AM         World Gone

12:30 PM         Silvertung (Jägermeister Band)

2:00 PM           Evergreen Terrace

3:30 PM           Smile Empty Soul

5:15 PM           Memphis May Fire

7:15 PM           We Came As Romans

Ernie Ball Stage

11:45 AM         Cathercist (Ernie Ball Battle Of The Bands Winner)

1:15 PM           Monster Truck

2:45 PM           We As Human

4:15 PM           Devour The Day

6:15 PM           Fozzy

Sunday, April 27

Monster Energy Fire Museum Stage

Noon                Within Reason

1:15 PM           Sick Puppies

2:35 PM           Black Label Society

4:15 PM           Seether

6:25 PM           Five Finger Death Punch

8:50 PM           Korn

Monster Energy Metropolitan Park Stage

12:35 PM         The Pretty Reckless

1:55 PM           Black Stone Cherry

3:25 PM           Theory of a Deadman

5:15 PM           Staind

7:35 PM           Rob Zombie

Jägermeister Stage

Noon                Ghost Of War (Jägermeister Band)

1:15 PM           Kyng

2:35 PM           Lacuna Coil

4:15 PM           Emmure

6:25 PM           Motionless In White

Ernie Ball Stage

12:35 PM         Twelve Foot Ninja

1:55 PM           Nothing More

3:25 PM           Butcher Babies

5:15 PM           Trivium

Courtesy:  Ashton-Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

Before the bands take to their respective stages, audiences will be treated to Monster Energy’s Welcome to Rockville Official Pre-Party Friday, April 25th. The Pre-Party is presented by X102.9 and Bud Light and will feature performances by Rev Theory and more. It will be held at 1904 Music Hall (19 N. Ocean Street in downtown Jacksonville, FL). It is free to ticketholders that are 21 and older. Ticketholders that want to attend the Pre-Party must show their festival tickets at 1904 Music Hall to get a Pre-Party wristband in advance. Wristbands are in limited quality. So they will be first come first serve beginning at 12pm ET on Friday, April 25th. Doors open at 8pm. The show will start at 9pm.

More information on the fourth annual Welcome to Rockville Festival is available online at http://www.WelcomeToRockvilleFestival.com, http://www.facebook.com/welcometorockville, and via Twitter at @RockvilleFest. 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.

Lineup Change Announced For 2014 Carolina Rebellion Festival

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

The organizers of the Carolina Rebellion Festival have announced a change to the weekend of the annual concert festival. It has been announced that Motorhead will no longer be on the lineup for this year’s festival.

Organizers released the following statement regarding the lineup change: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have learned that Motorhead will be unable to perform at Monster Energy’s Carolina Rebellion in Concord, NC May 3rd. We are working hard to find a replacement artist, so stay tuned to http://www.CarolinaRebellion.com for further updates.”

The Carolina Rebellion Festival is the mid-Atlantic region’s biggest annual rock festival. It will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC May 3rd and 4th, 2014. The current band lineup for this year’s edition of the Carolina Rebellion Festival is listed below.

Saturday, May 3
Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Seether, Volbeat, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Black Stone Cherry, Fozzy, Adelitas Way, Thousand Foot Krutch, KYNG, Nothing More, Devour The Day and Truckfighters

Sunday, May 4
Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, 311, Staind, A Day To Remember, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Fuel, Hellyeah, Of Mice & Men, Trivium, Redlight King, Twelve Foot Ninja and Gemini Syndrome

Bands announced for the festival will perform on one of three separate stages throughout the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Those stages are the: Carolina Stage, Rebellion Stage, and Jagermeister Stage.

Tickets for the 2014 edition of the Carolina Rebellion Festival are on sale now. This includes Camping, Hotel, VIP Packages, and Weekend 4-packs and upgrades. All camping and hotel packages include access to the Friday Night Campground Party. Active military members can purchase tickets once again at a discount. More information for all ticketing, including military discounts, is available online at http://www.CarolinaRebellion.com.

The Carolina Rebellion Festival was created in partnership by AEG Live and Danny Wimmer Presents. It is sponsored by Monster Energy, Jagermeister, Ernie Ball, Jack Daniels, Bud Light, F.Y.E. and Pabst Blue Ribbon. More information on the Carolina Rebellion Festival is available online at http://www.CarolinaRebellion.com and http://www.facebook.com/carolinarebellion. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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

Courtesy:  Century Media Records

Courtesy: Century Media Records

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

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

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

 

April 16th- Moose Jaw, SK Mosaic Place

April 17th- Edmonton, AB Shaw Conference Centre

April 19th- Winnipeg, MB MTS Center

April 21st- Minneapolis, MN Target Center

April 23rd- Huntsville, AL Von Braun Center

April 28th- Lafayette, LA Cajundome

April 30th- Hollywood, FL Hard Rock Live

May 6th- Knoxville, TN Knoxville Civic Coliseum

May 8th- Hershey PA Giant Center

May 12th- Quebec City, QC Colisee Pepsi Arena

May 13th- Montreal, QC Bell Centre

May 15th- Syracuse, NY Oncenter Complex

 

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

Rocklahoma Organizers Announce New Ticket Package

Courtesy:  Ashton Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton Magnuson Media

Organizers of the annual Rocklahoma concert festival announced this week that they will make available a new ticket package for audiences.

The new Zippo Encore Fan Package For Two will be available beginning next Tuesday, March 18th at 1pm ET/12pm CT.  The package includes:

  • Two (2) Weekend General Admission Tickets (inclusive of all service charges and fees)
  • Meal vouchers (two per day)
  • Two (2) Official Festival Zippo Lighters
  • One (1) one-year subscription to Revolver Magazine.

Tickets can be ordered online at the official Rocklahoma website, http://www.rocklahoma.com.

Also on March 18th, ticket prices both for general admission tickets and general admission 4-packs will increase.  General admission tickets currently are available for a price of $109 plus fees.  Beginning March 18th, that price will increase to $129 plus fees.  Weekend 4-pack General Admission packs will increase from $349 plus fees to $399 plus fees.  This takes effect beginning at 1pm ET/12pm CT.

Members of the military can get discounted tickets for the Rocklahoma festival online at http://www.govx.com.  Prices for those tickets will also increase March 18th at 1pm ET/12pm CT.

The new ticket package and price increases are not all that organizers announced this week for the annual festival.  Organizers also announced the return of the “Miss Rocklahoma” contest.  The contest runs through April 18th.  Ten finalists will be announced in late April online at http://www.rocklahoma.com.  Contestants and fans can register and vote online at http://www.rocklahoma.com.

The complete lineup for this year’s edition of the Rocklahoma Festival is:  Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Staind, Twisted Sister, Deftones, Seether, Motörhead, Jackyl, Filter, Black Label Society, Theory of a Deadman, Killswitch Engage, Skid Row, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Hellyeah, Kix, Down, Pop Evil, Adelitas Way, Black Stone Cherry, Trivium, Texas Hippie Coalition, The Pretty Reckless, Thousand Foot Krutch, Redlight King, Skindred, KYNG, We As Human, Nothing More, Devour the Day, Heaven’s Basement, Gemini Syndrome, Butcher Babies, Eve to Adam, Truckfighters, Scorpion Child, Twelve Foot Ninja, Kill Devil Hill, Killer Dwarfs, Mandy Lion, Bai Bang, Lynam, ASKA, Black Tora, Firstryke, Mystery, Nasty Habit, Sleepy Hollow, Wicked, Down & Dirty, Loveblast, Ruff Justice, Ratchet Dolls, Ragdoll, Dellacoma, Chaotic Resemblance, Scattered Hamlet, Siren, Mach22, Tempt, London’s Dungeon, Mine Enemies Fall, Station, The Chimpz, Sleepwalking Home, Well Hung Heart, Framing The Red, Blackwater Rebellion, Dryvr, Jet West and Dirty Crush.

The annual Rocklahoma Festival is sponsored by Bud Light, U.S. Cellular, Jagermeister, Monster Energy, Hard Rock Casino, Route 66 RVs, and Jack Daniels.

More information on the annual Rocklahoma Festival is available online at http://www.rocklahoma.com, http://www.facebook.com/rocklahoma and http://twitter.com/rocklahoma.  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.

Details Released For Annual Carolina Rebellion Festival

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

Courtesy: Ashton-Magnuson Media

The weather is cold across much of the country.  But don’t tell organizers of the annual Summer concert festival series.  Details for the annual Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion Festival have been made official.  This year’s Carolina Rebellion Festival—the third of four events that comprise “The 2014 World’s Loudest Month–will be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday and Sunday, May 3rd and 4th.  Avenged Sevenfold and Kid Rock will share headlining duties at this year’s festival.  They will be joined by Rob Zombie, Five Rob ZomFinger Death Punch, 311, Motorhead, Staind, Seether, Volbeat and more.  Avenged Sevenfold (also known by its fans as AX7) also performed at last year’s inaugural Carolina Rebellion Festival, which sold out.  The current performance schedule for this year’s festival is listed below.

Saturday, May 3

Avenged Sevenfold, Rob Zombie, Motörhead, Seether, Volbeat, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage, Black Stone Cherry, Fozzy, Adelitas Way, Thousand Foot Krutch, KYNG, Nothing More, Devour The Day and Truckfighters

Sunday, May 4

Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, 311, Staind, A Day To Remember, Alter Bridge, Theory of a Deadman, Fuel, Hellyeah, Of Mice & Men, Trivium, Redlight King, Twelve Foot Ninja and Gemini Syndrome

Bands announced for the festival will perform on one of three separate stages throughout the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Those stages are the: Carolina Stage, Rebellion Stage, and Jagermeister Stage.

Tickets for the 2014 edition of the Carolina Rebellion Festival go on sale this Friday, January 31st at 10am ET.  This includes Camping, Hotel, VIP Packages, and Weekend 4-packs and upgrades.  All camping and hotel packages include access to the Friday Night Campground Party. Active military members can purchase tickets once again at a discount.  More information for all ticketing, including military discounts, is available online at http://www.CarolinaRebellion.com.

The Carolina Rebellion Festival was created in partnership by AEG Live and Danny Wimmer Presents.  It is sponsored by Monster Energy, Jagermeister, Ernie Ball, Jack Daniels, Bud Light, F.Y.E. and Pabst Blue Ribbon.  More information on the Carolina Rebellion Festival is available online at http://www.CarolinaRebellion.com and http://www.facebook.com/carolinarebellion.  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.

Gloomball Impressive On Its Debut Record

Courtesy:  SPV/Steamhammer

Courtesy: SPV/Steamhammer

Most people in the metal community have either heard of heard of Godsmack or heard them.  Mudvayne, Hellyeah, and Five Finger Death Punch are just as well known in the metal world.  So what if one were to take these bands, toss them into a pot and stir them all together?  One would get Gloomball.  This German five-piece is primed to be one of the next big acts in the United States, given the right support from rock radio programmers.  The band’s debut album, The Distance, is a solid mix of all of the aforementioned bands that at the same time it shows their influences, still manages to solidly maintain its own identity.  It goes without saying that this record is one of the year’s best of the hard rock and metal category.

The album’s opener, ‘Burning Gasoline’ is fittingly titled.  It’s a full throttle hard rock song that wastes no time getting listeners’ blood boiling.  The song’s chorus is just as high powered as the music itself from band members Bjorn Daigger (guitars), Danny Joe (drums), Basti Moser (Bass) and Jossi Lenk (Guitars).  Front man Alen Ljubic sings in the song’s chorus, “The more that you throw/I’ll be back for some more/I have told you before/I’ve told you/What I/Feel a-bout you/Just because/I Don’t see/The point/To help you/Anymore/You’re just gonna stay here/Progress/No less/Just like you were before/Overcome/I’m overcome.”  The somewhat syncopated style of the chorus is reminiscent of Godsmack front man Sully Erna’s vocal style from much of that band’s songs.

The ability of Ljubic to change his vocal style from one song to another on this album is interesting to say the least.  The same can be said of the band’s sound overall.  On the album’s title track, the band has gone from a heavy, up-tempo adrenaline racer to a more controlled piece that still has a certain heavy element.  It’s something more akin to something one might hear from Five Finger Death Punch.  The song’s lyrical side shows a very deeply emotional topic.  Ljubic sings in an almost mournful style, “This will be difficult/We all want things we cannot have/Don’t drown in disbelief/Control yourself/You learn it’s a lie/Don’t betray yourself/It’s just not there/Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” He goes on to sing “This distance makes the heart grow colder.”  This song’s subject is pretty obvious.  And the talent of Ljubic’s band mates to interpret the lyrics makes this one more piece of the whole that will make any rocker proud.

Save for the album’s closer—a cover of ‘Living Within My Tender Pain (from the Rocky IV soundtrack)—the album’s energy picks right back up after the title track from Gloomball’s debut record.  It carries listeners straight through to that much more subdued closer, leaving audiences completely breathless, even after this much more gentle moment.  As gentle as it is, its proof of Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde’s statement long ago that a song can be heavy lyrically and musically without heavy guitars.  The strains of the piano set against Ljubic singing, “I, I’m the only thing that’s real/Deep inside is where I bleed/Living with my tender pain/Ever since you’ve gone away/Why/Does it still feel like a dream/All my pain feels so unreal/And your shadow it will stay/Right beside me every day.”  Yet again, Ljubic has shown his talent with this piece.  Unlike so many other songs of love lost, the combination of his vocal tone expertly comes together with the sad sounds echoing from the piano to truly catch the pain one must feel in having lost someone close to one’s self.  Of course as already noted, its only one of two moments when the album slows down.  Those wanting something with more energy have plenty to choose from throughout the heart of The Distance.  And by the time that audiences have finished their musical journey with the band, they just might find themselves wanting to travel “The Distance” with this band again.  The Distance is available now in Europe and will be available in the United States on Tuesday, May 7th.  The band’s only current planned performance in support of the record is a release show in Mannheim, Germany on Friday May 17th.  Fans can check in on the band’s Facebook page and official website for all of the latest updates on its tour and more at http://www.facebook.com/GLOOMBALL and http://www.gloomball.com.

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VOD’s New LP One Of Its Best, One Of 2012’s Best

Courtesy: Candlelight Records

Vision of Disorder is one of the progenitors of an entire genre of metal.  This Long Island, NY based band is really to thank for the popularity of metalcore and so much more of what goes on today in the metal community.  Being that it was so far ahead of its time, it’s no wonder that the band ended up breaking up at one point.   But thankfully, the band has reunited and released an album in The Cursed Remain Cursed that is easily one of the best metal/hard rock albums of 2012.Next to Hellyeah’s Band of Brothers, VOD’s new record is that extra shot of adrenaline that the metal community has needed for so long.  Far too often bands that have broken up have come back with loads up hype, but have failed to live up to said hype.  That’s not the case here.  This LP is a take no prisoners album that comes at listeners from the very opening moments of ‘Loveless’ and doesn’t let up its attack a single bit throughout the rest of its run time.  Whereas the band’s earlier works were rife with raw energy, the band has seemed to take that energy on this album and really direct it in a precise direction.  Tim Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  As powerful Williams’ vocals are, one can see where Chimaira vocalist Mark Hunter might have gotten the influence for his vocal style.

The speed/thrash style churned out by the band on ‘Annihilator’ is just one of so many examples of what makes this album such a solid piece.  Again, Williams’ vocals are as strong as ever.  Add in the razor sharp guitar work of Matt Baumbach and Mike Kennedy and drummer Brendon Cohen’s equally impressive drumming, and audiences get one of the album’s highest of highs, musically speaking.  ‘The Enemy’ is much in the same vein.  It has those precise guitars.  What’s interesting here is that Williams actually tries his hand a little bit at singing, along with his screaming vocals.  Surprisingly, it works, too, making for a totally different musical environment in those sections in which he sings.

VOD has so much more to offer its listeners on this album than what can be noted here.  And fans will get to hear even more from the band as it’s currently touring in support of its new album.  The band is performing in Worcester, MA today.  They’re being joined by Misfits, Shadows Fall, This is Hell, and Freya.  The band’s next performance after today’s show is next Friday in Amityville, NY.  Fans can get a full tour itinerary online at http://www.facebook.com/VisionOfDisorder.

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Former Gwar Guitarist’s Side Project Will Wow Fans

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

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

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

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

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

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