Throwdown’s First Full-Length Record In Five Years Proves Throwdown Is As Strong As Ever

Courtesy: eOne Music

Courtesy: eOne Music

Veteran California-based hardcore band Throwdown has been making music for the masses for nearly two decades.  The band originally formed in 1997 and released its debut album Beyond Repair only two years later through independent label Indecision Records.  Since the release of that album, Throwdown has gone on to release six more albums despite a number of changes in lineups and labels.  And each of those subsequent records has been met with praise from critics and fans alike.   The band’s latest full-length studio release Intolerance is no exception to that standard.  From start to finish, the album’s mix of musical and lyrical content have proven Intolerance to be some of the band’s best work to date.  Right off the top, front man Dave Peters and bassist Matt Mentley prove along with studio drummer Jarrod Alexander and studio guitarist Dave Nassie just why this album is deserving of that acclaim.  ‘Fight or Die’ is a pummeling opener.  Its mix of semi-social commentary and full throttle musical side instantly conjures thoughts of Hatebreed.  The album’s third track is one of the best of the album’s tracks thanks to that same driving tempo.  Peters’ declaration of his continued dedication to the Straight Edge lifestyle set against that pummeling musical side makes this song one that is perfect for any live performance from the band.  And then there is the slightly slower but still just as hard-hitting ‘Suffer, Conquer’ which offers its own social commentary.  Each of these songs in their own way proves why Intolerance is the best material that Throwdown has released to date.  That is not to take anything away from the other eight songs that make up this record.  Each of those songs offers its own extra element of enjoyment for audiences, proving once again why this is some of the best material that Throwdown has released to date.

The members of Throwdown prove right from Intolerance’s opener that even having gone five year since its last album, it hasn’t lost a single step.  Musically speaking, ‘Fight or Die’ instantly conjures thoughts of fellow hardcore band Hatebreed.  That should come as no surprise especially considering that the album was produced by ZEUSS.  ZEUSS is also known for having produced records for both Hatebreed and Shadows Fall among others.  Lyrically, its semi-social commentary adds even more punch to the song.  Peters writes in this song, “The life I knew is but a memory, a better time corroded by a harsh reality/What have we let ourselves become/A mercenary culture doomed to burn/So tell me what it’s gonna be when fire lights your city’s streets/Fight or die/It’s your only choice to survive/Fight or die/When fear and chaos collide/What the f*(& has thsi world come to/I just don’t know/What the f^*) are you gonna do when the lights go black.”  This comes across as a rather scathing indicment concerning the current state of both the United States and the world in whole.  He asks blatantly, what has this world come to?  He goes on in the song’s next verse noting that people’s rights are being infringed on and that people need to stand up for said rights.  That intensity in Peters’ delivery coupled with the song’s musical intensity makes this song the perfect first impression from the band in its return after a five year absence.

The musical and lyrical intensity established by Throwdown in Intolerance’s opener doesn’t let up a single bit after that song ends.  It is just exhibited in different ways throughout the course of the album’s remaining ten tracks.  One of the most noticeable ways in which it varies is exhibited in the anthemic ‘Avow.’  Those that know the history of Throwdown know of its links to the straight edge culture.  Peters directly addresses the excesses commonly associated with the music world (specifically rhe punk) in this song, writing, “A poison tide, corrosive and alive/Rising to obliterate the weak/Anchored in spite, an unpolluted mind/This covenant, I’m sworn to keep…’cause I avow/I avow…to this straight edge.”  He goes on to write that he has stuck to that straight edge lifestyle throughout the course of the band’s life despite everything that has happened to the country’s culture.  He writes, “Twenty years, and everything has changed/A culture suffocated beneath the lies/Twenty years and I still remain/My allegiance never f&^$)* dies…Never dies/I avow…to the straight edge.”  Sure it comes across as being a little bit self-congratulatory.  But when taking into consideration the number of bands that have suffered losses among their numbers over the years, or have broken up as a result of the excesses tied to the music industry, it becomes far less self-congratulatory.  Rather, it becomes a reassurance to Peters himself and to Throwdown’s fans saying, “Hey, I’m still here.  We’re still here as a band despite our lineup changes and label changes.  We’re still here.”  It becomes a piece to really take in even more seriously when thinking about all of that.  And when really considered, audiences will see just how important of an addition ‘Avow’ is to the album in whole, especially being the number of years that have passed between this album and the band’s last full-length release.

Both ‘Avow’ and ‘Fight or Die’ are solid additions to Intolerance when considering them both by themselves and as part of the album in whole.  The 1-2 punch of the songs’ lyrics and music make them both excellent examples of what makes this album work as well as it does.  There is at least one more song that audiences will agree serves as a good representation of the album’s strength if not more.  The song in question is ‘Suffer & Conquer.”  Much like the album’s opener, it is marked by some very Hatebreed style guitar work and vocals on its musical side.  Its lyrical side is just as strong.  Peters writes in this song, “You want respect because you put in your time/Entitled and indignant, you resign to a lie/Now I’m not saying that it’s time to concede/But in your disillusion you forgot what it means to/Suffer, suffer to succeed.”  Everybody knows at least one person like the one described in this song.  Said person is a gloryhog who is reality rather lazy but thinks the world owes him or her everything.  This is someone that has become all too comfortable and perhaps even complacent in his or her situation.  Peters’ verbal assault on said figure continues through the course of the song.  Such ability to relate to audiences and continued intensity makes this song one more of this album’s highest points.  Together with the likes of ‘Avow’ and ‘Fight or Die,’ it exhibits even more why Throwdown is just as strong as ever almost two decades into its life.  They collectively exhibit, too why Intolerance is a welcome return from Throwdown after having released its last album five years ago.

‘Fight or Die,’ ‘Avow,’ and ‘Suffer, Conquer’ are all excellent examples of why Throwdown’s fans will want to hear this album if they have not yet heard it.  They are merely the songs that this critic personally felt best represent Intolerance.  Audiences will find their own favorites among the album’s remaining eight tracks not noted here when they hear this record for themselves.  The album is available now in stores and online.  All of the latest updates from the band are available online at http://www.facebook.com/throwdownOC.  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.

PBS To Release New Bing Crosby Documentary This Fall

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

PBS announced Wednesday that it will release a new documentary centered on legendary entertainer Bing Crosby this fall.

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered will be released on DVD Tuesday, December 2nd. The documentary focuses on Crosby’s role in the entertainment industry during his career. It also takes a look at the man behind the legend. Veteran actor Stanley Tucci (Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Hunger Games, The Terminal) narrates the program. All of the surviving members of Crosby’s family—his wife Kathryn, daughter Mary, and sons Harry and Nathaniel–are featured in interviews included throughout the program. Fellow entertainers Tony Bennett and Michael Feinstein also share their reflections on Crosby and his legacy along with producer Ken Barnes, biographer Gary Giddins, and writers Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman. Emmy Award-winning director Robert Trachtenberg helms the documentary. It will not be the first time that Trachtenberg has helmed an episode of American Masters. He also helmed episodes that focused on the likes of Cary Grant, Mel Brooks, and fellow acclaimed director George Cukor.

Trachtenberg discussed his thoughts on this latest episode of American Masters. He noted that it was not just Crosby’s achievements as an entertainer that lured him to the project, but who Crosby was out of the limelight that interested him in. “Bing’s remarkable appeal, which continues to this day, was in his seemingly effortless ability to pull an audience in to his intimate, laid-back voice,” he said. He added to that thought, saying, “With the new material I’ve found, I think the breadth, depth and candor of his story will hopefully allow people to see him in a new light.” American Masters Executive Producer Michael Kantor echoed Trachtenberg’s thoughts, noting, “Much like his talent, Bing Crosby is a natural for the series. With more No. 1 recordings than anyone, it is easy to overlook all of his other achievements. Thankfully, this film delves deeply into all of his remarkable work, and will surprise many viewers with a unique perspective on his private life.”

American Masters: Bing Crosby Rediscovered will be available Tuesday, December 2nd on DVD and on DVD/CD combo pack. It can be ordered online direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=bing%20crosby%20rediscovered&origkw=bing+crosby+rediscovered&sr=1. More information on this and other episodes of American Masters is available online at:

Website: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanMasters

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.

(Hed) p.e. Announces New Slate Of North American Tour Dates

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

(Hed) p.e. announced a new slate of tour dates this week.

The band announced that it will hit the road for a whole new slate of North American tour dates this fall and winter beginning Thursday, November 20th. The tour is in support of its latest album Evolution. The album, the band’s ninth full-length studio effort, was released July 22nd. It can be downloaded now via iTunes. Psychostick will join (Hed) p.e. for a handful of dates from Wednesday, November 26th to Wednesday, December 3rd. And Dope will also come on board for one show on Sunday, November 30th.

Beginning Thursday, December 4th, (Hed) p.e. will join Nonpoint on its headlining tour. Nonpoint is currently touring in support of its own new release The Return. The Return is the eighth full-length studio release from Nonpoint. The full schedule for (Hed) p.e.’s upcoming North American tour is listed below.

Tour DATES:

Thu 20 Nov Eau Claire, WI Hipps Pub
Fri 21 Nov Lombard, IL Brauer House
Sat 22 Nov Janesville, WI Back Bar
Sun 23 Nov Mishawka, IN Smith’s Downtown
Tue 25 Nov Chesterfield, MI Diesel Concert Lounge
Wed 26 Nov Dayton, OH Oddbody’s PSYCHOSTICK support
Fri 28 Nov New York, NY Blackthorne PSYCHOSTICK support
Sat 29 Nov Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance PSYCHOSTICK support
Sun 30 Nov Baltimore, MD Fishhead Cantina DOPE / PSYCHOSTICK=SUPPORT
Tue 02 Dec Virginia Beach, VA Shakus PSYCHOSTICK support
Wed 03 Dec Winchester, VA Blue Fox Billiards PSYCHOSTICK support
Thu 04 Dec Cleveland, OH Agora Ballroom NONPOINT/ HED PE
Fri 05 Dec Rochester, NY Montage Music Hall NONPOINT/ HED PE
Sat 06 Dec Worcester, MA Paladium NONPOINT/ HED PE
Sun 07 Dec Portland, ME Asylum NONPOINT/ HED PE
Tue 09 Dec Richmond, VA Canal Club NONPOINT/ HED PE
Wed 10 Dec Morgantown, WV Schmitt’s Saloon NONPOINT/ HED PE
Fri 12 Dec Traverse City, MI Ground Zero NONPOINT/ HED PE
Sat 13 Dec Flint, MI Machine Shop NONPOINT/ HED PE
Sun 14 Dec Beckley, WV Munchez NONPOINT/ HED PE
Mon 15 Dec Atlanta, GA Masquerade NONPOINT/ HED PE
Wed 17 Dec Clarksville, TN The Warehouse NONPOINT/ HED PE
Thu 18 Dec St Louis, MO Mad Magician NONPOINT/ HED PE
Fri 19 Dec Springfield, IL Boondocks NONPOINT/ HED PE
Sat 20 Dec Columbus, OH Al Rosa Villa HED PE/ NONPOINT
Sun 21 Dec Steger, IL Another Hole In The Wall

All of the latest schedule updates and news from (Hed) p.e. is available online at:

Website: http://www.hedperocks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hedpe

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hedpe

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/hedpe

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.

Laurie Berkner Band’s New Hits Compilation Will Be A Hit In Any Pre-School Setting

Courtesy:  Two Tomatoes Records/Razor & Tie

Courtesy: Two Tomatoes Records/Razor & Tie

The Laurie Berkner Band released its latest hits compilation The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection this month.  The compilation of songs is not the first hits collection released by Berkner and her band mates.  However, it is still an enjoyable collection in its own right.  This is especially the case for any early childhood educator, as audiences will learn in listening to the compilation.  It is loaded with songs that are a good fit for any pre-school setting.  One of the best of those songs is ‘My Energy.’  This is a great song as educators can use it to get kids moving and get out their energy.  ‘Mahalo’ is another good addition to this collection of songs.  That is because it proves to be a multi-purpose song.  That will be discussed at more length later.  Perhaps most interesting of all the songs in this collection, is the inclusion of the standard ‘The Cat Came Back.’  That, too will be discussed at a later point.  It is a good addition to this collection, regardless.  And it isn’t the only positive addition to the record in whole, either.  ‘Drive My Car’ harkens back to another standard.  And the record’s opener ‘Walk Along The River’ is a wonderful celebration of one of childhood’s joys much like ‘Running Down The Hill.’  These are each positive additions to The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection as are the compilation’s other tracks in their own right.  Altogether, the songs culled together for this record prove why it is a welcome addition to any pre-school classroom.

The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band is a welcome addition to any pre-school classroom setting.  The reason being the songs culled for the compilation mix together catchy, simple tunes with lyrics that teach equally simple lessons.  The end result of that combination is a grouping of songs that proves to be a useful teaching tool for any early childhood educator.  One song that proves this is the up-tempo ‘My Energy.’  This song is a great tool in itself for said teachers.  Berkner sings more with her young listeners than to them about having so much energy.  Interestingly enough, the song’s musical style contradicts its title and its lyrics.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t possess any energy.  Rather, its energy is not as frenetic as one might think.  That aside it will still have young listeners singing and dancing along.  So to that extent, it still proves to be a good addition to this compilation in its own right.

‘My Energy’ is a good addition to The Laurie Berkner Band’s new hits compilation.  It serves as a good tool for pre-k teachers looking for a way to get kids active in the classroom whether in sun, rain or other inclimate weather.  It helps get kids’ energy out while also entertaining them at the same time.  That dual use makes it one of the record’s best pieces.  Staying on that same thought pattern, ‘Mahalo’ is another great addition to this compilation as it too proves to be a dual-use song.  On one side, the song introduces young listeners to a whole new culture through the use of traditional Hawaiian music and instrumentation, and the most basic of Hawaiian language.  On the other, Berkner and her band mates give teachers a way to start a lesson on manners having crafted a song here that centers on the words “thank you.”  That in itself could lead to discussions with young children about being grateful for what they have.  The song comes in at just over two minutes.  For such a short song to have so many purposes makes it even more worth the listen, and even more valuable an addition to this latest hits compilation from Berkner and her band mates.

The songs that make up The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band’s new hits compilation each possess the ability to both educate and entertain young listeners in a variety of ways.  That is evidenced in the previously noted songs.  While many of the songs on this compilation offer a good balance of education and entertainment, there are those pieces that are strictly there for entertainment.  They add their own layer of enjoyment, too.  One of the most interesting of those songs is Berkner’s rendition of the children’s standard ‘The Cat Came Back.’  The song is rooted in Harry S. Miller’s 1893 song by the same name.  Since its first publication over a hundred and twenty years ago, the song has seen its lyrics change multiple times as it has been passed down from one generation to the next.  The rendition handled by Berkner and her band mates here is just as entertaining as any other rendition.  Unlike the original in which the cat died, Berkner is content having the cat survive a train wreck and come back once more.  The train element is a constant in many of the song’s variations.  However its use within the context of the song has varied within each of the song’s variations.  Adam Bernstein’s walking bass line drives the whole thing, making it all the more enjoyable and one of the compilation’s best moments, too.  It proves to be one more reason for any early childhood educator to add this record to their daily lessons.

‘The Cat Came Back,’ ‘My Energy,’ and ‘Mahalo’ are each excellent examples of why The Ultimate Laurie Berkner Band Collection is a welcome addition to any pre-k classroom.  They are just a few examples of what makes this album so enjoyable for young listeners and teachers alike.  Listeners will also enjoy ‘Drive My Car’ as it harkens back to another standard in the form of ‘Bear Hunt’ with its use of sound effects and acting out behaviors.  ‘Walk Along The River’ and ‘Running Down The Hill’ both celebrate the joys of childhood in their own ways.  They, too will entertain young listeners as well as older audiences.  The same can be said of any of the compilation’s twenty-plus songs that haven’t been noted here.  Collectively, the songs on this record will impress any listener whether they are familiar with Berkner’s previous work or not.  The record is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from Berkner’s website at http://www.laurieberkner.com.  Fans can also check out her official website for all of her latest news and tour schedule updates.  They can also keep up with the latest from Berkner and her band mates via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LaurieBerknerBand. 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.

Independent Indian Prog-Metal Band’s New Single Is A Deeply Compelling Work

Courtesy:  Symphony Novel

Courtesy: Symphony Novel

India-based progressive metal band Symphony Novel recently debuted its latest single.  ‘Ethereal Ash,’ the band’s latest single is a piece that is unlike the works crafted by most other bands of its ilk.  Its mix of traditional Indian musical styling and heavier, progressive metal makes for a song that defies the standards of progressive metal itself.  The song’s rather thought provoking lyrics set against that hybrid musical side makes the song even more intriguing for anyone looking for something that will actually make audiences stop for once and take real notice.  The song’s companion video adds even more depth, making for even more interest among audiences.  Together with the song’s lyrical and musical side, it serves to make ‘Ethereal Ash’ a song that everyone should hear at least once.

One of the most common practices that many American rock bands use in their records is incorporating a Middle Eastern sound into its music.  It’s something that’s used all too often in the hard rock world.  Save for indie rock band Boy Hits Car, few other bands today have really utilized Indian music in their records.  So hearing a band from India actually turning the tables and utilizing more Western elements into its own sound to create this song is actually relatively original.  That hybrid sound is the core of what makes ‘Ethereal Ash’ so intriguing.  The dual guitar attack of Vivek Khati and Rachit Sachdeva conjures thoughts of Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s own work.  And the harmonies created by Gauri Ayeer and Suvarna Tiwari’s dual vocals are so haunting to say the very least.  There is so much power in the subtle manner in which they carry their parts.  The addition of a cello line to the song adds even more depth to the song’s musical side that must be heard to be fully appreciated.  As subtle as it is, this part combined with the heavier elements of the song’s musical side adds so much emotional depth to the song.  ‘Etheral Ash’s’ musical side is by itself an impressive part of the whole song.  The reality of the matter is that if the song were to have only its musical side to boast, it would still be just as interesting as it is with its lyrical side.  Speaking of the song’s lyrical side, the lyrics are one more element of ‘Ethereal Ash’ that makes it such an interesting work.

The musical side of ‘Etheral Ash’ by itself makes this latest single from Symphony Novel worth more than just one listen.  It makes the song one that anyone looking for something truly original should hear.  The lyrical side of ‘Ethereal Ash’ takes the song’s musical side and adds even more depth to the song.  The band explains that the song’s lyrical content is rather socially charged.  It centers on mankind’s mistreatment of the Earth, and the potential outcome of mankind’s mistreatment.  Ayeer and Tiwari sing in the song’s opening verse, “Rain falls again/Unfurls wild color/The earth smirks insane/Carpets the stain of sorrow/New wings span everywhere/Embrace the veil of destiny.”  The band urges a warning in the song’s verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing, “Heavens are clear now/But it wouldn’t last forever/Winds stay sealed in a jar/Away from all the torture/Silence kills me now/Leaves a trail of bleeding tears/From the pages of a story foretold/Epiphany.”  Sachveda notes of these words that they are meant metaphorically, saying that mankind has done such damage to Earth that the winds themselves want to be put in a jar away from all of the bad things humans have done to the planet.  He goes on to note that the lines regarding all of this environmental destruction were foretold.  That likely isn’t necessarily a reference to Nostradamus but to other “prophecies.”  Things only get more dire in the song’s second verse with Ayeer and Tiwari singing of crashing waves (tsunamis) and other signs of the prophecy in question.  Sachveda notes that in writing this line, he was thinking of all of the natural disasters that have been ravaging the Earth in recent years, thus that verse was written.  It’s a foreboding warning, true.  But it is also a very powerful statement, too.  It was not meant to be preachy, but rather to get people to sit up and take notice of what humans have done to the world.  He wanted to get people to consider the ramifications of the damage being done to the Earth without being preachy but rather more poetic.  The good news is that said goal was attained and done expertly, too.  It really doesn’t come across as just another nihilistic downer of a song.  But it definitely does hit hard when taking those lyrics into consideration.  Taking also into consideration such hard-hitting lyrics next to the song’s deeply emotional musical side, ‘Ethereal Ash’ becomes an even more powerful piece for audiences to take in.

The combination of ‘Ethereal Ash’s’ musical and lyrical sides makes this song a hard hitting work.  They combine to make a song that is just as strong as anything released by Symphony Novel’s more well-known prog-rock counterparts both stateside and overseas.  Given the chance, ‘Ethereal Ash’ could make Symphony Novel one of the next big names in prog-metal and even world music.  Thankfully, the band has increased its chances of the song being heard around the world as it has posted the song’s companion video online via YouTube.  Audiences can view the video online now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqRPUvJkPqI.  The video incorporates that element of a prophecy of sorts to add even more depth to the song.  It presents right off the top, a document that is surrounded by candles in an otherwise dark room.  That same document comes into play throughout the course of the song, with the song’s lyrics fading in and out.  This is mixed in with shots of the band recoding the song in the studio.  It heightens the song’s emotional impact even more when given full attention.  That added emotion coupled with the combination of the song’s musical and lyrical sides prove even more why ‘Ethereal Ash’ is the song that could help Symphony Novel become one of the next big names in the realm of prog-metal.

‘Ethereal Ash’ is Symphony Novel’s latest single.  The band’s debut album ARIA is available online now via Amazon, CDBaby, and other online retailers.  More information on that album and all of the latest news from Symphony Novel is available online at:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SymphonyNovel

Twitter: http://twitter.com/SymphonyNovel

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.

Amaranthe’s Latest LP Is Massively Addictive

Courtesy:  Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Courtesy: Spinefarm/Universal Music Group

Euro/Industrial metal act Amaranthe released its latest full length studio effort this week.  Massive Additctive, the band’s third album is as many years is one that will impress audiences in its own right regardless of their familiarity with the band.  Anyone that is a fan of Within Temptation, Lacuna Coil and the ilk will enjoy this record from start to finish.  The combination of the band’s bombastic, old school shredding and solos, precision drumming, and the  vocal talents of the band’s co-vocalists make this a record that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear at least once.  The songs’ lyrical content is just as important as their musical sides, too.  All things considered, the combination of each song’s music and lyrics makes Massive Addictive one of the best of the underground rock and metal community this year.

Audiences that are familiar with the sound established by Amaranthe on its first two records will appreciate that said sound is just as prevalent on this record.  What makes this latest full length effort worth the listen regardless of one’s familiarity with the band is the introduction of more and varied electronic elements.  The album’s mix of keyboards, sampling and other electronic elements show a certain amount of growth from the band this time out. That is evident right off the top in the album’s high-energy opener ‘Dynamite.’  This aptly titled song is a fitting opener for Massive Addictive as it launches the album with the furiousness and energy of a keg full of dynamite.  Yes, that was a cheesy cliché.  But hey, it works, right?  The song opens explosively with that electronic/keyboard mix alongside the solid guitar work of Olof Morck.  The influence of other Gothenburg bands such as In Flames and Soilwork in Morck’s performance.  The juxtaposition of Elize’s clean vocals to the screams of co-vocalist Henrik add even more intensity to the song.  The song’s lyrical content matches its energy quite well.  The vocalist pair Light the fuse/See the sign/Unbalanced heart/I’m in my prime/Get out of here while there is still time/I’m reaching overload/I’m going right on top/While you abide my dynamite.”  The message here is pretty clear. This is someone holding in a lot and getting ready to burst.  If that’s not proof enough, then consider the song’s second verse, in which Henrik screams, “No excuse/Break the bonds/A gasp of air/My will is strong/Get out of here/My mind is futile/I’m just a statuette/Without a timer set/While I apply my dynamite.”  This is someone that has a lot of pent up frustrations, it would seem.  And the song’s energy seems to present that message, too when set alongside such lyrical content.  If that interpretation is correct, then such combination makes this song an even more powerful opener for the band’s new album.  That’s because everybody has reached that breaking point and ready to blow.  Having a song such as this to which people can relate could serve to help diffuse that proverbial dynamite lit inside them.

‘Dynamite’ is a strong starter for Amaranthe on its new album.  It’s just one of so many examples of why audiences new and old alike will enjoy this record.  Another example of why audiences will enjoy this record is the album’s latest single ‘Drop Dead Cynical.’  This song comes across as the polar opposite of sorts from the album’s opener with Elize singing, “I need attention/Feed my addiction/I want the action/The satisfaction/You have to feed me/Worse that I inquire/So my discord someday takes me higher.”  While it comes across metaphorically, the message seems relatively clear here.  If this critic’s interpretation is right, that line alone describes the type of person that is full of himself or herself.  That same person has nothing to spread except for negativity.   Henrik’s response to this declaration is a powerful retort. He screams in response, “I hope to thrill you that expectations rise/I want to bring you/So that you can compromise/I’m coming at you like a killer now/So it’s the truth/You are drop dead cynical.”  That is a pretty strong response.  Everybody has met someone like the subject of this song.  There may be people even now that know someone like that.  If so, this song is a great way to deal with said person(s) without screaming at them or worse.  To that extent, it makes for another great positive to this record.

Massive Addictive’s opening tracks make for a solid first impression from Amaranthe on the band’s latest album.  As impressive as those two songs prove to be, the album’s title track proves to be one of its best.  On a side note, the song’s musical side actually bears a slit resemblance to the chorus of Imagine Dragons’ hit single ‘Radioactive.”  The song’s lyrical content aside, what really makes this song such a hit is its musical side.  The bombastic, old school style guitar solo is there alongside Morten’s drumming drive the song.  Elize’s hypnotic vocals and Henrik’s own vocal assault are not to be discounted here, either.   Lyrically, it is certain to create some discussion especially taking into account the song’s infectious chorus.  Elize sings in the song’s chorus, “Massive addictive/And suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide/Scared of losing my mind/Massive addictive/I’m totally completely afflicted/As I inspire the lie like a lullaby/Crawling around in my mind.”  On the surface one would think that the song makes no bones as to its lyrical topic.  It sounds like it is being taken from the standpoint of someone fighting addiction.  Elize singing “Suddenly I’m greatly affected/Like burning fire inside/My cyanide” sounds like what someone might feel in getting that high from whatever drug.  “Scared of losing my mind…I’m totally completely afflicted” sounds like the psychological and emotional effect of said high.  Again, this could be a completely incorrect interpretation of this song.  If it is indeed incorrect, it would definitely be wonderful to hear the story behind the song.  The very fact that it could garner so much discussion is itself reason that audiences will enjoy this song.  The addition of the song’s soaring musical side makes it even more enjoyable and proves why this is perhaps the best of the album’s songs overall.

The songs noted here each make Massive Addictive enjoyable in its own way.  As enjoyable as they are, the album’s other songs not noted here should not be discounted.  At no one point does Massive Addictive fail listeners.  Every one of the album’s dozen total tracks makes this album enjoyable in its own way.  That is something difficult to say about most albums today regardless of genre.  So for Amaranthe to have crafted an album that shines from start to finish shows that this album is just as enjoyable as anything released by the band’s bigger-named counterparts across Europe.  That being the case, Massive Addictive proves in the end to be an album that every member of the Metal Nation worldwide should hear and an album that is one of the best in the underground metal community this year.

Amaranthe is currently wrapping up the North American leg of its tour in support of Massive Addictive.  The band’s audiences overseas will soon enough get to experience the songs from this album live.  They will even get to pick up the band’s new album at the band’s upcoming tour dates.  In the meantime, the band’s North American audiences can pick up Massive Addictive in stores now.  Audiences can check out the band’s current tour schedule and keep up with its latest updates now online at:

Website: http://www.amaranthe.se

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AmarantheBand

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

The Midnight Special’s Re-Issues Will Have Audiences Singing, Dancing Well Past Midnight

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment/NBC

StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment have made quite the name for themselves over the course of recent years.  Releases of classic series such as The Carol Burnett Show, Mama’s Family, The Dean Martin Show, China Beach, and most recently The Wonder Years have taken a company that for years was the butt of many people’s jokes to a place in the upper echelons of home entertainment companies.  For years, Time Life was known mainly for the not-so-well-known products that it pushed through extended advertisements on television.  Now it has carved out even more of a comfortable place in that upper echelon with the release of The Midnight Special on DVD.  The classic late night live concert series was released in a number of formats last month, resurrecting one more important piece of television and music history.  The show’s six-disc collector’s edition is one of the best of the sets that any fan of classic television and music can add to their own home library.  That is because it is one of the best examples of what made this series so great during its nine-year run on NBC.  It presents ninety-six total performances from bands, artists and groups across the music industry’s spectrum.  The acts that make appearances throughout the set’s six discs are the center of this box set’s enjoyment and success.  Just as important to note is the quality of the footage.  More than four decades have passed since the Midnight Special first debuted in 1972.  In that time, the footage presented in these performances has stood the test of time quite well.  And last but not least worth noting in the set’s success is its companion booklet.  The booklet serves as an episode guide for viewers.  That is the central point of its importance.  It also features personal insight from the series’ creator Burt Sugarman. Sugarman’s retrospection on the series and its importance adds one more layer of appreciation for this series.  Together with the acts that appear on each set and the quality of the footage, all three factors together make The Midnight Train another wonderful release from Time  Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment.

The Midnight Special was one of the most famed and beloved series on television during its day.  Unlike so many other series of the time, acts that came on the series in its heydey actually sang instead of lip synching.  What’s more, unlike American Bandstand, The Midnight Special focused on more than just the big pop acts of its day.  The acts that came to perform on NBC’s live overnight concert series spanned the music world’s ranks.  That is the most important aspect of this recently released classic series.  The acts that performed on The Midnight Special included the likes of John Denver performing alongside Linda Rondstadt and Aerosmith performing alongside Barry White, The Stylistics, and ELO.  It also featured acts the likes of: B.B. King, Frankie Vallie, Sammy Hagar, The O’Jays, BeeGees, and so many other greats that are still remembered today.  Even the show’s host himself, radio host Wolfman Jack was a celebrity in his own right.  Even today, he and those acts noted here are just as beloved as they were decades ago.  In an era when so many musical acts are little more than flash-in-the-pan pop acts and rarely radio worthy rock bands, musicaians and audiences alike need to be reminded of what once made music great and could again–originality and real talent.  That in mind, it makes sense that the list of performers that came on The Midnight Special is the central point of this series’ success whether in its six-disc box set or its other formats.

The list of artists, bands, and groups that graced The Midnight Special’s stage during its nine-year run on NBC is the most important aspect of this series’ recent re-issue.  More than four decades have passed since it first debuted on NBC in 1972.  That makes for plenty of reason to be concerned about the quality of the show’s footage in its transfer from tape to disc.  Luckily for audiences of all ages, painstaking efforts were taken to present the performances as they appeared in their original broadcasts. Those efforts paid off in spades as both the audio and video of each performance have been well-balanced.  Any impurities in the quality of the footage whether in the audio or video are so minute that they are unnoticable.  The end result is a product that for the show’s original audiences will generate a much-welcomed sense of nostalgia.  Both for those same audiences and the show’s much younger audiences, it also serves to show just how far music has come (both in a good and bad way) and how far recording technology has come, too.  So in the end, the quality of the footage in these performances makes Time Life and StarVista’s new re-issue of The Midnight Special even more enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

The efforts taken to transfter The Midnight Special’s master tapes to disc have definitely not been for nothing.  The show looks and sounds just as good as it did in its original run all those years ago in its rencet re-issue.  The acts that appeared on the show (and that are featured on the new six-disc compilation) are just as important to the overall presentation.  Both aspects together more than make the series worth a watch or two in any of its three re-issue formats.  The last aspect of the series’ re-issue (at least in its six-disc compilation format) that makes it a success and so enjoyable is the set’s companion booklet.  The booklet serves primarily as an episode guide, pointing out disc-by-disc and episode-by-episode each artist, band, and group that appears.  That listing even includes the songs performed by said acts.  By itself, the episode listing more than helps the enjoyment of the series’ re-issue.  The added insight from series creator Burt Sugarman adds one more layer of enjoyment to the series’ various presentations.  In terms of the six-disc box set, Sugarman recalls how so few people had faith in the show and how great it felt to prove those naysayers wrong.  That insight along with other comments from Sugarman make for even more interest and enjoyment in watching the performances culled for the show’s different re-issues.  While being the last of the noteworthy factors that make The MIdnight Special so…well…special, it is hardly the least important of the factors that make the series’ sets such a joy.  This aspect, along with the quality production values and the performances culled for the releases, makes The Midnight Special a truly special experience for viewers of all ages.

The Midnight Special is available online now.  Its eleven-disc and sixteen disc sets can be ordered online direct from Time Life’s online store at http://timelife.com/products/the-midnight-special-collector-s-edition.  The six-disc collector’s edition can be ordered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Special-6DVD-Amaray/dp/B00L9OPJ5C/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1414009549&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Midnight+Special.  More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment is available online at:

Website: http://www.timelife.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TimeLifeUS

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.