‘God Bless The Renegades’ Is A Solid Solo Debut For Clint Lowery

Courtesy: Rise Records

Sevendust co-founder and guitarist Clint Lowery has spent the past two decades plus making quite the name for himself as a member of the Grammy® nominated hard rock band.  After spending so much time with the Atlanta, GA-based hard rock band, Lowery has struck out on his own for the first time this year with his debut album God Bless The Renegades.  Released an. 31 through Rise Records, the LP is a strong new effort from Lowery.  That is thanks to familiar and new musical arrangements that exhibit Lowery’s growth as an artist.  It is also thanks to lyrical content which will engage and entertain listeners just as much as the record’s musical content.  The album’s opener and title track is just one example of how the record’s collective musical and lyrical content plays into its appeal.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Kings,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another way in which the album proves itself a strong solo debut from Lowery.  The album’s finale, ‘Do We Fear God’ is one more way in which the record proves itself so important to the album’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s offerings, the whole of the record proves to be another early candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.

Clint Lowery’s solo debut record God Bless The Renegades is a positive offering from the longtime Sevendust guitarist and co-founder.  That is thanks to the record’s musical and lyrical content.  The album’s opener and title track is just one of the entries that support that statement.  The song’s musical arrangement instantly lends itself to comparisons to works that Lowery has composed as a member of Sevendust.  More specifically speaking, the heavy, crunching sound and the tempo lends itself to comparisons to works from the band’s sophomore album Home (1999).  It is instantly infectious and will certainly be a fan favorite.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too.  Its companion lyrical content adds to its impact.

Lowery sings in the song’s lead verse, “What’s the meaning behind the broken heart/Watch your feelings/Try not to fall apart/I think we’re dying to play the victim card/You taste like chemicals/You are the one they want/What makes you feel good at the moment/What breaks you down/What makes you whole/Oh you know/You said it’s all the rage/Love dies and we relate/I hope you’re entertained/God bless the renegades/Let’s watch the superstars run from the cannibals/They think they’re gonna be saved/God bless the renegades.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “What’s the reason for the guilty one’s love/Go wash that blood off your hands/Oh, you won’t believe this/No matter what you are/We live like animals/And the cowards die alone/We die alone.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “So tell me how do we change/We give ourselves away/No words can take the place/Beautiful lies we chase/Entirely erased.”  Lowery talked about the song’s lyrical content in a recent interview from the debut of the song’s lyric video.  He explained of the song, “I wanted to give thanks and praise to the people who step away from the ‘sheep’ mentality,” he said.  “The forward-thinkers and dreamers who create real change and evolution – the ones who don’t fear being different.”  Simply put, this song presents the tried and true topic of promoting individuality, which is a staple in rock music.  The fashion in which Lowery has approached the topic here lyrically is unique.  When it is coupled with the song’s familiar musical styling, the whole of the elements makes the song a strong start for Lowery’s new LP and an equally strong example of what make the album a positive solo debut from an already very accomplished musician.

‘God Bless The Renegades’ is just one of the songs that serves to show what makes Lowery’s solo debut such an engaging and enjoyable offering.  ‘Kings,’ which also comes early in the album’s 41-minute run, is another key example of what makes this record stand out.  The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Kings’ shows a slight hint of his work with Sevendust, but in larger part, there is more of a distinct, straight forward, mainstream rock sound.  That is evidenced in the song’s vocal harmonies and the general instrumentation.  It can be compared to works from so many bands out there, such as Finger Eleven, Default and Three Days Grace.  What is interesting in considering the song’s musical arrangement is that while the song’s mid-tempo arrangement is infectious in its own right, it doesn’t entirely match the song’s proudly defiant lyrical content, which focuses on overcoming diversity.  Typically such songs present much more fiery arrangements, but even despite that, this arrangement still works in its own right.

The message of the proud defiance is delivered in the song’s lead verse, during which Lowery sings, “I’m coming out breathing fire/You gotta love the thieves and liars/They’re hanging on every word/We’re tearing down the walls inside/We’re working up with dirt-filled eyes/And everyone knows it/Goes on and on and on again/Break it/Break it to see you can take it/Take it from me, you can make it/’Cause I’ll be right by your side/I’ve been through hell just for this/I’ve had my say/I found my way/Even though I came down for it/We’re dying at the bottom/But we lived like kings.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “I’m fighting off the angry hearts/They tear apart the things we love/I know you want blood/You can’t hide it/The worst part/We needed/The darkness, we feed it/The scars that you see/You know that it’s better to bleed.”  Again, here is that message of overcoming diversity and rising above, making the best of life regardless of the negatives.  This is a positive message that will resonate with audiences just as much as the song’s musical arrangement.  Both items together make the song in whole its own powerful presentation that once again, shows what makes God Bless The Renegades stand out.  It is just one more example of what God Bless The Renegades a positive debut from Lowery.  The album’s finale, ‘Do We Fear God’ is yet another example of the album’s strength.

‘Do We Fear God’ features an almost emo style arrangement at its core.  That is something that could not be farther from what Lowery has crafted as a member of Sevendust throughout his career.  It is a full on, melodic work that is the most stark departure possible from his signature style.  That is not necessarily a bad thing, either.  It shows his ability to handle more than just hard rock, and to do so successfully.  It meets with the song’s lyrical content quite well in its own way, too.

Lowery sings in the song’s lead verse, “The seconds taste like falling rain/It’s almost chemical/The dreams we chase/A nightmare race/We deem so critical/And I believe we’re all just scared/I see so much of me in them/The more we say, the less we grow/We use our words to close the doors/We’re in and out/We live and die/We breach the walls to save our souls/Do we fear God”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Would you ask my name/If my weathered face/Was less than beautiful/In this shallow place/We become the slaves/On a selfish pedestal/And I believe we’re all just scared/It takes so much from you to give/The less we say the more we hold.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “We whisper something cruel/About everything and everyone/Am I the only one/I’m the only one/I’m not the only one.”  This is a relatively straight forward message.  Lowery is making a social commentary of sorts here, but in a more eloquent fashion than many other songs of its ilk.  It is addressing how selfish, self-centered and shallow we as a people have become.  When he notes that “the dreams we chase/A nightmare race/We deem so critical,” he is noting that we are chasing something inconsequential, adding “the more we say, the less we grow.”  That added note of asking if someone would talk to another person based solely on looks, that makes us the “slaves on a selfish pedestal.”  Again, Lowery has, here, presented another familiar lyrical topic that many groups and acts have crafted, yet he has done so in a unique fashion that stands out among its counterparts. When it is considered alongside its moving, companion musical arrangement, the whole of the song becomes one of the album’s most powerful works if not its most powerful in its subtlety.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album shows Lowery has a bright future ahead of him whether it be with Sevendust, on his own or both.

Clint Lowery’s debut solo LP God Bless The Renegades is a positive new offering from the longtime Sevendust guitarist and co-founder.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements, which throw back to his work with Sevendust and show his own personal growth as a musician.  The album’s lyrical content is certain to keep audiences just as engaged as its companion musical content.  That is proven in part through all three of the songs featured here.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the album in whole becomes a solid solo debut for Lowery and a sign that his future as a solo artist is just as positive as it is with his band mates in Sevendust.  God Bless The Renegades is available now.  More information on the album is available online now along with all of Lowery’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.clintlowery.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/clintlowery.net

Twitter: http://twitter.com/clintlowerynet

 

 

 

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

‘ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ Is A Big Hit

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

The wait is almost over for ZZ Top fans to own the band’s new documentary.  ZZ Top: The Little Ol’ Band From Texas comes home Friday on DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.  The 90-minute documentary, which is part of the band’s ongoing celebration of its 50th anniversary, is a presentation that ZZ Top’s most devoted fan base will appreciate, as will rock fans in general.  That is due in part to the doc’s main feature, which will be discussed shortly.  The bonus content that comes with the documentary adds even more appeal to its presentation, and will be addressed a little later.  The documentary’s average price point proves to be money relatively well-spent by those who purchase the documentary.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of this doc.  All things considered, they make ZZ Top: The Little Ol’ Band From Texas a piece that is easily one of this year’s top new documentaries.

ZZ Top’s new documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is a positive new presentation from one of the most respected and revered acts in the music business today.  Set for release Friday through Eagle Rock Entertainment and Banger Films, the 90-minute story takes audiences from the band’s early days coming up in the rich Texas music scene all the way up to the release of the band’s seminal album Eliminator, which remains today, the band’s best-selling album of all.  Along the way, audiences hear from the band and some of those who are close to the band, about its history and impact on the music industry.  Multiple mentions are made of the band’s late manager Bill Ham and his role in the band’s success, going from ‘That Little Ol’ Band From Texas’ to being one of the top names in the Texas (and music) world.  That is just one part of the story.  ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill even addresses the moniker used for the band “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas” at one point, noting that he felt it was originally used in a negative sense against the band just because the trio was not like all the mainstream acts out there at the time. Hill’s further discussion that the band embraced the moniker rather than let it get to the band will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  On a related note, the band members’ discussions on the role that the rise of punk music (yes, punk music) had on its own approach to songwriting, too.  This is another key discussion for audiences to take in.  ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard also gets the opportunity to open up about his drug use and recovery.  That story alone is one of the documentary’s most interesting moments. That is because it is evident that Beard really was sincere about realizing what he had done to himself and his desire to clean up.  Clearly he walked the walk, as he got cleaned up.  Staying on that note, audiences will be entertained to learn how the band’s hiatus – during which Beard got cleaned up – led to the creation of the band’s now iconic image involving Hill and Gibbons’ beards.  Not to give away too much, but not everyone close to the band was happy with the band’s decision to take on its new look, though it turns out, one original naysayer admits, the band’s decision to go the long beard look turned out to be the right move in the long term.  This is just one more of the engaging and entertaining stories that is shared throughout the course of ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas.  The documentary is chock full of other material, including a discussion on the advent of MTV on the band’s fame, that audiences will appreciate.  Even as the credits roll, audiences get even more story, with the band’s members today sitting at a table at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX, looking back on the band’s history and its future.  So even though the documentary ends with the band reaching its apex in 1983, the story does not necessarily end there.  That should appease even the most devoted of the band’s fans.  Keeping all of this in mind, the story at the center of ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas forms a solid foundation for the documentary.

The bonus content that accompanies the documentary’s main feature builds on the foundation that the noted story forms in its own presentation.  The doc’s bonus content comes in the form of two separate “live” performances – one at Gruene Hall and the other is a set of vintage live performances culled from the Ham Estate archives.  Audiences get to see in the latter, ZZ Top in its infancy, sans beards.  The five-song collection, which features performances of ‘Thunderbird,’ ‘Tush,’ ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers,’ I’m Bach, I’m Nationwide’ and ‘Manic Mecahnic’ are in themselves bonuses in every sense.  The footage, as old as it clearly is, has stood the test of time.  Even having been recorded before the days of high definition video and audio, it still looks and sounds wonderful.  The band’s rhinestone suits in the performance of ‘Thunderbird’ are fully visible while the audio is wholly clean.  The vintage performance of ‘Tush’ is just as enjoyable as that of ‘Thunderbird,’ its audio and video being just as clear, even despite the recording technology of the day.  It is clear throughout the footage, that the performances all came from the same show, though it is not specifically noted when and where the show was recorded.  However, noting the band’s beards, it was from after the band’s hiatus.

By comparison, the newer, more recent footage recorded at the Gruene Hall was clearly recorded in the last year or so.  The cinematography and sound are stunning for such an intimate set of performances.  There is no audience, or at least not that is visible or audible.  Gibbons’ vocals are just as strong as ever, and the talents of Beard and Hill have not faded in the least, either.  Between that footage and the vintage footage, audiences get in whole, nearly an hour of live and semi-live performances that is well worth taking the time to watch.  When this is considered along with the value of the documentary’s main feature, the combination of that primary and secondary content more than makes this presentation worth owning by any rock music fan and ZZ Top devotee.

Taking into account the importance of the collective content featured in ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, it goes without saying that while the documentary is not necessarily cheap, the presentation’s average price point is a note that the noted audiences will not mind paying.  The average price point for this documentary is $26.28.  That price is reached by averaging prices from listings at Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million.  At the time of this review’s posting, the documentary was not listed at Walmart’s site.  Again, the price is not inexpensive, but it could have been worse.  Considering the amount of content that is featured in the documentary, roughly an hour and ten minutes total, counting the bonus content, that price of just under $30 is not that bad.  Best Buy, Target and Amazon all list prices below that point at $22.99, $$25.49 and $22.93 respectively.  Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble Booksellers and Books-A-Million both break that crest at $29.99 and $29.98 respectively.  So again, even with an average price point of $26, the least of the documentary’s separate price listings are just below that level, proving themselves to still be relatively affordable.  Keeping all of this in mind, the money spent on ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is money that audiences will not regret spending.  Keeping this in mind along with the value of the documentary’s collective content, the whole of this presentation, ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas proves to be a big hit for the band’s most devoted fans and for rock fans in general.

ZZ Top’s new forthcoming documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas is a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  That is due in no small part to the documentary’s primary content, which tells a deep, rich story of one of the music industry’s most respected and revered bands.  The bonus live performances that accompany the documentary adds its own share of engagement and entertainment value to the presentation.  The presentation’s average price point and separate listings round out its most important elements.  Each noted item is important in its own right to the whole of this documentary.  All things considered, they make ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas a big hit.  More information on the documentary is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.zztop.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/zztop

 

 

 

More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.eagle-rock.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EagleRockNews

 

 

 

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

Every Family Will Welcome The Berenstain Bears’ Second Season Set Into Their Own Houses

Courtesy: PBS Distribution/PBS/PBS Kids

The Berenstain Bears have, for decades, entertained and educated adults and children of all ages.  Between the countless books that have been released, the short-lived animated series from 1985 (which is available now in full on DVD) and the 2003 series, which ran for three seasons, families across the nation (and world) have come to love Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister, their stories and life lessons.  This spring, that enjoyment will continue when PBS Distribution releases the third collection of episodes from the 2003 series on DVD.  The two-disc set is scheduled for release May 19.  While audience await the arrival of that collection, they have the second collection, released Jan. 28, to enjoy.  The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume 2 is a wonderful collection that every family will enjoy partly because of its featured stories, which will be discussed shortly.  The lessons tied to the stories add even more to the set’s enjoyment and will be discussed a little later.  Keeping in mind the value of the set’s collective primary and secondary content, the whole of The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume 2 boasts an average price point, that is notable in its own right.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the double-disc set.  All things considered, they make the collection a presentation that is one of this year’s top new family DVD/BD box sets.

The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume 2 is a wonderful presentation that families everywhere will welcome in their own houses.  That is due in part to the stories that are featured in this set.  Approximately 26 stories make up the body of the two-disc collection.  Those stories are in fact the whole of the series’ second season.  They are presented in the exact same chronological order in which they originally aired, too, from July 14, 2003 and July 30, 2003.  Keeping this in mind, it is a bit of a headscratcher as to why this collection wasn’t just called “Season Two” instead of “Volume Two.”  Using the title “Volume Two” becomes somewhat misleading, considering that said term “volume” is typically used for compilation sets rather than full season sets.  The same approach was used in the series’ debut “volume,” which was released Sept. 17.  The stories themselves find the Bear family – Papa, Mama, Sister and Brother – dealing with a variety of very real life situations, making them relatable to audiences of all ages.  The story at the center of “Too Much Pressure,” for instance, finds the Bear family trying to figure out its overly-crowded weekly schedule.  What family out there doesn’t deal with that issue?  Exactly.  The season’s opener, ‘The Excuse Note’ is something that, again, audiences of all ages can appreciate because we have all been there.  Sister tries to lie to get out of gym class because she doesn’t enjoy it.  This is also a plot element that has been used multiple times before and since this episode’s airing.  We’ve all tried to figure out ways out of things we don’t want to do, which is ties to the story’s lesson.  This will be addressed a little later.  Getting back on topic, “The Perfect Fishing Spot” finds Papa and Sister heading out to get the perfect fish for a special dinner.  This leads to another key lesson that is featured within the season.  Between these and so many other stories featured in the second season of The Berenstain Bears, the stories that make up the series’ second season give audiences more than enough reason to bring this set home.

The stories that make up the body of The Berenstain Bears’ second season go a long way toward making this collection worth owning for any family.  They are just one key aspect of the set that makes its presentation so appealing.  The lessons that are tied into each story are themselves critical to the set’s presentation, too.  As noted already, Papa learns his own valuable lesson in “The Perfect Fishing Spot” He learns that the biggest prize isn’t the best and that he needs to make sure he keeps his focus when he says he is doing something for someone else.  This is something with which we all deal with all the time.  We start out wanting to do something nice for someone else, but somewhere along the line, we end up losing that focus and start focusing on what we want.  That is what happens here with Papa.  He admits in the end that is what has happened as he tries to get the biggest fish possible for the grandparents’ special dinner.  He admits he started trying to find the perfect fishing spot (and fish) more for himself than for them.  It takes Sister reminding Papa for him to realize what he was doing.  The lesson that Papa learns is not the only one involving priorities.  He also learns what happens when he puts winning over friendship in “The Prize Pumpkin.”  That lesson is one to which audiences of all ages can relate.

Papa isn’t the only member of the Bear family to learn some valuable lessons this season.  Brother and Sister learn a lesson about friendship in “Ferdy Factual.”  The duo leans that some people deal with their feelings in different ways and don’t always mean to act rude to others.  It’s just that they struggle to come to terms with their discomfort in certain situations.  Dealing with that issue is just a matter of being nice to those people and maybe they will open up and be nicer.  The cubs also learn in this season, the invaluable lesson that helping others can actually help one feel very good inside.  That lesson comes in two different episodes – “Lend A Helping Hand” and “Nothing To Do.”  The whole family leans an equally invaluable lesson in “Too Much Pressure” about the importance of setting limits and priorities in life, not just in terms of setting weekly schedules, in “Too Much Pressure.”  It’s yet another key lesson that will always be timely and relatable.  Considering the importance of that lesson, those featured in the other noted episodes and in the rest of the season’s episodes, it becomes clear why the lessons featured in this season are just as important to its presentation as the stories to which they are tied.  Keeping that in mind, it becomes clear that the primary and secondary content featured in this collection does a lot to make the set well worth owning.  It also makes the set’s average price point money well spent.

The average price point for The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume 2 is $11.65.  That price is reached by averaging prices at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Books-A-Million and PBS’ online store.  None of the set’s price even reaches $15, and the least expensive of the listings is at Target — $8.69 – while the most expensive of the listings is at Books-A-Million and at PBS’ store, at $14.99.   Walmart’s listing of $8.77 makes a good middle ground.  The $9.99 listing at Amazon and Best Buy are easy on the bank account, too.  Even if audiences choose PBS’ store or Barnes & Noble Booksellers, they still won’t break the bank.  That is the most important thing to consider here.  Regardless of which route audiences go, the price is anything but prohibitive.  It is a price that is accessible for every consumer.  Keeping this in mind, the affordable price point of this set and its primary and secondary content makes this second season set from The Berenstain Bears another welcome addition to any home.

PBS Distribution’s latest Berenstain Bears season collection is a presentation that every family will happily welcome in their own houses.  That is due to the set’s stories and their related lessons, which are all timeless in their own right.  The set’s affordable average price point makes that set that much more appealing.  Neither the set’s average price point, nor its singular prices are price prohibitive.  The most expensive listing from the major retailers is $14.99, which is relatively affordable for anyone.  Keeping all of this in mind, The Berenstain Bears: Tree House Tales Volume Two is a presentation that deserves to be in any family’s house.  More information on this DVD, PBS distribution’s upcoming release of Tree House Tales Volume Three and all of the latest Berenstain Bears news is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.berenstainbears.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheBerenstains

 

 

 

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

The Three Tremors’ Debut LP, Companion Record Are Super Releases From A True Super Group

Courtesy: Steel Cartel

Metal super group The Three Tremors will launch its Spring tour in support of its 2019 self-titled debut album and its companion record The Solo Versions next month.  Set to launch March 25 in Hollywood, CA, the tour runs through Apr. 11 in Minneapolis, MN and features performances in cities, such as Clifton, NJ; Denver CO and Waterford, NY.  The dates are part of the band’s 2020 Winter/Spring U.S. Tour. Composed of Sean Peck (Cage), Tim “Ripper” Owens (Iced Earth, Judas Priest) and Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer) and fellow musicians Casey Trask (guitar) David Garcia (guitar), Alex Pickard (bass) and Seal Elg (drums), the band has released in its debut album – and its companion record which was released in November –a presentation that stands tall among the way too vast sea of super group records that are out there in this day and age.  That is due in no small part to the musical content featured throughout the album.  This will be addressed shortly.  The album’s lyrical content adds to its overall impact, too, and will be addressed a little later.  The album’s production – and that of its companion record – is also worth noting in examining their whole.  It will also be addressed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of The Three Tremors and its companion record.  All things considered, they make both records collectively, two records that are among the cream of 2019’s super group albums crop.

The Tree Tremors’ self-titled debut album, released approximately one year ago to the day through Steel Cartel, is a rarity in the field of super group albums.  The album and its companion, which was released in December collectively make up one of the best of the best of the noted crop of new releases.  That is due in no small part to the album’s musical content.  The album’s musical content will appeal to fans of any of the bands for which the group’s superstar front men have themselves fronted throughout their careers.  Each song is full-on power metal at its finest that takes listeners back to the days of Judas Priest’s Painkiller and almost any of Cage’s albums.  Garcia and Trask’s dual guitar attack joins with Pickard’s low-end and Elg’s time keeping in the album’s opener ‘Invaders From The Sky’ to make this song a powerful first statement from the group.  The collective vocals from Owens, Conklin and Peck add even more punch to that impact.  Of course, the isolated vocals from each front man in The Solo Versions make the song even more powerful that it leaves one wondering if the song was maybe too busy with all three men singing on the one song.  The group’s collective vocals and musical talents are even more notable throughout the six-minute-plus open ‘When The Last Scream Fades.’  This is a moment in which all three vocalists’ talents compliment one another very well and in which they compliment the work of their fellow musicians and vice versa.  What’s more, it is a different style of power metal than that, which is exhibited in the album’s opener, proving even more the importance of the album’s musical content.  Much the same can be said of ‘Sonic Suicide,’ that was said of the other noted songs.  This song’s arrangement is a slightly slower work and is stylistically different from its counterparts, showing even more variance in the record’s overall musical content.  It also displays great thought and work put into the record’s production.  That will be addressed later.  Staying on the matter at hand, the songs presented here serve to show clearly why the musical content presented in The Three Tremors is important in its own right to the album.  As important as it is to the album’s presentation, the musical content featured here is only one part of what makes the record stand out.  Its original lyrical content plays its own part in making this super group record worth the time and money.

The lyrical content presented throughout the course of The Three Tremors’ 58-minute run time is varied to say the least.  The album opens with a song about an alien invasion.  From there, the album leads into a song about vampires in the form of ‘Bullets for the Damned.’  ‘When The Last Scream Fades’ takes on the people who put way too much stock in the book of Revelation while ‘Wrath of Asgard’ goes the Viking route.  It’s no Amon Amarth tune, but is still enjoyable in its own right.  ‘The Cause’ takes on the matter of the Civil War.  ;King of the Monsters’ pays tribute to two metal greats – Ronnie James Dio and Lemmy Kilmister.  There is even a song about being in a mosh pit here in the form of ‘The Pit Knows No Mercy.’  ‘Sonic Suicide’ addresses what has become of the founding fathers’ “great experiment.”  As the album progresses into ‘Fly Or Die,’ the band takes on the events of Dec. 7, 1941, the “Day which will live in infamy.”  ‘Lust of the Blade’ is a song about Jack The Ripper, according to Peck, who conducted an interview last year with Phil’s Picks when The Three Tremors was originally released.  ‘Speed To Burn’ takes listeners into the history of America’s “Space Race” with Russia while the album’s finale and title track is one of those self-promoting songs that takes on all of the naysyers who claimed this project could not be done.  Peck addressed that issue, too in his interview last year with Phil’s Picks.  Again, it becomes visible through all of this that listeners are treated to a wide range of topics and themes throughout The Three Tremors.  It would have been so easy for the group to phone it in and just throw in a bunch of standard works centered on politics and relationships (the most common themes of songs from across the musical universe), but instead opted to do something more unique and original.  Considering that Cage has presented a whole concept album about astrology and that Judas Priest and Jag Panzer have their own histories of presenting unique topics in their songs, it should come as no surprise that Peck, who wrote all of the album’s songs, went the route that he did here.  All of that taken into consideration, the lyrical content featured throughout The Three Tremors proves just as invaluable to the record’s presentation as its musical content.  That combined content is not the only thing that makes The Three Tremors so notable.  Its production rounds out its most important elements.

Courtesy: Steel Cartel

As noted earlier, The Three Tremors’ opener ‘Invasion From The Sky’ is a powerful first impression on this record.  However, when compared to the presentations of The Solo Versions, it sounds a bit muddled.  One can’t help but feel that each vocalist’s solo performance in this song is better by itself than collectively.  It shows that the Peck and Garcia – who co-produced the album – did their best here, but perhaps should have taken a lightly different approach in that song.  Meanwhile, the mix of Roosevelt’s announcement, the sirens and music in ‘Fly or Die’ goes a long way to make that song’s whole stand out very well in its own right.  The balance between each vocalist’s line in ‘Sonic Suicide’ is another example of how the production that went into The Three Tremors’ paid off.  This is one of those cases in which the original work is actually better than that presented in The Solo Versions.  That is not to say that the isolated vocal tracks with the music are any less impacting.  As a matter of fact, hearing those isolated tracks makes for its own enjoyment and engagement, but in the bigger picture, they make the final cut presented in The Three Tremors that much more powerful and enjoyable.  ‘When The Last Scream Fades’ is yet another example of the importance of the production behind The Three Tremors and its companion record.  It presents what is possibly the absolute best balance of elements throughout.  Each vocal line is balanced perfectly against the other.  They are, in turn, balanced just as well against the work of the trio’s fellow musicians.  The whole creates a feeling in listeners that cannot be ignored.  It immediately leaves listeners wanting to put their horns high in the air and banging their heads in time.  It is just another example of how the work and time that Peck and Garcia put in producing the album (and mixing it) paid off.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the combined musical and lyrical content that much easier to understand and appreciate.  The end result is two records that audiences will enjoy equally and collectively.  All things considered, The Three Tremors and The Solo Versions become, together, a presentation that proves some super group records really are in fact super.

The Three Tremors’ self-titled debut album and its companion record The Solo Versions are collectively a strong presentation from a super group of super vocalists and musicians.  It is a rare super group record that is actually worth the time and money among a sea of so many super group records.  That is due to musical content that varies throughout for all of the metal fans out there.  The lyrical content is just as varied here as the musical content, as has been noted.  The production in the record and its companion put the finishing touch to the presentation.  Each item is, in its own way, critical to the presentation that these two records make.  All things considered, they make The Three Tremors and its companion record a collection of work that is truly a super work from a truly super group.

More information on The Three Tremors upcoming tour dates in support of The Three Tremors and The Solo Versions is available online now along with all of the group’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://thethreetremors.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/thethreetremors

 

 

 

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

Disney Announces Home Release Dates For ‘Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker’

Courtesy: Lucasfilm/Disney

The final chapter in Star Wars‘ “Skywalker Saga” ended last year, and now has a home release date.

Star WarsThe Rise of Skywalker is scheduled for release March 17 on digital and March 31 on Blu-ray and 4KUHD.  Earning more than $1 billion worldwide during its theatrical run, the finale of the “Skywalker Saga”  brings to a climax, the battle between the Resistance and the New Order.  Kylo Ren and Rey also face off one more time to bring the battle between the light and dark side to its supposed end.

The forthcoming home release of Star WarsThe Phantom Menace will feature a variety of extras, such as a profile of legendary composer John Williams’ work on the movie’s soundtrack (which is exclusive to the movie’s digital-only release), a making-of featurette, the creation of the Pasaana desert scenes and a profile of the creatures in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The full list of the movie’s bonus content is noted below.

Bonus features include*:
  • The Skywalker Legacy – The story lives forever in this feature-length documentary that charts the making of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Pasaana Pursuit: Creating the Speeder Chase – Dive into the making of the movie’s epic landspeeder chase and discover how this spectacular sequence was brought to the screen.
  • Aliens in the Desert – See what it took to create the Pasaana desert scenes, from the sheer scale and complexity of the shoot to its colorful details.
  • D-O: Key to the Past – Explore the ship that connects Rey to the mystery of her missing parents and get to know the galaxy’s newest, irresistible droid.
  • Warwick & Son – Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, dons the Ewok costume once more; this time joined by his son Harrison.
  • Cast of Creatures – The team behind the film’s memorable creatures reveal the puppetry, makeup, prosthetics and digital magic that bring them to life!
Digital Exclusive:
  • The Maestro’s Finale – Composer John Williams reflects on his body of work for the Star Wars saga and shares insights on scoring Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
* Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.

More information on the home release of Star WarsThe Rise of Skywalker is available online at:

 

Website: http://www.starwas.com/films/star-wars-episode-ix-the-rise-of-skywalker

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/starwars

 

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

‘The Verdict’ Is A Reminder Of Why Queensryche Remains One Of Hard Rock’s Most Respected Bands Today

Courtesy: Century Media

Early this moth, veteran hard rock outfit Queensryche debuted the music video for its latest single, ‘Portrait.’  The finale from the band’s 2019 album The Verdict, the song takes listeners back to Queensryche’s early days through its musical and lyrical content.  While it is another strong representation of the band’s album, it is only one of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Inner Unrest,’ which comes late in the album’s 44-minute run time is just as important to the album’s presentation as any of the record’s other entries.  ‘Light Years,’ which comes early in the album’s presentation, is another notable addition to the LP, and will be addressed a little later.  ‘Propaganda Fashion’ also is worth examining in looking at the bigger picture of The Verdict.  When it is considered along with the other noted works and the rest of the album’s compositions, the whole of the record proves to be another enjoyable offering from one of the rock realm’s most respect acts.

Queensryche’s most recent album The Verdict, the band’s 15th full-length studio recording – is another strong offering from the veteran band, which is in the midst of the latest leg of its tour in support of said album.  The album boasts a variety of strong points throughout the course of its nearly 45-minute run time, not the least of which is ‘Inner Unrest,’ which comes late in the album’s run.  The musical arrangement at the center of ‘Inner Unrest’ is a work that will take listeners back to the days of the band’s 1994 album Promised Land.  That is evident through the combination of front man Todd LaTorre’s vocal delivery and the talents displayed by his band mates – guitarists Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren, drummer Scott Rockenfield and bassist Eddie Jackson.  The group’s combined work makes the song a composition in whole that that is everything Queensryche fans have come to expect from the band throughout its decades-long life.  The arrangement’s heavy, yet melancholy approach does an applause-worthy job of illustrating the song’s lyrical theme of someone dealing with PTSD.

The song’s lyrical content puts forward a strong message about mental health; more specifically PTSD.  LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Hear the voices in your head/Do they speak of grand delusion/Moral truths to comprehend/The soul’s contusion/The scarred reunion/And you can dream/Can you feel me/Can you feel me.”  The song’s subject seems to be asking someone in this verse, if that person realizes what is going on in that person’s mind or is that person wrapped up in his/her own self.  LaTorre continues in the song’s second verse, “Colors change from black to red/I’ll never remember/Still you search for the meaning/Strange lies hypnotize me, you know/I’ll never surrenderAnd you still scream for madness/And you dream/Can you feel me/Can you feel me/Fantasy, dreaming/Can you feel me.”  He continues in the song’s third and final verse, “There are many truths behind these eyes that you see/On one side love and laughter/The other darkened disbelief/Searching for the sunset clause in my relief/Sincerely Mr. Post-traumatic looking for some peace.”  The song does a good job of illustrating what someone dealing with PTSD must go through daily, as is evidenced here. The song’s very lead verse paints a picture of a person fighting with so many thoughts both good and band.  The mention in the song’s second verse of that person searching “for the meaning” and the “strange lies” hypnotizing that person, goes a long way to imagine the person fighting that inner battle, racking his or her brain in the process, virtually pulling his or her hair out of his/her head.  That message, coupled with the powerfully engaging musical arrangement at the center of the song makes this work a unique presentation in itself and just one example of what makes The Verdict such a strong new offering from Queensryche.  It is just one of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Light Years,’ which comes early in the album’s run, is another positive addition to the LP.

‘Light Years’ offers listeners a full-on prog-metal presentation in its musical arrangement that is grounded largely in the aforementioned dual guitar approach of Wilton and Lundgren.  The pair’s collective work is as good as any heavy prog-metal opus that Dream Theatere guitarist John Petrucci has ever crafted with his band mates.  Rockenfield’s work behind the kit here strengthens the song’s presentation even more with his solid time keeping.  Jackson’s work on the bass is the cherry on top of this musical sundae, giving it that last needed touch.  The combination of each musician’s line makes the whole of the song a work that is arguably one of this record’s strongest entries if not its absolute strongest.  Of course the song’s musical arrangement is only a portion of what makes the song stand out.  Its lyrical content adds even more to its impact.

LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Light-years and shadows/You’ll never see the end of day/Distant horizon/Far beyond the past you cannot save/Whispers/No silence/Echoing the sounds from far away/Sequenced pariahs/Following the footsteps to your grave/Pulling me down the undertow/It’s dragging me now/I’m paralyzed/Beyond the distance is out of reach/There’s no more I can take.’  This verse is repeated almost identically for a second time with only minimal change in the second verse.  What LaTorre and company are trying to convey through this content is anyone’s guess.  It comes across as perhaps the song’s subject addressing the issue of living in the present versus the past or even the future.  This is inferred as LaTorre makes note of light-years and shadows never seeing “the end of day” and the distant horizon being “far beyond the past that you cannot save.”  It is almost as if this is the song’s subject noting the past is gone and the future is too far ahead to be concerned about, so it is better to be in the present.  This is entirely this critic’s own interpretation and should not be taken as gospel.  As LaTorre sings in the song’s chorus, “Beyond the distance is out of reach/There’s no more I can take” seems to hint at this even more.  The added note from the song’s subject that “There’s no more I can take” adds even more to the thought of someone who is struggling to decide which way to look.  Once more, this is entirely this critic’s take on the song’s lyrical content.  Regardless of right or wrong, this song’s lyrical content is certain to generate plenty of discussion, as is its musical content.  Keeping all of that in mind, the song in whole proves itself to be another important addition to The Verdict.  It is not the last of the album’s most notable entries.  ‘Propaganda Fashion’ is worth examining just as much as the other songs noted here.

‘Propaganda Fashion’ is another work that takes listeners back to Queensryche’s heyday through its musical arrangement.  From the dual-guitar attack to the solid time keeping to the low-end and vocals, every element of this song takes listeners back to the days of Hear in the Now Frontier with its driving, melodic rock arrangement.  It is perhaps the album’s most radio ready song at least in regards to its musical arrangement.  That catchy arrangement couples with the song’s sociopolitical commentary in its lyrical content to make the song in whole that much more engaging for listeners.

Jackson talked about the noted commentary in a recent interview, saying, “Lyrically it surrounds a political message used to persuade an audience, in order to make something appear more powerful, meaningful or real than it actually is.”  That statement is illustrated as LaTorre sings in the song’s lead verse, “Lightning (charging with a vengeance)/Strikes you (spreading like fire)/Takes you down, down, down/Sell me what’s real/Become desensitized/Pushing their own point of view/Lies/Shoving it down, down your throat/Lies.”  LaTorre continues in the song’s second verse, “System (no communication)/Broken (poisoned mother*******)/Spins you round, round, round/Media persuasion/Speeches and names/Paved by the ones with the crown.”  He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Tonight your freedom dies/The scars to prove it/No reason or rhyme/The twisted web of lies/Just take your time and hurry up/You’re free to do what you’re told.”  These are some pretty straight forward statements made through these verses and considering what is going on now across the political spectrum, they are fully relatable for listeners.  Regardless of which side of the aisle one sits on, it applies on both sides.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the song stand out that much more.  When it is coupled with the song’s radio ready and accessible lyrical content, the song in whole stands out even more.  When the song is considered along with the other works noted here and the rest of the album’s works, the record in whole shows that much more why it is such a strong new offering from one of rock’s most respected names.

As already noted, Queensryche is in the midst of the latest leg of its world tour in support of The Verdict.  Audiences will get to hear all three of the songs noted here and others Sunday in Charlotte, NC and Wednesday in Huntsville, AL.  The remaining dates on the band’s current live run are noted below.

 

 

QUEENSRYCHE “THE VERDICT TOUR” 2020 with John 5:
February 22 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground*
February 25 – Huntsville, AL – Mars Music Hall
February 26 – Atlanta, GA – Buckhead Theater*
February 27 – Orlando. FL – Plaza Live
*without John 5

 

More information on Queensryche’s tour is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.queensrycheofficial.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/queensryche

 

 

 

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

Paladin’s New EP Is An Enjoyable Tribute To Nevermore, Promising Presentation For Paladin’s Future

Courtesy: Prosthetic Records

Up-and-coming metal band Paladin announced a new slate of live dates Thursday.  The almost three-week schedule, which launches April 22 in Charlotte, NC and runs through May 9 in Raleigh, NC, is in support of the band’s 2019 debut album Ascension and its follow-up, the three-song EP Anamnesis.  The latter of those two records was a tribute to Nevermore and its late front man Warrell Dane.  The record was released Dec. 13, on the second anniversary of Dane’s untimely passing.  Anamnesis is another good exhibition of the talents of Paladin’s members while also serving as a reminder of why Nevermore is still one of metal’s most important bands even though the band is not longer together.  That statement is supported through the EP’s featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The songs that Paladin chose are themselves good choices and representations of what made (and still makes) Nevermore an elite metal act.  Paladin’s performance of the songs adds even more engagement and entertainment value to the EP.  This will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most notable elements.  When it is considered alongside the songs featured in the EP, the whole of the record is a good tribute to Nevermore and another good example of why Paladin is one of the next big names in the hard rock and metal community.

Paladin’s new EP Anamnesis is a positive new offering from the up-and-coming metal outfit.  The group’s second studio recording, whose title means a recalling of mind, was released Dec. 13 as a tribute to Nevermore’s late front man Warrel Dane on the second anniversary of Dane’s passing.  The three-song compilation succeeds in paying tribute to Dane and Nevermore and in showing Paladin’s promise all in one.  That is due in large part to the songs that are featured in the record.  Paladin reaches as far back as Nevermore’s 1996 sophomore album The Politics of Ecstasy and as recent as the band’s 2005 album This Godless Endeavour, which would go on to become the band’s penultimate album.  The band’s fourth album Dead Heart in a Dead World is also represented in the EP.  The musical and lyrical content featured in each song builds on the engagement and entertainment generated just through the songs.  ‘Final Product’ for instance takes on the slow demise of society, taking on the impact of the media on that decline.  ‘42147’ meanwhile finds Worrell seemingly addressing his own conflicted thoughts about an unknown topic.  This, perhaps, could be a discussion on mental health.  If so, despite its brevity, it is a powerful statement in its own right.  ‘The River Dragon Comes’ is powerful in its own undeniable way, with Dane seemingly presenting a sociopolitical commentary in the song’s lyrical content.

The musical arrangement featured within each of the EP’s songs works with the songs’ lyrical content.  Case in point is the arrangement at the center of ‘Final Product.’  The arrangement is a high-energy work that does well to illustrate the frustration at what has become of the world and the causes of what has happened.  The subtleties in the arrangement within ‘The River Dragon Has Come’ serve to paint a vivid picture alongside the song’s almost biblical style lyrical content.  The coupling of those elements makes the song a powerful work in its own right.  ‘42147’ boasts a certain energy in its musical arrangement that does just as well to illustrate the inner turmoil that the song’s subject is enduring in that song.  Simply put, the arrangements at the center of each featured songs, and their companion lyrical content go a long way to show why Nevermore was (and still is) so respected within the metal and hard rock community, and why Paladin, in its cover of each song, has great promise in its own right.  The band’s performance of each featured song shows even more why Paladin has great promise for the future.

The performance that Paladin’s members display in each of the covers in its new EP does its own share to show what makes the band a promising new name in the metal community.  From start to end, the band stays true to the songs’ source material in each song while also displaying its own talents.  Front man Taylor Washington does not try to copy Dane’s delivery style, rather using his own distinct style and sound while he and fellow guitarist Alex Parra’s dual guitar approach takes Nevermore’s arrangements and gives them a whole new life without changing the songs at all.  Drummer Nathan McKinney and bassist Andy McGraw round out the arrangements, showing their expertise just as much as their band mates throughout each song.  The end result is a collection of songs that is just as enjoyable for its performances as it is for the songs themselves.  Of course, as much as the songs and their performances do for the whole of Anamnesis, they are not the record’s only important elements.  The EP’s production plays its own important part to the record’s presentation.

The production of this record is as noteworthy as the songs and their performance in that said work ensured each part of each arrangement was balanced expertly with one another.  Listeners will be glad to know that at no point in the record’s body does one line overpower the others.  That is evident partially in the “softer” brooding moments of ‘The River Dragon Has Come.’  Washington’s vocals are right in line with the guitars, ensuring each part is heard fully.  As the song progresses into its heavier moments, McKinney’s drumming and McGraw’s bass line add their own strength to the song’s whole, again thanks to the work of those behind the glass.  The musicians’ work is just as well-balanced through the much heavier ‘42147’ and ‘Final Product,’ making the record that much more engaging for listeners.  McGraw’s bass line, McKinney’s drums and Washington’s bass are balanced precisely with Parra’s guitar line in ‘42147’ to make the song in whole a tribute to Nevermore that fans of both bands will fully appreciate.  Much the same can be said of the production (and mixing) of each part in the band’s cover of ‘Final Product.’  Taking all of this into consideration, it becomes clear why the production behind each of the songs featured in Anamnesis is just as important to the record’s presentation as the songs themselves and the performances thereof.  All things considered, each noted element makes Anamnesis a strong follow-up to Paladin’s debut album and more proof of Paladin’s promise for the future while also being a fitting tribute to one of the great metal acts that preceded Paladin.

Paladin’s recently released EP Anamnesis is a strong new effort from a band that is certain to be one of the next big names in the metal community, given the right support.  As noted here, that is due to the songs featured in this three-song, the performances thereof and the production of each recording.  Each item noted is key in its own way to the whole of the EP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Anamnesis a nice tribute to Nevermore and an equally strong presentation of Paladin’s possible future.  Audiences might be able to hear the songs featured in Anamnesis on Paladin’s upcoming live dates, which are noted below.

 

PALADIN
w/Aether Realm 
04/22 Charlotte, NCM @ Milestone Club
04/23 Atlanta, GA @ 529
04/24 Nashville, TN @ Springwater
04/25 Louisville, KY @ Mag Bar
04/26 Lawrence, KS @ Bottleneck
04/27 Chicago, IL @ Reggies / Music Joint
04/29 Columbus, OH @ Space Bar
04/30 Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
05/01 Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck Bar
05/02 Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus
05/03 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East / Upstairs
05/05 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
05/06 Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
05/07 Baltimore, MD @ Rituals
05/08 Richmond, VA @ Wonderland
05/09 Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood

 

More information on Paladin’s upcoming live dates is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://paladinatl.bandcamp.com

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/PaladinATL

 

 

 

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