Chile On Hell Is A Hard Rocking Music History Lesson From Anthrax

Courtesy:  Megaforce Records

Courtesy: Megaforce Records

2014 is almost over.  But even as the year’s last months start to wind down, things haven’t cooled down in terms of the year’s new live recordings. As the year’s final months wind by, critics everywhere will begin firming up their annual “Best Of” lists for publication later in December.  Most critics will focus mainly on the year’s best overall movies and music.  And then there will be those critics and writers that will focus on specific lists such as the year’s best new pop albums, rock albums, hard rock albums, etc. It would seem that among all of the lists that are compiled, one category that doesn’t necessarily receive the attention that it deserves is that of the year’s best new live recordings in terms of DVDs and Blu-rays.  This critic’s personal list of the year’s best new live recordings is already firming up quite well.  There are still at least a couple of spots left open on that list, though.  And one of those spots will most definitely be taken up by veteran hard rock/metal band Anthrax’s new live DVD Chile on Hell.  This new live recording is one that any long-time Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy first and foremost for its set list.  While this concert is not necessarily what one would call a “career-spanning” show, it is one that both the band’s original fans and its newest fans alike will appreciate.  The next aspect of the DVD that audiences will appreciate is the band’s stage presence.  Some might consider this something minor.  But in reality, it is just as important in keeping audiences at home fully engaged.  And last but most definitely not least of all worth noting is the concert’s collective audio and video mix.  The two together present a certain raw look and sound that are just as impressive as any more spit shined and perfected recordings that are currently available to audiences.    Each of the factors noted here play their own important role in the overall enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Altogether, they make this DVD a dark horse candidate for a spot on at least this critic’s list of the year’s best new live recordings.

Far too often, the term career-spanning is tossed around when it comes to live recordings.  Sadly, very far too few of those recordings live up to such hype.  That isn’t to say that no recording lives up to that label.  Rather, far too few live recordings live up to said label.  Thankfully, neither Anthrax nor Megaforce Records make any attempt to call Chile on Hell one of that mass of overly hyped recordings.  Rather, they let the recording speak for itself.  And the statement made is loud and crystal clear as audiences will see in the show’s set list.  The nearly two-hour show includes some of the material included on Worship Music and the band’s recently released EP Anthems.  But by and large, the set list presented in Chile on Hell takes audiences back to the band’s earlier days.  To be more exact, the band largely reaches back to its 1985 and 1987 albums Spreading The Disease and Among The Living for this concert.  1990’s Persistence of Time of also represented here courtesy of the song ‘In My World.’  Such a mix of classics and more recent songs will bring in both the band’s original fan base and its newer and possibly younger fan base at the same time.  One could argue that in presenting such a set list, the band is paying respect to its original fan base while teaching a valuable music history lesson to those younger and newer fans.  Even if this was not the original intent on the part of the band or of Megaforce Records, it is one of the results.  It makes the set list even more solid as the DVD’s center.

The set list and the potentially latent function of said list are together a solid starting point in the success and enjoyment of Chile on Hell.  Just as important as the set list and its effects is the band’s stage presence.  It goes without saying that the band’s stage presence in this stage is full-on.  Front man Joey Belladonna and founding guitarist Scott Ian exude so much energy; so much in fact that even audiences at home will find themselves wanting to sing along and head bang with them.  Such a powerful translation even on-screen is quite a statement.  Belladonna’s band mates add their own energy through their performances.  Whether through Charlie Benante’s pounding drumming, the spot on shredding of Shadows Fall guitarist Jonathan Donais (who replaced Rob Caggiano) or even bassist Frank Bello, the band collectively keeps the audience in attendance at the recording fully engaged from start to finish.  And home viewing audiences will feel that energy themselves, leading them to be fully engaged throughout, too.  That the band’s stage presence could translate so well and have such impact even on home viewers is a tribute to the band itself.  And coupled with the show’s set list, the overall effect of the show is made even stronger, thus making the recording in whole all the more enjoyable for all of the band’s legions of fans.

The set list arranged for Anthrax’s show in Chile and the band’s stage presence combine to make Chile on Hell an impressive addition to any Anthrax fan’s personal collection.  The recording’s collective audio and video mix is the final touch to the whole presentation.  The video doesn’t have the spit shined look of so many other live recordings before it.  Rather, it has a grainier, more raw look.  Yet that look actually plays into the overall presentation.  That is because it actually serves to help heighten the energy exuded by both the band and the audience.  Staying on that topic, audiences will enjoy the camera attached to the end of guitarist Scott Ian’s guitar.  That angle and the others used throughout the concert are used at just the right moments to make for a wonderful impact.  And despite being recorded at an indoor venue, the concert’s audio mix turned out impressive in its own right, too.  Balancing audio levels at indoor venues always has and always will present its own challenges.  In the case of this concert, those charged with balancing the concert’s audio levels both at the show and in post-production are to be commended for their efforts.  The end result of their work is a concert recording in which neither the vocals nor the music overpowered the other.  And together with the equally professional work on the concert’s video mix, it proves to be a concert experience that any of Anthrax’s legions of fans will enjoy no less with each watch.

Those charged with handling the audio and video mix for Chile on Hell are to be highly commended for their high quality of work in this concert.  The band and its label are to be commended, too.  The set list serves a dual purpose.  And the band’s stage presence will keep audiences fully engaged from start to finish.  All three of these factors come together to make Chile on Hell a concert that while bare bones, is one that any hard rock fan and any Anthrax fan will appreciate and enjoy.  The DVD will be available Tuesday, September 16th via Megaforce Records.  Fans can find out more about this upcoming live recording and keep up with all of the latest updates from Anthrax online at http://anthrax.com, http://anthraxarmy.com, http://twitter.com/anthrax, and http://www.facebook.com/anthrax.  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.

Battlecross Announces New Tour Dates, Starts Working On New Album

Courtesy:  Metal Blade Records

Courtesy: Metal Blade Records

The members of Battlecross have confirmed that the band will hit the road this summer for a headlining tour.

The band will kick off its upcoming headlining summer tour on Thursday, July 24th at The Basement in Columbus, Ohio. A pair of dates in North Carolina is also planned as part of the band’s tour. That pair of dates will see the band perform at the Greene Street Club in Greensboro, North Carolina on Friday, July 25th and The Casbah at Tremont Music Hall on Sunday, July 27th. The band will be joined by Crimson Shadows at both performances. Crimson Shadows, from Canada, was the winner of the most recent Wacken Metal Battle. New York-based band IKILLYA will also be on hand for support.

The first leg of the band’s summer tour runs through Thursday August 7th. Battlecross will join Killswitch Engage on Friday, August 8th and Sunday, August 10th at Expo 5 in Louisville, KY and at Austin’s in Libertyville, IL respectively. The band also has a performance scheduled for Saturday, August 9th at the DIRT Fest in Birch Run, MI. After finishing its U.S. run, Battlecross will head south for the South American leg of its tour. That leg of the band’s tour currently runs from Friday, August 22nd to Sunday, August 24th. Also on board for that leg of the tour will be Memphis May Fire and Killswitch Engage. Currently, the band is on tour in Europe in support of its latest release, War of Wills. The band is touring alongside Huntress and will be in Milano today. The band’s current tour schedule is listed below.

BATTLECROSS Summer 2014 European tour dates:
19/06/14 IT – Milano – Club Legend w/ Huntress
20/06/14 SI – Ljubljana – Orto Bar w/ Huntress
21/06/14 HR – Zagreb – Mochvara Club w/ Huntress
27/06/14 BE – Dessel – Graspop Festival

BATTLECROSS
Tour w/ Crimson Shadows
Thu/Jul-24 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
Fri/Jul-25 Greensboro, NC @ Greene Street Club
Sat/Jul-26 Elizabethton, TN @ The Bonnie Kate
Sun/Jul-27 Charlotte, NC @ The Casbah at Tremont Music Hall
Mon/Jul-28 Jacksonville, FL @ 1904 Music Hall
Wed/Jul-30 Reading, PA @ Reverb
Thu/Jul-31 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room
Fri/Aug-01 Hartford, CT @ Webster Underground
Sat/Aug-02 Albany, NY @ Bogies
Sun/Aug-03 Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks
Mon/Aug-04 Quebec City, QC @ L’Agitee
Tue/Aug-05 London, ON @ Rum Runners*
Wed/Aug-06 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Thu/Aug-07 Pittsburgh, PA @ Smiling Moose
End tour
Fri/Aug-08 Louisville, KY** @ Expo 5
Sat/Aug-09 Birch Run, MI @ DIRT Fest
Sun/Aug-10 Libertyville, IL** @Austin’s
*co-headline w/ Macabre
** w/ Killswitch Engage

BATTLECROSS South American tour dates
w/ Killswitch Engage, Memphis May Fire
Fri/Aug-22 Curitiba, Brazil @ Music Hall
Sat/Aug-23 Sao Paulo, Brazil @ Carioca Club
Sun/Aug-24 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil @ Circo Voador

Along with its upcoming tour dates, the members of Battlecross have also announced that the band has started work on its third full length album. Guitarist Hiran Deraniyagala shared his thoughts regarding the connection between the short headlining tour and the album. He said of the band’s expectations for both, “We’re excited to announce our first headline run in quite a while. It’s short but sweet, and this gives us time to write the new record this summer.” Fellow guitarist Tony Asta added his thoughts, too. “The past year has been very inspiring for the band and our attitude towards the writing process this time around is more confident and driven,” he said. “I expect our next album to kick you in the ass harder than the last. Album #3 will be a serious contender in 2015 and a defining Battlecross record.”

More information on Battlecross’ upcoming tour, album and more is available online now 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Weinkauf’s Children’s Debut Is One Of 2014′s Top 10 Best New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Megaforce Records/Idlewild Recordings

Courtesy: Megaforce Records/Idlewild Recordings

Bassist Danny Weinkauf is best known for his work with the quirky cult favorite band They Might Be Giants. He will be known for much more when he releases his debut children’s album No School Today next month. No School Today is just as enjoyable for parents that know Weinkauf for his work with TMBG as it is for the children at whom it is aimed. That’s because the songs aside, its sound is at times similar to that of TMBG’s catalogue. Weinkauf even openly admitted in an interview to promote his new album that the album’s opener, ‘Archaeology’ was written in response to fans of TMBG confusing the song ‘Paleontologist’, calling it his [Weinkauf’s] “Archeology”song. He said, “Several times after a Giants show, people would come up and tell me how much they liked my“Archaeology” song. They were confusing the title of ‘Paleontologist,’ but I decided to honor them by writing another song.” It is a wonderful way for grown up fans of MTBG to introduce their own children to their favorite band. Another of this album’s songs that the whole family will enjoy is the mid-tempo rocker ‘Champion of the Spelling Bee.’ This song features Weinkauf’s son Kai on vocals. And the vocal talents of the younger Weinkauf are surprisingly impressive. These two songs are both great examples of what makes No School Today such a fun record. They are collectively only a portion of what makes this album so enjoyable. Just as fun for the whole family is ‘The Moon is Made of Cheese.’ The song’s title is self-explanatory. At the same time that it uses the old joke of the moon’s composition, it also teaches a short musical history lesson and even pokes fun at the conspiracy theorists out there. All these elements combined together make this one more of this album’s highest points. When set alongside the rest of the album’s songs, it becomes one more part of a whole album that every family should add to their child’s music library.
No School Today is a wonderful album for the whole family. That’s because Danny Weinkauf incorporates elements of They Might Be Giants throughout the course of the album’s sixteen songs. Right from the album’s outset, he pays tribute to fans of TMBG with a semi-companion piece to the song ‘Paleontology,’titled ‘Archaeology.’ Weinkauf noted in an interview promoting his new album that ‘Archaeology’ is a tribute to fans of TMBG who constantly called ‘Paleontology’ by the wrong name. At the same time that it’s a companion to the noted TMBG song, it’s just as enjoyable in its own shoes because it teaches a fun, musical science lesson for young listeners. Weinkauf sings in the song, “We’ll survey around the grounds/Seeking data that abounds/Then postulate on what we’ve found/Will our reasoning be sound?” Listeners can actually see scientists probing an excavation site, gathering items and studying them as he sings. That ease of visualization, the simple lyrics, and the song’s seemingly Beatles influenced sound collectively make the song even more fun for listeners of all ages. And it’s only the beginning of the fun for Weinkauf’s fans. Another one of the many high points shared throughout the course of this album is the grammatically-themed song, ‘Champion of the Spelling Bee.’
Danny Weinkauf’s debut children’s album is loaded with more high points than can be noted in one sitting. One of those many high points has already been raised in the album’s opener. Another high point worth mentioning is the grammatically-themed light rocker, ‘Champion of the Spelling Bee.’ Weinkauf’s son Kai takes center stage in this song. And he does so in surprisingly impressive fashion, singing, “Is it French/Is it Latin/Does it come from the Greek/Tell me of its derivation/Is it ooh/Is it oh that you speak/Do I have correct pronunciation/I’ve been readin’ every night from the dictionary/Memorizin’every word/My teacher says that I could be extraordinary/If I just would put in the work.” The young man’s vocals are quite sharp as is the song’s driving guitar line. The song gains even more footing in the fact that directly or not, it serves as a starting point in promoting literacy among young listeners. It’s an added bonus to a song that thanks to its catchy hooks and choruses is already a joy to begin with. That added to the mix makes it all the more enjoyable of a listen whether in the classroom, the living room or even in the car.
Both ‘Champion of the Spelling Bee’ and ‘Archaeology’ are great additions to No School Today. There is at least one more song from this standout debut from Danny Weinkauf worth noting in just one sitting. That song is the science-themed song, ‘The Moon is Made of Cheese.’ The title itself makes one want to listen to the song. And in listening to the song, audiences will not be disappointed. Weinkauf playfully pokes fun at all the conspiracy theorists who believe the moon landing never happened all while teaching a history lesson about the moon landing. He even incorporates the old joke of the moon being made of cheese. The song’s punk style musical backing makes the song as a whole even more enjoyable for listeners of all ages. As enjoyable as the song is, it’s only one more of so many wonderful examples of why No School Today is without a doubt, one of the top ten best new children’s albums of 2014. No School Today can be pre-ordered online now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/No-School-Today-Danny-Weinkauf/dp/B00IQFBZPA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1395837036&sr=1-1&keywords=Danny+Weinkauf.
Parents and kids can check out the lyrics to every song on No School Today on Danny Weinkauf’s official website, http://www.dannyweinkauf.com. While there, fans can also learn more about who played on the album, keep up with the latest news from Danny, and even check out music videos for some of Danny’s songs. Fans can also keep up with all of the latest from Danny Weinkauf on his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/Danny.Weinkauf. 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.

Former Pantera Front Man Releasing Solo Debut This Summer

Courtesy:  Housecore Records

Courtesy: Housecore Records

Former Pantera front man Philip Anselmo is set to release his first ever solo album this Summer.  Walk Through Exits Only will be released Tuesday, July 16th through his own record label, Housecore Records (MRI/Megaforce).  It will be available on CD, digitally, and on vinyl.  The eight-track album was co-produced by Anselmo and Michael Thompson.  It was recorded at Anselmo’s own Nodferatu’s Lair with his band, The Illegals. 

Anselmo explained in his own words just what the album means to him and what audiences can expect from this upcoming release.  “It wasn’t about doing a paint-by-numbers thrash or heavy metal record,” he said.  “It’s an angry album that only I could do.  I don’t see anybody else out there screaming about the same shit I’m screaming about.  On this album, there isn’t any wordplay, there isn’t any hidden message, it’s all right there in front of you.” 

A tour to support the album is already being planned.  Anselmo is currently up for an award in the “Best Vocalist” category at this year’s Revolver “Golden Gods” awards.  He is expected to make an appearance at the awards show.  To find out when Philip Anselmo will be heading out on the road and where, fans can follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/philipanselmo, on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/philipanselmo, and his official website, http://www.philanselmo.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.

Anthrax EP One Of 2013′s Best Rock Records

Anthrax has proven once again with its new EP, Anthems, why it is still one of rock’s elite bands.  This veteran rock act has crafted in its new release a work that is perfect in every way.  From the sequencing to the sound to the very packaging, everything that could have been done right was done right.  Sure, it probably is essentially a space filler between albums, but even if that is the case, it is one heck of a space filler.  It’s a musical history lesson for rockers of all ages.  Here, audiences get a band that by comparison to the bands it covers is relatively young.  Yet it shows that it knows the classics through some expert renditions of said classics.

Anthems opens with a cover of Rush’s ‘Anthem.’  This song originally appeared on Rush’s album, Fly By Night.  That Anthrax would cover Rush is a mind blower in and of itself.  Considering the style of music for which Anthrax is known, one would not instantly consider such a polar opposite sound to be any kind of influence on the band.  So that in itself is an eye opener.  That the band so expertly covered the song is even more of an eye opener.  The band paid homage to Rush and the song with its cover, but still added its own touch to the song, too.  Front man Joey Belladonna makes the song even more solid of an opener when he sings the line, “Welcome to the world.”  When Geddy Lee first sang those words, they obviously had their own meaning.  But having Belladonna sing those same words, they somehow take on a whole new meaning.  Since this is the EP’s opener, it could be argued that those words take on an introductory fashion for new listeners and a whole new introduction even for those more seasoned audiences.  Given, that probably wasn’t the intended function of that line.  But it does seem to have that impact.

The band’s new EP only gets better from the opening cover.  The EP’s second track is a cover of another legendary band’s song.  The band’s cover of AC/DC’s ‘TNT’ is without a doubt, one of this disc’s major high points.  One can’t help but focus yet again on front man Joey Belladonna. Maybe it is just this critic’s own take on the song, but Belladonna sounds eerily like the late great Bon Scott in every sense in this song.  Had one not known it was him, one might actually have thought it was the original song.  This is also thanks in part to guitarist Rob Caggiano, who earlier this year announced his departure from the band.  His take on Angus Young’s guitar work on this rock classic pays Young full honor.  And drummer Charlie Benante’s drumming is just as solid as that of Phil Rudd.  This is one that one could easily see the band performing live as it tours the country on the Metal Alliance Tour this Spring.

If Anthrax’s covers of ‘TNT’ and ‘Anthem’ aren’t enough for fans, then the cover of Boston’s ‘Smokin’’ will impress audiences.  This is yet another spot on cover that keeps the energy flowing from the EP’s first two tracks.  Older, more experienced rockers will love how the band handles this track.  And that such a young band by comparison could so expertly handle this classic will make older audiences smile, too.  Younger audiences will love it too simply because the band shines here even more.  It’s as if the band just keeps getting better and better on every track.  This is the case with the remaining trio of covers included here, too.  Those covers lead into the inclusion of two more bonuses in the form of ‘Crawl’ and its remix of sorts.

‘Crawl’ was taken from the band’s 2011 album, Worship Music.  Including both this track and its remix was actually quite smart.  Whereas so many bands in a case such as this would only include the redone track or live track, Anthrax and Megaforce Records have included both tracks, thus offering audiences the chance to compare and decide for themselves which version of the song they like better.  Regardless of which song becomes one fan’s favorite or another’s these last two tracks help the EP close just as solidly as it opened.  It goes without saying that if any one negative that could be said about Anthems, it is that the band chose to make this an EP, instead of a full length album.  Here’s to hoping one day, fans will see that happen.  Until then, fans can listen to his EP to their hearts’ content as the EP is available now both in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct from the official Anthrax website here:  http://anthrax.com/2013/03/19/anthems-is-here/Worship Music can be ordered directly via the band’s official website also at  http://shop.anthrax.com/shop.cfm/pk/category/ac/detail/cid/409267/prodid/412162.

Fans can get a chance to win a copy of Anthems for free right now and the chance to see the band live at its stop in Charlotte, North Carolina next month from the Phil’s Picks blog and Facebook page when they “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/philspicks.  Just “Like” the Phil’s Picks Facebook page and say you want to be entered for the chance to win an EP and to see the band live.

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 in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Black Crowes Announce New Tour, Live Release

Photo Credit:  Rod Snyder

Photo Credit: Rod Snyder

Chris Robinson and his band mates in the Black Crowes will be hitting the road again in 2013.  In connection to the upcoming tour, the band has announced that it will also offer a vinyl and digital release of its live release, Wiser for the Time.  The band will release the live recording via Silver Arrow/Megaforce Records on March 19th.  The band’s tour, labeled the “Lay Down With Number 13” tour, will kick off March 24th in Manchester, U.K.  It will take the band through the U.K. through March 30th before coming back to the U.S. April 2nd – May 4th

Tickets for the first leg of the band’s tour will go on sale Friday, January 11th at 10:13 local time.  Ticket information will be available tomorrow, January 1st on the band’s website, http://www.blackcrowes.com.  Fans can also go to the band’s website and its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Black-Crowes/8333596474 to get the band’s current tour lineup and all of its latest upcoming tour dates.

The band’s upcoming vinyl release of its live recording, Wiser for the Time, will be on a four-disc, eight side set.  It will contain a total of twenty-six songs.  Fifteen of those songs will be acoustic.  The remaining eleven songs will be electric.  The collection of songs comes from the band’s sold out five-night stand in New York City from 2010.  The set will also be released as a double album digital download.

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, 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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.